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.
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Microsoft Teams classes in Ultra - 3900.19.0
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:
- Engage with their Microsoft Account team to request a Microsoft Test Tenant under their Institutional Licensing Agreement.
- 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.
- 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.
Ultra progress tracking (Alpha release) - 3900.19.0
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.
Ultra: Navigation menu - 3900.19.0
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
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
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
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.
Highlight on bug fixes - 3900.19.0
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.
Learn SaaS release 3900.17.0: Update to client Production environments
We're applying an updated version of 3900.17.0 to client Production servers on Thursday, July 1, 2021. Due to an issue identified during today’s rollout, clients will receive different build numbers depending on the time their update was performed.
Updates with full release number 3900.17.0-rel.37+505c78f include only:
- In the Original Experience, the installer was leaving the SCORM B2 in a corrupted state after an upgrade failure. We've fixed the issue.
- In the Original Experience, the Rustici Engine required a provider update to fix a library defect and installation snags. We've fixed the issue.
Updates with full release number 3900.17.0-rel.42+b2e6934 include the above fixes as well as:
- In the Original Experience, we've implemented an enhancement to reduce the need for heavy load and to avoid system slow down for the loadAllAchievements process.
- In the Original Experience, a table lock issue prevented upgrades, leading to some outages. We've fixed the issue.
The next full rollout will include all fixes for everyone.
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.
Course Role Mapping to LTI Context Roles
Some third-party integrated tools function better when users’ course roles are more specific to the responsibilities they have in their courses. Before, all privileged course users were sent to LTI tools with the context role instructor. Administrators can now edit course roles and choose from a list of LTI Context Roles that may be more appropriate for each.
Default and custom course roles, Original and Ultra courses, and older LTI 1.1 and newer LTI Advantage/1.3 tools are all supported.
To prevent possible disruption for current users, the old default role behavior wasn't changed. Administrators may wish to review all course role configurations after this release, and choose LTI context roles. Any given LTI context role mapping is specific to a course role and will apply to all LTI tools.
Bb Annotate enhancements
As part of the Q1 work on Bb Annotate we released the following fixes to known issues that were affecting our clients:
- Some users couldn’t delete an annotation note after they reselected it unless they edited the note again. We’ve fixed the issue.
- The selection of text in the document was not working properly, causing difficulty when highlighting or placing notes into documents. We've fixed the issue.
- When placing a note or comment into the file there was an additional comment count added to it, which caused confusion and the feeling of an unseen reply. We've fixed the issue.
The fixes were deployed for Singapore, Polymall, Korea, and Govcloud regions on March 3, 2021. Customers in Sydney, Europe, Canada, and US regions were updated on May 12, 2021.
Annotate information message
In the Original and Ultra Course Views, formatting space differences may be visible between the original uploaded document and the one rendered online for .docx, .doc, .ppt, and .pptx files. We've added an on-screen information message to let users know about this. The message appears anywhere where Bb Annotate is enabled, including the Mobile View. Instructors and students are able to download the original file as usual.
Looking for older release notes?
Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.