Release Notes for Learn SaaS

This page contains features and updates currently on Learn SaaS Test/Stage and Production environments. Visit Archived SaaS Release Notes to see features and updates in older versions. Visit In-Product Updates to learn more about in-product updates.

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Learn SaaS release 3900.60.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.60.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 7 February 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 2 March 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.60.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.60.0-rel.13+0eff026 to Test/Stage servers to take place on 7 Ferburary 2023.

For more information on updates and bug fixes, please visit Behind the Blackboard.

 


Learn SaaS release 3900.58.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.58.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 10 January 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 2 February 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.58.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.58.0-rel.29+31f3d35 to Production servers to take place on 2 Ferburary 2023.

For more information on updates and bug fixes, please visit Behind the Blackboard.

 


Assessment and Grading

Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multiple-attempt assessments can be more complicated for instructors because there are more submissions. To switch between attempts for a student in the past, an instructor would have to close an attempt then select a different attempt. This wasn’t intuitive and required extra clicks. Now instructors can navigate directly between a student’s attempts. If a student has multiple attempts for an assessment, an instructor will see an option to switch attempts. This is more efficient.

Image 1. Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

When the instructor clicks a student name in the Submissions list, the most recent submitted attempt will be loaded.

The attempt selector displays information to help instructors select the desired attempt:

  • Attempt number
  • Submission time stamp
  • File size
  • Grade (if graded)
  • Late indicator (if applicable)

Image 2. Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

For administrators:As part of the March release, this feature will be available by default. It will be possible to opt out of using this feature. At that time, you can set the feature to unavailable on the Ultra Experience Management page in the administrator panel. The feature flag will be removed in the May release and this feature will become permanent.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Sorting Controls on the Anonymous Submissions Page – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Record sorting provides a more efficient grade review experience. Instructors need to sort students by grade to identify submissions at a grade boundary. This helps instructors make any changes necessary before posting grades.

Any sorting applied yields a temporary change to the sort order of all columns on the Anonymous Submissions page.

Image 1. Instructor view - students sorted by highest to lowest grade

Instructor view - students sorted by highest to lowest grade

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Sorting on Overall Grade column in the Gradebook Student List View – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors need sorting controls in the Gradebook. These sorting options are helpful for organizing the Gradebook data for various contexts:

  • identifying students with grades at a grade boundary
  • ordering students from highest to lowest grade, or vice versa

Now instructors can sort the Gradebook Students list view on the Overall Grade column. Any sorting applied yields a temporary change to the sort order of all columns.

Image 1. Instructor view - students sorted by highest to lowest Overall Grade

 Instructor view - students sorted by highest to lowest Overall Grade

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Managed and Self-Hosting
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: All users

The SafeAssign Originality Report is a valuable teaching and learning tool. Instructors use the report to ensure students express original thoughts and cite sources. Some instructors allow students to view the report. This is helpful for teaching students how to cite their work.

In the past, users could download the report as PDF. However, users could not open the sources from the PDF.

Now, users can open matched sources from the PDF. We also made some usability improvements to the PDF, such as text alignment and font adjustments. To better support peak usage, we made infrastructure improvements.

Image 1. Improved PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report

mproved PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report

For administrators: Managed and Self-Hosting clients must upgrade to the newest version of the SafeAssign Building Block for these improvements.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Data & Analytics

Course Activity Report Table Enhancements – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors

The course activity page helps instructors understand students' performance. With this information, instructors can:

  • Identify struggling or high performing students based on their grade, hours in course, or days of inactivity.
  • Message students who have a low grade and/or have not accessed the course recently.
  • Receive alerts when a student has not accessed their course in a while or if a student's grade has dropped.

With this update, we have made the following improvements:

  • New Table - Updated to be more consistent with other features. Those who use progress tracking will find the feel of the new table should be familiar. The new table makes it easier to select and message students.
  • New Days of Inactivity Column - the number of days since a student last accessed your course. Instructors can use this information to identify students that might be falling behind.
  • Access Student Overview - click or tap a student's name to see their grades, progress, and activity over the weeks. Instructors can use the Student Overview to get a full picture of a student's performance and engagement in a course.
  • More Student Information. Accommodations, name pronunciation, and pronouns are now visible. Instructors can use this information when drafting messages to students.

Image 1. Course Activity Report - new table capabilities and metrics

Course Activity Report - new table capabilities and metrics

For administrators: This feature is available for all courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Mobile App

Improvements to the user profile – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

Users expect to have a congruent experience on the mobile app and desktop experience. In the January 2023 - 5900.56 release, we updated the mobile app design for the user profile page. Now the profile page experience on the mobile app corresponds with the desktop experience.

From the app, users can:

  • enter/edit address information
  • enter/edit phone and fax numbers
  • edit prefix and name details
  • record, edit, and/or delete their name pronunciation
  • select preferred pronouns or create their own
  • change their profile picture
  • view profile card

Image 1. Users may update profile information from the mobile app

Users may update profile information from the mobile app

Image 2. Users may record the pronunciation of their name

Users may record the pronunciation of their name

For administrators: This feature is available for all users of the Mobile App. No action is needed from users who have enabled automatic updates on their devices. Users who have disabled automatic updates on their devices must download the update.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Administrator Login As Tool: Permissions Extended – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: Administrators and users with permissions

End user support is critical for system administrators and other support staff in varying roles. Administrators can now enable the Login As feature for roles other than the full administrator role. This ensures that institutions can enable additional support personnel without giving them full administrative privileges.

When using Login As, your activity will be logged against the impersonated user, and may result in false positives for activity that could impact institutional or external reporting.

Image 1. Manage Login As privileges in the Administrator Panel

manage Login As privileges in the Administrator Panel

For administrators: To enable the Login As entitlement, access System Roles > Privileges. Mark the two privileges for Login As. Select Permit Privileges in the Privileges dropdown.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


REST APIs to read Rubrics associations – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators

Providing access to Rubric associations within our REST API framework offers many benefits:

  • additional administrative control for assessments
  • flexibility for external third-party integrations
  • supports instructor-student communication about performance expectations

In this release we are glad to make available a new Rubrics Associations API. This public API includes a set of GET endpoints. This helps to inform users about existing rubric associations in a course:

  • Rubrics associations
  • Rubrics associations by rubrics ID
  • Rubrics associations by associations ID

For administrators: The REST integration user must have the entitlement “course.rubrics.VIEW” to make use of the new endpoints.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


LTI Tool Content Icons on Calendar – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Base Navigation, Calendar View
Ultra Course Calendar
Impact: Instructors, Students

In the past, LTI content icons did not appear in the calendar on the base navigation or in the course. The icons help users identify and distinguish between content types. Now, the LTI content icons used in the course will display as follows:

  • Course Calendar: Schedule Day
  • Course Calendar: Due Dates Day
  • Base Navigation Calendar: Schedule Day
  • Base Navigation Calendar: Due Date Day

This improvement applies to icons for LTI tools.

Image 1. Instructor view - LTI Tool with default icon in the Calendar

Instructor view - LTI Tool with default icon in the Calendar

Image 2. Student view - LTI Tool with default icon in the Calendar

Student view - LTI Tool with default icon in the Calendar

For administrators: We recommend administrators review LTI placement configurations since icons can help users differentiate content. Icons for LTI Tools are displayed in the places mentioned above, as well as in other areas. Only LTI content icons in the Calendar are affected in this release. When the tool provider manages their icons, those are always used can cannot be changed. When the tool provider does not supply an icon, the administrator can add one. When no icon is defined, a default icon is used. 

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Manage Roster - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

Institutions often have policies about hiding students' personal information. Institutions can now manage Roster visibility. This level of control is for both Ultra and Original Course Views when Base Navigation is enabled. 

Administrators can define the Roster visibility at the institution and node levels for both courses and organizations. When permitted, instructors can define the Roster visibility setting at course/organization level. 

The Details & Actions menu in Ultra Course View will not display the Roster to students when it is hidden. Instructors can manage the Student Roster visibility in Original Courses when allowed by the administrator.

Image 1. Instructor view - Roster visibility control

Instructor view - Roster visibility control

Image 2. Student view - Roster does not appear in the Details & Actions menu when the Roster is hidden

Student view - Roster does not appear in the Details & Actions menu when the Roster is hidden

Image 3. Roster visibility controls from the Administrator Tools Panel

Roster visibility controls from the Administrator Tools Panel

 

Instructors, Teaching Assistants, and Course Builders roles have the privilege to view and edit the Roster by default. For other roles, the following privileges must be configured:
  • View Roster: Administrator Panel (Courses) > Courses > Edit > Enrollments or Course/Organization Control Panel (Users and Groups) > Users
  • Edit Roster visibility: Course/Organization Control Panel (Customization) > Tool Availability

 

For administrators: Administrators can configure the Roster visibility from the Administrator Panel > Tools and Utilities > Tools.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Password age, re-use, and expiration policies – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: All users who are allowed to reset their passwords in Learn

Most institutions use an identity provider (e.g. Azure Active Directory) to manage and authenticate users. There are cases when administrators create users in Learn. These users may set their own passwords in Learn. In support of security requirements for passwords, users may be prompted to:

  • Change their passwords after a certain number of days have elapsed since their last password change. After expiry, users can log in with their old password, but are prompted to change it immediately before continuing.
  • Wait a span of time between password changes. When a user tries to change a password before a certain span of time, they are informed that they cannot change the password. We recommend contacting the helpdesk in this case.
  • Avoid re-using previous passwords.

Image 1. A user is prompted create a new password after password expiration

A user is prompted create a new password after password expiration

Image 2. A user is informed when a password cannot be changed because of the password Minimum Age Policy Violation

A user is informed when a password cannot be changed because of the password Minimum Age Policy Violation

Image 3. A user is informed that previous passwords may not be reused

A user is informed that previous passwords may not be reused

Image 4. An administrator configures the Password Age and History policies

An administrator configures the Password Age and History policies

If necessary, an administrator can require users to change their passwords to meet password policies updates instead of waiting for an automatic expiry. The “Expire Password” option appears in the Administrator Panel on Users page. Select one or multiple users at a time. Full System Administrators can use this new feature by default. Administrators may grant this privilege to other roles if desired: “Administrator Panel (Users) > Users > Edit > Expire Password”. If an administrator chooses to expire a user’s password and the Minimum Password Age Policy is turned on, users will not have to wait to change their password.

Image 5. An administrator expires users’ passwords

An administrator expires users’ passwords

Finally, for security measures, passwords are no longer stored in archive packages.

Image 6. An administrator downloads archive package

An administrator downloads archive package

For administrators: For administrators: When changing passwords for another users, ensure you meet password length and complexity rules.
Administrators can determine the age and reuse policies. These new settings appear in the Administrator Panel on the Password Settings page. Only a full System Administrator can access the configuration page. The default settings enforce the following policies:

  • Password Age Policy: This option is off by default. The following rules may be turned on independently:
    • The minimum age default value is 24 hours. Define a value between 1 and 720 hours. New users will not have to wait for this period to change their passwords the first time.
    • The maximum age default value is 90 days. Define a value between 29 and 360 days.
  • Password History Policy: This option is off by default. If turned on, administrators can specify the number of recently used passwords for the system to check. The default value is 10. Define a value between 1 and 24.

 

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Unsupported Course Cartridge and ePack Features Removed – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Original Experience
Original Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past for Original Course View, there were two older methods for adding licensed publisher content. These are no longer supported:

  • Course Cartridges, a server-based method to download licensed publisher content using one-time keys
  • ePack licensed content importing when converting WebCT courses

While we have not supported these for years, users still see options to add Course Cartridges download keys. APIs for ePack conversion are still part of the course import process. In this release, we have removed these. Instructors and admins will no longer see options to enter a Course Cartridge download key.

Image 1. An instructor viewing the “Import Course Cartridge” page in the Original Course View Control Panel—this option will be removed in 3900.60

An instructor viewing the “Import Course Cartridge” page in the Original Course View Control Panel—this option will be removed in 3900.60

There are no changes for existing content. Course Cartridge materials that required ongoing license validation have not worked for years. Course Cartridge materials that became standard Learn items—students do not have to enter license keys to access them the first time—will continue to work.

This change is unrelated to other methods to import content or access licensed publisher materials. These other methods are not impacted by this change:

  • Partner Cloud
  • Importing or exporting a Learn course package
  • Importing or exporting a Common Cartridge (an exchange format standard from 1EdTech, formerly IMS Global)
  • Course auto-archive

For administrators: This change is for all Original courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Security: Registration of all domains required– 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators

Various methods of verifying users help to make the Blackboard Learn application more secure. One method is to confirm all requests come from authorized domains. Administrators manage this in the Administrator Panel > Hostname Configuration.

In the past, requests from some parts of the application would work even if the requester domain was not registered. In this release, this will no longer be allowed. This improves the security of Blackboard Learn.

Image 1. The hostname configuration page allows administrators to register all domains used to access the Learn application

he hostname configuration page allows administrators to register all domains used to access the Learn application

For administrators: If your institution created additional domains for your Learn environment, you must register them all. This applies to both primary application domains and alternate domains for serving content. For example, an administrator at Monument University created the domains learn.monumentuni.edu for users to access and learn-content.monumentuni.edu to securely serve content. Both must be registered.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Blackboard Assist (K12 availability) – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Blackboard App
Impact: All users

Assist offers learners one central hub within Blackboard Learn to find and access the services they need to flourish. In the past, Blackboard Assist was not available to clients with K12 licenses. From March 2, 2023, K12 clients will also have the chance to enable Assist.

Enable Blackboard Assist within Blackboard Learn to: 

  • Give learners one place to find vital support services. The prominent placement of Blackboard Assist in Blackboard Learn helps make learners increasingly aware of all connected support resources.
  • Get learners to take advantage of available services. Blackboard Assist is available around-the-clock from the desktop and Blackboard mobile app. This means that learners can access these support resources whenever and wherever they need them. Featuring services this way provides an additional means to capture your learners’ attention. 
  • Gain access to Ally File Transformer: The Blackboard Ally File Transformer helps learners to personalize their learning experience. It can convert files into alternative formats that better fit their needs, devices, and learning preferences.

For administrators: Assist must be enabled for use. Learn more: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Tools_Management/Blackboard_Assist

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Communication & Social Engagement

Discussions - Deactivate post activity – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Blackboard App
Impact: All users

Before this release, the only way to prevent posts in a discussion was by defining a due date. Instructors now have a checkbox option in the Discussion Settings panel. When checked, participants cannot edit or delete posts in a discussion.

Image 1. Instructor view - Deactivate Post Activity in the Discussion Settings panel

Instructor view - Deactivate Post Activity in the Discussion Settings panel

Image 2. Student view – Discussion view after the instructor has elected to prevent editing

Student view – Discussion view after the instructor has elected to stop discussion activity after the due date

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed at the administrator level.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Course Upgrading

Support for concurrent course copies - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Administrators

Copies are a queued task in Blackboard Learn. In the past, when copies were initiated by an SIS, Learn could process two copies in parallel at any given time. The same was not true for copies initiated by end users. Copies initiated by end users process one at a time.

With this update, we have increased the limit to four for both SIS and end user-initiated copies. The limit will now allow a total of 8 copies to process at any given time: 4 copies from the SIS and 4 copies from end users. Increasing the limit reduces the wait time associated with copies.

For administrators: There are no administrative configurations required.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Preserve empty folders - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Administrators

Institutions use empty folders to create the initial structure in a course. They are often used for templates to help instructors know where to place items. In the past, empty folders were not brought over during copy, import, and conversion processes.

We now preserve empty folders during the copy, import, and conversion process.

For administrators: There are no administrative configurations required.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Default Menu settings no longer apply to new courses and organizations using the Ultra view - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

Blackboard administrators can configure a default menu for new courses and organizations. The default menu is a great way to create the initial structure of a course. Having a default structure can help instructors know where they should put items.

Unfortunately, the default menu settings were being applied to new Ultra courses. They should have only applied to courses using the original course view. The way Original and Ultra courses display and structure content is different. Because of this, the default menu settings created an undesired structure for new Ultra courses.

Institutions also use different structures for Original and Ultra courses and organizations. Having the default menu applied to new Ultra courses and organizations created work. The Ultra courses needed to have the default menu removed before faculty could use them.

Now new Ultra courses and organizations will not inherit the default menu settings. New Ultra courses and organizations can still leverage templates by copying a template from another course.

For administrators: To review the existing default menu settings navigate to Admin > Course/Organization Settings > Default Course/Organization Menu.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Preserve Font Families - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, we would set all fonts to Arial during the conversion process. The Ultra course view did not always support different font families.

We now preserve font families during the conversion process using the following logic:

  • If font family is Arial in Original Course View, set to Arial in the Ultra Course View.
  • If font family is Comic Sans MS in Original Course View, set to Comic Sans MS in the Ultra Course View.
  • If font family is Courier New in Original Course View, set to Courier New in the Ultra Course View.
  • If font family is Times New Roman in Original Course View, set to Times New Roman in the Ultra Course View.
  • If font family is Verdana in Original Course View, set to Verdana in the Ultra Course View.
  • If font family is anything else or not defined in the Original Course View, set to Open Sans in the Ultra Course View.

The font families in the Original course view are different from those in the Ultra course view. The above logic tries to preserve font families as best as possible to reduce cleanup.

Font families are preserved when converting text associated with the following items:

  • Announcements
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Documents
  • Journals
  • Groups and Group Sets
  • Tests and Question Types

For administrators: There are no administrative configurations required.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Reschedule Announcements - 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors have not had the ability to reschedule announcements. If the show on and hide after date fields were set for the future, a pop-up window would not generate. Instructors prefer a pop-up window because it helps students see the announcement. If there is no pop-up, a student may not know there is an announcement for them to view.

Some instructors were recreating announcements from scratch to generate these pop-ups. With this update, instructors can now reschedule announcements without having to recreate them. They can do this by changing the show on and hide after fields to a future date.

When users first enter a course, the rescheduled announcement will trigger a pop-up.

For administrators: There are no administrative configurations required.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Assessment and Grading

Technical Preview: Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multiple-attempt assessments can be more complicated for instructors because there are more submissions. To switch between attempts for a student in the past, an instructor would have to close an attempt then select a different attempt. This wasn’t intuitive and required extra clicks. Now instructors can navigate directly between a student’s attempts. If a student has multiple attempts for an assessment, an instructor will see an option to switch attempts. This is more efficient.

Image 1. Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

When the instructor clicks a student name in the Submissions list, the most recent submitted attempt will be loaded.

The attempt selector displays information to help instructors select the desired attempt:

  • Attempt number
  • Submission time stamp
  • File size
  • Grade (if graded)
  • Late indicator (if applicable)

Image 2. Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

For administrators:In the February release, this feature can only be enabled in test/stage environments for testing. In the March release, this feature will be available by default. In March, it will be possible to opt out of using this feature. At that time, you can set the feature to unavailable on the Ultra Experience Management page in the administrator panel. The feature flag will be removed in the May release and this feature will become permanent.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Exemptions – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

There are times that instructors need to exempt students from assessments or activities in the course. Now instructors can provide exemptions. Students can view exempted items. A student is not expected to complete an exempted task. When exempted, a student’s overall calculation will adjust for them. The overall points possible or weighting for a student with exemptions may change compared to other students.

Instructors may exempt any gradebook item in two ways:

  • From the submission list view, select the ellipsis menu of a student and choose to add or edit the exemption.
  • From the student detail view, select the ellipsis menu of the item and choose to add or edit the exemption.

When exempting an item, the item will not be:

  • included in the overall grade calculation,
  • marked late for students who do not make a submission, or
  • assigned an automatic zero.

Students can still supply submissions for exempted items. Instructors can grade and provide feedback for these submissions.

Image 1. Add or edit exceptions from the submission list view

Add or edit exceptions from the submission list view

Image 2. Add or edit exemptions from the student detail view

Add or edit exemptions from the student detail view

For administrators:This feature is enabled by default behind a feature flag. Administrators will have the possibility to turn it off at the institution level.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Extra credit questions in assessments – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

There are times when instructors allow students to overachieve on an assessment. Some instructors may allow students to earn back points lost on other assessments or activities.

Now instructors can assign one or more questions as extra credit in an assessment. A correct answer results in adding the extra credit question points to the points earned for the assessment. Students are not penalized for incorrect answers to an extra credit question. In other words, points are not deducted because the question is excluded from the assessment’s possible points. If a student answers extra credit questions correctly, it may be possible for the student to earn a score greater than 100% on the assessment.

Students can discern how many extra credit points are available on the assessment. While students are taking an assessment, they can identify questions designated as extra credit. Students can also filter the test to find extra credit questions if present.

Image 1. Instructor view – assign one or more questions in an assessment as Extra Credit

Instructor view – assign one or more questions in an assessment as Extra Credit

Image 2. Student view – students can identify which questions are extra credit and the total amount of extra credit available on the assessment

Student view – students can identify which questions are extra credit and the total amount of extra credit available on the assessment.

For administrators:This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Hotspot question – polygon shapes – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

Instructors may want to assess a student’s knowledge of visual content. The hotspot question type is popular for this type of assessment. This question type is also good for reducing the potential of cueing or guessing.

Hotspot questions present an image without any answer options for students to choose. Students must mark a certain area of the image that is within the area the instructor defined as correct.

Building on the initial hotspot question introduced in the 3900.52.0 release, we are adding two enhancements to this question type:

  • A new polygon shape selector can be used to draw more complex shapes.
  • Improved keyboard controls. Instructors can now create and place new hotspot shapes on the image canvas directly via the keyboard.

Image 1. Instructor view - Add one or more polygon hotspots to an image

Instructor view - Add one or more polygon hotspots to an image

Image 2. Student view – students may add a pin to the image to mark their selection

Student view – students may add a pin to the image to mark their selection

In Original Course View, instructors can only create hotspot questions using a mouse. In the Ultra Course View, instructors can create the hotspot question using a mouse or keyboard. Students may answer hotspot questions via a mouse or keyboard.

For administrators:This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Gradebook List View – Gradable items sorting – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may want to sort the items in the Gradable Items view of the Gradebook. Sorting provides a more efficient grading experience. For example, instructors may want to sort by grading status to quickly locate items that need grading.

The sorting controls provide temporary changes to the sort order for all columns in the Gradable Items view. We have also moved the grade post status to a dedicated column.

Image 1. Gradable Items view with sorting controls; here items are sorted in descending order by Grading Status

Gradable Items view with sorting controls; here items are sorted in descending order by Grading Status

For administrators:This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Student Gradebook sorting – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Students

Students may want to sort the information in their Gradebook. Sorting may help students locate information more efficiently. For example, sorting by due date helps students discern items that are due next.

Now students can use sorting controls to temporarily change the order for all columns in the Gradebook.

Image 1. Student gradebook view with sorting controls; items are sorted in descending order by grade

Student gradebook view with sorting controls; items are sorted in descending order by grade

For administrators:This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Attendance tool available in GovCloud – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course Viw
Original Experience, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

Attendance can be an important factor in determining a student’s level of participation. Sometimes this is used for part of a student’s grade. Previously, the Attendance tool was unavailable to United States government clients hosted in GovCloud. Now government clients can enable this tool.

For each class meeting, instructors can mark whether a student is present, late, absent, or excused. The attendance records for each student appear in a single column next to other grades. On the Attendance page, profile pictures appear. The profile pictures help instructors identify students. Instructors can use attendance as part of grade calculations the same as assignment grade columns.

Image 1. An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in Ultra Course View

An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in Ultra Course View

Image 2. An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in the Original Course View Control Panel

An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in the Original Course View Control Panel

Image 3. An instructor marks attendance for today’s class session

An instructor marks attendance for today’s class session

For administrators: The Attendance tool is not verified for use under FedRAMP certification. If you comply with that security standard, you might choose not to adopt Attendance. In GovCloud, the Attendance tool is off by default. An administrator must enable it with these steps:

- Go to Admin Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
- In the context menu for Attendance, choose “Set Available.”
- Accept the notice about FedRAMP compliance.
- Go to Admin Panel > Tools.
- Enable Attendance for courses and organizations as appropriate.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Groups

Show Course Group Members – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

Instructors and students need to see group memberships. In the past, there was not an obvious way for instructors and students to see the members in a group.

From the Course Groups page, users may expand a group set to see a list of groups. Now each group has a "Show Members" option. Group members are listed alphanumerically in a panel. Users may search for a specific group member. A future release will provide profile cards and options for messaging group members from the search results.

Note: Students see only the groups and members for groups where they have membership.

Image 1. Show Members option

Show Members option

Image 2. Group Membership panel with search option

Group Membership panel with search option

For administrators:This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed at the administrator level.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Data & Analytics

Progress Tracking: visibility filters for the Student Progress tab – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Student Progress tab helps instructors track individual student progress in a course. An instructor can see completed and outstanding tasks for each student. Now instructors can change the Student Progress view to see a student’s progress against everything on the Course Content page. This view includes the items not visible to the student. This helps instructors better understand students’ progress considering all course content.

Viewing with the “Visible to Students” filter:

  • This is the default filter for the Student Progress tab.
  • The view displays only items visible to the student.
  • The display indicates items that the student cannot yet access because they do not meet release conditions.

Viewing with the “All” filter:

  • This filter is new in this release.
  • The entire Course Content page is displayed.
  • Items the student cannot see are indicated with a not visible icon.
  • An item can be hidden from a student’s view for two reasons:
    • It is not available to students.
    • Settings indicate the item should be hidden when release conditions are not met.

Image 1. Student Progress tab with the “Visible to students” content availability filter applied; the instructor only sees content visible to this student

Student Progress tab with the “Visible to students” content availability filter applied; the instructor only sees content visible to this student

Image 2. When the “All” content availability filter is applied, the instructor sees all Course Outline items; the view indicates the items that are not visible to the student

When the “All” content availability filter is applied, the instructor sees all Course Outline items. The view indicates the items that are not visible to the student

For administrators:Progress Tracking is available behind a feature flag. Administrators need to enable it first.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Progress Tracking: Ally alternative format views count towards progress– 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

An accurate representation of course progress is key for both instructors and students. With this latest addition, any Ally alternative format accessed by a student will reflect in their presented course progress.

Students will:

  • See the progress indicator updated to “started” as they download an alternative format using Ally.
  • Be able to mark an item as complete after accessing any alternative format.

Instructors will see the progress made by each one of their students based on access to the original file or an alternative format.

Image 1. Student view - a PDF in the course content with no progress indicated

Student view - a PDF in the course content with no progress indicated

Image 2. Student view - selects an Ally alternative format

Student view - selects an Ally alternative format

Image 3. Student view – after downloading the alternative format, the PDF in the course content indicates progress

Student view – after downloading the alternative format, the PDF in the course content indicates progress

For administrators: Progress Tracking is available behind a feature flag. Administrators need to enable it first.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Mobile App

User Profile Card – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Mobile App
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

In the Blackboard Learn mobile app, we now provide expanded options when viewing the user profile. Users will be able to view their information to the full extent, see the profile card, and play name pronunciation.

This is applicable to SaaS environments with Base Navigation enabled. This first iteration of profile improvements does not allow editing profile data in the mobile application. In a future release we plan to add editing options when allowed.

Image 1. Profile Card preview

Profile Card preview

Image 2. User Profile

User Profile

For administrators:This feature is available for all users of the Mobile App. No action is needed from users who have enabled automatic updates on their devices. Users who have disabled automatic updates on their devices must download the update.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Administrator Login As Tool – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

Institutions want a way to maximize support to their end users. This needs to happen without sharing or exchanging login credentials. In the past, Blackboard Learn administrators might have used a community-created Building Block (B2)—LoginAs and Impersonate are two examples. These allowed an administrator to impersonate an end user for troubleshooting purposes. This category of third-party add-ons had the highest adoption volume in our global client base. The request to add this feature to Learn was ranked #1 in our Idea Exchange for more than 12 weeks in 2022.

We prioritized client feedback and are happy to share that the ability for an admin to log in as a user is now available.

Administrators can:

  • Search and select a user to login as.
  • Add in a reason for logging in as that user for institutional audit purposes.
    • This is optional. Institutions may wish to determine a policy for the use of this feature.
  • Start the session as that user.

To login as a user:

  • Search for a user in Administrator Panel > Users.
  • Open the dropdown menu for the user.
  • Select the “Login As” option.
  • When done, logout.

Image 1. Search for a user and select the Login As option

Login As – Search for a user and select the Login As option

Image 2. End user acknowledgement and Session Start

Login As - End user acknowledgement and Session Start

For administrators: This release has certain constraints:
- “Login as” is available only for the full System Administrator (Z) role. We have plans to support permissions that can be assigned to other support roles.
- Administrators can access log data, including who logged in as whom and reasons for login, using the Learn “Sessions” public API. Documentation is at https://developer.anthology.com/portal/displayApi . We have plans to provide access to this data in the admin user interface.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Course Auto-Archive Retention Policy Change – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

This change is part of a series of ongoing policy and product changes for automatic course archives in Learn SaaS.

Background on Automatic Course Archives

Learn SaaS creates archives for active courses every day. This process is automatic and lets administrators retrieve data deleted by accident. To align to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Anthology has always required a minimum 30 days of archives since we released this feature.

In the past, administrators could choose to keep archives longer than 30 days. On large environments, setting a policy longer then 30 days could prevent the automatic backup process from running properly.

Also in the past, clients had to pay for storage for all course archives. We heard from clients that it was unfair to charge storage for the archives we required for the SLA. In response to this feedback, we stopped charging for course archive storage in April 2022. For storage use, we couldn’t distinguish between older archives and the 30-day archives we require for the SLA. Since April 2022, Anthology has also covered storage costs for archives older than 30 days. However, this situation is temporary pending product improvements.

We also found clients relying on older auto-archive packages for long-term, legally required data backups of learner activity. This was not intended and is not recommended. The auto-archive process creates new archives when there is new course activity. Changes to a course will overwrite prior archives after 30 days.

  • Example: An instructor completes a course in 2022. The course is archived automatically. In preparing for teaching that same course again in 2023, the instructor accidentally deletes the student submissions in the 2022 course. In 30 days, the new archive for the 2022 version of the course will overwrite the backup made a year earlier. The student data is gone. Therefore, we recommend storing long-term course archives in a location not associated with daily backup overwrites.

Changes in this release:

  • We removed the archive retention policy configuration in Admin Panel > Course Settings > Automatic Archive Settings. Now the behavior will be consistent on all SaaS environments.
  • If a course still exists in Learn, the process always removes archives older than 30 days.
  • If a course no longer exists in Learn, the process will retain the final archive. This behavior will change in a future release. Administrators should move older archives to another location for long-term storage.
  • If a course is deleted, the process will still create and retain an archive. This behavior will change in a future release. For now, administrators should move these archives to another location for long-term storage. Once copied elsewhere, administrators should delete these older archives.

Future plans:

We plan to continue to improve the auto-archive process. In the next phases, we will make it easier for administrators to manage archives and move them to external storage. We will also require older archives to be removed or they will count against storage use. These changes will be announced before they happen.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Retain third-party app icons defined in the Developer Portal – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

LTI icons help users better differentiate between third-party app content (LTI tools). In the December 2022 release (3900.54), we began displaying icons selected by the third-party app provider or configured by the administrator.

Now, when a tool provider or an administrator sets an icon in the Developer Portal, administrators cannot change it.

For administrators: Administrators may continue to configure icons for LTI tools that do not have default icons configured.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description



Looking for older release notes?

Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.

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