Here is everything you need to know about the Blackboard Open LMS 3.3 release.
It includes details on major features, new plugins, updated plugins, bug fixes, and minor enhancements.
Better Office integration
With this release, Moodle has created a better integration between Moodle and Office products like Office 365 and G Suite. Moodle will now support users authentication using Oauth 2. An administrator can connect Moodle to any authentication services that support Oauth 2 such as Office 365, G Suite, and Facebook. Users can link their account to any of these authentication services once configured. Linked accounts allow a user to authenticate in Moodle by signing on to the linked service. Users can also login to their Google or Microsoft accounts and Moodle will match them to an existing account if the user has the same email address. Users need to have access to the email account to link accounts.
Users will not have to authenticate twice when accessing Moodle repositories for the service via the file picker as long as they have linked their accounts.
Google document converter
Moodle supports using Google's document converter to convert assignment submissions to PDF for the assignment grader. Clients can implement this as an alternative to Unoconv. The Google OAuth 2 service must be configured for the Google document converter to work. Institutions can use the Google Document Converter without enabling G Suite authentication.
Improved user dashboard
Students can check their course progress and view activities that are due in the next seven days on the My Dashboard page with the new course overview block. Users can view the list of activities that are due sorted by date or grouped within the courses where the activities appear.
Sorted by Date
Sorted by Courses
Users can view their progress in their current, future, and past courses using the courses tab. Courses in the Future tab have a start date in the future and courses in the Past tab have a course end date in the past. Course end dates are a great new feature of Moodle we recommend using.
Watch a video about the course overview block
The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.
Video: Course Overview Block shows what the new course overview block can do. The block replaces the previous course overview block. The Moodle Users Association commissioned the improvements to the course overview block.
Better activity completion management
Instructors can edit the completion settings for activities using the new Bulk edit activity completion tab. Editing an activity's completion settings using bulk edit activity completion removes existing user completion data. Activities and resources that do not have user data associated with them are the only activities instructors should update with this tool.
Updating the activity completion for activities and resources containing user data will clear existing completion data. To prevent confusion, completion updates should only be made to activities and resources that do not have user data associated with them.
The Remind Me to Grade By assignment setting creates a reminder for an instructor to grade papers by a specific date. A message appears in the course overview block seven days from the date set in the settings.
Instructors can now specify which Accepted File Types students can submit for an assignment. Students will see a message telling them which files are acceptable when submitting an assignment.
Assignment Settings View
Assignment Submissions View
Users can Collapse Comments added to submissions in the Assignment Grader. Collapsing comments makes it easier to read the original text.
Moodle mobile improvements
Moodle Mobile now supports the Feedback, Lesson, and Database activities. It also supports Oauth as part of the improved Office integration. The user experience continues to improve in the Moodle Mobile app.
Stealth Activities: Moodle supports adding activities to a course without displaying them on the course page. Stealth activities improve Moodle's support linking to activities or resources from within other activities without displaying the activity on the course page. Linking to activities not on the course page is now officially supported.
Watch a video about stealth activities
The following unnarrated | narrated video provides a visual | visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.
Video: Stealth Activities demonstrates the feature and provides a full explanation of the use cases. Stealth activities are an advanced feature of Moodle. Blackboard Open LMS recommends Site Administrators use the feature on their sandbox sites first to understand how it works before discussing its use with instructors and instructional designers.
Emoji Support: Users can copy and paste emojis into Moodle or the Moodle Mobile app.
Font Awesome Support: Moodle uses Font Awesome text instead of images to improve load speeds and allow for theme designers to change colors.
For the full releases notes from Moodle.org, please see:
Upgrade to Mahara 17.04
LTI provider support
Mahara is now an LTI provider. Administrators and teachers can add Mahara activities to Moodle via the External Tools plugin instead of as an assignment submission. LTI will eventually be the default method for adding Mahara to a Moodle course. Institutions can continue to use the Moodle assignment submission type. Mahara as an LTI provider adds support of a standard single sign-on method between the two systems.
New app style navigation
Navigation in Mahara has changed to the app-like style seen when viewing Mahara on a mobile device from a browser.
Three menus can show to the users:
- User Menu: displays the user's profile picture which links to the user's settings, inbox, and log out.
- Administrative Menu: only shows to administrators and provides access to all of the administrative tools and links.
- Hamburger or Main Menu: offers access to content, portfolios, and groups.
Combined pages and collections
Pages and collections display together on a screen as portfolios. Users no longer have to switch between the "Pages" screen and "Collections" screen to find out which pages exist and which ones are in a collection.
Easier Page Delete: Users can delete pages from a drop-down on the page itself. Users no longer need to go back to the pages and collection area to remove pages.
Print Portfolio Page: The new print stylesheet allows you to print a portfolio page without showing the URLs. The print view expands the retracted blocks and collapsed artefact information for easy viewing.
View Last Updated Time: At the bottom of the settings for a page displays the last time someone changed the settings.
Access mobile camera
Users can take a photo, make a video, or make an audio recording from their mobile device when they select upload a file in Mahara.
Audio recording is currently only available on Android devices
Other visual improvements
Folder Sizes Displayed: The Files area displays the size of a folder for a quick overview of a user's storage usage. Users can review their storage usage without having to look at each file in the folder.
Access Portfolios Updated by Friends: Enabling the Friend's Activity setting in the Watched Pages block allows users to view changes their friends are making within Mahara.
Show Only Other People's Portfolios in the "Latest Changes..." Block: In the Latest Changes block users can see other user's portfolios to which they have access. Users should be less concerned that other users can access their portfolios only because they saw them on the block.
For the full releases notes from Mahara.org, please see:
SafeAssign is a plagiarism prevention tool that, until now, has only been available in Learn. SafeAssign works with Blackboard Open LMS 3.3 and above and integrates with Moodle's plagiarism plugin system. SafeAssign is an add-on for Moodle that a client must purchase to use.
SafeAssign's Originality Score and a link to the Originality Report generated by SafeAssign appear in Moodle's Assignment Grader and the Open Grader.
SafeAssign Originality Score in Assignment Grader
SafeAssign Originality Score in Open Grader
For more information, your Sales Representative or your Engagement Manager.
We have improved Snap in this release in order to assist clients migrating from Express, to incorporate new Moodle 3.3 features, and to improve the instructor's experience in Blackboard Open LMS.
Simpler activity creation
Snap's activity chooser now mimics the app selection screen found on mobile devices. It is quicker and more straightforward for Moodle instructors to add activities, without lots of scrolling, with a single click. Instructors can add resources and access help information in separate tabs within the chooser.
Separating the help information from adding content reduces the time it takes an instructor to create an activity.
Support for course end dates in personal menu
The personal menu now supports Moodle's course end dates. Courses where the end date is in the past appear in separate tabs from current courses, and are grouped by year. Separating current and past courses helps users focus on the content that is important to them. Course end dates are a great new feature of Moodle we recommend using.
Courses sorted by end date
Support for Moodle notifications
Snap now supports Moodle's notifications in the navigation bar. Users will see a new icon that looks like a bell. A circle with a number will display next to the bell when there are new notifications. These changes improve the visibility of Moodle notifications within Snap.
Opening notifications displays a menu of recent notifications and a link to your notifications preference page.
With support for Moodle's notifications, we are removing the alerts area of the personal menu in Snap. We plan to remove streams and alerts from the Blackboard Open LMS code base in the future. Moodle now supports the separation of notifications and messages, and streams and alerts are not needed.
Improvements to assignment display
The teacher and student's initial view of the assignment have changed to fit more of the content onto the page.
Navigation bar coloring
You can modify the colors of four areas of Snap's navigation bar without adding CSS. You can change the background and font colors for the navigation bar and the "My courses" button.
All icons on the navigation bar use the font color assigned to the navigation bar. You are now empowered to apply more of your brand to Blackboard Open LMS without learning CSS.
Record RTC Atto plugin
The Record RTC Atto plugin enables users to add audio and video annotations to text anywhere a text editor is present. This plugin adds icons for recording audio or video with audio to Atto's toolbar. The Record RTC plugin works only with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers because these browsers support WebRTC.
The media files do not show duration
The controls for navigating the files do not work properly in the player.
Open Forums improvements
In 3.3, Open Forums has incorporated all of the features that Moodle Forums support. The post process for Open Forums changed to focus on simple replies and to support Moodle tags. Users will now see a link titled Use advanced editor and additional options which will bring the user to the full reply creation screen. This option should be used when the user wants to create enhanced HTML posts, add tags to a post, or email a post without the editing time delay. Other more common options, like private replies, will still appear in the Add your reply area.
Collaborate Ultra REST support
The Collaborate Ultra integration with Moodle now supports Collaborate's RESTful APIs. We will develop newer features using the REST API in the future. We will work with clients to migrate recordings from the SOAP API servers to the REST API servers. Clients should not switch to the REST API until the SOAP to REST migration is enabled. Clients who are using SOAP and switch to REST will lose access to the session recordings stores on the SOAP server.
Plugin reviews and updates
The plugins listed below are only made available on your site by request. Updated versions of plugins you are already using do not need to be requested; you automatically receive the update.
- Record RTC (2017080103)
- Attendance (2017052900)
- Big Blue Button (2016051919)
- Blocks Completion Progress (2017090500)
- Census Report (2016070502)
- Checklist (2017060800)
- Collapsed Topic (2017042203)
- Ellucian ILP (2017080901)
- Grid Format (2017051500)
- Group choice (2017092100)
- H5P (2017083100)
- Hotpot (2017100411)
- Intelliboard (2017112800)
- Intelligent Learning Block (2017120701)
- Kaltura (2017090433)
- Level Up (2017092500)
- Lightbox Gallery (2017100500)
- Luminis Message Broker Enroll LMB (2017080900)
- Mahara Assignment Submission (2017101600)
- Moodle Mobile Additional Features (2017050401)
- Microsoft Office Plugin Suite (2017051500)
- OEmbed (2017051200)
- Panopto (2017111700)
- Questionnaire (2017050101)
- Quickmail (2017080300)
- Respondus (2017042800)
- SAML2 (2017051500)
- Turnitin Tool Two (2017103001)
- Urkund Plagiarism Plugin (2017051504)
- Webex (2017060600)
Bug fixes and minor enhancements
- Fixed a bug for LTI Backup and restore that cased a preconfigure tool to be missing.
- Fixed a bug for Snap, in which the login image did not display.
- Fixed a problem for in which access id permissions were not being honored on login.
- Fixed overlapping text for some language packs in Snap.