Here is everything you need to know about the Blackboard Open LMS 3.2 release.
It includes details on major features, new plugins, updated plugins, bug fixes, and minor enhancements.
Any information added to the release notes after June 6, 2017, is marked new with a star ( * ).
Boost is Moodle's new responsively designed theme based on Bootstrap 4. Boost focuses on improving the user's ability to navigate within the Learning Management System (LMS). For example, you can move between courses with the new hamburger menu in the upper left.
It also works to make editing easier by placing a prominent gear icon on the course page that provides instructors access to the course editing and administration tools.
New media players
In this release, Moodle's media player is pluggable. This allows administrators to choose a media player for video and audio based on their institution's need. It also allows the Moodle developer community to create integrations with new, more accessible, or responsive video players. Moodle allows instructors to upload files with a video for subtitles, caption, descriptions, chapters, and metadata.
The Moodle video players can use these files to display videos in a more accessible way for users. Support for each of these file types is a huge accessibility improvement for video in Moodle. This means that instructors can now store video in Moodle and confidently add all the necessary data for their learners with disabilities.
LTI 2 compliance
Moodle now complies with Learning Tools Interoperability® (LTI) 2. Moodle is also working on certification for LTI 2. With this support, Moodle HQ has also made changes to the user experience when adding an LTI tool to the site as well as when adding them to a course. Administrators can now determine where they want an external LTI plugin to appear in the Moodle add activities menu. Moodle also supports the content item message standard for LTI, which allows for deeper integrations with external tools.
Improved Messaging and Alerts
Messaging and Alerts have been separated out and now display as buttons at the top of the Boost, More and Clean themes. These buttons highlight the number of unread notifications and messages a user has. Messages between users in Moodle show in the messages area. And users can easily mark all messages as read. The notifications area displays all notifications a user has configured within Moodle. A user can access their notification settings from the drop-down menu.
Course End Dates
Instructors and administrators can now assign an end date to a course along with a start date. Conduit also fully supports the mapping of end date field in its settings. Integrations with Conduit can pass a value to this field as part of a CSV or web service. Currently, the end date is used for analytics, but in future releases of Moodle, the field will be used in the user experience to help determine which courses show to the users.
Instructors can configure forums to lock after a period of inactivity within the forum. When a forum is locked students can't post or reply to the forum. Only instructors are able to post to the locked forum. This unlocks the forum and opens up discussions again.
Assignment overrides allow instructors to assign different submission start dates, due dates, and cut-off dates for different individuals and groups.
File type restrictions for Assignment submissions
When creating an assignment, instructors can now have the option to restrict the types of files students may submit. When students edit their submissions, the file-picker only allows uploading accepted file types.
Mahara 16.10 Upgrade
SmartEvidence allows learners to work quickly with competency frameworks associating the learner's portfolios to certain competencies, skills or attributes. At the same time, learners also have a visual overview of their progress to date. This feature is considered a preview and to be experimental with this release of Mahara. Mahara has created several videos previewing the feature that you can review.
Mahara now has an official mobile app, Mahara Mobile (replacing MaharaDroid and PortfolioUp), which supports Android and iOS devices. Mahara mobile allows learners to collect and create learning evidence from their mobile device when they are online and offline. The evidence is synced with the Mahara environment when the user has internet access.
New media file formats
You can embed more audio and video file formats in the Embedded media block:
- OGG audio
- WEBM video
Mahara has better group administration features. Administrators can copy a group easily. Copying groups is particularly useful if you have several student groups with the same set of pages and instructions, but you may want to make a minor change such as changing the name of the instructor in one group. You can easily duplicate a group and make the change rather than setting up a new group from scratch. Administrators can also export group membership and group settings for reuse.
There have been improvements to the Mahara web services to support the new mobile app. The mobile web services needs to be enabled for the mobile app to work. Mahara has also made improvements to some authentication methods.
Mahara release notes
For the full releases notes from Mahara.org, please see:
Blackboard Ally Integration
Blackboard Ally is the only dedicated tool available that meets educational accessibility objectives for students, instructors, and leadership. No other accessibility service is as comprehensive in its approach to help institutions take control of their online course content. Blackboard Ally gives institutions a way to take clear control of accessibility and course content while making access better for all students. Blackboard Ally allows institutions to:
- Regain ground on the accessibility of digital course content.
- Measure and address accessibility with actionable insight.
- Simultaneously save resources while automation efficiently reaches more people.
Traditionally when examining the existing systems and platforms that students and instructors use, the conversation around accessibility is limited to how accessible the systems are themselves. However, the user-generated content or course content; content that is created or shared through these systems, is usually treated as a black box. That content is ultimately what the students are after and is where most of the accessibility issues exist today.
As legislative requirements become stricter, the accessibility of digital course content has increasingly become a hot and important topic that leaves institutions facing a few long-standing challenges:
- It can be difficult for an institution to understand where they stand with accessibility issues today.
- Instructors teaching the courses are struggling with a lack of awareness and understanding of the impact of accessibility. They are also struggling with how to best create more accessible content in their courses.
- Learners themselves are impeded in their courses due to the time involved in gaining access to alternative formats while completing their coursework. These alternative formats provide usability and quality benefits for all learners, not just those that request it.
Blackboard Ally was designed to help solve these challenges by becoming a valuable part of your learning ecosystem and focuses on helping you make digital course content more accessible. The solution is centered around three key experiences:
- Learner experience
- Instructor experience
- Administrator experience
The learner experience provides learners with alternative accessible file formats of the course content so that everyone - regardless of their accessibility needs - can benefit from increased variety and availability of your course content.
The instructor experience provides an instructor with feedback around the accessibility of their online course content to provide useful guidance and recommendations essential to creating an inclusive environment.
The administrator experience provides administrators with the ability to look at both an institutional level and course level content accessibility report. The institutional report is regenerated every 4 hours. The Ally institutional report can currently be printed or exported as a PDF. It is also possible to extract the raw reporting data through the Ally REST API. Ally does not provide accessibility reporting at the individual school or department level at this time. The course content report includes content items that were already in the LMS upon installation. When enabling the Ally integration, Ally goes through all the historical courses and content items and runs them through the accessibility checklist, generates alternative accessible versions and provides instructor feedback.
IntelliBoard for Blackboard Open LMS has been updated to version 4.7, and has been integrated into Snap's user interface. IntelliBoard 4.7 introduces new and exciting features. For example, new reports and a new Competencies dashboard for CBE or CBT strategies. Blackboard Open LMS and IntelliBoard have also been working together to bring code optimizations and performance improvements to the plugin.
New Activity Data Web Services
The update to Blackboard Open LMS adds three new web services that allow institutions to pull activity data for a learner and a course. The three web services are:
- Overall Progress Web Services - Provides the total number of activities, excluding hidden activities, that count towards progress, the number of activities, excluding hidden activities, that count towards progress, the current course total grade, course completion date, and course last access date for all learners based on a course short name.
- Course User Progress Web Service - Provides information about activities in a course for a particular student such as grade created date, grade last modified date, last submission/attempt date, raw grade, calculated grade, and completion status.
- Activities and Resources Web Service - Provides information about activities in a course such as due date, allow submission from date, cut off date, maximum grade possible, and completion expected by date.
The plugins listed below are only made available on your site by request. Updated versions of plugins you are already using do not need to be requested; you automatically receive the update.
- Adaptive Quiz (2017011900) v 1.2.3
- Block Attendance(2017020700)
- Atto More Font Colors (2017050100) v 1.2.5
- Big Blue Btn (2016051911)
- Equella (2016031001)
- Grade Export Checklist (2017051202) v 2.7
- Group Choice (2017050100) v 1.9.5
- H5P (2017052400) V1.3
- Hotpot (2017042707)
- Level Up (2017032900) v2.2
- Microsoft Office 365 integration (2016120500) v3.2
- Mod Attendance(2016121303)
- Moodle Mobile Additional Features (2016102601) v3.2.321
- oEmbed Filter (2017050100) v 3.3.0
- Recordings BN (2016051905)
- Sharing Cart (2016032900) V 3.0
- Turnitin Version1 (2017031601) V2.6+
- Turnitin Version2 (2017022201) V2.7
- * Big Blue Btn (2016051915)
- * Census Report (2016070501) V 3.1.0
- * Lightbox Gallery (2017050300) V 22.214.171.124
- * OAUTH2 (2016061204)
- * Questionnaire (2017051800) V 3.2.5
- * Quickmail (2017060100) V1.6.0
- * Quizventure (2017051600) V 3.3-r1
- * Turnitin Version2 (2017052401) V2.7
- * URKUND (2017020801) V3.2.9
- *Joule Gradebook
- *Canvas Theme
- Applied Moodle 3.2.3 forum changes to Open Forums.
- Advanced Forums are now called Open Forums
- Fixed an issue with repeating text being displayed on the conduit mapping page.
- Conduit now uses core locking API.
Core Forum Posts
- Fixed an issue with translucent covers not displaying for instructor posts.
- Removed Joule Gradebook
- Fixed headings format in Boost theme.
- Upgraded to PHP 7.1 to improve page loading speed and reliability.
- Snap now inherits from the Boost theme.
- Fixed an issue with card resources not displaying.
- Fixed padding and alignment issues in the enrolled users page.
- Now in Snap theme Topics format ‘Edit section’ form is displayed with mandatory enter section name text box.
- Fixed negative margin for participants list title.
- Fixed missing download icons for an enrolled guest user.
- Fixed missing Help Icon in Open Grader while in full-screen mode.
- Fixed readability of Collaborate Join Session link.
- Fixed Due Date Metadata readability on course cards in Snap.
- Fixed issue with Switch Role not appearing in certain scenarios in the user menu.
- Fixed IE and FF misaligned username text field in the login form.
- Fixed missing Lesson Menu in Lesson Activity.
- Close dialog links formatting corrected.
- Fixed Sharing Cart displaying multiple instances on the front page.
- Enabled User Tours capability.
- Added unread message count badge to user avatars.
- Fixed user detail Z-Index.
- Improved AMOS tool lang file compatibility.
- Fixed admin menu appearing during block configuration.
- Fixed PHPUnit timeout errors.
- Updated Redislock to use an AlphaNumeric key generator.
Any information added to the release notes after June 6, 2017, is marked new with a star ( * ).