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 3900.95.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.95.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 11 June 2024 | Release to Production: Thursday, 11 July 2024
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details, please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.95.0 version included below on this page. Details can be found Behind the Blackboard

Latest release: 3900.95.0-rel.84+1c08114 to Production servers to take place on 18 July 2024.

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


Tests & Assignments

Print answer key for assessments – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors
Related topic: Print Assessments 

Instructors can now print an answer key for their assessments. A printed answer key is helpful for grading any printed assessment.  

Printing provides a convenient solution for a variety of use cases:

  • Accommodating students with specific needs or limited technology access
  • Providing a printed assessment for testing in designated centers
  • Backup and record keeping
  • Conducting offline assessment
  • Documentation and compliance
  • Maintaining security and integrity

The print answer key option is available in Tests and Assignments with questions. Instructors may also save answer keys as a PDF.

To print an answer key from an assessment, navigate to the assessment. Select Print from the Content and Settings tab.

We plan to support printing question pools and printing from the mobile app in upcoming releases.

Image 1. Print answer key option

Print options available for printing an answer key

Image 2. Select desired print options

Printer options you can select

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Improvements to the Group Submissions page – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 

Some instructors prefer to assess their students using group assessments. To improve the user experience, we made several improvements to Group Submissions page. These improvements address overall performance and reduce the load time. 

Performance tested scenarios in a course with 5000 students enrollments and 1000 groups: 

  • Loading the Group Submissions page from the content item: Load time reduced from 260s (about 4.5 minutes) to 34s (87% performance improvement) 
  • Loading the Group Submissions page from the Gradable Items gradebook view: Load time reduced from 260s (about 4.5 minutes) to 29s (88% performance improvement) 
  • Opening a Group Submissions from the Gradebook Grades view: Load time reduced from 276s (about 4.5 minutes) to 15s (95% performance improvement)

For administrators: These improvements are available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed. 

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Improvements to prevent printing a question across pages – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 

In response to client feedback, we enhanced the print functionality for assessments to ensure a more user-friendly experience. For the following use cases, questions now print so that a question is not separated incorrectly on the physical or digital paper page break (e.g., in PDFs). This improves readability and ease of use for instructors and students alike.

  • Question headers will split the question number and points possible across pages
  • Question header will not split the header from the question text
  • Question answer icons and text will not split across pages
  • Tables, lists, and images will not split across pages
  • Very large text answer options may span pages, but the answer choice icon (e.g. option A) will display next to the first line of text rather than aligning to the center of the option
  • In matching questions, the prompt/answer heading will not split from the answer pairs 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Needs Grading improvements for assessments allowing multiple attempts – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 
Related topics: Grading & Submissions and Grade Multiple Attempts

The value of multiple attempts on an assessment ranges from support of mastery learning to reducing student anxiety. To help instructors grade assessments with multiple attempts, we have added new settings.

When an instructor chooses to allow multiple attempts, there is now a way to see which attempt(s) display as Needs Grading.

From the ‘Attempts to grade’ menu. The options are:

  • First attempt
  • Last attempt (default)
  • All attempts

Example: An assessment allows 3 attempts; a student made 3 submissions

OptionAttempt(s) counting towards Needs GradingNeeds Grading count
First attemptThe first attempt submitted by the student1
Last attemptThe last attempt submitted by the student1
All attemptsAll attempts submitted by the student3

Instructors will always have access to all attempts submitted by a student in the grading interface. The Attempts to grade setting only controls which attempts display as Needs Grading.

If All attempts is selected, the instructor must also select the calculation method for the student’s grade.

From the Final grade calculation menu, the options are:

  • Average 
  • Highest (default)
  • Lowest

 Image 1. Updated 'Attempts to grade' setting

Options available for Attempts to grade setting

Image 2. New 'Final grade calculation' setting

Options available for Final grade calculation setting

Image 3. Updated Submissions page with the Needs Grading filter applied; in this example, the instructor elected to grade the last attempt, which is now also displayed

Submissions page filtered to include needs grading for latest attempt

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Communication & Collaboration 

Send a copy to email when scheduling announcements – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors 
Related Topic: Announcements

Managing communication with students is an important instructor task. Instructors often plan certain communications in advance. Now instructors can schedule an announcement for a future date and select that it will send an email copy. The announcement tool will send the email copy on the day and time the announcements are posted. 

In the past, instructors could schedule an announcement that would present to students on the selected day and time. Instructors could also immediately post an announcement and send an email copy to students at the same time. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Flexible Grading

Needs Grading improvements for Students and Questions tabs – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors
Related Topics: Grade Assignments With Flexible Grading and Grade Tests With Flexible Grading

We continue to improve the grading experience for instructors. Now, the Needs Grading filter for the Student and Questions tabs reflect the 'Attempts to grade' assessment setting.

The Needs Grading filter on the Student tab will now only display students with ungraded attempts that count towards Needs Grading.  

The Needs Grading filter on the Questions tab will now only display questions with ungraded responses from attempts that count towards Needs Grading.  

Instructors will always have access to all attempts submitted by a student in the grading interface. The ‘Attempts to grade’ setting only controls which attempts need to be graded for the student to be removed from the Needs Grading workflow.

Example: An instructor configures a test with multiple attempts and chooses to grade the last attempt. Two students, Jessica Evans and Nathalie Williams, have made two attempts each. All four attempts are ungraded.

Image 1. Students tab with Needs Grading filter applied; two students display on the tab.

 Students tab with Needs Grading filter applied; two students display on the tab

Consider the image above. After the instructor grades Jessica Evans' last attempt, Jessica will no longer appear on the Students tab even though her first attempt is ungraded.

Image 2. Questions tab with the Needs Grading filter applied

Questions tab with the Needs Grading filter applied

Continuing with the example, one essay question is displayed along with 2 responses to grade. The instructor is grading Jessica Evans. The attempt selector defaults to the last response to that question based on the assessment settings. After the instructor grades Jessica’s last response to the essay question, Jessica's responses will no longer appear on the Questions tab even though the response from her first attempt is ungraded.  

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Recording audio and video when adding per question feedback – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related topic: Grade Tests With Flexible Grading

When grading by student or question, instructors can now provide contextual feedback as recorded audio and video. Instructors can add recorded feedback to all question types. Question level feedback promotes deeper understanding and personal growth among students. Question level feedback enhances overall submission feedback and automated feedback for auto-graded questions.

Audio and video feedback recordings do not count towards the institution storage quota. 

Image 1. Question feedback recording option when grading a test by student

Question feedback recording option when grading a test by student

Image 2. Instructor view of the question feedback recording option when grading a test by question

 Instructor view of the question feedback recording option when grading a test by question

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Gradebook

Improved navigation when accessing feedback – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Students

Some instructors choose to add feedback on a student’s overall submission and individual attempts. We've improved students' access to this valuable feedback. Now students can view overall and attempt-level feedback from the gradebook.

Image 1. Student’s gradebook with the Grade & Feedback panel displaying the overall submission feedback for Assignment 1; the student can also select the feedback icon on Attempt 1 to review feedback specific to that attempt

Student’s gradebook with the Grade & Feedback panel displaying the overall submission feedback for Assignment 1; the student can also select the feedback icon on Attempt 1 to review feedback specific to that attempt

 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Learner Progression & Personalized Experience 

Test and Discussion events included in the Activity Accumulator and synthetic events clean-up – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience and Original Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View
Impact: Administrators 

Administrators and faculty need to review user activity. This user activity helps inform decisions in academic disputes and aids in troubleshooting. 

Administrators can now view more granular events for what students did on assessments and discussions in the “activity_accumulator” table. 

New events are saved in the “event_type” column.

Event nameRule
ASSESSMENT_SUBMITA student submits a test or an assignment
ASSESSMENT_DRAFTA student saves a draft on a test or an assignment
DISCUSSION_RESPONSEA student posts a response on a discussion
DISCUSSION_REPLYA student posts a reply on a discussion
DISCUSSION_DRAFTA student saves a draft in a reply or response to a discussion
DISCUSSION_EDITA student edits a reply or response to a discussion

Note: The “activity_accumulator” includes only submissions the student makes. Auto submissions made by the system are not yet included. 

Image 1: Query results of user interactions in a course including discussion and assessment events in the “activity_accumulator” table

Output of Activity Accumulator with test and discussion activities highlighted

We also cleaned up the “activity_accumulator” table to prevent the generation of synthetic and duplicate events. This makes student activity review simpler and more transparent.

  • Indirect user interactions may generate synthetic events. For example, a student might access a page where content was displayed without accessing content itself might generate a synthetic event. These synthetic events could lead to confusion, making it difficult to differentiate real user interactions and clutter databases. Now, no synthetic events are generated. 
  • Duplicated events were generated with a single user interaction. This could give the impression a user was more active than they were. Now, each user interaction registers a single event. 
  • When opening a folder, learning module, or other container, “CONTENT_ACCESS” events were registered for all items inside the container. Now, only the access for the container is registered. 

Behaviors you can expect on existing events: 

  • “COURSE_ACCESS” events are generated only when a user accesses the course. 
  • “CONTENT_ACCESS” events are generated only when a user accesses that course content. This applies for all course content items: documents, assessments, discussions, journals, LTI activities, SCORM packages, etc. 

As before, the “activity_accumulator” table can receive requests from Course Content public APIs. If you’re using the following API endpoints, take into account these new events and cleanup:

  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents 
  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents/{contentld} 
  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseld}/contents/{contentld}/children 

Key considerations: 

  • These changes apply to new events. Historic events will remain the same. 
  • The activity_accumulator table registers events of all users no matter the role. These changes apply to students and any other role that made these interactions. 
  • User actions made in mobile app are also included in the “activity_accumulator” table. 

For administrators: To track user interactions in the Activity Accumulator table this feature needs to be activated. Go to Tools and Utilities in the administrator panel. Select System Reporting, then Auto-Reporting options. Select Yes in the event tracking field. The default state is on.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Enhanced privacy controls for Student IDs – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Customize User Information

We aim to support our clients' unique policies and use cases relating to personal information. Administrators can already:

  • Restrict the display of certain fields for all users within the environment
  • Reveal usernames to selected staff members through role-based privileges

With the new role-based privileges, administrators can now customize access to student IDs.

For example, instructors can be granted visibility of student IDs. This is helpful for distinguishing between students with similar names. At the same time, administrators can apply restrictions to prevent other roles from viewing student IDs.

We've also added a new privilege: “Show student/participant ID even when hidden from other users.” This privilege provides an extra layer of control by allowing specified users to see Student IDs. This ensures that only designated personnel have access to this information when necessary.

In the past, to view the student ID, a user was required to have access to edit the student information. This is no longer necessary. 

Image 1. Customize User Information configuration from Administrator Tool Panel; select Customize User Information in Users section to access this page

User Information configuration from Administrator Tool Panel

For administrators: We recommend reviewing and modifying privileges according to your institution’s policies. With the introduction of a new privilege, we advise verifying custom roles. 
 

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


‘Reply to Email’ feature for Messages – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Impact: Administrators
Related Topic: Messages

We aim to support institutions' specific policies and procedures about email communications. To help, administrators can now control how users interact with Messages sent as emails. When allowed, users can reply to Messages sent as an email. 

There are two new settings for Ultra Messages: 

  • Allow email replies to messages from non-students/non-participants (instructors/leaders, administrators) 
  • Allow email replies to messages from students/participants 

When drafting the message, instructors may choose whether they want to allow replies. When selected, replies from students will be directed to the instructor's email address registered in the system. Allowing replies helps interactions to be more efficient and will foster smoother communication. 

Image 1. Messages for Organizations and Courses configuration from Administrator Tool Panel

Ultra message settings in the admin panel

For administrators: By default, both settings are deselected. This setting can be selected for students, non-students, or both.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Default Organization View settings – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience 
Ultra Organization View, Original Organization View 
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Organizations

Administrators can now set the default experience for organizations:

  • Original Organization View
  • Ultra Organization View
  • Instructor Choice

The Default Organization View options now align with the Default Course View options.

Image 1. Default Organizations Properties from Administrator Tool Panel

Default Organization Properties on Administrator Panel

For administrators: System administrators can set the default organization view by navigating to System Admin> Organizations module >Default Organization Properties.

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Upgade to Ultra 

Brightspace Conversion Improvement: Embedded Images and Multimedia – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience and Original Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators 
Related Topic: Migrate from D2L Brightspace

We have improved the way we convert HTML Documents from Brightspace to Ultra. Now, embedded images and multimedia are preserved for HTML Documents. HTML Documents from Brightspace convert into Content Items or Ultra Documents, depending on the course view. We now preserve embedded images and multimedia for either output. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description


Moodle Conversion Improvement: Graded Discussions – 3900.95 

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience and Original Experience 
Ultra Course View and Original Course View 
Impact: Instructors and Administrators
Related Topic: Migrate from Moodle 

We have improved the way that we convert Discussions from Moodle to Ultra. Now, graded discussions and their settings convert. We now bring over the points and grade category for the discussion. This change simplifies the process for those migrating from Moodle. Instructors will no longer need to update converted discussions to be graded. 

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

Return to July 2024 – 3900.95.0 Release description



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