Resource

January 2023 Release

Educator Insights January 2023

 

Happy New Year! The January 2023 - 3900.56 release is complete with features in five areas:

  • assessment and grading;
  • richer course and content design;
  • mobile app;
  • integration, extension, and management; and
  • course upgrading;

These improvements primarily impact instructors and students. Some features do require administrative action.

Instructors:

  • See and edit grades for anonymous submissions prior to posting
  • Essay Question Model Answer
  • Non-posted grades included in Grade History
  • Test Question and Page Randomisation
  • Progress Tracking: Status and filters for group submissions
  • Original Course View: "Needs Grading" flow kept when AWS auto-scales
  • User Interface Improvement - Microsoft OneDrive Integration
  • Course Upgrading: Convert Test Passwords to Passcodes
  • Course Upgrading: Remove unwanted text colours
  • Course Upgrading: Preserve Text Sizes
  • Base Navigation: Activity Stream New Submission link
  • Bb Annotate: Create categories inside the content library
  • Assist banner update

Instructors and students:

  • Show icons for Third-Party app content (LTI) in Gradebook and Grades
  • Discussions - No Activity After Due Date
  • Improvements to Messages recipient types by course role

All users:

  • Expand and Collapse Course Faculty, Details & Actions, and Course Content sections
  • Custom HTML/CSS content blocks in Institution Pages
  • Base Navigation: Visibility controls for the Course and Organisation Catalog: Hide Organisations Tab

Other - Support roles:

  • Privileges: Support role can now access Course Content page without progress setting privilege

Bb Annotate: Create categories inside the content library - 3900.56

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

Creating and reusing comments is a useful practice for instructors. When using Bb Annotate, instructors can use the content library to store comments across courses. Now instructors can also organize comments into categories. Categories helps instructors find the comments they want to use. The process of providing student is more efficient with the new option. Existing comments will be part of a general comments category until instructors decide to move them to a new one.

Now instructors will be able to:

  • Create as many categories as needed
  • Move comments to new or existing categories
  • Collapse or expand the categories to easily locate the comments

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

Assessment and Grading

See and edit grades for anonymous submissions prior to posting – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Anonymous grading is an important practice to ensure fair and consistent grading. In the past when anonymously grading, instructors could view grades on the Submissions page only after posting grades. This prevented instructors from editing grades before students could view grades.

Now instructors can view grades on the Submission page before they post grades. Student anonymity is still preserved until the grades are posted. To edit a grade, an instructor can open the attempt.

Image 1. Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading
 

Grades are viewable on grading submissions page when anonymously grading

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

Essay Question Model Answer – 3900.56

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

Instructors want to ensure that they grade students’ work fairly and consistently. This can be especially challenging when evaluating student responses to essay questions. Instructors like to have a reference while grading. Now instructors can include a model answer for essay questions. Instructors and graders can see this when grading.

Image 1. Model answer when authoring essay questions
 

Model answer when authoring essay questions

Students can see the model answer when reviewing their results if the test is configured to show correct answers. Students do not see the model answer when they take a test.

Image 2. Student viewing the model answer along with their own response
 

Student viewing the model answer along with their own response


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

Non-posted grades included in Grade History – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Grade history provides a log of changes to grades in a course. This is important in situations such as grade challenges and ensuring grading errors were not made. The grade history now includes non-posted grades. Including non-posted grades supplies greater insight into grade changes in the course.

Image 1. Grade history download file with non-posted grade information
 

Grade history download file showing the new non-posted grade information

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

Test Question and Page Randomization – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors randomize test question to improve academic integrity. In the past, instructors couldn’t randomise questions if the test contained text blocks, files, or images.

Now instructors can enable randomization when the test has text blocks, files, or images. The non-question elements are locked in place. The test randomizes questions between those non-question elements.

Image 1. Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements
 

Instructor sets randomize option for a test with non-question elements

Instructors can also randomize questions in a test that contains page breaks. Questions randomize within their assigned page. If a page contains non-question elements, the questions randomize between those elements.

When there are pages for the test, instructors can also randomize page order. If instructors randomize the page order, they can also lock the first page into position. This is useful when the first page is a cover page or contains test instructions.

Image 2. Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages
 

Instructor selects to randomize both questions and pages


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

Progress tracking: Status and filters for group submissions– 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Instructors need clear information about the status of group progress on an assessment. In the past, the submission view of assessments and discussions included two status columns:

  • Student status
  • Grading status

Now we also show both in the group submission page. This gives instructors greater clarity into group work status. We also separated the filter to allow compound filtering of student and grading statuses. The default filter shows everything. The filter resets every time an instructor accesses the submission view.

Image 1. Group submission filters
 

Group submission filters


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

Original Course View: “Needs Grading” retains tasks when AWS auto-scales – 3900.56

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

Because Learn SaaS is in the cloud, the application scales on demand. When more users are on Learn, the cloud provides more resources. In the past in Original Course View, this cloud scaling could disrupt instructors grading student work. Instructors navigating to their next task in “needs grading” would see an error.

Now instructors can navigate to their next task even when the application scales. In some cases, instructors can’t return to completed tasks. If this happens, instructors receive clear instructions to return to the Grade Center where they can review these submissions.

For administrators: There are no configurations needed. 

Richer Course and Content Design

Improvements to Messages recipient types by course role - 3900.56

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

In the past an “all course members” recipient type appeared for all course users. Students could send messages to all course users, on accident or on purpose.

Now students can only send messages to:

  • all instructors
  • selected course members

Instructors can send messages to:

  • all course members
  • all instructors
  • all students
  • selected course members

Image 1. Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users
 

Instructors can send messages to all course members, all instructors, all students, or selected users


Image 2. Students can send to all instructors or selected users
 

Students can send to all instructors or selected users


Image 3. Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message
 

Selected recipients appear to the author of a Message


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

Discussions - No Activity After Due Date – 3900.56

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

In the past students could continue posting in Discussions after the due date had passed. This created problems for instructors when grading discussions. Now instructors may lock the discussion after the due date has passed. When selected, students can’t create, reply to, or edit posts after the due date. Students with a due date accommodation can continue to create, reply to, and edit posts after the due date.

Image 1. Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” setting
 

Instructor view of the “Stop discussion activity after due date” settings


Image 2. Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed
 

Student view of Discussion once the due date has passed


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

Integration, Extension, and Management

 

Assist Banner update - 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Base Navigation
Ultra Assist View
Impact: Instructors

To better align with feedback and needs from clients, we updated the Assist banner. We have made the following changes:

  • Removed Space Dog Banner banner image
  • Removed "Blackboard" from the title
  • Modified the Assist page to have greater visual consistency with other aspects of the base navigation

Image 1. Blackboard Assist banner
 

Blackboard Assit banner


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

Show icons for Third-Party app content (LTI) in Gradebook and Grades – 3900.56

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

In the past, it has been difficult for users to 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 an administrator. Now we display icons in the following additional areas:

  • Gradebook grid view
  • Gradebook list view
  • Gradable Items tab
  • Students Grades Overview
  • Grades tab on Base Navigation

Image 1. Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator
 

Third-party app icon added by a System Administrator


Image 2. Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view
 

Third-party app icon in Gradebook grid view


Image 3. Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab
 

Third-party app icon in Gradebook list view, Gradable Items tab


Image 4. Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview
 

Third-party app icon in Student Grades Overview


Image 5. Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation
 

Third-party app icon Grades tab on Ultra Base Navigation


For administrators: We recommend Administrators review LTI placement configurations after this release because icons will now display to users in more places. Icons set for the placement type Deep Linking Content Tools will display in the Course Content and Gradebook areas. Other placement types will continue to display generic icons. Tool providers may also set the icons. An administrator can retrieve icons set by tool providers using the “Synchronize placements” action. When the provider sets icons, they will replace and override institutional icon choices because they are the owner of their branding.

Blackboard Learn Mobile App

Expand and Collapse Course Faculty, Details & Actions, and Course Content sections – 3900.56

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Mobile App
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

In the past users on a mobile device had to scroll through the Course Faculty and Details & Actions sections to see course content. Now users can collapse these sections, making it easier and faster to access course content. 

Image 1. Collapsible sections
 

Collapsible sections in the Course Outline page


For administrators: This feature is available for all users of the Mobile App. No action is needed from users who have enabled automatic updates on their devices. Users who have disabled automatic updates on their devices must download the update.