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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.

March 7, 2019 (v3500.11)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesAlready exists


Regrade questionsWith 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.YesYesTBD

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.YesNoTBD
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.


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)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesAlready exists

Review Blackboard's documentation

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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.

YesAlready existsReview 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.

YesAlready existsReview 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)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesAlready existsReview Blackboard's documentation
Converting learning modules to UltraIn 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.

YesAlready existsN/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.

YesYesReview 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.

YesAlready existsReview 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. 

December 6, 2018 (v3500.5)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesAlready existsReview Blackboard's documentation
Course groupsPreviously, 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.

YesAlready 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.

YesAlready existsReview 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.

    • 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)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesNoReview 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.
YesNoReview 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.

YesN/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.

YesN/AReview Blackboard's documentation
Upload CSV data to Ultra gradebookOffline 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.YesN/AReview 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

NoYes 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.

    • 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)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

NoYesReview 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.

YesYesReview 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)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesYesReview 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.

YesAlready existsReview 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.

YesNoReview Blackboard's documentation
Improvements to course messagesGlobal 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.
YesNoReview Blackboard's documentation

August 2, 2018 (v3400.9)


AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.
YesNoReview 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.

YesAlready existsReview 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.
YesAlready 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.

YesAlready existsReview Blackboard's documentation

July 5, 2018 (v3400.7)

FeatureAboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo Learn More

Course Announcements

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

YesAlready existsReview Blackboard's documentation
Matching QuestionsInstructors 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.YesAlready existsReview Blackboard's documentation
Reuse Test QuestionsInstructors 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.YesAlready existsReview 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)

FeatureAboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesNoReview Blackboard's documentation
Integrated cloud storage

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

YesTBAReview 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. 

YesNoReview 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.

YesNo Review Blackboard's documentation

May 18, 2018 (v3400.3)

FeatureAboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo Learn More
Accommodations for timed assessmentsAccommodations 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.YesNoReview 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.

YesTBAReview Blackboard's documentation
Curriculum coordinator roleBlackboard introduces new privileges to support departments that need to standardize and lock course curriculum for course facilitators.YesYesAn 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.YesNoReview 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.