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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.

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

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

N/A

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.