All assessments that are being administered online are online assessments. The table within the document below sets out key considerations for different forms of alternative assessment, together with any related guidance materials staff and students can reference.

The sections prior to the document below (‘Guidance for your students’; ‘Online Submission of Files: file type and file size’; ‘Online Submission of Files: recommended approaches’) are universally applicable regardless of alternative assessment type.

It is important that you familiarise yourself with this information and understand how it may impact upon your choice of alternative assessment.

Guidance for your students

It is important to provide clear guidance for students in the change in orientation of the task. You should make absolutely clear what your expectations are in terms of the alternative assessment set for your students, the manner in which student submissions will be made, the timing of these submissions and when your students can expect their grade and feedback. Please keep in mind the considerations that are provided in the ‘things to consider’ column.

Online Submission of Files: file type and file size

File type and file size are two key considerations for online submission of assessments through Blackboard. Whichever method of alternative assessment you plan to facilitate, you should familiarise yourself with the guidance below in order to make a judgement as to whether it impacts on your chosen alternative assessment.

File Type
Be clear what file types you will accept when setting your assessment brief. Be clear how you will deal with any files that are not submitted in accordance with your brief.

If you are expecting students to submit a Microsoft Word document or a PDF, say so.

You do not want to be in the situation where some students have submitted files in a format you are unable to open.

File Size
When it comes to online assessment, file size (or more accurately, large file size) will affect two primary steps in the online assessment workflow:

    1. Student: submitting (uploading) the work.
    2. Staff: retrieving (downloading/viewing) the work.

We need to be mindful of the internet quality available to our students and staff. The recommendation is to not expect a student submission larger than 100MB.

As a rule of thumb, 100MB would cover a pretty large Word doc including pictures. It would probably cover a PowerPoint with an audio track, however it is unlikely to cover anything containing video.

It is suggested, where the submission of large file(s) is seen as unavoidable, staff recommend students compress their file(s) using readily/freely available zip software.

Online Submission of Files: recommended approaches

We recommend the following three approaches, depending on the file type/size you expect your students to produce/submit through Blackboard.

  1. Written piece of work (for example, a normal Word document of 40 or fewer pages with images/diagrams interspersed throughout).
    This would cover the vast majority of assignments submitted to Blackboard and would typically be less than 100MB:

    1. Tutors create a Turnitin or Blackboard Assignment.
    2. Students submit the files through the Turnitin or Blackboard Assignment.
  2. Submission involving media other than text (for example, PowerPoint files with audio or video, substantial image file(s), anything containing video).

    Blackboard can support student assignment submissions up to 800MB per individual file (although students may submit any number of individual files for each assignment.To avoid complications for students, we recommend if an assignment in this category is likely to be 600MB or less:

    1. Tutors create a Blackboard Assignment.
    2. Students submit the files through the Blackboard Assignment.
  3. Submission involving media other than text (very large PowerPoint files, video files over 30 minutes, animations, etc.), where each individual file is likely to exceed 600MB:
    1. Tutors create a Blackboard Assignment.
    2. Students upload their file(s) to their Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage.
    3. Students then submit (through the Blackboard Assignment) the link to the file (if only one file) or the folder in which all files are located (if more than one file).
    4. To mark, tutors view via the link or download the file(s) to their own OneDrive cloud storage if required.


You can download a copy of the document here: Considerations and Resources for Digital Platforms and Tools Supporting Alternative Assessments