Blackboard Upgrade Summer 2014

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About the Upgrade

The Blackboard upgrade will be taking place this summer 2014. We will be moving to Service Pack 14/April Release from Service Pack 8. Many existing features have been improved and some new features are added. Below outlines the forthcoming changes that will in the upgraded Blackboard system.

CELT are running Staff Blackboard Upgrade Overview Sessions – Find out more here

Global Navigation Menu and My BlackboardNEW

When you first log in to the newly upgraded Blackboard, you will see an overlay that highlights some of the new features. On clicking on your name in the  upper right-hand corner of the screen, a drop-down menu will appear, providing access to content notifications, user profile, and the newly redesigned calender.

The Global Navigation panel consists of a set of text links within the user menu – this is the right panel headed ‘Courses’. Selecting a course link will take you to that Blackboard Course. The My Blackboard menu with icons is loacted on the darker left panel. These menus give you a personalized view of your learning environment.

The user menu on the right (contains Courses, Organizations, Settings) which provides access to your courses, communities, as well as the Home and Help links at the very bottom of the panel.

My Blackboard menu (on the left) shows timely course communication, recent posts and calendar. It provides icons and links to various areas of Blackboard. The icons and the numbers in red boxes signal the presence and number of new information, such as new messages and new posts.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard. Please note that some functionality may differ.


New Content Editor – UPDATED

The new content editor improves the user experience for adding text, digital content and supports the same editing capabilities as before but also has the following new functions and improvements:

  • Ability to maximise editor to full screen
  • Pasting in text copied from Microsoft Word will automatically strip out any unnecessary Microsoft Word code
  • Automatic html validation
  • CSS editing
  • New math editor (WIRIS) replacing the original MathML and WebEQ equation editor
  • Ability to insert non-breaking spaces
  • Find and replace
  • Blockquote
  • Special Characters (symbols) and emoticons
  • Improved table editing functions


Groups Management – Enhancement UPDATED

This update to groups simplifies the process of creating and managing groups. Manage all course groups at once from the ‘All Groups’ page, including deleting multiple groups at once, creating GradeCenter Smart Views and enabling or disabling Group Tools. Plus on the users page, group membership is now listed.
videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Discussion Boards- UPDATED

A modern discussion interface that displays all posts and options on a single page, allows for inline posting and can also require students to post before participating.  Replies to threads are also now in-line so whilst typing a reply users can still see the other posts. Posts made by your tutors now highlights their role, making it easier to identify their post.

Blackboard Help on Discussion Boards

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard


A tools that enables instructors to give focused attention to students who may be at risk (i.e. getting low marks or who are not accessing Blackboard as expected. Ths tool is based on preconfigured rules created in a Blackbord module. It replaces the Early Warning System feature with easy workflows. It is essential that you understand how this tool works as  Blackboard preconfigured four rules when this tool is enabled in your Blackboard module will begin notifying you of alerts through the Global Navigation menu. Therefore you can amend these four rules in your Blackboard module.

Blackboard Help on Retention Center

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Calendar Enhancement- UPDATED

Instructors and students can view personal, course and system-wide events in a single calendar view. When accessed from My Blackboard, the calendar displays a consolidated view of all instutution, course, cmmunities and personal calendar events for a staff and students.

Features included here:

  • Students and instructors can also view items that are past due, due today, or due this week by navigating to the overview capability in My Blackboard (Bb home icon).
  • Calendar events are now color coded.
  • Easily add calendar events by clicking on a date and adding an item.
  • Items with due dates automatically appear on the calendar.
  • Instructors will be able to move events by dragging and dropping them to a new date. The due date will be automatically updated.
  • Calendar honors adaptive release and availability rules.


videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Test Improvements- UPDATED

Item Analysis on a Test
This fearture allows for  the ability to evaluate the quality of each question and that question’s ability to discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not.  Ineffective questions can be easily identified and then quickly corrected with the Automatic Regrade feature.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard


File Attachments in Tests
Files that are attached to test questions must be uploaded using the content editor. This will store the files in Course Files in the Blackboard module.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Test and Survey options

Test Availability Exceptions—have been added to the Test/Survey Options page which allows you to set the Test/Survey options once the Test/Survey has been added to a content are, improved workflow including group and user deployment, improved handling of late submissions, having a test ‘begin page’ to add additional information before the test is taken and more.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Find out more on Blackboard help on Test and Survey options
Test Availbilty Option ‘ Score Attempts Using’ (also in Blackboard Assignments)

In test deployment options the option ‘Score Attempts Using’ has been added. Previously this option was only available from the Grade Center, this created an inefficient worksflow iif your test or assignment was set to multiple attempts beacuse you had to remember to navigate to the Grade Center if you wanted to change the default score that was displayed to students if there was more than one attempt on an test or assignment. Now when you deply a test or assignment you can specify which attempt score to display.

Event- based method for releasing Test results and Feedback to students

In test deployment options, there are additional feedback options to provide instructors with more control on when and how students can view test feedback. Also events can be triggered to specific feedback settings.

Find out more on Blackboard help on Test results and Feedback to students


Test Question Positioning

It’s now possible to create a new test question in the desired location with respect to questions that have been created already.


Test Access Log

Detailed Information on student test attempt interactions are now availble, this helps address issues as to whether students have began to take the test or ran into issues whilst taking the test.

Find out more on Blackboadr Help on Test Access Log


Test Export Options

All questions are now retained in imported and exported tests, these include questions that originate outside the exoprted test (i.e. question sets , random blocks and question links. Questions that are in question sets and random blocks in the originating tests are imported into the new course in question pool. Single questions that were linked in the originating test are imported as ‘native’ (non-linked) questions.


Test – Fill in the Blank Question Type (including Fill in Multiple Blanks)

Fill in the Blank and Fill in the Multiple Blank questions have been enhanced and now offer ‘contains’ and ‘pattern match’ (using regular expressions) as grading options for answers. Instructors no longer have to rely only on exact match for grading and manually enter every possible correct answer. Instructors can also make the answers case sensitive.

Pattern Match enables the instructors to use regular expressions when specifying correct answers to allow for some variability in the answers that will be counted as correct.Below are some basic examples of regular expressions:

  •  A dot (.) – matches any single character except newline character
  •  Brackets [ ] – matches anything inside the square brackets for one character
  •  A dash (-) inside square brackets – allows you to define a range, e.g., [0123456789] can be rewritten as [0-9].

Mobile Browser Support for Mashups- UPDATED

Changes in how mashups are processed allow them to play on mobile devices via a web browser.

Accessibilty Improvements- UPDATED

The Quick Links tool allows a user to quickly locate any heading or section within any page in the Blackboard Learn application and jump directly to it.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Course Reports – Single Course User Participation Report – UPDATED

In the option ‘Evalutions | Course Reports’ (via Control Panel) in a Blackboard course you can run several types of course reports to view information about course usage and activity. You can now run the report ‘Single Course Participation Report’ –  If run, this reports displays the number of user submissions in your course for Blakcboard assignments, tests, discussions, blogs, and journals within a chosen time frame. Note this information is provided in a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet (.xls). Also if no activity exists for an item type, then no assignment column appears in the spreadsheet.

Find out more on Blackboard help on Blackboard Course Reports

Delegated Marking in Blackboard Assignments (April 2014 Release)NEW

Enabling delegated grading in Blackboard assignments permits an instructor to assign specific colleagues based on their assigned Blackboard role the ability to mark assignment submissions (all submissions, random set or group of submissions). The instructor can then reconcile grades and feedback at the end of the marking process so students receive appropraite feedback.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard. PLEASE Note we don’t have the tool SafeAssign or be using  the anonymous marking feature. Please note that if you use the Blackboard assignment feature for anonymous marking through the GradeCenter this still works as outlined by CELT here

Student Preview (April 2014 Release)NEW

To view your Blackboard course in student view by turning the Edit Mode Off control approximated to the student view. However this did not give a full student view. In the upgrade a new Student Preview feature provides the capability for an Instructor to see the course exactly how a student would see it.

videolink Watch an overview video by Blackboard

Tests – Significant Figures in Calculated Formula Test Questions (April 2014 Release)- UPDATED

Calculated Formula questions in Tests to create quantitative questions using a formula and variables that can be dynamically generated, calculated, and scored. The automated grading of these questions, the correct answer to be calculated using the defined formula and variables, and the student’s response validated to award credit, has been improved to include calculation to significant figures.  The Test Canvas and the Item Analysis report have also been updated to include Significant Figures information.

Find out more on Blackboard help on Calculated Formula Questions

My Grades (April 2014 Release)- UPDATED

The look and feel of My Grades has been updated. Students can now view feedback by clicking View Feedback.