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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.

May 6, 2021 (v3900.13)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

YesYesTBD
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.YesYesTBD
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.

YesNoRead more at IMS Global.
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

To Learn More

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.

YesYesTBD
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.

YesYesTBD
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/ATBD
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/AYESTBD
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.

YESYESTBD


The February-March updates were bug fixes.

January 7, 2021 (v3900.4)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

YesYesTBD
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.

YesYesTBD

December 3, 2020 (v3900.2)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

YesYesTBD
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.

YesYesTBD
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.YesYesTBD
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.YesYesN/A

Additional Improvements & Bug Fixes

  • TBD

November 6, 2020 (v3900.0)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

NoYesHow does the new content editor compare to the previous content editor in an Original Bb course?
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.
YesNoTBD
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.YesNoN/A
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.YesYesN/A

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

To Learn More

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.

YesNoTBD

September 3, 2020 (v3800.17)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

YesYesHow do I create an Ultra test?
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.

YesYesHow do I create an Ultra test?
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.YesYesTBD
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. 

YesYesTBD
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.

YesYesHow do I make a Blackboard Collaborate recording available to my class?
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.YesYesTBD

August 6, 2020 (v3800.15)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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

YesYesHow do I embed media from external websites in my Ultra course?
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.

YesYesTBD
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.YesYesTBD
Profanity filter in Collab sessionsIf 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.YesYesHow do I enable the profanity filter in a Collaborate session?

July 2, 2020 (v3800.13)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.
YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation
Share external camera in Collab sessionShare 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.YesYesHow do I share an external camera in Collaborate?

June 4, 2020 (v3800.11)

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

To Learn More

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.

YesYesReview Blackboard's Documentation 
Score per questionIn 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.YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation
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.YesYesTBD
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. 

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

YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation