Blackboard assignment can be used for your students to submit their work to in an electronic format.

Blackboard assignment are very similar to Turnitin assignments but they are not the same thing. Both can generate similarity reports, both can use a rubric when marking, and both submit a score to grade center.

With blackboard assignments as well as being able to upload multiple files in any format, students can also type their submission straight into blackboard with the blackboard text editor. This give students the option to use the mashups tools and include a video from Panopto.

Blackboard assignments also work with blackboard groups. Which means you can create a group assignment and the group can work on it collaboratively within blackboard, and submit a single piece of work for assessment.

One thing to be aware of is that students can start working on their assignments and save it as draft. You can’t mark the assignment until it has been fully submitted.   Some time students don’t realize that they have to click the submit button before it can be marked.

For further information click to expand the links below:

Creating a Blackboard Assignment

Help guide from blackboard

Video tutorial for blackboard assignments with SafeAssign

To create a blackboard assignment first open the blackboard module where you wish to create the assignment, then click on the assessments tab in the left menu.

You will then see the assessments page. Click on the assessments tab in the top menu and choose Assignment.

Assessment Menu, Assignment option

The Create assignment page will open. In the assignment Information section, enter a name for the assignment and instruction for your students.

Assignment Information

Use the Assignment Files section to attach any files that will be need to complete the assignment.

Assignment File Drop

You can include instruction, a template for student submission, and any other resources that students will need to complete the assignment.

The Due dates section is used to set the due date for the assignment. If you want to set a due date enter a date and time when you enter a date the tick box will automatically become ticked. If student submit after the due date the paper will be marked as late.

Due date screenshot

It is recommended that you set due dates to be within office hours, so if students have problems submitting, the IT service desk will be maned to help them.

You can click on the calendar or clock icons to open a popup window and choose the date/time.

Grading options

The grading section is where you set the score for the assignment, you can also add a rubric there are also three optional subsections.


Enter a score for the assignment. This is a point value the grade center column will take.

You also have to option to add a rubric. A rubric is a scoring system for marking your paper. See the help files on Blackboard rubrics for more information about setting up a rubric and marking with a rubric.

Submission Detail

Submission Detail is the first optional subsection of grading section. Click on the submission details link to open the subsection.

Submission details link

In submission details set the assignment type

Assignement type link

  • With Individual Submission every student will make a submission
  • With Group Submission there will be one submission per included group
  • We don’t recommend using the portfolio Submission type. If you would like to use portfolios for assessment of student work please contact the TEL team about the alternative options.

If you want to create an assignment for a groups, before you create the assignment you need to know

  • A course group must exist before you create group assignments for it.
  • Students who are enrolled in more than one group that receives the same assignment will be able to submit more than one attempt for this assignment. You may need to provide these students with an overall grade for the assignment.
  • Students who aren’t enrolled at the time that a group assignment has been submitted don’t have access to that submission. These students only see that the submission occurred.
  • Students who you remove from a group can’t see the group assignments. They can access their submissions from My Grades.
  • If you edit the assignment between creation and the due date, the entire group may lose any work already in progress.
  • If you delete a group from the assignment after students have started an attempt but before submission, they’ll lose access to the assignment and lose their work.

When you selected groups a new window will appear to allow you to choose which groups you want to do this assessment. To add groups click on the groups in the left window to select them, then click in the right pointing arrow to move them to the selected box.

Group selection box

Choose how many attempts the students can make.

number of attempts

If Multiple Attempts is chosen a box appears for you to enter the maximum number of attempts.

If Multiple Attempts or Unlimited Attempts is chosen you get a choice of how you want to grade the multiple attempts. It’s recommended that you grade the last attempt.

maximum number of attempts

At the University of Derby you would normaly set this to Unlimited Attempts and sccore the Last Graded Attempt, but you are free to choose other setting if this is not appropiate. If you didn’t select Single attempt it’s recommended that you don’t start marking until after the due date.

The Plagiarism Tools

The Plagiarism Tools allows you to check your student’s submission against a data base to check for Plagiarism.

PLagiarism tool option

Check the tick box to generate originality reports using SafeAssign.

SafeAssign originality reports works similarly to the TurnItIn similarity reports but it doesn’t quite have a big a database to draw from. However unlike Turnitin if the SafeAssign server are down during the submission period it will not prevent students from submitting their work. It will just delay the generation of reports.

If you select to use SafeAssign you get two more options.

Safe Assign options

If you select “Allow students to view SafeAssign originality report for their attempts” students will be able to check if anything plagiarized and if they are allowed additional attempts resubmit their work.

If you select “Exclude submissions from the Institutional and Global References Databases” this mean that future submissions referencing this paper won’t highlight similarities. This option should be used if this is a draft paper and you will want to do another originality report on the same paper in the future.

SafeAssign only accepts files in .doc, .docx, .docm, .ppt, .pptx, .odt, .txt, .rtf, .pdf and .html file formats. Files in other formats won’t receive an originality report.

Note: this list of files is not the same as the file accepted for Inline Grading. If you want to do inline grading and use SafeAssign, tell your student to submit file in .doc, .docx, or PDF file formats. The PDF also need to be saved in a format where the text is selectable.

Grading options / Anonymous Marking

For the University of Derby, from September 2019, it will be the policy that by default all marking will anonymised. There will be some exception where if strict criteria are met and approved the paper need not be marked anonymously.

Even if you know which students are submitting which work, you will have to Enable Anonymous Marking to enable anonymity during moderation.

You Enable Anonymous Marking by clicking on the Enable Anonymous Marking check box in the grading options and setting a date when Anonymous Marking will be turned off. This should be after internal moderation have taken place.

 Students are informed that the paper will be marked anonymously, and when viewing results are told if the paper was marks anonymously. If the grade is changed after the anonymity is removed the student are informed. You should only change grade after the students name is reviled by comity and all changes should be logged.

Anonymous Marking Screen shot
In the grading options section you also have the option to turn on delegated marking. This will enable you to distribute the marking workload.

Displaying grades

To open the displaying of grades section click on the link

This section set how the students will see the results and what type of result it is.

If the result was a grade you would use the letter option

If you had a pass/fail assignment you would use the text option

Normally score or percentage is used.

If you uncheck the “Include in Grade Centre grading calculations” option then there will still be a column in grade center but you won’t be able to includes it in calculations.

Include in Grade centre grading calculations

If you have “Show to students in My Grades” checked, students will be able to see their marks as soon as you mark the paper.

Show to students in My Grades

If you don’t want the students to see their results until you have finish marking all the papers uncheck this. Then when you are ready for students to see the results you can unhide the column in full grade center.


This section sets the time when an assignment is available to students. If you would like to use criteria other than time for setting availability see the adaptive release help guides.

To make an assessment available to students make sure you have the “Make the Assignment Available” ticked.

If it is not ticked students won’t be able to see it even if it is within the time window set in limit availability. The exception to this is if the paper has been marked and the grade center column is not hidden, students have access to view their submitted assignments through the provisional grades and feedback tab.

Limit Availability sets the time period when the assignment is available.

Limit availability dates

If you want to limit the time when students can view the assessment enter a date and time into the boxes. You can click on the calendar or clock icons to open a popup window and choose the date/time. When you enter date or time the tick box will automatically become ticked.

If you enter a date to display after and a date to display until. The assessment will only be available between those dates.

If you untick one of the dates you disable the limit and the displayed date in the box will be lost when you submit the changes.

Note: make sure the assignment will be available on the due date.

Note: The late submission policy dictates that the students must be able to submit up to 7 days after the due date. so make sure the Display Until date is at least 7 days after the due date.

If you tick Track Number of Views it allows statistics to be generated on usage

Track Views

Finely click the submit button.

When you click the submit button a new column will appear in full grade center to store the students results.

Grading Blackboard Assignments

Blackboard Inline Grading for Assignments tutorial

To start grading first you need to go to the module in blackboard and then click on the Grade Center tab in the left menu of the module. You then need to click on “Needs Marking” to open the list of submitted assignments for that module. Click on the assignment you wish to mark.

Needs marking

Using Inline Grading to Mark (Box View)

Inline grading is where you can add feedback comment directly to point within students’ submissions.

Boxview Overview

Inline grading accepts most text and image files formats and gives you the ability to annotate them. None text files such as audio, video, 3D objects can be displayed but can’t be annotated.

The full list of accepted file types can be found here

Note: this list of files is not the same as the file accepted for SafeAssign. If you want to do Inline Grading and use SafeAssign, tell your student to submit file in .doc, .docx, or PDF file formats. The PDF also need to be saved in a format where the text is selectable.

Above the main panel there is the inline grading bar. Boxview Top MenuIn the grading bar there are three tools

  1. Point annotation Mode
  2. Print
  3. Download

Point annotation Mode

If you click on the Point annotation Mode button you will then go into point annotation mode, this is where you can add annotation to a point in the document. If you then click on the paper you will get a point annotation text box.Box View Input Box

Enter your comments into the text box and click post. You can add more than one post to a point. You can also add posts to another markers point. When you have finished adding comments click on Cancel to close the text box. The point will then appear as a speech bubble Box View Annotation Icon  you can view the comments in a point by clicking on the speech bubble or just putting your mouse over it.

Print Button

The Print button will do different thing in different browsers. In internet explorer it will print to PFD. In chrome it will open print window and print to a printer. In both cases it only print the original document and doesn’t include any annotation.

Download Button

The download button downloaded the original submitted file

Selected text

As well as being able to add Point Annotation you can also add annotation to selected text. This only works for documents with selectable text. (Text in an image is not selectable) Select the text you want to comment on. You will then get a pop up window with two choices

Box View Hilighting

The first choice is a Highlight Text tool. This will simply highlight the text.

The second choice is Add comment to Highlighted Text. This will open the annotation text box. And you can add comment in the same way as you can for a point.

Highlighted text can be clicked on. It will then show you who highlighted it and the text comment if there is one.

Box View Editing Text

Comments can be deleted by clicking on the Bin icon

Highlighting can be deleted by clicking on the yellow highlight icon or turned into a comment by clicking on the Add comment to Highlighted Text icon

Box View Deleating Hilights

Note: In some browsers it’s easier to select text accurately if you start the selection at the end and finish at the start.


At the bottom of the main page there is a navigation panel

Box View Navigating Menus

This only becomes visible if you scroll to the bottom of the marking window. You may not see this if you don’t have the browser full screen.

  • The magnifying glassed can be used to zoom in and out of the document.
  • The up and down arrows jump you to the last, or next page.
  • The Full screen button hides the main panel.

It is recommended that you hide the blackboard left menu hide button that become visible when you mouse over the left menu

Hide Left Menu

Using the Grading Panel to Grade

The grading panel can be found on the right, what’s included in the grading panel changes depending on the setting of the assignment.

The top section is the assignment details.

If you click the drop down arrow  a panel with expand with the assignment details.

The right pointing arrow  will hide the grading panel.

The four arrow pointing at the corners  expands the grading area and hides all unnecessary panels.

Below that you have a Grade section.

The top grey section show the mark for a previous attempt if there is one. The white box in the blue section is where you enter the grade for this attempt. Here we see the attempt is marked as “LATE”. If more than one attempt has been submitted you would see the submission number too.

If you used SafeAssign with this assessment then in this section you will also get the SelfAssign information.

Looking at this you would initially think this is a paper that has been plagiarized. If you click on the SafeAssign link you will expand the SafeAssign section to see more info.

When you look at the full panel you see there are three submission. A text submission, a PowerPoint file, and a PDF. It still looks very suspicious the Text submission has a 100% similarity to another document. Click on “View Originality Report” to open the full report.

Now you can see the full Originality Report. With a break down in the right panel.

In the middle of the panel you can see the three submission with the “Submission_ Text” selected, you see that the Submission Text is just 28 words.

In the bottom section of the pannle you can see what they match with. In this case it matches another student’s paper, next to that you see a pen color (Yellow). In the main panel you see text highlighted in the same color. The highlighted text is what match this source.

When you look closely at the words you see that they are the words that are automatically generated with the video submission. So this is not an issue.

You can click on the other two documents in the right panel to open their originality reports.

Close the browser tab to return to marking page.

Click the dropdown arrow at the bottom of this section   and the feedback panel expands.

If you have attached a rubric to this assignment you will see the rubric section.

See Using Blackboard Rubrics to Grade for full instruction on grading with rubric.

Here you can add overall feedback not connected to a rubric or inline marking.

If you click on the add notes button  you can add a private note that can be seen by other tutors but not the student.

Click Submit to submit the score, and all the feedback.

Below the blue section there is a grey section here you will find links to open the submissions.

Click on a submission to start inline marking.

If the submission is in a format that can’t be marked inline you will have to download the file and open it in an appropriate application. To download the file click on the download button.

If the assignment is a group assignment you will see the Group member here.

In this section you can override the group score and give different members of the group different scores.

Select the Override/revert icon   to change the grade for a group member. Type a new grade and click the Save icon  to save it. This grade becomes an override grade.

When a student submits an attempt they have the option to leave a comment. IF this was done you will also see the comment in the grey section.

When you have finished grading the paper click on the arrows to grade the next item.

Late submission checks

When you mark a blackboard assignment, it tells you in the marking window if the assignment was submitted late and give you the precise time of submission.

late submission time

If the submission is less than 7 days late, you will market in normally and include in the feedback what score they would have received if it was not late and cap the score for the paper at 40% for undergraduate and 50% for postgraduate students if they received a passing grade. 

Blackboard feedback

If the submission of more than 7 days late you don’t need to mark it and the score should be left blank.

Video Submission

The Blackboard assignment tool can be used for video submission. A video file is uploaded in the same was as text file, but there are a number of things student have to be aware of when submitting video because large video files can cause problems. 

The best video file format to use is MP4 this will work in most cases. Other formats may work but there is no guarantee that they will.  

Student making videos with their own devices should be told turn down the resolution or quality of their device so that the files are as small as possible. 

If students are editing the video then the output files should be reduces to low resolution and low quality. If you require high quality video for marking you should make alternative arrangements for collecting the files.  

If the file is large over 20Mb then it will take a while to upload. Domestic broadband connection have considerable slower upload speed than download speed. Files over 2Gb could take over an hour to upload and there is no countdown or progress bar to tell you how long there is left to go.

Students often make the mistake of thinking it will only take seconds to upload. Using a university computer to upload the file will ensure the fasted upload speed. Click here to find out how long it will take to upload a file. 

If during the file upload the mobile device or PC locks then the upload will stop.  

The ideal and recommend way to upload a large file is to place the file on the hard drive of a university PC and use chrome to log into blackboard, then it will take around 5 mins to upload a 2Gb file. 

Students do get an email on successful submission.

The differences between Blackboard assignments and Turnitin assignments