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 3900.58.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.58.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 10 January 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 2 February 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.58.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.58.0-rel.21+cb60724 to Test/Stage servers to take place on 24 January 2023.

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

 


Learn SaaS release 3900.56.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.56.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 6 December 2022 | Release to Production: Thursday, 5 January 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.56.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.56.0-rel.31+e33c6d6 to Production servers to take place on 26 January 2023.

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

 


Assessment and Grading

Technical Preview: Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Multiple-attempt assessments can be more complicated for instructors because there are more submissions. To switch between attempts for a student in the past, an instructor would have to close an attempt then select a different attempt. This wasn’t intuitive and required extra clicks. Now instructors can navigate directly between a student’s attempts. If a student has multiple attempts for an assessment, an instructor will see an option to switch attempts. This is more efficient.

Image 1. Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

Instructor view of the attempt drop-down menu on the grading page

When the instructor clicks a student name in the Submissions list, the most recent submitted attempt will be loaded.

The attempt selector displays information to help instructors select the desired attempt:

  • Attempt number
  • Submission time stamp
  • File size
  • Grade (if graded)
  • Late indicator (if applicable)

Image 2. Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

Navigating between student attempts using the attempt drop-down menu

For administrators:In the February release, this feature can only be enabled in test/stage environments for testing. In the March release, this feature will be available by default. In March, it will be possible to opt out of using this feature. At that time, you can set the feature to unavailable on the Ultra Experience Management page in the administrator panel. The feature flag will be removed in the May release and this feature will become permanent.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Exemptions – 3900.58

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

There are times that instructors need to exempt students from assessments or activities in the course. Now instructors can provide exemptions. Students can view exempted items. A student is not expected to complete an exempted task. When exempted, a student’s overall calculation will adjust for them. The overall points possible or weighting for a student with exemptions may change compared to other students.

Instructors may exempt any gradebook item in two ways:

  • From the submission list view, select the ellipsis menu of a student and choose to add or edit the exemption.
  • From the student detail view, select the ellipsis menu of the item and choose to add or edit the exemption.

When exempting an item, the item will not be:

  • included in the overall grade calculation,
  • marked late for students who do not make a submission, or
  • assigned an automatic zero.

Students can still supply submissions for exempted items. Instructors can grade and provide feedback for these submissions.

Image 1. Add or edit exceptions from the submission list view

Add or edit exceptions from the submission list view

Image 2. Add or edit exemptions from the student detail view

Add or edit exemptions from the student detail view

For administrators:This feature is enabled by default behind a feature flag. Administrators will have the possibility to turn it off at the institution level.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Extra credit questions in assessments – 3900.58

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

There are times when instructors allow students to overachieve on an assessment. Some instructors may allow students to earn back points lost on other assessments or activities.

Now instructors can assign one or more questions as extra credit in an assessment. A correct answer results in adding the extra credit question points to the points earned for the assessment. Students are not penalized for incorrect answers to an extra credit question. In other words, points are not deducted because the question is excluded from the assessment’s possible points. If a student answers extra credit questions correctly, it may be possible for the student to earn a score greater than 100% on the assessment.

Students can discern how many extra credit points are available on the assessment. While students are taking an assessment, they can identify questions designated as extra credit. Students can also filter the test to find extra credit questions if present.

Image 1. Instructor view – assign one or more questions in an assessment as Extra Credit

Instructor view – assign one or more questions in an assessment as Extra Credit

Image 2. Student view – students can identify which questions are extra credit and the total amount of extra credit available on the assessment

Student view – students can identify which questions are extra credit and the total amount of extra credit available on the assessment.

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

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Hotspot question – polygon shapes – 3900.58

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

Instructors may want to assess a student’s knowledge of visual content. The hotspot question type is popular for this type of assessment. This question type is also good for reducing the potential of cueing or guessing.

Hotspot questions present an image without any answer options for students to choose. Students must mark a certain area of the image that is within the area the instructor defined as correct.

Building on the initial hotspot question introduced in the 3900.52.0 release, we are adding two enhancements to this question type:

  • A new polygon shape selector can be used to draw more complex shapes.
  • Improved keyboard controls. Instructors can now create and place new hotspot shapes on the image canvas directly via the keyboard.

Image 1. Instructor view - Add one or more polygon hotspots to an image

Instructor view - Add one or more polygon hotspots to an image

Image 2. Student view – students may add a pin to the image to mark their selection

Student view – students may add a pin to the image to mark their selection

In Original Course View, instructors can only create hotspot questions using a mouse. In the Ultra Course View, instructors can create the hotspot question using a mouse or keyboard. Students may answer hotspot questions via a mouse or keyboard.

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

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Gradebook List View – Gradable items sorting – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors may want to sort the items in the Gradable Items view of the Gradebook. Sorting provides a more efficient grading experience. For example, instructors may want to sort by grading status to quickly locate items that need grading.

The sorting controls provide temporary changes to the sort order for all columns in the Gradable Items view. We have also moved the grade post status to a dedicated column.

Image 1. Gradable Items view with sorting controls; here items are sorted in descending order by Grading Status

Gradable Items view with sorting controls; here items are sorted in descending order by Grading Status

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

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Student Gradebook sorting – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Students

Students may want to sort the information in their Gradebook. Sorting may help students locate information more efficiently. For example, sorting by due date helps students discern items that are due next.

Now students can use sorting controls to temporarily change the order for all columns in the Gradebook.

Image 1. Student gradebook view with sorting controls; items are sorted in descending order by grade

Student gradebook view with sorting controls; items are sorted in descending order by grade

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

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Attendance tool available in GovCloud – 3900.58

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

Attendance can be an important factor in determining a student’s level of participation. Sometimes this is used for part of a student’s grade. Previously, the Attendance tool was unavailable to United States government clients hosted in GovCloud. Now government clients can enable this tool.

For each class meeting, instructors can mark whether a student is present, late, absent, or excused. The attendance records for each student appear in a single column next to other grades. On the Attendance page, profile pictures appear. The profile pictures help instructors identify students. Instructors can use attendance as part of grade calculations the same as assignment grade columns.

Image 1. An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in Ultra Course View

An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in Ultra Course View

Image 2. An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in the Original Course View Control Panel

An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in the Original Course View Control Panel

Image 3. An instructor marks attendance for today’s class session

An instructor marks attendance for today’s class session

For administrators: The Attendance tool is not verified for use under FedRAMP certification. If you comply with that security standard, you might choose not to adopt Attendance. In GovCloud, the Attendance tool is off by default. An administrator must enable it with these steps:

- Go to Admin Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
- In the context menu for Attendance, choose “Set Available.”
- Accept the notice about FedRAMP compliance.
- Go to Admin Panel > Tools.
- Enable Attendance for courses and organizations as appropriate.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Groups

Show Course Group Members – 3900.58

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

Instructors and students need to see group memberships. In the past, there was not an obvious way for instructors and students to see the members in a group.

From the Course Groups page, users may expand a group set to see a list of groups. Now each group has a "Show Members" option. Group members are listed alphanumerically in a panel. Users may search for a specific group member. A future release will provide profile cards and options for messaging group members from the search results.

Note: Students see only the groups and members for groups where they have membership.

Image 1. Show Members option

Show Members option

Image 2. Group Membership panel with search option

Group Membership panel with search option

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

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Data & Analytics

Progress Tracking: visibility filters for the Student Progress tab – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Student Progress tab helps instructors track individual student progress in a course. An instructor can see completed and outstanding tasks for each student. Now instructors can change the Student Progress view to see a student’s progress against everything on the Course Content page. This view includes the items not visible to the student. This helps instructors better understand students’ progress considering all course content.

Viewing with the “Visible to Students” filter:

  • This is the default filter for the Student Progress tab.
  • The view displays only items visible to the student.
  • The display indicates items that the student cannot yet access because they do not meet release conditions.

Viewing with the “All” filter:

  • This filter is new in this release.
  • The entire Course Content page is displayed.
  • Items the student cannot see are indicated with a not visible icon.
  • An item can be hidden from a student’s view for two reasons:
    • It is not available to students.
    • Settings indicate the item should be hidden when release conditions are not met.

Image 1. Student Progress tab with the “Visible to students” content availability filter applied; the instructor only sees content visible to this student

Student Progress tab with the “Visible to students” content availability filter applied; the instructor only sees content visible to this student

Image 2. When the “All” content availability filter is applied, the instructor sees all Course Outline items; the view indicates the items that are not visible to the student

When the “All” content availability filter is applied, the instructor sees all Course Outline items. The view indicates the items that are not visible to the student

For administrators:Progress Tracking is available behind a feature flag. Administrators need to enable it first.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Progress Tracking: Ally alternative format views count towards progress– 3900.58

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

An accurate representation of course progress is key for both instructors and students. With this latest addition, any Ally alternative format accessed by a student will reflect in their presented course progress.

Students will:

  • See the progress indicator updated to “started” as they download an alternative format using Ally.
  • Be able to mark an item as complete after accessing any alternative format.

Instructors will see the progress made by each one of their students based on access to the original file or an alternative format.

Image 1. Student view - a PDF in the course content with no progress indicated

Student view - a PDF in the course content with no progress indicated

Image 2. Student view - selects an Ally alternative format

Student view - selects an Ally alternative format

Image 3. Student view – after downloading the alternative format, the PDF in the course content indicates progress

Student view – after downloading the alternative format, the PDF in the course content indicates progress

For administrators: Progress Tracking is available behind a feature flag. Administrators need to enable it first.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Mobile App

User Profile Card – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Mobile App
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

In the Blackboard Learn mobile app, we now provide expanded options when viewing the user profile. Users will be able to view their information to the full extent, see the profile card, and play name pronunciation.

This is applicable to SaaS environments with Base Navigation enabled. This first iteration of profile improvements does not allow editing profile data in the mobile application. In a future release we plan to add editing options when allowed.

Image 1. Profile Card preview

Profile Card preview

Image 2. User Profile

User Profile

For administrators:This feature is available for all users of the Mobile App. No action is needed from users who have enabled automatic updates on their devices. Users who have disabled automatic updates on their devices must download the update.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Administrator Login As Tool – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

Institutions want a way to maximize support to their end users. This needs to happen without sharing or exchanging login credentials. In the past, Blackboard Learn administrators might have used a community-created Building Block (B2)—LoginAs and Impersonate are two examples. These allowed an administrator to impersonate an end user for troubleshooting purposes. This category of third-party add-ons had the highest adoption volume in our global client base. The request to add this feature to Learn was ranked #1 in our Idea Exchange for more than 12 weeks in 2022.

We prioritized client feedback and are happy to share that the ability for an admin to log in as a user is now available.

Administrators can:

  • Search and select a user to login as.
  • Add in a reason for logging in as that user for institutional audit purposes.
    • This is optional. Institutions may wish to determine a policy for the use of this feature.
  • Start the session as that user.

To login as a user:

  • Search for a user in Administrator Panel > Users.
  • Open the dropdown menu for the user.
  • Select the “Login As” option.
  • When done, logout.

Image 1. Search for a user and select the Login As option

Login As – Search for a user and select the Login As option

Image 2. End user acknowledgement and Session Start

Login As - End user acknowledgement and Session Start

For administrators: This release has certain constraints:
- “Login as” is available only for the full System Administrator (Z) role. We have plans to support permissions that can be assigned to other support roles.
- Administrators can access log data, including who logged in as whom and reasons for login, using the Learn “Sessions” public API. Documentation is at https://developer.anthology.com/portal/displayApi . We have plans to provide access to this data in the admin user interface.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Course Auto-Archive Retention Policy Change – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

This change is part of a series of ongoing policy and product changes for automatic course archives in Learn SaaS.

Background on Automatic Course Archives

Learn SaaS creates archives for active courses every day. This process is automatic and lets administrators retrieve data deleted by accident. To align to Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Anthology has always required a minimum 30 days of archives since we released this feature.

In the past, administrators could choose to keep archives longer than 30 days. On large environments, setting a policy longer then 30 days could prevent the automatic backup process from running properly.

Also in the past, clients had to pay for storage for all course archives. We heard from clients that it was unfair to charge storage for the archives we required for the SLA. In response to this feedback, we stopped charging for course archive storage in April 2022. For storage use, we couldn’t distinguish between older archives and the 30-day archives we require for the SLA. Since April 2022, Anthology has also covered storage costs for archives older than 30 days. However, this situation is temporary pending product improvements.

We also found clients relying on older auto-archive packages for long-term, legally required data backups of learner activity. This was not intended and is not recommended. The auto-archive process creates new archives when there is new course activity. Changes to a course will overwrite prior archives after 30 days.

  • Example: An instructor completes a course in 2022. The course is archived automatically. In preparing for teaching that same course again in 2023, the instructor accidentally deletes the student submissions in the 2022 course. In 30 days, the new archive for the 2022 version of the course will overwrite the backup made a year earlier. The student data is gone. Therefore, we recommend storing long-term course archives in a location not associated with daily backup overwrites.

Changes in this release:

  • We removed the archive retention policy configuration in Admin Panel > Course Settings > Automatic Archive Settings. Now the behavior will be consistent on all SaaS environments.
  • If a course still exists in Learn, the process always removes archives older than 30 days.
  • If a course no longer exists in Learn, the process will retain the final archive. This behavior will change in a future release. Administrators should move older archives to another location for long-term storage.
  • If a course is deleted, the process will still create and retain an archive. This behavior will change in a future release. For now, administrators should move these archives to another location for long-term storage. Once copied elsewhere, administrators should delete these older archives.

Future plans:

We plan to continue to improve the auto-archive process. In the next phases, we will make it easier for administrators to manage archives and move them to external storage. We will also require older archives to be removed or they will count against storage use. These changes will be announced before they happen.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


Retain third-party app icons defined in the Developer Portal – 3900.58

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Original Experience
Impact: Administrators

LTI icons help users better differentiate between third-party app content (LTI tools). In the December 2022 release (3900.54), we began displaying icons selected by the third-party app provider or configured by the administrator.

Now, when a tool provider or an administrator sets an icon in the Developer Portal, administrators cannot change it.

For administrators:Administrators may continue to configure icons for LTI tools that do not have default icons configured.

Return to February 2023 – 3900.58 Release description


January 2023 – 3900.56 Release

The January 2023 - 3900.56 release is complete with features in five areas:

  • assessment and grading;
  • richer course and content design;
  • mobile app;
  • integration, extension, and management; and
  • course upgrading;

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

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

All users:

Other - Support roles:

Return to top of the Release Notes page


Bb Annotate

Icon that indicates the release note is a new feature

Bb Annotate: Create categories inside the content library - 3900.56

 

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

Creating and reusing comments is a useful practice for instructors. When using Bb Annotate, instructors can use the content library to store comments across courses. Now instructors can also organize comments into categories. Categories helps instructors find the comments they want to use. The process of providing student is more efficient with the new option. Existing comments will be part of a general comments category until instructors decide to move them to a new one.

Now instructors will be able to:

  • Create as many categories as needed
  • Move comments to new or existing categories
  • Collapse or expand the categories to easily locate the comments

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Assessment and Grading

See and edit grades for anonymous submissions prior to posting – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Anonymous grading is an important practice to ensure fair and consistent grading. In the past when anonymously grading, instructors could view grades on the Submissions page only after posting grades. This prevented instructors from editing grades before students could view grades.

Now instructors can view grades on the Submission page before they post grades. Student anonymity is still preserved until the grades are posted. To edit a grade, an instructor can open the attempt.

Image 1. Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading

Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Essay Question Model Answer – 3900.56

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

Instructors want to ensure that they grade students’ work fairly and consistently. This can be especially challenging when evaluating student responses to essay questions. Instructors like to have a reference while grading. Now instructors can include a model answer for essay questions. Instructors and graders can see this when grading.

Image 1. Model answer when authoring essay questions

Model answer when authoring essay questions

Students can see the model answer when reviewing their results if the test is configured to show correct answers. Students do not see the model answer when they take a test.

Image 2. Student viewing the model answer along with their own response

Student viewing the model answer along with their own response

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Non-posted grades included in Grade History – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Grade history provides a log of changes to grades in a course. This is important in situations such as grade challenges and ensuring grading errors were not made. The grade history now includes non-posted grades. Including non-posted grades supplies greater insight into grade changes in the course.

Image 1. Grade history download file with non-posted grade information

Grade history download file showing the new non-posted grade information

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Test Question and Page Randomization – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors randomize test question to improve academic integrity. In the past, instructors couldn’t randomize questions if the test contained text blocks, files, or images.

Now instructors can enable randomization when the test has text blocks, files, or images. The non-question elements are locked in place. The test randomizes questions between those non-question elements.

Image 1. Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements

Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements

Instructors can also randomize questions in a test that contains page breaks. Questions randomize within their assigned page. If a page contains non-question elements, the questions randomize between those elements.

When there are pages for the test, instructors can also randomize page order. If instructors randomize the page order, they can also lock the first page into position. This is useful when the first page is a cover page or contains test instructions.

Image 2. Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages

Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Progress tracking: Status and filters for group submissions– 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors need clear information about the status of group progress on an assessment. In the past, the submission view of assessments and discussions included two status columns:

  • Student status
  • Grading status

Now we also show both in the group submission page. This gives instructors greater clarity into group work status. We also separated the filter to allow compound filtering of student and grading statuses. The default filter shows everything. The filter resets every time an instructor accesses the submission view.

Image 1. Group submission filters

Group submission filters

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Original Course View: “Needs Grading” retains tasks when AWS auto-scales – 3900.56

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

Because Learn SaaS is in the cloud, the application scales on demand. When more users are on Learn, the cloud provides more resources. In the past in Original Course View, this cloud scaling could disrupt instructors grading student work. Instructors navigating to their next task in “needs grading” would see an error.

Now instructors can navigate to their next task even when the application scales. In some cases, instructors can’t return to completed tasks. If this happens, instructors receive clear instructions to return to the Grade Center where they can review these submissions.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed. 

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Richer Course and Content Design

Improvements to Messages recipient types by course role - 3900.56

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

In the past an “all course members” recipient type appeared for all course users. Students could send messages to all course users, on accident or on purpose.

Now students can only send messages to:

  • all instructors
  • selected course members

Instructors can send messages to:

  • all course members
  • all instructors
  • all students
  • selected course members

Image 1. Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users

Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users

Image 2. Students can send to all instructors or selected users

Students can send to all instructors or selected users

Image 3. Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message

Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Discussions - No Activity After Due Date – 3900.56

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

In the past students could continue posting in Discussions after the due date had passed. This created problems for instructors when grading discussions. Now instructors may lock the discussion after the due date has passed. When selected, students can’t create, reply to, or edit posts after the due date. Students with a due date accommodation can continue to create, reply to, and edit posts after the due date.

Image 1. Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” setting

Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” settings

Image 2. Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed

Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Icon that indicates the release note is a new feature

Assist Banner update - 3900.56

 

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Base Navigation
Ultra Assist View
Impact: Instructors

To better align with feedback and needs from clients, we updated the Assist banner. We have made the following changes:

  • Removed Space Dog Banner banner image
  • Removed "Blackboard" from the title
  • Modified the Assist page to have greater visual consistency with other aspects of the base navigation

Image 1. Blackboard Assist banner

Blackboard Assit banner

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Show icons for Third-Party app content (LTI) in Gradebook and Grades – 3900.56

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

In the past, it has been difficult for users to differentiate between third-party app content (LTI tools). In the December 2022 release (3900.54), we began displaying icons selected by the third-party app provider or an administrator. Now we display icons in the following additional areas:

  • Gradebook grid view
  • Gradebook list view
  • Gradable Items tab
  • Students Grades Overview
  • Grades tab on Base Navigation

Image 1. Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator

Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator

Image 2. Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view

Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view

Image 3. Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab

Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab

Image 4. Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview

Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview

Image 5. Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation

Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation

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 Content and Gradebook 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.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Blackboard Learn Mobile App

Expand and Collapse Course Faculty, Details & Actions, and Course Content sections – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Mobile App
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

In the past users on a mobile device had to scroll through the Course Faculty and Details & Actions sections to see course content. Now users can collapse these sections, making it easier and faster to access course content. 

Image 1. Collapsible sections

Collapsible sections in the Course Outline page

For administrators:This feature is available for all users of the Mobile App. No action is needed from users who have enabled automatic updates on their devices. Users who have disabled automatic updates on their devices must download the update.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

User Interface Improvement - Microsoft OneDrive Integration – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors can embed OneDrive files in a course. These files may be read-only for students or allow collaboration for students and instructors. In the past, instructors accessed the option to create these files under Cloud Document in the Create Item panel.

We heard from users that these options were not obvious. Acting on client feedback, we updated the user interface. Now instructors will find two options as separate items in the “Create Item” panel:

  • Embedded Cloud Document – this creates a link to a read-only file
  • Cloud Collaboration – this creates a document that students and instructors can edit together

Image 1. Before improvements to the user interface

Before improvements to the user interface

Image 2. After improvements to the user interface: Access the two items in one click

After improvements to the user interface: Access the two items in one click

For administrators: This feature is available for all Ultra courses. For clients who have already enabled the Microsoft OneDrive integration, you will need to resynchronize the LTI 1.3 tool and LTI tool placements for this enhancement to take effect. This can be done by following these steps:
     1. Administrator Panel – Integrations - LTI Tool Providers
     2. Select Synchronize LTI 1.3 Tools
     3. Search for Microsoft OneDrive LTI Tool in the main tool list
     4. Select Manage Placements – Synchronize Placements

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Custom HTML/CSS content blocks in Institution Pages – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

Institutions can target personalized content to users with Institution Pages. Now administrators can create custom HTML/CSS content blocks in Institution Pages for even greater flexibility. Content blocks will size automatically for better display. Content blocks are served in an iframe from a separate domain to keep Blackboard Learn secure.

Image 1. Custom HTML content type in Institution Pages

Custom HTML content type in Institution Pages

Image 2. HTML module authoring page for Institution Pages

HTML module authoring page for Institution Pages

For administrators: 
You’ll see the Add HTML option in Institution Pages if an alternate domain configured.
- Contact product support for help if an alternate domain isn’t configured. Browser security can prevent external links from opening in an iframe. We recommend configuring your HTML to open links in a new browser window.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Base Navigation: Visibility controls for the Course and Organization Catalog, Hide Organizations tab – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

Institutions have different policies and use different tools. Some institutions do not use Organizations. Previously, administrators couldn’t hide the Organizations tab in Base Navigation. This could confuse users. Now, the availability of the Course Catalog and Organization Catalog can be configured independently. This lets administrators configure how Organizations are used at the institution:

  • If an institution doesn’t want to use Organizations, they should turn off the Organization Catalog and not enroll users in Organizations. This will hide the Organizations tab in Base Navigation from all users.
  • If an institution wants to use Organizations for some users but hide the Organizations tab from others, they should turn off the Organization Catalog. Administrators would then enroll appropriate users into Organizations. When a user has an active enrollment in an Organization, they see the Organizations tab in Base Navigation. Users without an Organization will not see the Organizations tab in Base navigation.
  • If an institution wants all users to see the Organizations tab in Base Navigation, they should turn on the Organization Catalog. This is the default setting.

Image 1. Ultra Experience Management panel: options to display links for Course and Organization Catalogs

Ultra Experience Management panel: options to display links for Course and Organization Catalogs

Image 2. Ultra Base Navigation without Organizations Tab

Ultra Base Navigation without Organizations Tab

For administrators: Set your preferences for displaying links to the Organization or Course Catalog on the Ultra Experience Management page in the administrator panel. Users always see the Courses tab in Base Navigation even if the Course Catalog is not available.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Activity Stream new submission notification improvement – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Impact: All users

For instructors, the Activity Stream includes notifications for new submissions from students. In the past, these links directed the instructor to the Submissions List View of that assessment in Ultra Course View. Now these links direct the instructor to the Submissions List View with the "Needs Grading" filter already applied. This improves grading efficiency.

Additionally, the instructor can add a browser bookmark for the Submission List filter views. This provides faster access to the instructor's preferred filtered view.

Image 1. Submissions view filtered by Needs Grading 

Submissions view filtered by Needs Grading

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Privileges: Support role can access Course Content page without progress setting privilege - 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Support roles

Users with system role privileges may be configured to access courses. In the past, these support users couldn’t access the Course Content page if they were missing the privilege Course/Organization Control Panel (Customization) > View Progress Tracking Configuration. These users would see an error and the course page would close.

Now support users without this privilege who have the privilege Course/Organization (Content Areas) > View Material Settings can view the Course Content page.

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

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Course Upgrading

Convert Test Passwords to Passcodes – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Original Course View allows instructors to add passwords to Tests. In the past when an instructor converted an Original test to Ultra, the passwords were lost. Now a generated passcode replaces passwords when the Test is copied. Instructors can view the new access code in Test settings. They may need to update references to passwords in the course.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Additional Improvements to Unsupported Text Color Removal – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

The Original Course View allows instructors to choose any color for text. This content may be difficult to read or not accessible. Ultra Course View has a curated set of text colors to ensure readability: black, gray, purple, blue, and green. During conversion, we remove unsupported text colors. This text becomes black. This release adds several areas where text colors are corrected for readability:

  • Journals
  • Groups within group sets
  • Tests

We remove unsupported text colors during conversion from the following:

  • Announcements
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Documents
  • Journals
  • Groups and Group Sets
  • Tests and Question Types

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description


Preserve Text Sizes – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, the text copied from Original to Ultra Course View did not support different text sizes. During the conversion process, text would be set to size 14 pixels. Now we preserve text sizes during the conversion process using the following logic:

  • If text size is less than or equal to 10, set to 10 pixels.
  • If text size is 11 or 12, set to 12 pixels.
  • If text size is 13 or 14, set to 14 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 17, set to 14 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 17, set to 18 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 22, set to 18 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 22, set to 24 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 31, set to 24 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 31, set to 36 pixels.
  • If text size is less than 43, set to 36 pixels.
  • If text size is greater than or equal to 43, set to 48 pixels.

Text sizes are different in the Original and Ultra Content Editors. The conversion logic preserves similar text sizes to reduce cleanup.

Sizes are preserved when converting text associated with the following items:

  • Announcements
  • Discussions
  • Assignments
  • Documents
  • Journals
  • Groups and Group Sets
  • Tests and Question Types

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to January 2023 – 3900.56 Release description



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

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