Digital Learning Tools

Filming a lecture

The Digital Learning Team supports the use of a range of tools that provide opportunities to enhance the learning and teaching of our students with technology. This includes Blackboard, the University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and assessment and collaboration tools that are accessed by learners via Blackboard. Below are links to detailed user guides.

For more information on how the Digital Learning Team and IT Services work together to consider which digital learning tools to support, and our position on unsupported tools, please see the Digital Learning Tools: Supported and Unsupported page.

For queries about any of the tools listed below, please contact the Digital Learning Helpdesk:

Digital learning tool user guides


Blackboard is the University of Sheffield's Virtual Learning Environment. It is the system where the online part of a student's programme of study is offered, providing a means to share content, manage assessments, and give opportunities for collaboration and communication. All other tools in this section are also accessed by staff and students via Blackboard.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a tool used for hosting online webinars and virtual classroom activities. It's available to all staff members and enables you to bring people together, regardless of physical location. It includes audio, video, an interactive whiteboard, presentation sharing, screen sharing, polling, breakout rooms and session recording.


Turnitin is an assessment tool that allows for online submission of text-based work, marking of work, and distribution of feedback and grades. It includes a powerful text-matching feature that flags up potential issues of plagiarism in student submissions.


Kaltura is the University of Sheffield's media hosting solution, allowing staff to host and share video and audio content in a secure and flexible setting. It also gives opportunities for assessment, giving the chance to create graded video quizzes, and allowing students to submit the videos to Blackboard assignments.


Encore is the University of Sheffield's lecture capture solution that is installed in teaching spaces across campus. Encore records the content that is displayed on the projector in the room, as well as the audio from the presenter. Recordings are then processed and published online for the students to revisit and revise.

Blackboard Ally

Tightly integrated into Blackboard, Ally enables students to access their learning content in a way that works best for them. It also helps staff better understand accessibility.


PebblePad is a flexible electronic portfolio system that allows learners to reflect on their practice, log achievements and collate evidence. It can be used by teachers to set assignments, using structured Workbooks, marked using PebblePad's ATLAS function.


Crowdmark is an assessment tool accessed through Blackboard that enables students to submit handwritten work as PDFs or image files for assessment. 


TurningPoint is an audience response system that is used at the university to create interactive and engaging teaching content. It allows you to collect responses, feedback and choices using mobile devices, desktop or clicker devices.


Xerte is a content creation tool that enables you to create engaging and accessible online learning resources. These can include text, interactive elements and multimedia. The resources you produce can be embedded or linked to in Blackboard, or shared elsewhere online.

Buddycheck Peer Evaluation

Buddycheck allows students to evaluate the contribution of others and themselves to a group project, the results of which can be used to influence the final mark of an assignment in the Blackboard Grade Centre.

General tool information and support

Troubleshooting and support

Find a series of recommended troubleshooting steps that can solve many of the common bugs that arise in the above digital tools. This page also contains details of how to contact us, and what information you can provide to help us solve your query most effectively.

Known issues

Details on known issues with the University's supported digital learning tools. In some cases suggested workarounds are provided. Issues are reported to our suppliers and reviewed throughout the year.

Supported and unsupported tools

Find out more about the digital learning tools the University supports, our position on tools that do not have central support, and those that are strongly recommended against. 

Digital tools for working online with students

The University offers a number of digital tools for working with students in an online teaching context. This page provides different learning and teaching scenarios, and tools that can be used.  

Capturing hand-drawn graphics and writing

This guidance provides detailed advice on how to capture hand-drawn graphics and writing at home using a camera, tablet or graphics tablet to enhance your teaching materials.

Digital learning - video guidance

These guidance pages are designed to cover key information you need to create effective video for learning and teaching.

Student guidance for online assessment

Guidance on the support available to students for online assessments, including test courses to try out submitting work online, what to do if something goes wrong, and how to submit handwritten work.

Global availability of digital learning tools

Find information about the availability of our tools around the world.

Offline support for digital learning tools

Get tips for saving content to use when you have a less stable internet connection or are working offline.