Accessing work anonymously

You can access submitted assignments via the Grade Centre. Select Full Grade Centre from the Grade Centre menu.

Items that need marking are indicated by the icon.

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Locate the column related to your assessment.

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Check that the icon in the column header has a red line through it. This ensures that students to do not see the grades or feedback until you are ready to release them.

Select the down arrow next to the title of the column (1) and select Grade with Usernames Hidden (2).

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Once you have selected this, work is available for marking and all user information is removed from the marking process.

You will see from the illustration below, students are given numbers and the ‘(Hide User Names is enabled)’ notice appears.

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Once you select submit for this assessment (after entering a grade), you are taken to the next anonymised student's work to mark.

If there are multiple markers on a module, it may be that a different approach to anonymisation needs to be taken. Please contact a Learning Technologist for more information.


Annotating work

Access the student work

You can view the content of each student’s script without downloading the file or leaving the web browser.

Blackboard has recently transitioned between two online annotation tools for assignments. New Box view replaced Crocodoc in January this year. Unfortunately we are getting reports of persistent issues with Box. In particular markers reports issues with using Box off-campus and that they are unable to annotate some file types (eg Excel).

Alternative Workflow: Download-Annotate-Upload

If you decide that inline annotation is not appropriate for your marking, you will need to follow this alternative workflow. Unfortunately it is not possible to download anonymised batches of scripts so off-line annotation is completed one assignment at a time. During this workflow a copy of the submitted file is saved locally so it is important that this file is deleted or overwritten after the annotations have been uploaded.

The marking environment

Many document types are supported for on screen viewing and the following file types can be annotated: PDF, Word, Powerpoint. If a student has uploaded an unsupported file, you are prompted to download it.

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To have more space on your screen while you are marking, change to the full screen view (1).

You can also minimise the Grading side bar (2). This will give you the maximum screen real estate for marking.

You can undo these viewing option by clicking on the icons once more.

You can zoom the content in and out and move from page to page using the page slider bar and the zoom functions on your device.

Using the annotation tools

On screen annotation tools are provided through a Box integration with Blackboard. Some markers prefer to download files for annotation using the native application and then upload the annotated version as feedback. If you prefer to add comments on screen there are three tools available: highlighting (see below), sticky-note comments tool (A) and freehand drawing tool (B).

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Highlight tool (with or without comment)

The highlight tool is not selected from the menu but activated by clicking and dragging anywhere on text on the script.

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Once this action has been completed you will be offered the option of adding an explanatory comment to the highlight (D) or leaving highlight only (C). Please note that from an initial student view, highlighted text does not clearly indicate if a comment has or has not been added. Students will need to hover over all highlight to discover if associated comments have been left.

Sticky note tool

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Selecting the sticky-note or ‘point annotation tool’ allows you to add one or more typed comments to your student’s work. Once the tool is selected a black border is added to the page and a point and click action delivers a location specific comment box. This action can be repeated to add more comments in different locations on the script. Once point-annotation has been completed, clicking close will remove the black border and allow an alternative tool to be selected.

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Individual sticky-note comments can be deleted (but not edited) by hovering over and tapping the bin icon top right.


Providing overall feedback (including attaching a file)

As well as using the annotation tools for feedback and comments, you are able to provide overall feedback on student work.

As you look at a student attempt, you will see that there is a Grading panel to the right of the student submission. The feedback box is contained in this area.

Note:The feedback box is not normally visible by default.

To show the feedback box, click onto the down-arrow just beneath the Attempt text box.

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Alternatively you can click into the Attempt text box and the Grading panel will be expanded.

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You can type directly into the Feedback to Learner text box or open the full Blackboard content editor by clicking on the A icon.

You can also attach a file as feedback. This might be useful where you have a standard feedback form or are using a rubric within Word or Excel.

To attach a file, select the paperclip icon and browse your computer for the relevant file.

You can attach any type of file including audio files.

Do bear in mind that students will need to have appropriate software to be able to open and read the file, so it is recommended that you use standard file types.


Working offline

There may be some cases where you need to download the original submitted file and annotate it offline.

For example:

  1. You require students to submit a file type that does not display in the marking preview pane.
  2. A student mistakenly submits a file type that does not display in the marking preview pane.
  3. You anticipate that annotation will take more than an hour, you are concerned about the stability of your internet connection or you have an offline annotation tool that you would prefer to use.

Note: Supported formats for display in the Blackboard marking preview pane are: Word, PDF, PowerPoint and Excel.

If you intend to use the marking preview pane exclusively, it is a good idea to tell students to only submit in supported formats. This restriction cannot be added centrally as other assessments require different file types to be submitted.

Marking offline using the process below is only possible where you can complete the offline marking and annotation while keeping the Blackboard screen open so that you do not lose the anonymised student record you are working on.

Download and save the student's file

From Blackboard, click the download button and save the student's work to your local store using the file name “Feedback”.

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Open the file ready for you to annotate

Open “Feedback” using the native application – i.e. if the student has submitted an Excel file (.xls), then open in Excel or if a Word file (.doc) has been submitted, open it in Word.

Annotate the work

Some markers use a different colour to annotate the work in context, while others prefer to add a number key and list comments separately. If the native application allows it, you may choose to use comments or text boxes.

Save the annotated file

When you have finished annotating the work, save it as “Feedback” replacing the student's version on your local drive.

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Upload for the student to access

Return to Blackboard and open the Blackboard feedback box for the assignment. Click on the paperclip and navigate to the file you named “Feedback” this will now be the annotated version of the file.

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Alternatively open the full text editor and attach using the paperclip tool found there.

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Complete marking

Continue with your standard marking processes, using overall feedback, rubrics and giving grades as usual.

Start on the next student

When you download the next piece of work use the same file name “Feedback”. This will ensure that the file is overwritten each time and reduces the risk of breaching students' privacy. When you have finished your marking session and uploaded the last annotated version, make sure you delete any residual locally held “Feedback” files. All versions of your feedback will be held on Blackboard in the context of the student's submission.

Check your annotations

Markers can look at annotated versions by visiting the attempt history.

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To make amendments re-upload using process “Upload for the student to access” with the paperclip from the marking screen.


Cancelling an accidental submission

Summative Assessment through Blackboard allows for one submission per assessment.

If a student has accidentally submitted or mistakenly submitted the wrong work, they can contact their LTS Hub to have the incorrect attempt ‘ignored’ or cleared in Blackboard.

Locate the Blackboard module that has the incorrect submission. Select Full Grade Centre from the Grade Centre menu on the Control Panel.

Select the down arrow next to the submission that you need to clear. The arrow only appears when you hover over the cell. Make sure that you have selected the correct column (assignment) and row (student).

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Select View Grade Details from the menu that appears.

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You need to select the Ignore Attempt button.

This will allow the student to resubmit but will retain a copy of the first submission.


Adding a grade

When you have finished marking process, and before you move to another student’s work, add a grade by typing directly into the Attempt box.

Please avoid using the grade override feature to provide a summative mark for a submitted piece of work. This function only has very specific applications and if used in this context, both it and the attempt grade will be visible to students.

If you need to change a grade for any reason, replace the value in the Attempt box or see Reviewing and changing grades below.

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As well as annotating the script, you can also give overall feedback to the student in the feedback box below the Attempt box.

When you have added a grade and any feedback, select the Submit button. This records the changes made and moves you onto the next piece of work to be marked.


Reviewing and changing grades

Changing a grade

In some circumstances, grades need to be reviewed and changed.

A full history of any changes made to grades is kept within Blackboard.

Hover over the cell containing the grade that needs changing and click the down arrow, choose View Grade Details from the menu that appears.

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In the Attempts area of Grade Details, select the Edit Grade button.

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The next screen allows you to change the grade and provides boxes where additional feedback can be left for the learner and for grading notes.

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Select Save to return to the main Attempts view of the Grade Details area.

Please avoid using the grade override feature on an individual attempt to change a grade. This function only has very specific applications and if used in this context, both it and the attempt grade will be visible to students.

If you need to change a grade for any reason, replace the value in the Attempt box.

View the grade history

To view the history of changes made to the grade of this assessment select Grade History. By default you are shown the last two changes, to view the complete history select View Complete History.

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View the grade history for all students for this assessment

To see an aggregate view of grade changes for all students on an assessment, select the down arrow of the column title in the Grade Centre and choose View Grade History.


Releasing provisional marks to students

Once moderation is complete, module organisers can release grades to students.

Module organisers must also transfer provisional marks to e:Vision.

Select Full Grade Centre from the Grade Centre menu.

Locate the column related to your assessment. The icon in the column header has a red line through it, ensuring that students to do not see the grades or feedback until you release them.

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Select the down arrow next to the title of the column (1) and select Hide from Students (on/off) (2).

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The restricted icon with a red line will disappear and the grades are now visible to the students.

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Notify the students that their work has been marked and they can collect their grade and feedback from My Feedback in the Summative Assessment 17-18 area of the Blackboard module.


Transfer provisional marks to e:Vision

Safari web browser - Please be aware there is a known issue using this web browser which means the process of transferring provisional marks to e:Vision will not currently work.

Once the marking and moderation processes are complete, Module Organisers need to transfer the provisional marks in Blackboard to e:Vision, where lates and extensions will be managed by LTS in the usual way.

The provisional marks should also be released to the students.

Select Full Grade Centre from the Grade Centre menu.

Select Manage and then Mark Approval and Transfer.

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The next screen requires you to confirm the module for which you want to transfer marks – by default it will only show you the module you are currently in.

Important: Do not Approve Marks at this module-level stage.

Tick the box next to the name of your module (1) and click Mark Column Approval and Transfer (2).

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The next step is to confirm the summative assessment(s) from the module that need to have marks transferred to e:Vision.

A summative assessment should only be selected for transfer once marking and moderation is complete.

Tick the box next to the summative assessment to be transferred (1) and then click Approve Marks (2).

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The provisional marks for the assessment will be sent to your Hub where they will be processed in the usual way.

To navigate to a different area of your Blackboard module, select an item from the menu or the Control Panel.

Important note: this process needs to be repeated each time that a late piece of work is marked.


Tracking late work

Sometimes, and for various reasons, student work is submitted passed the due date.

Using its notification system, Blackboard can alert you by email when a piece work is submitted.

To use this notification setting to track late work (rather than receive lots of emails ahead of the due date), only turn it on just after the due date.

Open the Global Navigation Menu (1) by clicking your name at the top right hand of the Blackboard screen.

Click Settings (2) then Edit Notification Settings (3).

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Bb Menu Item

Find the relevant module in the list titled Edit Individual Module Settings and click onto it.

For the setting Assignment Needs Grading, tick the box in the Email column.

Then click Submit.

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Bb Notification Screen

Once this notification method is switched on, you will be emailed each time a piece of work gets submitted. Hence the reason for only switching it on after the due date.

Please use this method with caution on very large modules or where there are multiple, perhaps formative tasks where students are required to submit work - you will receive an email each time.

We still recommend proactively checking the module for any late work in addition to being able to track late work in this way.

If you would like to know about the Notifications system in Blackboard more generally, please contact one of the Learning Technologists


Get additional training

Additional training is provided by the Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning (at the top of the ITCS building). We have a series of training sessions and webinars that you can attend. For more information and to book please click here.


Report an issue

We hope that this article was helpful. If you require further assistance please log an issue with the IT Service Desk and the Learning Technology Team will get back to you as soon as possible.