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 3900.56.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.56.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 6 December 2022 | Release to Production: Thursday, 5 January 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.56.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.56.0-rel.31+e33c6d6 to Production servers to take place on 26 January 2023.

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

 


January 2023 – 3900.56 Release

The January 2023 - 3900.56 release is complete with features in five areas:

  • assessment and grading;
  • richer course and content design;
  • mobile app;
  • integration, extension, and management; and
  • course upgrading;

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

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

All users:

Other - Support roles:

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Bb Annotate

Icon that indicates the release note is a new feature

Bb Annotate: Create categories inside the content library - 3900.56

 

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

Creating and reusing comments is a useful practice for instructors. When using Bb Annotate, instructors can use the content library to store comments across courses. Now instructors can also organize comments into categories. Categories helps instructors find the comments they want to use. The process of providing student is more efficient with the new option. Existing comments will be part of a general comments category until instructors decide to move them to a new one.

Now instructors will be able to:

  • Create as many categories as needed
  • Move comments to new or existing categories
  • Collapse or expand the categories to easily locate the comments

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Assessment and Grading

See and edit grades for anonymous submissions prior to posting – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Anonymous grading is an important practice to ensure fair and consistent grading. In the past when anonymously grading, instructors could view grades on the Submissions page only after posting grades. This prevented instructors from editing grades before students could view grades.

Now instructors can view grades on the Submission page before they post grades. Student anonymity is still preserved until the grades are posted. To edit a grade, an instructor can open the attempt.

Image 1. Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading

Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Essay Question Model Answer – 3900.56

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

Instructors want to ensure that they grade students’ work fairly and consistently. This can be especially challenging when evaluating student responses to essay questions. Instructors like to have a reference while grading. Now instructors can include a model answer for essay questions. Instructors and graders can see this when grading.

Image 1. Model answer when authoring essay questions

Model answer when authoring essay questions

Students can see the model answer when reviewing their results if the test is configured to show correct answers. Students do not see the model answer when they take a test.

Image 2. Student viewing the model answer along with their own response

Student viewing the model answer along with their own response

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Non-posted grades included in Grade History – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Grade history provides a log of changes to grades in a course. This is important in situations such as grade challenges and ensuring grading errors were not made. The grade history now includes non-posted grades. Including non-posted grades supplies greater insight into grade changes in the course.

Image 1. Grade history download file with non-posted grade information

Grade history download file showing the new non-posted grade information

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Test Question and Page Randomization – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors randomize test question to improve academic integrity. In the past, instructors couldn’t randomize questions if the test contained text blocks, files, or images.

Now instructors can enable randomization when the test has text blocks, files, or images. The non-question elements are locked in place. The test randomizes questions between those non-question elements.

Image 1. Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements

Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements

Instructors can also randomize questions in a test that contains page breaks. Questions randomize within their assigned page. If a page contains non-question elements, the questions randomize between those elements.

When there are pages for the test, instructors can also randomize page order. If instructors randomize the page order, they can also lock the first page into position. This is useful when the first page is a cover page or contains test instructions.

Image 2. Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages

Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Progress tracking: Status and filters for group submissions– 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors need clear information about the status of group progress on an assessment. In the past, the submission view of assessments and discussions included two status columns:

  • Student status
  • Grading status

Now we also show both in the group submission page. This gives instructors greater clarity into group work status. We also separated the filter to allow compound filtering of student and grading statuses. The default filter shows everything. The filter resets every time an instructor accesses the submission view.

Image 1. Group submission filters

Group submission filters

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Original Course View: “Needs Grading” retains tasks when AWS auto-scales – 3900.56

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

Because Learn SaaS is in the cloud, the application scales on demand. When more users are on Learn, the cloud provides more resources. In the past in Original Course View, this cloud scaling could disrupt instructors grading student work. Instructors navigating to their next task in “needs grading” would see an error.

Now instructors can navigate to their next task even when the application scales. In some cases, instructors can’t return to completed tasks. If this happens, instructors receive clear instructions to return to the Grade Center where they can review these submissions.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed. 

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Richer Course and Content Design

Improvements to Messages recipient types by course role - 3900.56

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

In the past an “all course members” recipient type appeared for all course users. Students could send messages to all course users, on accident or on purpose.

Now students can only send messages to:

  • all instructors
  • selected course members

Instructors can send messages to:

  • all course members
  • all instructors
  • all students
  • selected course members

Image 1. Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users

Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users

Image 2. Students can send to all instructors or selected users

Students can send to all instructors or selected users

Image 3. Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message

Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Discussions - No Activity After Due Date – 3900.56

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

In the past students could continue posting in Discussions after the due date had passed. This created problems for instructors when grading discussions. Now instructors may lock the discussion after the due date has passed. When selected, students can’t create, reply to, or edit posts after the due date. Students with a due date accommodation can continue to create, reply to, and edit posts after the due date.

Image 1. Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” setting

Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” settings

Image 2. Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed

Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Icon that indicates the release note is a new feature

Assist Banner update - 3900.56

 

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Base Navigation
Ultra Assist View
Impact: Instructors

To better align with feedback and needs from clients, we updated the Assist banner. We have made the following changes:

  • Removed Space Dog Banner banner image
  • Removed "Blackboard" from the title
  • Modified the Assist page to have greater visual consistency with other aspects of the base navigation

Image 1. Blackboard Assist banner

Blackboard Assit banner

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Show icons for Third-Party app content (LTI) in Gradebook and Grades – 3900.56

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

In the past, it has been difficult for users to differentiate between third-party app content (LTI tools). In the December 2022 release (3900.54), we began displaying icons selected by the third-party app provider or an administrator. Now we display icons in the following additional areas:

  • Gradebook grid view
  • Gradebook list view
  • Gradable Items tab
  • Students Grades Overview
  • Grades tab on Base Navigation

Image 1. Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator

Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator

Image 2. Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view

Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view

Image 3. Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab

Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab

Image 4. Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview

Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview

Image 5. Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation

Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation

For administrators:We recommend Administrators review LTI placement configurations after this release because icons will now display to users in more places. Icons set for the placement type Deep Linking Content Tools will display in the Course Content and Gradebook areas. Other placement types will continue to display generic icons. Tool providers may also set the icons. An administrator can retrieve icons set by tool providers using the “Synchronize placements” action. When the provider sets icons, they will replace and override institutional icon choices because they are the owner of their branding.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Blackboard Learn Mobile App

Expand and Collapse Course Faculty, Details & Actions, and Course Content sections – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Mobile App
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

In the past users on a mobile device had to scroll through the Course Faculty and Details & Actions sections to see course content. Now users can collapse these sections, making it easier and faster to access course content. 

Image 1. Collapsible sections

Collapsible sections in the Course Outline page

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

User Interface Improvement - Microsoft OneDrive Integration – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors can embed OneDrive files in a course. These files may be read-only for students or allow collaboration for students and instructors. In the past, instructors accessed the option to create these files under Cloud Document in the Create Item panel.

We heard from users that these options were not obvious. Acting on client feedback, we updated the user interface. Now instructors will find two options as separate items in the “Create Item” panel:

  • Embedded Cloud Document – this creates a link to a read-only file
  • Cloud Collaboration – this creates a document that students and instructors can edit together

Image 1. Before improvements to the user interface

Before improvements to the user interface

Image 2. After improvements to the user interface: Access the two items in one click

After improvements to the user interface: Access the two items in one click

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. For clients who have already enabled the Microsoft OneDrive integration, you will need to resynchronize the LTI 1.3 tool and LTI tool placements for this enhancement to take effect. This can be done by following these steps:
     1. Administrator Panel – Integrations - LTI Tool Providers
     2. Select Synchronize LTI 1.3 Tools
     3. Search for Microsoft OneDrive LTI Tool in the main tool list
     4. Select Manage Placements – Synchronize Placements

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Custom HTML/CSS content blocks in Institution Pages – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

Institutions can target personalized content to users with Institution Pages. Now administrators can create custom HTML/CSS content blocks in Institution Pages for even greater flexibility. Content blocks will size automatically for better display. Content blocks are served in an iframe from a separate domain to keep Blackboard Learn secure.

Image 1. Custom HTML content type in Institution Pages

Custom HTML content type in Institution Pages

Image 2. HTML module authoring page for Institution Pages

HTML module authoring page for Institution Pages

For administrators: 
You’ll see the Add HTML option in Institution Pages if an alternate domain configured.
- Contact product support for help if an alternate domain isn’t configured. Browser security can prevent external links from opening in an iframe. We recommend configuring your HTML to open links in a new browser window.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Base Navigation: Visibility controls for the Course and Organization Catalog, Hide Organizations tab – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

Institutions have different policies and use different tools. Some institutions do not use Organizations. Previously, administrators couldn’t hide the Organizations tab in Base Navigation. This could confuse users. Now, the availability of the Course Catalog and Organization Catalog can be configured independently. This lets administrators configure how Organizations are used at the institution:

  • If an institution doesn’t want to use Organizations, they should turn off the Organization Catalog and not enroll users in Organizations. This will hide the Organizations tab in Base Navigation from all users.
  • If an institution wants to use Organizations for some users but hide the Organizations tab from others, they should turn off the Organization Catalog. Administrators would then enroll appropriate users into Organizations. When a user has an active enrollment in an Organization, they see the Organizations tab in Base Navigation. Users without an Organization will not see the Organizations tab in Base navigation.
  • If an institution wants all users to see the Organizations tab in Base Navigation, they should turn on the Organization Catalog. This is the default setting.

Image 1. Ultra Experience Management panel: options to display links for Course and Organization Catalogs

Ultra Experience Management panel: options to display links for Course and Organization Catalogs

Image 2. Ultra Base Navigation without Organizations Tab

Ultra Base Navigation without Organizations Tab

For administrators: Set your preferences for displaying links to the Organization or Course Catalog on the Ultra Experience Management page in the administrator panel. Users always see the Courses tab in Base Navigation even if the Course Catalog is not available.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Activity Stream new submission notification improvement – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

For instructors, the Activity Stream includes notifications for new submissions from students. In the past, these links directed the instructor to the Submissions List View of that assessment in Ultra Course View. Now these links direct the instructor to the Submissions List View with the "Needs Grading" filter already applied. This improves grading efficiency.

Additionally, the instructor can add a browser bookmark for the Submission List filter views. This provides faster access to the instructor's preferred filtered view.

Image 1. Submissions view filtered by Needs Grading 

Submissions view filtered by Needs Grading

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Privileges: Support role can access Course Content page without progress setting privilege - 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Support roles

Users with system role privileges may be configured to access courses. In the past, these support users couldn’t access the Course Content page if they were missing the privilege Course/Organization Control Panel (Customization) > View Progress Tracking Configuration. These users would see an error and the course page would close.

Now support users without this privilege who have the privilege Course/Organization (Content Areas) > View Material Settings can view the Course Content page.

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Course Upgrading

Convert Test Passwords to Passcodes – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Original Course View allows instructors to add passwords to Tests. In the past when an instructor converted an Original test to Ultra, the passwords were lost. Now a generated passcode replaces passwords when the Test is copied. Instructors can view the new access code in Test settings. They may need to update references to passwords in the course.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Additional Improvements to Unsupported Text Color Removal – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Original Course View allows instructors to choose any color for text. This content may be difficult to read or not accessible. Ultra Course View has a curated set of text colors to ensure readability: black, gray, purple, blue, and green. During conversion, we remove unsupported text colors. This text becomes black. This release adds several areas where text colors are corrected for readability:

  • Journals
  • Groups within group sets
  • Tests

We remove unsupported text colors during conversion from the following:

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

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Preserve Text Sizes – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, the text copied from Original to Ultra Course View did not support different text sizes. During the conversion process, text would be set to size 14 pixels. Now we preserve text sizes during the conversion process using the following logic:

  • If text size is less than or equal to 10, set to 10 pixels.
  • If text size is 11 or 12, set to 12 pixels.
  • If text size is 13 or 14, set to 14 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 17, set to 14 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 17, set to 18 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 22, set to 18 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 22, set to 24 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 31, set to 24 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 31, set to 36 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 43, set to 36 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 43, set to 48 pixels.

Text sizes are different in the Original and Ultra Content Editors. The conversion logic preserves similar text sizes to reduce cleanup.

Sizes are preserved when converting text associated with the following items:

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

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description



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