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.
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Ally File Transformer in Blackboard Assist (North America availability)
The Ally File Transformer helps students to personalize their learning experience. It can convert files into alternative formats that better fit their needs, devices, and learning preferences.
- Available at no cost with Blackboard Assist enabled. An Ally license is not required.
- It converts files to alternative, more accessible formats including HTML, ePub, electronic braille, audio, or BeeLine reader. Also, to a PDF that’s undergone optical character recognition (OCR).
- For institutions licensing Ally, the Ally File Transformer allows students to convert their own files, or files they've found via research or project work.
- The Ally File Transformer comes automatically with Blackboard Assist. There is an option to turn it off, if preferred, in the Administrator Panel > Partner Cloud Settings.
The Ally File Transformer will be available with Blackboard Assist for Higher Education clients in North America on August 5. Availability for clients outside this region is expected later this year.
Learn SaaS release 3900.19.0: Update to client Production environments
We’re applying an updated version of 3900.19.0 (full release number 3900.19.0-rel.31+ccd7094) to client Production servers on Thursday, August 5, 2021.
Updates in this version include:
- In the Ultra Course View, when a basic assessment was created in a private course and then the course was opened, unintentionally peer notifications were generated for all basic assessments. We've fixed the issue. The fix will cleanup the stream notifications that were incorrectly created.
- In the Original Experience, when instructors who are enrolled in very large courses (e.g. more than 10,000 enrollments) accessed the system, or navigated the course's landing page, clients experienced slow or no access. We've fixed the issue.
Learn SaaS release 3900.19.0: Update to client Test/Stage environments
We’re applying an updated version of 3900.19.0 (full release number 3900.19.0-rel.13+02039cd) to client Test/Stage servers on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.
Updates in this version include:
- In the Ultra Course View, when making a copy of a course, if quotes were used in custom alt-text descriptions for images, the Ultra assignments and assessments in the course appeared blank. We've fixed the issue.
- In the Ultra Course View, when using the REST API for courses copied from a specific template course, due dates for assignments and other activities couldn't be updated. We've fixed the issue.
- In the Original Experience, some SCORM attempts remained In Progress in the Grade Center, even after a successful completion of the corresponding SCORM quiz. We've worked with our partner to fix the issue and mitigate future problems.
- In the Original Experience, some Learn SafeAssign reports couldn't be rendered. We've fixed the issue.
Microsoft Teams classes in Ultra - 3900.19.0
Blackboard is excited to bring Microsoft Teams classes to the Ultra Course View to expand and support learner interaction and collaboration.
Research feedback, obtained from our global client base, set the base for Blackboard and Microsoft to foster collaboration and engagement, and to provide an integration breakthrough with Microsoft Teams classes. Users can now experience the power of Teams directly from within their Blackboard Learn Ultra course. This integration is the first in a series of upcoming integration capabilities with the Microsoft collaboration suite.
The integration will be available for Ultra courses only as part of the 3900.19.0 Learn SaaS release. The Microsoft Teams classes integration provides the following set of capabilities:
- Learn administrator setup and Microsoft 365 global admin approval.
- Enrollment synchronization between Ultra course enrollments and Microsoft Teams class participants.
- Automatic Microsoft Team class creation and Team activation control (Instructor/Team Owner availability management).
- Student and instructor course level launch of Microsoft Teams classes.
- Support for institution email data mapping to minimize user account enrollment issues.
- Support for Learn Preview User.
- Ultra course enrollment size of up to 1800 students. As we continue to enhance the integration, we'll aim to reach higher enrollment numbers.
The integration allows a course instructor to synchronize course membership data from Learn Ultra to the Microsoft Active Directory and create a Team class for their course. Students enrolled in the course will automatically enroll in the Team class. The instructor will have to activate the Team to give students access to it. Students will be able to launch their Team class directly from their Ultra course.
As part of this integration, there is a new entitlement to achieve both configuration and synchronization. The new entitlement is Course/Organization Outline > Microsoft Teams > Configure. To provide this new entitlement to a custom role, all Ultra courses must have a full system-provided instructor role enrolled before this action takes place.
Important Information for Testing
Clients who want to test the Microsoft Teams classes integration in their Blackboard Test and/or Staging instance are highly recommended to follow these steps:
- Engage with their Microsoft Account team to request a Microsoft Test Tenant under their Institutional Licensing Agreement.
- Alternatively, clients can request a trial at https://aka.ms/edutrial. This trial lasts 6 months. If you need to extend the trial for a longer period of time, please contact your Microsoft account representative.
- Using a Microsoft Test Tenant with your Blackboard Test or Staging environments prevents introducing potential data duplication issues when you come to deploy the integration in your Blackboard Learn Production system.
Important Information for Data Synchronization
The Microsoft Teams classes integration relies on the institution email SIS field to map to the correct Microsoft Azure Active Directory’s User Principal Name (UPN). If there is no institution email provisioned, it will default to the user's existing email. It’s recommended that the institution email is properly set for every user to ensure correct data synchronization and avoid data conflict.
Modern release strategy: feature toggles - 3900.19.0
One of the benefits of moving to SaaS has been the ability to introduce changes to our solutions much faster than we historically could. However, with constant change, users can feel anxious or experience change fatigue. We understand that feeling, so as part of the August release, Blackboard is introducing the option to have newly developed features behind a feature flag.
Not every feature will have this option. It will be added for features that are determined to be potentially disruptive to actively running courses. Features that have the flag option will have them for a limited amount of time. Having this feature will allow administrators greater flexibility as to when they release complex, large features to their users.
This feature will be available only in English for this release, but will be available in all languages in the next release.
Ultra calendar: Links - 3900.19.0
Given the rapid shift to online learning, virtual office hours or synchronous collaboration sessions have become quite common. Instructors want the ability to easily link sessions to calendar invitations so students can have the best opportunity to successfully find where they need to be.
With this release, Ultra now supports hyperlinks in the calendar location field. Instructors can link any virtual tool of their choice in the calendar event, and students can launch the virtual session from the calendar itself.
API updates - 3900.19.0
We've made some noteworthy API additions, including providing Ultra Discussion APIs for reading both single and collections of discussion topics and posts.
For more information about our Rest Public APIs, please refer to: https://developer.blackboard.com/portal/displayApi
Highlight on bug fixes - 3900.19.0
The bug fixes in this Learn release include:
In the Ultra Course View, the Give full credit to everyone option wasn't working for tests using Random Question Pool. We've fixed the issue.
In the Ultra Course View, in a course discussion, certain student replies didn't appear when they were part of a thread started by an inactive student. We've fixed the issue.
In the Ultra Experience, some instructor announcements randomly lost their formatting. We've fixed the issue.
You can view all maintenance items in Behind the Blackboard. Our Known Issue articles provide information for individual bug fixes, and may include bug descriptions and which Learn versions were affected. You can filter bug fixes by SaaS release for easier navigation. View the 3900.19.0 maintenance issues on Behind the Blackboard.
On June 17, Blackboard Student Success updated Blackboard Chatbot. Chatbot is included in Blackboard Learn at no additional cost, so the Learn experience is also improved:
- Search Blackboard Learn Help documentation for Instructors as well as Students.
- In addition to asking the chatbot questions, users can now also navigate a category hierarchy to discover common topics.
- Resulting help information is now previewed directly in the chat interaction. Users can click to open the full documentation from the Help site.
- The default Help articles reference the Ultra Course View to better support users transitioning to our latest interface and may need more assistance. However, users can easily switch to the Original Course View versions of Help articles as needed.
- Institutions can upgrade to the premium version of Blackboard Chatbot that now supports adding institutional-specific help resources and defining a unique, branded chatbot persona.
Blackboard Chatbot currently supports English language North American SaaS environments using Base Navigation. The June 17 update applies to all production and test/stage environments.
Looking for older release notes?
Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.