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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.

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.

YesYesTBD 
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.YesYesTBD
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. 

YesNoTBD

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.

YesYesTBD 
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.
YesNoN/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.

YesNo

TBD

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.

YesYes

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.

YesYesReview 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.

YesYesN/A
Read-only messages for studentsCourse 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.YesYesN/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.

YesYes

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.

YesYesAbout 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.

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. 

YesYes

TBD

Reassigning students in GroupsThis 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.YesYesTBD
Zero point assignments

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

YesYesTBD

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.

YesYes

What does the Ally accessibility meter mean?

IconographyThe new icons are darker and appear more prominently now.YesN/AN/A
NotificationsUltra 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.YesYesN/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.


YesYes
(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.

YesYes

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.

YesYesN/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.

YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation 
Regrade questions in question poolsThis 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.YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation
Select / clear all questions for question poolsWhen 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.YesYesN/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.

YesYes

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.

YesYesN/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

AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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. 

YesYes

Review Blackboard's documentation 

Show/hide test answersIn 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.YesYesReview Blackboard's documentation  
Ultra organizationsNew organizations may be created with the Ultra interface. Existing orgs can be converted to Ultra.YesYesN/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

AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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.

YesNo

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

AboutUltra CourseOriginal CourseTo 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. 

YesAlready 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.

YesYesTBD 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.

YesYesTBD 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.