Blackboard Upgrade News

The Blackboard Upgrade originally scheduled for the 28th July (see previous post) has been postponed. Prior to all upgrades, staff in ISS and CELT subject the new version to rigorous testing on a test server and liaise with the wider (international) Blackboard user community. During this testing an issue was discovered around simultaneous uploading of assignments and it was felt that until this issue is resolved we should not go ahead with the planned upgrade. Blackboard is working on a solution and are hopeful that this will be implemented shortly.  Given the ‘mission critical’ nature of Blackboard to our operations, we will hold back on upgrading until this is satisfactorily addressed. If possible, then we will upgrade prior to the end of August, but if there is a delay in obtaining a solution we will defer the upgrade until after Semester 1.   

Please note that this has no impact on the ‘rollover’ process. In other words your fresh, new modules for AY 2014-15 will be online, students enrolled, etc as normal. It simply means we will be running with the current Blackboard version and won’t yet be able to avail of the small number of improvements (eg. ‘Student view’) which were anticipated.

Further information will be posted as it becomes available.

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Blackboard Upgrade and Rollover – Summer 2014

I’m pleased to let you know that our Blackboard Learn system will be upgraded at the end of this month, in preparation for the new academic year. We expect that this will happen in the week beginning 28th July. For confirmation and updates, watch the Blackboard Login Page and ISS bulletins.

Why upgrade?

Blackboard is an increasingly important tool in the academic and student life on campus.   Since Blackboard became a mainstream, fully supported service in September 2007 its uptake by teaching staff and students has been astounding. This upgrade is relatively minor but has some welcome new features including:

  • Student Preview – allowing instructors see all aspects of a course from the student’s perspective, including the submission of assignments and feedback/results.
  • Anonymous and Delegated Grading – allowing instructors to hide student names while grading, or to delegate grading of particular assessments to multiple graders.

More detail on these features will be available during the month of August. Check out our blog for some more information about the Student Preview feature:


Availability of Courses for 2014-2015

We aim to create and provide access to 1415 courses on Blackboard during the first week in August. As in previous years, if you are currently an instructor on any 1314 course, you will automatically be given access to the equivalent 1415 course.

For more information about the annual rollover, please see our Blackboard help resources.


Cleardown of Courses for 2010-11

All staff and students currently have access to 4 years’ worth of courses on Blackboard. During the rollover period, all 1011 courses will be cleared from Blackboard.

If you have any content contained (only) within a 1011 course, it is important that you take a copy of this content before Friday 25th July. Individual items can be saved locally, or you may choose to export your course as a package suitable to re-use in another Blackboard course. For assistance, please contact


Support and Training

Please visit the Blackboard help resources for staff, for useful guides and videos.

Remember also to check our Blackboard blog for regular updates, tricks and tips.


Blackboard Festival 2014

We will soon be announcing an exciting schedule of events for our annual Blackboard Festival, a week of training opportunities on various aspects of Blackboard, including drop-in sessions, information sessions and workshops. The Blackboard Festival will take place this year from Wednesday 20th to Tuesday 26th August.

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Coming Soon – Student Preview

Last week I was at the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference, which took place at UCD. Among some other updates, I was really excited to learn that a Student Preview feature is on the way. All going well, this will be available to all course instructors when we upgrade our systems during the Summer.

The Student Preview feature is something that we get asked about all the time, especially when it comes to viewing assessments, tests and grades. In the following video, you’ll get a glimpse of how it will work with adaptive release.

From my understanding, student preview means that you will view the course from a particular (dummy) student perspective. Each Blackboard course will have its own dummy student enrolled, and the instructor can switch to viewing the course from his/her perspective. You’ll even be able to submit work, or complete tests or surveys (as in the video), on behalf of the student. Then, when you grade that submitted work, and give feedback, you’ll be able to see how it appears from the student preview.

It seems that Blackboard has put a bit of thought into this new feature and I’m really looking forward to experiencing it.

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Blackboard Collaborate April Showcase

Collaborate logoCELT is delighted to invite you to participant in the NUI Galway Blackboard Collaborate April Showcase presentation series.

About the April Showcase Series

The series will feature live online presentations from NUI Galway colleagues who have utilised Blackboard Collaborate live meeting rooms to engage with their students during this academic year.

The presentations will address pedagogical, practical and logistical considerations when engaging in live synchronous teaching and learning sessions, and will offer useful advice and recommendations to colleagues interested in adopting this approach in their own practice.

These presentations will be of interest to colleagues currently using, intending to use, or wish to have an awareness of the potential of the Blackboard Collaborate platform to support live online teaching and learning.

About Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate provides a real-time bridge to geographically distributed students and staff through online meeting rooms which can be used in a variety of ways (e.g. webinars, online tutorials, student project work, project meetings and facilitating expert presentations with live Q and A sessions).  Blackboard Collaborate sessions can be recorded for archiving and reviewing purposes.

Blackboard Collaborate is integrated into the Blackboard Learn VLE platform. Meeting rooms can be created by all Blackboard instructors from within their modules for student access. It is also possible to request that the creation of non-Blackboard based meeting rooms for wider institutional or external collaboration (e.g. for international project teams) from CELT.

NUI Galway is the only higher education institution in Ireland that has invested in campus-wide access to Blackboard Collaborate for all students and staff.

The April Showcase Schedule

Using Blackboard Collaborate with Nursing & Midwifery Post-Graduate Students

Presenter         Siobhan Smyth, School of Nursing and Midwifery

Date                   Tuesday 22 April 1:00 – 2:00


Using Blackboard Collaborate in Online Italian Courses

Presenter         Laura McLoughlin, School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Date                   Wednesday 23 April 1:00 – 2:00


Using Blackboard Collaborate with Advanced Language Learners

Presenters        Dorothy Ní Uigín & Éamon Ó Cofaigh, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge

Date                   Tuesday 29 April 1:00 – 2:00


Implementing Blackboard Collaborate at NUI Galway: 2013-14 Review, Supports, and Future Plans

Presenter          Paul Gormley, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)

Date                   Wednesday 30 April 1:00 – 2:00


Booking Your Place

Please sign-up to your preferred presentations via the following Google form:


Accessing the Presentation Meeting Room

All presentations will be delivered via a Blackboard Collaborate live meeting room. Please click on the following link (or paste it into your browser address box) to access the meeting room:


Preparing for Your Session

We advise that you access the meeting room 10 minutes before the official start time in order to check your audio set-up. You can do this by selecting the Blackboard Collaborate Tools menu –> Audio –> Audio Wizard


Technical Support

If you have any difficulties please email before the start time of your session.


Blackboard Collaborate Information and Resources

Please access the CELT Blackboard resource site for further information, videos, walkthrough guides and case studies at:

We look forward to your presence at the Blackboard Collaborate April Showcase series.

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Blackboard surveys and anonymity

At the end of the academic semester, many lecturers are using Blackboard to collect course and module feedback. As a  student, you may be asked to complete a survey within Blackboard.

Some students may be worried about the anonymity of their responses, especially since you have to login to Blackboard to take the survey.

You can be reassured that all your responses to a Blackboard survey are anonymous. All a lecturer know is that you have completed the survey, not what answers you gave. The key is to recognise the special symbol that Blackboard uses for the survey tool: it looks like a little clipboard with a pencil. This means that your answers are anonymous.

survey icon

Compare this to the icon for Blackboard tests, which is similar, but without the clipboard:

Test icon

Blackboard tests (MCQs, EMQs, etc) are, by their nature, not anonymous, so that test results can be associated with your grades.

For more information about taking a Blackboard survey, see the official Blackboard Help pages.

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Workshops in February and March

Blackboard imageThe CELT learning technologies team is planning a series of Blackboard workshops to take place over the next few weeks. These range from the introductory workshop on getting started with Blackboard, to some more advanced workshops on topics covering plagiarism prevention using Turnitin, creating Multiple Choice tests, and getting started with the Collaborate platform.

To book a place on any of these workshops, complete the online booking form.

Workshop: Introduction to Blackboard

Tuesday 25th February, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

This popular workshop is targeted at users who are new to Blackboard and is aimed at getting participants up and running with the system. All attendees are provided with their own Blackboard training course shell, which they populate with a variety of content during this hands-on workshop session.

Workshop: Using Turnitin on Blackboard to deter plagiarism

Wednesday 26th February, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm OR Monday 3rd March, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

Turnitin’s Originality Check helps instructors check students’ work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against the world’s most accurate text comparison database. Turnitin has been fully integrated into Blackboard to make it easier for staff and students to use. A Turnitin Assignment can be created so that students can each submit their own work for automatic scanning. Any instructor on the course can then view the results and check the reports for signs of plagiarism.

This workshop is offered at the intermediate level. Participants should be comfortable with the basic functionality of Blackboard.

Workshop: Getting Started with MCQs

Wednesday 5th March, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm OR Tuesday 11th March, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions) can be used for self testing or for continuous assessment as part of an overall assessment and feedback strategy. This hands-on workshop will give you the chance to create and deploy an MCQ test in your Blackboard course, also covering recommended test settings.

This workshop is offered at the intermediate level. Participants should be comfortable with the basic functionality of Blackboard.

Workshop: Getting Started with Blackboard Collaborate

Tuesday 11th March, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm OR Wednesday 12th March, 2:30 to 4:30 pm

Blackboard Collaborate is an online collaboration platform which provides a Web Conferencing interface. The highly responsive audio and video features, along with the instant chat and interactive white board features, creates a real time environment for all users. Collaborate sessions can be created inside a Blackboard course and are ideal for virtual classrooms or virtual office hours. Come along to this session to experience a Collaborate session and find out how to create one within your course.

This workshop is offered at the intermediate level. Participants should be comfortable with the basic functionality of Blackboard.

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Embedding a prezi in your Blackboard course

As part of our Blackboard Winter Festival we included a 2 hour workshop on Presentation Design with Prezi. This turned out to be our most popular workshop. It seems that lots of staff are interested in getting started with Prezi.

In case you missed the workshop, Blaneth has put together an online tutorial, where she steps you through the mechanics of creating a short Prezi presentation. You can find the online tutorial on the CELT website.

But now that you have created a Prezi, how can you put it on Blackboard? Luckily, the steps are quite easy, with one little trick that you need to know.

Step 1: Get the embed code of your Prezi.

Go to your presentation on the prezi site. Just underneath the presentation you should see an Embed button.

Prezi Embed buttonClick this and a new window opens up. You can decide how your students should navigate the Prezi (free or according to the path you have defined) and even change the size, if you want. Then click Copy code to clipboard to grab the embed code.

Prezi Embed CodeStep 2: Create a new item in your Blackboard course

Now, in your Blackboard course, navigate to the content area where you want the prezi to appear. With Edit Mode on, create a new item in the course.

Create new itemEnter a title for the item (e.g. presentation on Web 2.0 from February 12th). Then, in the text box, click the little HTML button (in red below) to switch to HTML mode.

HTML mode[Note: if you don't see three rows of buttons in the text editor, click on the chevron (indicated in green) to expand the text editor options]

In the HTML code view that now appears, paste the embed code that you copied at Step 1. Now, here’s the little trick! In the first line of the code, where you see

<iframe src="

add the character 's' at the end of http to give

<iframe src="

So, your HTML code view should look something like this (change highlighted in yellow):

Insert embed codeNow click Update, and you will be returned to the Add Item screen. In the text box you should see the shape of your prezi, but not the prezi itself. Don't worry!

You can add text around the prezi shape, if you want to add some details. You can add attachments or set availability options, as usual.

When you are ready, click the submit button. You should now find that the prezi appears within your Blackboard page and can be seen and navigated by your students.

Embedded preziYou can use the same approach if you want to embed a prezi within, for example, a blog post or wiki on Blackboard. This means that your students can also use prezi and use these tools for sharing with their classmates.

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