What has changed in Blackboard after the July 2019 upgrade

Your Blackboard courses should generally look and behave the same as the previous version of Blackboard. However, there are a few changes and new features in the new version, these are outlined below:

Responsive design

The new version of Blackboard has a responsive design and as such will have improved performance on devices with smaller screens.

In addition, the following improvements will be seen in the Grade Centre:

  • The column headings will now wrap to show the full column name, making it easier to distinguish between columns
  • The Grade Centre will automatically display as many visible columns as the window will allow

Course availability icon

Whilst in a Blackboard course, instructors will see a padlock icon to indicate whether or not the course is available to students and they can easily change the availability by clicking on the icon. The icon is displayed in the top right, to the left of the Edit Mode function.

If the course is not available to students, it will show a red locked padlock. If the course is available to students it will show a black unlocked padlock. By hovering over the icon, the help text will display the action that will be taken by clicking on the icon.

example screenshot of the padlock icon showing the course as locked / unavailable

example screenshot of the padlock icon showing the course as unlocked / available

SCORM player updated

The integrated SCORM player has been updated to a newer version which improves playback of responsive content.

Collaborate Ultra and Groups

Collaborate Ultra is now available to use with groups in Blackboard. Instructors can control what tools groups have access to when creating the group and can choose whether or not to allow members of the group to create and access session recordings.

Drag and drop of files

Instructors will now be able to drag and drop files when creating functions such as content items, assignments, blank pages and web links.

Students will be able to drag and drop files when submitting to assignments, creating blog or journal entries and adding artifacts to Portfolios.

The ability to drag and drop is indicated by the dashed ‘hot spot’ in the attach files area:

example screenshot showing the hot spot drag zone around the attach files area

Blackboard Ally - available soon

Ally is new tool which will help your students get the most from their course materials, and help you make your Blackboard course inclusive for all. Blackboard Ally automatically converts course materials into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go. It also helps you make small changes to the course material you upload to make them more accessible, in easy-to-follow steps.

The University is planning on releasing this new tool during next academic year.

Email reminders from the Grade Centre

Instructors are now able to send email reminders from Grade Centre columns to students who have not made attempts at gradeable items such as assignments, tests etc.

The function will send a standard email to any student who has not submitted to the item - the email will include the module code, the item name and the due date if there was one set. This is a system generated email and is not individually configurable.

Please note that the University already has in place automatically created emails to students who do not submit to ISIS fed assignments by the due date and also by the 24 hour date.

Removal of buttons in Course Menu

The use of buttons in the course menu is no longer supported by Blackboard. If you currently use buttons in your left hand course menu, after the upgrade these will change to text.

If you wish to change the course menu default colours, you can do this by going to the course Control Panel and selecting Customisation, then Teaching Style. The course menu background and text colours can be set under the Select Menu Style area.

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