Currently viewing the tag: "Updates"

The March upgrade, which will be available from Friday 4th March, includes some minor changes to way that learning modules in Ultra courses are set up and modified.

Learning Modules

When setting up learning modules after Friday 4th of March, the following panel will open up once a learning module has been selected for creation:

From this panel, the learning module can be named and a description can be added. The learning module availability can also be set (‘Visible to students’ or ‘Hidden from students’), or release conditions can be set allowing the learning module to be made available to all or only certain groups of students. Release conditions can also include the learning module being made visible after and/or until a particular date.

Additionally, learning modules can be set so that students have to navigate through the content in order and cannot skip ahead. To enable this, ‘Forced sequence’ should be chosen when setting up the learning module.

To update any of the learning module settings after it has been created, simply select the ellipsis menu on the right-hand side of the learning module and choose ‘Edit’.

Also, learning module descriptions are now visible immediately, and students no longer have to open the learning module to read the description:

You can find out more about how to use learning modules in Ultra courses at:

More information

As ever, please get in touch with your learning technologist if you would like any more information about the February upgrade:

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Sorry. The upgraded version of Blackboard scheduled to be available from the 4th of February has been delayed, and will now be available from the 11th of February.

February’s upgrade, which will be in place from the morning of Friday 4th February, adds additional functionality to Blackboard Ultra test settings, and brings in the option for granular copying of content from Original courses to Ultra courses. Also included in the February update is a bug fix which means that the date and time shown on submission receipts for Blackboard Ultra assignments will, from Friday 4th February onwards, be the date and time that the submission was made, not when it was started. Note that this bug did not affect Turnitin assignments – the submission receipt for Turntin assignments has always shown the correct date and time of submission.

Blackboard Ultra test settings

From the 4th of February onwards, staff will be able to select two new options when setting up tests in Ultra courses:

  1. Prohibit late submissions
  2. Prohibit new attempts after due date

Selecting prohibit late submissions enforces a hard deadline and prevents students from making a late submission. In-progress and saved attempts will auto-submit at the due date, and students will receive a submission receipt via email. Specified accommodations are still respected.

Selecting prohibit new attempts after due date prevents students from beginning a new attempt after the due date.

Note that selecting ‘prohibit late submissions’ auto-enables ‘prohibit new attempts after due date.’ However, staff can enable the ‘prohibit new attempts after due date’ option on its own.

If an instructor enables the due date and/or time limit, students will see these details, as they will appear in the Details & Information section for the assessment.

Please note the current limitations with these new settings. ‘Prohibit late submissions’ does not work in combination with Peer review, Group submissions, or Offline submissions. And the ‘prohibit new attempts after due date’ setting enabled on its own does not work with Peer review, or with Offline submissions.

You can find out more about setting up tests in Ultra courses at:

Granular copy content from Original to Ultra courses

Staff making use of the copy content function in Ultra courses will now find that content from their Original courses is available to copy into their Ultra courses. More importantly, and more usefully, the upgraded Ultra copy content tool allows staff to select individual elements of their Original courses, including content items, folders, and tests, to copy into their Ultra courses.

However, please be aware that content copied from Original courses into Ultra courses is transformed (or Ultra-ified) in the process, and incompatible elements are stripped out of the copy. This means that any content copied into an Ultra course from an Original course needs to be manually checked over before it is made available to students. In the case of tests, in particular, incompatible questions will be removed during the Original-to-Ultra conversion process.

More information about the Ultra copy content tool is available from:

Blackboard Ultra assignment receipts

Students submitting Blackboard assignments in Ultra courses will have found that the submission date and time on the receipt was the date and time that the submission was started. From the 4th of February the date and time shown on the receipt will be the date and time of actual submission.

You can find out more about setting up and using Blackboard Ultra assignments at:

More information

As ever, please get in touch with your learning technologist if you would like any more information about the February upgrade:

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December’s upgrade includes improvements to rubrics, accommodations, and groups in Ultra courses. Also included in the December upgrade is the ability to add a description to Ultra course banners. New features in the December upgrade will be available from Friday 3rd December.


Rubric types in Ultra courses have been extended to include both points and points range rubrics. The addition of qualitative rubrics is on Blackboard’s roadmap, although no date has yet been given for when these will be availalble.

Guidance on creating and using rubrics in Ultra courses is available from:


Currently, accommodations for time-limited assessments only include the options to give an individual student +50% or +100% more time, or unlimited time. Following December’s upgrade, any percentage can be selected.

More information about accommodations for time-limited assessments in Ultra courses can be found at:


A small and subtle change to groups in Ultra courses, but following the upgrade, staff will have the option to decide whether groups are visible to students or not. This will be useful for staff who like to set up marking groups in Turnitin, for example, to manage the marking of a large cohort amongst multiple markers. While it’s not a problem to do this already, such groups can be hidden from students following the upgrade.

More information on using groups in Ultra course is available at:

Course banner description

Ultra course banners were introduced in the November upgrade. These course banners should always be used as a decorative element to the course, and they are treated as such for accessibility purposes, informing students using a screen reader that the image is decorative and does not need describing. However, December’s upgrade allows an image description to be added, and which, if used, will explain to students using a screen reader what the image contains.

More information about adding a course banner to your Ultra course can be found at:

More information

As ever, please get in touch with your learning technologist if you would like any more information about the December upgrade:

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If you’re interested in understanding more about some of the new features that Blackboard will be bringing to Ultra and Original courses, you can join Blackboard’s Product Management leaders as they provide an update on the Blackboard Roadmap.

There are two sessions, one on the Ultra roadmap, and one on the Original roadmap. Even if you can’t attend the webinars, if you sign up to attend you will receive a recording of the webinar.

Ultra Course View
Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Time: 1:00pm GMT

Original Course View
Wednesday, November 3, 2021. Time: 12:00pm GMT

To find our more, and to sign-up, go to:

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New look-and-feel for the NILE homepage

June 2020 sees a new look-and-feel for the NILE homepage. While the new homepage is indeed radically different, NILE courses are entirely unaffected. You can read more about the new NILE homepage here:

What is the new NILE homepage for staff

What is the new NILE homepage for students

New NILE courses for the 20/21 academic year

New NILE courses for the 20/21 academic year will be available for use from the 2nd of June onwards. As usual, the new courses follow the standard template as set out in the NILE Design Standards, so you can create your courses afresh, or you can copy materials from your 19/20 courses into your 20/21 courses. To copy materials across, please follow very carefully our instructions about how to do this:

Bulk copying content between courses in NILE

Full information about finding and setting up your new NILE courses can be found in our FAQ – How do I set up my new NILE course for the upcoming academic year?

There are no significant changes to the way that module courses have been created, however, there are major changes to the way that programme courses have been created.

Changes to NILE programme courses

Earlier this year the Student Experience Committee approved changes to the way that programme courses are created in NILE. For many years each programme has had a number of different programme course variations in NILE, which meant that for most programmes there were often eight different variations, and no single course that collected together all students on a programme. From this year onwards there is now a single programme course per programme per academic year, and this course has all students on it who are taking the programme (all years of study, full- and part-time, single and joint honours). This means that a single honours student will be enrolled on one programme course, and a joint honours will be enrolled on both of their programmes courses, plus the joint honours programme course. Foundation students will also have a single programme course for all foundation students.

NILE updates for anonymous marking

As anonymous marking becomes the new normal for the 20/21 academic year, changes in the integration between NILE and the Student Records System mean that you will no longer see students on your NILE courses who have transferred or withdrawn from your modules. The main effect of this is that you can now safely use Turnitin’s ‘Email non-submitters’ tool.

Additionally, and to assist with the process of anonymous marking, the Learning Technology Team have put together the following guides for staff and students:

Anonymous marking guide for staff:

Guidance for students submitting work anonymously

Help and support with NILE

As ever, for help and support with any of the NILE tools, or simply to find out more about what NILE is and how the Learning Technology Team can help you, please see our website:

And do feel free to contact your learning technologist for advice and guidance about anything related to educational technology in general, or NILE in particular:

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Here are a few things we need to tell you about your NILE sites for the 15/16 year. Please take look as there will more than likely be something that is relevant to you.

Making your site live

Don’t forget that sites are not automatically made available to students. You need to make them available once you’re ready. To do this, you can use the Quick Actions box which is on the Sites & Organisations tab. Click Site Availability, then use the toggle switch to make sites available/unavailable (ie. turn them on/off) to students.


To make things easier to copy contact details from site to site you can change your contacts section from using the Contacts Tool to a standard content area. This will enable you to copy individual items/contacts between sites instead of all contacts at the same time. However, if you have spent some time on your contacts area already (using the Tool) and just want to ensure the Student Desk details are correct, you can create a new contact and use this URL as the link:

For more information on using a Content Area for your Contacts have a look at this guide

Reading lists

Unfortunately we have discovered that there are some 15/16 sites that have not automatically got a link to the Reading List (Talis Aspire) site. If you find that there is not a link in the Reading List section of your site then follow this guidance to add it. It is only a few clicks.

Turnitin update

Updates to the Turnitin integration with NILE over the summer has resulted in the frustrating issue where the Primary Display in the Grade Centre reverts to displaying the number has now been resolved. If you make changes to a Turnitin assignment (eg. changing the post date) the Primary Display settings are retained.

Kaltura update

If you are using videos for assessment then the product (Kaltura) behind this has been updated. This new guide provides details of the slight change in the way that students should submit video for assessment. Look out for more details soon.

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