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, 4 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.14+d86da7f to Test/Stage servers to take place on 11 June 2024.

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


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


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 
Ultra 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


‘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: Administrator

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


Mobile App

Improved Mobile Authentication – 3900.95

Blackboard Learn SaaS   
Ultra Course View, Original Course View 
Impact: All users

We made backend improvements to the Blackboard Learn App authentication process. These changes reduce the frequency of logouts and enhance user experience. After the Blackboard Learn App 9.6 is released (July 2024), users will be required to update the app on their devices to ensure proper functionality. Users who do not update after the release will see a red banner informing them that their session has expired.

For administrators: No configuration needed.

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


Learn SaaS release 3900.93.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.93.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 7 May 2024 | Release to Production: Thursday, 6 June 2024
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details, please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.93.0 version included below on this page. Details can be found Behind the Blackboard

Latest release: 3900.93.0-rel.38+c64f59a to Production servers to take place on 6 June 2024.

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


June 2024 – 3900.93 Release

The June 2024 - 3900.93 release is robust with features in 9 areas:

  • Instructional design;
  • Tests and assignments;
  • Communication and collaboration;
  • Flexible grading;
  • Gradebook;
  • Learner progression and personalized experience;
  • Integrations;
  • Learn core and security; and
  • Mobile App

These improvements impact instructors, students, observers, administrators, and all users. Some features do require administrative action.

Instructors:

Instructors and Students:

Students:

Administrators:

Observers:

Everyone:


Printing for Assessments – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, users who have privileges to edit an assessment
Related topic: Print Assessments

Instructors can now print assessments. 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 option is available in Forms, Tests, and Assignments with questions. Printing also provides the option to save as PDF.

To print an assessment, from Content and Settings, select Print.

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

Image 1. Print option from a test

Print option from a test

Image 2. Select desired print options

Choose print options in the menu

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Streamlined point value editing for questions – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related topics: Edit Tests and Questions

When editing a question, instructors can now access and edit the point value field with just two clicks. Reducing the number of clicks needed to edit the point value of a question saves instructors time and effort. This small change leads to a smoother workflow and enhances the overall teaching and learning experience.

Note: Editing the point values for matching questions requires three clicks. 

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Return a true/false question to an unanswered state – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Students

Students can now return a true/false question to an unanswered state after choosing an answer. Students clear their choice by selecting the same option again. Students may need to clear their answer selection for a test question. For questions that use negative scoring, if a student is uncertain about their answer, their score may be better if they leave it unanswered. In this case, clearing a response makes it easy for them to come back later using the unanswered question filter. This helps students better manage their time during a test.

In the past, a student could only change their answer to a true/false question to a different value. 

Image 1. A true/false question with true selected as the answer

A true/false question with true selected as the answer

Image 2. The true/false question answer has been cleared

The true/false question answer has been cleared

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Communication & Collaboration 

Post immediately when creating announcements – 3900.93

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

Instructors can now post announcements as part of the drafting and editing processes. This makes the process of creating and posting announcements simpler. 

Instructors can still post from the announcements page. 

Image 1. When creating or editing an announcement, there is now an option to post

New Announcement page, showing the option to post immediately or save draft

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Filter out graded responses when grading by question – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors

The Needs Grading filter now filters out graded student responses by default. Filtering this way helps instructors to focus on any remaining ungraded responses for a given question. It also provides instructors with an improved view of their outstanding grading workload. If instructors want to include graded responses, they can select Show graded responses. This selection preference is now stored per course and it persists across assessments in each course.

Image 1. Grading by question option with the grading status of Needs Grading filter selected

Grading by question option with the Grading Status of ‘Needs Grading’ filter selected

Image 2. Grading by question view with the grading status filter of Needs Grading and Show graded responses options selected

Grading by question view with the Grading Status filter of ‘Needs Grading’ and ‘Show graded responses’ options selected

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Gradebook

Grader Notes on student grades – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related topics: Grade Tests with Flexible Grading, Grade Assignments with Flexible Grading

Instructors can now add private grading notes to student grades. After a score is assigned, the new Feedback & Notes menu option is available. Grader notes form an important part of the academic record. These notes may serve as documentation for a grading decision or grade adjustment.  Grader notes are private to graders and not visible to students.

Those with grading privileges can access Feedback & Notes from two places: 

  • The Grades tab in the Gradebook by selecting a specific score.
  • The Submissions list page for an assessment, select the More menu for a student

Image 1. Instructor view of the Feedback & Notes menu option accessible from the Gradebook grid view and Submissions page for assessments

Instructor view of the Feedback & Notes menu option accessible from the Gradebook grid view and Submissions page for assessments

Image 2. Instructor view of the new grader notes option

Instructor view of the new grading notes option

Image 3. Instructor view of grader notes accessed from a student’s contextual menu on the assessment’s Submissions page

 Instructor view of grading notes accessed from a student’s contextual menu on the assessment’s Submissions page

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Improved visibility of new grades and feedback in the student gradebook – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Students
Related topic: Grades

To ensure that students are aware of any new grades in the course we have added an indicator to the Gradebook tab. When there are new grades, the number of new grades appears on the tab.

After selecting the tab, items with new or updated grades appear at the top of the student gradebook and display a purple indicator. The purple indicator disappears and the count on the tab reduces when the student selects the item or reviews their submission.  

We also reviewed the use of color in the gradebook based on student feedback. Now, we mark late assessments with a "(Late)" label to reduce stress sometimes associated with the use of the color red. In the past, late submissions appeared with a red assessment icon and label.


Image 1. Student view of an Ultra course with the new grade indicator on the Gradebook tab

Student view of an Ultra course with the new grade indicator on the Gradebook tab

Image 2. Student view of the gradebook displaying the grade indicator on the Gradebook tab and corresponding purple indicators for the 3 relevant items; the new “(Late)” label is also visible

Student view of the gradebook displaying the grade indicator on the Gradebook tab and corresponding purple indicators for the 3 relevant items; the new “(Late)” label is also visible

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Weighted calculation usability improvements – 3900.93


Blackboard Learn SaaS 
Ultra Experience   
Ultra Course View 
Impact: Instructors
Related topics: Calculate Grades

Responding to client feedback, we have made two improvements for gradebook weighting:

  • The label “0% per item” appeared for categories excluded from weighting. This caused confusion so we removed it.
  • We updated the calculation rules panel to make it easier to understand the selected settings.


Image 1. Instructor view of the previous interface for weighted calculations

Image 1. Instructor view of the existing weighted calculation interface

Image 2. Instructor view of the new weighted calculation interface where the ‘0% per item’ information is removed for excluded categories

nstructor view of the update weighted calculation interface where the ‘0% per item’ information is removed for excluded categories

Image 3. Instructor view of the updated text on the Calculation rule panel

Instructor view of the updated text on the Calculation rule panel

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Announcements API enhancements - additional filtering options – 3900.93

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience 
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators
Related Topic: Learn APIs

Announcements play a crucial role in course communication. They ensure that students stay informed about important deadlines and course materials. Administrators and developers now have additional REST API capabilities to streamline integrations and save time. New announcements filtering options allow administrators and integrated tools to retrieve data more efficiently. This optimizes audit and search processes, reducing query volume and data processing after retrieval.

 New filter options:

  • Creation Date: Retrieve announcements based on their specific creation date
  • Modified Date: Retrieve announcements based on their last modification date
  • Availability: Filter announcements based on their availability status

For administrators: The required privileges for Announcements API remain unchanged. 

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Learn Core & Security

Base Navigation - Course and Organization filters and personalization - - 3900.93

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

The courses and organizations tabs in Base Navigation are some of the most accessed places in Blackboard Learn. We received feedback in numerous focus groups and were inspired by client ideas posted in the Idea Exchange. We heard the pages should fit more institutions’ situations and give users more options to customize. This release includes the following improvements:

We removed the carousel for navigating between terms. There is now a term selector and filter you can use on its own or with other filters.

You can set filters, make term choices, and add text searches. All of these are clearly displayed below the search box. Remove these search settings or filters to see more courses or organizations. Remove them by selecting the close icon “x” on each.

Your selections and filters are remembered automatically even if you log out or switch devices. Set up the pages the way you like, and we’ll keep it that way until you change it.

The terms selector has specific logical behaviors to help users:

  • “Current Courses” and “Current Organizations” are the default term selections. If terms aren’t used or all your courses/organizations are open or use continuous duration, you’ll default to the “All Terms” selection option instead.
  • You can now choose to view “All Terms” to see everything regardless of term.
  • The “Upcoming Courses” and “Upcoming Organizations” term options will only display if you have upcoming courses/organizations.

Image 1. Course page with search for "medical" and current courses

Filters on the course page

For administrators: This feature is available for all environments with Base Navigation enabled. There are no configurations needed. 

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description


Mobile App 

Landing Page Enhancements for Blackboard Learn Mobile App - 3900.93

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

To enhance usability and streamline user interaction in the mobile app, we added filters to the following landing pages:

  • Courses
  • Organizations
  • Grades 

Users now can use filters at the top of each landing page, allowing them to refine their search results.

When a user applies a filter, its tag appears at the top of the landing page. Users can remove filters by unselecting the respective tag.

Image 1: Courses landing page with filtering option

Landing page of the Mobile app displaying filtering features

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

Return to June 2024 – 3900.93.0 Release description



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