November 2021 Release

Educator Insights Blackboard Learn SaaS Release 3900.26.0

The visual appeal of courses has a major boost this month with the course card image from base navigation now able to be used as a course banner in Ultra courses. Enrichments to the Rich Text Editor continue with new formatting options available when using Tables. Keep students informed with the new Ultra Course Schedule. As part of planned diversity, equity, and inclusion improvements, this release gives institutions the option to allow users to express their personal pronouns. Blackboard is also excited to announce continued improvements to the recently released Microsoft Teams classes integration, solidifying our commitment to providing best-in-class tools and technologies for the Ultra Course View.

This post is designed to provide an educator lens over relevant new features and updates provided by Release 3900.26.0 of Blackboard Learn SaaS. These new features are available on production as of 4 November 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.

Ultra: Course Overview – Banner

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: all users

Image depicting the new add a banner functionality on Learn Ultra

Instructors can now use an uploaded course image as a banner within a course. Providing a visually appealing course, images consistent with Base Navigation, and easy-to-locate course details, is key to engagement and the overall student experience.

Video: Educator Insights: Personalising courses using Banners

We have frequently heard from clients about a desire to include additional visuals into Ultra Course View, to improve overall navigation and provide an intuitive course experience. The banner image can be easily cropped to the preferred size including zooming in or out on the uploaded image to select the part they want to focus on.

Ultra: Course Schedule

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors and Students

Instructors can add a course schedule making it easier for students to identify course faculty members and class meeting days, times, and locations.

Image depicting the new add course schedule feature on Learn Ultra

Ultra Rich Text Editor Improvements: Tables. New options available when using tables

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors and Students

We recently released tables in the Ultra rich text editor. This release provides additional formatting options when creating tables.

  • Text Style
  • Alignment options
  • List Attachment
  • Insert content

These options provide greater flexibility for faculty and students, especially in disciplines where the presentation and formatting of data are particularly important.

Image depicting the new table improvements for the text editor on Learn Ultra

Set and display pronouns in Ultra Course View

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: Instructors and Students

As part of planned diversity, equity, and inclusion improvements, this release gives institutions the option to allow users to express to others their personal pronouns. This fosters greater respect between students and faculty engaging online by letting others know how best to refer to them in their group activities and discussions.

Video: Educator Insights: Pronoun support for Learn Ultra

Included in this release:

  • Administrators can opt-in to allow the use of the new pronoun field.
  • Administrators can set the pronoun values users will be able to select, allowing conformance with institutional standards, policy, and culture.
  • Administrators can allow users to request additional pronouns to be added to the approved list.
  • When allowed, users can select one or more pronoun values to display to others.
  • Users in Ultra Course View courses can see the pronouns populated by others in the class.
  • Data integration supports populating pronoun values for users through REST, flat file, XML, LIS, and IMS Enterprise methods.

A future release will allow for the display of pronouns in Original Course View courses. User self-selection of pronouns will require that Base Navigation is enabled. When using Original Experience (Base Navigation is not enabled), only data population through data integration will be supported.

Image depicting the new set pronouns feature on Learn Ultra

Microsoft Teams integration

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

Blackboard is excited to announce continued improvements to the recently released Microsoft Teams classes integration, solidifying our commitment to providing best-in-class tools and technologies for the Ultra Course View.

This release includes the following capabilities:

  • The ability to allow courses to be Archived and Restored but keeping all institution emails intact. This is a continued change management improvement, and the first of several process improvements planned with this integration.
  • Support for large course sizes up to 10,000 enrollments, keeping in line with the maximum number of users that can be supported in a single Microsoft Team.
  • Greater system administration messaging within the integration setup flow, to detect Microsoft Tenants that don’t have the Teams Education profile added. This was an enhancement added as a result of our initial beta testing that took place earlier this year.

Progress Tracking: Permanent Tracking and Feature Flag Removal

Ultra Experience, Ultra Course View
Impact: Administrators

As part of our August release, we included our Beta version of progress tracking. From this release on, progress tracking in Ultra Course View (UCV) could be activated in new courses, where no previous activity had taken place. This feature was also the first functionality behind a feature flag. In other words, administrators had the ability to decide whether they want to enable progress tracking at their institution or hold it for a while. We are happy to share that we are removing the current limitations around this feature.

With this release, instructors will be able to enable progress tracking at any time during the term. Enabling this functionality will give students an easy way to keep track of what they have done inside each one of their courses. When enabling progress tracking later than the beginning of the term, participatory items will be retroactively marked as complete. For example, assessments submitted previously by students will be marked as complete. Non-participatory items, like Ultra documents, will still need to be manually marked by students.

This is the next step in our work on progress tracking, and we’re excited to move forward alongside our clients. Future releases will provide additional instructor capabilities, such as the ability to monitor progress made by their students inside their courses.

API Updates and Bug Fixes

We’ve made some noteworthy API updates, including the ability to manage the release or visibility of course content based on timing or student success criteria. For these and bug fixes please see the full release notes