The latest Blackboard Learn SaaS release (v3400.3.0) was pushed to production environments last week (May 4, 2018). This is a significant release that includes many new capabilities and enhancements requested by institutions using the Ultra experience and span across all three of our unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement and education insight. The new additions provide a more engaging experience for students, save instructors and students time, and much more. Keep reading for 5 highlights from our latest release and let us know what you’re most excited about in the comments below.
To learn about all the updates included in this release, see the Blackboard Learn SaaS release notes here. Tip: scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up for email updates, so you can stay on top of all the latest with SaaS.
- Course search (Ultra experience): The Courses page in Ultra is a simple, quick way to access all of your courses, including those in the past or in the future. But is it really that simple if you're enrolled in a lot of courses? A new search bar lets a user quickly find one key course without scrolling through all of their courses.
We’ve also made several other improvements to the course list page. Learn more here
- Cloud storage integration (Ultra experience): We’ve made additional cloud storage integration providers available in the Ultra Course View. With this release, instructors and students have access to an aggregated cloudservice that lets users connect to their preferred cloud storage accounts and place content directly into their course. In the Ultra Course View, instructors and students can instantly connect to multiple web apps where you store files.
- Activity indicators for Collaborate rooms (Ultra experience): With this release, we’ve made it easy to see when virtual meetings—for the entire course or among assessment groups—are taking place. When a course Collaborate room is in session, an indicator appears on the Course Content page to let others know the room is in use. The same icon appears in group assessments when the instructor has enabled conversations and another group member is in the room.
This feature is a subtle but impactful enhancement around user presence in a course.
- Content lockdown (Original & Ultra experience): Many institutions use Subject Matter Experts to create content for a course. This content is used across all sections of a course and is facilitated by multiple faculty. To ensure that the content in each course section remains consistent, we’ve added new entitlements for course roles so administrators can grant additional permissions for users that will allow them to view the content but they will not be able to modify the content.
In the coming releases, we’ll introduce even more granular entitlements like these with the goal of ultimately providing a formal Facilitator role that you can enable and designate for chosen users.
- Accommodations for timed assessments (Ultra experience)Personalizing the educational experience is critical to student success, and this new feature does just that. Accommodations allow instructors to mark certain students exempt from high pressure aspects of a course and can help students complete coursework and succeed where they might otherwise be at a disadvantage. In this release, we're introducing the ability to accommodate students for timed assessments, reducing the pressure or anxiety that can come with this aspect of coursework.
In addition to the 5 highlights above, this release also includes:
- The ability to add web content directly to the editor
- A new auto-archive tool that that archives any course that has had activity since the last time the process ran
- Discussion Forum Insights for group discussions
- The ability to enable role-based modules on the Institution Page
- The ability for instructors to randomize the order of answers in multiple choice and multiple answer questions
- The ability for instructors to rearrange gradebook entries with drag and drop
- Upgrades to the data management process for Blackboard Learn clients with Direct Data Access (DDA)
What are you most excited about with this release? Let us know in the comments below.