Announcing #BbFest17

170731 Blackboard Fest - email banner

Today we are announcing a week of workshops to  help you get the most out of Blackboard at NUI Galway.

Taking place from Wednesday 23rd to Tuesday 29th August, for our 5th annual Blackboard Festival we have an exciting line up of events based on four themes: getting your course prepared; assessment in Blackboard; student analytics; and student engagement. As well as offering some hands-on technical sessions, we also wanted to focus on user stories – sharing your experiences and learning from peers.

The festival schedule (below) includes a number of lunchtime panel sessions, aimed to support conversation around each of the themes. Lunch will be provided and the format is informal and relaxed. All are welcome.

So that we can anticipate numbers, please sign up for any sessions you would like to attend using the online registration form. Numbers in some sessions may be limited.


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Summer 2017 Rollover

New Blackboard courses for the academic year 2017/18 will be available soon.

An empty Blackboard course will be created for each module code and course instance code that exists on the Akari module manager. You will then be able to create or copy content as necessary for the start of the new academic year.

If you do not have access to a course, and think you should, please consult our guidelines on how to access a Blackboard course as instructor.

Copying content

Before you copy any content from previous years’ courses, please take a look at our updated guide. In particular, we strongly recommend that you copy only content and not assessments. DO NOT copy grade centre settings, since these can cause problems with online grade entry.

Virtual Classroom

Every new Blackboard course will now have a menu link to a Virtual Classroom. This supports live synchronous online learning, collaboration, and communication. It can be used for blended teaching and learning, office hours, online collaboration, guest speakers, and much more. For more information see our webconferencing guide.

New Grade Return column

As part of the second phase of the Online Results Entry project, a new grade return column will appear in your grade centre. This will allow you to more easily copy provisional marks for official return, or to use your grade centre for calculating marks based on continuous assessment. More details will be available soon.

Access to 1314 courses

All staff and students currently have access to 4 years’ worth of courses on Blackboard. As part of the rollover, all 1314 courses will be cleared from Blackboard.


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Blackboard Summer Upgrade (June 2017)


As time marches on, so too does our Blackboard system. On Monday, the 12th of June 2017, we will move a little bit further into future, with our upgrade to Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2016.

So, what changes and benefits does this bring for staff and students at NUI Galway? Well, several! We will highlight the top four here:

More Responsive

Most importantly, this release includes a new theme that provides a more modern look and feel and it significantly increases the responsiveness of the interface for small devices. This makes it easier for you to view Blackboard materials on any device, or screen size-  the content will automatically resize to fit.

> More on the Learn 2016 theme

Drag and drop files

Another key benefit is that the system now allows users to drag and drop files. When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can drag files from their computers to the “hot spot” in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments.

> More on how instructors create content items

Submission receipts

Instructors can keep track of all student submissions, regardless of whether the attempt or assignment is deleted or the submission history is changed. A submission receipt is captured at the time of submission and includes information such as attached file information, date, time, etc. This feature provides evidence for academic disputes, giving students assurance about their work.

A receipt is generated for each group member when a student submits on behalf of the group, and the anonymous state of an assignment is respected. For assignments with multiple attempts, students receive a different number for each submission.

> More on submission confirmations

Support for Accessibility

The Learn 2016 theme was designed with WCAG 2.0 principles in mind and follows accessibility guidelines for structure, color contrast, and navigation. Fully visible keyboard focus has been built directly into this theme as well as best practices for the definition of buttons and menus used for navigation.

> More on Accessibility

We look forward to you getting the most out of Blackboard, and welcome working with you over the coming months. Our annual Blackboard Festival in August promises to be a great event to engage and find out more from taking to us in person. Meanwhile, contact us at any stage through the usual support channels.

Read all release notes of this new version on Blackboard

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Collaborate Ultra Workshop

We are delighted to announce that we are hosting a Collaborate Ultra workshop on May 31st.  Registration for the event is available on Eventbrite.


Are you developing or teaching an online or blended course next semester? Would you like to be able to hold live teaching sessions with your students online? Do you need a tool to support collaboration and virtual conferences with students or research colleagues who are not co-located?

Collaborate Ultra is a webconferencing tool that utilises audio and video and provides functionalities such as chat, application sharing, presentation mode and an interactive whiteboard. The platform is intuitive for the user and allows for synchronous online learning, collaboration and communication.

At NUI Galway, Collaborate Ultra is embedded in Blackboard and a meeting room is ready for all instructors and students to use. You can also invite guest users to Collaborate Ultra rooms. Sessions can be recorded and archived for future use.

It’s easy to use and can support up to 250 participants in a session. There is no software to be downloaded, it all just works in your browser.

This workshop will be useful for those who:

  • Wish to explore the varitey of uses for Blackboard Collaborate
  • Are already using Blackboard Collaborate for teaching and learning, but would like to explore its full potential
  • Wish to collaborate remotely with others on research and projects


Gillian Fielding from Blackboard will be on campus to run the workshop on using Blackboard Collaborate for teaching, learning and collaboration. She will focus on use cases, based on her knowledge and experience with clients around the US and Europe. All are welcome.

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Returning Results- full guide

We’re approaching that time of year again – and final module marks are due to be returned, for undergraduates, by 24th May.

You’ll be pleased to know that we now have a full guide to using the Blackboard Grade Centre for returning marks, which is available from our website:

Returning Results using the Blackboard Grade Centre (opens as PDF)

Other handy resources are:

And if you have a question not answered by these, here’s who to contact:

Who to Contact


Following our experience last year, when Online Results Entry (ORE) via Blackboard was introduced, and given the different practices that exist within individual Schools and Disciplines, training on Returning Student Results in the Grade Centre is best provided at a School/Discipline level.

If your School/Discipline would like to schedule a hands-on workshop, we’d be happy to work with you. Just send a request, indicating potential dates and likely participant numbers, to blackboard @

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Returning Results Using the Blackboard Grade Centre – Our New User Guide

In our new and extensive Blackboard Grade Centre guide, you will find all of the information necessary to return results.  Some of the topics included are:

  • Parts of the Grade Centre
  • Visibility of marks to students
  • Managing and organising the Grade Centre
  • Returning marks
  • Using Excel with the Grade Centre
  • FAQs and contact information

Please download the guide from our website:

Returning Results Using the Blackboard Grade Centre v. 1.0



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Irish Blackboard User Group – Regional Workshop

The Blackboard Customer Success team are coming to UCD on Thursday 9th February to provide a free workshop –  “Enhanced Assessment and Feedback”. This hands on workshop will provide you and your peers with an opportunity to review, analyse and prioritise key institutional assessment and feedback related challenges and opportunities. We will then identify relevant Blackboard solutions and share with you use cases and best practice examples to inspire you use these to best effect.

The workshop is free for Blackboard customers.  Bring as many colleagues as you like. Places are limited and are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. To book your place, sign up on the Eventbrite page.

Workshop Content:

Assessment and feedback – an institutional perspective

  • Examination of key drivers and challenges
  • (Reputations, quality of process, quality of data, legal, business efficiencies, risk etc.)
  • Placing use cases on a confidence/effectiveness model
  • Highlight relevant Blackboard solutions

Assessment and feedback – innovation and organizational change

  • Identifications for drivers for change
  • Gap analysis of practice and stakeholder experiences
  • Prioritisation of opportunities for change
  • Highlight relevant Blackboard solutions

Target audience:

Academic staff, eLearning staff, TEL Champions, staff engaged in quality assurance and curriculum enhancement, Learning Technologists, academic staff developers, etc.


Alan Masson, Head of International Customer Success, Blackboard

Gillian Fielding, Customer Success Advocate, Blackboard


B154A SCW – O’Brien Centre for Science – West



09:30 coffee, registration and networking

10:00-16:00 prompt

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