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 3900.98.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.98.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 16 July 2024 | Release to Production: Thursday, 8 August 2024
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details, please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.98.0 version included below on this page. Details can be found Behind the Blackboard

Latest release: 3900.98.0-rel.7+8cb52c6 to Test/Stage servers to take place on 16 July 2024.

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


August 2024 – 3900.98 Release

The August 2024 - 3900.98 release is robust with features in 8 areas: 

  • Instructional design; 
  • Mastery learning & learning pathways;
  • Tests and assignments; 
  • Communication and collaboration; 
  • Flexible grading; 
  • Gradebook; 
  • Learn core and security; 
  • Integrations; and 
  • Upgrade to Ultra 

These improvements impact instructors, students, and administrators. Some features do require administrative action. 

Instructors: 

Instructors and Students: 

Instructors and Administrators: 

Administrators

All users: 


Instructional Design

Content Designer: Enhanced Documents – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related Topic: Create Documents

Content design is key to creating an engaging course that supports learner needs. The Document feature is a useful option for creating and presenting a variety of visual elements. We have made significant enhancements to Documents to provide new and robust options for content design. Instructors will be delighted that all enhancements work beautifully using a mouse, trackpad, or the keyboard. All enhancements are mobile friendly for instructors and students. 

We've removed the option to generate questions from Documents. Generating questions from within a test using the context picker in the AI Design Assistant is the preferred method.

Image 1. Enhanced Document with diverse content laid out in rows and columns

Full view of an enhanced Document with blocks filled with text and images

Image 2.  Empty Document with block options 

Block options for a Document

Instructors can now design Documents by selecting from a variety of block types. 

  • Content block 
    Add content via the content editor. 
  • HTML block 
    Add content via HTML or CSS in the Document. 

An administrator must configure an alternate domain for the HTML block to appear. Learn more about setting up an alternate domain. 

  • File upload block 
    Browse for files on the local machine to upload to the Document. 
    Note: Administrators can define the maximum size of a file that users can upload. 
  • Cloud upload block 
    Login to a cloud service and select a file to add into the Document. 
  • Content Collection block 
    Browse the Content Collection and select a file to add to the Document. 
  • Convert a file block 
    Browse for files on the local machine. Once selected, the system converts the file into the Document format. Supported file types include PDF, PowerPoint (ppt, pptx, pps), and Word (doc, docx, odt). 

In this release, the option to convert a file is only available in the main authoring space. In the Add Content panel (the + menu), the option to convert a file doesn’t appear. We'll correct this in an upcoming release. 

Instructors can also open the left panel by selecting the + and choosing the desired block. 

Image 3. Empty Document with the blocks panel opened

A document with the new block option expanded

Document menu bar

To provide greater efficiency when designing content, we added a menu bar to Documents. The menu bar remains in view as the instructor scrolls the Document to view, add, or edit content. The menu bar contains the Edit option when in the view state. After selecting Edit, the menu bar displays the following options: 

  • Edit 
  • Add Blocks 
  • Undo/Redo 
  • Cancel 
  • Save 

Image 4. Add blocks from the left panel or select the purple + to add a block as a row

A document with the + icon to add a new block displayed

Resizing and moving blocks 

Instructors can create appealing layouts by resizing and dragging/dropping blocks into columns and rows. 

  • Each row includes a menu with options to move or delete the block. 
  • Each block includes a menu with options to edit, move, or resize, or delete the block. 

Image 5. Move, expand, and shrink options via keyboard controls

Movement options expanded in a document

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. A new configuration option is on the Ultra configuration page in the Administrator Panel: “Enable support for customizing Ultra document layouts.” The default state is on. This option will be available until December 2024. At that time, we will remove the configuration option and enhanced Documents will be default. 

This option can be toggled on or off. Be mindful of potential impacts to content created with or modified by enhanced options if you turn this option off.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Video Studio within Enhanced Documents – 3900.98 (Requires Premium License)

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

Video Studio is targeted to be available in Test/Stage environments on August 8, 2024.

Instructors have recording capabilities in Announcements and Feedback features. Now, they have the ability to upload or record audio and videos within enhanced Documents. The lightweight, deeply integrated Video Studio solution promotes a more engaging learning experience.

When creating an enhanced Document, a new block option is available to create audio and video files from a camera, audio recording, or from screen recordings. Additionally, it is possible to upload audio and video files.

Image 1. New Audio/Video block in an enhanced Document 

Adding a content block in enhanced Document

Image 2. Recording and uploading options available in Audio/Video block for an enhanced Document

Options for recording a content block in an enhanced Document

When a user starts recording, there is a 3 second countdown before the recording begins. Users can pause, resume, retake, or end the recording as needed.

Image 3. Start recording process

Instructor getting ready to record a video

After a user ends the recording, the uploading process begins. During this time, the user can preview the result, edit the title, and add a description. Users can select Save to add the audio or video into an enhanced Document. After saving the video, auto captioning for videos is available.

Image 4. Add video details, preview, and save options 

Uploading an enhanced document video with options to edit title and description

Image 5. Automatic captioning for videos is available

Instructor displayed on recording in an enhanced Document

For administrators: These new video capabilities require a license for Video Studio. The videos created using Video Studio will not count towards your existing storage entitlement. The following existing privileges are used for the Video Studio solution:

  • Course/Organization (Content Areas) > Create Materials: To create videos. Includes all operations like save, finish, check Video upload Status. Not needed for playback.
  • Course/Organization (Content Areas) > Delete Materials: To delete videos. 

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Image Generation Improvements – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related topic: Add Files, Images, Audio, and Video

Images enhance comprehension and engagement with course content. To help, we introduced the ability for instructors to generate images using the AI Design Assistant. 

We are updating the technology in the image generation process from DALL-E 2 to DALL-E 3. This update allows instructors to generate higher quality, higher resolution images in the following workflows: 

  • Learning Module images 
  • Document images 
  • Announcement images 
  • Assessment question images 
  • Journal prompts images 

Image 1: Generated image using DALL-E 3 in a Document

AI generated image of a space shuttle taking off

For administrators: The "Generate images" options only appear for instructors when each tool is on. Select Building Blocks from the Administrator Panel, then select Installed Tools. Locate "AI Design Assistant and Unsplash" and select Settings from the dropdown. The default state is off. You must also activate privileges. Assign the Use AI Design Assistant privilege for the appropriate Course Roles (for example, Instructor).

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Mastery Learning & Learning Pathways

Multiple rules for release conditions – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors, Administrators
Related Topic: Content Release Conditions

Instructors need to release course content based on performance criteria to sequence students on learning paths correctly. Sometimes they also need to release content to different groups using different criteria. For example, graduate students may be required to perform additional activities or perform at a higher level than other students. To support this needed flexibility, instructors can now create multiple rules for release conditions. 

You can create rules for release conditions based on these criteria: date, time, and grade range performance criteria. You can also create rules for specific individual learners, groups, or for all members.

Image 1. Release Conditions page

The release conditions page, with Add new rule and Add performance criteria options called out

Notes for administrators

The Adding rules to release conditions feature is behind a feature flag. The default state for the feature flag is off, so it must be turned on to use this feature. This feature will be turned on in all environments in a future release and is opt-in for now. At this time, institutions who want to opt-in to this feature must create a Support ticket to request access.

There are considerations to keep in mind when copying a course from Original courses. Adaptive Release rules are now copied to Ultra course Release Condition Rules. The supported criterion types are date, time, grade range, and memberships (individual or groups). Only supported criteria types are copied from Original to Ultra courses. These criteria types are deleted automatically:

  • Attempt for a gradable item (student submitted the assignment or test)
  • Student marked an item reviewed

We recommend that you review whether adding multiple rules for release conditions will have significant impact at your institution during conversion. If an Original course uses the unsupported release conditions, this will cause an impact when it's converted to an Ultra course. 

Admins cannot manage this feature flag in the administrator panel. To prevent unexpected data loss, enabling or disabling this feature flag requires a request to Support. When the feature is enabled, instructors can create multiple release condition rules. If the feature flag is later turned off, any rules that were added by instructors are deleted, leaving only the first rule. Removing the additional rules prevents student access issues.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Tests & Assignments

Improvements to creating assignments – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors, Students 
Related Topic: Create and Edit Assignments

Instructors need robust, easy to use tools when creating their assessments. 

To create a better experience, the new Assignment page includes these improvements: 

  • A new Instructions box where instructors can use the full content editor to craft assignment instructions.
  • There are no options to add questions to an assignment. 
  • The Settings panel now includes only options relevant to assignments. 
  • Blank attempts are no longer created when students view assignment instructions. The system only creates an attempt when students add content to the file drop zone / content editor. Note: Group or timed and proctored assignments continue to create attempts when students view the instructions.

Assignments created before this release will continue to create blank attempts when students view the instructions. We'll address this issue in a future release. 

The New Test page remains unchanged. Instructors can access all the same question types and settings options. Attempts are still automatically created when students view the test questions. 

Image 1. Instructor view of the New Assignment page with the new Instructions box

The New Assignment page

Image 2. Instructor view of adding instructions to an assignment

Add Instructions content box on the New Assignment page

Image 3. Students view of the new Assignment Information panel and the View Instructions option

Student view of assignment panel with instructions

Image 4. Student view of the assignment instructions

Student view of instructions in an assignment

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Anonymous student responses for Forms – 3900.98

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

Anonymous responses in forms encourage honest and candid feedback from students and help participants feel safe and secure knowing their identities are protected. Anonymity leads to more genuine responses that convey the respondents' true opinions and experiences. Additionally, it increases participation rates and the overall quality of the results. 

Instructors can now collect anonymous submissions in Forms. The new Anonymous submissions option appears in the Grading & Submissions section of Form Settings

Image 1. Anonymous submissions option

Forms panel, with the Anonymous submissions option selected

When you select Anonymous submissions, these settings are enabled by default: 

  • Due date
  • Prohibit late submissions 
  • Prohibit new attempts after due date 
  • Complete/incomplete is selected as the grading schema for non-graded forms 
  • When grading, the submission earns the points assigned; you can’t edit or override the points earned

Additional important details to note: 

  • Anonymous forms cannot be administered to groups. 
  • Class conversations are not supported when Anonymous submissions is selected. 
  • To ensure anonymity, student activity, exceptions, exemptions and accommodations are not supported. 
  • To ensure anonymity, student progress/statistics are not captured. 
  • Modifications to form questions and settings are not permitted if the form has submissions and the due date has passed. 

From the Submissions tab for a form, you can view an anonymized list of students participants along with this information and options: 

  • Student submission status
  • Grading status and grade – At submission, the grading status is set to Complete and the grade is marked (for example., 5/5) 
  • Post -- Graded forms post automatically 
  • Download all – You can download all form submissions

To view responses, select an anonymous student from the list. You can enter overall feedback for their submission. 

From the Gradebook, before the due date for an anonymous form, "Anonymous" appears in the cell for each student. After the due date, the cells display: 

  • For ungraded forms, the text "Submitted" or "Not submitted" 
  • For graded forms, the grade 

From the Grades tab, you can select Download Gradebook to download responses to forms with anonymous submissions.

When converting Original courses containing surveys to Ultra courses, surveys convert to anonymous forms by default. 

We've taken care to ensure students know when their submission to a form is anonymous. The Anonymous icon and label appears on: 

  • the Content Page 
  • the Form panel where they start the attempt and view their submission 
  • the Details & Information section that appears while responding to the form 

Image 2. Student view – Anonymous label and icon for a form

Student view of an anonymous form

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Communication & Collaboration

Ability to ‘Follow’ Discussions for Enhanced Engagement – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: All users 
Related Topic: Discussions

Discussions are an important part of the course experience, allowing for easy collaboration between all course members. The ability to engage and re-engage with discussions ensures that collaboration is active and lively. Users can re-engage when they know there are new posts by following the discussion. 

Key Enhancements: 

  • Follow Discussions: Users can follow select discussions and receive notifications for new contributions from peers or instructors. 
  • User Notification Settings: New notification options for the Activity Stream settings allow users to manage notification types for discussions: 
    • Activity on my responses 
    • Activity on responses I have replied to 
    • Responses from instructors 
    • Responses for followed discussions 
    • Replies for followed discussions 
  • Administrator Settings: New administrator controls allow institutions to set defaults for the above user settings: 
    • Discussion activity on the current user’s responses 
    • Discussion activity on responses the current user has replied to 
    • Discussion responses from instructors 
    • Discussion responses and replies for followed

The default settings for these options are all “on.” 

Image 1. New ‘Follow’ option inside a discussion

Discussion displaying that it is being followed

Image 2. New user notification options for the Activity Stream

Activity stream notification settings panel

Image 3. Notifications being delivered to the Activity Stream

Activity stream with a discussion notification

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed. Administrators can manage notification settings in the Administrator Panel.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Send a message to a group from Group Spaces – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: All users 
Related Topic: Group Spaces

Communication and collaboration between group members is important. For this reason, we've expanded opportunities for group members to communicate. 

Users can now send a group message from the members page of a group space. This encourages collaboration on content that they have been assigned. 

Image 1. The group spaces page with the ability to message a group.

Message option within a Group Space

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Flexible Grading

Improved navigation between students in Flexible Grading – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related Topic: Grade Tests with Flexible Grading

To make the grading experience more efficient, we added Next Student and Previous Student buttons to the Students tab in Flexible Grading. Instructors can now quickly navigate between students when grading assessments. 

Image 1. Instructor view of grading an assignment by student with the new Next Student and Previous Student buttons

Flexible grading page, showing Next and Previous student arrows to the left and right of a submission

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Gradebook

Hide unenrolled students from the gradebook – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related Topic: Ultra Gradebook

Students can change their course schedules at the beginning of a term or semester. Institution policy determines what happens when students change classes. At some institutions, when a student drops a class their enrollment (membership) record is set to unavailable. They display in the gradebook with a strikethrough on their avatar. The instructor's gradebook can become cluttered with students who aren’t actively enrolled in the class.

Using the new Students Visibility setting, instructors now have the option to hide or show unenrolled students. 

The default option is to show these students. 

You can access the Students Visibility setting from two locations: 

  • Course settings
  • Gradebook settings 

If you change the Students Visibility from Course settings, it will also change in Gradebook settings, and vice versa. Also, the selected visibility setting applies to all users teaching the course. 

The Students Visibility setting affects these gradebook areas: 

  • Grades page 
  • Students page 
  • Calculation student list 
  • Gradable items student list 
  • Submission tab for an assessment 
  • Student Activity tab for an assessment 

Image 1. Instructor view of the Gradebook settings panel showing the new Student Visibility option set to display students who no longer have access to the course

Gradebook settings panel, with the Students Visibility toggle in the center

Image 2. Instructor view of the Gradebook settings panel showing the new Student Visibility option set to hide students who no longer have access to the course

Gradebook settings panel, with the Students Visibility toggle selected

Image 3. Instructor view of the Course settings area showing the new Student Visibility option

Students Visibility option in Course Settings

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

Users and enrollment records set to the "disabled" state will continue to be hidden in all cases. A best practice for data integrations is to use the "disabled" record state when instructors no longer have any responsibility to manage those records or should not change data associated with those students. The "unavailable" record state still allows data access and grading activities—it’s most suitable when a student shouldn’t access the course any longer, but instructors are still responsible for reporting data for the student.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Status information removed from the gradebook download file – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related Topic: Work Offline with Grade Data

Instructors can download the full gradebook or selected columns to work with the information offline.
 
We've removed from the download file the status information associated with grades. Removing this information makes it easier to perform statistical analysis or calculations.
 
We also ensured that instructors can download the gradebook for completed courses.
 
Example table
ExampleBefore the changeAfter the change
A student submitted an attempt that was graded but not postedReady to Post (75)75
A student submitted an attempt that was graded and has started a second attemptIn Progress (75)75
A student submitted an attempt that needs gradingNeeds GradingNeeds Grading

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Learn Core & Security

Assessment IP Address Filtering – 3900.98

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

Assessments are sometimes administered in proctored environments to ensure academic integrity. Instructors can now restrict an assessment by location in Ultra Course View. This restriction prevents students from taking tests outside of proctored locations or taking tests on another’s behalf.

To restrict by location, select Test Settings, then Assessment Security. Finally, select your Location restriction. No restriction is the default value.

Image 1. Location restriction configuration for a test

Assessment security screen with location restriction option highlighted

Students are informed if a test is restricted by location before starting it. They're also informed if they are not meeting the IP address rules when starting an attempt and during the test.  

Image 2. Student being informed that a test is restricted by location

Test panel indicating to student that test is location restricted

Image 3. Student being informed when not meeting IP filtering rules

Location restriction pop up informing student that they are not in the correct location to take test.

For administrators: The configuration for IP filtering rules in Administrator Tool Panel > Course Settings > Grading Security Settings. For the range, enter as many filters as necessary to correctly capture the part of the network used in the testing environment. We will support multiple profile configurations in a future release.

Image 4. Configuration of IP filter rules from Administrator Tool Panel 

Grading security settings with IP filters on Administrator Panel

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Integrations

Math formula enhancement– 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: All users 
Related Topic: Math Editor 

We reduced the response time in the text editor when creating a formula. With enhanced data retrieval, instructors can process formula requests more efficiently.

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Enhanced Attendance Public REST API with Timestamp Data – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View
Impact: Administrators 
Related Topic: Blackboard Learn APIs

Tracking and auditing attendance records are crucial for student data integrity and transparency.  We have enhanced the Attendance API to include Insert Date and Update Date for marked attendance records.

These enhancements allow developers to retrieve accurate attendance data. Showing both when attendance was first marked and when it was last modified.

  • Insert Date: When the attendance was first marked.
  • Update Date: When the attendance was last modified.
  • Modified By User ID: The user who made the insertion or modification.

The new attributes are available via the Attendance public endpoints.

For administrators: The required privileges for Attendance API remain unchanged.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Enhanced Group Assignments Management via REST API – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Administrators 
Related Topic: Blackboard Learn APIs

Group management in Blackboard is essential for collaborative learning and efficient course administration. With the latest enhancements, users can now manage group assignment attempts with new API capabilities. These updates allow users to create, read, update, and delete group submissions. Users will find these new capabilities through the following endpoints in the Course Grade API:

  • For GET and POST
    • .../courses/{courseId}/gradebook/columns/{columnId}/groupAttempts
  • For PATCH and DELETE
    • .../courses/{courseId}/gradebook/columns/{columnId}/groupAttempts/{groupAttemptId}

This enhancement offers streamlined integration, which simplifies the management of group assignments through improved API functionalities. This makes it easier to integrate and automate processes within their systems.

For administrators: The required privileges for Group attempts endpoints can be validated for each endpoint in the API documentation.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Extension of Support for Converting Building Block Content to LTI Tool – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Original Experience
Original Course View
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Convert Building Blocks to LTI

We are extending support for the Converting Building Block Content to LTI Tool until the end of July 2024. This extension aims to ensure a seamless transition for all users leveraging these services for media content within our platform. The tool can be used after July 2024 but is no longer updated with enhancements.

In our upcoming August release, we will comprehensively add all enhancements necessary to the conversion tool to support migration efforts. While these tools cover most use cases, it's important to note that after this release, any remaining links that do not automatically convert may require manual re-creation.

If you encounter issues with link conversion after July 2024, we recommend contacting your respective vendors directly. They may provide alternative methods or assistance for recreating these links.

Please note that this extension specifically applies to the Converting Building Block Content to LTI Tool, which currently supports Kaltura, Panopto, MediaSite, Echo360, and ShareStream. It will not impact the current extensions provided for each building block independently.

We are committed to supporting you throughout this transition period. If you have any questions or need further assistance, contact our support team.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Upgade to Ultra

Original Conversion Improvement: Convert Undeployed Tests to Question Banks – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Copy Content from Other Courses

We’ve added a new configuration option within the Ultra experience settings: "Convert Undeployed Tests to Question Banks." This new option is designed to provide administrators with more control over how undeployed tests are handled during course conversions. By default, this option is not turned on and must be activated by administrators if they wish to use it.

Using the new Convert Undeployed Tests to Question Banks option in the Ultra experience settings, administrators now have more control over how undeployed tests are handled during course conversions. This provides greater flexibility and efficiency in managing undeployed tests and enables admins to choose the conversion method that best suits their institution’s needs.

Key Features and Benefits:

1. Conversion of Undeployed Tests to Question Banks: 

  • When turned on, this option converts all undeployed tests into question banks. This process helps to declutter both the course content page and the gradebook, making it easier for instructors to manage their course materials. 
  • This conversion significantly reduces the effort required to clean up courses that have been converted, as it organizes questions more effectively. 

2. Removal of Random Blocks, Question Sets, and Linked Questions: 

  • During the conversion process, any random blocks, question sets, and linked questions included in undeployed tests will be removed. Question Banks do not support those features. This ensures that the resulting question banks preserve original questions without duplication.

Default Behavior When Option is Disabled: 

  • By default, this option is not turned on.
  • If the "Convert Undeployed Tests to Question Banks" option remains turned off, undeployed tests will instead be converted into deployed tests within the Ultra experience and set to hidden. This default behavior preserves the original structure of the tests, including any random blocks, question sets, and linked questions. 
  • The primary benefit of this default setting is that it allows instructors to use these converted tests as they were initially intended, without needing to recreate them from question banks.

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. A new configuration option is in the Ultra configuration page in the Administrator Panel. The default state is off.

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Gradebook Categories – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

The Brightspace conversion process now supports the preservation of grade categories. This enhancement allows instructors to associate grade-related items with preserved categories after conversion which will simplify setting up their gradebooks. Instructors can set weights using these categories, ensuring an organized grading structure.

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Discussion Forums and Topics – 3900.98 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

Discussion Forums and Topics in Brightspace are now preserved during the conversion process. Discussion Forums convert to Folders and Discussion Topics convert to Discussions. 

The following Discussion Forum and Topic settings are also preserved: 

  • Visibility 
  • Due Dates 
  • Release Conditions 
  • Points 
  • Post First 

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Embedded Equations – 3900.98 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

We’ve resolved a rendering bug related to embedded math equations. Math equations converted from Brightspace would render but break when edited. This issue is now fixed. Equations converted from Brightspace to Learn can be edited without breaking. This ensures a more reliable and efficient transition for courses with mathematical content. 

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Brightspace Conversion Improvement: File Uploads – 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

We resolved an intermittent issue where file uploads failed during conversion. All uploaded files now convert in a proper state so that users can view and download them. 

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Quiz Timer Settings – 3900.98 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

We have improved the way Quiz Timer Settings are converted from Brightspace to Learn. In the past, timed quizzes were kept open after the timer has lapsed, despite the original configuration in Brightspace. With this update, we preserve the settings from Brightspace. Quizzes with timers will either continue to be open or auto submit once the timer ends. 

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Moodle Conversion Improvement: Embedded Images– 3900.98

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Original Experience and Ultra Experience 
Original Course View and Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from Moodle

We have an important update to our Moodle conversion process. We fixed an issue related to embedded images. Converted Images wouldn't display for students. The issue is now fixed for the following items: 

  • Assignments 
  • Books
  • Choice 
  • Feedback 
  • Files 
  • Forums 
  • Glossaries 
  • Lessons 
  • Pages 
  • Questionnaire Descriptions 
  • Quiz Descriptions 
  • Text and Media Areas 
  • URLs 
  • Wikis 
  • SCORM 

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

Return to August 2024 – 3900.98.0 Release description


Learn SaaS release 3900.95.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.95.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | Release to Production: Thursday, 11 July 2024
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details, please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.95.0 version included below on this page. Details can be found Behind the Blackboard

Latest release: 3900.95.0-rel.84+1c08114 to Production servers to take place on 18 July 2024.

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


Tests & Assignments

Print answer key for assessments – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors
Related topic: Print Assessments 

Instructors can now print an answer key for their assessments. A printed answer key is helpful for grading any printed assessment.  

Printing provides a convenient solution for a variety of use cases:

  • Accommodating students with specific needs or limited technology access
  • Providing a printed assessment for testing in designated centers
  • Backup and record keeping
  • Conducting offline assessment
  • Documentation and compliance
  • Maintaining security and integrity

The print answer key option is available in Tests and Assignments with questions. Instructors may also save answer keys as a PDF.

To print an answer key from an assessment, navigate to the assessment. Select Print from the Content and Settings tab.

We plan to support printing question pools and printing from the mobile app in upcoming releases.

Image 1. Print answer key option

Print options available for printing an answer key

Image 2. Select desired print options

Printer options you can select

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Improvements to the Group Submissions page – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 

Some instructors prefer to assess their students using group assessments. To improve the user experience, we made several improvements to Group Submissions page. These improvements address overall performance and reduce the load time. 

Performance tested scenarios in a course with 5000 students enrollments and 1000 groups: 

  • Loading the Group Submissions page from the content item: Load time reduced from 260s (about 4.5 minutes) to 34s (87% performance improvement) 
  • Loading the Group Submissions page from the Gradable Items gradebook view: Load time reduced from 260s (about 4.5 minutes) to 29s (88% performance improvement) 
  • Opening a Group Submissions from the Gradebook Grades view: Load time reduced from 276s (about 4.5 minutes) to 15s (95% performance improvement)

For administrators: These improvements are available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed. 

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Improvements to prevent printing a question across pages – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 

In response to client feedback, we enhanced the print functionality for assessments to ensure a more user-friendly experience. For the following use cases, questions now print so that a question is not separated incorrectly on the physical or digital paper page break (e.g., in PDFs). This improves readability and ease of use for instructors and students alike.

  • Question headers will split the question number and points possible across pages
  • Question header will not split the header from the question text
  • Question answer icons and text will not split across pages
  • Tables, lists, and images will not split across pages
  • Very large text answer options may span pages, but the answer choice icon (e.g. option A) will display next to the first line of text rather than aligning to the center of the option
  • In matching questions, the prompt/answer heading will not split from the answer pairs 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Needs Grading improvements for assessments allowing multiple attempts – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 
Related topics: Grading & Submissions and Grade Multiple Attempts

The value of multiple attempts on an assessment ranges from support of mastery learning to reducing student anxiety. To help instructors grade assessments with multiple attempts, we have added new settings.

When an instructor chooses to allow multiple attempts, there is now a way to see which attempt(s) display as Needs Grading.

From the ‘Attempts to grade’ menu. The options are:

  • First attempt
  • Last attempt (default)
  • All attempts

Example: An assessment allows 3 attempts; a student made 3 submissions

OptionAttempt(s) counting towards Needs GradingNeeds Grading count
First attemptThe first attempt submitted by the student1
Last attemptThe last attempt submitted by the student1
All attemptsAll attempts submitted by the student3

Instructors will always have access to all attempts submitted by a student in the grading interface. The Attempts to grade setting only controls which attempts display as Needs Grading.

If All attempts is selected, the instructor must also select the calculation method for the student’s grade.

From the Final grade calculation menu, the options are:

  • Average 
  • Highest (default)
  • Lowest

 Image 1. Updated 'Attempts to grade' setting

Options available for Attempts to grade setting

Image 2. New 'Final grade calculation' setting

Options available for Final grade calculation setting

Image 3. Updated Submissions page with the Needs Grading filter applied; in this example, the instructor elected to grade the last attempt, which is now also displayed

Submissions page filtered to include needs grading for latest attempt

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Communication & Collaboration 

Send a copy to email when scheduling announcements – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related Topic: Announcements

Managing communication with students is an important instructor task. Instructors often plan certain communications in advance. Now instructors can schedule an announcement for a future date and select that it will send an email copy. The announcement tool will send the email copy on the day and time the announcements are posted. 

In the past, instructors could schedule an announcement that would present to students on the selected day and time. Instructors could also immediately post an announcement and send an email copy to students at the same time. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Flexible Grading

Needs Grading improvements for Students and Questions tabs – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors
Related Topics: Grade Assignments With Flexible Grading and Grade Tests With Flexible Grading

We continue to improve the grading experience for instructors. Now, the Needs Grading filter for the Student and Questions tabs reflect the 'Attempts to grade' assessment setting.

The Needs Grading filter on the Student tab will now only display students with ungraded attempts that count towards Needs Grading.  

The Needs Grading filter on the Questions tab will now only display questions with ungraded responses from attempts that count towards Needs Grading.  

Instructors will always have access to all attempts submitted by a student in the grading interface. The ‘Attempts to grade’ setting only controls which attempts need to be graded for the student to be removed from the Needs Grading workflow.

Example: An instructor configures a test with multiple attempts and chooses to grade the last attempt. Two students, Jessica Evans and Nathalie Williams, have made two attempts each. All four attempts are ungraded.

Image 1. Students tab with Needs Grading filter applied; two students display on the tab.

 Students tab with Needs Grading filter applied; two students display on the tab

Consider the image above. After the instructor grades Jessica Evans' last attempt, Jessica will no longer appear on the Students tab even though her first attempt is ungraded.

Image 2. Questions tab with the Needs Grading filter applied

Questions tab with the Needs Grading filter applied

Continuing with the example, one essay question is displayed along with 2 responses to grade. The instructor is grading Jessica Evans. The attempt selector defaults to the last response to that question based on the assessment settings. After the instructor grades Jessica’s last response to the essay question, Jessica's responses will no longer appear on the Questions tab even though the response from her first attempt is ungraded.  

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Recording audio and video when adding per question feedback – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related topic: Grade Tests With Flexible Grading

When grading by student or question, instructors can now provide contextual feedback as recorded audio and video. Instructors can add recorded feedback to all question types. Question level feedback promotes deeper understanding and personal growth among students. Question level feedback enhances overall submission feedback and automated feedback for auto-graded questions.

Audio and video feedback recordings do not count towards the institution storage quota. 

Image 1. Question feedback recording option when grading a test by student

Question feedback recording option when grading a test by student

Image 2. Instructor view of the question feedback recording option when grading a test by question

 Instructor view of the question feedback recording option when grading a test by question

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Gradebook

Improved navigation when accessing feedback – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Students

Some instructors choose to add feedback on a student’s overall submission and individual attempts. We've improved students' access to this valuable feedback. Now students can view overall and attempt-level feedback from the gradebook.

Image 1. Student’s gradebook with the Grade & Feedback panel displaying the overall submission feedback for Assignment 1; the student can also select the feedback icon on Attempt 1 to review feedback specific to that attempt

Student’s gradebook with the Grade & Feedback panel displaying the overall submission feedback for Assignment 1; the student can also select the feedback icon on Attempt 1 to review feedback specific to that attempt

 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Learner Progression & Personalized Experience 

Test and Discussion events included in the Activity Accumulator and synthetic events clean-up – 3900.95

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

Administrators and faculty need to review user activity. This user activity helps inform decisions in academic disputes and aids in troubleshooting. 

Administrators can now view more granular events for what students did on assessments and discussions in the “activity_accumulator” table. 

New events are saved in the “event_type” column.

Event nameRule
ASSESSMENT_SUBMITA student submits a test or an assignment
ASSESSMENT_DRAFTA student saves a draft on a test or an assignment
DISCUSSION_RESPONSEA student posts a response on a discussion
DISCUSSION_REPLYA student posts a reply on a discussion
DISCUSSION_DRAFTA student saves a draft in a reply or response to a discussion
DISCUSSION_EDITA student edits a reply or response to a discussion

Note: The “activity_accumulator” includes only submissions the student makes. Auto submissions made by the system are not yet included. 

Image 1: Query results of user interactions in a course including discussion and assessment events in the “activity_accumulator” table

Output of Activity Accumulator with test and discussion activities highlighted

We also cleaned up the “activity_accumulator” table to prevent the generation of synthetic and duplicate events. This makes student activity review simpler and more transparent.

  • Indirect user interactions may generate synthetic events. For example, a student might access a page where content was displayed without accessing content itself might generate a synthetic event. These synthetic events could lead to confusion, making it difficult to differentiate real user interactions and clutter databases. Now, no synthetic events are generated. 
  • Duplicated events were generated with a single user interaction. This could give the impression a user was more active than they were. Now, each user interaction registers a single event. 
  • When opening a folder, learning module, or other container, “CONTENT_ACCESS” events were registered for all items inside the container. Now, only the access for the container is registered. 

Behaviors you can expect on existing events: 

  • “COURSE_ACCESS” events are generated only when a user accesses the course. 
  • “CONTENT_ACCESS” events are generated only when a user accesses that course content. This applies for all course content items: documents, assessments, discussions, journals, LTI activities, SCORM packages, etc. 

As before, the “activity_accumulator” table can receive requests from Course Content public APIs. If you’re using the following API endpoints, take into account these new events and cleanup:

  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents 
  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents/{contentld} 
  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents/{contentld}/children 

Key considerations: 

  • These changes apply to new events. Historic events will remain the same. 
  • The activity_accumulator table registers events of all users no matter the role. These changes apply to students and any other role that made these interactions. 
  • User actions made in mobile app are also included in the “activity_accumulator” table. 

For administrators: To track user interactions in the Activity Accumulator table this feature needs to be activated. Go to Tools and Utilities in the administrator panel. Select System Reporting, then Auto-Reporting options. Select Yes in the event tracking field. The default state is on.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Enhanced privacy controls for Student IDs – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Customize User Information

We aim to support our clients' unique policies and use cases relating to personal information. Administrators can already:

  • Restrict the display of certain fields for all users within the environment
  • Reveal usernames to selected staff members through role-based privileges

With the new role-based privileges, administrators can now customize access to student IDs.

For example, instructors can be granted visibility of student IDs. This is helpful for distinguishing between students with similar names. At the same time, administrators can apply restrictions to prevent other roles from viewing student IDs.

We've also added a new privilege: “Show student/participant ID even when hidden from other users.” This privilege provides an extra layer of control by allowing specified users to see Student IDs. This ensures that only designated personnel have access to this information when necessary.

In the past, to view the student ID, a user was required to have access to edit the student information. This is no longer necessary. 

Image 1. Customize User Information configuration from Administrator Tool Panel; select Customize User Information in Users section to access this page

User Information configuration from Administrator Tool Panel

For administrators: We recommend reviewing and modifying privileges according to your institution’s policies. With the introduction of a new privilege, we advise verifying custom roles. 
 

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


‘Reply to Email’ feature for Messages – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Impact: Administrators
Related Topic: Messages

We aim to support institutions' specific policies and procedures about email communications. To help, administrators can now control how users interact with Messages sent as emails. When allowed, users can reply to Messages sent as an email. 

There are two new settings for Ultra Messages: 

  • Allow email replies to messages from non-students/non-participants (instructors/leaders, administrators) 
  • Allow email replies to messages from students/participants 

When drafting the message, instructors may choose whether they want to allow replies. When selected, replies from students will be directed to the instructor's email address registered in the system. Allowing replies helps interactions to be more efficient and will foster smoother communication. 

Image 1. Messages for Organizations and Courses configuration from Administrator Tool Panel

Ultra message settings in the admin panel

For administrators: By default, both settings are deselected. This setting can be selected for students, non-students, or both.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Default Organization View settings – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Organization View, Original Organization View 
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Organizations

Administrators can now set the default experience for organizations:

  • Original Organization View
  • Ultra Organization View
  • Instructor Choice

The Default Organization View options now align with the Default Course View options.

Image 1. Default Organizations Properties from Administrator Tool Panel

Default Organization Properties on Administrator Panel

For administrators: System administrators can set the default organization view by navigating to System Admin> Organizations module >Default Organization Properties.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Upgade to Ultra 

Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Embedded Images and Multimedia – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience and Original Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

We have improved the way we convert HTML Documents from Brightspace to Ultra. Now, embedded images and multimedia are preserved for HTML Documents. HTML Documents from Brightspace convert into Content Items or Ultra Documents, depending on the course view. We now preserve embedded images and multimedia for either output. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Moodle Conversion Improvement: Graded Discussions – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience and Original Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators
Related Topic: Migrate from Moodle 

We have improved the way that we convert Discussions from Moodle to Ultra. Now, graded discussions and their settings convert. We now bring over the points and grade category for the discussion. This change simplifies the process for those migrating from Moodle. Instructors will no longer need to update converted discussions to be graded. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 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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