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I cannot access module content areas - only the Announcements page shows View
Can you only see the first page (e.g. Announcements) of a module and not see the menus to access the other areas of your modules?

The most likely problem is that the menu has been hidden accidentally and once this is done the setting is remembered for all modules. It is easy to fix by hovering the mouse pointer at the far left edge of the Announcement page until the pointer changes to a two-way arrow and a small text box pops up saying "Show Course Menu", as in the screnshot below. Click anywhere on the narrow bar here and the module menu is restored.

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Another thing that can happen is that the module menu sections can be hidden by clicking the module title in the menu, as below. Click it again to show the module sections.

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Batch enrolling students to groups by CSV file - can't see Group Code View
The new Groups tool facility for batch-uploading group membership to a set of groups by a csv file works by each group having a system-provided group unique identifier and not the names that you have given the groups when you originally set them up.

However, there is a bug in VITAL that means you have to 'force' these group codes to appear so that you can use them in your csv file.

Once you have set up the group set to which you want to batch-upload enrolments:

Go to the module Control Panel and from the Users and Groups menu select Groups. Make sure you are in the All Groups view (select All Groups from the upper right of the page).

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Check whether Group Codes have been created for this module yet. From the View Options button menu select Show Group Code. In the example below the group code does not appear.

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To get this code to appear run the Export process. Click the Export button and just select Submit on the report options page to run the default report. If you open this file in Excel, the first column you see contains the unique group code identifiers.

When you return to the groups page you will also be able to see the group codes you need to use in your batch upload file.

To create an import file using Excel, the first column should contain the group code and the second column should contain the student's username. Save this as a CSV file and you can then use the import functionality to enrol students in groups.

Content permissions problem - students cannot see VITAL content items View
If students are having trouble viewing a content item  in VITAL please check the course files permissions area in your module to make sure student access is granted.

To do this go to the control panel of your module and click on 'Files' and then the name of your module which then appears as a link below.

When you click on the link you will be presented with the following screen. Click on the drop down arrow next to the title of the module and select the permissions option.

If the screen below reflects your module then you will be aware that there are no student permissions set for the files of the module. This means, by default, students will not be able to view files added from this content. This is a design decision made by Blackboard (the company that are responsible for the software behind VITAL). To add students to the list click on 'Add Course User List' as below.

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You will then be able to add students to the course file permissions by checking the box, as illustrated below. Make sure they only have read access to view the files and then click 'Submit' to save the changes.

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You will then be able to see that students have been added and now should be able to view all content available from the course files within the module.

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If you have further questions about this issue please contact the CSD Helpdesk. Contact details can be found at http://www.liv.ac.uk/csd/helpdesk/index.htm.

Turnitin Assignments - Point Value 0 - grading issue View
Please be aware that if you create a Turnitin Assignment and set the Point Value as 0 or you do not include a value in this field, then if you subsequently add a grade value to student papers through GradeMark and then edit the Assignment settings in any way these grades will be lost.

There is no system message that warns you of this. This has been reported to Turnitin as an issue to resolve.

Non-default Language Packs cause test marking problems View
When running online tests with students using the test tool in VITAL they should be instructed that if they have changed their VITAL language pack to a language different to the default (English - United Kingdom) they must change it back to the default for the test.

To do this, from the home page in VITAL you can click on the Personal Information link in the Tools panel, and select the Change Personal Settings from there. You can restore the language pack to English - United Kingdom from the dropdown here.

It has been found that language packs other than the default are causing automatically-marked test questions to randomly mark correctly-answered questions as being incorrect.

Student Turnitin submission alerts and/or grades not showing in Grade Centre View
Very rarely a successful submission to a Turnitin assignment will not show up in the Grade Centre as a corresponding exclamation mark (for 'needs marking') or a grade entered on a Grade Marked paper will not be sent to the corresponding Grade Centre column, even when the Post Date has passed.

Where this happens it is possible to 'force' Turnitin to resend information to the Grade Centre and ensure that the Grade Centre accurately reflects the submissions and/or grades in the Turnitin assignment classlist.

To do this, in the Control Panel of the module, select the Course Tools option and then click on the TurnitinUK Assignments link. You will then see the list of all Turnitin assignments set up for the module. On the right hand side of the page is a link called Sync Grades as shown in the screenshot below. Click this to run the process.

Why does this problem occur?
Turnitin is a third-party service which is accessed through VITAL and generally the integration works well. Sometimes however, as in the case of this issue, the integration fails and information sent from Turnitin to the Grade Centre gets missed. It is currently recommended that the best way to monitor the submissions to a Turnitin assignment is through the classlist for that Turnitin assignment. To access this go to the Control Panel of the module, select the Course Tools option and then click on the TurnitinUK Assignments link. You will then see the list of all Turnitin assignments set up for the module. Select the assignment you wish to monitor here.

Batch Allocate Groups tool replaced View
The Batch Allocate Groups tool which was used to enrol students in groups using a CSV file upload has been turned off as the Groups tool in VITAL now has the same functionality.

This guide from Blackboard tells you how to to use this facility to upload group memberships using a CSV file.

There is also a current Known Issue with obtaining the necessary Group Code which requires an extra step and is described here.

Module statistics reports do not include Mobile Learn student activity View
Please be aware that when you run statistics reports in a VITAL module (the Course Reports found in Control Panel > Evaluation > Course Reports) to track student activity, that any reports you generate will not include activity by students accessing your module using the mobile versions of VITAL (Blackboard Mobile).

We have been advised by Blackboard that this facility was never included in the system and there are no plans to build in this feature.

Test tool - Short Answer and Essay question types - word wrap problem View
If you are using the Short Answer or Essay question type in your online test, please be aware that when you come to mark this you may find some minor problems with the word wrapping in the display of the student answers. You may see words split between lines so that a word will start at the end on one line and be finished on the next line.

Blackboard are working on a fix for this issue which CSD hope to be able to apply in the summer upgrade 2015.

Assignments - delegated grading - random distribution problem View
When setting up Assignments you will see under Grading Options an option to set up Delegated Grading.

It has been found that the Random Set option available here can distribute the same student assignment to more than one marker for some students where this wasn't intended behaviour. the can cause problems with not being able to select just one marker's feedback to show to the student and if the online grading tools have been used then these cannot be hidden in any way.

If you do not want students potentially to be marked by more than one marker do not use the Random Set. Equally you cannot guarantee that students will be marked by more than one marker with the Random Set option.

For distributing papers for marking amongst a marking team it is advised that you set up groups and allocate students to mark by group.

GradeMark grades disappear from assignment classlist View

There have been some reports of grades seeming to go missing from Turnitin classlists where grades have been entered on GradeMark papers. This has been found to be a result of an assignment's Post Date being brought forward (to release feedback and grades early for instance). The grades have not been deleted or lost and are restored by the original Post Date (usually sooner).


Turnitin recommend that you do not bring forward the Post Date for assignments.

Error using Chat tool on Chrome View

Those who have upgraded Google Chrome 42 or above will likey see an error when using the Chat collaboration tool in Vital.

The error will state "Chrome reports that the plug-in is not supported"


Google has disabled NPAPI plugin protocol supporting Chrome 42 (and above) by default.


The resolution/workaround for this is as follows:

1. Copy and paste "chrome://flags/#enable-npapi" into the URL bar of chrome

2. Click on the Enable link under "Enable NPAPI Mac, Windows"



3. Click on the "RELAUNCH NOW" button at the bottom of the screen ​


Please note that Firefox remains the University's recommended browser for Vital. 

Audio tool and embedded audio autoplays in Chrome even when set not to View

Audio clips that have been uploaded to VITAL using either the Audio tool found under the Build Content menu in the Create column, or the embed audio facility of the Embedded Media function on the standard text editor, will begin playing as soon as the page on which they are held is viewed, whatever Autoplay setting you have chosen (yes or no). With multiple audio clips on one page this leads to cacophony.


This is a Known Issue for Blackboard, the developers, who are working on a solution but cannot provide a date when this will become available or a workaround for this bug.


This problem does not occur in Internet Explorer or Firefox (which is the preferred browser for VITAL) and so viewing VITAL in Firefox is the quickest recommended fix for this at the moment.


Another option is, where you own the copyright to the audio clips, to upload these to University's streaming media server Stream.liv.ac.uk and then link to these or embed them in VITAL content items.


If the items are available to stream from elsewhere on the web (YouTube for instance) then again, you can embed these in VITAL content items and avoid the problem.


1. Build Content - Audio item


2. Text Editor, Insert Embedded media - Embedded Audio option


YouTube Mashup tool - working again View
The issue with YouTube not being searchable from within VITAL is now fixed.

Qwickly Post Announcement link - send email immediately function not working View

If you use the Qwickly Post Announcement tool link on the VITAL home page (screenshot below) for sending announcements to more than one module at a time, please be aware that the tool as accessed from this link does not send an email notification of the announcement to students.

All that this tool does is to post the announcement in the What's New announcements section of each module that you select. If you tick the Email Announcement box as shown below to send an email alert immediately to students this also does not work.


WORKAROUND: Instead, if you access the Qwickly link on your VITAL home page...


...and select the Post Announcement option on the page that appears...

...this route will enable you to post the same announcement to multiple modules and if you select the Email Announcement box it will also be sent immediately as an email alert to students as you would expect.

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Durham Sign-Up List tool - FIXED View

The third-party SignUp List tool, created by Durham University, accessed from the Tools drop-down menu has been upgraded to a newly-available version this summer and is available to use again.


It is now accessed from the Build Content menu, under the Create column listed as Single SignUp LIst and Multiple SignUp Lists. 


This tool but can be used in two basic ways. 

  • Multiple SignUp - Batch create the number of sign-up lists you want. Students can sign-up to as many groups as they like. You cannot specify a minimum/maximum that students can sign-up to.
  • Single SignUp - Create one or more individual group sign-up lists as you need separately. Students can sign up to as many of the individual groups as they want/should.


One planned functionality which is not yet available is the ability to specify that a student must/can only sign-up to a certain number of lists.


For a full guide to this tool please visit these web pages: http://projects.oscelot.org/gf/project/signup/wiki/?pagename=FrontPage

There is also an alternative Blackboard sign-up list, which is created with the Groups tool 'sign-up list only' facility. This tool but can be used in two basic ways.

  • Create a group set of sign-up lists - here students can only select one list from the set to sign-up to. As soon as they do the remaining lists become unavailable to them. This differs to the Durham SignUp List tool in that the Durham tool allows students to pick more than one batch-created sign-up list.
  • Create as many individual group sign-up lists as you need - here students can sign up to as many of the individual groups as they want/should.

For further details on using this Groups "sign-up list only" please contact the eLearning Unit.

Changing the visibility of a module section (show hide) generates an error message View
When you change the visibility of a module section to students on the module menu using the Show/Hide Link option as shown here

there is a bug which once you have selected this option to show or hide this content area you see an Access Denied message as below. Simply ignore the content of this message: you do not need to Log In and you will have successfully hidden or displayed the section. Either click the Cancel button to be returned to the section you were hiding/showing or click on another section in the module/Control Panel to move elsewhere.

GradeMark feedback accessibility View
Please note that currently the feedback made using GradeMark is not fully accessible. See this accessibilty statement and report from Turnitin for full details.

GradeMark feedback student iPads View

Please not that feedback created with GradeMark cannot be fully accessed by students who are using an iPad. Instead Turnitin recommend that GradeMark feedback is viewed by students using a PC web browser. An iPad app is currently being developed by Turnitin for students to be able to view their GradeMark feedback in this way.


Please see this statement from Turnitin on iPad support for student users.


"...our developers do not test our website against iPad browsers. Therefore, when accessing their user accounts, students might not have the same level of functionality as they would with our supported browsers on a computer. 


Our supported browsers are Firefox 15+, Chrome 23+, Safari 5+ and Internet Explorer 11 when used on a computer.


Because of this, there is no specific guide to use Turnitin on the iPad. 


I would advise you to ask your students to check their feedback on a computer until our student app is released. It should be available in the next 6 months."

How to view / download your Turnitin receipt View

To view/ download your Turnitin receipt you must


1. Log into Vital and go to the module where you submitted your assignment. 

2. Click on the Assessment content area 

3. Click on View/Complete for the Turnitin assignment

4. Either click on the download button and select Digital receipt



or click on View. This will open up your submitted work. On the bottom left there is a printer icon which once clicked you can select the option to download a PDF of your digital receipt.


Access Maple T.A. content outside of VITAL View

Maple T.A. content is currenlty not accessible within VITAL due to our Maple T.A. instance not being compatible with the version of Blackboard Learn that is now powering VITAL. We are waiting for Maplesoft to upgrade our instance of Maple T.A. to version 2016 but as yet we do not have a time scale for when this will be completed.


Students in the meantime can access existing Maple T.A. content by following the steps below provided to us by Maplesoft:


1)      Navigate to the URL: https://place33.placementtester.com/liverpool/login/login.do

2)      Click “Forgot your Password?”

3)      Enter your email (ensure it is the one linked to your Blackboard account). An important note is that emails are case sensitive. If you are not sure about the case of your email, navigate to your Blackboard account and verify your email. For instance, A.Another@liverpool.ac.uk has capital A’s.

4)      You will be emailed new information. Return to the log-in page upon receiving it and then log in.

5)      Click “My Profile” in the top right.

6)      Click “Password Update” and set it to something more reasonable for future logins.


Note: Changing the password will not affect Blackboard linking of accounts.

Retention Centre - available again! View

The Retention Centre facility has been restored as a part of the 2016 VITAL upgrade this summer. (This remains subject to continued monitoring.)


To (re-)acquaint yourself with this useful monitoring tool please watch this quick video. Essentially you can use this to get alerts on some simple student module engagement data: inactivity in module, last access, missed due dates (Blackboard assessments only), missed test grades.


Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment tool - available again! View

A long-standing bug with the Self and Peer Assessment tool meant that some students could end up with fewer than your specified number of other students' work or even no work to review in the second phase of this activity so that they could not complete the assessment. This bug has now been fixed and the Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment tool is fully usable again.


If you are interested in this form of assessment activity please contact the eLearning Unit for to discuss your requirements. There is also Turnitin PeerMark system to run self and peer review activities online which offers another approach to peer and self review assessments.


This link is to the official guide to using the Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment tool.

VITAL unavailable 19th (7am) - 20th (5pm) December View

For all users of VITAL, an essential update requires VITAL to be offline whilst the update work takes place. VITAL will not be available in the update period 7am Tuesday 19th - 5pm Weds 20th.


For all staff users of the Blackboard Assignment tool (n.b. not Turnitin) please read the below to see whether and how this update will affect you.

For all staff  VITAL users please do not set any critical online tests, assignment submission deadlines or other important online activities run through VITAL during these days. You will not be able to access VITAL for marking. For marking with Turnitin Feedback Studio, this can be accessed independently of VITAL during the update period. You will need to set up an account to do this. If you are planning to download Blackboard Assignments for marking in hard copy or in another application in the update period please do this before the update begins.


For all student users of VITAL, you will not be able to access your VITAL modules in this period. However, please remember that for revision purposes you can download materials like Powerpoint slides from VITAL before the update, your Reading List @ Liverpool can be accessed independently, and many recorded lectures are available through Stream.liv.ac.uk.

Blackboard Assignment users affected by this update
(This does not affect the Turnitin assignment tool).

This update will affect staff using the inline marking facility of the Blackboard Assignment tool to offer feedback electronically to students directly on the page. The screenshot below shows an example of the current inline grading toolset. (You might also know this facility as Crocodoc.)

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The update does not affect the other standard grading tools in the Grade Centre, indicated in this screenshot, including grade, rubric, file upload and overall feedback.

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If you do not use these other grading tools in your assessment workflows this upgrade will not immediately affect you, but please read the rest of this item as an increased number of filetypes are supported for inline grading in the update and you will then have the option to use the new facility.


What is happening in this upgrade?
The current inline grading toolset for Blackboard Assignments, Crocodoc, is being replaced. It is provided as a third-party facility and its owner is ending the service to replace it with a new service, called Box. Blackboard, who use the service in their Assignment tool, have now prepared a transition path and details of how we will move from Crocodoc to Box, and what that means for users of the Blackboard Assignment inline grading tools. There has only been a very short time available to the University to prepare for this transition. This will affect all institutions that use Blackboard or Crocodoc for inline grading.


The new service will have a cleaner, more modern look. There are changes to the types of comment that can be left. This screenshot provided by Blackboard shows an example of the new service.

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The essential differences between the two services are:

  • Inline comment types have been simplified so that they are now pop-up types on the page either linked to highlighted text or as a standalone pop-up comment, as shown above.


  • An increased range of filetypes is supported for inline comments compared to the current, very limited set.


  • The freehand drawing tool has been discontinued.


  • Students can no longer download their annotated work, only the original file they submitted.


What will happen on the update day?

On the day of the update all Blackboard Assignment submissions will be transferred to the new service.


Assignments that have already been graded using the Crocodoc service will have their existing inline comments preserved and effectivey turned into an image so that these inline comments are still viewable but cannot be edited after the update. You will, however, be able to add further comments using the new service's standalone and highlight pop-up comment tools.


Unmarked assignments will also be able to use the new service's standalone and highlight pop-up comment tools.

Can I mark now using Crocodoc in Blackboard Assignments? 

You can use the current inline marking tools up until the day of the update. It is recommended that if you have a set of assignments to mark which falls close to the update, and you plan to use inline grading tools, then you should decide to mark the complete set either before or after the update. Do not split marking around the period that VITAL will be unavailable as there are some workflow changes, particularly for managing marking teams, and also to ensure consistency for yourself and your students.


Do we have to make this change?

This update has been determined by the owner of the Crocodoc service and Blackboard. We have to update so that we can continue to view work already marked with inline tools in Blackboad Assignments and are able to continue to offer inline grading for Blackboard Assignments.


Who can I talk to about this?

If you have any questions about this update please contact the CSD Service Desk in the first instance.

For all staff users of the Blackboard Assignment tool (n.b. not Turnitin) please read the below to see whether and how this update will affect you.


For all staff users of the Blackboard Assignment tool (n.b. not Turnitin) please read the below to see whether and how this update will affect you.