Resource

August 2022 Release

Educator Insights - August 2022

August 2022 – 3900.46 Release

The August 2022 - 3900.46 release is replete with features in three areas: assessment and grading; richer course and content design; and integration, extension, and management. These improvements primarily impact instructors and students. Some features do require administrative action.

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

Students:

All users:

Assessments and Grading

Advanced calculation for Overall Grade – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors have varying preferences about how they define the overall grade calculation. Now the Overall Grade supports an advanced calculation. This new calculation gives instructors greater flexibility and supports varied evaluation practices.

The instructor may use the 'Set it up' option to configure the Overall Grade.

Image 1. An instructor may select a points, weighted, or advanced calculation for the overall grade

An instructor may select a points, weighted, or advanced calculation for the overall grade

Image 2. An instructor may configure an advanced calculation for overall grade

An instructor may configure an advanced calculation for the overall grade

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

Managing Question Banks - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, System and Course Roles with privileges to manage question banks

Outside of course content, test questions are one of the most valued artifacts in a course. Instructors often spend a great deal of time building and refining banks of test questions. These banks are important as they enable question reuse across various assessments. Up until now, instructors could only import existing banks into their Ultra courses. Instructors could use the questions in their assessments. But instructors could not create new question banks or manage questions in existing banks.

Image 1. Before - former Question Banks interface

Before - former Question Banks interface

With this enhancement, instructors will be able to:

  • Create new, empty question banks in their Ultra courses,
  • View and search for questions within a question bank, and
  • Add, edit, and delete all aspects of a question within new and existing question banks.

Image 2. After – new Question Banks interface

After – new Question Banks interface

This functionality is available both on the desktop and in the mobile app. Instructors may access these options from Manage Banks in the Details and Actions.

Image 3. Add New or Import question banks from a file

Add New or Import question banks from a file

Image 4. Question bank interface – add questions

Question bank interface – add questions

Image 5. Edit a question in a question bank

Edit a question in a question bank

Image 6. View questions in a question bank with filter criteria

View questions in a question bank with filter criteria

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

Due date exceptions - 3900.46

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

In the past, instructors could cater to specific student's needs by:

  • allowing additional attempts
  • changing item visibility

Now instructors may accommodate special circumstances by also allowing due date exceptions. This exception has been added to the existing exceptions panel.

Image 1. Exceptions panel

Exceptions panel

Key considerations:

  • Due date exceptions support is for individual tests and assignments only.
  • If an assignment or test does not have a due date, an exception cannot be set.
  • If an instructor wishes to remove the due date on an assignment or test, the instructor must first remove all due date exceptions.

Image 2. Banner warning when instructor attempts to delete a due date on an assessment with due date exceptions

Banner warning when instructor attempts to delete a due date on an assessment with due date exceptions

  • To find students with the due date exception, instructors may access the submission list view page. Students with the clock icon next to their name have the due date exception.

Image 3. Submissions list view; clock icon for students with the due date exception.

Submissions list view: clock icon for students with the due date exception

  • Instructors may grant due date exceptions in combination with other exception types.
  • Automatic zeros respect due date exceptions. Automatic zeros are only applied if students with the due date exception do not submit on time.
  • The “prohibit late submission” and “prohibit new attempts” options respect due date exceptions. These settings only apply if students with the due date exception do not submit on time.
  • Students with a due date exception will see the excepted date in:
    • Ultra Base Navigation
      • Activity Stream
      • Calendar
      • Grades Page
      • Email, depending on a user’s notification settings
    • Ultra-Course
      • Assignment or Test Details & Information
      • Course Outline
      • Calendar
      • Grades

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

Progress Tracking: Status and Filter updates for Submission View - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, System and Course Roles with privileges to copy content

Instructors need clear information about the status of student progress in a course. In the past, the submission view of tests, assessments, and discussions had a single "Status" column.

Image 1. Before - Assessment submission view

Before - Assessment submission view

Image 2. Before - Discussion submission view

Before - Discussion submission view

We have split this column into two:

  • Submission Status
  • Grade Status

This change provides instructors with greater clarity while grading and supporting students.

We have also separated the current filter to allow compound filtering between the two columns. The default for filters is to show everything. The filter resets every time the instructor accesses the submission view.

Image 3. After - Assessment submission view
After - Assessment submission view

Image 4. After - Discussion submission view

After - Discussion submission view

There are slight differences in filtering options based on role. When selecting two graders per student, the filters change:

  • Graders do not have the "needs posting" filter
  • Reconcilers have the "needs to reconcile" option

These changes will not apply to anonymous grading, journals, or group assessments/tests.

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Enhanced auto save capability in the Content Editor in Tests & Assignments - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Students

Students should have confidence that all progress in an assessment is auto saved. In the past, student responses entered in the content editor only auto saved when a student clicked outside of the content editor. Now student responses entered in the content editor are auto saved two seconds after the student stops typing. The "last saved" time is displayed at the bottom of the assessment and auto updates.

Image 1. Last saved time stamp

Last saved time stamp

If there is a disruption in connectivity, students receive a "Connection lost" warning. This warning informs students that action is needed to re-establish the connection so that their work is saved.

Image 2. Connection lost warning

Connection lost warning

Auto saving is independent of any browser undo function. When the undo action is used, contents will change according to browser behavior. That content will then be saved automatically.

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Richer Course and Content Design:

Microsoft OneDrive: Create a Collaborative Document - 3900.46

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

Collaborative documents provide students opportunities to engage with one another and course content. Instructors can now create a Microsoft OneDrive collaborative document in the Ultra and Original Course Views.

Supported file types:

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint

In the Ultra Course View, a new choice, Cloud Document, appears on the menu after selecting “Create” from the plus sign to add content.

Ultra Course View Flow

Image 1. Improved workflow for adding content from OneDrive

Learn Ultra add file by open it from the Cloud Content item in the Create Content panel, and then, chose Open from OneDrive

An instructor can choose Cloud Document from the “Create Item” panel and select “One Drive.” The following options are displayed:

  • 'Open from OneDrive' to create a document link
  • 'Start a new Collaboration' to create a collaborative document

Image 2. Start a new collaboration

In the Course Content page, select Add Content, then Cloud Document and then Start a new Colaboration

Instructors may need to sign into a Microsoft account to continue.

Instructors can select an existing document or create a new file for collaboration.

Image 3. Create a new collaboration

Start a new collaborative document with Microsoft OneDrive

All student members of the course will be able to access the file. The students may select Edit Document to begin collaborating on the file.

Image 4. Students select Edit Document to begin collaborating on the document

Students select Edit to begin collaborating on the document

Any existing file linked to OneDrive stays unchanged. These files will remain read only.

In the Original Course View, a link appears in the content add tools menu and/or the add content button (+) in the content editor. The system administrator can decide the specific name in the Original Course View.

Original Course View Flow

Image 5. Adding Microsoft Cloud Collaboration document in Learn Original

Adding Microsoft Cloud Collaboration document in Learn Original

An instructor can choose to create an item or edit an existing item and select the + symbol from the content editor. Select the "Microsoft Cloud Collaboration document" to continue.

Image 6. Start a new collaboration

Start a new collaboration

Instructors may need to sign into a Microsoft account to continue.

Instructors can select an existing document or create a new file for collaboration.

All student members of the course can access the file.

Image 7. Students select "Edit Document" to begin collaborating on the document.

Students select "Edit Document" to begin collaborating on the document.

For administrators: Please register the LTI Tool Provider in the Administrator Panel. Only users in the same Microsoft tenant can collaborate on. documents.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Delete Student Preview User – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors often need to preview their course as a student. Student preview helps instructors understand students' experiences in all aspects of the course. In the past, when an instructor exited student preview there was no choice to remove the preview student and related data from the course. This was problematic as the preview user appeared in the course as a student to all course members. Now instructors have a choice when exiting student preview:

  • save the preview student and data
  • delete the preview student and data

Image 1. Save or delete the preview student and data

Save or delete the preview student and data

The delete option removes the preview user and data from these areas:

  • roster
  • gradebook
  • gradebook filter
  • messages
  • messages recipient
  • discussions
  • journals
  • conversations

The method for exiting Student Preview also changed. We removed the three-dot menu and X option to close the Student Preview panel. Now to exit Student Preview, an instructor will choose the exit icon.

Image 2. Before - three dot menu and X options to close the student preview panel

Before - three dot menu and X options to close the student preview panel

Image 3. After - exist student preview via the exit icon

After - exist student preview via the exit icon

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Improvements to LaTeX question support - 3900.46

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

Instructors and students often use math formulas in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. LaTeX is a descriptive markup language used to typeset technical or scientific documents. Now instructors and students can create LaTeX equations in the content editor.

LaTeX equations display as text in the content editor. When users save the text, the LaTeX equations render as images.

Image 1. LaTeX equation as text in the content editor

LaTeX equation as text in the content editor

Image 2. LaTeX equation rendered as image after it is saved

LaTeX equation rendered as image after it is saved

Users can edit the LaTeX equation in text format in the content editor. Also, users can edit the equation using the Math formula option.

Image 3. LaTeX equation edited as formula using math editor

LaTeX equation edited as formula using math editor

Key considerations:

  • Content editors that have math editor option render also Latex equations.
  • Essay questions and the "Additional Content" section in Assessments do not have a save option in the text editor. In these areas, LaTeX equations will render as images after submission. Students can verify that the formula will render by opening the equation using the Math editor option.
  • Formatting such as italics or bold must be in the LaTeX code. Users can add the code formats in text or when editing using the Math editor. If a user chooses the bold format in the content editor, the image will render without that format. Example:
    • Code without format: $$axˆ2+bx+c=0$$
    • Code with format: $$\style{font-size:72px}{axˆ2+bx+c=0}$$
  • LaTeX equations are not rendered when they are inside code snippets. This is because LaTeX equations are treated as part of the code format.
  • Upgrading from the Original to Ultra course experience: LaTeX equations convert and respect the size limit and options of the text editor in Ultra. If the text editor in Ultra does not support math formulas, the LaTeX equations will copy as plain text.

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Import/Export Group Sets and Members – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, instructors did not have a way to bulk create group sets or add group members in Ultra courses. Creating group sets and adding students to groups one at a time was very inefficient. Now instructors can create group sets and add group members by importing a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file. This feature also supplies the ability to export group sets and members to a CSV file.

Image 1. Import Group Set

Import Group Set

Instructors can create a group set by importing a CSV file from the course group set page or the groups view page. When assigning an assessment to a group set, instructors can import a CSV file. This allows the instructor to assign an existing group set or create a new one while creating an assessment.

Image 2. Upload file option; we recommend instructors use the provided templates

Upload file option. We recommend instructors use the provided templates

In the template, all mandatory cells are marked with an asterisk (*). There are two templates included in the download:

  • one template for creating group sets
  • one for importing members into the groups

After importing a file, the instructor will receive a confirmation email. The email will say that the file imported successfully or had errors. We recommend instructors use the template supplied to avoid errors.

Instructors can export and download their Group Sets, Groups, and Group members as a CSV file.

Images 3 and 4. Import or Export Group Set & Groups

Import Group Set and Groups
Export Group Set & Groups

Image 5. Export Group Set

Export Group Set

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Messaging in Private Courses – 3900.46

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

Some instructors need to communicate with students before a course is open to students. When a course is set to private, students cannot access the course. This means that students cannot access the course inbox to review messages. Because of this, we disabled the ability for instructors to send messages since there was no way for students to access those messages.

Image 1. Before – Instructors did not have a way to send messages when a course was private

Before – Instructors did not have a way to send messages when a course was private

Now instructors can send messages from within the course. Students can access the messages from the email address associated with their Blackboard account. This change does not change the access to the course inbox when the course is private. This change allows students to receive messages from the instructor via email when the course is private.

Image 2. Upload file option; we recommend instructors use the provided templates

Upload file option; we recommend instructors use the provided templates

Image 3. After – When composing a new message in a private course, instructors are informed how students receive those messages

After – When composing a new message in a private course, instructors are informed how students receive those messages

When a course is private, instructors will see a banner in the course inbox or when drafting a message. The banner states that students cannot access the messages in the course when the course is private but will receive an email copy instead. Students will receive an email copy of any message sent. They will be able to access the message from within their course once the instructor opens the course.

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Force Email Copy for all Messages – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators and all users who can send messages

When drafting a message, users have had the option to choose “Send an email copy to recipients.” For policy reasons, some institutions may want this choice to always be on by default for all messages.

Image 1. Before – Users can choose to “Send an email copy to recipients” when composing a message

Before – Users can choose to “Send an email copy to recipients” when composing a message

With this update, administrators now have the choice to force an email copy to recipients for all messages sent.

Image 2. After – “Send an email copy to recipients” is now the default behavior for all messages; users are informed that recipients will receive an email copy

After – “Send an email copy to recipients” is now the default behavior for all messages. Users are informed that recipients will receive an email copy

Image 3. Before - Administrators did not have the choice to force email copies for all messages

Administrators did not have the choice to force email copies for all messages

Image 4. After - Administrators have the choice to force email copies for all messages

After - Administrators have the choice to force email copies for all messages

For administrators: Configure this setting from Tools & Utilities > Messages on the administrator panel.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Explicit declaration of Messages handling – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

In the past, it was unclear how individual users received messages sent to more than one recipient. Some instructors expected that messages with multiple recipients would be sent as a group message. Others thought that messages with more than one recipient were private, like a blind carbon copy email.

Now when an instructor adds more than one recipient, the interface makes clear how the message is sent: group message or private message. This is a temporary solution. In a future release, instructors will be able to make this choice for themselves.

Image 1. Before – Users were not informed if the message was a group message or private message

Before – Users were not informed if the message was a group message or private message

Image 2. After– Users are informed when a message is a group message

After– Users are informed when a message is a group message

Image 3. After– Users are informed when each recipient receives their own private message

After– Users are informed when each recipient receives their own private message

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Granular Content Copy – Copy Status in Course Tasks and Logs - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, System and Course Roles with privileges to copy/export/import

Content reuse is an important aspect of building out and updating courses. In recent releases, we have made improvements in this area:

  • copying content from Original Course View courses (March release)
  • copying content within the same course (April release)

Instructors will now have access to the status of all the course tasks that they start. This includes:

  • Copy
  • Convert to Ultra
  • Archive
  • Export
  • Import
  • Restore

Image 1. Course Tasks and Logs Access Point

Course Tasks and Logs Access Point

Image 2. Course Tasks and Logs – Tasks tab

Course Tasks and Logs – Tasks tab

Image 3. Conversion Report - See Report

Conversion Report - See Report

Logs are available for all course tasks. Instructors will be able to view the conversion report, view/filter, and download logs. These logs will help instructors triage any issues that may arise.

Image 4. Course Tasks and Logs - Logs tab

Course Tasks and Logs - Logs tab

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Granular Content Copy – Retain links to assessment questions - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, System and Course Roles with privileges to copy content

Content copying is an important feature. Instructors rely on content copy for easy reuse. Content copy is also helpful for quickly updating or building a course. In the past, there were instances when an assessment would be copied but the contents would not. This would happen in these cases:

  • An assessment has a question set or random block that links to questions in another assessment
  • An assessment has a question set or random block that links to questions in an assessment pool

When this happened, the copied test rendered incomplete. In some cases, the assessment was non-functional. Now all the linked questions stay intact after the copy process. Assessments now copy as expected.

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

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Integration, Extension, and Management:

Microsoft Teams Meetings – 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students, and any course role with privileges to engage and access Teams meetings

Microsoft Teams supports communication and collaboration for instructors and students. Now Microsoft Teams Meetings seamlessly integrates in Ultra courses. In the Original Experience and Original course view, users may access Teams Meetings from the Course Tools.

This integration includes easy access recordings and options to manage meeting settings. In addition, and for the Ultra course view only, we built Teams Meetings into the existing Teams classes integration and data sync process. This allows instructors to access the Ultra course roster while scheduling meetings.

With this integration, instructors will be able to:

  • Schedule new or reoccurring Teams Meetings
  • Invite specific users from the course or the entire course
  • Access recordings
  • When integrated with Teams Classes, support scheduling of Teams Meetings for dedicated Teams channels (Ultra course view only)
  • All scheduled Teams Meetings will populate in the Teams and Outlook calendar

This integration is available on both the desktop and mobile app. The integration supports access to Teams from within the Teams app. Users can also access Teams Meetings from the Original course view. Teams Meetings may be used as a replacement to the existing Microsoft Teams meeting scheduler.

Image 1. Before - Only Teams Classes enabled (Ultra Course View)

Before - Only Teams Classes enabled (Ultra Course View)

Image 2. After - Teams Classes and Teams Meetings enabled (Ultra Course View)

After - Teams Classes and Teams Meetings enabled (Ultra Course View)

Image 3. Manage Teams Meetings menu choice in Course Tools (Original Course View)

Manage Teams Meetings menu choice in Course Tools (Original Course View)

For administrators: Administrators will need to enable this feature for Ultra courses. Teams Classes must be enabled to use this feature. For Original courses, administrators will need to enable the feature using the administrator LTI setup. When enabled by the administrator, instructors may choose to disable the integration at the course level.

For Ultra course view Teams meetings will be available for access on August 4, 2022. Teams meetings for Original course view will be available on July 20, 2022.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Unified Blackboard App– 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1
Ultra Experience, Original Experience
Ultra Course View, Original Course View
Impact: Instructors, Assistants, and Graders

In the past we had two separate mobile apps: the Blackboard App and the Blackboard Instructor App. The two apps caused confusion for many instructors. They did not realize that they needed to use a different app to manage their courses.

With this release, we are consolidating to a single app for both instructors and students. The user experience will change based on the user’s role within a course. Instructors can use the updated Blackboard app for both Original and Ultra courses.

Action needed: Support for the Blackboard Instructor iOS and Android apps ends in September 2022. Instructors, Assistants, and Graders should download the Blackboard app for iOS or Android.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed. We encourage admins to notify instructors of the need to download a different app.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

Congruent Mobile App and Desktop Experiences for Ultra Course View – 3900.46

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

The user experience in the Ultra Course View is now the same between the Blackboard mobile app and a web browser. In the past, users had to make a choice because the features were different between the app and a web browser.

This new Blackboard mobile app will be available August 8, 2022, from the iOS and Android app stores. Students using the current Blackboard app should simply update. Instructors, assistants, and graders should remove the Blackboard Instructor app. These users should download the Blackboard app.

The Blackboard app update does not change the experience for Original Course View.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed.

Return to August 2022 – 3900.46 Release description

File Upload Indicator for Original Course View - 3900.46

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Learn 9.1
Original Experience
Original Course View
Impact: All users

Users sometimes upload large files or have slow upload speeds. In Original Course View, it may not be clear to users that anything is happening. Some pages in Original Course View will now display a file upload indicator after users submit. We added this upload animation to four course tools where large file uploads are most common. Other pages stay the same. The upload indicator will now appear on these pages:

  • Assignment Submission
  • Content Item
  • Discussion Board Thread or Reply
  • SCORM

Image 1. Before – no file upload indicator

Before – no file upload indicator

Image 2. After – new file upload indicator

After – new file upload indicator

For administrators: There are no configurations needed. As before, a user cannot upload a file if it is larger than the configured file size limit.