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About this release
Blackboard continues our commitment and investment in the Learn Original Experience (Learn 9.1). We focused on these areas in 9.1 Q2 2019:
- Enhancements through platform features: Original Experience enhancements are brought about through Learn platform feature enhancements. In some cases, these features can also be enhanced without requiring a Learn release upgrade. These features sometimes have differing timelines for global availability due to regional requirements for data storage and handling.
- Iterative feature improvements: Where possible, existing features in the Original Experience benefit from work happening in the corresponding feature area for the Ultra Experience.
- Standards and Interoperability: As a leader in openness, Blackboard continues to invest in expanding support for standards and interoperability within Learn to give institutions increasing options for expanding and defining their unique EdTech platforms.
- Quality and maintenance: Blackboard continues to make changes to technologies and processes to further improve quality. This includes improvements to security frameworks and processes to achieve various security certifications, performance improvements, changes to address compliance with ever-evolving global regulations, and updating technologies and libraries used within the application.
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2019
Cumulative Update 2 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2019 release is now available.
Cumulative Update 1 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2019
Cumulative Update 1 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2019 release is now available.
Collaborate Attendance Integration with Blackboard Learn
Let Collaborate take attendance for you. In this Collaborate release, Blackboard Learn instructors can host a Collaborate session without tracking attendance manually.
Based on criteria you can set, Collaborate tracks if a student is present, late, or absent from a session. Collaborate then sends that information directly to the Attendance page in your Blackboard Learn course.
Attendance from the Collaborate session is counted in each student's average attendance in the course, which can also be used in calculating student grades.
New Originality Report available for SafeAssign integration
We've updated the design of the SafeAssign Originality Report in Blackboard Learn 9.1 environments. The new Originality Report uses Blackboard's Ultra design philosophy and includes some new information about a submission's overall risk for being copied from another source. This new report interface is also more responsive for mobile devices and more accessible to screen readers than the old design; we will be seeking VPAT compliance for this new design soon!
This release also allows the SafeAssign team to be more iterative and provide updates to the new report design on a more regular basis and without requiring an update to the LMS platform. We'll still be communicating changes on the SafeAssign help pages, so make sure to follow those pages as well for new information!
Users can switch back to the old Originality Report design for a little while longer to help ease the transition.
Course role for facilitators
Facilitation privileges have been long requested functionality in Blackboard Learn and we're pleased to include it in Q2 2019. For institutions that centrally manage course development and settings as distinct responsibilities from day-to-day teaching tasks, the course role permissions are more granular in this release. The privileges enable roles that can teach, engage, and grade, but not to modify materials or settings. There is also a new default course role called Facilitator. As with other default course roles, the specific permissions can be edited.
This course role contains a set of default privileges regarding course calendar, discussions, gradebook, announcements, materials, and groups. Course members can be granted this role to help maintain the pace of the course throughout the term or as needed.
Additionally, the privileges list shows when certain entitlements are inherited by other privileges. For example, the Course/Organization (Content Areas) > Edit Material Availability privilege is automatically granted to a user who also has the Course/Organization (Content Areas) > Edit Materials privilege. We’ve made this association clearer in the user interface.
Calendar items and due date notifications for additional content types
Instructors and students often use Blackboard Learn's calendars to keep track of events and due dates. The course calendar and modules are crucial to meeting deadlines and overall success. Increasing visibility into all required events and deadlines helps keep everyone on track.
The Calendar and To Do modules show the due dates of course items, but this was previously limited to activities and assessments using just Blackboard Learn tools. In this release, the capability is expanded so that other content types, including those from 3rd party solutions, are now incorporated into these areas when using a web browser.
Users see these due items in their Course Calendar or My Blackboard Calendar, and due date notifications appear in the To Do module and through other notification subscription channels.
All of the following create calendar items and due notifications:
- Assessment items such as assignments and tests
- Interactive tools including graded discussions, blogs, journals, and wikis
- Grade Center columns created manually and not linked to content items such as an observation or offline assignment
- SCORM packages
- Content items generated from building blocks when a linked Grade Center column has a due date
- LTI resource links when a linked Grade Center column has a due date
LTI 1.1 tools can't inform Blackboard Learn of a student’s submission status like Building Blocks can. If the tool doesn't return a student score right away, a student may still receive an overdue notification for submitted work. These notifications stop when the instructor grades the submission in the tool or manually enters a grade in the Grade Center.
- If your institution uses the Turn It In Building Block, students will no longer receive a Past Due notification when they have submitted an assignment on time.
- Users who subscribe to email notifications will notice we’ve updated the message format. We’ve reduced Blackboard branding and optimized the format for better appearance on more devices and email clients.
- We’ve updated the Global HTML filter to accept .txt files for student submissions.
- Crocodoc references have been completely removed from Blackboard Learn.
- This release includes a resolved issue where the Blackboard app and Blackboard Instructor app weren’t compatible with Session Fingerprint settings. With this release, session fingerprint settings to Create New Session When Fingerprint Changes are compatible with the mobile apps’ mBaaS architecture.
- Custom spelling dictionaries remain in place after upgrades.
- We’ve updated the color key in the Course Coverage report to match the legend more accurately.
- The Telemetry Building Block respects the bbconfig.cloud.lms.region parameter to better route event data through appropriate regional services in the future.
- We've improved the Grades Journey extraction workflow when working with merged courses. Institutions using merged courses can now more readily use all of the capabilities of Grades Journey.
- Blackboard is committed to protecting the privacy of all users and complying with changing regulations globally concerning use of data and privacy. This release contains improvements for user reporting required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Updates in this release include:
- Attendance tool data now appears in the user report
- Improved structure of user activity data
We’ve enhanced the logout process for SAML single-sign on sessions. When a user logs out of Blackboard Learn, a message appears and asks them to confirm log out for all associated apps in the session. Previously, the SSO session persisted until it expired. Users can choose to terminate their entire SSO session when they log out of Blackboard Learn to protect their security when using public or shared computers.
Additionally, administrators can now configure the SAML session age as unlimited for better compatibility with some Microsoft Azure configurations.
Content Collection updates
This release includes enhancements to improve the performance and usability of the Content Collection.
Files uploaded as part of a SCORM package are now saved in a Content Collection folder (/internal/courses/<courseID>/content/<contentID>) rather than the Local/Shared File System. When a client system upgrades to this release, server startup invokes a background migration task to move all existing SCORM files from Local/Shared File System to Content Collection. Several optimizations have been added to minimize the performance impact and memory usage for this task and it should be virtually transparent for users.
When versioned files are imported/restored as part of course import/restore, the version number (of the file in the source course) is appended at the end of the file name so that users can differentiate which version it is. For example, if version 1 and 2 of a file named "geography.html" are imported, the new files will be named "geography_v1.html" and "geography_v2.html", respectively.
Integrate tools using LTI Advantage
We're excited to share that Blackboard Learn is the first major LMS to be LTI Advantage certified and make LTI Advantage available in Production. LTI Advantage is the latest in interoperability standards for integrating tools into a learning environment. The capabilities of LTI Advantage are broader and allow for deeper and more secure integrations than with the previous versions of LTI.
LTI Advantage builds on the latest set of IMS standards and provides educational institutions and edtech suppliers with a set of extensions that allow deeper integration and enhanced interoperability between IMS certified tools and LMSs. LTI Advantage also leverages a robust security framework that offers more advanced protection of sensitive student data and adds features to support the delivery of innovative learning tools and applications necessary for digital transformation within an institution.
Here are a few of the things our teams, partners, and clients are excited about with the new LTI Advantage capabilities:
- Deployment simplification for tool developers: Open standards make it easier for developers to create their tool once and manage many integrations. With standards and REST APIs as our modern integration frameworks for our EdTech Platform, LTI Advantage is an important foundation for our partners and developers as they transition from the older, proprietary Building Blocks integration framework.
- Improvements in security over prior LTI implementations: Blackboard takes protecting learner information and securing institutional environments seriously, so the use of modern security practices in LTI Advantage is a welcomed addition and a major reason we immediately pursued the project.
- Simpler user experience: With Blackboard Learn and tool providers supporting LTI Advantage, students and educators have a more consistent experience as they try out and use new tools in their teaching and learning.
- Better for admins too: Administrators can expect better peace of mind during upgrades, more confidence in their individual integrations, and worry-free change management.
Support for IMS Global’s Questions and Test Interoperability (QTI) specification
Instructors and instructional designers use various technologies to develop assessments and need to be able to move assessment items such as questions from one system to another easily. To ensure compatibility and easy re-use, IMS Global developed the Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) standard so questions can be shared between learning management and assessment systems. In this release, instructors and course builders can add QTI packages to Blackboard Learn courses.
- Blackboard Learn handles QTI 2.1 packages as pools for import and export. If a QTI import package contains multiple assessment objects, multiple pools are created.
- Blackboard Learn supports the following question types for import/export in QTI 2.1 format: true/false, multiple choice, multiple answer, fill-in-the-blank, and essay.
- For embedded media, Blackboard Learn will import HTML5 and HTML Object tags. It will export HTML5.
- In scenarios where there is a mismatch in question configuration options, Blackboard Learn will prioritize fidelity of the question and answer text over settings. For example, some exam systems allow differing partial credit allocations to be set per possible answer response whereas Blackboard Learn maintains a list of correct answers. In this case, all answer options will be imported as correct so they can be reviewed for continued applicability in Blackboard Learn.
- Question metadata such as tags, categories, and alignments are not exported or imported at this time.
- Questions using the optional QTI response processing are skipped and not imported.
- Because different assessment tools have different features and varying media/HTML/equation handling capabilities, you should always review and test questions after transfer between solutions.
New REST APIs and enhancements
This release includes new REST APIs and enhancements to previously-released web services, including:
- Course Categories
- Course Group Users (updated)
- File Attachments for Submission Attempts
- Course Grade Attempts (updated)
Cross-origin resourcing tool for administrators
Administrators may need to allow an external script or third-party application to make direct calls to their Blackboard Learn instance’s REST API. Previously, these requests would be blocked at the browser level. In this release, we introduce a Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) tool to allow your institution to leverage cloud-based or third-party extensions more fully. Administrators can also use the CORS tool to strictly define the allowed domains within an access control list and headers allowed as part of those requests. This secure, scalable tool lets you explore more integration possibilities using REST APIs.
From the Administrator Panel, select Cross-Origin Resource Sharing in the Integrations menu. Select Create Integration to get started.
Data Integration Logs storage load reduced
We’ve improved the way that data integration logs store information in the shared file system. Searches in SIS logs are limited to seven-day date ranges to improve performance and reduce system strain.
Browser support updates
This release includes updates for supported browsers. As a reminder, Internet Explorer is no longer supported.
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.
Blackboard SOAP APIs will become unavailable with the release of Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2020.
Visit Behind the Blackboard for more information on SOAP web services deprecation and guidance on migrating to REST APIs.