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Blackboard VLE

Some basic hints for using the Minera Portal and VLE

Minerva is a 'Virtual Learning Environment' in which each module has an area assigned for lecturers to post learning resources.
University Resources for Minerva can be found at https://minerva.leeds.ac.uk.
Choose the "Teach" tab on the top right-hand side of the page once you've logged in to access module information.
This page contains a few basic instructions and hints.

Access Entry Point Plagiarism Check   -  TurnItIn
Editing Grade Centre Rolling content to next academic year
Availability LaTeX on the VLE Managing files on Minerva


Use in the School of Maths

All online information for modules taught in the School of Maths should be accessible via Minerva. Details about the minium requirements for a module webpage in the School of Maths can be found here.

All lecturers should use Minerva to post module information. But if you need to use your own module webpage, please post a link on Minerva to your module web page, for example by posting a permanent announcement.
Don't forget to make the Minerva module page "available" (see below).

If you have any problems with Minerva, please contact the Maths Taught Student Office.

NOTE: The MODULE INFORMATION area for each module will be set by office staff to link to the Module Catalogue entry. Please do not edit or use this menu item.


There are different levels of access rights to the module pages. Under TEACH, you will see links to modules you are teaching, building, or grading. If any of the modules you are teaching do not appear in the correct place, or if you would like to arrange for a postgrad or member of staff to get grading access to your module, please contact the Maths Taught Student Office. Staff in the Maths Taught Student Office will arrange for all tutors to have grading access to the module area.


In order to edit any page in your Minerva module area, make sure that the switch on the top right is set to EDIT ON.
Next to the EDIT on/off switch, there is an icon with two arrows around a dot which lets you access the Student View.
The following menu items will be adjusted by staff in the Maths Taught Student Office:
  • EXAM INFO with Calculator Policy, etc.
  • SNAPSHOT MODULE SURVEY, short midsemester student survyes
  • SCHOOL OF MATHS STUDENT RESOURCES to link to the Mathematics Organisation on Minerva.


After logging in, every lecturer should find on the top left side of the TEACH tab a list of all modules he/she is teaching, building or grading. If this is not the case, please contact the Maths Taught Student Office. Initially all modules are listed as unavailable="unavailable". This means that the page will not be available to students. When the page is ready for students to see, you need to make the page available to users by going to CONTROL PANEL > CUSTOMISATION > PROPERTIES (on the left-hand side of the page).  If you do not make the page available, students will not be able to access the module page at all.

Entry Point

The default entry page for all module areas is the Announcement Page. You can change this by going to CONTROL PANEL > CUSTOMISATION > STYLE (on the left-hand side of the page).

Grade Centre

You can access the Grade Centre on the left-hand margin under Control Panel -> Full Grade Centre. It should be used to enter marks for coursework, practicals, quizzes, etc.
You can add items (columns) to the Grade Centre by clicking ADD COLUMN. You can change the order of the columns by going to MANAGE -> COLUMN ORGANISATION.

Data Entry
Marks can be entered directly on the page by clicking on the grade, typing the grade, and then pressing <enter> on the keyboard.
For all level 1 modules with several tutor groups, the office staff will set up the Grade Centre so that each tutor can access his/her tutor group directly from the left-hand margin.

Making Marks visible to students
Lecturers should use this feature to allow students to check their coursework marks online. In order to make the marks from the Grade Centre visible to students you need to add My Grades to the Module menu. In order to do this, click on + in the module menu, select ADD TOOL LINK, enter a name (for example "My Grades"), choose MY GRADES for the type, and tick the "Available to users" box.
The My Grades menu item should now appear in the module menu on the left-had margin. In order for students to see their marks, they need to click on this item. Students will only be able to see their own marks.
IMPORTANT! We advise not to enter exam or final module marks into the Grade Centre. If you do, please do NOT make them visible to students (by checking the appropriate box).
The TOTAL Column. In the Grade Centre, the entry in the TOTAL column is visible to students by default, and is by default displayed as a total out of a running total. This means that if no mark is entered for a student for a piece of coursework, the mark for this piece is not included in the running total, and the student might assume that he/she is exempt from the piece of work (we had cases in the past). In order to make sure that the absolute overall total is shown, you need to tick “NO” for “Calculate as Running Total” in the editing screen for the TOTAL column. The safer option would be to hide the Total from students.
Coursework Exemptions. Please keep a record (ouside the VLE) of which students have been exempted from which coursework. After downloading the coursework marks from the VLE, make sure these are dealt with correctly.

Using LaTeX on Minerva

You can write or copy LaTeX code directly into Minerva areas of MATH modules and have the typeset text displayed. Simply type the LateX commands enclosed by \(...\) for in-line and \[...\] for paragraph mode within the text in the content areas. The output should be displayed once you click SUBMIT. It might take a few seconds. Please note:
  • Only math mode commands can be used (no text editing commands such \bf).
  • If there is a mistake in the code, the code will be displayed instead of the typeset version (no error message is displayed).
You can of course also upload pdf-files which have been created using LaTeX.
Let Phil know if you encounter problems.

Plagiarism Check using TurnItIn

TurnItIn is an online tool for producing originality reports for electronic documents submitted in standard formats, Word, pdf, etc. It is integrated into Minerva allowing students’ submissions to be checked automatically. It should be used for all essay/report submissions to check students' work for plagirism and originality.
Here are some brief instructions how to set up Minerva for a TurnItIn submission.
  1. Access the specific module on Minerva, and make sure EDIT MODE (top right) is switched on.
  2. You can add the TurnItIn submission item to an existing area within the module, or add a new menu item - click on + in the module menu (top left), select ADD CONTENT AREA, enter a name (for example "Submit Your Report"), and tick the "Available to users" box.
  3. Go to the area where you would like students to hand in the assignments, go to ADD ASSESSMENT (just above the page), and choose "TurnItIn Assignment". This will open an area where you can adjust the settings for the submission.
    • The standard type is "Paper Assignment". Choose an Assignment Title (for example: "Final Report"), and the number of points (if you are planning to enter the marks in the Grade Centre).
    • Set the due date and open the SPECIAL INSTUCTIONS. Here you can write special instructions to the students which will appear on the web page (e.g. allowed formats, additional hand-in procedures, etc.). The other optional settings are self-explanatory. We recommend to exclude small matches up to a word count of 10. Students should NOTbe allowed to see the Originality Report.
  4. Click the SUBMIT button. This will create a new item within the module area, as well as a new column in the Grade Centre.
Please make sure to inform the students about the submission procedures and deadlines.

To access the submitted files:
  • Go to MODULE TOOLS (under the Control Panel on the left-hand margin), choose TurnItIn Assignments and click on the specific item.
  • You will see a list of all submitted files, listing the similarity index as a percentage for each file. Clicking on this icon will display the originality report. You can also download the original file and see the date and time of submission. If necessary, you can submit a file yourself  using the "submit paper" button.
Here are some guidelines for the use of the originality reports.
Managing Files on Minerva

Instead of managing the file content of your module through the web interface, you can mount your module Content Collection as a network folder, with which you can interact as with any normal folder: copying and pasting, dragging and dropping, overwriting, deleting, and generally re-arranging files in the usual manner. It does not affect the student-facing part of the VLE (unless you delete an item they can currently see).

To find instructions on how to do this, you will need to go to your module's Content Collection and click on "Set up Web Folder" in the top right of the panel. There you will find a URL, which is the address of the folder on the server, together with instructions for Windows and Mac users. If you are using a University Windows 7 machine, please note that the way to "Add network location" is to go to "Computer", and right-click on your computer in the left-hand pane. From there, the VLE instructions are correct.

Note that you will have to mount the folders each year, because the module folder addresses are different for each year's instance.

There is a slightly more advanced way to use this, which is to set the folder as bbcswebdav/courses, without any module code. This way, you mount the containing folder for all of your modules. You can then bookmark multiple folders by navigating to the appropriate folder. You will find a load of irrelevant 2011/12 History modules, as presumably they didn't set up their module spaces correctly that year, but you will also find your own modules down at the bottom. By doing it this way, you will avoid having to update the server address every year, although you will still need to update your bookmarks.

Notes for Linux users

1a. Go to "Places > Connect to Server...".
1b. In Ubuntu or derivatives, you should open your file manager (Nemo / Nautilus) and go to "File > Connect to Server..."
1c. In other distributions, you are on your own! But what follows is likely still to be helpful.

2. In the box that opens, make the following choices / type the following things.

Service type: Secure WebDAV (HTTPS)
Server: adm-minerva.leeds.ac.uk
Port: 443
Folder: bbcswebdav/courses/ + [your module address, from the webpage referenced above]
Username: [your username]
Password: [your password]

Rolling content to the next academic year

All "static" content (e.g. uploaded files, links) will be automatically copied to the module area for the next academic year. Non-static content such as entries in Discussions Boards or the Grade Centre will not be rolled forward.


  • Minerva support for the MaPS Faculty is also provided by Jamie Ridley (MaPS VLE Support Officer) - J.Ridley@leeds.ac.uk.