November 2023 Blackboard Learn Ultra Update

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight five enhancements for Instructors from the November Blackboard Learn Ultra Update. These enhancements are in three areas:

  • Making your content more visual using Images.
  • Updates to Tests.
  • Managing your Gradebook.

Making your content more visual using images:

1. Image insertion option for Ultra Documents, Journals, Discussions, Assessment attempts, and Courses 

Images play an important role in a student’s education experience. Images help to enhance comprehension of and engagement with course content. To help instructors more easily identify high-quality images, Blackboard have added a new image button in the content editor in the following places: 

  • Ultra Documents 
  • Journal prompts 
  • Discussions 
  • Course Messages 

Image below: Instructor view – New image button on content editor for Ultra Documents. 

Screenshot of an Ultra Document

When selected, the instructor has the following options: 

  • Upload an image through selection or drag and drop. 
  • Select a royalty-free, high-quality image from Unsplash. 

Image below: Instructor view – Image source options. 

screenshot of uploading an image

Students can also access the new image button on the content editor in the following areas: 

  • Discussion responses. 
  • Assessments and test question inputs. 
  • Course Messages. 

Image below: Student view – New image button on content editor for discussion response. 

Image below: Student view – Drag and drop or upload an image file. 

After selecting the image, instructors and students can reposition the focus and zoom of the image. There’s also an option to alter the aspect ratio of the image. 

Image below: Modify the zoom and focus of the image; set the aspect ratio. 

Users can rename the image. It is important always to consider the accessibility of course content. The user should mark the image as decorative or provide suitable alternative text. 

Instructors can also set the view and download file options for the image. After the image is inserted, the instructor can resize the image. 

Updates to Tests:

2. Edit/Regrade in Questions 

Instructors may spot a mistake in a test question when grading a test submission. For example, instructors may have found a typo, chosen a wrong answer, or wanted to adjust points. 

In the past, the “Edit/Regrade Questions” option was only available when grading submissions by “Student.”  Now, instructors can also access the Edit/Regrade workflow when grading by question. 

Image below: Instructor view – Edit/Regrade option when grading a test by question.

Image below: Instructor view – editing a question using the Edit/Regrade option. 

3. Matching question updates: partial credit auto-distribution and other updates 

Matching questions are useful for testing a student’s skill in making accurate connections between related concepts. This question type also checks students’ understanding in a structured format. 

To reward students who show partial understanding, some instructors wish to award partial and/or negative credit for matching questions. 

In the past, instructors selected a scoring option: 

  • allow partial credit. 
  • all or nothing. 
  • subtract points for incorrect matches, but question score can’t be negative. 
  • or allow negative question scores. 

These options were exclusive and, at times, created confusion for instructors.  

Now, partial and negative credit is turned on by default. Blackboard auto-distributes partial credit as a percentage across the matching pairs. The auto-distribution of credit saves instructors time. Instructors can edit the partial credit values if needed to grant some pairs more or less credit. Values for partial credit must sum to 100%. 

If desired, instructors may also specify a negative credit percentage to any pair. Negative credit is only assessed when applied and when a student mismatches a pair. If desired, instructors may choose to allow an overall negative score for the question. 

We also made a few other improvements to this question: 

  • Blackboard re-worded the question construction guidance and moved it to an info bubble. 
  • In the past, the “reuse an answer” and “delete pair” options were behind the three-dot menu. Now, these options appear on the right side of the answer for each pair. 
  • Before reused answers appeared as “Reused answer from pair #” in the answer field. Now, the answer itself is displayed in the answer field. “Reused answer” appears beneath the answer for the pair. 
  • “Additional answers” renamed to “Distractors.” 

Image below: New Matching question layout. 

Managing your Gradebook: 

4. Gradebook grid view performance improvements 

Some instructors prefer to work in the gradebook grid view. To improve the user experience, we made several improvements to this view. These improvements address overall performance and reduce the load time. 

Performance tested scenarios: 

  • 25K student enrolments and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 108 s (about 2 minutes) to 14s (87% performance improvement) 
  • 2000 student enrolments and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 19s to 8s (57% performance improvement) 
  • 40 students and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 8s to 6.8s (14.75% performance improvement) 

5. Sorting controls for Student Name, Overall Grade, Assessments, and Manual Columns in grid view. 

To use the grid view click the toggle grid and list view button:

Sorting options in the gradebook provide a more efficient grading experience. 

Now instructors can sort the following gradebook grid view columns: 

  • Student Name 
  • Overall Grade 
  • Tests and Assignments 
  • Manual columns 

Instructors can sort records in ascending or descending and remove any applied sorting. A purple highlight in the column header helps instructors identify where sorting is applied. 

Any sorting applied yields a temporary change to the sort order of all columns in the gradebook grid view. 

Image below: Sorting an assessment in the grid view with filters applied. 

Blackboard Learn Ultra: October Update 2023 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight four enhancements to Instructors from the October Blackboard Learn Ultra.

1. Partial credit auto-distribution for correct answers for Multiple Choice questions

Multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer are valuable assessment tools. Also known as multiple-answer or multiple-select questions, these questions assess comprehensive understanding. They also promote deeper learning and higher-order thinking skills. 

Some instructors wish to award partial credit for these question types. This practice awards students who have a partial understanding. It also fosters a positive learning experience. 

In the past, instructors had to enter a value for partial credit percentage for each option. Now, Blackboard will auto-distribute partial credit across correct answer choices. This distribution provides efficiency and saves instructors’ time. If desired, instructors can edit the values if some correct answer options warrant more or less credit. Values for correct answers must sum to 100%. 

Image below: Question credit auto-distributes across correct answer options; values can be edited.

A screenshot of creating a multiple choice question. Allow partial and negative credit highlighted. Percentages highlighted.

2. Send reminder from gradebook list and grid views

Instructors may want to send a reminder to students or groups who haven’t yet made a submission for an assessment. To make this easy, Blackboard have added a “Send Reminder” option to items in the Gradebook. 

There are two views of the Gradebook that can be toggled between using the button. List view and grid view

Image below: Use the list view and grid view button to toggle between views. 

From the Gradebook list view, the option to send a reminder is in the overflow menu (three dots). 

Image below: Send Reminder option from list view 

A screenshot of the Gradebook in list view. Send reminder is highlighted.

Instructors may access the “Send Reminder” option in the grid view by selecting the gradebook column header. 

Image below: Send Reminder option from grid view

A screenshot of the Gradebook in grid view. Send reminder is highlighted.

3. Delegated grading distribution by group membership

Instructors sometimes distribute the grading workload for an assessment to multiple graders. This is a popular practice in larger classes. Instructors can assign graders to groups of students with the new delegated grading option. Each grader will only see the submissions made by students in the group(s) assigned to them. 

Delegated Grading can be used with all available group types. This first release of Delegated Grading supports assignment submissions from individual students. Tests, group assessments, and anonymous submissions are not supported at this time. These will be released at a later date. 

After selecting the Delegated Grading option, select the appropriate Group Set. Instructors can assign one or more graders to each group in the group set. If multiple graders are assigned to the same group, they will share the grading responsibility for the group members. 

Graders assigned to a group of students will only see submissions for those students on the assignment’s submission page. They can only post grades for their assigned group members. Any unassigned instructors enrolled in the course will see all student submissions on the assignment’s submission page. They also post grades for all students. 

Note: At least one Group Set complete with Groups must be present in the course before using the Delegated Grading option. 

Image below: Instructor view of the assessment Settings panel with the Delegated Grading option enabled.

A screenshot of the assignment settings. Delegrated Grading is highlighted.

4. Sorting for manually added gradable items.

Sorting controls help instructors organize and find information in the gradebook. Instructors can now use sorting controls on the grades page for manually created items. The sorting controls enable sorting in both ascending and descending order. Instructors can sort the following information: 

  • Student name 
  • Grade 
  • Feedback 
  • Post status 

The applied sorting order is temporary and resets when you leave the page. 

Note: Sorting controls can be applied to one column at a time. When you sort another column, items will order according to the selected column. 

Image below: Instructor view of sorting controls on the grades page for a manually added gradable item 

A screenshot of the the Gradebook for a manually created item. The sorting controls at the head of columns are highlighted.

September 2023 Blackboard Learn Ultra Update

This month saw the release of several further enhancements in Blackboard Learn Ultra. 

Batch Editor enhancements

Batch editing streamlines making changes to multiple items at once in Blackboard whether that is editing visibility, release conditions or deleting. Blackboard have updated batch edit so that actions now apply to all items inside of Folders and Learning Modules. 

All items are now visible on a single page. Blackboard have added the ability to expand and collapse Folders and Learning Modules.   

For more information on using the Batch Editor, see the Blackboard Batch Editor help page

Unsplash Image Library

As we covered in a previous blogpost, Instructors can now search the extensive Unsplash stock image library for high-quality, royalty-free stock images to use within Blackboard.  

See our previous blogpost here. 

Blackboard Ally

This month also saw us enable the Blackboard Ally accessibility tool that allows students to download alternative formats of content as well as accessibility checker for Instructors. 

See our previous blogpost here. 

If you have any questions regarding Blackboard Learn Ultra please contact 

Panopto Update for Staff: September 2023

As part of the wider Blackboard Ultra project, our Panopto integration has been upgraded to work with Blackboard Ultra. This has provided us with an opportunity to make some changes and improvements.

Accessing Panopto

You can now access the Panopto server via

Panopto Folders

Panopto folders are now organised by academic year.

Staff have frequently requested that the Panopto folders for their Blackboard Courses are organised by academic year rather than as a long list. The Panopto upgrade work gave us an opportunity to restructure our folders as requested.

Top level year folders will appear greyed out, but you still have access to your Panopto folders within.

When you open the Panopto Recorder in a teaching room:

You can either find the Panopto folder you want to record into via the folders or search for the Panopto folder you want to record into.

To find the Panopto folder you want to record into via the folders:

  • Click the dropdown button in the Folder field.
  • Double-click an academic year folder to expand it.
  • Click the dropdown arrow to the left of the academic year folder to expand it.
  • Select the Panopto folder you want to record into.
An animated gif of accessing a Panopto folder in the Panopto Recorder.

To search for the Panopto folder you want to record into:

  • In the Folder field start typing the module code or name of the Panopto folder you want to Record into
  • Select the folder you want to record into.
An animated gif of accessing a Panopto folder using the search function in the Panopto Recorder.

Sharing Panopto recordings from Previous years.

To share Panopto recordings from previous years Panopto folders, copy the recordings into the current years’ folder of the course. This can be done via This grants all students enrolled on the current years’ course in Blackboard access to view the recordings. See this FAQ.

My Folder

Everyone now has a folder in Panopto called My Folder that they can record into. In the Panopto Recorder it can be found under Quick Access.

My Folder is useful for recordings that staff or students do not want to share with others immediately or when they cannot find a suitable folder to record into.

Recordings can be moved from My Folder into another Panopto Folder later. To copy or move a Panopto recording to another folder See this FAQ.

Turnitin considerations to be aware of (as of October 2022).

Student access to Turnitin Submission Points. 

We recommend that Turnitin Submission Points are not hidden from students for the following reasons: 

  • Students require access to Turnitin Submission Points to access and download their Turnitin digital receipt which is evidence of their submission. 
  • Students should ideally always retain access to their submitted assignments via Turnitin Submission Points.
  • Students should have access to their grades and feedback on the Feedback Release Date originally advertised to them for the Turnitin Submission Point. Feedback should be available to students 15 working days after submission in accordance with point 5.2 of the E-submission and Feedback Policy. 

Turnitin and non-anonymous submission and marking. 

We strongly recommend that the Blackboard Grade Centre column is hidden for any Turnitin Submission Point set up with non-anonymous marking.  

When a Turnitin assignment is set up without anonymous marking any marks entered in the Turnitin Feedback Studio will feed through to the Blackboard Grade Centre Column immediately. This makes them visible to the students before the Feedback Release Date.  

To hide a column in the Grade Centre: 

  1. Go to Full Grade Centre 
  2. Click the chevron next the relevant column 
  3. Toggle the ‘Hide from Students (On/Off)’ option until there is a red line through the chevron. 

The Blackboard Grade Centre Column should be unhidden when the feedback release date has passed. 

Though anonymous marking is the norm, there may be reasons for non-anonymous submission and marking. See point 4.7 of the E-Submission and Feedback Policy. 

This issue has been reported to Turnitin.  

Notice of deletion of old Panopto recordings on 1st February 2022

On 1st February we will be deleting Panopto recordings which are over 5 years old and have not been viewed in the last 5 years. This is in accordance with the Lecture Capture Policy. See point 8.1 of the Lecture Capture Policy.

In future we will be running the same process outlined above every 1st September.

If you have any questions, including how to save old recordings, please email

Workaround for Blackboard 404 error when accessing files using the Microsoft Edge browser.

The Microsoft Edge browser attempts to open Microsoft Office files directly in the browser. When accessing files in Blackboard this is causing an error with the message; “404 – File or directory not found.”

image of a 404 error message

A suggested workaround for this is to use either the Google Chrome or Firefox browsers.

Alternatively you can change the following setting in Microsoft Edge:

Open the Edge menu by clicking the three dots and click Settings

An image of the Edge menu with settings highlighted

Click Downloads

Turn off the setting Open Office files in the browser

An image of the settings under downloads

If you require further assistance please contact

2021-2022 Modules now available to Staff

Modules for the academic year 2021/2022 are now available for staff teaching on modules. This is in order to assist staff in preparing for the new academic year. You may have noticed that a new tab has appeared on the top menu of your Blackboard screen: 

If you’re enrolled as a staff member on the module in Astra then you should be able to view your modules for next academic year. If you’re not able to see a module that you are enrolled on then contact your Departmental Administrator. Students won’t be enrolled on the module until registration is complete.  

You’ll notice that the codes for modules have changed slightly owing to the new MAF form. AB1 denotes modules running in semester 1, AB2 denotes modules running in semester 2, and AB3 denotes modules running in Semester 3 and Semester S.

We’ve got the following support available to help with Course Copy: 

Read our FAQ

If you have any queries regarding Course Copy, or need further assistance, please email

Course Copy 2021-2022

Every year, the E-learning Group create new modules in Blackboard ready for next year’s teaching. For the academic year 2021/22 departments decided internally  whether modules would be blank or have content copied over. Modules for 2021-2022 will be available from the beginning of August. 

Staff in Geography and Earth Sciences and IBERS will have modules created blank. We have prepared these FAQs with detailed guidance on copying different elements from one module to another in Blackboard.

All other departments will have their modules copied. As part of the course copy process, the following tools and content are not copied:

  • Turnitin submissions  
  • Blackboard Assignments  
  • Announcements
  • Blogs
  • Journals  
  • Wikis
  • Panopto recordings and links
  • Teams meetings. 

We would like to assist staff with preparing their modules as much as we can. We are happy to arrange a consultation over Teams. To do so, send an email to