Release Notes for Learn SaaS

This page contains features and updates currently on Learn SaaS Test/Stage and Production environments. Visit Archived SaaS Release Notes to see features and updates in older versions. Visit In-Product Updates to learn more about in-product updates.

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Learn SaaS release 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.54.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 8 November 2022 | Release to Production: Thursday, 1 December 2022
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.54.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.54.0-rel.13+5784caa to Test/Stage servers to take place on 22 November 2022.

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

 


December 2022 – 3900.54 Release

The December 2022 - 3900.54 release is complete with features in seven areas:

  • assessment and grading;
  • richer course and content design;
  • data and analytics;
  • integration, extension, and management;
  • course upgrading;
  • security; and
  • usability.

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

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

All users:

Administrators:

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Icon that indicates the release note is a new feature

Security change in release 3900.54 may be incompatible with some Building Blocks

 

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

Anthology constantly works to improve the security stance of Blackboard Learn and proactively reacts to vulnerabilities identified in third-party and open source libraries used in the application. Recently, security experts published a vulnerability for an open source library used in the Learn application. This vulnerability is now addressed in the 3900.54 release.

Depending on whether third-party providers also use this library and how they manage it in their Building Blocks, some Building Blocks and versions of Building Blocks may be incompatible with 3900.54. The impact is specific to third-party (add-on) Building Blocks only. This change doesn't affect Building Blocks that are part of the Learn core application, and doesn't affect integrations using Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), REST APIs, or Ultra Extension Framework (UEF).

For administrators: We encourage administrators to test third-party (add-on) Building Blocks as soon as possible, to prepare for the 3900.54 release. If you provide a Building Block that’s affected, contact Anthology product support for remediation details.

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Assessment and Grading

Question Banks Descriptions & Search – 3900.54.0

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

Instructors often use question banks to organize assessment questions. Reusing these questions creates efficiency and ensures consistency. Instructors can now add descriptions to question banks. These descriptions are useful for noting the topics or objectives the questions cover. The question bank description is displayed with the question bank title on the Question Banks page.

Image 1. Description for a question bank

Description for a question bank

Instructors sometimes have many question banks in their courses. To help instructors search for and locate a specific bank in the course, we added a search bar. The search functionality queries both the bank title and description.

Image 2. Search field for Question Banks; descriptions appear beneath the Question Bank name

Search field for Question Banks; descriptions appear beneath the Question Bank name

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

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Needs grading for first and last attempts – 3900.54.0

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

Instructors need to know what grading work remains for them to complete. When assessments have multiple attempts, the instructor may elect how to grade those attempts:

  • average of all attempts
  • first attempt with a grade
  • attempt with highest grade
  • last attempt with a grade
  • attempt with lowest grade

When the instructor selects “first attempt with a grade” or “last attempt with a grade” sometimes the "needs grading" count was inaccurate or confusing.

We have updated the way that the "needs grading" count increments when more than one attempt is allowed. The "grade attempts" selection is honored for the following:

  • last attempt with a grade - when the instructor grades the last attempt, previous attempts do not increase the "needs grading" count
  • last attempt with a grade - if the student makes a new attempt after the instructor grades, that attempt does increase the "needs grading" count
  • first attempt with a grade - when the instructor grades the first attempt, attempts that follow do not increase the "needs grading" count

Image 1. The assessment is set to grade using “last attempt with a grade.” The needs grading count does not include earlier attempts from this student.

The assessment is set to grade using “last attempt with a grade.” The needs grading count does not include earlier attempts from this student.

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

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Richer Course and Content Design

Drag-and-drop improvements – 3900.54.0

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

This feature may not be immediately available when the 3900.54 release is applied to test/stage sites. Please prepare for this feature to appear automatically up to 1or 2 days after your site is updated.

Instructors organize and sequence their course materials when authoring. Contents are arranged by dragging and dropping them. In this release, drag-and-drop has been greatly improved, increasing efficiency. Instructors can grab items more quickly. When moving an item, it’s clearer to instructors where it will go when dropped.

Instructors can also use keyboard commands to reorder the content:

  • tab to navigate to an item
  • enter to select an item
  • up/down arrows to move an item
  • enter to drop the item

Image 1. Drag and drop functionality in Course Content

Drag and drop functionality in Course Content

Image 2. Drag and drop utilizing keyboard commands

Drag and drop utilizing keyboard commands

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

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Course Links – 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

This feature may not be immediately available when the 3900.54 release is applied to test/stage sites. Please prepare for this feature to appear automatically up to 1or 2 days after your site is updated.

Instructors may need to reference information contained in other sections of the course. For example, an instructor may want students to revisit an earlier activity to reinforce their learning. Course links provide access to content without excessive scrolling and reduce clicking. This new feature allows instructors to:

  • Insert a link at the desired location on the Course Content page
  • Browse the elements of a course to select an item
  • Rename the link that will appear on the Course Content page
  • Move a link on the Course Content page independent of the target item

To add a course link, select create from the plus option on the Course Content page. Select the Link option from the Course Content Items section. There are now two tabs:

  • Create Web Link (the options on this page are unchanged)
  • Create Course Link

Select the Create Course Link tab. Enter a keyword and/or select categories to locate the target content. Click search to view the search results. Select the desired content. Edit the Display Name as desired. Course links inherit the description of their targets, if one is included. Instructors may edit the description. Instructors can change the visibility and release conditions by editing the Course Link or the target content. A change made to one applies to the other. Instructors can use Batch Edit to modify linked items, but not associated Course Links.

Linking Exceptions

Instructors can create course links for most course materials and activities. There are exceptions:

  • In this release, an instructor cannot create course links using the Content Editor.
  • In this release, an instructor cannot create Course Links for Folders, Learning Modules, Discussions, and Web Links.
  • We do not support Course Links with Learning Modules where force sequence is enabled. This is because links could allow users access to something they should not yet access. If a Course Link exists in a Learning Module, it will not be possible to enable forced sequence.

Copying Content

When a course is copied into a new course, Course Links are updated to link within the new course. There are exceptions:

  • In this release, instructors cannot copy Course Links for Documents and third-party content (LTI).
  • When copying or converting from an Original course, the copy process will exclude Course Links for Folders, Learning Modules, and Web Links.

Image 1. Adding a new course link to an Ultra document

Adding a new course link to an Ultra document

Image 2. Course Link created on the Course Content page

Course Link created on the Course Content page

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

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Data & Analytics

Single student progress report - 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors often desire insight into the progress students are making in their course. This information helps instructors to engage early with students or adjust the course content. We have created a new single student progress report. This report focuses on the path each student is taking on the course. In this new report instructors can view:

  • The content they have created for their students
  • The progress the student has made with relevant date/time stamps
  • The current visibility status of each item

Instructors can access this new report:

  • By selecting a single student from the Student Progress report on a content item
  • By selecting a single student from the gradebook list view, Students tab, Student Progress tab
  • By selecting a single student from the gradebook grid view, Student Progress tab

Image 1. Student progress report

Student progress report

When grading anonymously, the student progress status is hidden until the instructor posts grades. This ensures the student’s identity remains anonymous during the grading process.

Image 2. Anonymous test progress information hidden

Anonymous test progress information hidden

This report is only available when progress tracking is turned on in the course.

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

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Integration, Extension, and Management

REST APIs to Read Rubrics and Goals – 3900.54.0

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

Rubrics are a valuable tool for instructor-to-student communication about performance expectations. Rubrics also help instructors with consistent and unbiased grading. Rubrics may also enable students to self-assess their performance on an assessment. Some rubrics may also be aligned to Goals. In a recent release, we included an option for REST API to read rubrics. Now we are happy to make available a new public Goals API.

This new API provides a suite of GET endpoints that allow users to read:

  • Goals
  • Goal Sets
  • Goal Set Types
  • Goal Categories

This allows developers to read matrices of criteria that enable measurements of student performance.

For administrators: The REST integration user must have the privilege “Administrator Panel (Tools and Utilities) > Goals.”

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Icon Display and Synchronization for Third-Party App Content (LTI) – 3900.54.0

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

Content from third-party apps are a significant portion of materials and activities in many courses. Generic icons for these materials made it difficult for users to understand their purpose. Now unique icons can be displayed for each third-party content type. These icons can be set by the tool provider or by the institution administrator. When an icon is not set, third-party contents show a generic icon.

The updated icons apply to contents that are selected or created in the third-party app. Adding a simple link to a tool that can be accessed in Books and Tools (Ultra) or Course Tools (Original) do not display the custom icon at this time.

Image 1. A third-party app icon in the Course Outline of Ultra Course View

A third-party app icon in the Course Outline of Ultra Course View

Image 2. A third-party app icon in a Content Area of Original Course View

A third-party app icon in a Content Area of Original Course View

For administrators: We recommend Administrators review LTI placement configurations after this release because icons will now display to users in more places. Icons set for the placement type Deep Linking Content Tools will display in the Course Outline and Content Areas. Other placement types will continue to display generic icons. Tool providers may also set the icons. An administrator can retrieve icons set by tool providers using the “Synchronize placements” action. When the provider sets icons, they will replace and override institutional icon choices because they are the owner of their branding.

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Security

Password policies and logging when users change their passwords – 3900.54.0

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

Most institutions use an identity provider (e.g. Azure Active Directory) to manage and authenticate users. Sometimes, some users are created in Learn. These users may be allowed to set their own passwords in Learn. Now, administrators can determine length and complexity requirements for these passwords. This can improve the security stance of Learn environments when the default authentication provider is used.

The administrator can set a password length requirement between 8 and 32 characters. The default is 12 characters. The administrator can individually set whether upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters are required.

The authentication logs now capture password change events. This only applies to Learn password changes, not to password changes in an identity provider. There are three event types:

  • A user changed their own password.
  • An administrator or other privileged user changed another user’s password. The event details will show who changed the password.
  • A user reset their password using the forgotten password feature in Learn.

Image 1. A user changes their password in Original Experience.

A user changes their password in Original Experience

Image 2. A user changes their password when Base Navigation is enabled.

A user changes their password when Base Navigation is enabled

For administrators: We recommend administrators review this configuration when users see the password reset option in Learn. The settings appear in the Administrator Panel on a new Password Settings page. Only a full System Administrator can access the configuration page. The default settings enforce the following policies: a minimum of one numeric and one special character, and the minimum length is set to 12. Administrators may also wish to review that system roles are configured correctly so users don’t see Learn’s password reset option when an identity provider is used (single sign-on). In this release, policies are enforced when a user is changing their own password. This includes when using the password reset tool. Password policies aren’t enforced when a support user changes the password of another user. Password policies aren’t enforced when using SIS Framework, Building Blocks, or REST APIs to change passwords.

Image 3. An administrator configures the password length and complexity policies.

An administrator configures the password length and complexity policies

Image 4. Authentication logs include Password Change events.

Authentication logs include Password Change events

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Course Upgrading

Improvements for copying content – 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

When building and managing courses, course content reuse provides an important efficiency. We continue to make the copy process for courses and organizations simpler and more effective. In this release, we have changed the following:

  • A larger item selection page shows selected items and items that can be selected at the same time. In the past, instructors would need to switch between two views.
  • Tabs now separate courses and organizations. This makes it easier for instructors to find the correct source location.
  • Breadcrumbs make navigation easier. Using breadcrumb links, instructors can return to a higher level of the course or organization structure. This prevents instructors from having to start again from the top level.
  • The course and organization lists are displayed in alphabetical order. This makes it easier for instructors to find the correct one.

Image 1. Previously, copy actions were managed in a small panel.

Previously, copy actions were managed in a small panel

Image 2. Copy actions are now more efficient in a larger panel.

Copy actions are now more efficient in a larger panel.

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

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Readability/accessibility improvements copying or converting Original content into Ultra Course View – 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In Original Course View users can choose any color for text. Content could be hard to read or not accessible—for example, yellow text on white background. The Ultra Course View has a curated selection of font colors to ensure readability. Users choose from black, gray, purple, blue, and green font colors. We now remove any unsupported font colors during a content copy or course conversion from an Original course.

This release focuses on announcements, discussions, assignments, and documents (not file attachments). We plan to remove unsupported font colors for tests, journals, and other item types in a later release.

Image 1. The last paragraph of light gray text is difficult to read when viewing in Original Course View.

The last paragraph of light gray text is difficult to read when viewing in Original Course View

Image 2. When copied, the light gray text is changed to improve readability and accessibility.

When copied, the light gray text is changed to improve readability and accessibility

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

Return to December 2022 – 3900.54 Release description


Usability

Simpler Exit Actions for Student Preview – 3900.54.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Student Preview helps instructors experience their course contents and settings. Saving the preview user on exit retains the user in the Roster and Gradebook. Discarding the preview user on exit removes this user from the course. Previously, the two options were displayed with a default selection and a confirmation action. This was confusing. Now when exiting Student Preview, only the two choices are displayed as actions.

Image 1. Student Preview - Exit function

Student Preview - Exit function

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

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