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Learn SaaS release 3900.82.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.82.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 12 December 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 4 January 2024
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.82.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.82.0-rel.51+579fa4e to Production servers to take place on 25 January 2024.

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

 


January 2024 – 3900.82 Release

We're aware that updates to copy workflows for admins are causing issues and we're actively working on a resolution.

The January 2024 - 3900.82 is robust with features in 9 areas:

  • Instructional design;
  • Mastery learning / Competency based education;
  • Tests and assignments;
  • Flexible grading;
  • Gradebook;
  • Learner progression and personalized experience;
  • Integrations;
  • Mobile; and
  • Upgrade to Ultra

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

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

All users:

Instructors and Administrators:

Administrators:


Instructional Design

AI Design Assistant - Authentic Assignment prompt generation – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

AI plagiarism is a growing concern among academics. Research indicates a variety of issues with a reliance on AI detection. Detection models cannot keep up with advancements in AI technologies. Our approach to combatting AI plagiarism is different. We empower instructors to lean into the effective practice of authentic assessment.

Learn more with our academic paper AI, Academic Integrity, and Authentic Assessment.

Now instructors can generate assignment prompts that encourage students to:

  • engage in higher-order thinking, 
  • apply their learned knowledge,
  • produce authentic submissions that are evidenced, and 
  • emulate real-world situations.

To ensure the instructor is in control, the generation process allows instructors to: 

  • enter an assignment description, 
  • select a desired cognitive process based on Bloom's Taxonomy, 
  • set the complexity, and 
  • generate an assignment title.

The instructor can review the generated prompts and select one to add to the assignment. After adding the prompt, the instructor can edit or further refine the prompt as appropriate.

Image 1. The auto-generate assignment option

A "New Assignment" panel is open with the "Auto-Generate Assignment" option visible on screen.

Image 2. Three generated prompts; each include a title, prompt, and cognitive level

The "Auto-Generate Assignment" panel is opened, with three generated prompts on screen: each include a title, prompt, and cognitive process.

Image 3. Instructors can add additional context through a description, select the desired cognitive level and complexity, and then generate prompts

The 'Auto-Generate Assignment' panel is open, displaying three generated prompts on the screen. On the left-side options, there is included content.


Image 4. Selected title and prompt added to an assignment

The "New Assignment" panel is open with the selected title and prompts added to the assignment.

For administrators: To use this feature, enable the AI Features option in Ultra Experience Management. Select Building Blocks from the Administrator Panel, then select Installed Tools. Locate AI Design Assistant and Unsplash and select Settings from the drop-down. The default state is off. Set Enable AI Design Assistant to on. Set Generate Assignments to on. You must also activate privileges. Assign the following privilege for the appropriate Course Roles (e.g., Instructor): Use AI features.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


AI Design Assistant - Generate Rubric Improvements – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience  
Ultra Course View  
Impact: Instructors 

The AI Design Assistant helps instructors create rubrics for assessments. We've streamlined a time-intensive task and created efficiency for instructors with rubric creation. Being careful to consider user feedback, we have made some improvements to rubric generation. The improvements improve column and row labels . We also improved the distribution of percentages/points for criteria. 

Generate rubric screen displays auto-generated content from AI design assistant

Image 1. Rubric generation outputs using the AI Design Assistant

For administrators: To use this feature, enable the AI Features option in Ultra Experience Management. Select Building Blocks from the Administrator panel, then select Installed Tools. Locate AI Design Assistant and Unsplash and select Settings from the menu. The default state of the AI Design Assistant is set to Off. Select Enable AI Design Assistant to turn the feature on. You must also set Generate Assignments to On. Assign the Use AI features privilege for the appropriate Course Roles (for example, Instructor). 

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Mastery Learning/Competency Based Education

Grade visible to students in Gradebook when item is hidden by release conditions – 3900.82

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

Release conditions provide options for custom learning paths through course content. When instructors set release conditions, content is unavailable until students meet those conditions. An option to 'Hide' selected content from students is available. This setting also hides the grade from the student view of the gradebook.

Now, instructors can set release conditions without concern of hiding grades. Regardless of the setting in "When will content appear?", students can see the grade. All other functionality of release conditions is unchanged.

Image 1. Release conditions settings with date/time release condition set in combination with Hide state in “When will content appear?”

Release conditions settings with date/time release condition set in combination with Hide state in “When will content appear?”

Image 2. Student gradebook view with display of student’s grade regardless of the release condition setting in Image 1

Student gradebook view with display of student’s grade regardless of the release condition setting in Image 1


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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Tests & Assignments

Delegated Grading improvements – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors sometimes distribute the grading workload for an assessment to multiple graders. This is a popular practice in larger classes. Instructors can assign graders to groups of students with the new delegated grading option. Each grader only sees the submissions made by students in the group(s) assigned to them.

Now instructors can also use delegated grading in combination with anonymous submissions and tests.

Image 1: Instructor view of the assessment Settings panel for a test with the Delegated Grading and Anonymous grading options enabled

The assessment settings panel is open, with the delegated grading option visible on screen.

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description
 


Flexible Grading

Improved attempt display in Flexible Grading – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multiple-attempt assessments result in more submissions, which can increase the complexity of grading.

In the past, when an instructor selected a student in the list the most recent attempt displayed. Now, the attempt selected for display is based on the grading status and attempt aggregation model selected.

Attempt Aggregation ModelGrading Status and Attempt Displayed
Average of all attempts

If all attempts are graded, the most recently submitted attempt displays.

If ungraded attempts exist, the most recent, ungraded attempt displays.

First attempt with a grade

If all attempts are graded, the first submitted attempt displays.

If ungraded attempts exist, the oldest ungraded attempt displays.

Attempt with highest grade

If all attempts are graded, the attempt with the highest grade displays.

If ungraded attempts exist, the most recent, ungraded attempt displays.

Last attempt with a grade

If all attempts are graded, the most recently submitted attempt displays.

If ungraded attempts exist, the most recent ungraded attempt displays.

Attempt with lowest grade

If all attempts are graded, the attempt with lowest grade displays.

If ungraded attempts exist, the most recent ungraded attempt displays.


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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description
 


Sorting controls in Students view for assessments graded anonymously – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

We are adding sorting controls to assessments graded anonymously. Now instructors can apply these sorting options:

  • Submission date (oldest - newest) of latest attempt
  • Submission date (newest - oldest) of latest attempt

The grading interface stores the most recently used sorting option. If an instructor stops grading an assessment and resumes grading later, the last sorting option is applied.


Image 1: Sorting options on an anonymously graded assessment in flexible grading
 

The assessment grading panel is open, displaying sorting options for an anonymously graded assessment.

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


Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Gradebook

Enhanced Grid View – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors
 
To improve usability and maximize the screen real estate of the gradebook grid view, we have made several enhancements:

Improved row visibility and display more rows:

  • We reduced the size of the column icons and the spacing around them. 
  • We removed group names and highlighting on group assessments.
  • The course name moves up and hides when vertically scrolling.

Improved student identification:

  • When hovering over a truncated student name, the full name displays in a tooltip. 
  • Student IDs display beneath student names to aid in distinguishing between students with similar names.


Image 1. Improvements to gradebook grid view

Improvements to gradebook grid view

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Total & Weighted Calculations – 3900.82


Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors and other users with permissions

Instructors need a gradebook that supports diverse grading scenarios. The gradebook supports the creation of calculated columns and an overall course grade. We are expanding gradebook functionality to also support total and weighted calculated columns. These types of calculations are helpful for specific events or periods, such as midterms or finals.

Total calculated columns can be point-based or weighted calculations. Like setting up the Overall Grade, instructors may link/unlink items in a category in the calculation. They may also choose to exclude categories from the calculation. For an included category, instructors may edit the calculation rule. The calculation rule allows instructors to drop scores or to include only the lowest or highest score in the category.

Instructors may wish to define a total calculated column for their own use. In this case, they can choose to hide from students. If desired, instructors can include a total calculated column in the overall grade calculation.

Image 1. Add a Total Calculation column from the Grid view

Add a Total Calculation column from the Grid view


Image 2. Add a Total Calculation column from Gradable Items view

Add a Total Calculation column from Gradable Items view


Image 3. Editing a Weighted Total Calculation Column

Editing a Weighted Total Calculation Column

Image 4. Define rules for the Weighted Total Calculation column

 

Define rules for the Weighted Total Calculation column

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Category Information on the Gradable Items Page – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors
 

To provide greater efficiency and clarity in the gradable items view, we have added a Category column. This column, along with the grading item icon, helps instructors more readily identify to which category, if any, an item belongs. Instructors can sort this column ascending or descending alphabetically.

Image 1. Category column on the Gradable Items, sorted Z – A

Category column on the Gradable Items, sorted Z – A

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Learner Progression & Personalized Experience

Attempt logs for enhanced assessment integrity – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Assessment integrity is a paramount concern for educational institutions. We empower instructors with valuable insights into students' progress for native assessments. The Attempt Logs prove to be an indispensable tool for validating issues students may encounter during an assessment. The logs also help instructors identify signs of academic dishonesty.

For tests, the logs provide the following:

  • Detailed information, including the date and time of the start and answers to each question
  • Question-specific details, such as question number, a preview of the question, and estimated time spent on each question
  • Submission receipt number, final grade, and attempt grade
  • Easy toggling between all in-progress and submitted attempts for comprehensive assessment tracking

Image 1. Test attempt log with multiple attempts made by the student

Test attempt log with multiple attempts made by the student

For Assignments, the logs offer:

  • Start and submission date and time
  • Submission receipt number
  • Seamless toggling between different attempts for a holistic view


Image 2. Assignment attempt log

Assignment attempt log

Instructors can access the Attempt Logs from two primary areas:

  • Context Menu on Submission Page - exclusive to individual assessments
  • Grades Tab under Student Overview Page - available for both group and individual assessments

Image 3. Access from the Submission tab

Access from the Submission tab

Image 4. Access from the Grades tab from the student overview

Access from the Grades tab from the student overview

For anonymous assessments, the report becomes active after grades are posted, and the anonymity is lifted. This ensures that the Attempt Logs report is a robust tool even in scenarios where student identities are initially concealed.

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Integrations

Multiple LTI Deployments improvements – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Managing LTIs

Some administrators need to add multiple domains to a single LTI integration. We have expanded support of multiple domains for a single LTI integration. Now administrators can approve or exclude the deployment tool status. This provides greater flexibility for the creation and use of multiple domains. Administrators can also associate deployment IDs with different domains managed by a third party tool.

Image 1. Deployment Tools Status – select approved or excluded

Deployment Tools Status – select approved or excluded

When an administrator creates new deployments of an LTI tool, the default setting is “Approved.” Administrators can change the setting to “Excluded.” This prevents the use of that deployment. Manage Deployments now displays a status column to ensure clarity of the status of the deployment.

Image 2. Status column indicates if a deployment is approved or excluded

Status column indicates if a deployment is approved or excluded

Some institutions merge courses (create parent and child courses). If a parent course has an LTI deployment ID associated with it, the child course inherits that deployment ID.

We support multiple domains for LTI integrations that appear in Books & Tools  in an Ultra course and in the rich text editor.

For administrators: This feature is available for Ultra and Original environments.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Enhanced grading control via REST API

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

Each institution has its own evaluation methods. Some courses have specific grading criteria. To support varied grading and evaluation methods, we have enhanced the Gradebook API. 

Previously, the Gradebook API allowed users to update the overall grade formula. Now, the API aligns with the same formula validation rules enforced in the user interface. This ensures consistency and accuracy in the grading processes.

Users can still modify and validate of the formulas through the API using the endpoint:

PATCH /public/v2/courses/{courseId}/gradebook/columns.

This update reflects our commitment to providing a seamless and controlled grading experience.

For administrators: The required entitlements for Users API remain unchanged.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Converting Building Block content to LTI: Panopto Course Content – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Original Experience
Original Course View
Impact: Administrators
Related topic: Converting Building Block Content to LTI

The Panopto conversion is now available to users.

The Panopto integration makes it easy for users to create, share, and view videos. Users can embed these videos in Blackboard Learn courses.

Panopto provided a Building Block for customers using Original Course View. To ensure a smooth transition we have updated the conversion tool so that users can convert Panopto content from Building Block to LTI content.

This conversion supports the following Building Block content:

  • Course tools content  
  • Mashup links within the content editor

This tool only converts links created through the building block. Also, it validates the standalone links within the course to change the way those are processed. This will prevent standalone links from breaking after the building block deactivates.

Image 1. Converting Building Block Content to LTI

Converting Building Block Content to LTI

Administrators can select from a drop-down menu the building block for configuration:

  • Echo360
  • Kaltura
  • Panopto

Administrators can configure the required IDs and custom parameters for the conversion details. For Panopto, we have added the following custom parameters:

  • Instancename: The administrator must modify the instance name if it has been changed in the general configuration of the Panopto Building Block.
  • folderid: This is a Panopto identifier for the courses in the different folders; this custom parameter does not need to be modified.

Image 2. Migration settings for Panopto, Echo 360 and Kaltura, including Panopto custom parameters

Migration settings for Panopto, Echo 360 and Kaltura, including Panopto custom parameters

Building block mappings are displayed. Administrators can edit, delete, or turn off the building block for the conversion tool.

Image 3.  Building block mappings

Building block mappings

Once configurations are set, administrators can manage the placements. They have the option to choose the courses for which they want to initiate the content link conversion for a specific Building Block.

Image 4. Migrate courses with building block content

Migrate courses with building block content

Finally, at Migration Run Status, users can monitor the status of the conversion process for each course.

Image 5. Migration run status

Migration run status

For administrators: If a course contains content from Panopto, Kaltura and/or Echo360 building blocks, the conversion process must be performed once for each building block. 

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Multi-Factor Authentication for the default authentication method – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users
Related topics: Identification and Authorization, Quick start for Blackboard App 

Some institutions enforce Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to fulfill security policies and best practices. To better support these institutions, we now offer a second authentication factor for the internal authentication method (where a user provides a username and password).

When the administrator enables MFA, users start the MFA registration process after providing a correct username and password. Users can use an authenticator app of their preference or the one suggested by their institution.

Image 1. Initial instructions described in the MFA registration process

Initial instructions described in the MFA registration process

Image 2. Request of temporary code to complete MFA registration

Request of temporary code to complete MFA registration

Image 3. Confirmation of successful MFA registration

Confirmation of successful MFA registration

Users are asked for a code generated by the authentication app on their trusted device(s) each time they log in.

If a user loses access to their trusted device, they can request a reset of their MFA (via normal institution-defined support channels). This allows the user to start the registration process of a new device.

For administrators: MFA is inactive by default. MFA is compatible with any kind of authenticator app.

For this release, MFA is only compatible with the Force to Web authentication method in the mobile App. If the institution has the native authentication method activated, the users won’t be asked to enter the TOTP code when logging in the mobile app. Compatibility with the native authentication method will be available in a future release.

To set MFA to active, go to the Administrator Tool Panel -> Integrations -> Authentication -> Default -> Edit -> Multifactor Authentication -> Active.

Image 4. Enable MFA feature from Administrator Tool Panel

Enable MFA feature from Administrator Tool Panel

To reset a user’s MFA, go to Administrator Tool Panel -> Users -> Search and select user -> Reset MFA.

Image 5. Reset MFA for a specific user

Reset MFA for a specific user

MFA is compatible with the Account Locking feature. To protect accounts from unauthorized access, we recommend enabling the Account Locking feature. To confirm the current configuration, go to the Administrator Tool Panel -> Account Lock Settings -> Enable Account -> Locking.

For audit and monitoring purposes, events related to MFA log in and reset can be found in Administrator Tool Panel -> Tools and Utilities -> Logs -> Authentication Logs.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Unused files management tool – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

File management is important to many institutions that want to be cognizant of their digital footprint. To help instructors understand the usage of files in their course, we've created the Unused Files tool. This tool helps instructors find and delete course files that are not in use. Instructors can locate the Unused Files tool in the three-dot menu on the Course Content page. 

Image 1. Unused Files tool

Unused Files tool

There are two views available: unused files (default view) or all files. The file name, upload date, and file size display along with an option to download a copy of the local file. Instructors can easily delete unused files. 

Image 2. List of unused files

List of unused files

Image 3. List of All files 

List of All files

Course roles will need “Course/Organization >Files Manage Files” privileges to access the Unused Files tool.

For administrators: A new configuration option is available from the Configure option in The Ultra Experience is here! module on the Administrator Panel. In the Available Features section, locate “Unused files management.” The default state is on.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Create Message privilege improvement – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

We've made some improvements to the privilege for creating messages in courses and organizations. This change improves the experience for system administrators and other users who are not enrolled in the course.

Now administrators and other privileged users can

  • Access and use the message tab to communicate with course users

    Course users will not be able to send messages to the administrator or respond to the administrator's messages.

  • Make changes to the Course Tools - Messages and Messaging Options

For administrators: This improvement applies to all Ultra courses. Apply this privilege to appropriate roles as appropriate: “Course/Organization Control Panel (Customization) -> Create Message”.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Mobile

Help Center and About sections added to More menu – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: All users
Related topic: Blackboard Learn App Help

To elevate user accessibility and awareness, we've added two improved segments to the More menu: Help Center and About.

The About section is a comprehensive reservoir that empowers users with essential information to navigate their app experience.

This includes:

  • Accessibility details
  • Institution policies: Institutions can add their institutional privacy policy URL if this link has been configured in the "Data Use and Privacy Disclosure" Building Block settings.
  • A dedicated channel for mobile app feedback
  • Privacy policies
  • Release notes
  • Terms of use
  • App version information

Users can explore the Help Center for more information, providing a seamless and enriched user experience. The release notes provide users with information on enhancements, optimizations, and introduced features. This ensures users are well-acquainted with the app's evolving capabilities.

Image 1. New sections in the More menu: About and Help Center

New sections in the More menu: About and Help Center


Image 2. New About section in the More menu

New About section in the More menu

Image 3. Help Center for the Blackboard Learn App Help

Help Center for the Blackboard Learn App Help

 

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Batch Edit: Change to specific date and/or time – 3900.82

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

We heard that instructors want to change the date and time for selected items in their course. For example, the due date times are currently set to 8:00 PM and the instructor would like to change them to 11:59 PM. The change would give students more time to make their submissions. The problem with making that change is that it would be very tedious if you had to do one item at a time.

Using Batch Edit, instructors can override the existing date and/or time for selected items. Instructors can adjust the due date time for all assessments using this option. The same feature also works on show on and hide after dates and times.

Batch edit of dates/time only works with items that have pre-existing date and time values. Items without a date or time value will not have one applied.

Image 1. Change to a specific date and/or time option for Batch Edit

Change to specific date and/or time option for Batch Edit

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

Return to January 2024 – 3900.82 Release description


Learn SaaS release 3900.80.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.80.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 7 November 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 7 December 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.80.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.80.0-rel.28+80fe7a8 to Production servers to take place on 21 December 2023.

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


Instructional Design

Authentic Discussion and Journal prompts – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

AI plagiarism is a growing concern among academics. Research indicates a variety of issues with a reliance on AI detection. Detection models cannot keep up with advancements in AI technologies. Our approach to combatting AI plagiarism is different. We empower instructors and lean on the effective practice of authentic assessment.

Learn more by reading our white paper about AI, Academic Integrity, and Authentic Assessment.

Now, instructors can generate discussion and journal prompts that encourage students to

  • engage in higher-order thinking,
  • apply their knowledge,
  • justify or challenge their beliefs and ideas,
  • and emulate real-world situations.

To ensure the instructor is in control, the generation process allows instructors to

  • enter a discussion or journal description,
  • select a desired cognitive process based on Bloom's Taxonomy,
  • set the complexity,
  • and generate a discussion or journal title.

The instructor can review the generated prompts and select one to add to the discussion or journal. After adding the prompt, the instructor can edit or further refine the prompt as appropriate.

Image 1. The auto-generate discussion option

The auto-generate discussion option

Image 2. Three generated prompts; each includes a title, prompt, and cognitive process

Three generated prompts; each includes a title, prompt, and cognitive process

Image 3. Instructors can describe the discussion, select the desired cognitive process and complexity, and then generate prompts

Instructors can describe the discussion, select the desired cognitive process and complexity, and then generate prompts

Image 4. Selected title and prompt added to a discussion

Selected title and prompt added to a discussion

For administrators: To use this feature, enable the AI Features option in Ultra Experience Management. Select Building Blocks from the Administrator Panel, then select Installed Tools. Locate AI Design Assistant and Unsplash and select Settings from the drop-down. The default state is off. Set Enable AI Design Assistant to on. Set Generate Discussions and Generate Journals to on. You must also activate privileges. Assign the following privilege for the appropriate Course Roles (e.g., Instructor): Use AI features.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Removal of First Time User Experience pop-ups – 3900.80

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

In the past, we provided in-context information pop-ups to support users when they used the system for the first time. These pop-ups, called First Time User Experiences (FTUEs), can be helpful to some users. At the same time, FTUEs can be distracting or unnecessary. Users who would like supportive information can locate that on our help pages. Some institutions want to provide their own support information across Ultra and choose to use tools such as Anthology Adopt.

Based on client feedback, we are removing the FTUEs across Learn Ultra. This improves the users' experience and supports a greater focus on the learning content. Approximately 60 FTUEs are being removed in this release. Examples of some of the FTUEs we removed are below.

Image 1. FTUE in an assessment that guides the instructor to name the assignment

FTUE in an assessment that guides the instructor to name the assignment

Image 2. FTUE in the gradebook, highlighting the student list view

FTUE in the gradebook, highlighting the student list view

Image 3. FTUE on the base navigation courses page, highlighting course search

FTUE on the base navigation courses page, highlighting course search

For administrators: This update is available for Base Navigation and Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Additional image insertion and generate options – 3900.80

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

Images enhance comprehension of and engagement with course content. Instructors and students want to use high-quality images in content and submissions. To help, we have added a new image button in the content editor in the following places:

  • Announcements
  • Assessment Questions
  • Student answers on questions (local file upload only)
  • Submission feedback (standard view)
  • Journal entries and comments

Image 1. Instructor view - image button on content editor for Announcements

Instructor view - image button on content editor for Announcements

We also added the option for instructors to generate images in journal prompts and assessment questions.

To learn more about working with images, please visit the “Work with Text" page.

For administrators: The "Stock images from Unsplash" and "Generate images" options only appear for instructors when each tool is on. Select Building Blocks from the Administrator Panel, then select Installed Tools. Locate "AI Design Assistant and Unsplash" and select Settings from the drop-down. The default state is off. You must also activate privileges. Assign the following privileges for the appropriate Course Roles (e.g., Instructor):

  • Search for images using Unsplash
  • Use AI features

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Tests & Assignments

Large Rubric Support – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Rubrics serve as a well-organized and transparent framework for assessing student work. We now support an unlimited number of rubric criteria and performance levels, up from 15 each. This change empowers instructors to craft rubrics that support diverse assessment scenarios. Unbound rubrics are valuable where a higher number of criteria are needed. Larger rubrics also prove invaluable for rubrics employed in accreditation processes.

Image 1. Large rubric support with the potential for the addition of more rows

Large rubric support with the potential for the addition of more rows

Image 2. Large rubric support with the potential for the addition of more columns

Large rubric support with the potential for the addition of more columns

 

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Group assessment due date exceptions – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may want to set different due dates for each group working on a group assessment.

In the past, there was no way to assign varying due dates for each group working on a group assessment. Now, instructors can assign a unique due date to each group using the exceptions workflow.

On the group assessment Submissions page, the instructor may add or edit exceptions for a group.

Image 1: Instructor view – add or edit exceptions option on the group assessment Submissions page

Instructor view – add or edit exceptions option on the group assessment Submissions page

The Exceptions panel displays relevant information such as the assignment name and selected group name. This helps ensure the accuracy of an exception. Instructors can select a due date for the group using the date and time picker.

Image 2: Instructor view - exceptions panel

Instructor view - exceptions panel

Image 3: Instructor view - group assessment Submissions page displays the exceptions indicator for Project Group 1

Instructor view - group assessment Submissions page displays the exceptions indicator for Project Group 1

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Goal alignment to questions in banks – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Institutions want to align goals to course content. Goal alignment ensures that the curriculum is designed to meet specific learning outcomes.

Instructors can currently align goals to the following course items:

  • Assignments
  • Tests, including individual questions
  • Discussions
  • Rubrics criterion
  • Files
  • Web links
  • Teaching tools with LTI connection
  • Documents

Now, instructors can also align goals to questions within a question bank. Question-level goal alignment ensures that assessment items measure the desired learning outcomes. This helps to ensure the accuracy and effectiveness of evaluation and feedback practices.

Image 1: Instructor view of the “Align with goal’ menu option used to align a question to a goal

Instructor view of the “Align with goal’ menu option used to align a question to a goal

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Prevent students from earning full credit when selecting all answers choices on a multi-select question with partial credit – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multi-select questions require students to select multiple correct answers from a list. This variation of a multiple choice question encourages critical thinking. Some instructors may award partial credit to students on these types of questions. Partial credit promotes a fairer and more accurate assessment of students' knowledge.

In the past, students received full credit when selecting all answer choices for a multi-select question with partial credit. This happened because there was no penalty or negative credit applied for wrong answer choices.

Now, when an instructor designs a multi-select question and allows partial and negative credit, the negative credit auto-distributes across wrong answer choices. An instructor can remove or edit the negative credit if desired.

Image 1: Partial and negative credit auto-distributed across correct and incorrect answer choices for a multi-select question

Partial and negative credit auto-distributed across correct and incorrect answer choices for a multi-select question

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Flexible Grading

Sorting controls on Students tab – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Grading large numbers of submissions without a way to organize them can be tedious. Now, instructors can apply various sorting options in flexible grading:

  • Submission date (oldest - newest) of latest attempt
  • Submission date (newest - oldest) of latest attempt
  • Last Name (A - Z)
  • Last Name (Z - A)
  • First Name (A - Z)
  • First Name (Z-A)
  • Student ID (ascending)
  • Student ID (descending)

The grading interface stores the most recently used sorting option. If an instructor stops grading an assessment and resumes grading later, the last sorting option is applied.

Also, if sorting the submissions by last name or grading status, the chosen sorting option carries over into the grading interface.

Image 1: Sorting options as shown from Students tab in flexible grading

Sorting options as show from Students tab in flexible grading

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Gradebook

Grid view sorting controls – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Sorting options in the gradebook provide a more efficient grading experience.

We extended the sorting options to all remaining columns in the gradebook grid view:

  • SCORM
  • Journal
  • Group Assessment
  • Group Discussion
  • LTI
  • Calculations
  • Attendance
  • Discussion

Instructors can sort records in ascending or descending order and remove any applied sorting. A purple highlight in the column header indicates sorting is applied.

Any sorting applied yields a temporary change to the sort order of all columns in the gradebook grid view.

Image 1: Sorting controls on all grid view columns headers

Sorting controls on all grid view columns headers

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Automatic zero gradebook improvement – 3900.80

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors can configure their gradebooks to assign automatic zeros to past due work. In the past, automatic zeros were assigned to past due work regardless of a student’s course enrollment status. For example, automatic zeros were applied to past due items for withdrawn students. This was problematic as, in some cases, it skewed course data.

Now automatic zeros are assigned to past due work only if the student has an enabled course enrollment. Automatic zeroes are no longer applied to past due items for withdrawn students. This helps to ensure that academic records are preserved as they are at the time of withdrawal.

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Integrations

Gradebook API: Accessing grading dates – 3900.80

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

In a previous release, we introduced a feature that allows users to retrieve date-related grading data. Now, we incorporate two more fields into the response of all gradebook APIs: first and last relevant dates.

"firstRelevantDate" determined as:

  • The first recorded date when an attempt is scored.
  • The most recent date in which a final score is overridden.

"lastRelevantDate" determined as:

  • The date of the most recent modification of a grade when an attempt is scored.
  • The most recent date in which a final score is overridden.

We also introduce the following query parameters:

  • firstRelevantDateCompare
  • lastRelevantDateCompare

These parameters allow users to filter and refine the results.

For administrators: The required entitlements for Gradebook API remain unchanged. First and Last relevant dates do not apply to calculated columns.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Enhanced user data retrieval with secondary IDs via REST API - 3900.80

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

Related topic: Learn APIs

The option to retrieve user data is crucial for administrators and support roles. User data retrieval is important for a host of reasons. For example, it allows institutions to ensure access control, user support, and data security.

In the past, retrieving user data depended on a single ID. Now, we are expanding the capabilities of the users' REST APIs to support secondary IDs. This will provide more flexibility and control when accessing user information.

Users can now use a secondary ID:

  • Contact Email: Users can now use the "contact.email" secondary ID to retrieve user data. This enhancement allows users to access their information by their institution/personal email address.
  • Student IDs: The "studentId" secondary ID is now supported in the GET /users public endpoint. You can use this feature to access user data using their student ID.
  • "Name" as New Attribute: Users can now retrieve user data based on attributes such as the user name. For this, we have the new query parameter "?name=". This will allow filtering by full names (first names, last names, middle names, or usernames).

These changes provide a significant improvement in the way users can manage user data via REST APIs.

For administrators: The required entitlements for User API remain unchanged.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


REST API for accessing assessment passwords - 3900.80

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

Related topic: Learn APIs

In Learn, assessments can be protected with access codes. Access codes help provide integrity and security for assessments.

To improve the integration with proctoring services, we extended the access code option via REST API.

Now, users can retrieve the access password configuration settings. The configuration setting is for both Ultra and Original courses. This information includes the following key fields:

  • Enabled: Flag that indicates whether the assessment is password-protected or not.
  • Password: This field contains the 6-digit passcode. The password is available in plain text, simplifying the integration process.

Furthermore, these fields will be accessible through the following Content endpoints:

  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseId}/contents
  • GET /learn/api/public/v1/courses/{courseId}/contents/{contentId}

For administrators: The required entitlements for Users API remain unchanged.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Learn Core & Security

Building Block Management page displays support details – 3900.80

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

Related topic: Manage Learn SaaS Building Blocks

Three years ago, we announced the end of support for third-party integrations using Building Blocks. Starting in January 2024, most third-party Building Blocks will no longer be supported. Some Building Blocks have been granted extensions for limited continued support.

To help administrators understand what third-party tools will no longer work in January, we've updated the Building Block management page. Now, each Building Block will have a support indicator. These appear under the header “Support Status” on the Building Block management page.

  • ONGOING: These Building Blocks are part of Blackboard Learn and are not third-party. Anthology continues to support these.
  • EXTENDED: These are third-party Building Blocks with approved extended support. Support will end sometime in the future. This includes Building Blocks with both announced and unknown support end dates, such as:
    • Exceptions, or currently no known end of support date.
    • Extended support to specific dates as published on Behind the Blackboard. We will provide updates to support statuses for these Building Blocks in future releases of Blackboard Learn.
  • ENDS JAN 2024: These third-party Building Blocks can no longer be used starting with the January 2024 release (3900.82).

Image 1. The Support Status column indicates if support is ongoing or when it will end

The Support Status column indicates if support is ongoing or when it will end

This functionality was not included in the Nov. 7 Test/Stage release. It will be included in the Nov. 14, 3900.80 SaaS Test/Stage release.

For administrators: This feature will be available for all Learn environments. There are no configurations needed. These changes won't impact tools integrated with other methods, such as LTI and REST. You can access the Building Block list in Administrator Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
If you believe the status of a third-party Building Block isn’t correct, please contact Anthology Product Support.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Mobile App

Enhancements to Grades – 3900.80

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

In response to user feedback, we've made improvements to the Grades page. The Grades page now offers more comprehensive information for students and instructors. We enhanced both the appearance and functionality.

For Instructors:

  • Upcoming Grading
    • Upon expansion, instructors find items that need grading.
  • Concise View
    • We've limited the display to only three items at a time.
    • A Show More link is available, leading to the gradebook for that course.
  • Efficient Navigation
    • Instructors can access grading tasks by selecting the respective item.
  • In the past, grade pills were black. Now grade pills display corresponding grade colors.

Image 1. Instructor view of Grades

Instructor view of Grades

For Students:

  • Upcoming Due Items
    • When expanding the section, students now find items that are due within a week.
  • Recently Graded
    • Expanded sections display items that have been recently graded.
  • Concise View
    • To avoid clutter, we've limited the display to only three items at a time.
    • A Show more link is available, leading to the gradebook for that course.
  • Quick Access
    • By selecting any item, users can navigate to the specific assessment or activity.
  • In the past, grade pills were black. Now grade pills display corresponding grade colors.

Image 2. Student view of Grades

Student view of Grades

For administrators: No additional settings are required for this feature.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Improved mobile experience for Course Content page – 3900.80

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

The Course Content page had several issues on mobile devices. We have made the following improvements:

  • Anthology Ally icons no longer overlap with other elements on the page.
  • Items nested in learning modules and folders no longer occupy as much space.
  • Icons on the content page are smaller, providing more space for titles and descriptions.
  • Titles and descriptions are no longer truncated. The full title and description are always visible now.
  • The button to make an item visible to students or hidden from students no longer goes off the page.

Image 1. The course content page before improvements.

The course content page before improvements

Image 2. The course content page after improvements.

The course content page after improvements

For administrators: This update is available for Base Navigation and Ultra courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description


Canvas conversion improvements: Support for Multiple Grade Schemes – 3900.80

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

The Canvas Learning Management System allows instructors to create Grade Schemes. Grade schemes can use point or percentage ranges. Each point or percentage range has a name value.

Image 1. A Grade Scheme in Canvas

A Grade Scheme in Canvas

In the past, Grade Schemes in Canvas did not convert. We have updated the conversion so that Grade Schemes from Canvas are now preserved. Instructors no longer need to rebuild Grade Schemes when converting a course from Canvas.

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

Return to December 2023 – 3900.80 Release description