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Online Assignments in Blackboard

IMPORTANT: The page below was produced prior to the impact of COVID-19 on online assessment for 2020. A dedicated hub page has been created to assist staff with preparing for online assessment for summer 2020 with updated guides specific to the current situation. The information on the page below is preserved as reference and will be revised after the current situation passes. Please refer to the Online Assessment - Summer 2020 hub page for the latest guidance on online assessment options in Blackboard for summer 2020.



On this page:


Online assignments allow students to submit essays in Blackboard and provide you with the functionality to give detailed feedback to your students using annotations, rubrics and text. Click on the video below for a brief overview of how you can use rubrics in Blackboard assignments to provide detailed feedback to enhance student learning. A separate page is available for Turnitin in Blackboard assignments.

Notice regarding the SafeAssign Similarity Score: You can enable SafeAssign when creating a Blackboard assignment - this allows you to check a student's submission against the SafeAssign database of papers. The similarity score in the SafeAssign report is not a measure of plagiarism within a piece of work but represents where there are similarities to other sources (journals, essays, books etc.). A submission with a high similarity score might be satisfactory once the bibliography, cover sheet etc. are accounted for whereas a submission could have a low score but could be heavily paraphrasing other sources without citation.

Lecturers should advise their students not to focus on getting the similarity score below a certain percentage as there are many other dimensions to correctly citing sources. More information on interpreting the Similarity Score is available on Blackboard's website.

Benefits of Online Assignments for Teaching & Learning

You can use online assignments to:

  • Create, manage, and circulate assignments within Blackboard for formative and summative learning
  • Check for potential plagiarism issues using a Similarity Report
  • Grade using rubrics
  • Manage how and when grades and feedback are released to students

Quick Guides

There are three stages to using online assignments in Blackboard. Click on the links below to view quick guides with the eLearning team's recommended settings for each stage of a standard assignment. More detailed guides are available in the Additional Resources section. Updated guides will be published after the launch of the improved annotation features in August as part of the Blackboard upgrade.

An online guide for students is also available to help them with the submission process. Refer your students to the 'Student Help' tab in Blackboard (top right of the screen after logging in) to access this and other guides on using Blackboard.

Accessibility Features: There is no specific setting to give additional time to some students; instead when a submission is uploaded after the Due Date it is marked as Late but it is up to the instructor to decide whether this affects the mark as there is no automatic deduction for late submissions.


Online Tutorials

1. Blackboard Vs Turnitin Assignments


Handling Submission Issues

Procedure: if a student has issues submitting we would advise them to contact the module instructor so there is a record of this and because the instructor would need to make a determination as to whether to allow an additional attempt based on the different circumstances. Clearing/resetting attempts needs to be done by the instructor of a particular module in the first instance. We also strongly recommend that if there are submission issues due to account/access problems etc. with an individual student, please accept the submission via email as proof of submission until the issue is resolved. If an instructor cannot resolve the issue themselves, the instructor can contact us for advice via We recommend therefore when you create an assignment to allow more than one attempt. More details on granting an additional attempt are available on the Blackboard website.

Additional Resources

Below are additional resources for staff who require further details on the different features and settings of Blackboard assignments. If you are new to using online assignments we would recommend that you create a standard online assignment as above before using these features.