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.

Filter the list of features to learn more.

More on Learn with the SaaS Deployment | Export the list of Known Issues | Access the latest API and database documentation | Blackboard Learn SaaS release notes archive | Learn Releases White Paper

Looking for Blackboard Learn 9.1 release notes?

Follow this page to get email updates when we publish new release notes

View the SaaS release schedule


Learn SaaS release 3900.67.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.67.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 9 May 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 1 June 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.67.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.67.0-rel.9+1b5c39c to Test/Stage servers to take place on 23 May 2023.

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

 


Learn SaaS release 3900.65.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.65.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 11 April 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 4 May 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.65.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.65.0-rel.17+fc3b8f5 to Production servers to take place on 18 May 2023.

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

 


June 2023 – 3900.67 Release

The June 2023 - 3900.67 release is robust with features in six areas:

  • Assessment and grading;
  • Richer course and content;
  • Data and analytics;
  • Communication and social engagement;
  • Integration, extension, and management; and
  • Course upgrading

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

Features with this icon are controlled by a client facing feature flag:

Icon that indicates the release note corresponds to a feature flag

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

Students:

All users:

Administrators:


Assessment and Grading

Add Exemptions for Anonymous Assessments 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The use of anonymous grading helps to reduce grading bias. Many consider it an important grading approach. To further support instructors and improve their ability to manage student exemptions, we have introduced a way for instructors to set exemptions for anonymously graded assessments. Instructors can now access the exemptions option for an anonymous assessment from the Student Overview page. This will make it easier for instructors to manage exemptions and ensure a fair and accurate grading process for all students.

Image 1: Instructor view – “Essay: Sun proximity effects – Milky Way” assignment is anonymously graded; the instructor can access the “Add or edit exemption” option from the overflow menu

Instructor view – “Essay: Sun proximity effects – Milky Way” assignment is anonymously graded; the instructor can access the “Add or edit exemption” option from the overflow menu

Image 2: The exemption icon is not visible in the gradebook grid view until all grades have been posted to help ensure student anonymity

The exemption icon is not visible in the gradebook grid view until all grades have been posted to help ensure student anonymity

Image 3: The exemption icon is not visible on an assessment submissions page until all grades have been posted; this helps to ensure student anonymity

The exemption icon is not visible on an assessment submissions page until all grades have been posted; this helps to ensure student anonymity

For administrators: The exemption feature is enabled by default. Administrators can turn it off at the institution level in the Ultra Experience configuration page.

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


‘Base calculation on points earned out of total graded points’ support for Custom Calculations – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Calculating course grades can vary depending on instructor practice. To offer greater flexibility in gradebook calculations, instructors can now opt to use the 'Base calculation on points earned out of total graded points' option for any gradebook calculation, regardless of whether it contains operators with functions and variables. Previously, this option was only available for Average, Total, Minimum, and Maximum calculations.

Image 1: Option to include 'Base calculation on points earned out of total graded points' option for any gradebook calculation

Option to include 'Base calculation on points earned out of total graded points' option for any gradebook calculation

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Upload questions from a file to tests and assignments – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Besides course content, assessment questions are one of the most valuable teaching artifacts. Up until now, instructors could only create new questions in tests, assignments, or question banks. This process could be time-consuming and inefficient.

Now instructors can author questions offline in a text file. Instructors can upload the file into a test for a more streamlined test building workflow. Each question file must be a tab-delimited TXT file. The file should not exceed 250 records to avoid time-out restrictions. For more details on formatting requirements, please review the related Help pages for Original and Ultra platforms.

Instructors can easily edit and use the uploaded questions as they would a question created in a test. Uploading questions saves instructors valuable time and effort.

Supported question types include:

  • Multiple choice / multiple answer
  • True / False
  • Essay
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Fill in Multiple Blanks
  • Numeric response
  • Matching

Image 1: Instructor view – ‘Upload questions from file’ option in tests; this same option exists for assignments

Instructor view – ‘Upload questions from file’ option in tests; this same option exists for assignments

Image 2: An instructor can edit uploaded questions as they would a manually added question

An instructor can edit uploaded questions as they would a manually added question

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Support for anonymous grading of tests – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors can reduce grading bias for high-stakes assignments by enabling anonymous grading. Until now, this option was only available for assignments. Instructors can now also turn on anonymous grading on tests. This adds an additional layer of fairness and impartiality to the grading process.

The anonymous grading option for tests is not available when grades are automatically posted.

Image 1: Turn on “Hide student names” for anonymous grading in Test Settings

Turn on “Hide student names” for anonymous grading in Test Settings

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Richer Course and Content

Course Links improvements – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

To provide a better experience, we’ve made a series of improvements for Course Links:

  • Instructors have the option to add course links to folders and learning modules on the Course Content page. The option to add course links to folders and learning modules is hidden for nested content containers.
  • Instructors cannot move into another folder or learning module a course link to a folder or learning module. A warning message displays if an instructor tries to move a course link in this way.

    Image 1. Warning message alerting an instructor that a course link to a folder cannot be moved into another learning module
    Warning message alerting an instructor that a course link to a folder cannot be moved into another learning module
  • Instructors cannot copy into another folder or learning module a course link to a folder or learning module. The option to copy course links to folders and LMs is hidden if an instructor selects the Copy Content option from the + menu while inside a folder or learning module.
  • To help users identify course links to folders and learning modules, we have made a new icon. This icon displays a link at the top left corner of the icon for a folder or learning module. In the past, the learning module did not have an icon. Learning modules now have an icon, which is the same one displayed for learning modules on the Create Item panel.

    Image 2. Learning module iconography on both Create Item panel and learning module (as shown in the background on the Course Content area)
    Learning module iconography on both Create Item panel and learning module
  • The context menu for a course link to a folder or a learning module now provides these options:
    • Edit Course Link
    • Edit Linked Folder or Learning Module
    • Delete Course Link
  • Users can expand a course link to a folder or learning module as they would a folder or learning module. This allows the user to view the nested contents of the target folder or learning module. The contents displayed are read only. An instructor cannot modify the nested contents displayed for the course link. An instructor cannot move additional content into the folder or learning module course link.

    Image 3. Course Link to a folder is shown as expanded, revealing the contents of the course link in a read-only view
    Course Link to a folder is shown as expanded, revealing the contents of the course link in a read-only view
  • When an instructor makes changes to the nested contents of a folder or learning module, the changes will appear for any related, expanded course link. These changes include:
    • Adding/deleting nested contents
    • Re-order nested contents
    • Moving additional contents into the target folder or learning module
    • Editing the names of nested contents
    • Modifying the visibility or release conditions of nested contents
  • In the past, if an instructor copied a course link to an Ultra Document, some of the contents added via "Add Content" did not copy. This has been fixed. Now the Ultra Document and its contents, along with the course link, are copied as expected.
  • When creating a Course Link, an instructor can now select a folder and/or learning module from the Category section of Search Criteria. Additionally, instructors can expand the folders and learning modules in the search results to select one of its contents.

    Image 4. Instructor may search categorically for folders and learning modules to create a course link to content in a folder or learning module
    Instructor may search categorically for folders and learning modules to create a course link to content in a folder or learning module
  • When upgrading an Original course to the Ultra course view, course links to folders and learning modules are not retained. The conversion report includes an exception for course links and explains their removal.

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Add Exceptions from the Gradebook Grid View and the Student Overview page – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

We all live complicated lives and special circumstances often arise. When this happens, instructors may need to grant an exception to a student for specific tests or assignments. These exceptions may include the following:

  • providing additional attempts
  • rescheduling due dates, or
  • granting extended access.

These exceptions are available even if the assessment is hidden from other students. Until now, exceptions were only accessible from the submissions page for an assessment. Now, instructors can access the exceptions workflow from the gradebook grid view and Student Overview page.

Image 1: Add or edit exceptions from the gradebook grid view

Add or edit exceptions from the gradebook grid view

Image 2: Add or edit exceptions from the student overview page

Add or edit exceptions from the student overview page

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Additional Level of Content Nesting – 3900.67

Icon that indicates the release note corresponds to a feature flag

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

At present, Blackboard Ultra supports up to three levels of hierarchy for content nesting on the course content page. We have received consistent feedback from students indicating that they prefer this structure. Many have shared that it improves course navigation. Instructors have shared the same and cited it helps them easily design and layout their courses.

Image 1. Before – Content nested in three levels of hierarchy

Before – Content nested in three levels of hierarchy

We have also heard that some institutions need more than three levels of content nesting to structure their course content. To address this feedback, we have added an option to use one additional level of content nesting. This extra level provides instructors with greater flexibility to organize content in ways that better suit their needs. The option to use one more level of content nesting improves the overall usability of the platform for some of our users. Opting for the extra level of content nesting also reduces the flattening effect of content when upgrading courses from the Original to Ultra course view.

Image 2. After - Content nested in four levels of hierarchy

After - Content nested in four levels of hierarchy

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses once enabled. Administrators should discuss with internal stakeholders before enabling. Some consider an extra layer of depths as a more negative experience for students and mobile users. Once enabled, it cannot be turned off.

This feature is off by default. You can access the setting by selecting the Configure button in ‘The Ultra Experience is here!’ module on the Administrator Panel. The ‘Activate an Additional Level of Nested Items’ is listed among the General Settings on the Ultra Experience Management page.

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Data & Analytics

Journal Grades & Participation list filters – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

To help instructors manage journal entries and provide effective feedback to students, we have added new Student and Grading Status filters to the Grades & Participation view in Journals. These filters allow instructors to view student journal entries based on their status. This can help streamline the grading and feedback process. These filters are consistent with filters in other areas of Ultra. This consistency provides a unified and intuitive experience for instructors.

Image 1. Journal Grades & Participation page with filters

Journal Grades & Participation page with filters

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Progress tracking management– 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

Progress tracking provides students, instructors, and administrators with an efficient way to track and measure student progress. Now administrators can control progress tracking at the institution and node levels. This option is on the Administrator Panel | Tools & Utilities module | Tools option. An administrator may select from the following setting combinations:

  • On and unlocked in Ultra courses
  • On and locked in Ultra courses
  • Off and unlocked in Ultra organizations
  • Off and locked in Ultra organizations

The lock option prevents instructors from changing the administrator-defined default within their courses. Administrators should lock the setting to ensure consistent use of progress tracking.

Administrators can control the scope of the availability changes. This allows administrators to choose to apply changes to only new or new and existing Ultra courses/organizations.

Note: With this release, progress tracking availability remains unchanged. With the August release, progress tracking will be turned on for all Ultra courses and organizations. Administrators can change this setting to meet the specific needs of their institution as needed.

Image 1. Progress tracking tool management

Progress tracking tool management

For administrators: This feature removes the progress tracking setting from the Ultra Experience Configuration page. After this release, the configuration option may remain visible for a couple of days, but it will not be functional.

If you are a United States federal entity hosted in GovCloud, you can turn on Progress Tracking in this release. Turn it on in the Administrator Panel > Tools. You can set the policy institution-wide or by Institutional Hierarchy node. You can enforce a policy or set a default that can be changed by end users.

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Communication & Social Engagement

Announcements in the top navigation bar – 3900.67

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

To provide a better user experience, we moved Announcements from the Details & Actions menu to the top navigation bar. This reduces the number of items within the Details & Actions menu. This change also improves visibility and prominence of Announcements.

Users will be able to access announcements anywhere from within a course. All existing announcements functionality remains the same.

Image 1. Announcements top navigation bar of a course

Announcements top navigation bar of a course

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Managed privilege to view System Roles – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators, Developers

Developers create applications that expand the functionality of Blackboard Learn. Some of these apps integrate using REST APIs. Administrators manage the privileges for integrated apps. As a best practice, an integration should only have the minimum privileges necessary to function.

In the past, if an integration needed to read System Role information, the integration user had to be set as a full System Administrator. Now administrators can configure an integration user with fewer privileges and still grant access to view System Role information.

In the System Role privileges manager, administrators can now grant the privilege, Administrator Panel (Users) > System Roles. No System Roles have this privilege by default. An Administrator must always grant the privilege to any System Role. It isn’t possible to grant this privilege to a Course Role.

For administrators: This feature is available for all Learn environments. There are no configurations needed at the administrator level. To improve security, admins should reduce privileges for a REST application if System Administrator privileges were granted previously as a workaround.

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Course Upgrading

Bulk Conversion options – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

Institutions now have an easier way to convert a large number of courses to the Ultra Course View. Administrators can use Bulk Convert and/or Bulk Copy and Convert.

  • Bulk Convert: Converts selected courses from the Original to Ultra course view
  • Bulk Copy and Convert: Copies selected courses using the Original course view and converts them to the Ultra course view; this is the option we recommend for most institutions

Both options save time and effort when converting large numbers of courses.

Image 1. Bulk Convert Actions

Bulk Convert Actions

Please review the Help documentation for Bulk Convert and Bulk Copy and Convert before using them. You may want to enable the extra level of content nesting on the Course Content page before using either option. Having the extra level can help with conversion.

For administrators: Administrators should discuss the above options with their account executive and client experience manager before using. Having conversations ahead of time can help to ensure a smooth transition to the Ultra Course View.

This feature is on by default. You can turn off the feature by selecting the Configure button in ‘The Ultra Experience is here!’ module on the Administrator Panel. ‘Course bulk conversion’ is included in the list of Available Features.

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Prevent renaming of items when moved during a copy, import, and/or conversion – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Items copied, imported, or converted into the Ultra Course View sometimes move. Items move when they are nested more than the Ultra Course View allows. Items that move are placed at the lowest supported level in the Ultra Course View.

When moved, the title of these items would change to reflect their original location path. While helpful, the change added extra work for users. As a result, users had to change the title of each moved item and remove the pathing. With this release, we will no longer change the title of items.

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


Preserve "Open in New Window” behavior for Flickr Mashups as Web Links – 3900.67

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the May release, we added a new setting to Web Links on the Course Content page. Instructors can choose whether the web link opens in a new window or within the Ultra Course View. With this change, converted Flickr Mashups would not load unless users opened the Web Link in a new window. We have updated the conversion process so that when a Flickr Mashup is converted to a Web Link, the "Open in a new window" option is auto selected.

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

Return to June 2023 – 3900.67 Release description


 


Assessment and Grading

Grading attempt selector improvements – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multiple attempt assessments can be a beneficial assessment option. Multiple attempts allow students to learn from their mistakes. It may also help students improve their understanding of the material.

At the same time, managing multiple submissions introduces some complexity for instructors. To help, we have added an attempt selector on the grading page. By default, the grading page displays the most appropriate attempt based on the “grade attempts” setting:

Table 1. Attempt displayed based on Grade Attempt Setting and Grading Status

Grade attempts setting table
Grade Attempts setting Grading completion status Default attempt displayed
Last attempt with a grade Any Most recent attempt
First attempt with a grade Any Fist attempt
Attempt with the highest grade All attempts are graded Attempt with the highest grade
Attempt with the lowest grade All attempts are graded Attempt with the lowest grade
Average of all attempts All attempts are graded Most recent attempt
Attempt with the highest grade There are ungraded attempts Oldest ungraded attempt
Attempt with the lowest grade There are ungraded attempts Oldest ungraded attempt
Average of all attempts There are ungraded attempts Oldest ungraded attempt

This allows instructors to quickly evaluate and grade student work. When the grade calculation method requires additional grading tasks, the instructor is taken to that task. If not, the most appropriate graded attempt is displayed.

Image 1. Instructor view of the attempt selector on the grading page

Instructor view of the attempt selector on the grading page

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Question Banks - Reuse Questions option– 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Aside from course content, test questions are some of the most valuable resources in a course. Instructors invest significant time and effort creating and refining banks of test questions. Instructors use these banks to easily reuse questions across various assessments.

Now instructors can copy questions between question banks. To copy a question, an instructor can select the new Reuse Questions option. Additionally, instructors can copy questions from existing assessments directly into their question banks. This process makes it easier to build and expand question libraries.

Image 1. Instructor view of the Reuse Questions option in the drop-down menu when working in a question bank

Instructor view of the Reuse Questions option in the drop-down menu when working in a question bank

Image 2. Instructor selects four questions from another question bank and chooses to copy them into the current bank

Instructor selects four questions from another question bank and chooses to copy them into the current bank

Image 3. Instructor receives a notification that the four questions successfully copied

Instructor receives a notification that the four questions successfully copied

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Prevent backtracking in tests with page breaks – 3900.65

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

Effective assessment settings are essential for accommodating various instructional scenarios. For example, instructors can insert page breaks into an assessment to create sections. Now instructors may prevent backtracking in paged tests. This option ensures that students progress through the pages of an assessment in a predetermined sequence. This option will be helpful when upcoming questions provide hints or reveal answers to questions on previous pages.

Instructors can activate this setting in assessments that contain questions.

Image 1. Assessment Settings panel with prohibit backtracking for a test using page breaks

Assessment Settings panel with prohibit backtracking for a test using page breaks

Once a student answers the question on a page and proceeds to the next page, the student cannot go back. If a student skips a question, an alert informs the student that they cannot go back to the question on the previous page.

Image 2. Student view of a paged assessment with backtracking prohibited

Student view of a paged assessment with backtracking prohibited

Image 3. Alert if a student tries to skip a question

Alert if a student tries to skip a question

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Add Exemptions via the gradebook grid view – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may need to excuse specific students from assessments or activities in a course. In the past, instructors could apply an exemption from the submissions page and student detail view. Now instructors can also access the option to exempt students from the gradebook grid view.

When an instructor exempts an assessment or activity:

  • The exempted item is not factored into the Overall Grade calculation.
  • The exempted item is not marked late for students who do not submit.
  • The students with an exemption will not receive an automatic zero.

Students can still submit work for exempted items. Instructors can assess and provide feedback on these submissions for exempted items.

Image 1. Add or edit exemption from the gradebook grid view

Add or edit exemption from the gradebook grid view

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Rubrics improvements – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Rubrics play a critical role in the grading process for many educators. We've made significant enhancements to the rubric-based grading experience.

Performance level descriptions are now hidden by default. This change streamlines grading when instructors are familiar with the performance level requirements. Instructors can choose to display the performance descriptions if needed for grading.

Sometimes instructors change their minds when grading. Now it’s possible to deselect a performance level if choosing another level of performance isn’t appropriate. Criterion feedback is also collapsible, allowing for a more streamlined view of the grading panel.

Making Blackboard Learn inclusive and accessible is important to us, so we’ve improved keyboard navigation of rubrics. Navigate between rubric criteria with tab and use up/down arrows to select a performance level.

Image 1. Option to show criterion descriptions

Option to show criterion descriptions

Image 2. Option to collapse criterion feedback

Option to collapse criterion feedback

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Send Messages from the Submission page – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

During an assessment, instructors may need to communicate with students. For example, an instructor may wish to send reminders to non-submitters. Or an instructor may want to notify students about their grades. To support this need, now instructors can message students from the Submissions page.

To get started, instructors can search or filter to find and select recipients. Then, select the "Send Message"  button to open the messaging interface to craft the message.

We understand that student confidentiality is important. Thus, when an instructor selects more than one student as a recipient of a message, the recipients will be on BCC. This ensures that students’ identity and contact information remain confidential.

Image 1. Instructor view - Submission page filtered by “No Submission;” the instructor may select desired students to send a message

Instructor view - Submission page filtered by “No Submission;” the instructor may select desired students to send a message

Image 2. Instructor view of the messaging page with selected recipients

Instructor view of the messaging page with selected recipients

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Remove category assignment requirement when editing LTI items via the gradebook – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may need to adjust the due dates for third-party activities in their courses. In the past, when making such changes, instructors also had to assign these activities to a specific category within the gradebook.

Now instructors can edit gradebook columns for LTI-based activities without assigning them to a category. This change streamlines the process without forcing category selection.

Image 1. Instructor view of editing the grade column of a LTI item

Instructor view of editing the grade column of a LTI item

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Hotspot question zoom in / out – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

When assessing a student's knowledge of visual content, the hotspot question type is a popular choice. To further enhance this question type, we have added two new features: Zoom In/Out  and Full-Screen view. These controls enable instructors to define hotspots more precisely. These new controls are also accessible using convenient keyboard shortcuts.

Image 1. Instructor view – Zoom In / Out and Full-Screen controls

Instructor view – Zoom In / Out and Full-Screen controls

Image 2. Instructor view – Full-Screen view

Instructor view – Full-Screen view

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Richer Course and Content

Control where Web Links open – 3900.65

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

Opening links in a new window is generally considered best practice, especially for external websites. This avoids browser security features blocking content from loading. There may be situations when an instructor or course author prefers linked content to open in a panel in the Ultra course.

When content is hosted on the Learn environment or on the institution’s website, the content is less likely to be blocked. In this example, opening content in a panel in the Ultra course is a better experience for students.

We understand that instructors need to have control over this aspect of their course design. Now instructors may specify where linked content should open - in a panel in the Ultra course or a new window. This option gives instructors and authors greater flexibility in designing their course content. Opening content in a panel in the Ultra course can be particularly beneficial for content authored with tools like Articulate Storyline, Articulate Rise, Adobe Captivate, and Adobe Dreamweaver.

Image 1. Instructor view – Option to control where the web link opens; default is new window

Instructor view – Option to control where the web link opens; default is new window

Image 2. Student view – link opened in new window

Student view – link opened in new window

Image 3. Student view – link opened in a panel in the Ultra course with banner with option to open content in a new window/tab

Student view – link opened in a panel in the Ultra course with banner with option to open content in a new window/tab

Some content will not display on a panel in the Ultra course. A banner appears warning the student that some content may not be displayed unless opened in a new window. The student can choose to open the content in a new window or close the banner.

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Drag and drop desktop folders to upload to the Course Content page – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Efficiency is key for instructors when creating course content. To assist with this, we've added a drag and drop support for uploading folders with files to the course content page. Instructors may drag and drop a folder from their computer to the course content page.

If an instructor drags and drops more than 25 files at the same time, a warning message appears. This message does not restrict the upload, but it informs the user that it may take a few minutes to complete. During the upload process, the instructor can cancel at any time. If the upload is canceled, the files are deleted.

Image 1. Locating folder on computer to drag and drop on the Course Content page

Locating folder on computer to drag and drop on the Course Content page

Image 2. Dragging folder from computer to Course Content page

Dragging folder from computer to Course Content page

Image 3. Dropped folder and files uploading to the Course Content page

Dropped folder and files uploading to the Course Content page

Image 4. Folder added to the Course Content page

Folder added to the Course Content page

Image 5. Files inside folder displayed after being dragged and dropped on the Course Content page

Files inside folder displayed after being dragged and dropped on the Course Content page

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Data & Analytics

Instructor’s Notes on Student Overview – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Teaching many courses is challenging. Keeping track of student details can be even harder. To help, we've created a dedicated space for instructors to take notes about students in each course. These notes are private. Only instructors, administrators, and higher roles can access them.

To access the notes, instructors may select the Notes  tab on the Student Overview page. From there, an instructor can add notes and review any other notes for a student in that course. They can also review notes added by other instructors in the same course.

The text editor for notes includes basic formatting options such as bold, italics, colors, styles, and font size.

The most recent notes appear at the top of the list.

Image 1. An instructor adds a note using different formatting options

An instructor adds a note using different formatting options

Image 2. Notes taken about a particular student by an instructor and a teaching assistant

Notes taken about a particular student by an instructor and a teaching assistant

These notes have many possible uses:

  • Tracking the evolution of a student's progress over time.
  • Noting agreements with a student, such as extensions on assignments or meeting times.
  • Noting students with behavioral issues or a history of academic dishonesty.
  • Recording considerations for grading, such as student athletes.

Key considerations:

  • Each note includes the author's name and a timestamp with its creation date. If a note is edited, a separate timestamp for the latest edition is added. This helps instructors keep track of changes.
  • Authors can edit and delete their own notes. Instructors in the course cannot edit or delete another instructor's notes.
  • Instructors, teaching assistants, facilitators, and grader roles can view all notes in their course and create, edit, and delete self-authored notes.
  • Administrators may delete any note. Administrators may also assign the privilege to delete notes to other roles. An administrator can grant view only privileges.

Image 3. An administrator gives the delete notes privilege to a role in the administrator panel

An administrator gives the delete notes privilege to a role in the administrator panel

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed. We recommend reviewing which roles are granted the ability to view, author, and delete notes to align to institutional policies.

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Option to turn off “How Am I Doing?” Report for Students– 3900.65

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

The “How am I Doing” report allows students to see how they perform in comparison to the class.

Certain institutions may prohibit the sharing of this information with students. To support institutions' preferences, administrators can now control the visibility of this report.

Image 1. An administrator toggles the “How Am I Doing?” report for students to “Off”

An administrator toggles the “How Am I Doing?” report for students to “Off”

When report availability is set to "Off" the following changes occur for students:

  • The pie chart icon in Grades tab in base navigation no longer appears.
  • Prior notifications from the “How Am I Doing?”  report are removed in the Activity Stream. No new notifications related to this report are sent.
  • The “My grades and activity” section in the Activity Stream notifications settings panel is removed for students.

Image 2. When the “How am I doing?” report is available to students, the pie chart icon in the Grades tab of the base navigation is visible

When the “How am I doing?” report is available to students, the pie chart icon in the Grades tab of the base navigation is visible

Image 3. When “How am I doing?” is set to “Off,” the pie chart icon in the Grades tab of the base navigation is removed

When “How am I doing?” is set to “Off,” the pie chart icon in the Grades tab of the base navigation is removed

Image 4. When the report is "On,” students receive Activity Stream notifications related to the “How am I doing?” report; students can access links to the report. When the report is not available, these options do not appear to students.

When the report is "On,” students receive Activity Stream notifications related to the “How am I doing?” report; students can access links to the report. When the report is not available, these options do not appear to students.

When the report is turned off, instructors and administrators also experience changes. The option to notify students related to the "How Am I Doing" report no longer display. Instructors will not be able to notify students based on these course alerts in the Course Activity report or Gradebook.

Administrators will no longer see options related to the report in the Notification Settings page.

  • No Recent Activity
  • Grade Low or at Risk
  • Grade Dropped
  • Low Class Activity
  • Grade Increased
  • Grade in Top 10%
  • Class Activity in Top 10%
  • Grade Below Threshold

Key considerations:

  • It may take up to 15 minutes to hide all stream notifications after an administrator turns the report off.
  • If an admin turns off the report and then turns it back on, prior data and notifications will reappear after several minutes.

For administrators: Administrators can find this setting on the Ultra Experience Management page in the Administrator Panel. The default setting is "on" to maintain consistency with existing behavior. This feature requires a cloud service update, which administrators can expect within a week of the 3900.65 release (on or before May 11).

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


REST APIs to read Goals alignments – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators

Learn courses offer a unique opportunity to see how institutional objectives align with each other and how the objectives relate to internal or external goals. This information can be invaluable to educators and administrators who wish to measure the effectiveness of their curriculum and ensure that their goals are being met.

To make it even easier for institutions to access this important data, we are pleased to announce the release of our new Goal Alignments Public API. This API includes a set of GET endpoints that allow users to retrieve goal alignments data for their courses.

The endpoints included in this API cover two main use cases:

  • retrieving all goal alignments from a course
  • retrieving all alignments for a specific goal across all courses

By providing access to this data in a simple and easy-to-use format, we are empowering educators and administrators to make data-driven decisions. This helps to improve the overall effectiveness of our clients' curriculum.

For administrators: The REST integration user must have the privileges “Course/Organization > Goals Alignments, View” and “Administrator Panel (Tools and Utilities) > Goals” to make use of the new endpoints.

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Toggle records between enabled and disabled states – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Administrators

Various record types have different states. For example, an enrollment can be unavailable. This allows instructors to continue to grade student work and submit a final grade even when the student can no longer access the course. An enrollment can also be set to disabled. In this state, the enrollment is locked and hidden from users. A student information system (SIS) might disable an enrollment when a student drops the course.

Previously, administrators had to rely on data integration processes to change a record’s enablement state. This could require processing a file through the integration framework.

Now administrators can toggle the enablement state in the administrator panel. They can modify user, course, organization, and enrollment records. This allows administrators to temporarily re-enable a course or user to access information. It can also allow a help desk representative to grant access to a user waiting on an institutional data process.

When a user first enables or disables a record in the user interface, they must accept a disclaimer. It must only be accepted one time. Manual record changes are captured in the system logs.

Image 1. Administrator manually disables a course

Administrator manually disables a course

Image 2. Administrator re-enables an enrollment record

Administrator re-enables an enrollment record

For administrators: By default, only a full System Administrator (role Z) can use this feature. There are 5 new privileges that can be configured to distribute this privilege to others at the user or node level. This allows granting access specifically to the types of records one should manage.

  • Administrator Panel (Courses) > Courses > Edit > Enrollments > Enable/Disable
  • Administrator Panel (Courses) > Courses > Enable/Disable
  • Administrator Panel (Organizations) > Organizations > Edit > Enrollments > Enable/Disable
  • Administrator Panel (Organizations) > Organizations > Enable/Disable
  • Administrator Panel (Users) > Users > Enable/Disable

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Course Upgrading

Improved conversion for Flickr Mashups – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, Flickr Mashups conversions resulted in unexpected outputs. The description of the mashup was not transferred correctly. Instead, the image metadata took its place. The link associated with the image directed users to the wrong page. This made it difficult to find the intended image.

Image 1. Flickr Mashup in Original Course View

Flickr Mashup in Original Course View

To provide a better experience, we updated the conversion process of Flickr Mashups. The description of the Flickr Mashup is now transferred as expected. We also corrected the link issue so users go to the correct page.

Image 2. Flickr Mashup converted as a Web Link in Ultra Course View

Flickr Mashup converted as a Web Link in Ultra Course View

Image 3. Web Link displaying the correct Flickr Image

Web Link displaying the correct Flickr Image

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description


Improved conversion for Discussion Forums and Threads – 3900.65

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Discussion Forums in the Original Course View are an essential feature. Instructors often create discussion prompts as threads within a forum. Students respond by creating a thread or replying to existing threads in the forum.

In other cases, Discussion Forums serve as containers. Instructors create a thread for each discussion prompt within the forum. Students respond to the discussion prompt by replying to the thread.

To better support each of these use cases, we have updated our conversion process.

Now, when the "allow members to create new threads" setting is selected, the Discussion Forum converts to a Discussion in the Ultra Course View. If this setting is not selected, the Discussion Forum will become a folder in the Ultra Course View. All threads within the forum convert to Discussions inside the folder.

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

Return to May 2023 – 3900.65 Release description



Looking for older release notes?

Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.

Return to top