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All Places > System Administrator Community > Blog > 2019 > August

Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest so far in next year's Technical Preview.  I've have captured everyone's name who have emailed me directly, through Support or posted a note in the June update.  We'll have an official sign-up sheet as we get closer to the program as well.  


Since we initially shared the news at BbWorld regarding the direction of the replacement for New Box View, all the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive The new Inline Assignment Grading Tool will automatically provide a lot of the functionality we’ve discussed in prior posts and specifically the list that I shared in the June update The new tool will encompass the existing functionality faculty are accustomed to today but will also provide new functionality for marking a submission.  Over the last several weeks, our development team has been hard at work to add new improvements and customizations to the tool.  Today, I will be highlighting several of the new changes you can expect to see when it becomes generally available next year, and I will be back at the Admin Office Hours on September 17th 12 PM EDT to review further and gather feedback. 


Before we jump into several of the new features, I wanted to recap what the UI looked like when we debuted at BbWorld Not only do graders have access to a Sidebar Summary view, there are multiple color selections, shapes and sizing options to choose from when providing feedback.  All annotation can be easily edited, moved and deleted as well.  Also, back by popular request, the print feature.  Users will have access to either download or print with the annotations included.   

 Inline Assignment Grading functionality



Since BbWorld, we've modified icons and dropdown menus to be more in line with the current Ultra theme and have made enhancements to the annotation capabilities.     

  Inline Assignment Grading Icon Update



One area of improvement is how the highlighting features are displayed.  Users can click and drag to highlight as well as use a freehand highlighting tool.  We have opted to rename the freehand highlighting tool to Brush, and the Highlighter has been moved out of the dropdown menu. Users will still be able to access it from the pop-up menu.  


 Inline Assignment Grading Highlighting Changes


In addition to being able to highlight with a comment, graders will also be able to add a note when striking through and underlining (including squiggly underline) text. 


Inline Assignment Grading Note functionality with underline and squiggly underline



One of my other new favorite features is called Duplicate.  This allows you to re-use an existing text box, line, arrow, and any of the geometric shapes.  As we work towards providing graders with a re-usable comment bank, this is an interim step to quickly and easily insert the same comment multiple times.  

  Inline Assignment Grading duplicate functionality



We are continuing to make changes to the tool, and I am excited to continue sharing those with you over the coming months.   

Let's share some banner pictures for the Base Navigation Institutional Pages.  Recently the banner dimensions changed, and there is a trick to having the photo action being in the center axis of the picture.  While Learn does resize and show the full picture on smaller devices, it is elongated on most laptop screens. So, most photos can be turned into the new banner files by cropping the height and bringing key photo features to the horizontal axis.


It is possible that in the future the banner will further change.  We would like to update the banner occasionally, and wonder if as a community we can share banners.  Some banners may be school specific, but many pictures today are in public domain or schools are ok with sharing content.  If you can, upload a zip file with your pictures or individual pictures.


Just FYI, this is what documentation states about banners:… 


the banner image should be at least 2000 pixels wide.  Because screen size width varies on wider screens, the banner image crops the top and bottom of the image as the content area gets wider


I personally think that changing the banner keeps the system fresh, it creates a perception that someone is taking care of it, and that many stories can be told about diversity of the organization.


One system with freely available artwork is 



couple talking


In this photo two changes were made: the bottom was cropped and picture was flipped. Previously there was more content at the bottom of the photo.  Now, the face will show up in the center of the new shorter banner.


As another idea, here is the banner from CourseSites.  Notice the left area that allows org logo and a caption.

coursesites banner


Here is a start for the gallery: 

Welcome to the new Blackboard!

Now that you're here, tell us how you'd like to be notified of events in your courses.


So, you enabled Base Nav in your Learn system and the first thing you get feedback on are notifications.  As in other LMS systems, the approach in Learn is student-centric to over-communicate, notify of everything, engage, until the user chooses to mute communication channels.  This makes sense and my post is not about disputing the approach.

However, the notification settings need to be right there, on the main page, preferably as a to-do list.


One way to improve student and faculty experience with notifications in Learn is to provide a reminder right after the login process.  This can be done in Base Nav by employing a custom LTI tool that points to the notification settings in the user profile.  It looks like this:


lti tool


This tool remains also as a system tool in Tools area in addition to the Custom Content module on the Institutional Page.  Once you click the link it goes to this screen directly:




The user can manipulate any of the three areas of settings: stream, email, or push.


The LTI placement of system type would have this URL (make sure to replace "myschool" and follow the LTI tutorial if this is your first custom tool): 



There is a glitch to the setup, which hopefully we can workout as a community.  Once the settings are saved and the notifications window closes, you cannot re-select stream, email, or push.  This is probably because the URL opens the Base Nav the second time.  However, once you close the second window, everything works as expected.

I take no credit for the content of this blog post. The work involved here is all Santiago Vanegas and going forward I'm going to get him to write his own blog posts with these nuggets in.


One of the things we've heard quite a bit when customers start doing simple changes to their login pages like uploading the institution logo is frustration that the default login page does something funny to logos if they don't fit a certain shape/size and you can end up with a login screen that looks something like this.


Now, this is actually really simple to fix by uploading a custom login page with some simple custom CSS.


By default, the CSS applied to the logo on the page looks like this:

.bb-login .new-logo.customized-logo img {
   width: 15.625rem;
   height: 15.625rem;
   border-radius: 7.8125rem;

In an Ultra enabled environment we have no way to get at this at source to make the change. Instead, we need to navigate to the brands page of the environment and download the login-ultra.jsp file so we can add some custom CSS to resolve the issue.


The CSS we need to add to the file looks like this:

.bb-login .new-logo.customized-logo img {
   width: 15.625rem;
   height: auto;
   border-radius: 0;


We add this to the file in between the end of the <bbNG:jsBlock> and before the cookie disclosure. Note that we have also had to add the <bbNG:cssBlock> to the file to add our custom CSS which is not there by default.


Depending on your logo you could add a max-width or a 100% width. In this case we’re giving an exact width for the logo to display at an exact size on the login block.


This means we get something which looks far more sensible (Yes - I know the logo now looks just like the normal login page now but it is a change I promise )


I've attached an example login-ultra.jsp file with the change in it. Hope this helps.

We are happy to announce that the Learn Migration Information Gathering Building Block has been updated to provide Ultra Base Navigation and Courses compatibility/equivalency information.  Install the Building Block (v1.4.1 or higher) for a personalized report of compatibility/equivalency based on the Building Blocks in use at your institution.


The Information Gathering Building Block is used when planning for a move to Learn SaaS, but it can now also be used by SaaS customers to help inform a decision to switch Ultra on.


Download the latest files:


You can access the compatibility reports from the Administrator Panel after the building block is installed and enabled. In the Tools menu, select  Learn Migration Information Gathering  to get started. From there, you can view the report within Learn as part of Main Report – view online, or download via the Building Blocks link under Main Report – CSV download. The CSVs can be imported into the Information Gathering workbook.


For more details on preparing for a move to SaaS, please see  Information Gathering for Learn Migration on Blackboard Help, or if you are already using Learn SaaS and are ready to move forward with Ultra, please see Adopting Ultra.  There’s also lots of useful information and resources at


If you have any feedback on the compatibility/equivalency information provided by the Building Block we would love to hear from you!  Please post any comments or questions below.

Good afternoon, 


If you are interested in REST, but don't know how to get started this is for you. I've created a shareable notebook with all steps needed to go from NO REST experience / integration to making a call against your own Blackboard Learn.  It should only take you 20 minutes, tops. 


At DevCon, I presented on using REST APIs and helped a few people get setup and make calls against their own Blackboard.  I combined my presentation with materials provided by Blackboard to walk you through every step.  You will need to create a developer account, and have admin access to complete all the steps. You don't need to install any programming language, or know how to use a terminal... at all.  You need to be able to hit play buttons, which will run parts of the code line by line.


All of this is available here: 


This updated notebook should have EVERY step you need to go from nothing to making calls and exploring. Hope this helps someone get started with REST, so you can build some cool things or write some cool scripts and then share back with the community.  


Let me know if you have any questions or comments, and I'll do my best to answer.