Easy updates, without interruptions.

Blackboard Learn is hosted, delivered, and managed using a modern cloud-computing infrastructure as the environment for our software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment.

All updates are done for you. Your users experience the most recent version of Blackboard Learn without significant downtime or service interruptions.

Blackboard Learn with the SaaS deployment also provides the option to use the Ultra experience, a new design to the user interface that makes student and instructor workflows more efficient and modern.

More on the Ultra experience

What does this mean to you?

We redesigned some Original features in the Administrator Panel to provide the following:

Improved service

  • Quality: Blackboard can deliver maintenance and fixes to production faster than ever, as well as enhancements and new features.
  • Change management: More frequent, modest releases allow for easier change management.

Improved uptime

  • Zero-downtime updates: This is for Learning Core (sold in NAHE). Users won't experience any downtime. Thanks to the cloud environment, Blackboard can update instances without any interruption.
  • Elasticity: The new platform allows the ability to scale in response to load.
  • Resilience: Cloud platforms are designed to deal with hardware failure quickly and seamlessly.

Improved server management experience

  • Log Access is available through the Administrator Panel using Kibana, an open source visualization tool. This replaces the existing log access tool.
  • Software Updates has been removed. Blackboard manages all upgrade deployment, maintenance, patches, and building block updates.
  • The Admin Console Building Block is not available in SaaS deployment. The Redis Cache Building Block is still available with limited administrator control.
  • Technical Settings in the Content Management section has been removed. Blackboard manages the performance impact of content management functionality on the resources in the SaaS deployment.
  • System Performance Settings in the System Configuration section has been removed. Blackboard manages all of these settings.
  • Math Editor Image Service Settings has been removed. Blackboard defines the location and path to the Math Editor Image Service host.
  • SaaS Standard customers have access to a set of preinstalled building blocks included with Learn SaaS by default. SaaS Plus and Advantage customers have access to preinstalled building blocks as well as the ability to request additional building blocks be installed on their Learn SaaS system.
  • You cannot install custom reports, and the interface has been removed from the UI.

Improved Learn implementation management

  • You cannot disable SSL. The feature to control SSL was removed from Blackboard Learn 9.1 in the April 2014 release and has never been available in the SaaS deployment of Blackboard Learn. The SaaS deployment of Blackboard Learn will always run under TLS. Learn more about TLS, which is the successor to SSL.
  • In the SaaS Standard deployment option, the following authentication mechanisms are supported:
    • LDAP is supported
    • SAML is supported
    • Default authentication is supported
    • Legacy authentication is supported
    • Shibboleth is not supported.

      Blackboard can help if you need assistance or guidance moving to SAML authentication as part of your migration to Blackboard Learn SaaS.

    SaaS Plus and Advantage customers have the ability to install custom authentication solutions via building blocks.

  • All student information system (SIS) integrations must go through the SIS Integration Framework. The command-line Snapshot Controller tool is not supported in the SaaS deployment. The Snapshot file format is still supported, but can only be processed through the SIS Integration Framework. Because of the constraints on client-specific building blocks, building blocks that manage custom SIS integration are not supported. Custom SIS integrations can still be supported through web services.
  • Command-line access and command-line tools are not supported in the SaaS deployment.
  • Direct access to data for the purposes of direct querying is not supported. Similarly, the Advanced System Reporting (ASR) feature that extracts a subset of the Blackboard Learn data set and flattens it in a separate database to be used for reporting is not supported. The ASR database architecture is not supported in the SaaS deployment Cloud tech stack.

Security and roles

The SaaS deployment uses the Original system, course roles, and privileges that you're already familiar with.

We built security into the SaaS deployment from the beginning.

We're committed to improving security features and resolving security vulnerabilities quickly and carefully. Security vulnerability resolutions may lead to the release of a Security Advisory. We may also release needed product updates based on the context, severity, and timing of confirmed vulnerabilities.

More on Security

SaaS deployment tiers

Blackboard now offers three tiers of the SaaS deployment option: Standard, Plus, and Advantage. These deployment tiers offer additional customization and configuration options for institutions and administrators.

More on the Learn SaaS Plus and Advantage options

Blackboard Learn with the Ultra Experience

Learn SaaS introduces the option of new user interface, the Ultra experience, which can be enabled by administrators.

Tour the Ultra experience!

The Ultra experience is a new design approach to our teaching and learning environment. It redesigns existing workflows and capabilities-and adds some new ones-to improve instructor and student efficiency.

More on enabling the Ultra experience

After you enable the Ultra experience, you can still use the Original Course View.

The "for Instructors" links in the following table take you to the instructor help. After you view the instructor information, select your browser's back function to return here.

About the Blackboard Learn Ultra Experience
Feature Description
Ultra: Design
Aesthetic Design The overall look has changed significantly.
Dual Model When you enable the Ultra experience, you can allow your instructors to offer a combination of Original and Ultra Course Views. To learn more about the two course views, see Courses for Instructors.
Navigation When you enable the Ultra experience, the left navigation is what all users see when they log in. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Navigation for Instructors.
Ultra: Features
Activity Stream An up-to-the-minute activity stream on the first page users see captures all the action in their courses. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Activity Stream for Instructors.
Assignments Instructors can add assignments alongside other course content. If allowed, students can start a conversation about an assignment with their classmates. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Assignments for Instructors.
Calendar Users can access their global calendar pages from the base navigation to view all upcoming deadlines and events in all their courses. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Calendar for Instructors.
Courses Users can access their courses from a timeline offering high-level information about each course. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Courses for Instructors.
Course Content From the course content page, students can browse the various course materials. Users can access essential information about everyone enrolled in their course from the roster. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Course Content for Instructors.
Discussions The discussions feature allows instructors and students to communicate asynchronously. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Discussions for Instructors.
Grades The Grades page provides students and instructors with all grading activity in all their courses in one location. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Grades for Instructors.
Roster The course roster displays everyone enrolled in a course. Instructors with the appropriate permissions can perform basic user management functions. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Roster for Instructors.
Simple Profile User profile pictures and basic information appear in the course roster. User profile pictures also appear in the activity stream, discussions, and messages next to their activity. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Profile for Instructors.
Tools The Tools page provides a single location for accessing areas that are outside of a course, such as the Content Collection. To learn more from an instructor's point of view, see Tools for Instructors.
Administrator Panel Certain administrator capabilities no longer apply in the Blackboard Learn Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment. To learn more, see Admin Panel Updates.
Building Blocks Pre-installed building blocks provide a uniform experience in the Blackboard Learn SaaS environment. These building blocks are either developed by Blackboard and its premier partners or are open source.

About release versions

Blackboard Learn release versions are based on the way the product is hosted for your institution. The SaaS deployment is released to production servers monthly. Learn 9.1 deployment for self and managed hosting clients is released to production twice each year, in Q2 and Q4.

Our SaaS release numbers are categorized with the numbering convention 3100.0.0. The fifth digit changes with each monthly version. Example: 3100.9.0, 3100.11.0

Learn 9.1 Q2 and Q4 releases are produced in accordance with a SaaS release. The second digit of our SaaS release numbers change to reflect the twice-yearly version.


  • 3000.0.0 = 9.1 Q2 2016
  • 3100.0.0 = 9.1 Q4 2016
  • 3200.0.0 = 9.1 Q2 2017

More on release version numbers for Blackboard Learn SaaS customers on the Flexible Deployment Option