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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.

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.