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Learn SaaS release 3900.19.0: Update to client Test/Stage environments

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021

Ultra Course View, Original Experience

We’re applying an updated version of 3900.19.0 (full release number 3900.19.0-rel.13+02039cd) to client Test/Stage servers on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

Updates in this version include:

  • In the Ultra Course View, when making a copy of a course, if quotes were used in custom alt-text descriptions for images, the Ultra assignments and assessments in the course appeared blank. We've fixed the issue.
  • In the Ultra Course View, when using the REST API for courses copied from a specific template course, due dates for assignments and other activities couldn't be updated. We've fixed the issue.
  • In the Original Experience, some SCORM attempts remained In Progress in the Grade Center, even after a successful completion of the corresponding SCORM quiz. We've worked with our partner to fix the issue and mitigate future problems.
  • In the Original Experience, some Learn SafeAssign reports couldn't be rendered.  We've fixed the issue.

Learn SaaS release 3900.19.0: Update to client Test/Stage environments announcement

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021

Original Experience, Ultra Experience

We’re applying an updated version of 3900.19.0 (full release number 3900.19.0-rel.6+9e601a1) to client Test/Stage servers on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Updates in this version include:

New functionality

  • In the Ultra Experience, we've added feature toggles. You can read more about this addition in the 3900.19.0 feature release notes.
  • In the Original Course View, we've added support for media and files in more places for Tests, Surveys, and Pools. You can read more about this addition in the 3900.19.0 feature release notes.

Improvements and bug fixes

  • In the Ultra Experience, we've improved the performance of the new progress tracking feature when the feature toggle was turned on.
  • In the Original and Ultra Experiences, some GovCloud clients experienced outage periods. We’ve fixed the issue.
  • In the Original Course View, some instructors and administrators couldn't save their HTML in the new Content Editor despite having the privilege to do so. We've fixed the issue.

Microsoft Teams classes in Ultra - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View

Blackboard is excited to bring Microsoft Teams classes to the Ultra Course View to expand and support learner interaction and collaboration.

Research feedback, obtained from our global client base, set the base for Blackboard and Microsoft to foster collaboration and engagement, and to provide an integration breakthrough with Microsoft Teams classes. Users can now experience the power of Teams directly from within their Blackboard Learn Ultra course. This integration is the first in a series of upcoming integration capabilities with the Microsoft collaboration suite.

The integration will be available for Ultra courses only as part of the 3900.19.0 Learn SaaS release. The Microsoft Teams classes integration provides the following set of capabilities:

  • Learn administrator setup and Microsoft 365 global admin approval.
  • Enrollment synchronization between Ultra course enrollments and Microsoft Teams class participants.
  • Automatic Microsoft Team class creation and Team activation control (Instructor/Team Owner availability management).
  • Student and instructor course level launch of Microsoft Teams classes.
  • Support for institution email data mapping to minimize user account enrollment issues.
  • Support for Learn Preview User.
  • Ultra course enrollment size of up to 1800 students. As we continue to enhance the integration, we'll aim to reach higher enrollment numbers.

The integration allows a course instructor to synchronize course membership data from Learn Ultra to the Microsoft Active Directory and create a Team class for their course. Students enrolled in the course will automatically enroll in the Team class. The instructor will have to activate the Team to give students access to it. Students will be able to launch their Team class directly from their Ultra course.

As part of this integration, there is a new entitlement to achieve both configuration and synchronization. The new entitlement is Course/Organization Outline > Microsoft Teams > Configure. To provide this new entitlement to a custom role, all Ultra courses must have a full system-provided instructor role enrolled before this action takes place.

Important Information for Testing

Clients who want to test the Microsoft Teams classes integration in their Blackboard Test and/or Staging instance are highly recommended to follow these steps:

  1. Engage with their Microsoft Account team to request a Microsoft Test Tenant under their Institutional Licensing Agreement.
  2. Alternatively, clients can request a trial at https://aka.ms/edutrial. This trial lasts 6 months. If you need to extend the trial for a longer period of time, please contact your Microsoft account representative.
  3. Ensure that your Microsoft Test Tenant ID is added to the Microsoft access Inclusion list. Requesting this can be done by filling out https://aka.ms/lmsintegration. Using a Microsoft Test Tenant with your Blackboard Test or Staging environments prevents introducing potential data duplication issues when you come to deploy the integration in your Blackboard Learn Production system.

Important Information for Data Synchronization

The Microsoft Teams classes integration relies on the institution email SIS field to map to the correct Microsoft Azure Active Directory’s User Principal Name (UPN). If there is no institution email provisioned, it will default to the user's existing email. It’s recommended that the institution email is properly set for every user to ensure correct data synchronization and avoid data conflict.

Learn more about the institution email


Ultra progress tracking (Alpha release) - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Course View

Please note that this feature will be released on Test/Stage and Production as a limited release in August, with a broader "Beta release" in September. It will be generally available starting with the October release.

Starting in August, Ultra Course View will allow students to mark and track their progress inside their courses. This new feature comes from direct client feedback and it aligns with how students and instructors think about pace and progress. Progress tracking will be initially released as an “Alpha stage” feature. This means that the feature will be limited to only new courses where no activity has taken place. Instructors will need to make a decision before their course has started whether they want to try progress tracking or not. Those who choose to turn the feature on will provide Blackboard with valuable input about how the feature functions so that we can improve it in future releases.

In addition to the feature itself, we're introducing feature flagging as part of the release of progress tracking. Progress tracking will be behind a feature toggle. This means that administrators can decide whether they want to give instructors the ability to turn this feature on at the institution level. The ability to decide when to allow access to the feature will be for a limited time only.

As noted earlier, progress tracking will be released as an “Alpha stage” feature. The feature will only be available to NEW COURSES once an administrator has turned the feature on. In other words, instructors will be able to turn progress tracking on for their students if there hasn’t been any activity inside the course. Student preview activity also counts as activity, so if anything has been done from student preview mode, instructors won’t be able to turn this feature on.

Once turned on, students can visually identify what tasks they have started, completed, or haven't interacted with. Students can also manually update their progress on specific items. This is a new level of personalization in Ultra, and it should help students see progression through their course.

Finally, while this is a starting point, it’s the beginning of the journey. This “Alpha stage” feature will be released to a set of institutions. In its initial phase, this Alpha release will only be available for English-speaking countries. We have a number of exciting enhancements that will expand the benefits of marking progress to not just students but also instructors. In later milestones we'll expand this capability to all institutions, and provide valuable insights and information on the student’s progress to higher roles.


Modern release strategy: feature toggles - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Experience

One of the benefits of moving to SaaS has been the ability to introduce changes to our solutions much faster than we historically could. However, with constant change, users can feel anxious or experience change fatigue. We understand that feeling, so as part of the August release, Blackboard is introducing the option to have newly developed features behind a feature flag.

Not every feature will have this option. It will be added for features that are determined to be potentially disruptive to actively running courses. Features that have the flag option will have them for a limited amount of time. Having this feature will allow administrators greater flexibility as to when they release complex, large features to their users.

This feature will be available only in English for this release, but will be available in all languages in the next release.


Original Course View Tests, Surveys, and Pools: Support for media and files in more places - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Original Course View

In Original Course View Tests, Surveys, and Pools, there are limits for which test question options support file attachments and embedded media. In this release, we’ve expanded the places where files and media can be embedded, allowing instructors and content authors to create more interactive and visual questions. These question types and fields now support attached files and media using the Add Content button in the editor:

  • Calculated formula: Question text
  • Essay: Answer text
  • Matching: Question/Answer pairs
  • Multiple Answer: Answer options
  • Multiple Choice: Answer options
  • Ordering: Answer options
  • Short Answer: Answer text

Note: In release 3900.0.0, we introduced the ability to copy and paste images into these fields. Due to performance concerns, this was removed in 3900.6.0. This enhancement replaces that workflow to once again be able to support not only images, but now also links to files.


Ultra: Navigation menu - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Course View

Ultra Course View is getting a new navigation menu! As part of our August release, the top menu will be changed to text based vs. the iconography we currently have. On top of that, we’ve made the top menu sticky. This means that it will remain visible to users even after they have scrolled down the page.

In addition to these changes, we’ve also removed Student Preview from the Details and Actions menu and placed it in the new header. This will allow instructors access to student preview whenever they are on any top navigation page (e.g. Calendar, Gradebook, etc.)

We're excited about this feature because it's an example of how we are evolving Ultra Course View to be more intuitive for the user. This is also the first step we're taking to improve Ultra Course View. Up next will be allowing instructors to add a banner image to their course homepage.


Ultra gradebook: Advanced filtering options - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Course View

Gradebook in Ultra Course View is getting advanced filtering options! As part of our August release, higher course roles will be able to filter their gradebook view by multiple variables like users, groups, items, and categories. Our new approach provides a more dynamic experience where multiple filters can be used on demand. The filters applied can also be bookmarked and accessed later.

Besides seeing the filters in the gradebook, the user will be able to move back and forth among the students’ submissions that are included in the selected filters.

We are truly excited about this feature as it promotes an easier grading process for higher roles in the institutions. Gradebook filters will make segmenting the grading process of large courses easier.


Ultra calendar: Links - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View

Given the rapid shift to online learning, virtual office hours or synchronous collaboration sessions have become quite common. Instructors want the ability to easily link sessions to calendar invitations so students can have the best opportunity to successfully find where they need to be.

With this release, Ultra now supports hyperlinks in the calendar location field. Instructors can link any virtual tool of their choice in the calendar event, and students can launch the virtual session from the calendar itself.


Ultra peer review: Submission linking and calendar links - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Course View

This release adds new functionalities to peer reviewed assignments in Ultra Course View.

Now, instructors can access the submissions reviewed by a student right from that student's grading panel. They can easily select a specific submission and grade a student’s review in context.

Students also have direct access to the submissions available for their review from either the Due Date or the Calendar views. This makes it easier for them to act when reviewing their pending tasks.


Original Content Editor: Format consistency between edit and display - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Original Experience, Original Course View

The Content Editor for Original Experience and Original Course View was last updated in November 2020 (3900.0.0). Since then, there have been inconsistencies in the way content is formatted when editing content and when viewing it.

With this release, settings like font, size, color, and spacing are more consistent. When existing content is selected, the editor tool bar updates to display its current font, size, and header settings. This creates a better WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) experience.

 

The CSS changes associated with these improvements could impact clients using custom theme packages. We recommend testing.

  • CSS in a custom theme package could disrupt the consistency between content edit and display in the Content Editor.
  • Overly-broad CSS changes in a custom theme package could be applied to the Original Content Editor in unexpected ways. These may need to be corrected in a custom theme package and uploaded to Learn. Alternately, fall back to the default Learn 2016 Theme.
  • There may be circumstances in which the Content Editor’s styles are preventing custom CSS from presenting. We are planning an enhancement in an upcoming release to include the opportunity to customize the CSS of the Content Editor within the custom theme package.

API updates - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Experience, Original Experience

We've made some noteworthy API additions, including providing Ultra Discussion APIs for reading both single and collections of discussion topics and posts.

For more information about our Rest Public APIs, please refer to: https://developer.blackboard.com/portal/displayApi


Highlight on bug fixes - 3900.19.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Course View, Ultra Experience

The bug fixes in this Learn release include:

  • In the Ultra Course View, the Give full credit to everyone option wasn't working for tests using Random Question Pool. We've fixed the issue.

  • In the Ultra Course View, in a course discussion, certain student replies didn't appear when they were part of a thread started by an inactive student. We've fixed the issue.

  • In the Ultra Experience, some instructor announcements randomly lost their formatting. We've fixed the issue.

You can view all maintenance items in 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. View the 3900.19.0 maintenance issues on Behind the Blackboard.


Chatbot enhancements

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.15.0 and v3900.17.0 | Release to Test/Stage and Production 17 June 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View and Base Navigation

On June 17, Blackboard Student Success updated Blackboard Chatbot. Chatbot is included in Blackboard Learn at no additional cost, so the Learn experience is also improved:

  • Search Blackboard Learn Help documentation for Instructors as well as Students.
  • In addition to asking the chatbot questions, users can now also navigate a category hierarchy to discover common topics.
  • Resulting help information is now previewed directly in the chat interaction. Users can click to open the full documentation from the Help site.
    • The default Help articles reference the Ultra Course View to better support users transitioning to our latest interface and may need more assistance. However, users can easily switch to the Original Course View versions of Help articles as needed.
  • Institutions can upgrade to the premium version of Blackboard Chatbot that now supports adding institutional-specific help resources and defining a unique, branded chatbot persona.

Blackboard Chatbot currently supports English language North American SaaS environments using Base Navigation. The June 17 update applies to all production and test/stage environments.



Looking for older release notes?

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