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.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.
February 2023 – 3900.58 Release
The February 2023 - 3900.58 release is robust with features in five areas:
- assessment and grading;
- data and analytics;
- mobile app; and
- integration, extension, and management.
These improvements impact instructors, students, and administrators. Some features do require administrative action.
- Technical Preview: Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts
- Gradebook List View – Gradable items sorting
- Progress Tracking: visibility filters for the Student Progress tab
Instructors and students:
- Extra credit questions in assessments
- Hot spot question type – polygon shapes
- Show Course Group Members
- Progress Tracking: Ally alternative format views count towards progress
- Attendance tool available in GovCloud
- Login As
- Course Auto-Archive Retention Policy Change
- Retain third-party app icons defined in the Developer Portal
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
Image 2. An instructor accessing the Attendance tool in the Original Course View Control Panel
Image 3. 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.
Integration, Extension, and Management
Administrator Login As Tool – 3900.58
Blackboard Learn SaaS
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.
- 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
Image 2. 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.
Course Auto-Archive Retention Policy Change – 3900.58
Blackboard Learn SaaS
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.
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.
Retain third-party app icons defined in the Developer Portal – 3900.58
Blackboard Learn SaaS
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.
Looking for older release notes?
Check out the Blackboard Learn Release Notes Archive for more information on past releases.