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 3900.60.0

Blackboard Learn SaaS Continuous Delivery v3900.60.0
Release to Test/Stage: Tuesday, 7 February 2023 | Release to Production: Thursday, 2 March 2023
Original Experience, Ultra Experience
Original Course View, Ultra Course View

For full feature details please review the corresponding notes for the Learn 3900.60.0 version included below on this page. Details can also be found on Behind the Blackboard.

Latest release: 3900.60.0-rel.13+0eff026 to Test/Stage servers to take place on 7 Ferburary 2023.

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

 


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.29+31f3d35 to Production servers to take place on 2 Ferburary 2023.

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

 


PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Managed and Self-Hosting
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: All users

The SafeAssign Originality Report is a valuable teaching and learning tool. Instructors use the report to ensure students express original thoughts and cite sources. Some instructors allow students to view the report. This is helpful for teaching students how to cite their work.

In the past, users could download the report as PDF. However, users could not open the sources from the PDF.

Now, users can open matched sources from the PDF. We also made some usability improvements to the PDF, such as text alignment and font adjustments. To better support peak usage, we made infrastructure improvements.

Image 1. Improved PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report

mproved PDF version of the SafeAssign Originality Report

For administrators: Managed and Self-Hosting clients must upgrade to the newest version of the SafeAssign Building Block for these improvements.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Data & Analytics

Course Activity Report Table Enhancements – 3900.60

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

The course activity page helps instructors understand students' performance. With this information, instructors can:

  • Identify struggling or high performing students based on their grade, hours in course, or days of inactivity.
  • Message students who have a low grade and/or have not accessed the course recently.
  • Receive alerts when a student has not accessed their course in a while or if a student's grade has dropped.

With this update, we have made the following improvements:

  • New Table - Updated to be more consistent with other features. Those who use progress tracking will find the feel of the new table should be familiar. The new table makes it easier to select and message students.
  • New Days of Inactivity Column - the number of days since a student last accessed your course. Instructors can use this information to identify students that might be falling behind.
  • Access Student Overview - click or tap a student's name to see their grades, progress, and activity over the weeks. Instructors can use the Student Overview to get a full picture of a student's performance and engagement in a course.
  • More Student Information. Accommodations, name pronunciation, and pronouns are now visible. Instructors can use this information when drafting messages to students.

Image 1. Course Activity Report - new table capabilities and metrics

Course Activity Report - new table capabilities and metrics

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

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Integration, Extension, and Management

Administrator Login As Tool: Permissions Extended – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: Administrators and users with permissions

End user support is critical for system administrators and other support staff in varying roles. Administrators can now enable the Login As feature for roles other than the full administrator role. This ensures that institutions can enable additional support personnel without giving them full administrative privileges.

When using Login As, your activity will be logged against the impersonated user, and may result in false positives for activity that could impact institutional or external reporting.

Image 1. Manage Login As privileges in the Administrator Panel

manage Login As privileges in the Administrator Panel

For administrators: To enable the Login As entitlement, access System Roles > Privileges. Mark the two privileges for Login As. Select Permit Privileges in the Privileges dropdown.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


REST APIs to read Rubrics associations – 3900.60

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

Providing access to Rubric associations within our REST API framework offers many benefits:

  • additional administrative control for assessments
  • flexibility for external third-party integrations
  • supports instructor-student communication about performance expectations

In this release we are glad to make available a new Rubrics Associations API. This public API includes a set of GET endpoints. This helps to inform users about existing rubric associations in a course:

  • Rubrics associations
  • Rubrics associations by rubrics ID
  • Rubrics associations by associations ID

For administrators: The REST integration user must have the entitlement “course.rubrics.VIEW” to make use of the new endpoints.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Password age, re-use, and expiration policies – 3900.60

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Impact: All users who are allowed to reset their passwords in Learn

Most institutions use an identity provider (e.g. Azure Active Directory) to manage and authenticate users. There are cases when administrators create users in Learn. These users may set their own passwords in Learn. In support of security requirements for passwords, users may be prompted to:

  • Change their passwords after a certain number of days have elapsed since their last password change. After expiry, users can log in with their old password, but are prompted to change it immediately before continuing.
  • Wait a span of time between password changes. When a user tries to change a password before a certain span of time, they are informed that they cannot change the password. We recommend contacting the helpdesk in this case.
  • Avoid re-using previous passwords.

Image 1. A user is prompted create a new password after password expiration

A user is prompted create a new password after password expiration

Image 2. A user is informed when a password cannot be changed because of the password Minimum Age Policy Violation

A user is informed when a password cannot be changed because of the password Minimum Age Policy Violation

Image 3. A user is informed that previous passwords may not be reused

A user is informed that previous passwords may not be reused

Image 4. An administrator configures the Password Age and History policies

An administrator configures the Password Age and History policies

If necessary, an administrator can require users to change their passwords to meet password policies updates instead of waiting for an automatic expiry. The “Expire Password” option appears in the Administrator Panel on Users page. Select one or multiple users at a time. Full System Administrators can use this new feature by default. Administrators may grant this privilege to other roles if desired: “Administrator Panel (Users) > Users > Edit > Expire Password”. If an administrator chooses to expire a user’s password and the Minimum Password Age Policy is turned on, users will not have to wait to change their password.

Image 5. An administrator expires users’ passwords

An administrator expires users’ passwords

Finally, for security measures, passwords are no longer stored in archive packages.

Image 6. An administrator downloads archive package

An administrator downloads archive package

For administrators: For administrators: When changing passwords for another users, ensure you meet password length and complexity rules.
Administrators can determine the age and reuse policies. These new settings appear in the Administrator Panel on the Password Settings page. Only a full System Administrator can access the configuration page. The default settings enforce the following policies:

  • Password Age Policy: This option is off by default. The following rules may be turned on independently:
    • The minimum age default value is 24 hours. Define a value between 1 and 720 hours. New users will not have to wait for this period to change their passwords the first time.
    • The maximum age default value is 90 days. Define a value between 29 and 360 days.
  • Password History Policy: This option is off by default. If turned on, administrators can specify the number of recently used passwords for the system to check. The default value is 10. Define a value between 1 and 24.

 

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Unsupported Course Cartridge and ePack Features Removed – 3900.60

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

In the past for Original Course View, there were two older methods for adding licensed publisher content. These are no longer supported:

  • Course Cartridges, a server-based method to download licensed publisher content using one-time keys
  • ePack licensed content importing when converting WebCT courses

While we have not supported these for years, users still see options to add Course Cartridges download keys. APIs for ePack conversion are still part of the course import process. In this release, we have removed these. Instructors and admins will no longer see options to enter a Course Cartridge download key.

Image 1. An instructor viewing the “Import Course Cartridge” page in the Original Course View Control Panel—this option will be removed in 3900.60

An instructor viewing the “Import Course Cartridge” page in the Original Course View Control Panel—this option will be removed in 3900.60

There are no changes for existing content. Course Cartridge materials that required ongoing license validation have not worked for years. Course Cartridge materials that became standard Learn items—students do not have to enter license keys to access them the first time—will continue to work.

This change is unrelated to other methods to import content or access licensed publisher materials. These other methods are not impacted by this change:

  • Partner Cloud
  • Importing or exporting a Learn course package
  • Importing or exporting a Common Cartridge (an exchange format standard from 1EdTech, formerly IMS Global)
  • Course auto-archive

For administrators: This change is for all Original courses. There are no configurations needed.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Security: Registration of all domains required– 3900.60

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

Various methods of verifying users help to make the Blackboard Learn application more secure. One method is to confirm all requests come from authorized domains. Administrators manage this in the Administrator Panel > Hostname Configuration.

In the past, requests from some parts of the application would work even if the requester domain was not registered. In this release, this will no longer be allowed. This improves the security of Blackboard Learn.

Image 1. The hostname configuration page allows administrators to register all domains used to access the Learn application

he hostname configuration page allows administrators to register all domains used to access the Learn application

For administrators: If your institution created additional domains for your Learn environment, you must register them all. This applies to both primary application domains and alternate domains for serving content. For example, an administrator at Monument University created the domains learn.monumentuni.edu for users to access and learn-content.monumentuni.edu to securely serve content. Both must be registered.

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 Release description


Blackboard Assist (K12 availability) – 3900.60

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

Assist offers learners one central hub within Blackboard Learn to find and access the services they need to flourish. In the past, Blackboard Assist was not available to clients with K12 licenses. From March 2, 2023, K12 clients will also have the chance to enable Assist.

Enable Blackboard Assist within Blackboard Learn to: 

  • Give learners one place to find vital support services. The prominent placement of Blackboard Assist in Blackboard Learn helps make learners increasingly aware of all connected support resources.
  • Get learners to take advantage of available services. Blackboard Assist is available around-the-clock from the desktop and Blackboard mobile app. This means that learners can access these support resources whenever and wherever they need them. Featuring services this way provides an additional means to capture your learners’ attention. 
  • Gain access to Ally File Transformer: The Blackboard Ally File Transformer helps learners to personalize their learning experience. It can convert files into alternative formats that better fit their needs, devices, and learning preferences.

For administrators: Assist must be enabled for use. Learn more: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Tools_Management/Blackboard_Assist

Return to March 2023 – 3900.60 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


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



Looking for older release notes?

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

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