Student Guidance for Online Assessment

Autumn Semester formal examinations are expected to be conducted mostly online, or in alternative assessment formats. In most cases exams are being replaced in the following ways:

  • An assignment (without Turnitin)
  • An assignment (with Turnitin)
  • A Blackboard test (Quiz)
  • Submitting handwritten work through Blackboard or Crowdmark Assignments
  • Media submission through Blackboard Assignments

Your academic department will let you know which types of assessments will be used. You can try out different assessment formats before the real thing - see the Try out submitting online section below.

It's a good idea to complete assessments sooner rather than later, to give you time to seek help if you encounter any problems.

If you experience any issues during an online timed assessment, please see What to do if something goes wrong.


How to submit work in Blackboard

How to submit work to Turnitin in Blackboard











Try out submitting online

You can access a practice course on Blackboard to try out the process of submitting different assessment types online.

First please log into Blackboard and then click this link: Online Assessment Practice Course

You will be asked to self-enrol on the course when you first access it. After this the course will appear in your course list on Blackboard, alongside your existing modules.

If your tutor is using Crowdmark, they will be in touch to give more details about trying out submitting in this way. This will either be on your existing course or a separate course specifically to try out this approach.

Check your IT setup in advance
  • Visit the Blackboard Browser Checker in advance of the assessment period to check your browser and operating system.
  • Check your WiFi / use a network cable where possible.
  • Minimise other internet usage and avoid using streaming services when trying to submit work or taking an online test.
  • Manage your Windows Updates to ensure your PC does not try to restart itself whilst you are taking a test.
  • If you’re using a laptop, check the power supply is plugged in to the mains and turned on.
301 support for online assessment

301: Academic Skills Centre have developed resources to help you tackle the range of assessments you may be undertaking remotely, as well as tips and techniques on creating a good working environment to help you stay on top of your workload.

301: Guide to Alternative Assessment

301: Remote Study Strategies

Extra support for students

The Disability and Dyslexia Support Service (DDSS) have information on how disabled students' exam support requirements will be accommodated with the move to online assessment.

DDSS also has guidance on how to take part in the University's yellow sticker scheme indicating you have a documented disability which affects your written communication when submitting assessments electronically via Blackboard Assignments or Turnitin.

DDSS: Information for students who access - or are eligible to access - exam adjustments

DDSS: Yellow Stickers 

Submitting handwritten assignments

Your course may require you to submit handwritten work with equations or drawings through a Blackboard or Crowdmark assignment. This should be done as a PDF for Blackboard assignments. Crowdmark asssignments can accept images in JPG or PNG format as well as PDF. You should always check in the assignment information if a particular format is preferred.


Guidance for completing handwritten assignments

When setting out your work you should think about how you will capture it. Your tutor may give you guidance about how your work should be set out. A few general points to consider are:

  • Paper should generally not be larger than A4 so your work will be large enough to read on screen
  • Do not include any identifying information unless told to by your tutor
  • Use a dark colour on a light background
  • Use margins as indicated by your tutor
  • Ensure that all working out is clear and in a logical order
  • Label questions clearly with the question number
  • If you have multiple pages, put page numbers at the top of each page so that you will be able to quickly check they are in the correct order
  • Leave space between questions if you will need to take individual pictures or crop them
  • Avoid starting a question at the bottom of a page where you will need to go on to another page

Scanning handwritten assignments to PDF

Some home printers will have a scanning function or the Microsoft Office Lens app can be used to create PDFs with a smartphone as shown below.

If you are unable to use either of these methods please email digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk copying in your course administrator or module leader. For issues with the MS Office Lens app, Microsoft provide online chat support.

  1. Download the app which is available on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.




  2. Choose or take a picture and use the cropping tool to select the relevant area.




  3. Click add new in the bottom left hand corner to add more pages.




  4. When you’ve finished scanning all of the pages click on the circle with the number on in the right hand corner. You will be given another chance to edit your work so you should check that everything has been included and that the writing is clear.




  5. Save your work to your phone or tablet gallery. This will then need to be submitted to your course. To do this you can email the file to yourself or save it to your Google Drive so that you are able to access it on the device you use to access Blackboard.




  6. Any work created by this method should be uploaded to a Blackboard Assignment on your course (not Turnitin).

This is a picture of the handwritten work. Black pen will show up best.

A page of mathematical notes viewed through the Microsoft Office Lens app

The app allows you to select the relevant area to remove the background and any irrelevant work.

Using the Microsoft Office Lens app to crop an image of handwritten notes to the relevant area

When you have finished you are able to further edit your work or add additional pages before saving to PDF.

Handwritten notes scanned into the Microsoft Office Lens app with editing tools

Click on the three dots next to the file to share it.



















The files page of Microsoft Office Lens showing images of handwritten notes that have been saved


Creating a PDF with Microsoft Office Lens (Android/Apple)







Please note: it is possible to use a note taking app on a tablet or touch screen device as long as it can export to either JPG, PNG (up to 12MB) or PDF (up to 25MB).

Please make sure that this is appropriate by checking with your tutor, and follow the same guidelines for completing your work to ensure that it is set out correctly.

What to do if something goes wrong

If you experience any issues during an online timed assessment that impacts your performance or ability to complete the assessment within the time allowed, you should complete the form linked below. 

Online Assessment Report Form for Assessment 2020/21

You do not need to submit the form during your assessment but must do so as soon as possible afterwards.

The information you include on this form will be monitored by the Student Examinations Team, SAS. Key information will be verified and reported, as required, to the appropriate academic or professional services department. You will be contacted if any further action is required, so please check your email regularly.