Digital Learning Tools: Known issues

This page details known issues with the University's supported digital learning tools. In some cases suggested workarounds are provided. These issues are reported to our suppliers and reviewed at appropriate intervals throughout the year.

If you would like to report an issue, or a workaround is not working you, please contact: digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk

Page updated: 3 September 2021


Blackboard known issues

Area Issue Workaround
Ongoing issues

Adaptive Release

When you add an adaptive release rule to any content item/assessment/test in Blackboard using the date criteria only, when you come to submit it, it also adds a membership rule which contains no members. This creates an adaptive release rule that nobody can fulfil and therefore is seen by no students on the course.

Access the Adaptive release advanced option (item menu > Adaptive Release: Advanced). Then edit the criteria of Rule 1. From there tick the checkbox to the left of membership and delete that rule.

Blackboard are aware of this and is due to be fixed on a future release.

Blackboard Assignments

Documents selected for assignment submission are replaced with blank/empty documents when using a combination of Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge.

This only happens if during the submission process, after selecting the document to submit, the student then opens it to check that it is the correct document before then closing it and pressing the 'Submit' button.

Selecting the document and pressing 'Submit' without first opening the document results in the document being submitted normally.

Using Windows 10 with any other browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome) or using Microsoft Edge with an operating system other than Windows 10 results in the document being submitted normally.

Blackboard Tests

When you choose a date for the 'Show test results and feedback' > 'On Specific date' setting on a Blackboard Test, the results will not automatically be released to students at that date.

This is because the setting will not trigger unhiding the associated Grade Centre column, which needs to happen for students to see their results.

A workaround is to set reminders to open the Grade Centre on the result release day and manually show the column to students.

Blackboard Tests

Using significant figures sometimes causes problems with automatic marking in Blackboard Tests. Correct answers are marked as incorrect in a few specific cases where accuracy is given to a number of significant figures.

We are asking for clarification from Blackboard about the issue but think it's due to how Blackboard handles calculated formula answers in which accuracy is given to a number of significant figures and the last significant figure is '0'.

Find out more about this issue.

In the question settings you are able to edit the answer sets and remove any answers where this would be an issue.

Blank Pages

Blank pages are not available to Guests in Blackboard courses. This has been raised with Blackboard and they are working on a solution, but in the short term they have highlighted a workaround for the issue.

If you use blank pages in Blackboard and want to make them available to Guests, contact the Digital Learning Helpdesk (digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk) and request a fix to be applied.

Blogs

A small number of students using Safari as a browser are encountering issues adding blog entries in Blackboard. When content is added, upon clicking Submit, none of the content is saved.

This issue is impacting older versions of Safari (version 12 and earlier).

To resolve this issue, it's recommended to update Safari or use an alternate browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

Content Editor

The default font size in the Content Editor is currently displaying as '14px', however when text is entered this will actually be formatted as font size 10.

Staff and students wishing to use an alternative font size should select the appropriate size from the dropdown menu - e.g. 10pt, 12pt, 14pt etc.

Content Editor

Students using the Source Code button (<> icon) on the content editor to embed content (e.g. Google Maps) are not able to achieve this. When added, the content is replaced by a blank space.

None.

Content Editor

When using LaTeX to input equations there are issues when going back in to edit. The equations will initially display correctly but if you go back in to edit symbols or formatting, they are replaced with '§gt;'.

This has been reported for the following:

  • ampersands (&)
  • < or > symbols

If you want to check the LaTeX is rendering correctly copy it first so that you will have the original.

Content Editor

When using screenreading software (JAWS for Windows) to insert a Kaltura video into a course, a bug is appearing that disrupts the workflow.

After creating a content item, clicking the Add Content menu and selecting Kaltura Media, the cursor's focus will not automatically switch to the Kaltura Media pop-up window that enables you to embed videos.

You have to click with the mouse anywhere in the web browser window before you can then use the keyboard to navigate around the Kaltura Media window.

Content Editor

When inserting a local file via the Add Content menu, the Content Editor will attempt to display incompatible media file formats (e.g. PSD, TIFF and WMA) inline. However this function will leave a blank space on the page which cannot be clicked to download the file.

None.

Content Editor

When inserting a restricted Google Drive link on a new line in the Content Editor, a preview box may appear that has been translated to German. 

Adding extra text after you have inserted the link, or using a public Google Drive link will prevent the preview appearing in German.

Content Editor

When creating a short answer question in Blackboard Tests there is the option to 'Set the number of rows that will display in the answer field', with 1-6 rows presented as the available choices. However whichever number you select, students will be presented with a single text box to input their answer(s).

None.

Content Editor

When creating question text for the 'Calculated Formula' question type in Blackboard Tests, selecting the 'Add Content' button > 'Common Tools' > 'Insert Local Files', the local files option is not available but is available with all the other question types.

None.

Content Editor

When students submit a response to a 'Short Answer' or 'Essay' question type in Blackboard Tests, the 'Add Content' menu does not have an option to 'Insert Local Files' to upload a file.

None.

Course menu

Two dividers are added when you add one on a Blackboard course menu. 

Delete one of the dividers. There is no known fix at present.

Grade Centre

'Show items that don't contribute to user's mark' does not show information in the Grade Centre.

There is a new setting in the Grade Centre (after the April 2019 upgrade) that shows items that don't contribute to a user's mark. A bug means this search is not applied automatically when this is selected. 

This issue is being investigated by Blackboard.

Click the checkbox labelled 'Show attempts that don't contribute to user's mark' manually, and click 'Go' to complete the search.

Grade Centre

The Quick Comment function in Grade Centre gives a popup error message.  

The following error: 'Only POST methods are accepted for grade changes, Course User id' occurs when you:

  1. Go to Grade Centre
  2. Select the context menu of a grade column/line where a grade has been entered
  3. Select Quick Comment
  4. Select Text Editor
  5. Select Submit

The workaround is to either add feedback via the Quick Comment window and do not open the Text Editor (i.e. add the feedback at step 3) or access the attempt (in the same dropdown as Quick Comment) and add feedback in the screen that follows.

Groups

When groups are created using the Group Set tool in Blackboard, no group code is generated. This means you are unable to use the bulk enrolments of group members method.

To make the codes appear you can export the groups (use the Groups Only option). This will prompt Blackboard to make the group codes appear.

Journals

A small number of students using Safari as a browser are encountering issues adding journal entries in Blackboard. When content is added, upon clicking Submit, none of the content is saved.

This issue is impacting older versions of Safari (version 12 and earlier).

To resolve this issue, it's recommended to update Safari or use an alternate browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

Kaltura Media in Blackboard

Occasionally Safari users on Mac OSX or iOS receive an error message when trying to view Kaltura Media in a Blackboard course. 

The message states: It seems your browser is blocking 3rd party session cookies which are required for the Kaltura application. To resolve this issue, please update your settings to allow 3rd party cookies.

Use Chrome or Firefox. Alternatively, follow the steps below to adjust cookie settings in Safari:

Mac OSX: Open Safari, click on Safari > Preferences > Privacy, under Cookies & Website Data select 'Always Allow'.

iOS (iOS 10 and below): Open the Settings App, go to Safari > Block Cookies, select 'Always Allow'.

iOS (iOS 11 and above): Open the Settings App, go to Safari > Prevent Cross-Site Tracking, turn off 'Present Cross-Site Tracking'.

Linked courses

Staff are unable to see Child courses in Blackboard's Courses List. There is no such problem for Students. Students see the title of a Child course and on opening it are presented with the contents of the Parent course as usual.

None.

Manage Users

The Manage Users tool does not allow updating staff roles on Blackboard courses.

When staff try to change the role of a colleague (e.g. changing from Instructor to Module Lead Instructor) it does not work correctly. The tool appears to accept the change, however upon returning to the tool, the staff member's role will be unchanged. 

There are two workarounds for this issue: 

Delete the staff member from the course and re-add them with the correct role. Note: Only do this if the staff member has had no interactions with any of the collaborative tools on the course (e.g. discussion boards, blogs, journals, wikis).

Contact the Digital Learning Helpdesk (digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk) who will assist in updating the staff member's role.

Notifications

Students are receiving overdue notifications for assignments they have already submitted to. We believe this issue is due to changes in the way that Blackboard notifications are displayed, and changes to the Turnitin building block triggering notifications which it couldn't previously.

Find out more about this issue.

None.

Notifications 

A current bug will not allow you to change how many notifications you receive from a Blackboard Organisation and by default you will receive notifications resulting from any changes made in any Organisation you are associated with.

Blackboard are aware of this situation and hope to include a fix with a future update.

None.

Syllabus

When adding a Syllabus to a Blackboard course, it always moves to the bottom of the page after re-ordering content items upon refreshing the page.

Use the content item Move tool to move the Syllabus to another content area, and then move it back. Now Drag and Drop and keyboard access can change the position of the Syllabus and it appears to 'stick' as expected.

uReports

uReports is not able to run Blackboard queries currently. 

This is being investigated by IT Services.

None.

Web browsers blocking content

Security features in web browsers may prevent you from seeing some content in Blackboard. The most obvious examples are web links and embedded video.

All major browsers have increased security levels to help protect users from malicious ‘phishing’ attacks hidden on web pages. This has created an unfortunate side effect in Blackboard, and it occurs when a page is in ‘mixed mode’, i.e. the page has both secure and insecure content.

Blackboard is running in a secure environment, which is defined by the 'https' at the beginning of the URL. This is good because user data is protected. However, Blackboard offers the ability to display content from outside of Blackboard within course pages, typically as a web link. The ‘mixed mode’ problem arises when this external content is sitting on a non-secure server, which is defined by the URL beginning with 'http', so you end up having this less secure content being displayed within secure Blackboard pages.

This is how ‘phishing’ attacks can happen, so browser developers have introduced an automatic block on this ‘mixed mode’ which increases the protection a user has. This does mean however that genuine, safe, content also gets blocked. A couple of examples in Blackboard would be embedded video content or external web pages like the BBC. Using Kaltura to insert media in the course avoids the mixed mode error.

It is possible to make this blocked content appear via the workarounds below. These settings will apply to all Blackboard pages for the duration of your browser session. If you log out, and close the browser, you will need to repeat the process when you next log in to Blackboard.

Internet Explorer:

If you expect to see web links, video or audio content but it does not appear, check the bottom of the screen. If you see a warning message under a yellow bar it means the browser is blocking some content. Click the button labelled 'Show all content' and your content should appear.

Firefox:

If you expect to see web links, video or audio content but it does not appear, check the address bar of your browser. If you see a grey shield to the left of the address bar it means the browser is blocking some content.

If you click on the grey shield you will see a pop-up menu warning you that this page has insecure content. Click the drop-down arrow. Select 'Disable protection' on this page and your content should appear.

Google Chrome:

If you expect to see web links, video or audio content but it does not appear, check the address bar of your browser. If you see a grey shield to the right of the address bar it means the browser is blocking some content.

If you click on the grey shield you will see a pop-up menu warning you that this page has insecure content. Click the button labelled 'Load Anyway' and your content should appear. You may notice that the contents of the address bar changes to indicate you are viewing insecure content.

Recently resolved

Blackboard Tests

Equations and formulae written in LaTeX or using the equation editor are rendering incorrectly. This is an intermittent fault that Blackboard are working to fix.

Blackboard report this issue is now fixed:  

In the Original and Ultra Course Views, the Wiris math editor was sometimes displaying overlapped formula symbols, due to an improper font family type setting, making it difficult to read. We've fixed the issue and set a default font family.

If you experience any related issues please contact digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk

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Blackboard Collaborate known issues

Area Issue Workaround

Breakout Groups

Microphone status symbols do not show in Breakout Groups. Mic symbols (denoting that participants are using their mics) do not appear in the Participant panel when using Breakout Groups. i.e. A participant might be speaking in the Breakout Group, but the mic symbol will not be displayed in the Participant panel.

Moderators can move themselves into the relevant Breakout Group to check if participants are speaking. Alternatively, ask participants to use the 'Raise Hand' feature to attract attention.

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Kaltura known issues

Area Issue Workaround

Kaltura Media in Blackboard

Occasionally Safar users on Mac OSX or iOS receive an error message when trying to view Kaltura Media in a Blackboard course. 

The message states: It seems your browser is blocking 3rd party session cookies which are required for the Kaltura application. To resolve this issue, please update your settings to allow 3rd party cookies.

Use Chrome or Firefox. Alternatively, follow the steps below to adjust cookie settings in Safari:

Mac OSX: Open Safari, click on Safari > Preferences > Privacy, under Cookies & Website Data select 'Always Allow'.

iOS (iOS 10 and below): Open the Settings App, go to Safari > Block Cookies, select 'Always Allow'.

iOS (iOS 11 and above): Open the Settings App, go to Safari > Prevent Cross-Site Tracking, turn off 'Present Cross-Site Tracking'.

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PebblePad known issues

Area Issue Workaround

Accessing PebblePad

PebblePad is usually found under 'View All Services' in MUSE. Some associate or visiting members of staff may not have a link to PebblePad in their MUSE account, but do have a PebblePad account.

If this is the case, you need to log into PebblePad directly.

Sharing Resources

If your resource is not appearing in students' Resources Store, there are a few issues that may be happening. Examples include:

  • Is the Resource added to the correct Workspace in ATLAS?
  • Have students been added to the Workspace?
  • Is the Resource set to 'Visible' in the 'Resources' section of your Workspace?
  • Is the Workspace active?
  • Are students erroneously looking in the Asset Store, rather than the Resource Store?

If these settings are as they should be, or you are unsure, please contact digital.learning@sheffield.ac.uk for advice.

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Turnitin known issues

Area Issue Workaround

Feedback Studio

For users with devices that do not have a mouse wheel or trackpad, you are not able to scroll down the thumbnail bar on the left hand side of Feedback Studio. However you can still scroll down the document itself.

Turnitin are aware of this issue and are planning to resolve it in a future update.

None.

Grade Centre

Turnitin grades experience a delay in release to Blackboard's Grade Centre. If you have selected 'Reveal grades only on post date' the associated column in the Grade Centre should become visible on the post date and time selected. These are delayed for around 5 minutes. 

You can manually make the column visible in the Full Grade Centre, and students can access the grade from the original submission link.

PDF submissions

Turnitin submissions via PDF do not always display correctly. Although Turnitin list PDF as being an acceptable file format to them, they only officially support PDF submissions that were originally created with Adobe Acrobat software. This is now available in the Software Centre on the University Managed Desktop service.

PDF's created using third party software or plug-ins may not be able to be read properly by Turnitin's scanning software and may fail to upload, or may be accepted initially but then suffer a corruption in the document's formatting which can lead to problems creating an accurate Originality Report.

Similarly, conversions into PDF from other formats such as Microsoft Word can also cause problems for Turnitin because Turnitin sometimes interprets these as scanned image files rather than an original text format and again this causes problems for the Turnitin scanners as they are predominantly checking for text, not images.

None.

PeerMark

There is a known issue with PeerMark assignments with more than one review per student. Regardless of which peer review the student or instructor has selected to view, the first peer review received will be displayed by default instead of the one selected.

As a workaround, the user may select any review to open it up in the PeerMark viewer and then click on the '<>' links at the top-right of the screen to cycle through the other peer reviews received.

Student Preview in Blackboard

Turnitin does not support Student Preview Mode in Blackboard. If an Instructor tries to access a Turnitin assignment with Student Preview Mode engaged, then the Instructor will receive the error message 'Student Preview mode is not supported'.

If you wish to submit as a student, you can click 'View/complete' and submit as a non-enrolled student.

Turnitin

Areas of Turnitin that have a popup box appear are causing certain functions not to work, these include:

  • You are unable to create or edit assignments to have post-dates more than the default amount of 2 weeks after the due date.
  • The resubmit button is unresponsive and unable to be used.
  • Submissions are unable to be downloaded from the assignment inbox.

This looks to be impacting older Chrome and Edge browsers. Please ensure you are using the latest version of Chrome or Edge to rectify the issue. 

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