Resource

June 2022 Release

Educator Insights Blackboard Learn SaaS Release 3900.41

June 2022 – 3900.41 Release

 

The June 2022 - 3900.41 release is rich with new features and improvements that support more creative approaches to learning online, in three areas: assessment and grading; richer course and content design; and integration, extension, and management.

These new features are available on production as of 2 June 2022. Full release notes including API updates and bug fixes https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Release_

Administrators and Learning and Teaching Support Staff will find this information helpful to support their end-users.

Instructors:

Instructors and students:

Administrators:

All users:

Assessments and Grading

Multiple attempts for Group Assessments - 3900.41

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

Some instructional scenarios are better supported when students have multiple attempts. With this release, we are adding support for multiple attempts in group assessments. Instructors may want student groups to submit work in phases. Other instructors may wish to provide student groups with iterative feedback. This approach may improve students' experiences in group work, engagement, and learning.

Instructors will now have the option to give more than one attempt for group assessments.

Image 1. Assessment Settings for group assessment with more than one attempt

Screen capture for the  Assessment Settings for group assessment with more than one attempt feature

From the submissions page, the instructor can view the following:

  • all groups
  • attempt and submission details
  • status
  • group grade(s)
  • option to post all grades or individual group grades
  • more options, including add or edit exceptions

When grading, the instructor can view the following:

  • the assessment and all groups
  • the number of members in each group
  • the number of remaining attempts and/or submission details,
  • the status
  • the grade

The instructor may select a group to view/grade their attempts. All attempts with their respective grades and the final posted grade appear. There is also a possibility to search for submissions by the submission receipt number.

Image 2. Submissions panel for Group 2 with all group submissions in the background

Screen capture for the Submissions panel for Group 2 with all group submissions in the background feature

Image 3. Assignment Content, Grading and Feedback for Attempt 4 for Group 2

Screen capture for the Assignment Content, Grading and Feedback for Attempt 4 for Group 2 feature

When a student in a group begins a submission for the group assessment, the number of remaining attempts is displayed. There are no changes to all other details and information related to the group.

Image 4. Single student in a group before viewing a group assessment

Screen capture for the Single student in a group before viewing a group assessment view

After a student submits the assessment for the group, group members can view the number of remaining attempts. The members can view the grade and assessment (depending on the instructor's settings).

Image 5. Single student in a group views previous and remaining attempts information and grade

Screen capture for the Single student in a group views previous and remaining attempts information and grade view

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

Calculate Overall Grade options (running total or not) - 3900.41

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

Philosophies and practices are quite diverse when calculating the overall course grade. Today, the overall grade is the quotient of points earned divided by total graded points. This calculation is the running total. In this release, we are adding the option to calculate the overall grade as earned points divided by total possible points. This calculation is the not running total option.

Image 1. Instructor view of Overall Grade Settings - Before

Screen capture for the Instructor view of Overall Grade Settings - Before view

Image 2. Instructor view of Overall Grade Settings - After

Screen capture for the Instructor view of Overall Grade Settings - After view

To provide greater clarity to students, dynamic text explains the instructor's calculation choice. Students can see the Overall Grade and calculation details from the information icon in their Gradebook. The student may also select the Overall Grade pill to see calculation details.

Image 3. Student view of dynamic text to explain the Overall Grade calculation options

Screen capture for the Student view of dynamic text to explain the Overall Grade calculation options

For administrators: This feature will be behind a feature flag. Administrators may turn on this feature to allow instructors to choose the preferred calculation: Administrator Panel | Configure in "The Ultra experience is here!" module | Available Features | Running total grade calculation. When the feature is on, the default is the running total calculation. For students, the dynamic text only appears when the feature is on.

Image 4. Administrator view to configure the feature

Screen capture for the Administrator view to configure the feature

Watch a video about overall grade calculations using earned points

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: New Overall Grade calculation option (running total or not) shows how to use the not running total option for the overall grade calculation.

Weighted Overall Grade Calculation Improvements – 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS

Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors

Each instructor takes care to decide how to calculate their students' grades. It is important that we provide great flexibility to support diverse needs. In the past, instructors could only weight gradebook items or grade categories. Now, both items and categories can have weight in the overall grade calculation. This allows instructors to weight high stakes assessments while also weighting categories.

Instructors may unlink items from categories to assign weight at the item level. Unlinked items appear ahead of the related category. An instructor may specify the weight and lock it to prevent further changes to the weight. Locking is helpful because the weights auto-adjust to ensure that the weighted calculation sums to 100%.


Image 1. An instructor may set the weight of items and categories. The instructor may lock the weight. Weights auto-balance to ensure the weights sum to 100%.

Screen capture for the Weighted Overall Grade Calculation Improvements view

Watch a video about item and category weighting

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: item and category weighting shows enhancements made on how to weight course items and categories in Learn Ultra.

Richer Course and Content Design

Attachments render inline for Ultra Documents and Assessments – 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS (all non-Gov Cloud clients)
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors, Students

Robust options for content creation are important to instructors. Equally important is the flexibility for how the content is rendered for users. Currently, instructors can add file attachments to Ultra Documents and Assessments. Students who click on the file attachment link(s) can download the file(s). Now instructors can set the behavior for attachments in Ultra Documents and Assessments:

  • view and download (default)
  • view only
  • download only

Image 1. Instructor view - edit file options

Screen capture for the Instructor view - edit file options

The view option renders the file in the web browser without the need for the native application(s).

Supported file types:

  • Adobe Acrobat Documents (PDF)
  • Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX)
  • Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSX)
  • OpenOffice Documents (ODS, ODT, ODP)

Users can still download non-supported file types.

Image 2. Student view of an attachment in an Ultra document

Screen capture for the Student view of an attachment in an Ultra document

Image 3. Student view of a Microsoft Word document rendered inline

Screen capture for the Student view of a Microsoft Word document rendered inline

For administrators: Inline rendering applies to new and existing attachments to Ultra Documents and Assessments. To render files inline, Office files are converted to PDF on demand and are cached for 30 days. Files converted to PDF as part of this feature do not count towards your storage quota.
This feature is on by default for all non-Gov Cloud clients. This will be an opt-in feature for Gov Cloud clients in a future release.

Watch a video about file rendering in Ultra documents and assessments

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Attachments render inline for Ultra Documents and Ultra Assessments shows how files attached can appear within documents and assessments.

Changed behavior for pasting JavaScript in Original Course View Content Editor - 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1

Original Experience
Original Course View
Impact: All users

The Original Course View Content Editor allows users to paste JavaScript into their HTML. JavaScript can add rich capability to web content but can be malicious. The Content Editor removes JavaScript automatically for most users when saved. This way, scripts cannot harm other users. Only authorized users can keep JavaScript when they save.

In the past, the Content Editor would temporarily render pasted scripts in the edit view. A user copying a script from a bad actor could inadvertently run a script against themselves.

A user could still run malicious JavaScript against their own device, but not by using the Content Editor. For users authorized to save scripts, JavaScript will still render after they save.

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

Integration, Extension, and Management

Support Max File Upload Limit for Ultra Courses – 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users

File upload is an important part of online teaching and learning. Instructors upload files as part of course content. Students may upload files as part of an assessment submission or discussion post. When a user uploads or drags and drops a file, if the file is larger than the size specified by the administrator, a new upload error appears. The new upload error provides clear information to help the user know how to continue.

A user may upload multiple files at once. If some files are too large, the upload error will note the specific files so that the user may correct those files.

If an assessment requires a file upload and the student selects a file that is too large, the upload error displays. The student may select another file before submitting.

The upload error may include the following:

  • maximum upload size
  • size of the file(s) the user attempted to upload
  • Optional storage locations if the administrator includes this information
  • Optional support page link if the administrator includes this information (Ultra Experience Only)

Administrators may configure the upload error from the Administrator Panel: System Configuration > File Size Limits.

Image 1. Warning message without alternative storage location or support page link.

Screen capture for the Warning message without alternative storage location or support page link.

Image 2. Warning message with alternative storage location without support page link.

Screen capture for the Warning message with alternative storage location without support page link.

Image 3. Warning message with alternative storage location with support page link.

Screen capture for the Warning message with alternative storage location with support page link.

Image 4. Administrator flow for maximum file size settings, alternative storage, and support link page.

Screen capture for Administrator flow for maximum file size settings, alternative storage, and support link page.

For administrators: To configure the maximum file size, alternative storage location, and personalized link: Administrator Panel > System Configuration > File Size Limits. The optional support link is only available for the Ultra Experience.

Watch a video about maximum file size limit

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Max file size limit shows information about the maximum size a file can have to upload on Learn Ultra, and the related errors the user may get when attempting to upload a file.

Blackboard Home: storage and utilization reports – 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS

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

Administrators need access to timely information about storage and usage. They use this to compare actual usage against contracted limits. We send administrators monthly reports of peak usage metrics. Using Insights Reports, admins can also look at many daily metrics over time to find the peaks. Blackboard Home now provides up-to-date peak usage metrics. The reports show peak usage over a configurable number of months. These metrics include billable storage and users, displayed together with the contracted limits. There are also reports for login counts and current storage use segmented by file type. Blackboard Home has not yet replaced the Insights Report. Both reports will appear for now. Blackboard Home appears to full System Administrators in the Admin panel.

Blackboard Home will become available to all Blackboard Learn SaaS instances with the next SaaS Feature Release in June, scheduled for June 2nd, 2022. This includes production, stage, and test environments. Blackboard Home is only for Learn SaaS.

Image 1. Peak storage usage

Screen capture for the Peak storage usage view

Image 2. File type breakdown

Screen capture for the File type breakdown view

Image 3. Peak User Counts

Screen capture for the Peak User Counts view

For administrators: This feature is an LTI application and managed via devportal. Enable or disable Blackboard Home: Administrator Panel > LTI link. Administrators are unable to further limit access.

Watch a video about storage and utilization reports appearing in the Blackboard Home

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Storage and Utilization reports in the Blackboard Home shows how Blackboard Home provides up-to-date peak usage metrics.

REST APIs to read all Content Collection files - 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS, Blackboard Learn 9.1

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

The Content Collection stores files used in courses. It also stores files needed for other features of Blackboard Learn. Some third-party apps need access to these files to function. In the past, tool developers may have used Building Blocks APIs to read these files. Now developers can use REST APIs to read all files in all Content Collection directories. An administrator must authorize this access for a third-party app. The admin should assign permission “Read-only access to the Content System filesystem” to the API user. This improvement is part of ongoing work to expand the capabilities of the Content Collection REST APIs.

Improvements to Permissions - 3900.41

Blackboard Learn SaaS
Ultra Experience
Ultra Course View
Impact: All users - system and course roles with corresponding permissions

There are several areas where permission checks do not work as expected. This results in users such as graders and course builders having an unexpected experience. In this release, we have corrected the following permission issues:

  • Linked Help documentation for graders, course builders, and other non-instructors
    Users in Ultra courses can click links to access Help documentation. There are non-instructor course roles such as graders and builders. In the past, these users would be linked to student documentation for several tools. This also happened in warning messages that have Help links. We have corrected this.

Image 1. Example of corrected Help links

Screen capture for the Example of corrected Help links view

  • Progress tracking behavior for graders, course builders, and other non-instructors
    There are non-instructor course roles such as graders and builders. Students can have a progress tracking experience in the Course Outline. In the past, these other roles would see the student experience for progress tracking. We have corrected this.

Image 2. Example of progress tracking corrected behavior

Screen capture for the Example of progress tracking corrected behavior

Journals display more than 50 entries - 3900.41

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

Journals are a valuable tool for facilitating reflection. Journals also allow students to express their feelings about their learning experiences.

To better support instructors and students who use this tool, we have made a series of updates:

  • students may make unlimited entries
  • students and instructors have improved navigation with pagination on the entries page
  • students and instructors can decide the number of items that appear per page
  • instructors have a count of graded journals

Image 1. Instructors may select the number of entries displayed per page

Screen capture for the  Instructors may select the number of entries displayed per page view

Image 2. Instructor's view of improved page navigation with choice to control the number of entries per page

Screen capture for the Instructor's view of improved page navigation with choice to control the number of entries per page

Image 3. Instructor's view of the count of graded journals and students filtered for grading

Screen capture for the Instructor's view of the count of graded journals and students filtered for grading

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