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Hi There,


We are looking to get some feedback on how to improve the Gradebook in Learn Ultra. If you have 10 minutes to spare, we would like to have you participate in a card sort exercise.


Learn Ultra's Gradebook Search and Filter feature currently enables instructors to search for gradebook items such as student name/ID, gradebook column name, and gradebook category. Blackboard plans to add a Filter panel in the gradebook to achieve more in-depth filtering of gradebook item types, and we need your help. Please participate in this card sorting exercise to help us better understand how instructors may use different gradebook filters and what level of importance these potential filters may or may not be in your everyday job.


Take the Card Sort Exercise Now


We really appreciate your participation. As a thank you from our team, we are giving away one $25 Amazon Gift Card to a random winner. You may enter Blackboard’s Gradebook Search & Filter Card Sort Giveaway by completing the questions included in the online survey, and submitting your name, email address, and phone number, and an agreement to the Official Rules linked here.


Ordering of Images

Posted by mm26665 Jul 25, 2018

Good morning

I was a bit disappointed to find that it's not possible to use the Ordering question type to place images in order.   No Image tool in the toolbar.   I think that would be really useful - actually, I'm being asked for it.

Also, drag and drop is missing from the options when creating a test.




Participation Report

Posted by jeff.lyons Jul 19, 2018

We would like to see the "Messages" of a course added to this report. This is considered engagement, and is an indicator for the FA process, etc for an attendance taking school.

(this post is a continuation update from my prior post in March 2018)


We're starting this update off with an update on the #1 most-requested feature here on the Bb Community Site: the ability for users to download documents containing annotations created in New Box View.


As I've discussed in previous updates and messages, Blackboard has taken responsibility for building and rolling out this feature and we continue to work with Box on development and implementation details.  For this initial implementation, users will be able to download the latest version of text-based documents containing annotations using a new, simple download option available in the Inline Grading workflow.


Here's a design mockup of what the implementation could look like for users within the Learn Ultra Experience:

(design mockup subject to change)


We will also be delivering this feature to the Learn Original Experience, and I will update this post with a mockup of the design when it is available. Generally, the additional option for "download with annotations" will be similar in the Learn Original Experience as it is displayed in the Learn Ultra Experience above.


Edit 6/1/2018: here is the mockup for the Original Experience:


Download with Annotations Learn Original mockup.png

(design mockup subject to change)


We're actively coding this feature and are expecting to be able to provide this functionality prior to the start of the back-to-school period for many schools in August.  As we get closer to this date, we'll be providing more information and documentation for the feature.


For the functionality that Box is responsible for updating, there are a few updates to share:


Change in UX for accessing comments on annotations from on-hover to on-click

Due to feedback from both the Blackboard community as well as other Box users, Box is making a change to how users interact with exposing text-based annotations:


Today, to access a comment on a highlight or point annotation users must hover over the annotation.  This is one less click to make but requires the user's mouse to hover on the annotation constantly which can be problematic.


After this change users will be able to click on an annotation with text comment, view the contents of the comment, then move the mouse while the comment remains visible.  Clicking on the annotation again will close the comment.


This means that users can more easily review multiple comments at once as well as navigate within the browser while still reviewing annotation comments.  This change will be implemented on May 21st, 2018. 


Summary View

Box has confirmed that they are in active development of the "summary view" (Box may use the term "sidebar element") which will allow users to recognize that annotations exist in multiple locations within a document and navigate to those annotations easily.  The timeframe for availability of this feature is currently expected between July and September.  We'll keep updating the Bb community with more information as we have it.


Annotations on Excel-based files

Box has confirmed that this functionality is also in active development, and Blackboard is working with Box on timing for a rollout of this feature.  Currently, we are expecting availability within approximately six weeks though we'll update again with more information as we have it.


Lastly, a few operational updates:


We're closing voting on the ideas relating to New Box View located in the Idea Exchange section of this site.  Voting has been open for several months, and most of the activity and actual votes were cast early on when the ideas were createdIn recent weeks the feedback has slowed and we're confident that the priorities of the Bb community are well reflected in the votes and comments present within the ideas.  The ideas will be moved to their respective stages of "In Development", "Planned", or "For Future Consideration."  Users will still be able to comment on the ideas, and all previous comments will be retained.


We continue to maintain the live tracking spreadsheet here: link

(this post is a continuation update from my prior post in February 2018)


Edit: 3/27 - Drawing Annotations were enabled for all customers on 3/26, noted by Box in their changelog here.


There has been quite a bit of activity over the past few weeks regarding New Box View, with some good progress being made but also some bumps in the road.  Specifically, Box released both Drawing Annotations and "sticky" Point Annotation Mode as promised in early MarchUnfortunately, unexpected performance problems were quickly identified with the new Drawing Annotations and Box made the decision to remove the new tools until these issues were remedied.  Box has now made progress in fixing the root cause of the performance concerns and have since reenabled sticky Point Annotations and plan to reinstate the Drawing Annotations no later than Tuesday, March 27th.  I will update this post once we have confirmed Drawing Annotations have been made available again. 


Note: the Box site link above states this, but I wanted to call out that feedback and data created using Drawing Annotations while they were active will be available again when the tool is reenabled – no data will be lost


More broadly, the circumstances of Drawing Annotations mentioned above has highlighted several gaps in communication between Box, Blackboard, and Blackboard clients regarding the timing of changes to the New Box View service.  Generally, the flow of information through the community ecosystem is represented as:


(1) Vendor-distributed generalized information

Leads to...

(2) Blackboard-distributed information outlining impact for Bb clients

Leads to...

(3) Bb clients'-distributed targeted information specific for clients' end users' needs


After continued discussions between Blackboard and Box, we have identified several specific actions which will help fulfill the expectations at all points in that communication chain:

  • Monthly updates from Box to Blackboard with expected changes coming in the next month
  • Email and publicly reference-able location from Box for monthly updates
  • Additional end user-facing documentation (e.g. "how does this new feature work?")


These additional activities help reinforce the information in coming from Box in (1); will allow Blackboard to tailor our communications across our established channels (here on the Bb Community Site, on, and through Behind the Blackboard) to meet the needs of (2); and enable the Administrators, Instructional Designers, content creators, facilitators and other end-user facing roles at Blackboard client institutions to be successful at (3).


This additional work continues to strengthen the partnership between Blackboard and Box to provide timely and accurate information to Blackboard clients regarding product updates.  We appreciate the community's patience as we work through these actions and look forward to continuing to improve the communication, features, and overall experience of using Inline Grading within Blackboard Learn and the New Box View service.

4/12/18 edit: updated information about IP addresses


A quick update: the previously-planned and then deferred AWS migration for SafeAssign is back on!  New date and time are April 2nd starting at 3am EDT.  All other information previously provided is still correct.


There was an additional question from the community about whitelisted IP addresses for SafeAssign, and I can confirm that IP address changes will be necessary with this migration.  If you have whitelisted IPs for SafeAssign, they should be updated to the values listed here: Cloud FAQs | Blackboard Help


Here is the link to the updated Support Bulletin from Behind the Blackboard:

The planned SafeAssign migration to AWS recently announced for March 8th, and covered in my blog post last week, has been delayed.


The SafeAssign Team has been preparing for this migration for around 12 months. Due to the size of the SafeAssign database, the plan for migrating data was based on an iterative approach which would limit downtime to a few hours. During the 12 months of planning both test migrations and a migration of the SafeAssign Staging environment were completed.  Originally, these tests were thought to be successful, which led to our plan to complete the migration on March 8th.


When finalizing the migration activities of the SafeAssign production environment, we discovered a risk for issues regarding concurrency and data table inaccuracies, which could cause data corruption or loss for student submissions after the migration. This was not apparent during test and staging migrations and not something the team could easily correct before the March 8th migration.


Given the potential data loss and corruption we are postponing the AWS migration scheduled for March 8th until solutions for the identified problems can be resolved.  We will publish a new bulletin when we have a new migration date.


We understand that our administrator partners have notified end-users of the disruption and we apologize for the last-minute postponement of the migration.

We recently announced a downtime event for the SafeAssign service on March 8th, and I'd like to take the opportunity to provide more information about the reason for this downtime to provide transparency for the Bb Community:


For over a decade, the SafeAssign service has been hosted in Blackboard's Managed Hosting datacenters and for most of those years the performance of the service was stable and able to support the volume of submissions coming from Blackboard Learn customers.  However, over the past several years Learn clients' interest and usage of Safeassign has increased significantly:



SafeAssign is also a very cyclical product and there are small periods of very high numbers of submissions followed by long periods of low to medium numbers of submissions.  This peak load period is difficult to accommodate without relying on modern cloud computing techniques:



The graph above represents the number of papers submitted per minute over the past two weeks as of this writing; the spikes are ~midnight EST, and the big spikes are Sunday nights leading into Monday mornings.  You can see that each day has a relative peak but Sunday nights are the highest volume days with volume trailing off towards Saturday each week.


To handle both the increases in volume over the years and the peak volume periods, we're moving the SafeAssign infrastructure into the Amazon Web Services platform on March 8.  Actually, we've been moving the service to AWS in pieces over the course of about nine months, and March 8 represents the final migration of the remaining components of the service.


Unfortunately, given the scope of the migration it is not possible to prevent some downtime for the service during this transition.  We understand the impact that downtime for the SafeAssign service has on clients and users.  We are planning this downtime on a Thursday to allow enough buffer prior to the expected peak of Sunday night (per the graph above) should any problems arise during the migration.


The move to AWS should represent one of the final full-downtime events that SafeAssign should ever experience.  Aside from the entire AWS infrastructure we rely on going down (which can happen, though is quite rare), the risk of SafeAssign outages should be significantly reduced by this transition.  The AWS infrastructure also provides opportunity to implement automated scaling policies which will reduce the possibility of delays during peak load periods.  Finally, our architecture design within AWS will support additional improvements to things like matching algorithms, search data sources, and other areas which will improve the overall quality of the SafeAssign service.

(This post is meant to serve as an update to the prior post in December 2017)


To provide as much information and transparency as possible, we held several webinars on February 15th and February 21st to provide updates to clients across multiple markets on the status of changes to the New Box View service (recording available here).  The goal of these webinars was to continue to track and communicate changes to the New Box View service over the past several months since the Blackboard Learn integration with New Box View was made available and to provide information on new functionality coming soon.


As discussed in these webinars, there we are using two classifications of issues:

  • Bugs which are problems with existing functionality
  • Features which are new functionality not currently present


From these categorizations, we can track the progress over time of changes to the New Box View service. For bugs, Box and Blackboard continue to be responsive to customer reports of issues relating to both the New Box View service and the integration between Blackboard Learn and New Box View.  Below represents an accounting and status of bugs reported at the time of this writing:


Live tracking spreadsheet available here: link


For features, one specific improvement has already been delivered and a date has been provided for several new features:


UX for point- and highlight-based annotations – delivered on January 10, 2018 by Box

Previously, comments on point-based annotations were accessed by hovering with the mouse cursor over the point annotation while comments on highlight-based annotations were accessed by clicking on the highlight.  This caused confusion for users who expected the same interaction between comments on the two types of annotations.


On January 10, Box updated the interactions for comments on both point- and highlight-based annotations to be accessed by hovering over the annotation:


Point and Highlight Annotation OnHover.gif

Sticky annotation mode – in development, planned for delivery March 5 by Box

A less-requested but still relevant improvement to the New Box View service has been to make it easier for users to add multiple annotations of the same type in sequence without having to re-select the annotation mode from the main navigation bar.


On March 5th, 2018 Box will be updating the New Box View service with a “sticky” mode for annotations (specifically point- and drawing- annotations):


point annotations sticky small.gif

Drawing annotations – in development, planned for delivery March 5 by Box

One of the most-requested features for the New Box View service is to provide users the ability to add freehand drawings to documents.


On March 5th, 2018 Box will be updating the New Box View service with the ability to add drawings by entering into “drawing mode” (similar to “sticky” mode for point annotations):


Drawing Annotations.gif


Downloading documents w/ annotations – in design, timing TBD by Blackboard

The most-requested feature addition on the Bb Community Site is the ability for users to download PDF versions of their documents containing the existing annotations at that point in time. 


Blackboard recognizes the significance and importance of this functionality and has begun investigation into building this functionality within Blackboard Learn.  We have recently raised the priority of this work and completed a proof of concept for a technical design.  Blackboard is scoping the effort required to move from proof of concept to full scale implementation.  When the scoping effort is complete, we will be able to provide a timeline for the availability of this feature.  We are targeting this work for Q2 2018, and will confirm timing in the coming weeks.


Going forward, we will continue to use the input from the Blackboard client community (including voting on outstanding ideas here on the Community Site) to prioritize and communicate the importance and need for improvements in the New Box View service with Box, Inc.  Blackboard and Box remain closely partnered to improve the Inline Grading and document rendering capabilities.  As progress is made with New Box View functionality and new timing information becomes available, Blackboard will provide periodic updates on new features on a timely basis.  The roadmap below represents our current, best understanding of timing for the work I've just discussed:




A Focus on Assessment

We'd also like to expand on Blackboard's larger strategic approach to feedback and assessment of which Inline Grading is one component of a larger suite of assessment tools within Blackboard Learn.  While we continue to make progress with improvements and changes to the New Box View service, note that document rendering and annotation is also only one part of the overall feedback and assessment capabilities within Blackboard Learn.  Blackboard's intent to provide users with valuable tools for managing and communicating the process of assessing student work extends to several other existing and upcoming functional areas as well:



These changes in combination with improvements to the New Box View service represent a holistic approach to feedback and assessment from Blackboard.

Blackboard and our clients have been well served over many years by the Crocodoc service.  Due to the upcoming end of life of the Crocodoc service, Blackboard has made several releases of Blackboard Learn available that support integration with New Box View service which replaces the Crocodoc service and functionality within Inline Grading workflows.


As clients have started to upgrade to these new versions of Learn, we have received a great deal of feedback about the New Box View service as a replacement for Crocodoc, and we have been working with Box to address several areas of concern.


The overall feedback has a been a mixture of positive sentiment and identification of several areas that clients have found challenging which could be improved.  Some examples of positive feedback include:


  • Support for significantly more file types, including audio, video, and image formats
  • More responsive browser support for accessing documents on any device across mobile browsers and within Bb Grader
  • A more modern, cleaner UI that more seamlessly blends with Learn


Additionally, because New Box View is provided by Box, Inc. – one of the world's largest SaaS-based content management services – the New Box View service includes compliance with the strictest security and compliance standards including SOC, ISO, HIPAA standards and more.  With over 44 million users on Box platform, Box is one of the most proven and scalable solutions in the market to provide direct access to user-submitted content within any web browser.  Blackboard is proud to rely on Box for this important functionality and we have confidence Box will deliver a reliable, robust service to our clients even at the peak of our clients' submission times. However, in addition to these improvements over Crocodoc, there has also been significant concern regarding some features that are present in Crocodoc but not currently present in New Box View.  Areas of concern have included:


  • Lack of annotation types (e.g. drawing annotation)
  • Inability to view multiple annotations at once
  • Inability to download documents containing annotations
  • Accessibility of the New Box View service


Based on this feedback, Blackboard has been working to organize and communicate these concerns to Box to help prioritize these concerns amongst Box's overall roadmap and development efforts.  To help this effort, Blackboard is organizing a community-based voting effort on the most important features needed in New Box View.  Ideas can be viewed here and users can now vote on the importance of the ideas.


We are happy to share that Box – based on feedback from Blackboard, and on behalf of our clients – has already begun work to improve the New Box View service in several areas of concern:


  • Drawing Annotations – Box has confirmed that drawing annotations are in development and are planned to be delivered early in 2018. 
  • Accessibility – generally, Box is committed to Accessibility as a core tenant of their offerings.  Specifically, New Box View already supports viewing, reading, posting, and downloading document contents using a screen reader for all content submitted in text format.  More Accessibility enhancements for text-based documents – specifically accessing annotations within these documents – are planned for implementation in the first half of 2018 as well.  Box has also recently implemented support for several features specifically relating to Accessibility for video content including closed captioning, keyboard shortcuts for controls, and screen-readable controls.


In addition, some customers have also identified some functional bugs within the New Box View service, and these bugs have been reported to Box and are being addressed.


These planned enhancements and fixes – along with additional improvements based on feedback from the Blackboard community – will help improve the New Box View offering to meet the needs of Learn users around the world.  Blackboard is committed to working with Box to make the New Box View service the best Inline Document rendering tool in the Education market for our mutual users.


Organizations in Bb Student

Posted by jg27383 Oct 17, 2017

I know that organizations are coming to Bb Student soon in the next release.         


Where can I find the release notes for Blackboard Student app?

The following link did not help.

Feature Guide for the Blackboard App | Blackboard Help

Any chance of considering adding a CHAT function in the Bb Student App. I think that this would be a great way for students to connect with other students in classes, especially fully online or hybrid courses.

Thanks for considering!



Hello, community. Thank you for participating in our most recent round of voting. This round was focused on ideas for Ultra courses. Over the next month or so, we will be finalizing our list of targeted work for Q4. Once that list is firm, I will reach out to the community members who voted for the ideas we're moving forward with to schedule a discussion with the Product Manager and/or Designer who will be responsible for that feature. We will share designs if they're available and talk about how we might implement the idea(s). For the ideas we are not moving forward with in Q4, I'll add a note to them describing where they fit in our current plans. So, more to come soon! In the meantime, I've included the voting results below.


Thank you again for contributing to our community!



Currently, there is a set of predetermined modules on the Blackboard course home site.  Also, there is the ability to create a template for course sites with specific left nav course links.  With the ability to create unique modules, it would benefit the institution to have a predetermined Homepage for each course.  These modules can provide students with meaningful resources such as Learner Support, Help Desk hours, etc. To be honest, at this point, most of our instructors remove the modules and leave Announcements. 

Thank you for engaging in the recent round of voting on ideas for the Original course experience. Voting was open for three weeks and you collectively cast over 900 votes! I love seeing the increased participation in views, comments, and new ideas you’ve been creating. As we speak, we are working with our Developers and Designers on a handful of the top-voted ideas to familiarize them with your needs and determine what we can prioritize for the Q4 2017 release. Once we have that list finalized, I’ll be reaching out to the community members who voted for those ideas to talk about how the feature will be developed and what you can expect to see within the product. Please see below for a full list of the ideas we opened for voting and the vote totals for each. We will continue building on this momentum with a round of voting for Ultra course ideas leading up to BbWorld. As we continue to develop Ultra, we welcome your feedback and ideas to directly impact included features and capabilities. Thank you again for participating in this exercise and in the community overall. Your input has a direct impact on our roadmap and we are committed to building innovative, integrated, and relevant solutions that enable you continue delivering quality educational experiences for your users.