Beginning with SU2018, UMBC's Blackboard will receive monthly updates as part of Blackboard's continuous delivery model. As a software industry standard practice, continuous delivery updates are small, may include maintenance, enhancements and/or new features, and are delivered on a more frequent and consistent basis.

Most enhancements are for Ultra courses, but any applicable updates for original Blackboard courses are noted in the table.

More recent updates are available here -> What's new in the Ultra Experience?

JUMP TO:

2021

December 2, 2021 (v3900.28) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Point-based & point range rubrics

The new point-based rubrics in Ultra offer customized options such as varying scales, ascending or descending ranges, and totals exceeding 1,000 points possible for an assessment. 

Point-based rubrics created in Original courses will migrate to Ultra courses when content is converted, which provides faculty with ample time to review the new rubric format and prepare courses for Ultra.
YesNo
Accessibility support for course banner image

Providing visually appealing courses that adhere to accessibility best practices and standards can help engage students and ensure an equitable learning experience. To ensure that all visual elements are accessible, faculty will have the option to include an image description when uploading a banner image in the course or add an image description to existing course banner images. Images can also be marked as decorative whenever they are not used as primary content. 

YesNo
Hide groups from student view

Groups are also enhanced in the December update. A new choice to hide course groups from the students’ view gives instructors the option to use groups to discretely organize students based on their performance, interests, adopted knowledge, and other criteria. The visibility of the groups can be easily seen when using gradebook filters or conditional release.

YesYes
Granular time accommodations

When adding a time limit accommodation, faculty may specify any percentage of extra time (e.g., 15% or 80%) that is needed to honor a time limit accommodation. Currently, faculty must use a fixed percentage for for the additional time accommodation. This change provides greater flexibility to the instructor supporting both the students’ needs and the instructor’s assessment strategy.

YesNo
Save preferences for Bb Annotate

Instructors and graders will be able to save common preferences for the Bb Annotate grading tools, which minimizes the need to reset between grading student submissions.

Note: This feature is on a gradual deployment, which means it may be released over several weeks rather than with the update on December 2nd.

YesYes
File Size Upload limit

Individual file uploads in Original courses will be limited to 75 MB to reduce impact on course quotas. The file upload limit applies to both faculty AND student submissions.

Instructional Technology recommends that large files are uploaded to cloud storage and media files (audio/video) to Panopto

NoYes

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • Issues with Discussion board and Discussion analysis: Discussion analysis showed no information and the Discussion board visible/hidden menu was too small to use. These issues have been fixed and the UI now behaves as expected, and allows for better working space.
  • Student assessment answers show "None given" and "saved question 0 multiple times": The access log for assessments displayed confusing and inaccurate messages. The log now displays messages as expected.
  • Issues with special characters causing erratic behavior: The platform was having issues interpreting some characters,  causing special characters to appear in the subject of Original course messages in the global navigation updates, and the “What's New” Module. It also caused inadvertent posting of an announcement and emails sent to users to fail when an ampersand was in the course name. This behavior has been fixed and now works as expected.
  • Student preview does not work properly on Ultra courses: The 'Reset preview' text box was shown in white over white, which made the message invisible unless the user highlighted it. Also, selecting the 'Reset' button didn't reset the actual coursework for the student preview user. These issues have been fixed by changing the color of the text and correcting the behavior of the 'Reset' button.
  • Adding LTI option to the questions feedback: To give instructors more tools for providing feedback on student evaluations, the present development makes the LTIs available in the question feedback RTE. The following plugins were enabled in the automatic feedback editor: LTI content, YouTube inserts and Cloud files access.
  • Spacing issues on Ultra documents - Course restore: The line spacing between a heading and paragraphs was affecting legibility. After resolving the spacing issues for courses that are currently in the database, the issue remained for course documents that were restored in Ultra. The space issue was adjusted and corrected for courses that weren't in the database when the upgrader was executed.

November 4, 2021 (v3900.26) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Pronoun support

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

The first phase of pronoun support will display pronouns to users in Ultra courses. A future release will allow for the display of pronouns in Original courses.

NOTE: Support for pronouns in Blackboard will be announced at a later date. Please follow myUMBC for updates.

YesNo
Course banner image

As a next phase in Blackboard's work to improve overall navigation and an intuitive course experience, the course card image the Courses page can now be used as a course banner in Ultra courses.

When adding a new course image, instructors can opt to make it visible within the course and are able to easily crop the image to the preferred size and zoom in or out on the uploaded image to select the part they want to focus on. This change also makes it easier for instructors to add a course schedule and for students to identify course faculty members and class meeting days, times, and location.

YesNo
Tables enhancements

In October tables were released. With the next update, tables have additional formatting options:

  • 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 is particularly important.

YesYes
Progress tracking improvements

The first phase of progress tracking required no activity in the course to be enabled. 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.

YesNo

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • Needs grading didn't take effect in Ultra grade journal on 'Grades and Participation' screen: this issue is now fixed and the Needs Grading filter is working as expected.

  • Unable to rename file in Ultra assignment: when an instructor tries to rename a file added into an Ultra assignment, a pop up titled "Close Without Saving?" appears when the user navigates away from the page. The edit option is there for instructors to be able to rename assignment's files, and it is now working without errors.

  • When the search box was clear in the gradebook grid view, not all columns were restored: when interacting with the search box, the elements (students(rows) and gradable items (columns)) are filtered. Now when the input is clear (by using the X button or removing the text explicitly with the keyboard), and all elements are restored, meaning no filtering.

  • Completed Course was not displayed in the vertical message tab for students: this has been fixed. Completed courses are displayed in the messages tab for students.

  • In the Ultra Course View, students' usernames were not displayed after due date accommodation was enabled for groups, the roster or the discussions page. We've fixed the issue.
  • In the Ultra Course View, the entire discussions UI was freezing if a user had a lot of enrollments.
  • In the Ultra Course View, the Enable/Disable feature, and the Save and Submit buttons weren't behaving properly for assessments that have text questions only. The assessments were enabled in the presence of an answer, but couldn't be disabled when the answer was removed.
  • In the Ultra Experience, multiple options for matching questions weren't supported with voiceOver for IOS phones, and gestures didn't allow a correct interaction with controls or inputs, affecting the experience for IOS users who had voiceOver enabled and tried to select an answer in an exam or quiz.
  • In the Original and Ultra Experiences, whenever a tab was loaded, individual records for all modules on the accessed page were logged. While on Ultra the impact was negligible, on the Original Experience this could account for between 25% to 75% of data, slowing down the execution of reports for more relevant details.
  • In the Original and Ultra Experiences, some users were still experiencing overlapping issues on Wiris math formulas after the latest fix we provided. The Stix font family wasn't used when the overlapping happened. Blackboard fixed the issue for formulas created from this point onwards. Formulas created before this fix need to be modified again manually, using the Wiris editor.

October 7, 2021 (v3900.23) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Student receipts for assignments

Students need a way to ensure their work has been correctly submitted into the system. There are times where a student believes they have submitted their work when, in fact, it wasn't sent at all, or it wasn't sent successfully.

This new functionality provides students with a unique tracking number that confirms their academic submission. Students can copy and save this number as proof of their work, and evidence for academic disputes. A modal window with the tracking information will appear to students after they submit their work. They can also receive an email with that information to their UMBC email, and download a similar text file to keep for their records.

YesYes
Increased rows & columns for rubrics

Rubrics are grading tools that help instructors to assess student performance and give feedback in detail. Before, Ultra allowed a maximum of 10 columns and rows. To provide more flexibility for the grading processes, Blackboard will increase the limit up to 15 columns and rows.

YesYes
Tables in content editor

Tables are a common way for instructors and students to align and organize content in a customized manner, better suited to their own preferences. For deeper versatility in the Rich Text Editor, there will be an Add Table functionality.

NOTE: For this initial release, tables will not support:

  • Text Style
  • Alignment options
  • List
  • Undo
  • Attachments
  • Insert content
YesYes

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • In the Ultra Experience, when instructors sent messages to course users and then marked the course as complete, the unread message count for students wasn't reduced when message was read. 
    In the Original Experience, when admins copied a course with embedded LTI links within the Rich Text Editor to a new or existing course, those links broke. They were still pointing back to the old course where users of the new course didn't have permissions. Links within course copies made before this fix still need to be manually fixed.
  • In the Ultra Course View, when creating assignments with the auto zero set on, any past due standard assignments and basic LTI links are marked with automatic zeros after their due date. However, items deployed using partner cloud were never marked. 

  • In the Ultra Course View, in the instructor view, the help bubble icon on a discussion board disappeared once an instructor had created and closed the discussion. When accessing the discussion again, the icon disappeared as well. 

  • In the Ultra Experience, an instructor added a SCORM package to a course content with a grade category TEST/ASSIGNMENT, and then created another test with a release condition based on the performance of the SCORM content. However, the SCORM test didn't appear for students. 

  • In the Ultra Course View, when users tried to add content to a course by selecting the plus sign "+" for adding content, then selecting on "+ Create", a menu on the right was displayed. If the user then selected the 'X' for canceling the action on that menu, the content area didn't refresh properly. 

  • In the Ultra Course View, students couldn't access the feedback when selecting the feedback icon in tests that used Respondus LDB, getting a console error instead.
  • In the Original and Ultra Course Views, instructors were required to login again to Learn, after they accessed an LTI tool and selected the Return to Learn button.

September 2, 2021 (v3900.21) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Collapsible grading panel

To help instructors, teaching assistants, and graders have a better view of the content they're grading, Blackboard widened the screen of the submission area. It also includes a collapsible and expandable panel where users can navigate through tabs such as rubrics, feedback, and originality report.

Additionally, instructors and students can navigate the submission view and the panel tabs with different scroll bars. Independent scroll bars allow instructors or graders to scroll up and down the submission content without affecting the side tab navigation or the header. Now, instructors can use rubrics in a more practical way and provide feedback focused on a specific part of the submission.

YesNo
Partial credit for fill in the blank questionsThis improvement will support those instructors who wish to grade student attempts at a more granular level. It will also benefit students based on their associated effort on these complex questions, and provide them with a more accurate representation of their proficiency.YesYes
Show or hide "Additional Content" section in assessments

At the end of Ultra Assignments and Tests there is section called “Additional Content” where students can add text, images and files to complete their submissions or support their answers. This section was always included by default and could confuse students into thinking they needed to complete this extra requirement. Instructors would like to choose when this should be an option or not.

In this release, Blackboard has added a toggle to allow instructors to show or hide the “Additional Content” section. This gives greater control to instructors over what’s displayed to their students during assessments. If an assessment only has text or support visuals but doesn’t have questions, this section will be the space for the submission and will be activated always. If an assessment has questions, this section will hold additional content, for students to add supporting evidence, and the instructor can enable or disable it.

YesNo
Notification enhancements

Email notifications are reminders to help instructors and students keep track of important updates in their courses. In this release, we've made an email styling enhancement to the following email areas:

  • New announcement
  • New message
  • Assessment overdue soon
  • Assessment overdue
  • Daily digest

To provide better context, the course ID appears now above the course name. Message content will now follow the justification that the author selected. This makes messages easier to read and allows greater customization for the author. The footer now explains when notification settings can be managed. Finally, the new general style is cleaner and should align better to user expectations. We're excited because users will receive the valuable information contained in their emails in the best possible way.

YesYes
Peer review assessment enhancementsBlackboard improved the user experience of a peer review assignment when a student is removed from a course (disabled or unavailable), and when a student’s submission is deleted during the peer review process.

When an instructor deletes a student submission containing peer reviews, they'll receive a warning message, as they'll lose those reviews. The list of affected students will be visible. When grading or viewing peer reviews, the submission from a disabled or unavailable student will still be available.

If a student started or completed a review on a student submission that is no longer available (because it belongs to a disabled or unavailable student), they'll see they no longer have access to it. The student can start a different review if they’d like or if asked by the instructor. An instructor can see when a student completed a review that’s no longer available, giving the opportunity to let the student know they don’t need to complete another review if that’s preferred.

YesNo

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • In the Ultra Course View, an instructor attempting to grade an assessment submission with rubrics and then cleaning the rubric with the grading's bar grading pill, was seeing the bar's grading pills empty and colorless, unlike the rubric's grading pill. 

  • In the Ultra Course View, when changing the way students were sorted in the gradebook for a course's discussion, assignment, test or attendance, students were sorted alphabetically by first name instead of being sorted by last name. 

  • In the Ultra Experience, within the Grade Center of a course set as Unavailable, the Last Accesscolumn was showing students as if they had accessed the course instead of showing no activity. 

  • In the original Course View, the preview mode for the TinyMCE editor was displaying a grey background. We've updated the editor and made it transparent, for better readability of contents.

  • In the Original Course View, there was an inconsistency in the TinyMCE editor between edit and display modes for list items regarding their line spacing. 

  • In the Original Course View, there were differences of color for certain HTML tags within the TinyMCE editor, between the display and edit modes. 

  • The course cards in Base Navigation now better reflect the access state for students when viewed by instructors. There are several settings that determine whether students can access a course including the availability setting, course duration dates, and term dates. Previously, a course would appear as “private” or “open” depending only on the availability setting and didn’t consider duration or term date restrictions. Now the displayed state of a course card will consider these settings and better reflect students’ ability to access the course.

August 5, 2021 (v3900.19) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Progress tracking

Students can mark and track their progress inside their courses. Progress tracking will be initially limited to only new courses where no activity has taken place. Instructors will need to make a decision before their course has started whether they want to try progress tracking or not. Those who choose to turn the feature on will provide Blackboard with valuable input about how the feature functions to help improve it in future releases.

In this first version, student preview activity counts as activity, so if anything has been done from student preview mode, instructors won’t be able to turn this feature on.

YesNo
Updated Navigation Bar in Ultra Courses

Ultra Course View is getting a new navigation menu! The top menu will be changed to text based vs. the iconography currently used. The top menu will be sticky – this means that it will remain visible to users even after they have scrolled down the page. In a later release, instructors will be able to add a banner image to their course homepage.

Additionally, the Student Preview tool will be moved to the new header. This will allow instructors access to student preview whenever they are on any top navigation page (e.g. Calendar, Gradebook, etc.)

YesNo
Gradebook filltering

Gradebook in Ultra Course View is getting advanced filtering optionsFilter your gradebook view by multiple variables like users, groups, items, and categories. Navigate back and forth among student submissions that are included in the selected filters. Bookmark frequently used filters to reuse in a course for that term.

YesYes
(smart views)
Badges

Being rewarded is a powerful extrinsic motivator. One of the best rewards is recognition for a job well done. You can reward your students with badges throughout your course to keep students motivated and create a map of what they can learn. You can award badges for the completion of a project, skill proficiency, or levels of experience. Students' badge collections can represent the key learning milestones that they met. Earned badges show a complete view of a person's skills and achievements. 

The Badgr integration replaces achievements currently used in an Original course.

YesYes
Calendar Hyperlinks

Given the rapid shift to online learning, virtual office hours or synchronous collaboration sessions have become quite common. Instructors want the ability to easily link sessions to calendar invitations so students can have the best opportunity to successfully find where they need to be.

The Ultra calendar will support web addresses and hyperlinks in the calendar location field. Instructors can link any virtual tool of their choice in the calendar event, and students can launch the virtual session from the calendar itself.

YesYes
Peer Review Submission LinkingInstructors can access the submissions reviewed by a student right from that student's grading panel. They can easily select a specific submission and grade a student’s review in context.YesNo
Embedding Images & Files in Original CoursesOriginal courses will see increased support for adding files and images to tests. These question types and fields now support attached files and media using the Add Content button in the editor:
  • Calculated formula: Question text
  • Essay: Answer text
  • Matching: Question/Answer pairs
  • Multiple Answer: Answer options
  • Multiple Choice: Answer options
  • Ordering: Answer options
  • Short Answer: Answer text
YesYes
Original course Content Editor update

The Content Editor for Original Experience and Original Course View was last updated in November 2020. Since then, there have been inconsistencies in the way content is formatted when editing content and when viewing it. With this release, settings like font, size, color, and spacing are more consistent. When existing content is selected, the editor tool bar updates to display its current font, size, and header settings. This creates a better WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) experience.

NoYes
MS Teams integration

NOTE: This feature will NOT be available at UMBC until a patch is available to reconcile usernames and campusIDs with our email structure.

The updated Microsoft Teams integration provides enrollment synchronization between Ultra courses and MS Teams class participants for up to 1800 enrollments in a course. 

YesTBD

July 1, 2021 (v3900.17) 

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Group enhancements

Bb redesigned the group set configuration page to improve performance and allow large courses to be more stable.

  • A search bar now makes it easier to search for specific students and helps filter the display of unassigned students by search criteria. The bar shows predicted results and only unassigned students will be displayed.
  • Instructors can paginate through students who aren't currently assigned to a group.
  • Users will to move to the top of the page when there are enough students shown on the screen.
YesNo
Display overall grade as percentage

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

YesYes
Turn off Attendance column in gradebook

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 and choose whether they want to use attendance as a grade or not.

Additionally, instructors can remove attendance columns from the gradebook without affecting the attendance itself. If instructors want to remove attendance, now they can do so from the attendance settings. 

YesNo

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • In Ultra courses, manual grade columns were lacking a Post All grades button on the Submissions page. A Post All button is now present there for instructors to use. 
  • In Ultra Courses (and upcoming courses), Organizations, and Grades pages went blank on Safari, when the zoom was below 100%. Now, the pages display the courses the user is enrolled in. 
  • In the Original courses, the Content Editor wasn't loading randomly. Now, the Content Editor loads in all use cases. 

June 3, 2021 (v3900.15)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Rubric feedback by row criteria

Feedback by criterion will be available wherever rubrics appear, like discussions, anonymous assignments, single and multiple attempts assignments, among others. With this addition to rubrics, segmented feedback provides more flexibility and detail to feedback provided by instructors grading an assignment.

When using the parallel grading workflow, the option will be available to all graders, but only the reconciler's feedback by criterion is visible to students. The workflow remains around rubrics, and thus, feedback inside rubrics for the delegated workflow will remain the same.

YesYes
Right to Left Support

Full Right to Left language support will be available in Ultra courses:

  • A fully flipped Right to Left user interface across Ultra including the dashboard and Ultra Course View. 
  • Enhancements for the Ultra Rich Text Editor that allow users who write in Right to Left languages to adjust the text direction display.
  • Arabic and Hebrew language support in Ultra courses (requires system admin to configure)
YesYes
Audio/video recording for course announcementsInstructors can insert a brief (5 minutes) audio or video recording into an Ultra course announcement.YesNo
Peer Assessment enhancement

Notifications: Students and instructors can learn about relevant changes in submissions via the Activity Stream. Instructors get notifications when new reviews arrive, and students get them when their reviews are graded.

Batch Edit: Instructors can edit peer review items in batches. They can adjust the due date of separate items at the same time by delaying or advancing the date in a given batch.

YesNo

Bug fixes address these issues:

  • In the Ultra Experience, when Ultra Stream Notifications were sent to a specific, targeted role, the system announcement was sent correctly to the specific users with that institution role, but the Admin Announcement UI indicated the notification was sent to everyone. causing confusion for admins. 

  • In the Ultra Experience, in tests, the student's browser needed to be refreshed manually in order to show them tests hidden by conditional availability, even after these conditions were met. 

  • In the Ultra and Original Experiences, there were software updates related to server performance causing customer email alerts: Administrators were receiving Failed to Phone Home emails for software updates on SaaS environments. They will no longer see those emails. Also, as part of this change, the Update Status column has been removed from the Installed Tools page for Building Blocks

  • In the Original Experience, after a Learn user had disabled their profile image from view, other users were still able to see it as it remained publicly available. 

May 6, 2021 (v3900.13)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Drop grades

Instructors and other privileged roles will be able to decide if they want to add additional rules to how their overall grade is calculated when using calculation by categories. They'll be able to drop as many grades as they want (lowest/highest), as long as there are more items inside the category than dropped items, or to choose just the lowest or highest grade to be considered for that category. This feature serves a great variety of use cases, for instance, to help students at the end of the term or to remove outliers (highest/lowest) grades in order to get a better sense of students’ performance.

When rules are in place, students can gain access to their overall grade calculation details and see if some additional rules have been set by their instructors, which gives them clarity on how their grades are calculated and why their calculations might defer from the ones displayed in their gradebook.

YesYes
New message indicatorAt a glance, all users will know when they receive new messages through a Blackboard course or organization. The new message indicator appears as a number inside a circle on the Messages tab, which is located on the Ultra dashboard's left navigation menu. This badge changes to a solid circle when users click on the Messages tab to view the list of messages, aggregated by course.YesYes
Proctoring Services Framework

By leveraging and certifying against the very latest IMS LTI Proctoring standard and combining this open standards based approach with Blackboard’s own Premium APIs, Blackboard developed an extensible framework allowing partners and clients to build and deploy their integrations into the native test settings of the Ultra Course View. 

Blackboard is the first and currently only LMS provider to be certified against this latest Proctoring specification.

YesNo
Pin Collaborate videos (coming May 13)

With this month's Collaborate update, attendees can pin videos so they are always in view. When you pin a video, it moves the video to the top of the list and pins, or anchors, it there. It doesn't change the number of videos you see, just the order you see them in.

NOTE: Only moderators can see more than 4 videos at a time. 

YesYes

Bug fixes include:

  • In the Ultra Course View, when an assignment was created with Anonymous Grading, some daily notifications and digest email received after submissions were made, contained the names of the students who have submitted them. Bb fixed the issue.

  • In the Original Course View, in tests, some calculated numeric questions were wrongly marked as correct when the student introduced a combination of numeric values and letters in an answer that should be numerical only. Bb fixed the issue and added a further explanation on the Help pages regarding supported types of input for scientific notation, units and constants.

  • In the Original Course View, when recipients were selected for an enterprise survey response period, there was no way to identify or exclude child sections of merged courses, which caused some students to receive two copies of each survey. Bb fixed the issue.

April 22, 2021 (v3900.10)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Conditional availability by member or group

Instructors will be able to grant differentiated access to content based on their ultimate goals. As a new option to the conditional availability rules already present in Ultra courses (date/time and performance-based rules), faculty can now allow certain students to have access to specific content while selecting one or both existing rules mentioned above.

This new feature will be an incredible addition to those who want to create remedial paths to certain students, give different content to undergraduate and postgraduate students in a course, among other use cases.

YesYes
Assignment with Peer Review for Qualitative Peer Assessment

Peer assessment is a practice becoming more common because it encourages development of students’ critical thinking abilities, gives them practice in critique of others in a professional manner, and allows for measurement of students’ analysis and communication skills. With this release, qualitative peer review can be enabled for an Assignment in the Ultra Course View. It’s simple for instructors and students to use, and has the following features:

  • Set different due dates for the initial assignment submission and the completion of peer review: Instructors can set how many reviews are expected from each student. Peers are assigned randomly and automatically.
  • Late submitters and reviewers remain part of the task and can continue to participate: Instructors can clearly see who was late. This is a huge improvement over the implementation in Original Course View and superior to implementations found it other learning management systems where students who are late on anything can no longer participate.
  • Tracking: Instructors can track students’ progress toward completion.
  • Rubrics: Students can see the rubric that will optionally be used for the grade. Instructors can grade using a rubric.
  • Complete, single view: When grading, the instructor can see all this information in a single view: the student’s submission, feedback provided by the students’ peers, and the feedback the current student gave to their peers.
  • Anonymous mode for students: The identities of peers are hidden from students but viewable by instructors.
  • Censoring: Instructors can hide reviews deemed inappropriate or harmful.

As this is a first release of the Peer Review option for Assignments, there are some relevant use cases that aren’t part of this development, but are planned as future improvements. Please watch the FAQs and myUMBC for additional information.

YesYes
Improvements to the Ultra content editor

In the Ultra Experience, the Rich Text Editor improvements are related to paragraph format change and allow the creation of more rich and customizable pages. These include: Clear formatting, text alignment
, line height
, and undo.

YESN/A
Embed LTI Content in Original courses via content editorIn Original courses, appropriate LTI course tools will appear for instructors, course builders, teaching assistants, and students in the Add Content menu as additional tools alongside existing mashup tools. Two methods are supported: either the tool can add a link in the editor, or if the tool designates that the resource should be embedded, it will be inserted into an iframe in the Content Editor and rendered automatically.N/AYES
Disable notifications for users with high enrollments

Typically, users enrolled in so many courses are support staff or instructional designers. Some faculty course coordinators or department chairs may also find themselves enrolled in large numbers of courses.

With this update, Blackboard improved the timeliness and performance of notifications for all users by no longer generating these notifications for users with more than 500 enrollments. This includes  emails, push notifications, and the Activity Stream.A user with this large volume of course enrollments will still have access to all course resources but won’t receive notifications regardless of their settings.

YESYES


The February-March updates were bug fixes.

January 7, 2021 (v3900.4)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Formatting tools

Format content in a variety of different ways, including font colors, font sizes, and font style. A redesigned tool base provides a secondary bar that displays additional options, which is helpful on smaller screens. Students and faculty will see these changes everywhere they encounter the rich text editor in Ultra courses.

YesYes
User activity log

Currently, there isn’t an easy way to capture what a user was doing at the time an issue occurred. With this update, users will now be able to capture their most recent session data -- the last 30 actions the taken in Blackboard -- and send it to DoIT staff, which can be used to identify root issues or escalate to Blackboard support. This feature will be available in the Support Panel as well as anywhere the “Oops! Your name is not on the list” message can occur.

YesYes

2020

December 3, 2020 (v3900.2)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

HTML / CSS support in Ultra documents

Instructors can create, edit, and delete custom HTML/CSS code blocks in Ultra course documents. Instructors can select Add HTML when creating a document to add their own HTML and CSS and fully customize the appearance of their Ultra course documents.

Use of this feature will require that we have some means to host the content, primarily to avoid malicious scripts impacting the entire Learn system.

YesYes
Journal grading improvements

Participation view can now support over 1,000 students at once. Instructors can clearly see when students post new journals and comments, and can view a single submission. Instructors can also use Ultra’s grading tools, including feedback and rubrics, to create and post grades. Both participation and submission views link to the gradebook. By default, students will be allowed to delete and edit their journal entries and comments, but instructors can also now choose to disable this permission.

YesYes
Test Feedback Release SettingsInstructors can enable more granular controls on when and what type of feedback is given to students when taking an assessment. Instructors can set up timed release to automated question feedback, correct answers, and question scores. They can also select when to show feedback: after submission, after due date, at a specific date, or after the assessment is graded. Students will see if and when feedback will be available for a specific assessment after they submit an attempt.YesYes
Gradebook tweaksIn the Student List View, instructors will receive additional search capabilities, column sorting options, and enhanced page controls for both large and small devices.YesYes

Additional Improvements & Bug Fixes

  • TBD

November 6, 2020 (v3900.0)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Content editor update

Original courses will receive an updated, easier-to-use, more powerful Content Editor. Adding content has been simplified, and it works better on both hand-held devices and larger screens. There are new tool icons and some changes to tool behavior. Expanded libraries of special characters and emoticons are searchable and organized by category. The spellchecker is smarter and editing HTML is faster with line numbering and tag colors. Learn more.

See → How does the new content editor compare to the previous content editor in an Original Bb course?

NoYes
Gradebook improvements

This release introduces several improvements and new functionality for student list view in the Ultra gradebook.

  • The gradebook's student list view will let you send messages and add accommodations for a student (in addition to the existing roster settings).
  • You can set up activity stream alerts about your students' progress. For example, you can set an alert to notify you which students haven't logged in the last 3 days or which student grades are falling below 65% in the course.
  • You can choose whether to show or hide the overall grade column to students.
  • The test countdown timer will switch from minutes to seconds when less than 1 minute remains.
YesNo
Larger iconsIn this release, you’ll see new large icons in the Ultra experience. We made these changes to our icons to improve accessibility and differentiation for all users.YesNo
Quiz Timer UpdateStudents will know how much time they have left down to the last second when they take a quiz in the Ultra Course View. The quiz timer will change from minutes to seconds when less than 1 minute remains.YesYes

Additional Improvements & Bug Fixes

  • To improve performance for very large classes, Blackboard removed the option to filter the blog participant list to display only non-participants in Original Course View.
  • Items in the Details & Actions section of the Ultra Course View will now load in a single wave. This change will prevent students and instructors from selecting the wrong item as the page loads.
  • Bug Fixes:

    • Emailed course announcements in both the Original and Ultra Course Views now include both the course name and the title of the announcement in the email subject.

    • In the Ultra Course View, students couldn’t navigate to the next course content item from a discussion board post if conditional availability was set. 

    • In the Ultra Course View, users who had system permission to create materials but were not enrolled in a course couldn’t add permanent files to a course. 

    • In the Ultra Course View, some users couldn't join Collaborate sessions with their course links.
    • In the Ultra Course View, some replies weren’t visible in discussions. Also, some users’ discussion response and reply counts didn’t appear correctly. 
    • In the Ultra Course View, some users’ profiles and activity in discussions appeared as though the users were unavailable.
    • In the Original Course View, discussion forum links that were broken during a course copy couldn’t be removed from the new course. 

October 1, 2020 (v3800.19)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Alternative formats for Ultra docs

With this release, instructors and students can download Ally alternative formats for course documents in the expanded view. With Ally enabled at their institutions, instructors and students see the Ally icon in the top menu, next to the conversations icon. They can choose the alternative format that best suits their needs.

YesNo

September 3, 2020 (v3800.17)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Automated test feedback

With this release, Instructors can enter feedback for correct and incorrect answers on auto-graded question types (such as True/False). Students will automatically receive the feedback when they submit the assessment.

For this initial release, feedback will be available at the question level only. While conversion of automated feedback from Original courses is supported, any images, files, or weblinks in the Original course’s feedback will not convert. Future work will add feedback for individual answer choices and manual feedback for test questions.

See → How do I create an Ultra test?

YesYes
Password-protected assessmentsInstructors can now add a system-generated password to their assessments in the Ultra Course View. For the initial release, passwords can only be generated randomly (passwords can't be customized) and instructors must provide the password to students. Instructors can also regenerate the password when needed. Test facilitators will be able to see the password, but won't be able to change it.

Students must enter the password each time they start or continue an assessment. They will need to get the password from their instructor or test facilitator, and will not have a way to discover the password on their own. Students will not need the password to access their grades and feedback.

See → How do I create an Ultra test?

YesYes
Send announcement via emailTo ensure Ultra course announcements reach as many students as possible, Blackboard added the ability to send course announcements by email. Instructors can also send a copy to their own email. Announcements that are scheduled will not have the option to send in email.YesYes
Student list view in gradebook

Blackboard added a new view option to improve gradebook performance in courses with very large enrollment numbers. With the student list view option, instructors can see a row for each student instead of a row for each gradebook item.

Additional information is incorporated into this view: Last access date, student, and user ID.

The initial release will allow instructors to view all the gradebook items for a student by selecting their name. From there, instructors can grade and give feedback on submissions for that single student. The next improvement for this feature will include additional filtering and sorting options, messaging, and accommodation options within the student list view.

This view will not affect any current workflows that instructors use today. 

YesYes
Secure recording links in Collaborate

As part of Blackboard's commitment to security and privacy, public access to recordings is now off by default for new sessions. Only session owners and students enrolled in the course can see the recording. Any links shared to the recording will no longer work when the recording is secure. When public access is off, the recording is secure.

Instructors can choose to allow public access in the Recording Settings. When the Public access check box is selected, a shareable link to the recording is available. Anybody with the link can view the recording while public access is allowed. If the instructor clears the Public access check box later, the shareable link will stop working.

NOTE: Only recordings made after the September release have public access turned off by default. All previous recordings have public access on by default. You can change the access for earlier recordings in the recording settings.

See → How do I make a Blackboard Collaborate recording available to my class?

YesYes
Recording reminder in CollaborateCollaborate will remind moderators to start recording the session before they begin. As soon as moderators join the session, Collaborate presents a recording reminder. The reminder is visible until the moderator starts the recording or closes the reminder.YesYes

August 6, 2020 (v3800.15)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Embed media from external sources

The Insert Video from Web option is now called Insert Media from Web. Users can add media from these sites: Panopto, VoiceThread, YouTube, Vimeo, FlipGrid, SlideShare, Quizlet, VidGrid, Prezi, KhanAcademy, Soundcloud, Spotify, Genial.lyNearPod

See → How do I embed media from external websites in my Ultra course?

YesYes
Course announcements enhancement

Instructors can use an enhanced text editor to add and display more types of content, links, embedded media, and file attachments in announcements in Ultra courses.

NOTE: In a future release, instructors will be able to send an email copy of a course announcement to recipients with an email address on record.

YesYes
Journal enhancementBlackboard added support for Ultra journals in course copy and conversion. Now, journals and their prompts can be copied from one course to another, regardless of the course view. Users can use Copy Content to copy journals between courses. Journals can also be converted from an Original course to an Ultra course as part of the Ultra Course Preview and will be included in the course's export/archive ZIP file. These capabilities apply to journals prompt and entries only and don’t include comments.YesYes
Profanity filter in Collab sessions

If someone uses inappropriate words in a Collaborate session chat, those words are filtered out and are replaced with a series of stars. The chat profanity filter is off by default. Moderators can turn it on in Session Settings.

See → How do I enable the profanity filter in a Collaborate session?

YesYes

July 2, 2020 (v3800.13)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Discussion enhancements

Instructors can decide if they want students to generate their own discussions or not. By default, students won't be able to create discussions. When students are allowed to create discussions, a label appears under discussion titles to show they were student-created.

  • The Grader role can't modify a discussion by default, but an administrator can grant that permission if needed.
  • Students can delete the discussions they created if no one else has responded.

To learn more, please review Blackboard's documentation

YesYes
Share external camera in Collab session

Share your video and share another camera connected to your computer. Students can see you and anything else you want to show. You're only limited by the number of cameras and USB ports in your computer.

See → How do I share an external camera in Collaborate?

YesYes

June 4, 2020 (v3800.11)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Journals

Journals will be available in the Ultra Course View. Instructors can create a journal assignment on the Course Content page, add them to learning modules, and use conditional release if they want. Journal assignments appear in the Activity Stream, and students and instructors can discuss the entry in comments. Instructors can make a journal assignment count for a grade and add a rubric so students know what they'll be graded on.

NOTE: The initial release includes a basic grading workflow, where instructors enter grades manually in the gradebook. Full grading functionality and support for course copy and conversion are expected later this year. Continued enhancements are also coming for the Participants panel.

At this time, the Ultra journals grading view supports up to 50 students. Future improvements will expand this number.

To learn more, please review Blackboard's Documentation 

YesYes
Score per question

In the Original Course View, instructors use Score per Question feedback settings to control if students see the score they earned for each assessment question. With this release, in the Ultra Course View, instructors can deactivate the default and choose not to show Score per Question feedback in assessments.

To learn more, please review Blackboard's documentation

YesYes
Include discussions in course copyWith this release, Copy Content now supports discussions. Instructors can create a discussion in one Ultra Course View course and copy it to other Ultra courses they teach.YesYes
Students can embed media from LTI

In the Ultra Course View, students can add links and embed media from integrated tools using the Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) standard. When using the content editor in tools such as Discussion Boards and Assignments, students will now also be able to access a list of integrated LTI Tools, choose resources, and include them in their authored content. This will allow students to add media and resources from tools such as Kaltura, among many others.

NOTE: Bb admins will configure which tool placements are appropriate for student use and access. 

See this example → How do I embed a Panopto video in an Ultra document or discussion?

YesNo
Enable webinar mode in a Collab session

By default, sessions support up to 250 attendees. You can set up your session to support up to 500 attendees. From the session's settings, select Allow 250+ attendees to join before the session begins.

If you don't see the large session option, check the session length. The session needs an end time and can't be more than 24 hours in length.

To learn more, please review Blackboard's documentation

YesYes

May 7, 2020 (v3800.9)

This month's updates focus on bug fixes and behind the scenes updates. The major update the new inline grading tools scheduled for release to Blackboard courses on May 25-26, 2020. Read the myUMBC announcement about Bb Annotate or view the Getting Started with Bb Annotate webinar recording (5.15.2020) from Blackboard

  • Improved the load times when students and instructors expand folders on the course outline. Also improved load for Calendar.

  • Corrected copying of unnecessary gradebook categories between Ultra courses

  • Corrected error received by instructors when attempting to end or grade an "In "Progress" test

  • Corrected issue where when the rubric "Save/Cancel" button can get stuck in a bad position and blocks text and other options

  • Corrected issue when Multiple Answer checkboxes are not aligned with the questions

  • Corrected issue where Conditional Availability can be set to hide a Test before its due date in Ultra, which causes an error when viewing the Test's settings.

April 2, 2020 (v3800.6)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Course-level group enrollment

Previously, self-enrollment groups were limited to assignments and discussions in Ultra courses. With this release, instructors can create self-enrollment course groups that can apply to any graded content within a course. When they create a new course group set, instructors will see Self-enrollment in the Group students menu.

Instructors can add a description for the group set, specify the start and end times of an enrollment period, and set the maximum members per group. After the group set is created, a course announcement is automatically created to inform students of the enrollment period. When the enrollment period ends, students who haven't joined a group will be assigned to one automatically.

Yes

Yes

TBD 

Rich text editor improvements

Blackboard made some improvements to the rich text editor in the Ultra Course View:

  • Moved the file attachment function to the top level so it's easier to access.

  • Added a strikethrough font style option.

  • Updated function groupings so they're easier to read on smaller screens.

  • Allowed the browser to control the background of highlighted text to improve accessibility.

Yes

No

N/A

Adjust first day of the week in the calendar

Different global regions have different calendar conventions, including which day displays as the first day of the week. With this release, Blackboard calendars will display the most common convention for the first day of the week based on a user's selected language. Users will be able to see the change in the month and day views of both their overall and individual course calendars. The date picker display will also change in the Ultra Course View and for administrator notifications in the Ultra Experience.

Users can change their language in the user profile. Administrators can customize the first day of the week for their language pack if they choose.

Yes

No

N/A

March 5, 2020 (v3800.4)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Calculated formula question type

Calculated Formula questions require students to make a calculation and respond with a numeric answer. In Ultra Course View only, instructors can choose whether to display the formula to students with the text. Instructors can then adjust the answer settings and verify the question. Instructors can convert Calculated Formula questions from their Original courses or add new ones within the Ultra Course View.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Discussion improvements when converting Original to Ultra

With this release, a graded discussion in an Original course that allows members to create threads will convert to a Graded Ultra discussion and all of its seed child threads and replies will be removed.A graded discussion in an Original course that doesn't allow members to create threads will keep the current behavior. Group boards, forums, and threads won't be converted.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation 

Word count

Blackboard added a word count to the text editor when instructors create Documents and students respond to Assessment essay questions in the Ultra Course View. This feature will help students meet minimum word count requirements their instructors may have communicated.

Future enhancements will add the word count feature in other areas of Learn Ultra, including instructor grading workflows.

Yes

Yes

N/A

Read-only messages for students

Course Messages can be set to read-only in both Original and Ultra courses. As this is a system admin setting, DoIT will solicit feedback from Ultra Faculty Ambassadors and the campus community before adjusting the configuration.

Yes

Yes

N/A

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • The menu option for adding YouTube content to an Ultra course is clarified. Previously, the menu said Insert Web Content, but now it will say Insert youTube Video.

  • Blackboard added text to the Matching question creation workflow to direct instructors to delete the default additional answer field before saving if it's not needed. They also removed the student-facing text that suggested answers may be used more than once.

  • The CourseID will now appear with the Course Name on the Courses page, in the Calendar, and when copying content. This will help faculty more easily identify the course shells they access.

  • When creating content in Ultra courses, all options will be open by default. Prior to this release, only the content items would be visible, which meant you would need to expand assessment or engagement to create those items. Now you will be able to see all options at one time.

  • Changing the tile image on the Courses page is now part of the overflow menu with making courses available or hiding courses.

  • Blackboard changed the way students are sorted in Ultra gradebook views for calculated columns and overall grade. Students now sort by last name throughout the gradebook.

  • Blackboard increased the length of the course name in tile view on the Courses page. Unless the course name is exceptionally long, users should see the full course name.

  • Original Course View received right-to-left language support. Future enhancements will bring right-to-left language support to Ultra.

  • In this release, students won't see overdue notifications for Ultra Assessments that use the Collect Submissions Offline setting.

February 6, 2020 (v3800.2)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Groups Enhancement

Blackboard enhanced self-enrollment for student groups, allowing students change self-enrollment groups themselves within the instructor-specified enrollment period. Blackboard also replaced the Number of groups drop-down menu with a counter for instructors to streamline the workflow and reduce confusion.

Yes

Yes

How do I create self-enrolled groups in an Ultra course?

Ally Enhancement

Students and instructors can access Ally’s alternative formats for content directly in the Ultra course outline. Instructors can view Ally’s accessibility meters on the course outline and in Ultra Assessments for content embedded in the rich text editor.

Yes

Yes

About Ally & Accessibility

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • Discussion board spacing is fixed to improve the readability of posts.

  • Links to Blackboard’s Privacy statement and Terms of Use now appear at the bottom of the global navigation bar in the Ultra Experience.

  • Disabled students are removed from the Participants list in discussions

  • With this release, Blackboard will remember instructors’ preferences for the Show attempts that don't contribute to user's grade filter on the Needs Grading page in the Original Course View. By default, the checkbox is unselected and student attempts that don’t affect grades won’t show on the Needs Grading list. 

  • In the Ultra Course View, students could change their self-enrollment group after they had been assigned a grade for a Discussion. Blackboard fixed the issue.

  • Student Group feedback will not display for individual students in Offline Submissions.

  • Assessments requiring conditional availability based on the grade of another assessment will now display properly.

  • Blackboard fixed an issue where some users couldn't view inline or download files attached to essay questions in Ultra courses if the file names had certain special characters. 

  • Users should also be able to view and download files with New Box View in Ultra courses.

  • Finally, Ultra assignments submitted through SafeAssign should no longer get stuck in the In Progress status.

There was no update in January 2020 due to the holidays.

2019

December 18, 2019 (v3700.16)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Assignment connections to Group Sets

In previous versions of Ultra, faculty had to create the discussion, test or assignment first before they could create the groups. With this release, instructors can create groups first and then attach them to course activities.

NOTE: Group Sets still do not have a bulk student enrollment option. Self-enroll is not available for Group Sets. 

Yes

Yes

TBD

Reassigning students in Groups

This updates allows faculty to assign or reassign students in groups. If a student joins a course late or needs to switch groups, the instructor can place the student in a group or move the student to a different group.

Yes

Yes

TBD

Zero point assignments

Zero point assignments will be available: Currently, when you set an assignment to zero, Ultra will reset the points to 100. 

Yes

Yes

TBD

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • In previous versions, the prompt for Multiple Choice questions differed from that of Multiple Answer questions. This difference offered an unintentional clue to students when a question had more than one correct answer. Based on feedback from the community, Blackboard made the prompt consistent across Multiple Choice and Multiple Answer question types.

  • Blackboard fixed an issue where the Content Editor didn't load correctly for some users. 

  • Some users got an error message when they downloaded student submissions in certain file formats. Blackboard also fixed this issue.

  • Students and instructors using the Ultra Course View couldn’t download file submissions. Blackboard fixed this issue.

  • Blackboard fixed an issue that appeared in Ultra courses when an instructor graded one assignment and moved on to the next, the first assignment displayed again instead of the next one. 

  • Instructors can now copy more than 50 questions into a new test in the Ultra courses.

  • Blackboard fixed an issue where some users got an error message when they downloaded student submissions in certain file formats.

November 7, 2019 (v3700.14)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Ally indicators

Ally alternative formats and instructor accessibility scores are available for embedded files and images in documents, tests, and assignments in Ultra courses.

Yes

Yes

What does the Ally accessibility meter mean?

Iconography

The new icons are darker and appear more prominently now.

Yes

N/A

N/A

Notifications

Ultra administrators can change notifications at the system level, configure digest functionality, and set up default notification settings. DoIT will evaluate the new notification settings to identify the most effective configuration for users.

Yes

Yes

N/A

Document description

Ultra Documents now have a description field that will appear on the Course Content page, which allows instructors to give high-level details about what the Ultra documents contain, reducing unnecessary clicks for students. Descriptions are limited to 250 characters.


Yes

Yes

(as Item)

N/A

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • Blackboard updated Assessment Settings to replace the Done button with Save and Cancel.

  • The Batch Edit tool is moved to the overflow menu (...) with Course Copy and other bulk management tools. 

  • Blackboard removed the learning module when you first log in to an empty template as well as the empty module that appeared on the page.

October 4, 2019 (v3700.11)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Bulk download submissions

Instructors can download files from the Ultra gradebook or from the submissions list page with the Download all option. Instructors can then choose whether to download all or select specific submissions. Instructors receive an email and a course message when the ZIP file is ready to download to their computers.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Decimal point values for assessments

When creating a question in an assessment, instructors can enter values with up to two numbers after the decimal in the Points field. For assessments with no individual questions, the Maximum points field will accept values with up to two numbers after the decimal.

Yes

Yes

N/A  

Delete copied course attendance data

When instructors prepare a course for an upcoming term, they commonly copy all content, including the gradebook, from the last term’s course. For courses that used the attendance tool, the copied attendance gradebook column was difficult to remove in the Ultra Course View. With this release, instructors can delete attendance gradebook columns added during a course copy from the destination course’s gradebook.

Instructors can delete copied attendance columns from the gradebook menu. The attendance column that is correctly associated with the course can be deleted if all students’ attendance records are removed first.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation 

Regrade questions in question pools

This release allows instructors to regrade individual questions within a question pool in Ultra. Questions within pools can be regraded from a student’s submission using the same options available for questions not within a pool. Instructors can also regrade from the assessment panel after selecting View questions in a question pool. When regrading, a message informs the instructor if a question is used in other course assessments. Question updates made while regrading affect all instances of that question in the course.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Select / clear all questions for question pools

When adding questions to a question pool, instructors need to be able to select large groups of questions quickly and efficiently. As instructors create question pools for their Ultra assessments, the options to Select all and Clear all question choices now appear on the Add Question Pool page.

Yes

Yes

N/A

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • Images Inserted into Fill in the Blank Questions in Ultra do not Display Inline for Students

    • Use of an Apostrophe in a File Name Creating Issues

    • Ultra Rubric Details Text Overlapped by Percentage

    • UItra View Documents do not Save if Window is Closed During Initial Creation

    • Show More Upcoming Activity in Activity Stream does not Work

    • TA Role has Announcement Link Grayed out if There are no Announcement in Ultra Course

    • Content Created in Ultra Courses is Added at the Top Regardless of Where the Plus Sign is Selected

September 5, 2019 (v3700.9)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Self-Enrolled Groups

Instructors can create self-enrollment groups for students to join to complete group assignments and discussions. Instructors choose the number of groups, can set the maximum members per group, and may allow students to view other members of the groups before they choose a group.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation or UMBC's FAQs

Needs Grading filter

On an item's Submissions page in the Ultra gradebook, instructors can use the new Filter menu to display only those submissions that need grading. At this time, instructors can filter by All statuses and Needs grading. Note: Group and discussion items do not yet appear in the Needs Grading filter.

Yes

Yes

N/A  

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • Bb Collaborate will be visible in Ultra courses by default, allowing instructors to pre-schedule Collaborate sessions in their Ultra courses any time – even when the course isn't available to students.

August 8, 2019 (v3700.7)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Question pools & random sets

To help build assessments quickly and encourage academic integrity, instructors can now create question pools in the Ultra Course View. With question pools, students receive different sets of questions to answer. Instructors can add questions from all existing tests, assignments, and question banks in their courses.

In the Ultra Course View, question pools replace the Original Course View's random blocks and question sets. Instructors can create as many question pools as they want and add, edit, and remove questions in the pools. Edits appear anywhere questions are used. 

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation 

Show/hide test answers

In Ultra assessments, instructors can decide if students see the answers to questions that were answered incorrectly. For example, instructors may want students to see which questions they missed on a multiple attempt assessment, but don’t want to show the correct answers. Instructors may also hide answers until all students complete their submissions.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation  

Ultra organizations

New organizations may be created with the Ultra interface. Existing orgs can be converted to Ultra.

Yes

Yes

N/A

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • Intermittent loading in Activity Stream on Ultra base navigation (dashboard).

  • Assignments submitted by Students are properly rendered in the New Box View for inline grading.

    BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • Ultra Discussion containing video content from LTI deep link doesn't show the entire video preview - it forces it to be scrollable.

    • When accessing Discussion Analysis in an Ultra Course, Analysis shows as pending for all Users.

    • Discussion Board post counter is not showing all of a User's posts.

    • Cannot view Student attempts for Assessments after submission when the Student is using a different Language Pack than the Instructor. 

    • When grading an attempt for an Assessment, clicking the oval Rubric button leads to an error message.

    • In Essay Questions of a Test, the Points/Save Answer box covers part of the Question Text on lower Screen Resolutions.

July 11, 2019 (v3700.5)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Google Suite Integration

Users will be to access their UMBC Google storage from within their profile, from the Tools page, or from an Ultra course.

Yes

No

Review UMBC's documentation

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • To ensure privacy, only instructor names—not instructor usernames—appear to students throughout the Ultra experience.

    BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • Tests with exceptions will appear properly to students.

    • Rubrics for group assignments in Ultra courses will now be visible to students.

    • Disabled students will not appear in group assignments.

    • Content items within iFrames should appear properly to students.

    • When grading an Item for more than 25 Students, the grades from the second page will no longer show up on the first page.

June 7, 2019 (v3700.3)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Parallel Marking

For higher stakes assessments, a double marking process is sometimes used in which each student’s submission is evaluated by two graders and a final grader reviews those evaluations to make the final decision on a student’s grade. This approach intends to reduce bias and is often paired with student anonymity. When setting up an assignment in the Ultra Course View, instructors can enable parallel grading and select non-student course members to act as graders and reconcilers. Instructors can also hide student names to prevent unintended bias.

This feature is known as Delegated Grading in an Original course. 

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation or UMBC's FAQ 

Import external calendar to Blackboard

Instructors and students often use calendars to organize and keep track of events. Access to a course calendar is crucial to meeting deadlines and overall success. Having access to all events – both personal and academic – in one place helps keep everyone on track. In this release, users can synchronize external calendars with Blackboard Learn, building on the previously released capabilities.

Yes

Yes

TBD or UMBC's FAQ

Display course banner on Courses page

A new enhancement to the Courses page provides users with an option to view courses in list or grid mode. Stock images randomly display for each course card when grid mode is active. The banner image can be replaced by faculty who would prefer to personalize the course visual.

Original courses with existing banners will find those images are preloaded on the Courses page. The banner images uploaded through the Courses page will NOT pass over to the course regardless of whether it is Original or Ultra.

Yes

Yes

TBD or UMBC's FAQ

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • Previously, the Courses page in the Ultra experience listed a user's oldest courses first. The order has been flipped and now the newest courses are listed first. If a user designates any courses as favorites, those courses still appear first in the list.

  • The pages for Courses and Organizations are now available in list and grid mode. Instructors/leaders can personalize the banner image that displays with the grid card or use a stock image provided by Blackboard. The banner does not display in the course. Learn more: How do I customize my banner image on the Courses or Organizations page?

    BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • When a student submit multiple attempts on a test in quick succession, the system's responsiveness will no longer slow or stop. 

    • Ultra courses with longer names will no longer appear with unexpected symbols.

May 2, 2019 (v3700.0)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Student preview

Instructors want to be confident that their courses are well-designed and function as intended—before their students see them. Instructors can use student preview to review the course content. They can also validate the course behaviors, such as those that control course content availability or require a particular interaction from the students to be triggered. With student preview, instructors can experience their courses exactly as their students do. 

Start student preview from anywhere within an Ultra course. The preview creates user in your course that you can use to view everything as a student would. 

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation or UMBC's FAQ

Question banks

With this release, instructors can now directly import question banks, including question pools that have been exported from Original courses and packages of questions that have been purchased from a publisher. These questions are then available for use and reuse across the assessments in that course.

As with any conversion from Original to Ultra, question types that are not yet supported are dropped during the processing of the imported file.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation or UMBC's FAQ 

Individual feedback on group assignment

In this update, faculty can provide feedback for an entire group and individual feedback for each student. Group feedback is seen by all students in the group while individual feedback is only visible to the instructor and student.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

 Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • The Collaborate link, which previously said Course Room, is now updated to say Blackboard Collaborate on the Details & Action panel of the Ultra Course View.

BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • Students will be able to download assignment annotations without error.

    • The Math editor in Original courses should no longer display broken images to equations.

April 4, 2019 (v3600.0)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Share Bb calendar with external services

In this release, users can synchronize their Blackboard Learn Ultra calendars to external calendars. Generate a URL to share course calendar details with an external service. Share the URL only with trusted sources. When you connect your Blackboard Learn calendar to an external calendar, all course events appear one year in the past and into the future.

Yes

Yes 

Review Blackboard's documentation 

Third-party information on Activity Stream

With this release, the Activity Stream more accurately reports on third-party content to keep everyone more up to date. Specifically, LTI and manual grade column notifications will update in the Activity Stream when: 

  • The item transitions from due to overdue 

  • The item’s due date is updated 

  • The item is deleted 

  • The item is graded 

  • The item’s visibility is changed 

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Course Facilitator Role

New Facilitator role for courses, which contains a set of default privileges regarding course calendar, discussions, gradebook, announcements, materials, and groups. Course members can be granted this role to help maintain the pace of the course throughout the term or as needed.

This release also includes two new granular privileges to grant a user the ability to create or delete a discussion in the Ultra Course View.

Yes

Yes

Review UMBC's documentation

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes: 

  • In this release, you’ll notice a redesigned create content menu when you click on the purple (x) to accommodate additional upcoming options in course content, gradebook, discussions, and documents.

  • Users who subscribe to email notifications will notice Blackboard updated the message format. The Blackboard branding is smaller and the format is optimized for better appearance on more devices and email clients.

  • Users can receive push notifications when someone responds to their discussion in an Ultra course, someone replies to their posts, an instructor creates a new discussion, or when participation deadlines are approaching.

BUG FIXES: This issue was corrected in this update.

      • Renaming a course menu link in an Original course will no longer throw an error message.

March 7, 2019 (v3500.11)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Assessment exceptions

Instructors can now grant individual students additional time to access an assessment, even if it is hidden to other students. Additional attempts may also be configured, again for an individual student on an individual assessment. In the future, Blackboard plans to introduce due date exceptions so that students who are granted extended access will not be marked late for submissions made after the original due date.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Regrade questions

With this release, test questions can be edited in one place. These edits, along with any score adjustments, are automatically performed for all submissions that contain the updated question.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Enhanced discussion analytics

To better inform grading and provide additional insight in to the level of engagement in graded discussions, Blackboard added three new metrics to the Discussion Analysis area of the Ultra Course View. In addition to sentence complexity, critical thinking, and counts of responses and replies, graders can view statistics for the number of substantive posts, lexical classification (counts of content and functional words), and the percentage of word variation in a student’s posts for a given discussion.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Granular notification settings for Activity Stream

In this release, Activity Stream notification settings are more granular for students and instructors, giving them the option to choose which information they wish to receive. Settings have been reformatted so users can select to receive all notifications at a high level, like notifications for new discussions. Users can also choose to see updates about specific events or activity in their Activity Streams. For example, an instructor can choose to be notified when a blog entry is edited.

Existing settings are carried over and saved in the new format. Visual cues display if all, some, or none of the notification types are selected.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Granular user privileges for course announcements and calendar

Announcements: Individuals with these privileges can create course announcements in both course views. Additional entitlements allow users to view draft announcements in addition to posted announcements.

Calendar: Individuals with these privileges can add, edit, and delete course calendar events in both course views. In the Ultra Course View, individuals with these privileges can also add, edit, and delete office hours and course schedules.

Use Case: Faculty who have students working with the Supplemental Instruction-Peer Assisted Study Sessions (SI-PASS) program may request a custom role for those students, allowing them to post announcements while maintaining student privileges in all other parts of the course.

Yes

Yes

Review UMBC's documentation

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes:

  • A word count appears when drafting responses and replies in discussions in the Ultra Course View.

  • Instructors can now rename an LTI link from the gradebook in the Ultra Course View.

  • Unenrolled users can view announcements in unavailable courses.

BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • The Messages page in the Ultra Course View is now responsive for users on mobile devices.

    • When copying an Ultra course using SIS, the new course duration was overwritten by the source course. Bb fixed the issue by excluding a duration on the course copy.

    • Group submissions in the Ultra Course View now appear consistently in the gradebook. 

    • Instructors may have received an error message when saving course reports to the Content Collection. Bb fixed the issue.

    • A synchronization issue caused unexpected behavior in custom language packs. Bb fixed the issue.

    • Course messages with attachments sometimes resulted in an error message asking the user to contact their system administrator. Bb fixed the issue.

    • Users may have received an error message when attempting to connect to OneDrive for Business through Blackboard Learn. The vendor has fixed the issue.

January 31, 2019 (v3500.9)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Support for Respondus Lockdown Browser in Ultra Courses

The LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard Learn, which means that students are unable to copy, print, access other applications, or visit other websites during an online exam. It works seamlessly with Blackboard Learn and is built in to the assessment settings. When instructors configure an assessment to require the LockDown Browser, students will only be able to begin their attempts if they access the assessment with the LockDown Browser.

After February, 6 2019, faculty can access this tool in an Ultra course by selecting the Settings area in a test or an assignment.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Review FAQ

Search gradebook columns and categories

If an instructor needs to check on the status for a single gradebook column or create a simple, filtered view of a specific gradebook category across all students, there are additional search options to reduce the scrolling and visual scanning required to quickly verify or filter. Begin typing the title of a column or category in to the gradebook grid view search field. Search results include any columns, categories, or even students who match the search term or phrase. We've included a label within the search results to help distinguish among these three types of results.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Push notifications to Blackboard App

Push notifications for Learn Ultra will allow students to gain direct insight via this notification modal. Notifications may help students stay on top of new content added to their courses, new grades and feedback that have been created for assessed items, and due date reminders for upcoming assessments that need to be completed and submitted. 

Note: The corresponding functionality in the Blackboard App will be made available in the coming months so Ultra Courses won't push notifications yet. Users in the Original experience are still able to receive push notifications.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Miscellaneous Updates & Fixes:

  • To improve performance times and user experience, course messages no longer appear in the activity stream.

  • Instructors are now prompted to name content they create in the Ultra Course View.

  • Bb improved the logic for grading multiple choice questions when a student selects both correct and incorrect answers in the Ultra Course View. 

  • Bb improved the course import feature to preserve the content package’s folder structure.

  • Blackboard made several accessibility improvements in Ultra:

    • Improved the color contrast ratio for reorder and move icons on the Course Content page.

    • Added a stroke around the panel close button to comply with color contrast ratios. 

    • Improved the hover and keyboard states for active elements to be more visually significant. 

    BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • When an instructor attached a file as feedback on a graded discussion, students encountered errors trying to download it. 

    • When an unread discussion post appeared as a link in the What’s New module, users encountered errors when opening it.

    • Calculated questions using exponents in answers in the Original Course View were marked incorrect when students input an acceptable answer.  

    • Instructors encountered an error when trying to use anonymous grading for attempts still in progress. 

    • Removed the ability for students to edit graded group discussion forum titles and descriptions.

    • Fixed a CSS error that caused text tagged with <em> HTML to appear on separate lines. 

January 3, 2019 (v3500.7)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Gradebook search & pagination


The Ultra gradebook currently has the ability to search for students using the grid view. With this release, instructors can go to the submission list and quickly locate a particular student to check the status of submissions or access the submission itself.

Additionally, Blackboard added pagination to the submission list. The default view is for 25 students, but instructors may also set the page to display 50 or 100 users. This setting is sticky, so a selection of 50 or 100 is retained when instructors leave the submission list and return later.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Converting learning modules to Ultra

In December, Blackboard brought the learning modules capability to the Ultra Course View. Starting with this release, learning modules are preserved in course copy, export, import, and restore operations.

NOTE: When converting a learning module from the Original Course View to the Ultra Course View, the force sequence requirement is unchecked by default. Additionally, the file and folder structure may be flattened because the Course Content page only supports nested content two folders deep. Student activity in a learning module is removed when converting to Ultra.

Yes

Already exists

N/A

Updated SafeAssign originality report

The new Originality Report uses Blackboard's Ultra design and includes some new information about a submission's overall risk for being copied from another source. This new report interface is also more responsive for mobile devices and more accessible to screen readers than the old design.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Question analysis & report

Instructors who make use of Item Analysis in Original courses recognize the benefit this report provides, specifically for reviewing the quality of assessment questions and improving assessments from one term to the next. However, many instructors are either unaware that this report is available or are not familiar with the term “item analysis” and don’t open the report. In the Ultra Course View, Blackboard updated the title to Question Analysis as a way to raise awareness of this powerful report and encourage its use.

Question analysis provides statistics on overall performance, assessment quality, and individual questions. This data helps you recognize questions that might be poor discriminators of student performance. Question analysis is for assessments with questions. You can also download the report with raw question data to analyze it or keep it for future uses.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Miscellaneous updates & fixes:

  • When you access individual students' attendance record in the Ultra Course View, the date column has been renamed Meeting and now appears first. 

  • An updated version of the Vital Source Building Block (v3.101.2018040483) is bundled with this release.

  • When viewing assessments that were graded using a rubric more than a year ago, users may have noticed a discrepancy between rubric totals and the grade displayed in the Grade Center. Raw data was not affected. Blackboard fixed the issue.

    BUG FIXES: These issues were corrected with this update.

    • When viewing assessments that were graded using a rubric more than a year ago, users may have noticed a discrepancy between rubric totals and the grade displayed in the Grade Center. Raw data was not affected. 

    • When an Ultra assessment was set to assign automatic zeros, the system wouldn’t log a zero score in the gradebook when a student had saved a draft but not submitted work. 

    • When the zoom in the browser is set to 175% or higher, the display overlaps and makes it difficult to select the desired link.

    • An error may display when attempting to grade a Group attempt for an Assignment. 

    • When copying a Course with Groups and Group Discussion Boards, all of the Forums are Copied into the new Course even when the "Include only the Forums, with no starter posts" option is selected.

    • The keyboard shortcut to cut text will capture more than the selected text. The keyboard shortcut for paste does not convey copied blank lines. This is only in environments/courses using the Ultra experience.

    • The database record and the file both remain after the Assignment is deleted, though the file is no longer accessible through the course site. The database record and the file itself should both be removed. If the Instructor goes into the grade center and selects "View grade details" for the Student's submission, then clears the attempt, the file and database record will be removed. 

2018

December 6, 2018 (v3500.5)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Batch edit due dates in course content

Building on the previous feature to batch edit visibility of course content, Blackboard added the ability to adjust due dates in bulk.

With Batch Edit, you can update selected course content using a new course start date. Enter the new course start date and the existing start date. The tool calculates the difference between the two dates and uses the number of days to shift dates in all selected course content at once. You don’t have to spend time opening course content and determining new dates. Alternatively, you can shift all due dates backward or forward based on a chosen number of days.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Course groups

Previously, instructors created groups of students only in the context of assessments and discussions. This ability is useful and important, but it didn’t account for many other reasons why an instructor would want to create groups independent of assessments.

In this release, instructors can create groups and group sets at the course level, outside of assessments. Group sets help identify students who are paired together based on specific attributes or purposes.

In a future release, instructors will have the ability to apply course groups to graded content.

Yes

Already exists 

Review Blackboard's documentation

Creating new earning modules

Learning modules are a valuable way to organize and present content in the Original Course View. Modules let content creators require students to access learning materials in a specified order, walking learners through a guided path. In this release, Blackboard brings the power of learning modules to the Ultra Course View.

Use learning modules to organize content for an immersive learning experience. Students can work on content in sequence without needing to close and open content items. Instructors can also enforce a content sequence so students access and complete content in the sequence specified.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

 Miscellaneous updates & fixes:

  • To avoid permissions and grading issues, all LTI tools are excluded from the Copy Content option in the Ultra Course View.
  • The words points and score were sometimes used interchangeably in the Ultra Course View. Blackboard updated the user interface to use points where it's more accurate.
  • Based on user feedback, Blackboard updated the activity stream messages regarding student achievement and activity in courses. The new messages aim to reduce confusion and be more encouraging.

    BUG FIXES
    • When a student attempted to access an unavailable Original course in the Ultra Experience dashboard, the date was recorded in the Performance Dashboard under “Last Course Access.” 
    • Users saw an error when downloading an annotated PDF with comments. Downloads now include a summary list of comments.
    • When a user attempted to access Organizations in the Ultra experience while using a touchscreen device, the page would display an error. 
    • Students may have had trouble accessing the activity stream due to conflicting backend logic regarding grade columns and due dates.
    • Some devices displayed misaligned numbers for options in multiple choice, either/or, and true/false questions.
    • The Availability Override option didn’t work as expected when a start date wasn’t specified. Blackboard fixed the issue so students with this privilege can access courses with or without a specified start date.

November 1, 2018 (v3500.3)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Additional search criteria in Reuse Questions

Instructors can filter questions by more criteria on the Reuse Questions page for Ultra tests.

In addition to assessments and question banks that come over from the Original Course View, you can also filter by question types and Original Course View tags, such as categories. You can also search for keywords to find questions. The active filter area changes automatically as you select or clear criteria.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Advanced settings in SCORM

SCORM is a content standard that is used to author and present online learning materials and assessments to students. In this release, Blackboard added a number of enhancements to SCORM in the Ultra Course View:

  • Instructors can assign a grade category to SCORM packages.

  • Instructors can upload SCORM packages from the Content Collection.

  • SCORM due dates appear on the calendar and in the activity stream.

  • SCORM packages are supported in Ultra Course Preview and conversion from the Original Course View.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Batch edit visibility of course content

Instructors often reuse courses and content from one term to the next without major changes. At the start of a new term, instructors need a way to make these changes en masse.

 In this release, Blackboard introduces a new Batch Edit option on the Course Content page. For example, instructor can select multiple pieces of content and edit visibility for each selected piece at the same time.

Along with this feature, instructors and course builders will notice that the Books & Tools link has moved to the Details & Actions menu. In a future release, instructors will also have the ability to adjust dates in course content using Batch Edit.

Yes

N/A 

Review Blackboard's documentation

Percentage-based rubrics

Instructors give very specific rubric scores with feedback when grading student submissions. A simple rubric with wide gaps between levels of achievement are insufficient for providing the granularity these institutions require. Instructors working under these requirements need to be able to mark both students as Sufficient, but provide more granular scoring within the range of scores associated with this rubric row.

In this release, Blackboard expanded rubric criteria to include more granular levels of achievement, measured with percentages.

Yes

N/A

Review Blackboard's documentation

Upload CSV data to Ultra gradebook

Offline grading is a valuable and important enhancement. In September, Blackboard introduced the ability for instructors to download gradebook data in the Ultra Course View. The counterpart to downloading grades is the ability to upload them, which is useful for instructors who prefer to work in an application like Excel and load student grade data into the LMS. In this release, instructors have the option to upload course gradebook data in Ultra.

Yes

N/A

Review Blackboard's documentation

Calendar items & due date notifications for additional content types

The Calendar and To Do modules show the due dates of course items, but this was previously limited to activities and assessments using just Blackboard Learn tools. In this release, the capability is expanded so that other content types, including those from 3rd party solutions, are now incorporated into these Original Experience areas when using a web browser.

All of the following create calendar items and due notifications:

  • Assessment items such as assignments and tests

  • Interactive tools including graded discussions, blogs, journals, and wikis

  • Grade Center columns created manually and not linked to content items such as an observation or offline assignment

  • SCORM packages

  • Content items generated from building blocks when a linked Grade Center column has a due date

  • LTI resource links when a linked Grade Center column has a due date


No

Yes 

N/A 

 Miscellaneous updates & fixes:

  • Updated versions of Cengage and Wiley PLUS will be released in this version.
  • Vital Source Bookshelf will also be updated. Grade syncing is released, but disabled until we evaluate.
  • Files uploaded as part of a SCORM package are now saved in a course's Content Collection folder.

    BUG FIXES
    • Pattern matching questions with incorrectly formatted regular expressions in the answer were marked wrong. 
    • Instructors encountered errors when grading a group discussion with a rubric.
    • Reporting: All User Activity Inside Content Areas and Course Performance Report.
    • Some courses received error when attempting to open Full Grade Center.
    • Grade did not change when regrading with rubric.
    • Content editor for multiple choice questions in the test canvas could not be resized.
      • Related: Color picker icon for text on the test canvas was not working.
    • Italicized test questions would appear as gray instead of black.
  • Conversations on course content in the Ultra Course View were capped to the previous 10 replies, with no way to view earlier parts of the conversation. In this release, students and instructors can access earlier parts of the conversation.

October 4, 2018 (v3500.0)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Enhanced delegated grading

The ability to reconcile grades was previously limited to instructors and users who were granted the permission by an administrator. Now instructors can grant this permission to graders.

The Can reconcile grades option appears when the instructor delegates grading. Instructors can choose to grant the permission to any or all graders who are delegated submissions.

No

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Search the Ultra gradebook

In this release, Blackboard introduced a search function in the Ultra gradebook to help users locate specific students when the list may be too long to browse.

To search for a student, open the Ultra gradebook in grid view. You can type the student’s name or student ID. Matching names appear below the search box. Select a student to filter your gradebook view and see their attempts and grades.

In the future, Blackboard will enhance the tool to allow searching by gradebook columns and categories.

Yes

Yes

Review Blackboard's documentation

Miscellaneous updates & fixes:

  • When the Ultra experience is enabled, the Exit button overlapped the Add button in the Original Course View. Bb fixed the issue.

  • Ultra Courses

    • When a course was converted from Original to Ultra, instructors found they weren’t able to edit point values for assessments and questions that used decimal points in the number of possible points. Bb fixed the issue by rounding point values down to the nearest whole number. This change is listed as an exception during the Ultra Course Preview.

    • When users attempted to select all text in an Ultra assessment attempt, the browser didn’t select the text included in the attempt. Bb fixed the issue.

  • Original Courses

    • Discussion descriptions in courses were sometimes obscured or displayed with a limited width. Bb fixed the issue.

    • Some users were unable to create criteria for Self and Peer Assessments when accessing the feature on Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer. Bb fixed the issue.

    • When an instructor reversed the decision to ignore an attempt in the Original Course View, the message displayed on the screen was unclear and didn’t indicate the workflow. Bb updated it to say Attempt marked as Not Ignored.

    • When a user edited a test question in the Original Course View, some options in the text editor didn’t display correctly. Bb fixed the issue.

September 6, 2018 (v3400.11)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Download inline grading annotations

Both instructors and students can download certain file types (DOC, DOCX, PDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX) with annotations as an annotated PDF.

Students can download the annotated file after their submission has been graded.

Yes

Yes

Review the Blackboard Community update

Anonymous Grading

Instructors need a way to ensure the anonymity of students (hiding personally identifying information) to avoid bias when grading. Some regions mandate anonymity for high-stakes assessment.

Ultra Courses now support an enforceable means to anonymize student information to instructors and other reviewers. After grading is complete, the information can be revealed. Student identities remain hidden until all grades are posted, at which point names are revealed.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Unsubmitted work counts as zero

Instructors may want to set up the gradebook so that unsubmitted, past-due work is automatically marked as zero. For larger courses, it can be burdensome and time-consuming to grade these missing submissions as zeros manually.

This release includes a global gradebook setting to allow instructors to assign automatic zeros to missing work past the due date. Instructors can save the time it takes to go through the gradebook to manually enter zeros for this work. Students can still submit work after an automatic zero is assigned and instructors can grade as normal.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Improvements to course messages

Global and Ultra course messages pages are updated for more intuitive and easy navigation. You’ll notice the following changes:

  • On the global Messages page in the base navigation, courses are grouped according to term, similar to the way they are grouped on the Ultra Courses page. Your current courses appear first when you open the Messages page. You can use the arrows to navigate through the groups.

  • The number of messages you've received in each course is displayed with a course card. Select the course card to jump to all of your messages.

  • In your Ultra course, you can select the number of messages that appear per page.

  • When you select a course message to view, you can use arrows to browse through messages in order.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

August 2, 2018 (v3400.9)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Conversation Improvements

Conversations on course content items have been improved in the following ways:

  • The Conversations panel has been increased to full-width.

  • Students can now respond and reply to each other in conversations the same as they do in discussions.

  • Activity indicators are available for new conversation posts.

  • A student or instructor can see all conversation participants.

  • A student or instructor can search all conversation participants.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Gradebook Export

instructors can download grade data within their Ultra courses. Instructors can select to download the entire gradebook or select columns, choose to export in a *.CSV or *.XLS format, and save it to the device or the Content Collection for future access.

Uploading gradebook data is not yet available but in development for future release.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Group Assessments

The following enhancements were added to group assessments:

  • New empty state page lets instructors create as few or as many groups as they’d like from the beginning.

  • Instructors can edit group names after students begin attempts.

  • New Unassign All option appears when creating groups.

  • Instructors can edit group membership if a given group hasn’t started working or existing attempts are removed.

Yes

Already exists 

Review Blackboard's documentation

SCORM Support

SCORM is a content standard used to author and present online learning materials and assessments to students. In this release, Blackkboard adds support for selecting, adding, presenting, and using SCORM content in Ultra courses. Instructors can import SCORM packages into an Ultra course and select grading options for the package as a whole or each content item individually.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

July 5, 2018 (v3400.7)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Course Announcements

Instructors can draft, schedule, and post course announcements in the Ultra Course View in this release.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Matching Questions

Instructors have many options when creating a matching question in Ultra. There can be more answers than prompts to prevent students from answering by a process of elimination. Additionally, instructors can grade matching questions with partial credit, all or nothing, subtract points for incorrect answers, and even allow negative scoring to discourage guessing.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Reuse Test Questions

Instructors can reuse questions from any other assessment within an Ultra course. Select Reuse questions within an assignment or test to get started. Filter questions by assessment or view all available questions to copy. When browsing questions to reuse, instructors can quickly view what type of question it is, as well as the content.

Yes

Already exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

Miscellaneous updates

  • Lengthy videos displayed through the New Box View service were stopping before reaching the end of playback. The vendor has fixed this issue.

June 1, 2018 (v3400.5)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Insert recordings via content editor in assessment feedback

Instructors can record video and audio using the editor in assessment feedback.

This feature will launch in mid-June 2015.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Integrated cloud storage

Instructors and students can now connect to Google Drive and upload content directly into their courses.

Yes

TBA

Review Blackboard's documentation

Collect external coursework submissions and grade with rubrics

A new assessment setting allows instructors to track external submissions, such as a student's performance in an offline or non-Ultra course context, and use a rubric to grade. Instructors can keep track of all relevant coursework within Ultra and eliminate the need to transcribe grades from items or activities that took place physically. 

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Speed up grading with Discussion Analysis

A new Discussion Analysis feature displays key metrics such as critical thinking, sentence complexity, responses, replies, and average word count. The critical thinking metric is analyzed using a Blackboard-developed algorithm, while sentence complexity uses Flesch-Kincaid readability benchmarks. This allows an instructor to determine a student's discussion participation grade based on many qualitative factors that aren't easy or quick to evaluate but deserve in-depth analysis.

Yes

No 

Review Blackboard's documentation

May 18, 2018 (v3400.3)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

Accommodations for timed assessments

Accommodations allow instructors to exempt certain students from high pressure aspects of a course, such as due dates, allowing them to complete coursework and succeed where they might otherwise be at a disadvantage.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Integrated cloud storage

Instructors and students can connect to UMBC Box and upload content directly into their courses. Google Drive is coming soon.

Yes

TBA

Review Blackboard's documentation

Curriculum coordinator role

Blackboard introduces new privileges to support departments that need to standardize and lock course curriculum for course facilitators.

Yes

Yes

An RT ticket is required to use this role.

Activity indicators for active Collab rooms

When a course Collaborate room is in session, an indicator appears on the Course Content page to let others know the room is in use. The same icon appears in group assessments when the instructor has enabled conversations and another group member is in the room.

Yes

No

Review Blackboard's documentation

Miscellaneous updates

  • When a student opens an assignment or a test without a time limit, the button says View assessment instead of Start attempt. This language more clearly communicates that the student is not compelled to submit the attempt after opening it if it isn't timed.