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Learn SaaS release 3900.28.0: Update to client Test/Stage environments

We're releasing an updated version of 3900.28.0 (full release number 3900.28.0-rel.11+732fc84) to client Test/Stage servers on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.

Updates in this release include:

  • In the Original and Ultra Experiences, the way the system handles an error produced while a document is uploaded again to the Annotation server, changed. Now the Annotation server provides a flag to let the system know when to upload a document again.
  • In the Original Experience, when students tried to submit files in a group assessment, they got a UI red ribbon error reading “Failed to submit", but they could see the successfully submitted file after refreshing. We've fixed the issue.

Learn SaaS release 3900.28.0: Update to client Test/Stage environments

We're releasing an updated version of 3900.28.0 (full release number 3900.28.0-rel.8+671a810) to client Test/Stage servers on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

Updates in this release include:

  • In the Ultra Experience, administrators who had access to all courses but weren't enrolled in a course weren't allowed to open or edit that course's banner. We fixed the issue and now, administrators can edit the course banner in any course, even if they aren't enrolled in it.
  • In the Ultra Experience, the Course Faculty list feature has changed based on client feedback:
    • When a system admin has set course messages to read-only, message links will no longer be displayed by instructor names for students.
    • Also, the Faculty list will only show the teaching roles of instructor, facilitator, and any custom role with “Treat Users with this Role like Instructor” set true. It'll now exclude other non-teaching roles such as course builder or grader.
  • In the Ultra Experience, the accommodations functionality was merged in release 3900.28.0, but the translation of its corresponding strings wasn't. We've fixed the issue and completed the string translation in the latest version.
  • In the Ultra Experience, the announcements page wasn't loading in specific cases where announcements contained tables. The logic replacing tables for the text ‘Table with contents’ in the announcement's preview was causing an error and affected the whole announcements panel. We've fixed the issue.

Point-based and point-range rubrics - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Experience

We are excited to add point-based and point-range rubrics to Learn Ultra courses. Point-based and point-range rubrics provide instructors the flexibility that is expected for a variety of grading procedures and use cases. Instructors may customize rubrics with different point scales to support various pedagogical approaches and instructional practices. Likewise, faculty may opt to use decimals, organize columns with points or points ranges ascending or descending, and utilize total points that sum up to 99,999.00.

With this addition, we continue to expand the capabilities of Learn Ultra and make the transition from Original Course View to Ultra Course View seamless. We've been careful to design point-based rubrics so that those created in Original courses migrate to Ultra as part of a course conversion. The December 2021 release of these improvements is perfect timing for instructors to take advantage of these new rubric features in their winter and spring 2022 classes!

Points based rubrics example
Point range rubrics example

 


Accommodations: Support more granular control - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View

We have frequently heard from our clients that instructors need greater granularity of control for specifying any extra time a student may need on timed assessments. The next phase for Accommodations includes the option for faculty to set the percentage of extra time for those students who need more time to complete a timed assessment.

When adding a time limit accommodation, faculty may specify any percentage of extra time that is needed to honor a time limit accommodation. This change provides greater flexibility to the instructor supporting both the students’ needs and the instructor’s assessment strategy.

Accommodations granularity settings using time percentages successful example
Accommodations granularity settings showing an error example with an invalid value

Ultra course banner: Image description - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View

Visual components of courses are helpful for aesthetic and identification purposes. To ensure that all visual elements are accessible, we are building on recent improvements to the Ultra Course banner. In this release, we have added the option for instructors to include an image description when uploading a banner image in the course. Faculty may also add an image description to existing course banner images. We are also providing greater control for instructors to mark images as decorative whenever images are not primary content. Providing visually appealing courses that adhere to accessibility best practices and standards is truly key to engaging all students and ensuring an equitable learning experience.

Set the image description for course banner image

Both Original and Ultra courses include the option to add an image description to the course cards from the Courses page on the Ultra Base navigation.

 


Set visibility for group sets - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View

Adding to the current functionality of Group Sets, the next phase of our work on course groups provides faculty an option to change the visibility for custom or randomly created group sets. A new choice to hide course groups from the students’ view gives instructors the option to use groups to discretely organize students based on their performance, interests, adopted knowledge, and other criteria.

Instructors hide or show groupsets to students while they create them in the gradebook

Instructors may also change the visibility option preferred for each group set from the course groups page when creating a group set.

Group set visibility status can be seen under the groupset's name in the Gradebook

Instructors can see the visibility status of group sets when applying filters in the Gradebook grid view, setting up conditional release, and associating a group set to content such as an assessment or discussion.

To ensure that faculty maintain the appropriate interaction among students, the self-enrollment option will be automatically set as disabled when any course group’s visibility is set to “hidden from students”. And content association will always be possible when course group’s visibility is available to students.

For a few users, visibility settings of current hidden group sets in Ultra may not match the specifications explained above. If you note any inconsistencies in your Learn visibility configuration, please contact Client Support. We've got your back.


File upload size limit (Original Course View) - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Original Course View

Setting limits on users’ uploads helps institutions contain storage utilization, maintain institutional policies, and encourage use of resources better suited to online use or limited bandwidth. This release includes the following capabilities:

  • Administrators can set a file size limit in megabytes for all files uploaded into courses. This restriction is applied to uploads in the Original Course View. This is configured in Administrator Panel > System Configuration.
  • Administrators can optionally configure recommended alternative storage locations that will appear in warning messages when the file limit is surpassed, directing users to more appropriate services the institution licenses, supports, or recommends.
  • In Original courses, users who attempt to upload files that are larger than the specified restriction will receive a warning, indicating the filenames of files that were rejected. When adding multiple files at once, each file is considered individually and accepted or rejected based on their individual sizes.
  • The file size limit isn’t applied when uploading course import or SCORM packages.
  • Blackboard mobile apps have an existing file size limit for both Original and Ultra courses that is set to 250MB. That is unchanged with this release.

In a future release, the configured file size limit will also be applied to Ultra Course View.


API updates - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View, Original Experience

We’ve made some noteworthy API updates:

  • Ultra Discussion APIs: Management of discussion topics/posts (Ultra only). We’ve made some noteworthy API updates, including the management (creating, updating, deleting and grading) of discussion posts in Ultra course.
  • Adaptive Release API Support: PATCHs, PUTs and DELETEs for Rule APIs and Rule Criteria APIs (Ultra and Original). We’ve made some noteworthy API updates, including: the ability to manage the release or visibility of a course content based on timing or student success criteria.

For more information about our REST Public APIs, please explore the Learn API at: https://developer.blackboard.com/portal/displayApi


Highlight on bug fixes - 3900.28.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.28.0 | Release to Production 2 December 2021
Ultra Course View, Ultra Experience, Original Experience

The bug fixes in this Learn release include:

  • Issues with Discussion board and Discussion analysis: Discussion analysis showed no information and the Discussion board visible/hidden menu was too small to use. These issues have been fixed and the UI now behaves as expected, and allows for better working space.

  • Student assessment answers show "None given" and "saved question 0 multiple times": The access log for assessments displayed confusing and inaccurate messages. The log now displays messages as expected.

  • Issues with special characters causing erratic behavior: The platform was having issues interpreting some characters,  causing special characters to appear in the subject of Original course messages in the global navigation updates, and the “What's New” Module. It also caused inadvertent posting of an announcement and emails sent to users to fail when an ampersand was in the course name. This behavior has been fixed and now works as expected.

  • Student preview does not work properly on Ultra courses: The 'Reset preview' text box was shown in white over white, which made the message invisible unless the user highlighted it. Also, selecting the 'Reset' button didn't reset the actual coursework for the student preview user. These issues have been fixed by changing the color of the text and correcting the behavior of the 'Reset' button.

  • Adding LTI option to the questions feedback: To give instructors more tools for providing feedback on student evaluations, the present development makes the LTIs available in the question feedback RTE. The following plugins were enabled in the automatic feedback editor: LTI content, YouTube inserts and Cloud files access.

  • Spacing issues on Ultra documents - Course restore: The line spacing between a heading and paragraphs was affecting legibility. After resolving the spacing issues for courses that are currently in the database, the issue remained for course documents that were restored in Ultra. The space issue was adjusted and corrected for courses that weren't in the database when the upgrader was executed.

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 3900.28.0 maintenance issues on Behind the Blackboard.


Ally File Transformer in Blackboard Assist (North America availability)

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.19.0 | Release to Test/Stage and Production 5 August 2021
Ultra Experience, Original Experience, Base Navigation, and Blackboard App

The Ally File Transformer helps students to personalize their learning experience. It can convert files into alternative formats that better fit their needs, devices, and learning preferences.

  • Available at no cost with Blackboard Assist enabled. An Ally license is not required.
  • It converts files to alternative, more accessible formats including HTML, ePub, electronic braille, audio, or BeeLine reader. Also, to a PDF that’s undergone optical character recognition (OCR).
  • For institutions licensing Ally, the Ally File Transformer allows students to convert their own files, or files they've found via research or project work.
  • The Ally File Transformer comes automatically with Blackboard Assist. There is an option to turn it off, if preferred, in the Administrator Panel > Partner Cloud Settings.

The Ally File Transformer will be available with Blackboard Assist for Higher Education clients in North America on August 5. Availability for clients outside this region is expected later this year.

Ally file transformer trial promo

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.