Highlights of New Features and Enhancements
Crocodoc to New Box View Update
Instructors grading assignments can view documents in-line and annotate the document to provide feedback to students. In prior versions, this used a licensed technology called Crocodoc that will be discontinued on January 15, 2018. This release allows institutions to switch to a replacement service from Box entitled New Box View that offers similar capabilities. Prior documents with annotations will be automatically migrated without requiring action from Administrators; only the enablement of the New Box View service is required by Admins. It is recommended administrators initiate the migration between periods of heavy assessment such as between terms; the migration to and adoption of New Box View does not have to occur at time of upgrade.
Course Availability Status and Update
Instructors and other privileged course members can see the availability state of the course and change the state from the main course view.
- Currently, the course availability status and toggle for privileged users (admins and privileged course users) only appears when the default module page is set to be the course entry page. If other pages are set to the home entry page, the status and toggle are not visible - Article #47780. This will be resolved in a future Cumulative Update.
Grade Center cleanup
Instructors can now more easily clean up their grade books by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.
Important: Deletion of columns and the data contained therein cannot be undone.
Collaborate Ultra Sessions for Groups
Instructors can now add Collaborate Ultra sessions to Groups. If instructors allow, students can share content and use the whiteboard, as well as create recordings. Institutions need a Collaborate license to use this in their courses.
Discussion Board "Replies to Me"
Keeping up with large Discussion Board forums is easier by giving participants a count and filter to just look at new replies from others to posts made by the participant.
Chemistry Notation Support
The math editor found in the Content Editor has been updated to a newer version of WIRIS. This version adds tools specific to chemistry including an embedded periodic table of elements.
Selected levels of performance and feedback when grading with rubrics are automatically saved to the attempt as draft when the rubric is saved.
Accessibility and Access
Mobile optimization and response web
This release further expands the areas of Blackboard Learn suitable for use on mobile devices when using the Learn 2016 theme.
- Blogs and Journals
- Blogs and Journals have been better optimized for use on mobile devices. Posts and comments composed with responsive content will render on smaller devices. Options for filtering posts or navigating groups or users will appear below currently viewed posts.
- System Navigation
- Navigation of tabs and accessing the contents on those tabs is optimized for mobile devices. A menu icon (“hamburger” icon) typically found on many mobile web sites is used to switch between tabs and access My Blackboard.
- Course Navigation
- Access and closure of the Course Menu is optimized for mobile devices.
- ARIA landmarks
- ARIA landmarks have been incorporated in the course menu and the content area to better define the page structure and assist users with screen readers in navigating page elements.
- First-time User Overlay removed
- When a user first logged in to Blackboard Learn with the Original experience, an overlay appeared on the screen to highlight key navigation elements. The overlay caused a frustrating user experience for those using assistive technologies and has been removed to improve overall accessibility.
Openness and Standards
Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI)
- LTI Content Item Messages
- The Content Item Message specification is now supported, allowing improved integration for tool providers also supporting this standard. When used, instructors and course designers can create links to specific resources without knowing and specifying resource IDs. Instead, they can launch into the tool provider’s user experience, select one or more resources to add to their course, and the individual links are created in the correct place in the Blackboard Learn course. Students clicking the links will be taken directly to the specific resource rather than to a generic tool page for the tool provider.
- LTI 2.0 Tool Registration
- Tool providers conformant to the LTI 2.0 specification can be registered using the proxy service standard.
- Improved launch experience
- LTI links now open in a lightbox within the course, rather than directing users to a new window or tab. This loads tools within the same window from where they are launched, creating a more consistent and contained workflow for students.
- Improved course copy
- Institutions often use courses as templates for future instruction. There is now a solution that keeps track of your placement so your content is not lost. The source course ID and content ID is tracked during course copy (and possibly archive/export) and the parameters are passed along with the launch in the respective history parameters. The tool provider is still required to handle these parameters and reconcile the link.
Caliper Support for Self-hosted Environments
Caliper events can be emitted to a third-party Caliper-compliant record store for self-hosted environments located in the United States. This capability was previously released for SaaS and Managed Hosting deployment models. Support for additional regions globally is planned. Caliper is a standard from IMS Global for exchanging activity data for analytics purposes.
Additional REST services are available with this release. For details, go to http://developer.blackboard.com/
- Oauth: Request an OAuth 2 authorization code or access token. Three-legged OAuth supported.
- Content File Attachments: Download the contents of a Content Item or its attachments.
- Course Copy: Provides course copy endpoint
- Get Task: Request course copy task status
- LTI Placements: Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) on LTI placements
- Gradebook: Version two of Gradebook APIs supporting changes required for notation and Schema
- Gradebook Column: Version two of Gradebook Column APIs supporting changes required for notation and Schema
- Course Grade Notations: CRUDS on grade notations (incomplete etc.)
SCORM Engine Update
The integrated SCORM player has been updated from version 2013.1 to version 2017.1 that improves playback of responsive content and better supports SCORM packages in right-to-left languages such as Arabic.
Storage of Messages
Messages sent with the Messages tool are stored in the database rather than in flat data files, affecting all new courses created after the upgrade. Administrators using an OpenDB solution for direct data access can now more easily monitor the volume and contents of user communications using the Messages tool. Administrators can migrate the messages of previously-created courses through a tool found in the Admin Panel.
Security and Quality
Grade display standardization
This change standardizes areas of Blackboard Learn where users access grades. Now, all gradebook columns (online and downloads) and My Grades support up to five decimal points, aren't rounded, and are consistent for all display types (score, percentage, letter grade).
- There is a known display issue for students when viewing My Grades as students may see extra zeros after the decimal place- Article #47428. This will be resolved in a future Cumulative Update.
SMTP Authentication and Encryption for Email
SMTP authentication is now supported to improve the security of outbound email. Mail server configuration is now handled in the Email configuration page of the Admin panel. Settings take effect upon submission. An entry in the registry is created the first time this configuration page is used.
Email Tool Recipient Permissions
Administrators can better define the extent to which users in courses can contact one another using the Email tool. Previously, instructors would choose which email recipient options were available in each course; for example, whether students could email each other. Administrators can now restrict the Email tool recipient options that will appear for use in courses.
Administrators can share a portfolio on behalf of a user, allowing support personnel to assist students having portfolio access issues.
- Reports always run as scheduled jobs rather than immediately to address issues with browsers timing out for large data sets.
- Administrators can add custom report designs for Enterprise Surveys that can be run by survey administrators. There is no change for instructors.
Continued enhancement of federated authentication through the SAML standard, now with support for SHA-265 and SNI.
- Updated to version 8.5.13 for additional security.
- When a new user is created recycling a previously-used username, the orphaned content associated with the prior user is deleted for greater security and privacy.
There are over 270 client-reported issues fixed in the release. The top 50 resolved issues list is available for review in Learn 9.1 Q4 2017 Release - Top 50 Bugs Fixed , Article #47682. To see the complete list on Behind the Blackboard, go to Self Service > Known Issues and then under Planned First Fix search by Learn 9.1 Q4 2017 Release. The list can be printed or exported to PDF or Excel.
Blackboard App Download Module
A new module called Download Blackboard's Student App Today has been added to help students discover and download the Blackboard app. The module includes links to the Apple, Android, and Windows app download locations.