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VITAL Summer upgrade 2016 - complete

The 2016 summer upgrade to VITAL has now successfully taken place. Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding whilst VITAL was offline. 


What’s in this year’s upgrade?
As well as a number of bug fixes and security improvements there are some small changes and new features to note.



New tool

  • A receipting building block for VITAL Blackboard Assignments. A much-requested feature similar to the receipting facility in Turnitin Assignments; when students successfully submit an assignment they are sent a receipt by email which includes a unique identifying number. For group assignments only the student submitting on behalf of the group will receive the email receipt.


New feature in Discussion Boards

  • Discussion Threads - Users can navigate from thread to thread without having to return to the main Discussions page.


Return of previously unavailable tools

Thanks to some bug fixes in this upgrade a couple of useful tools that were made unavailable have been restored.


  • Retention Centre. Please note that this is subject to continued monitoring. To re-familiarise yourself with the Retention Centre and what it does you can watch this quick video.


  • Blackboard Self and Peer Assessment tool. A long-standing bug meant that a student who failed to submit work to be reviewed could then still be included for distribution of work to be reviewed so that there is nothing for some students who had submitted to review, leading unfairly to their not being able to complete the assignment. This has been fixed and students who do not submit to phase one will not be included in the distribution for review in phase two.


Default settings change

  • Announcements dates. When creating an announcement, "Not Date Restricted" is now selected by default.


Some accessibility improvements

  • Discussion Boards - Forum descriptions are read on the Create Thread page. This improves accessibility for users with screen reader technologies.
  • Assessments - When creating a hot spot question, an Image Alternate text box is now available. This improves accessibility for users.
  • Content Editor - The default heading size for all of the embedded headings has been increased so they are properly read in both the view and edit state in the Content Editor.


How the upgrade is tested
There is a formal testing plan for every VITAL upgrade with which anyone can get involved. However, VITAL is a large and complex system and it is not possible to test everything. If there is a particular part of VITAL important for your teaching and which you would like to help test in the new version this summer then please contact the eLearning Unit or CSD Servicedesk to discuss this further.


Previous upgrades 

For a round-up of previous upgrades please see these items:

  • VITAL upgrade 2013: introduced the Retention Centre for monitoring key student activity in a module. Also Item Analysis for tests you have run, new test settings which allow individual and groups to be given extra time/attempts etc.
  • VITAL summer upgrade 2014: introducing the new Inline Grading tool for electronically marking Blackboard Assignments. Also included the new Qwickly tool for sending announcements to multiple modules and a Test Log for monitoring what students do in tests.
  • VITAL summer upgrade 2015: no new features in summer but there was an extra upgrade in December 2014 which introduced a Student Preview feature, for testing how your module works from a student point of view, as well as some new workflows for managing assignments.


Finally, don’t forget the VITAL Baseline when planning your modules for next academic year.