What's New in Learn Ultra

Monthly Release Highlights

Student Gradebook
September 2020 Release

Helping instructors save time and reinforcing academic integrity are the key highlights of this release. Instructors can now create automated test question feedback, send course announcements via email, view grades using the student list view, create password protected assessments, and much more.

The Learn SaaS release v3800.17.0 was released to production environments on September 3, 2020.

Highlights include:

Ultra Experience (Ultra Base Navigation & Ultra Course View) 

  • API updates: With this release, the public assignment APIs to support SafeAssign options were enhanced. The ability to create, update or delete Institutional Hierarchy node associations between courses and Institutional Hierarchy nodes has also been added.

Ultra Course View

  • Automated test question feedback  Instructors can save time with our new automated feedback comments. When creating questions, instructors can enter feedback for correct and incorrect answers on auto-graded question types such as True/False. Students will automatically receive the feedback when they submit the assessment. 
  • Password protected assessments – Academic integrity is one of the important pillars for any institutions teaching and learning practice.  Instructors can now add a system-generated password to assessments in the Ultra Course View, better safeguarding and minimizing unauthorized access. Students can access passcode protected assessments using Blackboard Learn Ultra or the Blackboard app.
  • H5P added – H5P has been added to list of supported embedded media in the text editor.
  • Send course announcements by emailTo increase the chance of students receiving important course announcements, and to provide instructors with the assurance that their announcements are reaching as many students as possible, Ultra Course Announcements can now be sent by email.
  • Student list view in the grade book – In response to client feedback, we’ve added this additional Student List View to the gradebook. Using this new view improves gradebook performance in courses with very large enrollment numbers. In the Student List View tab, instructors can see rows for each student in addition to a tab with rows for gradebook items.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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New Announcement Interface
August 2020 Release

Enhancements to the text editor and Journals are two of the top reasons this release is worth checking out.

The Learn SaaS release v3800.15.0 was released to production environments on August 6, 2020.

Highlights include:

Ultra Experience (Ultra Base Navigation & Ultra Course View)

  • API updates – We added the ability to create, update or delete institutional hierarchy nodes. We also added the ability to create child nodes for a specific NodeId, and delete and update institutional hierarchy nodes by NodeId.

Ultra Course View

  • Additional source options for embedded media in the text editor – This release expands our list of embedded media sources in the text editor. Using the “Insert/Edit Media from Web” dropdown, users can now add media from these websites: VidGrid, Panopto™, FlipGrid, SlideShare, Prezi, VoiceThread, KhanAcademy, Kaltura, Soundcloud, Spotify®, Genial.ly, NearPod, Quizlet, EdPuzzle, YouTube™, Vimeo®.

  • Text editor added to course Announcements – Now instructors can use our enhanced text editor to add and display more types of content, links, embedded media, and file attachments in Announcements in Ultra courses.

  • Journal support for course copy and conversion – Journals in Ultra courses are now included in the list of content items to copy from one Ultra course to another. 

  • Increased performance for large courses – We’ve improved system performance and stability for institutions with very large courses.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Learn Ultra Admin Support Panel
July 2020 Release

Administrators, you’re going to love the new support panel released this month. But we didn’t stop there. Read more about Learn's new system permissions, enhancements to course discussions, and more.

The Learn SaaS release v3800.13.0 was released to production environments on July 2, 2020.

Highlights include:

Ultra Base Navigation & Ultra Course View:

  • Administrator support panel – It's now even easier for administrators to find self-help resources while in Learn Ultra. Just select the help icon in the lower-right corner to access this new support panel that provides quick links to Blackboard Help, Behind the Blackboard links and more.
  • System permissions for brands – With this release, we’ve added two new system permissions—View Ultra Settings and Change Ultra Settings—to allow more granular access to certain areas of the Admin Panel.
  • API updates - We’ve added the ability to provide public APIs to Read Institutional Hierarchy Nodes, and APIs to access and manage user avatars.

Ultra Course View:

  • Course Discussion improvements – To further simplify workflows, instructors can now decide if they want students to generate their own discussions or not. By default, students won’t be able to create discussions. When students are allowed to create discussions, a label appears under discussion titles to show they were student-created. Additionally, the grader role now requires permission from the administrator to modify a discussion, and students are able to delete their discussions given no one else has responded.
  • Bb Annotate for inline grading – This month completes our phased release of Bb Annotate for Inline Assignment Grading. Bb Annotate offers a robust feature set including a sidebar summary view, freehand drawing tools, and various color selections. It replaces the New Box View integration in both Original and Ultra Course Views. To find out more, visit the Bb Annotate Communication & Adoption Toolkit and the Bb Annotate release plan.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Screenshot of the Instructor Journal in Learn Ultra
June 2020 Release

Journals are here!
This month’s release also introduces further enhancements to discussions, assessment scoring and media embedding.

This month, the phased release of Bb Annotate for inline grading continues. Plus, the Learn SaaS release v3800.11.0 was released to production environments. Highlights of these include: 

Ultra Course View:

  • Journals – This highly-requested feature is now available in the Ultra Course View. Instructors can create a journal assignment, add it to learning modules, apply conditional release, grade it, and include a rubric. Journal assignments appear in the Activity Stream. Students and instructors can discuss the entry in the Comments section below the student’s journal entry. Plus, this is just the beginning. There's much more functionality planned for later this year.

  • Discussions included in “Copy Content” The “Copy Content” tool has been expanded to include Discussions, so instructors with a discussion in one Ultra course can now copy it to others.

  • Students can embed media from integrated tools – Students can now add links and embed media from integrated tools using the Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) standard. When using the content editor in tools such as Discussion Boards and Assignments, students will now be able to access a list of integrated LTI Tools, choose resources, and include them in their authored content. This will allow students to add media and resources from tools such as Kaltura, among many others. Administrators must configure which tool placements are appropriate for student use and access.

  • Score per question – Instructors can now deactivate the “Score per Question” assessment default to choose not to show score per question feedback.

  • Bb Annotate for inline grading – The phased release of Bb Annotate for Inline Assignment Grading continues this month. Bb Annotate offers a robust feature set including a sidebar summary view, freehand drawing tools, and various color selections. It replaces the New Box View integration in both Original and Ultra Course Views. To find out more, visit the Bb Annotate Communication & Adoption Toolkit and the Bb Annotate release plan.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Bb Annotate
May 2020 Release

Announcing Bb Annotate!
Your instructors are going to love Bb Annotate, our new tool for inline assignment grading. Just wait until they see all it can do.

Introducing Bb Annotate for inline grading!

Starting this month, we are beginning the phased release of Bb Annotate for Inline Assignment Grading. Bb Annotate will replace the New Box View integration in both Original and Ultra Course Views.

Instructors are going to be thrilled when they see how easy it is to give students customized feedback using Bb Annotate. It offers a robust feature set, including a sidebar summary view, freehand drawing tools, various color selections, and much more.

To find out more, visit the Bb Annotate Communication & Adoption Toolkit and the Bb Annotate release plan.

The Learn SaaS v3800.9.0 release also came out this month. Highlights include a new usage report for administrators and API updates to enhance Group functionality. View the release details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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April 2020 Screenshot
April 2020 Release

Accommodations for global calendar variances, simpler content creation, and expanded group self-enrollment are just some the highlights of this new release.

On April 2, 2020, the Learn SaaS v3800.6.0 was released to production environments. Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Base Navigation and Ultra Course View:

  • Adjust first day of the week in the calendar – Blackboard calendars will now display the most common convention for the first day of the week based on a user's selected language. 

Ultra Course View:

  • Rich text editor gets even better – Improvements include moving the file attachment function so it's quicker to access, adding a strikethrough font option, and changes that make the editor easier to read.

  • Course-level group self-enrollment – Instructors can now create self-enrollment course groups for any graded content within a course. Instructors can add a description for the group set, specify the start and end times of an enrollment period, and set the maximum members per group.

  • Auto-archive on course deletion – When a course is deleted, a complete archive package will now be automatically created.

  • LTI Preview User role – Third-party integrated tools in a course using the LTI Advantage standard from IMS Global can now distinguish between student and student preview users. This allows them the flexibility to handle instructors navigating the course as student preview users differently than standard student users.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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March 2020 Update Preview
March 2020 Release

The highly-requested Calculated formula question type for Ultra Courses is now available! Plus, this release is packed full of many small, but meaningful changes that will positively impact usability for all — administrators, instructors and students alike.

On March 5, 2020, the Learn SaaS release v3800.4.0 was released to Production environments.

Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Base Navigation:

  • Course ID displays with Course Name – The Course ID now appears along with the Course Name on the Courses page of the Ultra Base Navigation, in the Calendar, and when copying course content.

  • "Edit course image" option moved – The “Edit course image” option has been moved to the overflow menu at the top-right corner of the course tile.

Ultra Course View:

  • Calculated formula question type – The highly-requested Calculated formula question type has been added to Ultra assessments. Instructors can convert existing Calculated Formula questions from their Original Courses, or can create new ones within their Ultra Course.

  • All "Create Item" panel options display by default – To make options easier to find and access for instructors creating new content on the Course Content page, all options in the “Create Item” panel will now open by default rather than just the “Course Content Items” options. 

  • Discussion conversion improvements – Now converting an Original graded Discussion to Ultra is even easier, requiring little to no manual intervention.

  • Option to make Messages read-only for students – Administrators can choose whether students are able to create and reply to messages.

  • Eliminated overdue notifications for submissions collected offline – Students will no longer receive overdue notifications for Ultra Assessments that use the “Collect Submissions Offline” setting.

  • Text editor word count – When instructors create documents and students respond to essay questions, they will be able to take advantage of the new word count that has been added to the text editor.

  • Text updates that increase usability and clarity – We’ve updated the text prompts around adding YouTube videos, creating and answering Matching questions, and activating the Ultra Base Navigation to improve the experience for all users.

  • Ultra Extension Framework updates – These updates to the Ultra Extension Framework add capabilities for banners, modals, and notifications. Partners can dynamically create banners within the Ultra UI to display data to the user while the user is within a course. We also added the ability to notify users in a course through blocking modals, dynamic guidance messages, and notifications.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Screenshot of group details in Learn Ultra
February 2020 Release

Your instructors will be especially thrilled to see the new enhancements to student groups introduced in this release. Improvements like these continue to help make teaching and learning better.

Learn SaaS release v3800.2.0 was released in stages to Production environments beginning on February 6, 2020.

Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Base Navigation:

  • Java 11 JDK and Building Blocks – This release uses a new version of Java, Java 11 JDK.
  • Blackboard’s Privacy Statement and Terms of Use links – These links now appear at the bottom of the global navigation bar.

Ultra Course View:

  • Group self-enrollment enhancement – Now students can change self-enrollment groups themselves within the instructor-specified enrollment period.
  • Group counter enhancement – The “Number of groups” drop-down menu has been replaced with a counter that tracks the number of groups.
  • Expanded Ally support for accessible content – Students and instructors now have access to Ally’s alternative formats and accessibility indication for content directly in the Ultra course outline. Ally’s accessibility indication is available in Ultra Assessments for content embedded in the rich text editor.
  • Pearson's MyLab and Mastering (MLM) Partner Cloud integration – MLM can now be used in Learn Ultra courses via the MLM Partner Cloud integration.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

 

 

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Course level group sets screen capture
December 2019 Release

The ability for robust group work just got even better with this release as instructors are now able to create group sets and align them to discussions, tests, and assignments. Plus, you’ll like seeing the additional functionality added based on community feedback.

On December 5, 2019, Learn SaaS release v3700.16.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Course View:

  • Course-level group setsTo further enhance the Groups work space, instructors can now create course-level group sets and align them to discussions, tests, and assignments.

  • Grade pill color now optional: The grade pill color offers students and instructors a visual color representation of performance. Now, you can select to turn off the grade pill color in the Ultra Course View. While effective in many instances, we’ve received feedback from some Ultra adopters that grade color can have an adverse effect on student well-being.

  • Text update for Multiple Answer questions: Based on feedback from the community, we've made the text prompt consistent across Multiple Choice and Multiple Answer question types.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Notification Settings screen capture
November 2019 Release

While this release is packed full of enhancements that will make teaching and learning using Learn Ultra easier, the biggest addition you’ll love is the added ability for administrators to be able to manage and control notifications at the system level. We’ve heard your feedback about notifications and are thrilled to deliver this functionality in this release.

On November 7, 2019, Learn SaaS release v3700.14.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Base Navigation and Ultra Course View:

  • System administration Notification Settings: Clients have shared that having the institutional ability to control the notifications is critical. In response, we have created system administration controls via the “Notification Settings” option in the Administrator Panel. For every available notification type and source, administrators can select whether notifications are “on” or “off” by default. Administrators can also decide whether users can change the default setting in their individual preferences.

  • New icons: Based upon client feedback, we've adjusted the icon set. Most notably, the new icons are darker and appear more prominently.

  • Account lockout: By default, Learn Ultra will now lock user accounts after five failed login attempts. Administrators can disable or edit the feature by selecting “Account Lock Settings” in the Administrator panel.

Ultra Course View:

  • Description field for Ultra documents: To improve the student experience, instructors can now provide students with high-level details about an Ultra document, as they are able to with most other Learn Ultra content. Instructors can open the “Document Settings” panel in an existing document to add a description. Students see descriptions on the Course Content page.

  • Ally updates: The Ally integration for Learn Ultra has been improved to show the alternative formats and instructor feedback indicators for attachments in Ultra documents and tests.

  • Assessment settings panel button update: As a continued effort to make Learn Ultra as consistent as possible, the “Done” button on the Assessment Settings page has been replaced with “Save” and “Cancel” buttons.

  • Error messages when deleting assessments with externally referenced questions: Instructors are unable to delete question banks, folders, or assessments that contain questions used in question pools in other assessments. To eliminate confusion, detailed messages have been added to explain why.  

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Learn Ultra Question Pool
October 2019 Release

Check out the new grading and assessment features. Downloading assignment files in bulk, adding decimal point values to grades, and advances in the management of question pools are just a few things in this release that will simplify the management of courses.

On October 3, 2019, Learn SaaS release 3700.11.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Course View:

  • Bulk download submissions: Instructors can now easily download all or selected student assignment file submissions at one time. A ZIP file with selected assignments will be generated for quick download.

  • Decimal point values for assessments: To offer greater grading flexibility, instructors are now able to enter decimal values in the Points field for individual questions and in the Maximum points field for assessments that don't contain individually graded questions. Instructors can use values with up to two numbers after the decimal.

  • Regrade questions in question pools: Instructors can now regrade individual questions within a question pool. Questions within pools can be regraded from a student’s submission or from the assessment panel. When regrading, a message informs the instructor if a question is used in other course assessments. Question updates made while regrading affect all instances of that question in the course.

  • “Select all” and “Clear all” questions for question pools: To make adding questions to a question pool easier in Ultra, instructors have the options to “Select all” and “Clear all” question choices on the “Add Question Pool” page.

  • Delete copied course attendance data: When copying a course that used the attendance tool, instructors can easily delete the copied attendance gradebook columns within the new course. In the Ultra Course View's gradebook list or grid view, open the menu for the extra attendance column and select “Delete.”

  • Additional attendance data handling improvements: We’ve made multiple improvements in how attendance data is handled during course copy, archive/restore, and export/import.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Needs grading filter
September 2019 Release

Grading is even easier now that a “Needs grading” filter has been added. Plus, instructors can create groups that students can self-enroll in and can pre-schedule Collaborate sessions even before the course is available to students.

On September 5, 2019, Learn SaaS release 3700.9.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Course View:

  • Group Self-enrollment: Instructors can create self-enrollment groups for students to join to complete group assignments and discussions. Instructors choose the number of groups, can set the maximum members per group, and may allow students to view other members of the groups before they choose a group.

  • Filter students by grading status: In order to help instructors locate submissions and begin grading more quickly, the “Needs grading” filter has been added to the submissions list for individual assessments.

  • Collaborate Ultra in private mode: Instructors can now pre-schedule Collaborate sessions in their Ultra courses any time—even before the course is available to students.

  • Integrations with LTI Advantage: For both Original and Ultra courses, tools integrated with LTI Advantage that report submission and grading status show this information in the Original Grade Center or the Ultra gradebook. Upcoming due date or overdue notifications for students are dismissed if the tool indicates the student submitted the assignment. In Ultra Course View, tools integrated with LTI Advantage behave more like standard Learn assignments. Reported grades aren’t displayed to students until they are posted by the instructor.

  • Question pool enhancements: There is now a more accessible button structure as well as clearer error and confirmation modal messages.

View all the details in the Learn SaaS release notes

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Ultra organizations in the Learn Ultra UI
August 2019 Release

You can now create Ultra Organizations, which have the same functionality and workflows as Ultra Courses. Plus, instructors can create Question Pools in the Ultra Course View to help build assessments quickly and encourage academic integrity.

Learn SaaS release 3700.7.0 was released to Production environments on August 14th.  Highlights of this release include: 

Ultra Base Navigation:

  • Ultra Organizations: Administrators can now create Ultra Organizations, which have the same functionality and workflow as Ultra Courses – you can choose to create Original Organizations, Ultra Organizations, or let users choose. 

  • Branding Updates: We’ve updated the brands listing page to include the ability for administrators to filter brands by roles or host names and view which brands were just added – we also included a notification if a custom login is specified but won't be visible to users based on brand associations. Similar to the base navigation, Administrators can choose to allow the navigation logo area to be filled with a theme color. 

Ultra Course View:

  • Question Pools: Instructors can now create question pools in the Ultra Course View to help build assessments quickly and encourage academic integrity – they can add questions from all existing tests, assignments, and question banks in their courses and students receive different sets of questions to answer. In the Ultra Course View, question pools replace the Original Course View's random blocks and question sets. 

  • Assessment Enhancement - Options to Show Answers: In Ultra assessments, instructors can now decide if students see the answers to questions that were answered incorrectly; they may also hide answers until all students complete their submissions. 

View all the details in the release notes here. 

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Upload from cloud storage in the Learn Ultra UI
July 2019 Release

Building on previous functionality, institutions who leverage Office 365 or G Suite now have the ability to select their preferred solution and allow users to access their institutional cloud storage account from within their profile or directly upload content in the Ultra Course View.

Learn SaaS release 3700.5.0 was released to Production environments on July 11, 2019.  Highlights of the release include: 

Ultra Experience: 

  • Building on previous functionality, institutions who leverage Office 365 or G Suite now have the ability to select their preferred solution and allow users to access their institutional cloud storage account from within their profile or directly upload content in the Ultra Course View. 

  • To ensure privacy, only instructor names—not instructor usernames—appear to students throughout the Ultra experience. 

  • Administrators can now see a brand’s host and role associations from the Brands page. 

View all the details in the release notes here. 

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A screenshot of Learn Ultra
June 2019 Release

Administrators can now create their own domain and role specific Ultra brands, providing a sense of personalization for instructors and students. Office 365 and G Suite are now integrated, plus external calendars can be synchronized, resulting in a connected, seamless experience for users. Parallel grading has also been introduced in the Ultra Course View.

On June 6th, Learn SaaS 3700.3.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights of this release include:

Ultra Base Navigation:

  • Institutions can now create their own domain and role specific Ultra brands, providing a sense of personalization for instructors and students through a customized login page, navigation and login logo, color selection, and Institution Page for a brand
  • Building on previously released capabilities, users can now synchronize external calendars with Learn, resulting in the ability to access both personal and academic events all in one place
  • The Organizations and Courses pages in the Ultra Base Navigation have been updated with the ability to add images and view these pages as either a list or a grid; plus, we've brought the Ultra design language to the Organizations page and it now contains the same functions and workflows as the Courses page

Ultra Course View:

  • Instructors can now enable parallel grading and select non-student course members to act as graders and reconcilers; they can also hide student names in order to prevent unintended bias
  • Office 365 and G Suite integration is now available, enabling instructors and students to add files directly into their courses from their institution’s cloud storage account (prior to this release, users could only add files from their personal cloud storage accounts)
  • View all the details in the release notes here

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Student preview in the Learn Ultra user interface
May 2019 Release

Instructors can now filter their gradebook view based on child courses that have been merged, directly import question banks, provide feedback for individual members on group assessments, and experience their course exactly as their students do with Student Preview.

On May 3rd, Learn SaaS v3700.0.0 was released to Production environments. Highlights include:

Ultra Course View:

  • Filter their gradebook view based on child courses that have been merged, reducing the administrative burden of working in the gradebook
  • Directly import question banks, including question pools that have been exported from Original courses or purchased from a publisher
  • Provide feedback for individual group members on graded group assessments
  • Experience their course exactly as their students do with Student Preview, allowing them to be confident that their courses are well designed and functioning as intended

View all the details in the release notes here.

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