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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.

The most recent updates are posted to the top of this page. View previous updates to the Ultra Experience.

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.

Unfortunately, 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 options! Filter 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

Bug fixes address these issues:

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)

delayed pending bug fix

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

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.ly, NearPod

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