Updates and Information on your Digital Learning Environments.

Welcome (back) to all students from the Digital Education Office. Over the summer, we have been working to improve your digital learning environment and continue to ensure you are ready and able to work with the various online tools we support. 

  • Are you Digitally Ready?: If you are new to the university or need a helping hand with the wide array of digital tools and environments we use, take a look at our Digitally Ready course. It is designed to equip you with the tools and competencies you need to engage with digital learning at the university. 
  • Blackboard’s new look: Over the summer, Blackboard was upgraded to a newer version called, “Ultra Base Navigation”, or UBN for short. It is intuitive to navigate, but you can look here for a guide on how to use it. The most important thing to know is that the submission systems haven’t changed, so you can confidently approach your assessment knowing it should be familiar to you. 
  • Recorded Lectures available within 24hrs: We’ve greatly improved the speed at which lecture recordings become available in Re/Play, with most now being ready for you to view within 24 hours of their being recorded.  

Good luck with starting or resuming your studies and we all hope you enjoy the winter term! 

Appinions – Artificial intelligence

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Bibiana Lebersorger, Hannah Harrison, Emma Yi Kwan Lau, Samantha Travers-Spencer and Katie Stoker.


August – Artificial intelligence

This marks our final Appinions blog post. Thank you to our regular readers and to all our marvellous Student Digital Champion contributors.

AI is no longer a sci-fi buzzword. For many, it is already integral to our daily lives. Although, in terms of potential, we are still in the early phases of an era that promises revolutionary benefits, with stark warnings of dire consequences if this technology is misused. Every week there are more claims of new, game-changing AI tools set to transform the way we live and work. Knowing which ones are worth investing our time, effort and money in is difficult.

Using AI effectively will be a valuable skill to develop for a wide range of careers. Unless you have been told otherwise by your school or lecturer, using AI to create any content that you submit as your own work is a form of contract cheating. It’s important to make sure you understand what constitutes good academic practice. You can find out more from the University’s pages on Academic Integrity. However, AI can be used in a variety of positive ways to help you in your Uni life. The Library have some great information about using AI in research, and there will soon be Study Skills resources to help you navigate effective and ethical use of AI in your studies. For now, let’s see what our Student Digital Champions thought of these AI tools!

Elsa Speak

ELSA Speak app icon

ELSA, or English Language Speech Assistant, uses AI technology to create a personalised English language learning experience, no matter your native language. Powered by AI, ELSA listens and speaks back to you, helping to fine-tune your English pronunciation and get you practising English with ELSA: the app aims to become ‘your very own personal tutor’. During the set-up process, the app prompts you to input your native language, your proficiency level and whether you’d like app reminders to practice. Once on the app, you can access bite-sized English lessons under the ‘Study by Topic’ section (or ‘Practice Daily Lessons’ if you have Premium), practice your pronunciation and keywords under the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ section, or even access, at varying costs, courses that help you prepare for internationally accredited language certificates such as IELTS or TOEFL.


  • Completely free to access the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ AI-powered feature, which is the real unique selling point of the app.
  • 7-day free trial for the Premium subscription (which includes a daily training plan and feedback on all words practiced).
  • A good option if you want to practice your English-speaking skills without fear of judgement.
  • Caters for all English levels, from complete beginner to advanced/near fluent.
  • The ‘Study by Topic’ section has a wide range of nearly 200 useful topics to explore from Health to Travel, and even using informal English.


  • Certain features can only be accessed with a paid subscription, for example, the daily training plan and ad-free experience will set you back £9.07/month, or the Premium options offer IELTS practice and grade predictions for a cost £12.08/month, both of which are pretty pricey.
  • The app uses American English as standard, and there aren’t currently any options to switch to British English, so this will throw up some difficulties in word pronunciation.
  • Although there are 44 foreign languages currently supported (e.g., Hindi to English, Spanish to English), this selection might not include your native language, so the pronunciation suggestions’ accuracy may be off.

This app is not targeted towards native English speakers like me. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the utility and importance of the tools that ELSA offers. During my time at UoB, I volunteered with Bristol Student Action for Refugees, where I helped run an informal conversation club for those from an asylum-seeking or refugee background. As a language learning tool, I would have recommended ELSA If I had known about it, as I often got questions from learners asking to practice their pronunciation of tricky words or phonetics. I think that the AI technology that powers the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ feature is the most unique and impressive feature on ELSA, but I’m not sure I would recommend the Premium feature as it’s quite expensive and doesn’t even give you access to the IELTS prep courses (you pay for these separately).

Reviewer: Bibiana Lebersorger

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link


alexa app icon

I’d be surprised if anyone reading this blog post hasn’t heard of Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant technology, which can check the weather, play your favourite music and answer all your burning questions. The technology relies on natural language processing and machine learning, and it works by listening for a ‘wake word’, after which it begins a recording. The subsequent audio is then sent to Amazon servers for interpretation, and the command is executed. Alexa is also capable of controlling smart devices such as lights, thermostats and plug sockets, taking away a lot of reasons for getting up from the sofa!


  • Easy to use.
  • Ability to set personalised commands and routines.
  • Timers, alarms, reminders and music without needing to pick up your phone.
  • Can control compatible smart devices.
  • Variety of Alexa smart speakers, with budget options available.


  • While the Alexa app can technically be used on its own, for it to be useful you need an Alexa device which can be pricey.
  • Sometimes it mishears. Commands need to be very specific for Alexa to understand.
  • Requires a good Wi-Fi connection.
  • Privacy concerns: amazon analyses ‘a small sample’ of anonymised clips to improve Alexa’s performance, so if this is a concern, then you’ll need to opt out of saving voice history.

I personally own an Alexa smart speaker and a smart light bulb, which is set to wake me up in the morning by turning the lights on and playing an overview of the news and weather. I find this helps me wake up more quickly than a regular alarm, and it’s difficult to hit snooze if the lights are already on! The other main benefit I find, as a student, is that it enables me to play music and look up the answers to questions without grabbing my phone, resulting in fewer distractions. Alexa is a very flexible technology, and it is easy to set up routines and unique voice commands to suit your needs, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you get the opportunity!

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link


Grammarly app icon

Grammarly is a daily writing assistant app. In the current digital era, we must do many things online. Writing and replying to emails has become part of our daily routine. We always want to make sure our email can deliver the correct message clearly and appear professional. Grammarly is particularly useful in these situations for quick spell and grammar checks. Not only does it check for basic grammar and spelling, but it also checks for clarity and delivery of the writing. Since we must write quite a lot of emails every day, it is not difficult to make some accidental writing mistakes. Therefore, a writing assistant such as Grammarly is ideal.


  • Free version is often sufficient for daily use.
  • Can apply as an extension in the web browser.
  • Make checking grammar and pronunciation quicker and easier.


  • Some suggestions sometimes do not fit with the context of the piece of writing.
  • Spellchecker cannot detect certain medical and other technical terms.

I would recommend to everyone reading this blog, to download Grammarly for day-to-day use. Although I have always been careful with my writing, there often were times that I made silly mistakes. It would have been a lot easier to spot those flaws using the Grammarly detector.

In the past couple of years, artificial intelligence has started blending into our everyday life. One of the examples will be the newly introduced function called Grammarly Go. It uses artificial intelligence to offer an on-demand communication aid to help users develop high-quality writing by understanding our personal voice, setting, and writing purpose. This use of artificial intelligence in the Grammarly service has made proofreading and writing even easier. In combination with the existing functions, it is making clear and concise writing more accessible. While tools for improving writing skills and enhancing communication, such as Grammarly Go, can be valuable, it is important to use them ethically and thoughtfully, maintain originality, avoid overreliance, adhere to academic integrity guidelines and be mindful to keep sensitive, personal, and confidential information private.  

The ability to present our message appropriately in written language is undoubtedly important. People may have different preferences on the tools they need. Therefore, I would suggest having a look at other similar tools too, but Grammarly is my choice. 

Reviewer: Emma Yi Kwan Lau

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link


SeeingAI app icon

SeeingAI is a free app developed by Microsoft which narrates the scene shown through your camera. It is designed as an aid for visually impaired users, and has capabilities ranging from reading text, giving product information from barcodes, and even identifying how many people are in a room, and how far away they are. It also has functions for identifying colours, narrating the room in front of you, and has recently been updated to allow users to explore photos stored on their phone.


  • Entirely free.
  • Scans barcodes and identifies the product.
  • Can read packets to give nutritional information.
  • Identifies colours, and objects such as doors and furniture.
  • Helpful for reading expiry dates and important documents.
  • Able to recognise currency.
  • Development led by community feedback.


  • Only available on the App Store.
  • Can only identify people by faces – not useful if someone has their back to you.
  • Not always accurate, sometimes mistakes colours and letters.
  • Sometimes reads out numbers like barcodes and copyright information which can take a long time.
  • Starts reading text from the beginning again when it gets a clearer picture.
  • Not very clear when pointed at an area with a lot of text, such as a bookshelf.

I tested this app out with my partner who has a visual impairment, and we found the most useful feature was the ability to read the text on labels, and in particular expiry dates, as these are often printed very small and are essential for making sure food is safe to eat. Furthermore, being able to distinguish between packets that are very similar helps with things like putting a food delivery away. The app can also read out labels at museums which don’t offer audio tours, making more places accessible without a guide. The narration isn’t always accurate – we were particularly amused when it consistently read ‘unique’ as ‘uniglue’, and the narration of the scene in front of you is very basic – only identifying things such as doors, sofas, and the fact that you’re inside. However, despite these issues, this technology has the potential to aid independence and make more places and activities accessible for those with visual impairments. We are excited to see what new features future updates will bring as AI develops!

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

app store link

Chat GPT

Chat GPT app icon

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT (GPT-3.5) is a free app and online chatbot tool based on an AI generative language model, capable of producing human-like written responses.

Some of its main features include answering questions or providing explanations, engaging in conversation, content creation, brainstorming ideas, and completing a range of language-related tasks including language translation and summarising texts. ChatGPT can be used as an assistive tool for academic research, for example for developing and refining research questions or for generating alternative search terms and synonyms required for database searching. 

As part of my exam revision and preparation, I used ChatGPT to generate short answer practice exam questions for different topics that were suitable for undergraduate degree level. The questions the chatbot generated were very useful for revision and included many questions I had not previously considered. ChatGPT could also produce the answers and a marking scheme to the questions it had generated, however not all the information aligned with teaching materials, making it essential to check the answers for accuracy and for context. Although checking the answers proved quite time-consuming, it enabled me to reflect upon and develop my research skills and knowledge of the topic. 


  • Versatile functionality.
  • Rapid access to information at your fingertips.
  • Straightforward to use.
  • ChatGPT-3.5 is currently free to use both online and via the app, although requires signing in via an OpenAI account or through a Google, Apple or Microsoft account.
  • Dictation can be enabled to verbally ask questions.
  • Can be used to mitigate language barriers.
  • Chat history is synced between devices, allowing you to pick up from where you left off.
  • Useful option to search through previous chat history to locate information.
  • Simple to share chats with others for collaboration.
  • Time-saving custom instructions feature enables you to set preferences for subsequent conversations, reducing the repetition of inputting information.


  • The model has reduced knowledge of information and events after September 2021, compromising information outputs.
  • Access to enhanced features, including access to the next iteration of ChatGPT-4, requires a subscription to ChatGPT Plus, currently priced at £19.99/month.
  • It is sometimes not possible to use ChatGPT-3.5 during peak times.
  • Can produce harmful, incorrect, inaccurate, biased or misleading responses. You need to critically evaluate everything it gives you and make your own decisions.
  • Privacy issues: Conversations are stored and may be viewed by AI trainers. Personal and sensitive information should not be disclosed. You can minimise the extend to which this is visible by turning off ‘Chat history & training’ in app settings.
  • Chatbot responses depend on the specificity of the user’s inputs and prompts—takes time and practice to develop and refine the skills required for this.
  • Requires an internet connection to use the app.
  • No text-to-speech option for responses.
  • Cannot provide references or sources for the information provided.

ChatGPT is a powerful assistive tool with diverse functionality and exciting capabilities that are still being continuously refined. These capabilities can be applied to aid learning, develop understanding and assist with problem-solving. Although it is time-consuming, checking and verifying the outputs provided by ChatGPT is crucial to ensure the information is correct, accurate, up-to-date and unbiased.  Using ChatGPT for academic purposes that are in line with the University’s academic integrity values requires the application of both critical thinking and analytical skills to ensure it is not being inadvertently used as a form of contract cheating. Further information on contract cheating can be found here. 

Looking forward, it will be exciting to see what future developments and refinements are made in later iterations of the GPT models! 

Reviewer: Samantha Travers-Spencer

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Plaito – Your Personal AI Tutor

Plaito app icon

Plaito is a tool which provides one-on-one tutoring and coaching, allowing AI-guided student learning on a step-by-step basis. The tool offers academic assistance in several ways, including short-answer questions, essay writing, summarising and textbook chat.

To get started with Plaito, you must first sign-up and make a Plaito profile. Here, you can personalise the tool by selecting your education level and age. You will then have access to your dashboard which contains the Plaito tools, session board to track what you have been previously working on and a practice streak to track how many days you studied.

The Plaito tools are super simple to use. For example, the summariser tool can be a great way to learn difficult to understand concepts. Simply copy or type in text to the summariser tool, then select whether you want the summary in paragraph or bullet point format. This tool can be a great way to get a personalised description or explanation of a concept that you might be struggling with.

The essay writing tool can similarly be used to generate a more comprehensive piece of work. The tool requires an essay prompt or topic to get started, alongside a desired word count. Plaito then generates an essay based on this, alongside references and the option to make edits. It is to be noted that Plaito is simply a drafting tool, and cannot be solely relied on for accurate content. This is clearly stated on the screen and must be agreed to before an essay is generated. The essay writing tool should not be used to write university essays, however it does offer a good starting point or essay plan!

The homework tool allows users to input specific questions. In return, Plaito offer three help tabs. The first is the hints tab, where Plaito suggests ways that you should approach the question. Next, the explain tab offers some advice on how to best structure your answer. Finally, the solution tab offers an answer to the question. Overall, the homework feature is a great tool for exam practice.


  • Can add friends or ‘study partners’ using a unique sharing link.
  • Simple interface which is easy to navigate.
  • Track previous work.


  • Plaito is in American English, with no clear way of changing to British English.
  • Misuse of the tools is a danger to academic integrity. For example, the university states that submitting AI-generated content as your own work counts as contract cheating. Click the link to learn more about contract cheating and how to avoid it!

Overall, Plaito is a simple to use tool which offers several helpful features. It offers great prompts which can be used to help answer exam style questions, introduce complex topics and generate essay plans. While all information presented on Plaito must be fact checked, following the appropriate references is simple and provides a great starting point to carry out your own research. The university offers a range of advice about AI in research, including guidance on the best ways to appropriately use AI, and its limitations.

Reviewer: Katie Stoker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Cybersecurity: Top tips from a Student Digital Champion

Written by Hannah  Harrison, Student Digital Champion


In this digital age, where our lives are intertwined with technology, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the knowledge and skills to safeguard your online presence. From browsing securely and using multifactor authentication, to spicing up your passwords and staying updated, the tips in this blog post will empower you to navigate the digital landscape with confidence. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Keep tabs on your browsing

Whether researching for an assignment, browsing news articles, or just looking for a recipe to make for dinner, most of us visit many websites every day, but how often do you check the search bar?

The content you look at on the web, the links you click and even the order in which you visit websites can provide information about you, and your interests, that is best not shared. To ensure that all your communications are protected from eavesdropping as they travel between your browser and the websites you visit, it is important to check that all of the sites you are using use ‘HTTPS’ (secure HTTP) rather than just plain ‘HTTP’. Many browsers indicate that a site is secure by displaying a padlock on the left hand side of the search bar, and so quickly checking for this when you enter a new website can really help to keep your information safe. Luckily, most browsers (such as Google Chrome and Safari) will warn you not to enter an insecure web page which asks for personal information such as passwords, as data in unsecured web traffic can be easily nosed into. Of course, using HTTPS only ensures that your web communications are encrypted and so doesn’t provide you with complete protection, but it does make your information much harder to decipher.

Use MFA (Multi-factor authentication)

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the groan after you’ve sat down at your desk, opened up some work only to be prompted to use the authenticator on your phone which is inconveniently on the other side of the room. Maybe this has you wondering whether it’s really worth having at all. However, data provided by Microsoft and Statista indicates that MFA has the power to prevent up to 99.9% of automated cyber-attacks, decrease the number of phishing attempts by 75%, and reduce rates of unauthorized access by 56%1 – so it’s definitely worth the extra bit of time and effort to keep your details safe! You can find more information on setting up MFA on the University website.

Image of the MFA screen

Spice up your passwords 

I’m sure many of us are guilty of using the same, or variations of the same passwords for different accounts to save forgetting them. However, the foundation of your cybersecurity relies on having strong and unique passwords. In particular, making sure that your passwords aren’t made up of information that can be found online such as pets names and birthdates can make your passwords less guess-able. If you’re worried about forgetting passwords if they are all different, then it’s definitely worth considering using a password manager such as NordPass, which securely stores all of your passwords in one place.  

Lock up when you go

Taking a break from work to grab a snack from the vending machine or take a quick stroll can be great for your mental health and productivity, but leaving your computer unlocked whilst you’re away can be dangerous. Although it’s unlikely that someone is lying in wait for you to leave your account open, leaving your device unlocked can give anyone the chance to snoop on your files, mess with your settings or even install malicious software to spy on you, and so it is always better safe than sorry! Even if the result is just one of your friends using your account to post on social media as a joke, there can sometimes be undesirable consequences to having something that you wouldn’t have said under your name online, and it can be difficult to truly delete something once it’s been posted. Locking your laptop or computer whilst you’re away can be done in a few seconds using the shortcut Windows+L  on Windows or  Control+Command+Q on a Mac, and stops anyone from entering your account without a password.

Padlock with blue background. Photo by Muhammad Zaqy Al Fattah on Unsplash

Keep an eye on your emails

One of the most common types of cyber-crime is phishing. This is where an attacker poses as a legitimate organisation and attempts to persuade the victim to divulge personal information. This type of attack is so common because it is one of the cheapest and easiest attacks for criminals to deploy, and with so much information available about individuals on social media, it is possible to make phishing attempts highly targeted (sometimes known as spear phishing). To keep yourself safe, it is important to trust your instincts regarding suspicious emails; would your lecturer really have sent you a link to a textbook in the middle of the night? Would your bank really ask you to suddenly verify your information via email? According to Proofpoint’s Annual Human Factor Report2 (a paper based on 18 months of their customers’ data), up to 99% of phishing attacks rely on the victim clicking on a link, and so the number one thing you should keep in mind when considering a suspicious email is; don’t click anything! You can also look out for spelling mistakes, check that the sender address matches the one listed on their website and be sceptical of surprising offers. As the common saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Social Media Privacy

Having personal information available online gives criminals the opportunity to make much more sophisticated and compelling attacks, as putting you at risk of identity theft. Although sharing online can be fun, it is important to take control of your social media privacy settings to limit the amount of personal information visible to others, and consider only sharing personal posts with friends and family. It can even be a good idea to have separate accounts or profiles for sharing your life, engaging with strangers, and sharing thoughts publicly so that you can still do everything you want to on the internet without giving away too much information.

Phone showing social media icons. Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

Back up your data

Regularly backing up your important files and documents to an external hard drive or cloud storage provider such as OneDrive protects your data from unexpected events like hardware failures or accidental deletion, as well as ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish the victim’s data or permanently block access to it unless a ransom is paid off. These attacks are often targeted at universities, and it is estimated that around a third of UK universities have been targeted with ransomware within the last 10 years3. Therefore having additional copies of your files can be a lifeline if you become a target.

Stay up to date

One cybersecurity tip that is often overlooked is regularly updating your software, web browsers and operating systems. Updates often patch over security concerns and vulnerabilities identified by the developers, and attackers can exploit these weaknesses. These kinds of attacks have affected companies as large as Facebook and Amazon, and so allowing update notifications and installing them as soon as you can is vital for keeping your information safe.

Laptop screen showing a system update

Digital practices and software are ever evolving and so there are always new avenues for attackers to exploit. While you can never be 100% safe from cybercrime, keeping these 8 tips in mind can significantly decrease your risk, while you navigate the digital landscape with confidence and peace of mind. 

Useful links


Gitnux. (n.d.). The Most Surprising Multifactor Authentication Statistics And Trends in 2023. Retrieved from Gitnux: https://blog.gitnux.com/multifactor-authentication-statistics/#:~:text=The%20statistics%20presented%20in%20this,unauthorized%20access%20rates%20by%2056%25. 

Network, U. (2023). A Third of UK Unis Hit By Ransomware In Last 10 Years. Retrieved from Urban Network: https://www.urbannetwork.co.uk/a-third-of-uk-unis-hit-by-ransomware-in-last-10-years/ 

Proofpoint. (2023). Human factor report 2023. Retrieved from Proofpoint: https://www.proofpoint.com/us/resources/threat-reports/human-factor 

Blackboard has a new look

The Blackboard upgrade to the new Ultra Base Navigation has been successfully completed. You will see the new-look Blackboard the next time you log in. Your courses haven’t changed, but the way you navigate around Blackboard should now be easier and more intuitive, whatever device you’re using.

We’ve been working with our Student Digital Champions on some of the decisions around the look and navigation – thank you to everyone who contributed!

“I really like the ease of navigation of the updated Blackboard.”
– University of Bristol student

You can find more information and guidance in our Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation guide.

Screenshot of the new Blackboard log in page


Digital Education service improvements planned over the summer 

Each year, the Digital Education Office delivers a summer plan of work on our digital education environments and systems. This plan includes any significant system changes or software upgrades, which are done at a time that will least affect staff and students. However, it also includes more minor changes to systems and processes, ensuring everything works well for the next academic year.  

To keep everyone updated on the work taking place, we update a Service Improvements page over the summer, documenting and advertising expected and completed work. If you are interested in keeping up to date, it is worth bookmarking the Service Improvements Page. Anything that we think you need to know will also be communicated out from your schools, or via usual channels and bulletins, so don’t worry about missing anything important! 

We’ve worked in various ways to talk to students and get their views on your Digital Learning Environment, including surveys, workshops, focus groups, and of course ongoing co-creation and consultation with our Student Digital Champions. A lot of the Re/Play improvements this year will be a result of suggestions directly from students, so thank you to everyone who has given us their views and ideas.  

Blackboard’s Look and Navigation is Changing, Wednesday July 5, 3.45pm – 6pm

On July 5, we’re updating Blackboard to use the new Ultra Base Navigation. This update will give Blackboard a modern look and feel and provide easier access to important information.

Ultra Base Navigation has a modern, intuitive navigation menu that sits outside of courses and is always available.

Your courses will not change, and you can submit work just as you are used to. They will look and operate exactly as they do now.

The benefits of Ultra Base Navigation include:

  • A modern, intuitive user experience.
  • Improved accessibility.
  • It works well on mobile devices. This navigation is designed to work well regardless of what device you’re using.
  • Just one click away. No matter where you are, UBN provides clearer paths to where you want to go, minimizing clicks and saving time.

To enable Ultra Base Navigation, Blackboard will be unavailable for a short time on the afternoon of July 5, between 3.45 pm and 6 pm. After this, you will see a redesigned login page for Blackboard and can use the new navigation as soon as you log in.

You can find more information, with screenshots, on the project webpage: Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation.

The look of the Blackboard submissions page is changing.

The interface for Blackboard submissions such as essays, some timed assessments and some exams is changing on the 2nd of June 2023. There is no change to functionality, but you should familiarise yourself with the difference before any deadlines.  

After the 2nd of June, if you need to upload a submission, this option is contained within a concertina menu. This makes the interface less confusing, allowing you to select the options you need without having to navigate the options you dont.

Below are three images: one showing the current interface and two showing the new interface.

The old interface has all the ‘Attach Files, ‘Write Submission and ‘Add Comments’ functions on display. 

Old submission point: this is the old submission point for Blackboard which has all upload options on display.


The new interface places the features you are used to behind concertina menus.


New submission point (unexpanded): the new submission points have three clickable options: one called "Create Submission", one called "Upload Files", and one called "Add Comments"


Once expanded with a click, the same options are available to you. 


New submission point (expanded): once the "Upload Files" option is clicked, three buttons are revealed; one for "Browse Local Files", one for "Browse Content Collection", and one for "Browse Cloud Service". 



Now resolved – Blackboard access disruption

This issue is now resolved. IT Services has restarted the University’s DNS servers, which has fixed the on-campus Blackboard access issue that was persisting this morning. If you are still experiencing any issue, please contact IT Services.

The Blackboard access issue from yesterday, which was fixed by Blackboard at source, is persisting for some users today – notably, people attempting to access Blackboard on campus. IT Services is investigating why this is the case, supported by Blackboard.

In the meantime, you may be able to access Blackboard using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or by using a mobile phone as a hotspot. If you are still encountering problems on your own device, you can attempt to resolve them by flushing your DNS, using the instructions found on the IT Services status page.

We understand that many students might have had submission deadlines yesterday or today. The Schools are aware of the problems affecting Blackboard access. If this situation applies to you, your School or Faculty will be in contact with further instructions. If you have any urgent concerns, please contact your School Admin team for the best localised support for you.

Now resolved – Issue concerning submission receipts not being received is being investigated

This issue is now resolved

Today (20th April 2023), Blackboard reported an issue which may have prevented some students from receiving submission receipts for Blackboard assignments, or which may be causing a delay to them being received. The Digital Education Office is working with Blackboard to investigate this issue and ensure it is resolved.

Update: Between around 12.00 and 1.15 today, a global Domain Name Server issue affected the blackboard.com domain, meaning that some services that need to access this domain were unable to. These included accessing Turnitin and Qwickly Attendance through Blackboard, and there was also a delay in submission receipts arriving (due to domain checks in mail servers). This issue has now been resolved, and all services should be working normally.

‘Full screen’ view option not displaying for some Re/Play videos (now resolved)

This issue has now been resolved, so you should be able to see a full screen option without using the below workaround.

We are aware of a problem with selecting ‘full screen’ for Re/Play videos when accessed via the Re/Play link on a Blackboard course menu. Our supplier is investigating as a matter of urgency.

In the mean time, you can get the ‘full screen’ button to show by opening the video collection in a new tab or window:

  • click the Re/Play link in the course menu as normal to open the collection
  • ‘right-click’ (PC) or ‘CTRL + click’ (Mac) on the ‘Home’ button at top left (see screenshot below)
  • select “Open link in new tab” or “Open link in new window” from the menu that appears.

This workaround has been successfully tested in Chrome and Edge browsers.

Picture of Re/Play home screen

Skip to toolbar