Blackboard’s February Teaching & Learning Product Update Newsletter

Discussion created by eh0054212 on Mar 1, 2018

Did you receive our February Teaching & Learning Product Update newsletter this week? This newsletter covers what's new for Blackboard Learn, Blackboard Collaborate, and Blackboard Ally. See the newsletter below or sign up here to get this to your inbox monthly:






Product Webinars

Blackboard Instructor Grading Workflow Feedback Session
Join one of our feedback sessions led by Daniel Loury, Director of Mobile Product Management, to learn about the Blackboard Instructor grading roadmap, get a demo of grading workflows, and share your feedback. Sign up here.


Webinar Recording: Blackboard Inline Grading and New Box View
Missed our recent webinar on the transition from Crocodoc to New Box View? Listen to the recording to get the latest updates about the transition process, and information about features and support resources. Get the recording here.


Blackboard Learn – SaaS & Mobile Update


As we move into 2018, we are thinking about and developing our teaching and learning products toward the greater good of a holistic, next generation digital learning environment through the lens of three critical, unifying product themes: academic effectiveness, learner engagement, and education insight.


In the February Learn SaaS 3300.8.0 release, now available in SaaS production environments, we focused on academic effectiveness and learner engagement. We have also aligned our feature list below into groups based on the value and benefit they provide to you and your users. Here are the highlights:


Original Experience

Specialized Assessment
  • Multiple Choice Questions in Tests: Clicking a choice again will now de-select the choice to better support scenarios where negative points have been associated with incorrect answers to penalize guessing.

Ultra Experience

Institutional Success
  • New Default Landing Page Options: Administrators can now choose one of three destinations that users see upon logging into Learn: Activity Stream (default), Course List, or Institution Page. This can help you support your specific institutional goals such as: efficiency, efficacy, or institutional messaging/branding.
  • Course Availability Exceptions: Students may need extended time to access a course due to illness or late registration. This feature allows administrators to open a course for a single student instead of the entire class as an exception to the normal course structure.

Engaging Course Design

  • Save Draft Discussion Posts: Students and instructors can now draft and save a discussion post before they contribute to a discussion. When ready, students and instructors can return to Discussions and either revise, post, or delete the draft.  

    Design an ecology experiment

  • Add Content Collection Items Directly to Course Outline:
    It’s now easier for instructors and instructional designers to browse, select, and add content from the Content Collection to various locations throughout Ultra courses.      
  • Other updates include new rich text editor updates, which are part of an initiative to update the rich text editor throughout the Ultra experience.

Specialized Assessment

  • Allow students to work past assessment time limit:        Instructors need flexibility to decide how timed tests and assignments are delivered to students, and may want to allow students to continue working on a timed test or assignment after the set time expires. When an instructor enables this feature, the system indicates which questions were answered after time expired. This helps instructors identify how many questions they may need to remove or when a specific question may be too complex for students to answer within the time limit.
  • Grade Group Discussions:           Sometimes instructors want to break large class discussions down into smaller groups, so that posts and replies are generated at a more consumable rate. Now, instructors can assign grades for group discussions.                               

    Group research lab


Learner Engagement

  • Users can receive notifications via SMS text message:
             Students and instructors benefit from being notified of various events and activities in courses when not logged into Learn. To support this, we have added capabilities to send notifications through SMS text messages. Users must opt-in to receive SMS messages and can update their settings at any time                              

    Group research lab

  • Icons to Indicate New Activity: Students and instructors want to be able to easily identify what's happened in their course since they last visited. Rather than having to open each item to see this information, users can now identify items with new activity directly on the Course Content page.
  • Communication Improvements: This release introduces several improvements to course communication including the ability for instructors to send a message to groups of students from the Create Groups page in assignments, tests, and discussions. Plus, users now have a Refresh icon to load any new conversation or discussion posts since they've opened the page. We've added the ability to contact users in more places through their profile card.

  View all the details in the release notes here.


  Mobile apps – Blackboard app & Blackboard Instructor app


We’ve also released key new features to the Blackboard and Blackboard Instructor apps including offline capabilities (both apps), and improvements to push notifications (Blackboard app). Find all the details for the Blackboard app here and for Blackboard Instructor here. To ensure your users have the best  mobile experience possible, make sure your institution is on the correct Mobile B2 for your Learn version. Then, promote the apps to your institution using our refreshed mobile adoption toolkits.



Blackboard Collaborate – Product Updates


The most recent release for Collaborate features phone-only access, allowing you to join a session by phone without first logging into your browser. Internet connectivity shouldn’t hamper a learner’s engagement and we are thrilled to bring phone-only functionality to Collaborate Ultra.  Instructors can easily copy the phone number and pin from the session panel and distribute it to their students.


Additionally, instructors can now edit recording names, making it easy for learners to quickly locate the right recording and avoid any barriers to learning.


Finally, we have made optimizations to the appshare viewing experience and streamlined your settings, feedback and status all into one menu.


View all the details in the release notes here.


Blackboard Ally - Product Updates


In the latest Ally release, we focused our development and design on academic effectiveness. This release features improvements to the accuracy of alternative formats with a higher accessibility score, improvements to instructor feedback for images that do not have an alternative description, support for new languages including Polish, Norwegian, and Catalan, and more.


View all the details in the release notes here.


Opportunities to Network


Come see Blackboard at these events.

BbWorld 2018 is open for registration and call for presentations. Register now for Early Bird discounts.

July 16-19, 2018 | Orlando, FL


BbWorld is where education professionals gather to make change happen. Thought-leadership discussions, hands-on training, shared best practices, and networking opportunities ensure that you have the tools needed to navigate today’s toughest challenges.


Register Now »


Partner Corner


Create your institution


Your course. Your way. Copia Class + Blackboard = Your solution!

Did you miss the Copia Class webinar? Over 900 clients registered and you can view it on demand now.    Register here for on demand viewing of this webinar and feel empowered as you learn from UT Rio Grande's success story piloting the Copia Class + Blackboard solution giving them limitless access to best in publisher, OER, and locally-created content that brings their syllabus to life!                                        


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