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2018

The Collaborate Ultra July Release (18.7) was pushed to production environments yesterday (July 25, 2018). This release includes new features that span across several of our unifying product themes: learner engagement and education insight. The new additions provide a more engaging experience for students, save instructors time, and improve the accessibility and inclusivity of educational content.

 

Recording Post-Captioning

For situations where there is no live captioner, but you still want to add captions after the fact, you can now upload captioning post-recording. This new feature provides you with an additional tool for creating educational content in accessible formats. In the future, we’re also planning to support automated speech-to-text so captions can be created programmatically or automatically.

The Metric Report

The new Metric report is designed to provide a detailed overview of your Collaborate Ultra usage. Information includes the frequency and scale of your institutional usage so you can make informed decisions about the service. The Metric report will be available as a CSV download and can be requested by your Collaborate administrator by creating a case on Behind the Blackboard. 

 

Fast Mic

We have removed the delay when you first turn on your mic, improving the experience for all participants.

 

For more details on the updates, please see the Collaborate Ultra release notes.

 

Timer Update

The timer capability is still in beta and not available in the Collaborate July update. We will keep you informed of a new release date and you can follow the support bulletin for additional updates.

Over the past several weeks we have conducted our quarterly Collaborate Roadmap webinars to ensure that you are up to date on what’s new and what’s coming for Blackboard Collaborate. If you were unable to attend one of the live webinars, we have compiled the top takeaways below. You can also check out the full recording here.https://us.bbcollab.com/recording/38da4701aa7342a68eb45936b21bfb0b

 

If you are attending BbWorld 2018, you can attend the Collaborate Roadmap session LIVE on Wednesday, July 18th at 4:40PM!

 

What’s (Almost) New – Countdown Timer

Collaborate's July release will include one of our most requested features, the Countdown Timer. This means that you will soon be able to (late July!) set a timer at the beginning of the session to give participants a visible indication of how much time is remaining before the Instructor starts. Instructors will also be able to use the Countdown Timer in breakout groups - you might want to break up the class into several breakout rooms, have them work on an activity for a fixed amount of time, and then bring them back into the main room. With the new Countdown Timer, you’ll be able to do that.

 

What’s (Almost) New – Recording Post-Captioning

For situations where there is no live captioner, but the Instructor still wants to add captions after the fact, we will allow you to associate a caption file to the recording – you can use any captioning service you choose, get the caption files, and upload/associate them to your Collaborate Ultra recordings. We’re referring to this as recording post-captioning and it will be available in late July.

 

What’s New – Download Session Attendance Report

We recently added the ability to export the existing Session Attendance report to calculate key metrics, reducing administrative overhead for Instructors and providing invaluable educational insight.  This highly requested feature will allow you to import the Session Attendance report into a tool like Microsoft Excel and calculate key metrics such as total # of sessions, total duration of all sessions, average session duration, and largest session by # of attendees.

 

Roadmap – Netstats: Network Quality Indicator

Netstats, which will be released in the coming months, will provide attendees with insight into the network conditions of other participants in the room. The strength of a participant’s network connection, if their connection is excellent or poor, and their upload & download bandwidth will all be available upon quick glance in the session. Instructors can use this information to easily identify if a participant is having a unique network connectivity issue, without disrupting the rest of the group.

 

RoadmapPause & Resume Recordings

We're adding the ability for Instructors to pause and resume the recording of a session, providing greater control over what gets recorded, and what doesn’t.  For example, if an Instructor is teaching and recording a two hour session and decides to take a 10 minute break, they can pause the recording for those 10 minutes and then resume the recording after the break.

 

Roadmap – AWS Infrastructure Migration

We're also moving our infrastructure into AWS to leverage the scalability and reliability of Amazon Web Services. This will allow us to improve our session scalability and capacity and expand into additional International regions.

 

 

All timelines related to the Collaborate Roadmap are subject to change without notice.

Digital communication in a course, and in a professional team, can be tricky. Email can quickly overwhelm a group with repeated message, irrelevant reply-all, and a significant overhead in busy-work. Native Blackboard Learn discussion forums can also make it difficult to share files, snippets of code, and breaking out into private discussions. In the last few years, Slack has been conquering the field of professional team communication. It has also been used in online courses. A few more examples: political science course, digital history. There are many reasons why Slack is being adopted, but I will list the top 7 reasons.

 

  1. Slack discussions happen in one place and can be divided into Channels for specific topics. Users can be assigned to as many (or as few) channels as needed. A balance is kept between clarity and complexity. The discussion maintains transparency and users can effectively identify relevant messages.
  2. Slack integrates with important systems like GitHub, Trello, and many others. Full list is available at https://slack.com/integrations
  3. All content can be searched through one search control.
  4. Files can be easily shared.
  5. Code snippets render well and are easy to share (very important in computer classes).
  6. Team discussions can be quickly switched to private discussions.
  7. Slack is fun on any device.

 

Learn about Slack on Lynda.com

 

You can now place a link to your Slack workspace in Blackboard Learn as well as invite your class through this REST API integration. In addition, you'll know which students in your class have already joined Slack and who needs a reminder.

 

System administrator instructions:

 

Optional:

(please note that you can specify your own REST Application ID, if you want to have multiple levels of access. This allows you to have the instructor create a dev account, give you an App ID, then you link that instructor Blackboard ID to the REST Application ID. This means you don't have to grant any permissions or configure our REST Application ID)

REST Application ID: cc908933-00d0-4143-87be-47aee29ed984

 

Required:

LTI domain: apps.dataii.com

LTI URL: https://apps.dataii.com/bb/slack/

 

The icon: http://apps.dataii.com/bb/slack/slack1.png

 

Minimum Bb version: 3000.1.0

Ultra Courses & Original in Saas with REST API/LTI apps

More: Did someone try to integrate Slack as forum in Blackboard ?

 

Ultra course:

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 12.28.24 PM.png

 

Original course:

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 12.29.22 PM.png

 

Instructor Control Panel:

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 5.07.24 PM.png

 

Slack analytics in a Winter 2018 course:

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.01.50 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 11.01.20 PM.png

 

For computer courses sample code snippet formatting in Slack:

004-slack-code-snippets-700x330.jpg

 

 

What can you integrate in Slack?

002-slack-integrations-list-700x664.png

 

more about Slack

 

To use a custom system role for the REST API user you'll need 3 privileges:

Administrator Panel (Organizations) > Organizations > Edit > Enrollments

Administrator Panel (Courses) > Courses > Edit > Enrollments

Administrator Panel (Users) > Users Administrator Panel (Users) > Users

NOTE:

If one of your students is in the course, you'll see a 404 error for this user. That's because system users cannot be looked at with api. That's sort of bug/functionality.

For the better part of 12 months, the Blackboard SafeAssign Team had been designing the infrastructure and implementation plan for moving the SafeAssign service out of the Blackboard Managed Hosting facilities and into the cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.  The benefits of an AWS-based deployment include increased flexibility in hardware allocation, the ability to be more responsive to changing submission volume, and the potential for more rapid innovation across the SafeAssign technology stack.

 

On April 3rd, 2018 the SafeAssign migration to AWS was completed (link to BtBb announcement) and all new user submissions and requests would be processed in the SafeAssign environment deployed within AWS going forward.  The timing of this transition was important as many schools were starting to enter an end-of-year "Finals" period in which we typically observe a greater amount of student assessment (and by extension SafeAssign usage) than other periods of the academic and calendar year.

 

We typically track two metrics as representative of the client experience with respect to performance:

  • Paper Load represents the number of documents in the queue waiting to be processed
  • Paper Turnaround Time represents the average amount of time a user waits to receive a SafeAssign Originality Report back from the service

 

These two metrics are highly correlated and help us to understand the performance of the service at any given time.  In previous years and while hosted within Blackboard Managed Hosting facilities, SafeAssign often struggled to maintain acceptable performance for all clients during the critical Finals period:


SafeAssign Paper Load Apr to June 2017.png

Paper Load April 1 to June 1, 2017

 

SafeAssign Paper Turnaround Time Apr to June 2017.png

Paper Turnaround Time April 1 to June 1, 2017

 

As you can see from the graphs above, during the 2017 Spring Finals period SafeAssign struggled to keep paper turnaround times under 12 hours for a period of almost three weeks and paper turnaround times reached almost 45 hours average at their peak; this means that some students and instructors were waiting nearly two days to get Originality Reports and results from SafeAssign, which is clearly not the experience we want to provide for our clients.

 

We are pleased to report that after the move to AWS, the SafeAssign service performed significantly better during this high-volume Finals period than in previous years.  Here are the graphs of the same Paper Load and Paper Turnaround Time metrics from the 2018 Spring Finals period:

 

SafeAssign Paper Load Apr to June 2018.png

Paper Load April 1 to June 1, 2018

 

SafeAssign Paper Turnaround Time Apr to June 2018.png

Paper Turnaround Time April 1 to June 1, 2018

 

Comparing the graphs from 2017 to 2018, the improved performance of the service is clear: while there were still small spikes of load, the average paper turnaround time was just over nine minutes!  This represents a significant positive change in user experience and perception of the performance of the service.  We received no reports of delays from clients during this period, and we're proud to announce this information to all users of the SafeAssign service!

 

As we progress through 2018, we will continue to make performance improvements to SafeAssign that should continue to reduce these metrics over time.  In addition to this, we're working on a new responsive and accessible Originality Report user interface that will be enabled by the AWS infrastructure.  We'll be providing more details about this new interface at BbWorld 2018 this year, so look for more information coming soon!

 

We would like to thank our students, teachers, and administrators for continuing to rely on SafeAssign for originality and plagiarism reporting, and we look forward to continuing to improve the service in the months to come.