New Blackboard Template

Based on feedback from users, we have made some changes to the standard template for Blackboard courses to improve clarity and usability for staff and students alike. This means that when you open Blackboard in September you will see some changes to how the tabs are laid out.

The module template now contains guidance on what should go on each page.

Only staff can see this content – this is invisible to students (try the Student Preview to see this in action) so should not be edited. Once you have set up your course area for the new academic year, you can delete this information if you wish. 

The Assessment tab has been separated out so as to be more easily identified. All assignments and information relating to them should be included on this tab. For information about which would be the best system to use for your assignment, see our handy flow chart. For information about setting up assignments see our guidance on using Blackboard and Turnitin for assessment.

Don’t forget to edit the welcome message to include the name of the module leader and a contact email (see how to edit your welcome message here). 

For more advice about your Blackboard modules:

If you have any queries, contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at

Staff Access to Blackboard Modules

This year we are not automatically enrolling staff – we have been rolling over staff enrolments for many years now and many users have been given access to modules they no longer teach on which can make your My Courses area very cluttered and allow unauthorised access in some cases.

This means that staff, including module leaders, will need to complete the Module Access request form which is available on the logged in staff page for each module they require access to for this year. Module leaders will be emailed to notify them of new enrolments.

This will create a little extra administration for users but this will greatly improve the security and administration in the long term.

As ever, it is a good idea to make yourself known to the module leader before enrolling as they will receive a an email notification to approve your enrolment. Please allow 24 hours for access to be granted.

Full enrolment instructions can be found here. If you have any queries, contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at


Do your Blackboard pages need a once-over? Does your knowledge of Turnitin need fine-tuning?

On Friday 3rd May, members of the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, along with colleagues from Library Services, will be in St John’s main reception ready to take queries from staff about any aspect of the VLE and online resource lists.

Maybe you are having difficulties with one particular element, or would like more general advice on how to get the most out of Blackboard and online resource lists. Maybe you are interested in exploring remote learning with Collaborate, or are considering adding portfolio assessment to your course and would like to talk about PebblePad. You may want to discuss changes to electronic assessments, or maybe you would just like us to check your Blackboard pages to make sure that you are using the functionality optimally.

Whatever you would like to talk about, everyone is welcome. We will be in reception from 9:30am until 17:00, so come along and see us!

VLE Review Launch: What do You think of Blackboard?

The official review of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has now begun!

The first step is to assess our current system. We need to find out what staff like and don’t like about it, what could be improved and whether users would like to see the inclusion of any additional functionality. This can then be used as a benchmark to help us decide the direction of the VLE review project.

We would be extremely grateful if you could complete this short survey which should take no more than 5 minutes.

For further information about the VLE review, please see the VLE Review page of our website.

TEL Me More Seminar

The TEL Me More Seminar brought together colleagues from education and support staff to share best practice using TEL tools available at the University of Worcester.

CHAT: Congenital Heart Assessment Tool Delivered by Articulate Rise

Dr Kerry Gaskin and Gerry Beattie

This presentation demonstrated the kind of tools that the TEL team can develop for colleagues. In this instance, Articulate Rise was used to gather materials together in a package that is easily presented online for Midwifery students and NHS staff.

Any tutors who require bespoke content building are welcome to contact the TEL Unit to discuss their needs at

Watch Video

Using PebblePad to record student achievement for Sports Coaching

Glyn Harding and Nathan Caesar

This section demonstrated the capabilities of PebblePad for the creation of portfolio-based work.

The benefits of Pebblepad discussed included:

  • Unlocking students’ creativity
  • Introducing students to the fundamentals of multimedia and web design
  • Provides opportunity for continuous development and review
  • Integration with Turnitin
  • Use of free Pebblepocket smartphone app allows students to update work wherever they are

Watch Video

Engaging masters students though Blackboard Collaborate

Dr John Francis

This section covered the use of Collaborate for remote learning. Students with travel issues, conflicting engagements and even students from overseas have all benefited from John’s use of Collaborate within his masters course.

John shared some excellent tips and advice on using Collaborate, including:

  • Utilising a split screen to see both your session and your notes or resources
  • Not being afraid of silences and giving students time for reflection
  • Keeping the chat channel open for students who are reluctant to use their mic

Watch Video

Group Discussion

Delegates were invited to discuss how they were using technology within their courses and what technologies, in an ideal world, they would like to see the University invest in.

The results can be viewed on the TEL Me More Padlet page, where readers are welcome to add their own suggestions.

It was widely agreed that the event was a very way of finding out how colleagues are using technology within their courses, as well as for sharing tips and advice. If you would be interested in presenting at similar future events, please email the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at

Gerry Kerry

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Blackboard Collaborate Workshop

Running an Online Session in Collaborate – 3rd April 2019, 13:45 – 15:00

Blackboard Collaborate is an online virtual classroom and meeting space which allows users to connect via audio, see each other via webcams, use a chat tool, collaborate on documents and view presentations as well as other features. Available as a plugin on all Blackboard modules, Collaborate is invaluable for engaging with students who are unable to come onto campus due to other commitments or travel problems. Some courses have used collaborate to increase student engagement by allowing students to engage remotely if they wish. Other applications include:

  • Tutorials
  • Delivering lectures on snow days
  • Facilitating guest speakers

The best way to get to know a new tool is by using it, so this session will be delivered online using the Collaborate virtual classroom. Guidance on best practice will be discussed and participants will be able to experience the interactive features this tool has to offer. There will also be a chance for discussion and questions.

If you are interested in attending either of these sessions, you can sign up via the Staff Development Workshops Page.

Supporting Student Retention in Blackboard

13th March, 13:15-15:45

We all know that student recruitment is a top priority for all universities, and the University of Worcester is no different. Nationally we face many challenges, with an historic low in the number of 18 year olds to draw our numbers from, and doubts over Brexit potentially having a negative effect on the number of international students studying in the UK.

The flip side of this story is student retention, which is every bit as important as recruitment. How can we keep students engaged and make sure that they aren’t struggling with life at university?

Student engagement and progression is key to their success, and the retention centre and performance dashboard are tools in Blackboard which can help you monitor your students’ activity within your Blackboard. Our handy 90-minute workshop will look at setting up rules for reporting lack of engagement and/or achievement and discuss strategies for re-engaging students and promoting active learning.

If you are interested in attending this session, you can sign up via the Staff Development Workshops Page.

Taking Over Another Tutor’s Blackboard Page

So, you have been given the keys to someone else’s Blackboard page and you have just moved in. You might find that they haven’t been the best tenants and have left things in a bit of a mess. Or maybe everything appears to be ship-shape, until you discover the dodgy wiring and the funny smell coming from the cupboard under the stairs. You don’t know which problem to fix first or even how.

Having extended this metaphor further than is feasible, we thought it would be useful to prepare a list of six things to check when taking on another tutor’s Blackboard page.

1. Welcome Message

Check that the Welcome message has been updated (the default message begins with “This module is not using Blackboard”). Update the welcome message and add your contact details so that the students can get in touch with you.

2. Links

Check that all of the links on the module are working and update where appropriate.

3. Materials

Make sure that the previous tutor has passed on any teaching materials ready for you to continue to use (e.g. via OneDrive).

4. Module Outline

Make sure that the current Module Outline is available on the Module Information page and that its contents are up to date.

5. Assessments

Poorly set up assessments can cause students a great deal of trouble so it is well worth taking the time to check that these have been configured correctly.

  • Are the assessments set up on the Assessment page?
  • Do all Blackboard assignments appear in the grade centre?
  • Are assignments set to mark out of 19?
  • Are the dates set up correctly?
  • Are Turnitin submission points named meaningfully rather than just being called ‘Turnitin’? This helps students identify the correct place to submit work.
  • Check that there are no stray Turnitin submission points lurking around the module such as on the Welcome page. These are likely to have incorrect settings and students can easily submit to the wrong place.

For more information, see our Blackboard Manual and our Turnitin Workflow.

6. Not using SOLE?

If you are not using SOLE for assignment submission, check that registry have been informed so that they do not send out automatic emails to students for non-submission of work.

Still need help?

Hopefully these pointers should get you well on the way to running an effective Blackboard module. If you do run into trouble however, you can email us for help at

Setting up Turnitin for Assessment

Wednesday 6th March, 13:45 – 15.15

When used correctly, Turnitin is a fantastic tool for managing formative and summative assessment. It is also invaluable for students to check their referencing and originality, as Turnitin compares submitted work to both internet sources and a database of previous submissions.

Turnitin is a plugin to Blackboard and is becoming more and more popular, with more departments coming on board. The long-term aspiration is for all departments to accept assessment submissions through Turnitin.

Setting up assessment submission points on Turnitin is relatively straightforward, however, it is really important that these are configured correctly, as incorrect settings can cause a range of problems for students. A significant proportion of student queries that come to the TEL Unit are due to Turnitin set-up issues, which must be referred back to the tutor, causing more work for everyone concerned.

Thankfully, these issues can be easily averted. Our handy 90 minute workshop will take you through the settings that you need to apply. Most of the settings can also be saved so that setting up future assignments could not be simpler. The session will also cover marking and providing feedback.

If you are interested in attending this session, you can sign up via the Staff Development Workshops Page.

Using Quizzes, Tests and Surveys in Blackboard

20th February 2019, 13:45 – 15:15

Did you know that Blackboard has a number of useful tools for conducting surveys and questionnaires? We will be running a handy 90 minute workshop to introduce you to the many ways that this can benefit your teaching.

 There are 17 different question types ranging from multiple choice to hot-spots to calculated questions in Blackboard. These can be included in formative, summative or anonymous tests and surveys to gain student feedback, guage understanding and ultimately, assess student performance.

This workshop will cover the set-up of a test canvas and the various options that entails together with a closer look at all the question types and how these might be used. Participants will be engaged both as students to experience the student view, and also as tutors setting up and marking their own quizzes to gain an all-round appreciation of the online assessment function.

Book your place via the staff development pages.