July 2021 Release

Educator Insights Blackboard Learn SaaS Release 3900.17.0

This month's release brings several enhancements to the Gradebook for Learn Ultra including;  
the ability to remove the overall grade prompt, a new percentage option for overall grades, control of the visibility of Attendance columns, and a redesign of the group set configuration page to improve performance and stability of large courses. We have also improved our integration for third-party tools with Course Role Mapping to LTU Context Roles.

This post is designed to provide an educator lens over relevant new features and updates provided by Release 3900.17.0 of Blackboard Learn SaaS. These new features are available on production as of 1 July 2021. Full release notes including API updates and bug fixes

Administrators and Learning and Teaching Support Staff will find this information helpful as they work on change management with their end-users.


Overall grade prompt custom removal

Ultra Experience
Impact: Instructors

In Grading, there is a prompt composed of an image and text that ask users if they want to add an overall grade. This prompt always appears whether instructors intend to use it or not. This new feature allows you to dismiss the overall grade prompt permanently for a course.

Once the prompt is dismissed you will still be able to setup the overall grade from the gradebook settings. If the overall grade is already set up you can access the overall settings from the gradebook settings.

Overall grade prompt custom removal screenshot

Percentage option for overall grade

Ultra Experience
Impact: Instructors and Students

This enhancement allows instructors to show the overall grade in a way that best aligns to the method in which you currently teach the class. Instructors can now select between Letter (grade schema) and Percentage. The selection will apply to instructors and students in the overall grade.

Percentage option for overall grade screenshot

Gradebook column grading on/off for attendance

Ultra Experience
Impact: Instructors

While some instructors want or need to track attendance, they don't always need it represented in the gradebook. With this new feature, instructors can control the visibility of the Attendance columns for students and instructors in the gradebook view, grid and list. This means you can choose whether you want to use attendance as a grade or not.

You can remove attendance columns from the gradebook attendance settings without affecting the attendance itself.

Before this enhancement, the option was only available in the gradebook grid.

Gradebook column grading on/off for attendance screenshot

Group assignment page improvement

Ultra Experience
Impact: Instructors

The group set configuration page has been redesigned to improve UI performance and improve the stability of large courses.

  • You can paginate through students who aren't currently assigned to a group.

  • The avatar is hidden, to help people with vision impairment to navigate through cards more efficiently.

  • A search bar now makes it easy to lookup a specific student or filter the display of unassigned students by search criteria. The bar shows predicted results and only unassigned students will be displayed.

  • You can now move to the top of the page when there are enough students shown on the screen.

Group assignment page improvement screenshot

Course Role Mapping to LTI Context Roles

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View, Original Experience and Original Course View
Impact: Administrators

Some third-party integrated tools function better when users’ course roles are more specific to the responsibilities they have in their courses. Before, all privileged course users were sent to LTI tools with the context role instructor. Administrators can now edit course roles and choose from a list of LTI Context Roles that may be more appropriate for each.

Default and custom course roles, Original and Ultra courses, and older LTI 1.1 and newer LTI Advantage/1.3 tools are all supported.

To prevent possible disruption for current users, the old default role behavior wasn't changed. Administrators may wish to review all course role configurations after this release, and choose LTI context roles. Any given LTI context role mapping is specific to a course role and will apply to all LTI tools.

Course Role Mapping to LTI Context Roles screenshot