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Learn SaaS release 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.34.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 15 February 2022 | Release to Production: Thursday, 3 March 2022.
Original Experience, Ultra Experience

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.34.0 version included below on this page. Details will also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.34.0-rel.63+d2ece0b to Production servers on 24 March 2022.

Due to the way that our release calendar lines up in March, we will release 3900.34 to production on Thursday, 3 March. It will remain for a week in both Test/Stage and Production environments while version 3900.37.0 is released to Test/Stage on Tuesday, 15 March.
Any changes to version 3900.34 after the initial release to Production will go directly to the Production environment.

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

 


March 2022 – 3900.34 Release

The March 2022 - 3900.34.0 release includes several new features.

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

Students:

Administrators:

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Learning Modules - Forced Sequence and Other Improvements - 3900.34.0

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

Learning modules are a helpful tool for arranging content. A learning module provides navigational elements for students. Enforced sequence guides students through the content in the order the instructor defines. We have made a series of improvements to the workflows related to learning modules. These improvements are more intuitive and provide time-saving efficiencies for instructors.

Updated behavior for learning modules:

When an instructor creates a learning module, all settings appear in a peek panel. From the peek panel an instructor can:

  • name the learning module,
  • set the visibility of the learning module for students,
  • add an optional description, and
  • apply forced sequence to the content in the module. Note this option is no longer available on the Release Conditions panel.

New behavior for learning modules:

An instructor can add more content to a learning module with forced sequence applied. This new behavior allows instructors to make modifications to the learning module. This change supports instructors as they guide students towards the desired learning outcomes. For example, results on a formative assessment may show that some concepts need reinforcement. The instructor can add content to the learning module and still control the sequence. If an instructor adds or changes content, a warning notifies the instructor: "Additions and changes in content can make students who already started the module follow a different order."

Figure 1. Before

Learning Modules Forced Sequence for instructors before upgrade

Figure 2. After

Learning Modules Forced Sequence for instructors after the upgrade

For Administrators: These improvements are on by default for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations required.


Watch a video about Learning Modules enhancements

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Learning Modules enhancements shows the latest changes applied to Learn Ultra Learning Modules including forced sequence.

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Automatic grades release for 3rd party tools using LTI Advantage - 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1 MH/SH
Original & Ultra Experience, Original & Ultra Course Views
Impact: Instructors and Students

We support the latest interoperability standards for adding 3rd-party apps into your courses. We use LTI Advantage from IMS Global. In the past, scores from integrated apps would not auto-post in Ultra Course View. This required instructors to act so students could see their grades.

The specification for LTI Advantage was ambiguous about how to handle grade visibility. We partnered with the IMS organization to update the standard. Now the LTI Advantage / LTI v1.3 tools can define whether grades should auto-post to students.

Updated behavior for tools

  • Ultra Course View: We now default to auto-post grades for LTI Advantage tools. Instructors will not have to remember to post grades. One exception exists when a tool indicates that grades should not post to students.
  • Original Course View: The behavior for LTI Advantage tools remains unchanged. Grades auto-release when the tool sends scores. One exception exists when the Grade Center column is not visible.

New capability for tools

We also now support the ability for an LTI Advantage tool to manage the release of grades. When appropriate, grades auto-post to students. TurnItIn, for example, plans to use this approach in an upcoming release.

  • Ultra Course View: If a tool sets that grades should not auto-post, scores sent to the Learn Gradebook only display to instructors. Instructors can choose to post grades for students, or the tool can auto-release grades later.
  • Original Course View: If a tool sets that grades should not auto-post, scores sent to the Learn Grade Center appear behind a “Needs Grading” status indicator. Students and instructors see that students have submitted work but not the result. When the tool releases grades, all students will see their scores.

The improvements in this release are specific to LTI Advantage/LTI 1.3 tools. Behavior for older LTI 1.1 tools remains unchanged. For older LTI 1.1 tools in Ultra Course View, new scores sent from tools are always auto posted.

For developers and tool providers: LTI Advantage has a new Line Item attribute - gradesReleased. You can specify it in a Deep Linking message or an Assignment and Grades service call. You only need to update your tool if you want to send scores to Learn but release them to students later. The default value for gradesReleased is true if you do not specify the attribute. When set to false, students will not see scores sent to the gradebook. When the attribute is true, students see current scores and future updates. If you use the gradesReleased=false attribute and want to maintain compatibility with Original Course View, you will need to manage the release of grades. Instructors do not have a post action in Original Course View to release grades. Instructors do have the post action in Ultra Course View.

 

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Microsoft OneDrive - Document Linking - 3900.34.0

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

We have partnered with Microsoft to create a new LTI integration for OneDrive. Once enabled, this integration can be accessed within the Ultra Course View and the Original Course View. This new intuitive workflow allows instructors to add OneDrive files to:

  • the Course Content area
  • Learning Modules
  • Folders

Document linking for Microsoft OneDrive is important for many reasons.

  • Document linking provides a link to a document instead of duplicate copies of a file in courses. This helps reduce storage space used.
  • Linking allows instructors to edit a single document. All links to the file reflect the most current version of the document. This approach provides greater efficiency and saves the instructor time.
  • The OneDrive integration enables instructors to edit the file from an Ultra course and Original course. This is a time saver for instructors.
  • Instructors access and manage OneDrive storage from within Learn. This provides a centralized and at-your-fingertips location for access and management.
  • Students can access and manage their own OneDrive storage from within Learn. Students can submit content from OneDrive using the rich text editor in Learn. This option provides greater choice and flexibility for content sharing.

The instructor may need to sign into a Microsoft account to view and select files. After adding the OneDrive file, the instructor may rename the file link in the course. The instructor can control the student visibility/availability setting. The instructor can enter full screen to edit the content of the file. When selecting this option, a new browser tab opens, and the file will be editable.

Figure 1. Add a OneDrive file to the Course Content.

Learn Ultra add file by open it from the Cloud Content item in the Create Content panel, and then, chose Open from OneDrive
 

Figure 2. Select the OneDrive file.

Learn Ultra add file by open it from OneDrive selecting the file from the OneDrive used
 

Figure 3. To change the name of the file and set visibility, select the file.

Learn Ultra add file by open it from OneDrive and see it in the Course page content list
 

Figure 4. After changing the title and visibility, the instructor can modify the contents of the file by selecting the "Full Screen" option.

Learn Ultra add file by open it from OneDrive and visualizing it within a course
 

Figure 5. The instructor can make edits as desired.

Learn Ultra add file by open it from OneDrive edition options for instructors
 

The student has a read-only view of the file in the course.

Other existing LTI options in the course remain unchanged:

  • Content Market (Ultra)
  • Books and Tools (Ultra)
  • Rich text editor (Ultra and Original)
  • Build Content (Original)
  • Course Tools (Original)

For Administrators: Please register the LTI Tool Provider in the Administrator Panel.


Watch a video about OneDrive documents integration within Learn Ultra

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: OneDrive Integrations shows how to open a document from Microsoft OneDrive within any Learn course content.

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Sticky Test Header - 3900.34.0

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

Test taking can be a stressful experience. We have designed a new test header to improve the student's testing experience. The new header provides students with key information to inform their test-taking strategy. The new header displays the following helpful information:

  • a progress bar,
  • the number of answered questions out of the total questions in the test or assignment,
  • and time remaining if the instructor has set a time limit.

The header is sticky, meaning that it is always visible as a student navigates the test. This header also appears in assignments that include questions.

Figure 1. Before

Learn Ultra StickyHeader functionality for assessments before upgrade

Figure 2. After

Learn Ultra StickyHeader functionality for assessments after upgrade

For Instructors and Administrators: This feature is on by default for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations required.


Watch a video about the new sticky test header

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Sticky Test Headers shows the new look and permanent position of test headers in Learn Ultra.

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Automatic cleanup of user-created archive and export packages - 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1 MH/SH
Original and Ultra Experience, Original and Ultra Course Views
Impact: Users with permission to create course packages (Administrators; in some cases, instructors, course builders, and other privileged users)

Export and archive packages within a course will now have auto-delete settings. This automatic cleanup enables institutions to reduce storage space used. The auto-cleanup also allows administrators to control storage growth. This also saves time and reduces frustration for administrators.

In the past, all packages remained in the course until the deletion of the packages or the course. The retention of the course packages resulted in extensive storage usage.

Existing user-generated course packages will be set to expire in 90 days from the 3900.34 upgrade. This gives more time to copy packages to external storage if needed. In the course package list view, the expiry date for these packages will reflect a 90-day expiry. Packages are deleted on the expiry day.

Course packages created after the upgrade to 3900.34 will expire and auto-delete 30 days after the creation date.

We will notify users of this behavior in three ways:

  • When creating the package, the interface informs the user of this time constraint.
  • The notification that a package is ready to download informs the user of the time constraint.
  • In the course package list view for the course, the removal date displays for each package.

This improvement does not change the way administrators delete courses. These changes only apply to the export/archive packages stored within the course. There are no changes to the behavior of automatic archive creation or deletion.

For Administrators: Please leverage your own communication channels to reinforce this change to affected users.

 

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Access automatic archive packages from within courses - 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Original and Ultra Experience, Original and Ultra Course Views
Impact: Administrators, others to whom admins grant permissions

In SaaS, daily archives are auto created for active courses. Administrators can retrieve lost data from these archives. These archives are available for 30 days. Now privileged users can now access and download archive packages from the course. The daily archives often lessen the need for other users to create their own packages. This change in access reduces storage space used. The access change saves time and reduces frustration for privileged users and administrators.

For Administrators:

  • This permission is not on by default for instructors. Required permission: Course/Organization Control Panel (Packages and Utilities) > Archive Course/Organization, including user passwords
  • Automatic archive packages include highly sensitive personal information for users. If you use the default authentication type in Learn, the package includes an encrypted version of users' passwords. When this is the case, we recommend that you do not enable this feature for instructors.
  • The password values in the Learn database pose no security risk if you use an identity provider (IdP) for authentication (e.g., SAML/LDAP) without fallback to the default Learn authentication.
  • We recommend that you review policies about storing and handling sensitive personal data. These archives contain highly sensitive data. Please ensure it is appropriate to grant users privileges to access these archives.
  • There are no changes to the restore process with this enhancement. Only administrators can retrieve user data through a restore process. We always recommend restoring courses into a non-production environment. This helps to ensure no disruption to current courses/users in production.

 

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


API Updates:
Adaptive Release API Support: User Predicate APIs and Group Predicate APIs (Ultra and Original) - 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience and Original Experience
Impact: All clients and partners

Instructors value the option to release course content according to various criteria. Using APIs, developers can now manage the release of content by group membership. Added with this release are PUTs endpoints:

  • one that will receive a list with only the userId set
  • one that will receive a list with only the groupId set

For more information about our REST Public APIs, please explore the Learn API at: https://developer.blackboard.com/portal/displayApi

 

Return to March 2022 – 3900.34 Release description


Highlight on bug fixes - 3900.34.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience and Original Experience

The bug fixes in this Learn release include:

  • Date picker uses the default server time zone rather than the user’s time zone: The date/time selector for course duration on course management pages uses the default server time zone rather than the user’s time zone.

    This applies to course properties management:

    • in the administrator panel
    • in course settings for the Original Course View when instructors have access to course properties
    • To provide greater clarity, we have added a time zone indicator to display the time zone that applies. For example, a Learn environment with a default time set to US Eastern Standard Time (EST) would display UTC –05:00.

    Integration behaviors remain unchanged:

    • course duration times set through REST APIs should use UTC
    • times set through SIS Framework should use server default time.

    Also, users can configure the availability dates with hours precision from the user interface. This configuration does not affect the integrations.

  • Notifications are not created for some users: In the past, because of performance reasons, we omitted notifications for users with 500 or more enrollments. Now if the number of enrollments for a user falls below 500, the notifications resume. Please remember that this process will run only every 24 hours.

  • Unable to change course role in Ultra courses due to "Save" button disabled: Users with the appropriate privileges were unable to save role changes made in other users' profiles. The issue was that the "Save" button was disabled. We have corrected this behavior.

You can view all maintenance items on Behind the Blackboard. Our Known Issue articles provide information for individual bug fixes, and may include bug descriptions and which Learn versions were affected. You can filter bug fixes by SaaS release for easier navigation. You can view the 3900.34.0 maintenance issues details on Behind the Blackboard.

 

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