New Features & Enhancements - Teaching & Learning

  • Course Delivery
    • Interactive Rubrics: Enhanced rubrics are here to better support instructor efficiency in the grading process and convey expectations to students. The rubrics enable the efficient, consistent grading of manually graded student submissions and also facilitate secondary evaluations used to support program evaluations. The rubric is “clickable”, allowing for dynamic entry of feedback and ratings. When creating a rubric, instructors can choose from 4 types (percentage, point, point range, and no-point), as well as assign weights to categories. The same rubric can be assigned to multiple gradable items. Instructors can also opt to have the rubric viewable by students. Rubrics can be imported and exported for use across courses. Existing rubrics in ANGEL and CE/Vista 8 courses will be converted as part of the course conversion process with Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1.
    • Needs Grading Tool Enhancement: The Needs Grading tool is a view in the Grade Center that instantly provides instructors visibility and access to items that need to be graded. Gradable Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board activity will now appear in Needs Grading status in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page. When an instructor chooses to make an interactive tool gradable, (s)he will also have the option to choose how many interactions will place the item in Needs Grading status. A Discussion Board forum, for instance, might be set to only appear in Needs Grading status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post. The Needs Grading tool is also visible as part of the Needs Attention Module so instructors are alerted consistently with other gradable items.
    • Timed Assessments Enhancement: This new capability provides instructors with an intuitive means of setting time limits on assessments and configuring the system to auto-submit the assessment at time expiration. Instructors can now choose to make the timed assessment auto-submit, or to allow the assessment to continue beyond the allotted time as in previous releases of the Blackboard Learn platform. Students are provided with visual cues to track their progress when taking and submitting timed assessments set to auto-submit. Attempt information for timed assessments includes details on how much time the student spent on the attempt versus how much time was allotted.
    • SCORM Engine Integration: Through a co-development partnership with Rustici Software, a new SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) content player is integrated into the Blackboard Learn platform. This feature will provide users a stable and reliable platform for SCORM content. Along with the new content player, a new report is available through the course Control Panel to show student activity and progress within the SCORM package. With the SCORM Engine, there is now support for SCORM 2004 4th Edition.
  • Content Management
    • Improvements to Student Access to Files Within a Course – Adaptive Release and Date/Time Availability Rules are Honored: Service Pack 6 changes the way students access files that are stored in Content Collection or Course Files and linked in a Blackboard Learn course. Access is now granted using tokenized URLs instead of URL plus permissions to control read access to files from the course. Instructors (or those users creating course content) are no longer prompted to give Read access to newly created items. Adaptive Release rules are now honored for items stored in Content Collection and accessed through the Blackboard Learn course. Items that are released at a later date will not show up in a search before they are released.
  • Outcomes Assessment
    • Evidence Collection: Institutions can now leverage course-embedded assessment. Outcomes Assessment users such as Assessment Coordinators can automatically collect assignments and the related student submissions directly from Blackboard Learn courses. Once collected, student artifacts of learning can be randomly sampled, evaluated in Outcomes Assessment using a rubric, and reported against. The collection of these student work products in a more automated way greatly eases the burden of assessment on faculty and students, during course, program or institution level assessment.
    • Standard, Objective, and Goal (SOG) Alignment to Course Delivery Content: This enhancement will make it easier for instructors, curriculum designers, and other staff to align content items directly to the appropriate learning outcome.
    • Standard, Objective, and Goal (SOG) Coverage Reports: New reports are now available to show the alignment of any standard, objective, or goal, aligned directly to Blackboard course content, at any level (institutional, unit/program, or course).
  • Partner Integrations
    • McGraw-Hill Connect and Create Integration: Instructors will benefit from one-stop teaching and learning through the integration of McGraw-Hill Connect and McGraw-Hill Create directly within the Blackboard Learn platform. Customizable, dynamic educational content and tools from McGraw-Hill can be seamlessly used and integrated into the Blackboard Learn course environment to enhance and enrich the teaching and learning experience. Single sign-on and Grade Center synchronization deliver centralized, immediate access to course content and grades. Helps ensure compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), allowing students to benefit from additional privacy protection. This bundled Building Block applies to customers in Higher Education (English-speaking markets) and For Profit Professional Education.

New Features & Enhancements – System Administration

  • Foundational Technologies (applies to all Blackboard Learn customers)
    • Software Updates: Administrators can be more efficient when they have information that is relevant and timely. Software Updates is a new module located in the Administrator Panel and provides updates specific to your Blackboard Learn installation. If a newer version of Blackboard Learn is available, an indicator within the module will display the number of versions, and you can select which version to download. This includes any release (maintenance-only or releases with enhancements and/or new features). In addition to Blackboard Learn updates, new releases of installed Blackboard Building Blocks™ will also be displayed in the Software Updates module on the Administrator Panel.
    • Student Information System (SIS) Data Integration Building Block and Framework: The SIS Data Integration Framework was designed to help Administrators create courses, organizations, and enroll users for the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS). Information provided by the institution is used to create the required entities within the LMS database. The information may come from various sources in varying formats. Once this information is written in an appropriate format, it is loaded into the LMS using the Building Block. This Building Block is intended to provide a simplified alternative to the Blackboard Snapshot tool. SIS Integrations are managed via the GUI on the Administrator Panel, providing a simplified interface for configuring, managing, and maintaining SIS integrations. This includes installation of new SIS Integrations via the Building Block Manager, configuration of the integration, viewing logs produced by the integration, and setting availability status of the integration. Service Pack 6 is the first phase of the SIS Data Integration Framework with more functionality planned for subsequent releases of Blackboard Learn.
  • Community Engagement
    • Institutional Hierarchy: Administrators can create and manage a hierarchy in the Blackboard Learn platform that reflects their institution’s “real-world” organizational structure in order to share and delegate administrative duties. With this new feature, multiple organizational units within an institution and/or multiple institutions within a system can be given varying degrees of independence in order to manage their courses, organizations, and users. Institutions can support multiple organizational units on a single instance of Blackboard Learn. Service Pack 6 is the first phase of Institutional Hierarchy with more functionality planned for subsequent releases of the Blackboard Learn platform.
  • Standards Support (applies to all Blackboard Learn customers)
    • Common Cartridge 1.1: Release 9.1, Service Pack 6 is certified for Common Cartridge 1.1 import and export.
    • SCORM 2004 4th Edition
    • Out-of-the-box Support for LIS 2.0: The SIS Data Integration Framework supports an institution’s SIS output that is LIS 2.0-compliant.
    • Out-of-the-box Support for IMS Enterprise 1.1: The SIS Data Integration Framework supports an institution’s SIS output that is IMS 1.1-compliant.
  • Additional Upgrade Option: Starting with Release 9.1 Service Pack 6, Blackboard will support two direct upgrade paths from previous Release 9.1 Service Packs. Your upgrade options include upgrading from Release 9.1 Service Pack 5 or Release 9.1, Service Pack 4.

Technology Changes Impacting Client Environment

  • Server Technologies
    • The following server technologies are changing as previously communicatedon February 22, 2011.
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 4 (32-bit and 64-bit) will no longer be supported with Release 9.1, Service Pack 6.
      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server 6 (64-bit only) will be Certified with Oracle 11gR2. 32-bit RHEL 6 will be Compatible until 9.1 Service Pack 8 at which time support for all 32-bit server platforms will be discontinued.
    • Additional server technology changes include:
      • 32-bit support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 will be added. It will be listed as Compatible with Windows Server 2003 (32-bit).
  • New Supported Browsers
    • Support for Chrome web browser will be introduced for the first time in Release 9.1, Service Pack 6. It will be certified on Windows® 7 and Mac® OSX 10.6. The Certified version of Chrome is 9.
    • Internet Explorer® 9 will be Certified on Windows 7 and Windows Vista®. Internet Explorer 7 will no longer be supported.
    • Mozilla Firefox® 4.0 will be Certified with Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Mac OSX 10.6. Mozilla Firefox 3.5 will no longer be supported.