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Blackboard SOAP Web Services deprecation
With the release of Blackboard Learn Q2 2019, Blackboard is deprecating our SOAP APIs. We recommend that if you use Blackboard's SOAP APIs as an external application or as part of a Building Block, you should immediately refactor your integration using our Blackboard REST APIs.
Visit Behind the Blackboard for more information on SOAP web services deprecation and guidance on migrating to REST APIs.
Caliper 1.1 update for Blackboard Learn Telemetry Service
Blackboard is pleased to announce updated support for the Caliper Analytics® standard in Blackboard Learn. Caliper is a specification from the IMS Global Learning Consortium® that defines a standard for the exchange of user activity information. Blackboard Learn supports this standard, giving institutions the option to emit near-real-time and batch user event data to an event store system for further analytics and reporting.
The centralized service that processes the Learn telemetry stream into Caliper events data currently uses the Caliper 1.0 specification. On January 3, 2019 this service will change to use the Caliper 1.1 specification.
For more information about how this update affects your Blackboard Learn environment, visit Behind the Blackboard
More on Caliper event configuration is available on the Developer Community
We made a number of enhancements to LTI Tool Provider setup and placements:
- Administrators can now access LTI Tool Providers directly from the Administrator Panel in the Integrations menu.
- There are new naming and capabilities in the placement options for an LTI tool.
- Under Type, the student tool has been renamed to Course tool, with availability options for students and non-students. Student Course tools appear in the Student Tools area and no longer require instructor action for students to use the tool. Non-student Course tools appear in the Control Panel for instructors and other course users with access to the Control Panel.
- The Content Item Message tool type is now the Supports deep linking option within the Course content tool to reflect a name change by the IMS Global organization.
- There is a new Administrator tool placement type, which lets administrators place LTI tools in the Tools and Utilities menu on the Administrator Panel.
- A new System tool placement type allows a tool to be added to the Tools panel that can appear in the My Institution or other module tab. This allows integrating tools that might be accessed outside of the course context such as a library system or a media management tool.
- If your institution uses Mobile Web Services, Instructors can grade assignments using the Blackboard Instructor app.
- Full user interface translation is available in a new Norwegian (nn_NO) language pack.
- Skip links, which make it easier for users of assistive technologies to navigate the structure of pages, now work more consistently across tool areas in the system.
- This release includes a number of performance improvements in areas such as content management (Xythos) and the Purge Accumulator. Several areas of logging have been improved to reduce log volumes.
New REST APIs and enhancements
This release includes new REST APIs and enhancements to previously-released web services, including:
- Content File Attachments
- Course Grade Attempts
- Course Gradebook Categories
- Courses v2 incl. cross-listing
Xythos Diagnostic Tool
This release includes a Xythos Diagnostic tool that administrators can run in the command line. In ~/blackboard/tools/admin, run the XythosDiagnosticsTool.bat|.sh command to generate a zipped report with statistics about Xythos servers deployed in your current Blackboard Learn environment. The output is stored in ~/blackboard/logs.
Expanded ability to reconcile grades in Delegated Grading
Delegated grading lets an instructor share grading responsibilities by assigning course members to grade sets of submissions. Grading and feedback from more than one grader can promote reliability, improve consistency, and remove bias. The instructor can reconcile grades and settle on final scores after the graders have completed their assigned submissions.
The ability to reconcile grades was previously limited to instructors and users who were granted the permission by an administrator. In this release, instructors can grant this permission to graders. The Can reconcile grades option appears when the instructor delegates grading. Instructors can choose to grant the permission to any or all graders who are delegated submissions.
Download annotated PDFs
This feature was also available for Self- and Managed-Hosting environments as a Cumulative Update for Blackboard Learn 9.1.
Users were accustomed to downloading annotated files when Crocodoc handled inline file rendering. With the switch to New Box View, this capability wasn’t available and highly requested. Blackboard listened and developed the ability to download annotated files using the New Box View.
In this release, both instructors and students can download certain file types (DOC, DOCX, PDF) with annotations as an annotated PDF. Students can download the annotated file after their submission has been graded.
Visit Inline Grading and New Box View Update on the Blackboard Community for more information and a video demonstration
Check out the October 2018 Inline Grading and New Box View Update for an update about comment summaries in annotated PDFs
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) User Report
One of the requirements of the European Union (EU) GDPR is to allow users to receive human-readable reports of personal information that has been collected about them. Clients receiving user requests may submit a case on Behind the Blackboard, including the user’s ID, to request the exported report package. The report is a ZIP file that contains CSV files with site- and course-level information about user activity, tool interactions, uploaded content, or submitted work within Blackboard Learn. Any grade data in the report are raw values and don’t include any calculations or weighting the instructor may have applied in the Grade Center. The report won’t contain information about other users in the system, content created by the institution or other users, or information from deleted courses.
Flexible Deployment Option customers: In Q4 2018 CU1 (3500.0.1), the GDPR User Report includes Activity Log and Attendance data.
Mobile Web Services
The Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block enables users to connect to their courses through Blackboard's mobile applications: Blackboard app, Blackboard Instructor, and Bb Grader. The latest version of the Mobile Web Services Building Block is 94.9.12. Check these links for the best available version for your installation.
Cloud storage integration in the Original Course View
Blackboard is pleased to announce cloud storage integration in the Original Course View. Instructors and students can access an aggregated cloud service that lets users connect to their preferred cloud storage accounts and place content directly into their course. Instructors and students can instantly connect to multiple web apps where they store files.
Your files are stored on secure, online servers where they're protected from accidents and viruses. If something happens to your computer or phone, you don't have to worry about file loss. You can access your files in the cloud any time you're connected to the internet, on any of your devices.
This feature was also made available with Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2018 CU4.
Blackboard is committed to protecting the privacy of all users. Due to changing regulations globally concerning use of data and privacy, including the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this release includes updates that impact user experience. Administrators should evaluate the impact this may have for their users.
- The Security Management: Cookie Disclosure Building Block, originally intended to address regulations in the European Privacy Data Directive, has been replaced by the Security Management: Data Use and Privacy Disclosure Building Block. This Building Block is part of the core system and can't be disabled or removed.
- For institutions that don't have users who would fall under regulations requiring this acceptance, the terms acceptance interface can be disabled in the Security Management: Data Use and Privacy Disclosure settings page. However, we recommend institutions keep the acceptance interface enabled because some users might access from another location with such regulations.
- The Security Management: Data Use and Privacy Disclosure settings page allows an administrator to define a web link to institutional statements about data use and privacy. An administrator could also store such a statement in the Content Collection as a public file and link to it.
Cumulative Update1 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2018
Cumulative Update 1 for Q2 2018 is now available.
Blackboard is committed to protecting the privacy of all users. Due to changing regulations globally concerning use of data and privacy, including the European Union General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), this release includes updates that impact user experience. Administrators should evaluate the impact this may have for their users.
NewBoxView is default service
Starting with the 3400.3.0 release, New Box View will be the default service (instead of Crocodoc) for all new Blackboard Learn installations. If your institution decided not to transition to New Box View and is upgrading to a more recent version of Blackboard Learn, this change won't affect you unless you are starting with a fresh install for the new target instance.
Configure static resources
You can specify a desired directory in the Content Collection. To access this setting, go to Admin Panel > System Configuration > Configure Static Resources. Blackboard Learn ships with this set to an internal default directory, but you can change that to any location of your choice. Files in the chosen location are served by the Learn application server as if they were located at the server root, allowing the server to serve static files such as robots.txt and favicon.ico. Before this improvement, this functionality required custom workarounds.
This feature is intended solely for files such as those listed; it is not intended for serving dynamic content or large files.
Cumulative Update 8 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2016
Cumulative Update 8 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2016 release is now available.
Available in Q3: Cloud storage integration
Instructors can copy files from their favorite cloud storage solutions when authoring Content Items or creating Assignments. Students can submit assignments from their favorite cloud storage solutions. Cloud storage that is supported includes OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Google Drive including G suite accounts, Dropbox, and Box.
Cloud Services integration isn't compatible with the generally available version of 9.1 Q2 2018 (build 3400.0) or SaaS Q2 2018 Flexible Deployment Option release. A Cumulative Update will be required to enable the feature. This feature is available in Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery environments.
Create recording for feedback
An instructor or grader can create personalized feedback recordings for individual assessment attempts or manual gradebook items. Each recording can be up to 5 minutes long and can be both video and audio. The option appears in the third row of the Content Editor as a microphone icon.
Administrators need to update their bb-config.properties file. For more information, please see behind the Blackboard.
The following feedback locations are supported:
- Graded Discussion
- Graded Wiki
- Graded Blog
- Graded Journal
- Feedback in a manual grade column
Students will see icons representing recordings that they can select to start streaming playback of the video on their computer or mobile device.
Learn 2016 theme grade center enhancements
The Learn 2016 theme now has an improved grade center. Instructors will now be able to:
- View full titles of Grade Center columns, making it easier to distinguish between similarly-titled items,
- View as many columns as the size of their window will allow, and
- Enter into Grade Center full-screen mode to make the most of their desktop experience.
Learn 2016 theme mobile optimization
Tests and the learning modules tool are now optimized for web on mobile devices. In the Learning Modules tool, the table of contents will always be pinned to the bottom of the page and can be expanded or collapsed.
In tests, additional question types have been optimized for use on mobile devices.
To meet Java 8 default performance requirements, we recommend that Blackboard Learn system administrators for Self-Hosted environments increase code cache settings for Tomcat JVM. These changes help maintain application performance.
You can find and update the settings using these steps:
1. Open bb-config.properties
2. Locate the following properties and update the values:
3. Save the changes and run PushConfigUpdates.sh to apply the changes to your environment.
LTI System and Course tool updates
The Assessment option under Course Tool placement has been removed. There is now a setting for Student Tool and Content Type. Placements previously set to use the Assessment placement type will continue to display in the same way. If the placement is edited, the course tool type will be changed.
New REST APIs and enhancements
This release includes new REST APIs and enhancements to previously-released web services, including:
- Course Roles
- System Roles
- Course copy
- Course tasks/status
- LTI configure domains
- Gradebook attempts
- Grade schemas
- Other gradebook improvements
- Grading periods
Password reset enhancement
When using Learn's password reset function, the password reset URL sent through email now expires in 15 minutes for greater security.
Passwords with SAML authentication
When SAML is implemented, users can’t reset their Blackboard Learn system password because the institution requires log in with an external account.
Institutions and instructors want to track attendance for various purposes, including at-risk detection, federal financial aid and accreditation compliance, and to support instructor pedagogical preference where being present is a component of a course grade.
With this release, instructors can track attendance in both experiences. In Learn courses, a gradebook column is added when the instructor begins taking attendance. The Attendance column provides the overall attendance score in the gradebook, where it can be included in the student’s overall grade.
Based on your data region, some Blackboard Learn features may not be available. Attendance isn't supported on Internet Explorer 11.
This release contains a security fix to the login page that could interrupt the way third party SSO solutions pass user credentials from a client portal to Blackboard. Clients using supported SSO methods including SAML and CAS aren't affected. Clients experiencing difficulty with custom SSO solutions should file a support ticket on Behind the Blackboard.
Xythos ulimit update
To accommodate Xythos content tasks, administrators are encouraged to increase the parameter limit to 30000 in the bb-config.properties file. This increase will ensure a sufficient limit of the number of opened files. Root privileges are required to change this setting.
Update for Gradebook SOAP WSDL
The SOAP WSDL for Gradebook includes two new fields for Big Decimal. Partners and developers using SOAP web services for integration who leveraged the Gradebook services should recompile using the updated WSDL.
Cumulative Update 7 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017
Cumulative Update 7 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017 release is now available.
Outcomes roles based on Institutional Hierarchy
When the centralized Assessment team demonstrates the simplicity and time-saving power of Outcomes Assessment, other departments and programs across the institution often want to take advantage of the solution and move their Assessment practices to Outcomes. Historically, though, institutions have been hesitant to roll it out to individual departments because adding Outcomes roles for users outside of the central office would grant full access to the entire institution’s evidence collections, evaluations, and reports.
With this update, we have enhanced Outcomes to respect the access limitations you’ve put in place by configuring Institutional Hierarchy. You can now assign Outcomes roles to key stakeholders within each department and these users will only be able to create evidence collections, manage evaluations, and view reports for courses within their node of the Institutional Hierarchy.
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2017
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2017 release is now available.
Cumulative Update 6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017
Cumulative Update 6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017 release is now available.
Branding and color configuration in the Learn 2016 Theme
This release includes additional options for users who wish to configure the Learn 2016 theme in all courses. In the Blackboard Learn 2016 theme, Course Menu and Theme color customization is now available through the entire interface.
Instructors and course designers can configure the course colors in the course control panel when using the Learn 2016 Theme. The course menu area appears in these colors in both desktop and mobile experiences. Extended menu areas such as the Control Panel for instructors and My Groups menu for students remain in the gray and white color scheme.
These enhancements apply to courses using the Learn 2016 theme in an Original experience environment.
Clear multiple choice selection
Students are now able to clear a selection from multiple-choice questions. This lets students avoid a penalty when they’ve made an initial selection and negative points are associated with answer choices.
Additional attempts in Anonymous Grading
Instructors can now grant an additional attempt for scenarios when the student needs one and the prior attempt can't be cleared because it is in an anonymous state.
LTI Names and Roles services
Integrated tools can retrieve course roster information to support assessment activities or provide better information about the class within the tool. This ability is formerly known as LTI Membership Service.
Additional REST services
New REST services have been added, including the addition of course copy to include a service to request progress status, the ability to create and manage LTI placements, three-legged OAuth, and content file attachments. In addition, the gradebook APIs have been enhanced to include grading schemas and gradebook notations. For more information, visit the developer portal.
Caliper for Self-hosted Environments
Caliper events can be emitted to a third-party Caliper-compliant record store for self-hosted environments located in the United States. This capability was previously released for SaaS and Managed Hosting deployment models. Support for additional regions globally is planned. Caliper is a standard from IMS Global for exchanging activity data for analytics purposes. Solaris-based self-hosted environments aren’t supported.
Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) content item messages
The Content Item Message specification is now supported, allowing improved integration for tool providers also supporting this standard. When used, instructors and course designers can create links to specific resources without knowing and specifying resource IDs. Instead, they can launch into the tool provider’s user experience, select one or more resources to add to their course, and the individual links are created in the correct place in the Blackboard Learn course. Students clicking the links will be taken directly to the specific resource rather than to a generic tool page for the tool provider.
Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) improvements
LTI 2.0 tool registration
Tool providers who use the LTI 2.0 specification can be registered using the proxy service standard.
Improved launch experience
LTI links now open in a lightbox within the course, rather than directing users to a new window or tab. This loads tools within the same window from where they are launched, creating a more consistent and contained workflow for students.
LTI improved course copy
Institutions often use courses as templates for future instruction. There is now a solution that keeps track of your placement so your content is not lost. The source course ID and content ID is tracked during course copy (and possibly archive/export) and the parameters are passed along with the launch in the respective history parameters. The tool provider is still required to handle these parameters and reconcile the link.
Improved grading with rubrics
When grading with rubrics, the grader can now save feedback and the content will remain saved when changing the rubric's view from in-line to full screen.
Portfolio: Administrators can share a portfolio on behalf of a user, allowing support personnel to assist students having portfolio access issues.
Enterprise Surveys: Reports always run as scheduled jobs rather than immediately to address issues with browsers timing out for large data sets.
Virtual Drive: When a new user is created recycling a previously-used username, the orphaned content associated with the prior user is deleted for greater security and privacy.
Chemistry notation support
The math editor found in the Content Editor has been updated to a newer version of WIRIS. This version adds tools specific to chemistry including an embedded periodic table of elements.
Course availability status and update
Instructors and other privileged course members can see the availability state of the course and change the state from the main course view. All privileged users in a course see an open or closed padlock representing the availability state of the course to students. This is in the course edit management areas with tools such as Student Preview and the Edit Mode toggle.
Crocodoc to New Box View update
Instructors grading assignments can view documents in-line and annotate the document to provide feedback for students. In prior versions, this used a licensed technology called Crocodoc that will be discontinued on January 15, 2018. This release allows institutions to switch to a replacement service from Box entitled New Box View that offers similar capabilities. Prior documents with annotations will be automatically migrated without requiring action from administrators. Administrators only need to enable the New Box View service.
It is recommended administrators initiate the migration between periods of heavy assessment such as between terms; the migration to and adoption of New Box View doesn't have to occur at time of upgrade.
Email tool recipient permissions
Administrators can better define the extent to which users in courses can contact one another using the Email tool. Previously, instructors would choose which email recipient options were available in each course; for example, whether students could email each other. Administrators can now restrict the Email tool recipient options that will appear for use in courses.
Manage connected third-party applications using Three-Legged OAuth 2.0
Starting with this release, Blackboard Learn provides support for three-legged OAuth (3LO) 2.0 authorization. Developers can create applications using REST APIs that act on a user's behalf in a more secure way. When authorized using 3LO, applications can act on behalf of a user and therefore are restricted to the parts of Learn for which that user has permissions to access.
When users work in a third-party tool, the application may ask your permission to operate within Learn on your behalf. This process allows the application to submit assignments or tasks the user has completed to Blackboard Learn. Similar to syncing social media applications, the integration allows learning platforms to work together. Once a user allows access, they can manage the authorization from the Tools panel.
Previously, such applications could only work with Learn using generic credentials. Generic credentials had all permissions needed for the application, regardless of individual user's access levels. This method also didn't provide the ability to track individual user activities. Now, Learn supports either method: the use of generic credentials or user-specific credentials and permissions.
Migrate message storage
The Administrator Panel now includes the option to migrate messages in courses and organizations to the Learn database. Older course and organization message were stored via flat files on a shared storage volume. New courses and organizations always store messages in the database.
You can find the migration option in Administrator Panel > Tools and Utilities > Course Messages.
During migration, the system skips a course or organization if it doesn’t exist, is disabled, or already uses database storage. You can check your system logs to confirm message migration is complete.
SCORM engine update
The integrated SCORM player has been updated to a newer version that improves playback of responsive content and better supports SCORM packages in right-to-left languages such as Arabic.
SMTP authentication and encryption for email
SMTP authentication is now supported to improve the security of outbound email. Mail server configuration is now handled in the Email configuration page of the Admin panel. Settings take effect upon submission. An entry in the registry is created the first time this configuration page is used.
Collaborate Ultra Building Block update
Add Collaborate Ultra to your group tools.
Instructors can add Collaborate Ultra sessions to Groups pages in the Original Course View of Blackboard Learn. If instructors allow, students can share content and use the whiteboard, as well as create recordings. Institutions need a Collaborate license to use this in their courses.
Grade display standardization
This change standardizes areas of Blackboard Learn where users access grades. Now, all gradebook columns (online and downloads) and My Grades support up to five decimal points, aren't rounded, and are consistent for all display types (score, percentage, letter grade).
Additional ARIA landmarks in the Original Course View
We’ve incorporated ARIA landmarks in the course menu and the content area to better define the page structure and assist users with screen readers in navigating page elements.
More efficient Grade Center cleanup
Instructors can now more easily clean up their grade books by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.
More responsive Blogs and Journals tools
Blogs and Journals have been better optimized for use on mobile devices. Posts and comments composed with responsive content will render on smaller devices. Options for filtering posts or navigating groups or users will appear below currently viewed posts.
Mobile device navigation improvements for the Original experience
This release includes navigation improvements for the system and course menus in the Original experience. When users access Blackboard Learn through their mobile devices, the navigation has been moved to a hamburger menu for persistent access from screen to screen. Tabs and subtabs also appear in navigation choices. My Blackboard has been incorporated into the system menu for easier access. Within a course, the menu opens and closes more easily with fixed location action rather than tab.
Blackboard Open Content available in Content Market
Blackboard Open Content is now available as a content partner in the Content Market for both Original and Ultra experiences in Blackboard Learn.
With this release, instructors using Blackboard Learn can launch directly from the Content Market into Blackboard Open Content to create, share, and discover rich educational content from a global network of instructors and leading OER providers.
Additionally, instructors can launch directly from the Content Market into the partner channel for CK-12 and Curriculum Pathways to discover and add content to their courses.
New Blackboard app download module
A new module called Download Blackboard's Student App Today has been added to help students discover and download the Blackboard app. The module includes links to the Apple, Android, and Windows app download locations.
While the module is available by default for users to add to personalized tabs, it is not added to any tabs automatically. Administrators can use standard tab and module configuration to present the module on appropriate student tabs or to restrict the module entirely.
Discussion Board "Replies to Me"
Keeping up with large Discussion Board forums is easier by giving participants a count and filter to just look at new replies from others to posts made the participant.
Collaborate Building Block
We have updated the Blackboard Collaborate Building Block to address a number of issues regarding large enrollments, recording pullback, course room behavior, and more.
Blackboard Predict support
Support for Blackboard Predict, an optional student analytics tool, is included in this release. Predict uses longitudinal analysis of Learn and Student Information System data with predictive analytic algorithms to help educators, advisors, coaches, and tutors to identify at-risk students and intervene. If licensed and configured, Blackboard Learn administrators can enable the tools in the admin panel tools management area; the options will appear in all environments.
Content Collection improvements
In this release, the Content Collection has been improved to remove spam vulnerabilities and enhance search indexing performance. These improvements were also included in prior-version maintenance releases.
Email configuration settings
Administrators can edit email configuration settings in the user interface, rather than editing the settings in the bb-config.properties file. This method allows you to edit email configuration settings without having to restart your Blackboard Learn environment. The configuration settings are now located under System Configuration > Email Configuration. The Local Support Contact, which was previously under System Admin > Help, is now located under Email Configuration as well.
LTI course links created by partners’ and institutionally-created solutions through Building Block APIs can now leverage LTI Outcomes 1.0 for grade/score return.
New bb-config.properties parameters
Two new parameters were added to bb-config.properties to prevent unresolvable URLs from hanging. The parameters control the default timeouts for connections initiated by java in both core code and in B2s. The default values are 30 seconds now. Now it will timeout so it doesn’t cause a lag on the system.
Red Hat Linux 5 no longer supported
Red Hat Linux 5 is no longer supported. Affected Linux environments should upgrade to Red Hat Linux 6 when adopting this release.
Smaller, faster installer
This update removes redundant libraries and procedures to reduce installer size and improve speed. Installation times will vary by environment dependent upon size and hardware.
Submission receipts enhancements
Students can receive a notification email for each assignment attempt with information about the submission including attached files. Students can also access receipts at any time on the My Grades page in the submissions filter area. Administrators can optionally disable the email notifications.
Blackboard Ally: A solution for better accessibility
Ally is an additional, optional service for improving the accessibility of content and can now be integrated into Blackboard Learn. In this release, Ally improves accessibility within Blackboard Learn in the following ways.
- Ally presents instructors and content authors with an accessibility score and coaches users in ways to improve the accessibility of materials.
- Ally creates and presents students with automatically-generated alternative versions of uploaded files and creating accessible HTML, digital braille, and audio format files.
- Ally allows administrators to see accessibility scores of materials across courses and track changes over time to plan, measure, and improve accessibility.
Blackboard Store Building Block
The Blackboard Store Building Block has been removed from this release.
Building block installation validation
When installing a building block, the system checks the manifest for properly escaped characters in XML. Improperly formatted XML caused issues with some building blocks in some environments.
Learn 2016 Theme improvements
In courses using the Learn 2016 theme, the discussion board is responsive for hand-held devices if the contents of the posts themselves are responsive. Discussion participants can read, respond, and use other discussion features such as post rating from mobile devices.
Pages with tables, the course menu, and My Blackboard pages are better optimized for hand-held devices. Menus can be accessed on touch devices.
Outcomes Assessment: Sampling by demographic
When collecting and sampling student submissions for a secondary program evaluation process, administrators can sample student work by student demographic information in addition to sampling by courses and terms. Sampling can be done by the education level field or institution roles. You can use boolean operators such as AND/OR when sampling institution roles. For example, you could sample graduating senior in a specific program for evaluation purposes.
SAML authentication provider enhancements
To help troubleshoot SAML authentication issues, administrators now have the ability to regenerate certificates and change the responseSkew value in the user interface. SAML encryption certificates can periodically expire and should be regenerated regularly to maintain security. The responseSkew value may need to be edited if your Learn server is in a different time zone than the Identity Provider's server. The time difference can cause SAML assertions to expire before users are properly authenticated.
SIS integration enhancements
Command line Snapshot tools have been removed. Flat, snapshot-formatted files can still be processed through the SIS Integration Framework. New REST web services have been added to retrieve job status and record processing errors. These allow administrators to implement real-time monitoring and issue resolution processes if desired.
To learn more about transitioning from Snapshot to the SIS Integration Framework, join us for a webinar on 24 May 2017.
Submission receipts via email
Starting with this release, students receive email confirmations for submitted coursework. The email receipt is another method for students to keep track of their submissions, in addition to the My Grades page.
Additional drag-and-drop locations
File drag and drop are now supported in the following areas.
- Content Collection – file upload page replacing Java-dependent interface
- Content Editor – embed attachment
- Blank Page content type
- Blog – Create Entry
- Journal – Create Entry
- Portfolio – add Artifact
If the browser allows, users can drag a folder of files and the files will upload individually.
Responsive improvements for mobile devices
In this release, we've made a number of improvements for users on mobile devices.
- Improved course menu collapse behavior
- More responsive table handling in many interfaces including but not limited to:
- Grade Center
- Discussion forum list page
- Admin interfaces
- (Original Experience only) Responsive improvements for My Blackboard pages, including the ability to make a selection from the left panel and see content from the right panel. On mobile devices, the selected content will appear in an overlay that can be dismissed by selecting the close icon at the top.
Student view for submission receipts
Students can access their submission receipts at any time. The receipts can be found in My Grades or My Blackboard in the Submissions area. Like the instructor view, the receipts are always present even if an attempt or assignment has been deleted from the course.
Cumulative Update 6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 October 2014
Cumulative Update 6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 October 2014 release is now available.
This update improves handling for managing grade columns in or reading grade data from merged sections. Institutions using flat file or REST in addition to LIS integration types can now retrieve just the external grade column. And new column filtering and column mapping capabilities make it easier to integrate with various student information systems.
Content Collection search improvement
The Basic or Advanced Search feature in the Content Collection now requires a starting search directory for better performance. Admins can grant users a permission to still search across all directories. A new privilege has been added so administrators can permit or restrict users from searching top-level directories in Basic and Advanced Search.
Course activity reports
The Course Activity Overview report has been updated to improve the experience for larger enrollment courses. Instructors can filter the report and break down the calculations of student activity by course groups.
Drag and drop files
When instructors create content items, assignments, and web links, they can drag files from their computers to the "hot spot" in the Attach Files area. Students can also drag files to upload when they submit assignments.
Drag and drop is not yet available in every area of Blackboard Learn where users can attach files.
Dropbox Education integration
Users can attach files and submit assignments from their personal Dropbox accounts using this new cloud service integration.
Enterprise Surveys improvements
Changes to defaults and recipient count behavior help prevent admins from accidentally sending a survey to an overly-large recipient list.
Fewer Needs Grading items
When multiple-attempt assessments are set to calculate using the first or last attempt, there are potentially numerous other attempts that will never be used for the grade calculation. This can be particularly problematic in anonymous or delegated grading scenarios where it can be difficult to determine which attempts are associated with students and therefore require grading. A new filter is now available both in the Needs Grading workflow as well as within the Grade Center to show or hide these attempts. Attempts that won't calculate towards the assessment grade are now indicated with an icon.
Improved behavior for Self and Peer Assessments
Non-participants during the submission period are excluded from the evaluation process. Submitters with partial or complete submissions will be distributed to peers for evaluations. By pairing an assessment with Adaptive Release, it's possible to configure Self and Peer Assessments for individual groups.
New icon set
In this release, there is a new icon set for use in courses and organizations, and cancel/submit buttons will always pin to the bottom of the page regardless of device.
Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2016 includes multiple new and enhanced features, improved workflows, and technology updates. Enhancements for this release generally fall into the following five categories:
- Technology infrastructure improvement to improve performance and security
- Improved experience for mobile users and updating the look-and-feel of the environment
- Improvements to save time and effort including file drag-and-drop in key workflows
- Assessment enhancements in the core teaching and learning tools
- Reporting improvements
Instructors can send email reminders from Grade Center columns to students and members of groups who have missing coursework. Students receive a system-generated email that lists the course, coursework, and the due date if included.
Instructors can also send reminders for assignments with anonymous or delegated grading enabled. To protect anonymity, students' names and attempt statuses aren't revealed.
REST APIs are no longer restricted to technical preview. Administrators and developers can create integrations using REST APIs and secured with OAuth. Please note that we strongly encourage anyone making use of these APIs to thoroughly test their functionality. Please see the following articles on the Community site for further details:
Administrators and instructors can keep track of all student submissions, regardless of whether the attempt or assignment is deleted or the submission history is changed. A submission receipt is captured at the time of submission and includes information such as attached file information, date, time, etc. This feature provides evidence for academic disputes, giving students assurance about their work.
A receipt is generated for each group member when a student submits on behalf of the group, and the anonymous state of an assignment is respected. For assignments with multiple attempts, students receive a different number for each submission.
Submission receipts was a popular enhancement request from recent voting on the Community site. You need to be a member of the Blackboard Community and have access to the Ideas space to view this link.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Building Block
This release is a maintenance release. In this release we focused on improving internationalization support and assorted bug fixes identified after the initial 1.0 release.
Collaborate Building Block
We have updated the Blackboard Collaborate Building Block to address a number of issues regarding large enrollments, recording pullback, course room behavior, and more.
Learn 2016 Theme for improved mobile experience
This release includes a new theme that provides a more modern look and feel. Most importantly, the Bb Learn 2016 theme significantly increases the responsiveness of the interface for small devices. The theme also incorporates elements from the new Blackboard design language including color, fonts, and spacing, for greater consistency between Blackboard Learn, Collaborate Ultra, and the Blackboard app. This theme was also previously made available in Q2 2016 CU1.
Removed modules and themes
The following modules are not included in the Q4 2016 installer:
- Google Search
If you are upgrading to the Q4 2016 release from an earlier version of Blackboard Learn, these modules will still be present. However, the modules will not be present for new installations that use the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2016 release.
The following themes are no longer supported:
- Learn 2008
- Brushed Metal
Upon upgrade to the Q4 2016 release of Blackboard Learn for all deployment types, these themes will be switched to custom themes and can be removed by administrators.
- BIRT Engine update to v4.5.0
- Only SQL Server 2014 is supported with this release. Microsoft is discontinuing support for SQL Server 2012 in Q2 2017
- Tomcat 8 update
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2016
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2016 release is now available.
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2015
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2015 release is now available.
Cumulative Update 5 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 October 2014
Cumulative Update 5 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 October 2014 release is now available.
Learn 2016 Theme
This update includes a new theme that provides a more modern look and feel. Most importantly, the Bb Learn 2016 theme significantly increases the responsiveness of the interface for small devices. The theme also incorporates elements from the new Blackboard design language including color, fonts, and spacing, for greater consistency between Blackboard Learn, Collaborate Ultra, and the Blackboard app.
A number of updates have been released for SafeAssign. View the SafeAssign release notes to learn more.
SafeAssign version 4.0.17, released 6 June 2016
SafeAssign version 4.0.16, released 9 March 2016
SafeAssign version 4.0.15, released 13 January 2016
The screen reader will not announce Quick Links modal when modal is closed, and Grading Journals will now work with a screen reader.
Clients who have control over their user's email addresses and aren't susceptible to DMARC-based rejections now have the option to turn off DMARC handling. In the bb-config.properties file, the setting for bbconfig.email.use.dmarc.from.override can be change to False to disable DMARC handling.
Java 8 Update
The Q2 2016 release now uses the latest version of Java from Oracle.
We strongly encourage anyone who has a Building Block to test it against Java 8 before installing the Learn 9.1 Q2 2016 release onto a production environment. Please see the following article for further details:
Minimum system requirements to run Java 8: 8GB per Learn application server, 32GB per Oracle server.
We’ve made updates to the Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean language packs to correct translation issues and grading workflows. Clients who use the Korean language pack can globally replace username with user ID.
MOSAIC and O*NET Standards
For institutions who wish to evaluate student work or align their curriculum against either the Multipurpose Occupational Systems Analysis Inventory - Close-Ended (MOSAIC) or Occupational Information Network (O*NET) competencies, we have made these competencies available now for download on Behind the Blackboard.
With this release, we are continuing our commitment to delivering strong product quality and providing a stable, reliable experience for educators and learners using Blackboard Learn today. We have continued to address the top customer-reported issues that are affecting the largest number of customers. The bug fixes and enhancements in this release are primarily focused on improvements to accessibility, language packs, assessments, grading, and Enterprise Surveys.
Record from Webcam
Since Google removed YouTube's Record from Webcam feature, the Content Editor has been updated with the following changes:
- The YouTube icon image has been changed.
- The alt text now reads Browse My YouTube Videos.
- The Record tab has been removed and all users are now defaulted to the Browse tab to search existing videos.
The 9.1 Q2 2016 release supports limited REST APIs in a Technical Preview. Administrators and developers can create integrations using REST APIs and secured with OAuth. Please note that we strongly encourage anyone making use of these APIs to thoroughly test their functionality. Please see the following articles on the Community site for further details:
SAML 2.0 Authentication
The SAML Building Block provides a way to authenticate, authorize, and use single sign-on (SSO) with the latest SAML 2.0 protocol, which focuses on improved security, improved end user experience, and easier IT administration. This building block provides Just-in-Time provisioning capabilities, a commitment made to the InCommon Net+ community as part of our certification process.
The 9.1 Q2 2016 release resolves a set of security fixes to core features of Learn 9.1. After the issues are released through all supported 9.1 versions through a Cumulative Update or Building Block, a Security Bulletin will be released to provide details on the individual fixes.
Snapshot Client Tool
No new versions of the Snapshot Client Tool will be issued with this release. This is a standalone application used to process remote SOAP transactions and is different from the Snapshot Command Line Tool and Snapshot Controller. The Snapshot Command Line Tool will be included in releases until the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2017 release. The Blackboard Consulting Snapshot Controller will continue to work because the Snapshot Command Line Tool is still included.
As part of the Association of American Colleges & Universities' (AAC&U’s) Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, the VALUE rubrics contribute to the national dialogue on assessment of college student learning. Educational professionals from over 100 higher education institutions collaboratively developed 16 VALUE rubrics to use the most frequently identified characteristics for measuring success in key learning outcomes.
For Blackboard Learn users who are interested in using these rubrics, we are making them available for download and import. Each rubric has been built and formatted appropriately so it can be imported to your courses and used anywhere you can align and evaluate with rubrics today. The downloadable rubrics are available in US English only because this is how they were authored by AAC&U.
Virtual Classroom, Chat
Support for Virtual Classroom and Chat course tools will be ending with this release. Institutions using versions of Blackboard Learn that still have the Virtual Classroom and Chat course tools can continue to use them; they will continue to function beyond June 30, 2016. However, Blackboard Support will no longer accept reported issues with the tools and bugs beyond this date, and security issues will not be addressed. Please see the following article for further details:
Analytics for Learn
Version 4.3.2 is now available. This release focuses on bug fixes, rebranded sample Pyramid content, performance improvements to SSRS reporting, new look to sample SSRS reports, and a new Learn Attendance Exception Report. This release is recommended for all customers of Analytics for Learn.
Learn, Analytics for Learn, and Building Block compatibility
Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3000.1.0 | Release to Production 3 May 2016
Users upgrading their Learn environment to Learn version Q2-2016 and above must use the new Analytics for Learn + Building Block combination to support integration: Analytics for Learn version 4.3 + and Building Block version 4.0 +. This requires an upgrade to the A4L warehouse, and must be scoped and scheduled in advance of the Learn upgrade to avoid interruption of service. Please contact your account representative if you have any questions about whether your A4L warehouse will be impacted by your Learn upgrade.
Social Learning Tools
This version of the Social Learning Tools Building Block includes the ability to enable Enhanced Cloud profiles for your institution. This release also contains fixes for permissions issues and localization.
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.
Announcement Date Restriction Default
When creating an announcement, "Not Date Restricted" is now selected by default.
Learn 9.1 now supports the Microsoft Edge browser. Some new browser releases no longer support NPAPI plugins. Without these plugins, some Learn features may not render correctly.
Escaping Special Characters
When a user uploads a file to Learn and the filename contains special characters (such as / \ : ? * " < > | ), the system replaces the special character with an underscore ( _ ).
Goal Performance Dashboard
A competency-based education Building Block to map goals to courses within Learn. The Goal Performance Dashboard evaluates evidence of competencies individually, allowing for true measurement of mastery.
Grades Journey integrates your institution's Student Information System with Learn. Grades Journey allows you to exchange grade information between two separate systems.
The Content Editor now supports HTML5 Audio and Video playback in Chrome and Edge browsers.
This release includes new language packs for Thai (th_TH) and Malay (ms_MY) languages.
PowerSchool SIS Integration
As part of the innovative classroom, SIS Central two-way integration is now available for PowerSchool customers who license Blackboard Learn 9.1 October 2014 release or higher.
With this release, Blackboard’s SIS Central will provide bi-directional integration between all Blackboard Learn deployment options and the PowerSchool Student Information System. The Blackboard Learn PowerSchool Integration provides a hands-free, seamless synchronization of users, classes, enrollments, assignments, and grades between Blackboard Learn and PowerSchool.
Students can easily purchase required course materials at competitive prices via personalized shopping lists and quick access from within Blackboard Learn. Instructors can find, compare, and assign materials from the largest online catalog of commercial and open educational content.
Installs using the Learn 9.1 October 2014 prior to February 5, 2015 will see the Blackboard Store Building Block included and automatically available. However, installs using the Learn 9.1 October 2014 on or after February 5, 2015 will not see the Blackboard Store Building Block included. Those wanting to install the Blackboard Store Building Block should refer to the Blackboard Store details available here on Behind the Blackboard.
Individual users now have more choice about how their calendars are formatted both in the Calendar tool and when making date selections. They can alter the first day of the week that starts the calendar view in month and week views.
Users can also now choose the Hijri Islamic lunar calendar.
There is now a course list filter in the calendar.
The Content Editor spell check option is now ON by default.
Translation change requests have been implemented to improve the quality and usability of the language packs for Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, and Korean. Czech and Polish language packs have been added.
Users can now access report options to create a printable view to save the visualized report as a PDF or XLS. There are also additional data fields available to provide further insight needed for in-depth data analysis for quantitative and qualitative assessment.
User directory search now respects the privacy setting of the user. Portfolios can be shared with any user by entering the username. If the searcher does not know the username, he or she can search the User Directory. However, the search will return only users who have explicitly decided to make their profiles public.
Blackboard Learn has integrated with OAuth 2.0. With this update users are able to seamlessly use several video features within Learn without authentication issues.
Anonymous and Delegated Grading
Instructors can hide student names from submitted assignments for anonymous grading. Instructors can delegate grading to specific users.
Significant figures have been added in calculated formula test questions, such as leading zeros.
Bluepulse is an open social platform that directly ties student input to classroom improvement. It is bundled in the Learn 9.1 April 2014 release.
Financial Aid Reporting
Generate reports of student academic contribution within a single or multiple courses in Blackboard Learn 9.1.
The look and feel of My Grades has been updated. Students now view feedback by selecting View Feedback.
Portfolios are now accessed from the global navigation menu and have a new authoring canvas.
Profiles will be integrated with MyEdu to deliver an Enhanced Cloud Profile. The Enhanced Cloud Profile provides users with their first professional profile, helping them demonstrate skills & competencies they have developed through their educational journey in a visual and uniquely compelling way.
SafeAssign is integrated into regular Learn assignments.
Instructors can view their course exactly as a student does by using a student account the system generates for them.