Blackboard What Is New – 9.1 SP6 and SP7

We upgraded to Blackboard Learn™ 9.1 SP7 on 11/28/2011.

Release 9.1 Service Pack 7

Blackboard resolved many issues in Release 9.1, Service Pack 7, including over 100 Bug Squad issues. Highlights from this Service Pack include:

  • Announcement emails no longer have multiple footers when sending emails to more than one user.
  • Copying Grade Center columns and settings into an existing course no longer creates duplicate system Smart Views.
  • Course availability times now default to midnight as expected.
  • Email notifications from graded Discussion Forums no longer contain links broken by the erroneous “courseId={unset id}”

Note: as we upgrade to SP7, we implicitly get the enhancements from SP6.

Release 9.1 Service Pack 6

Highlights of Enhancements in SP6:

  • Grade Center and Assessment Improvements
    • Needs Grading: Gradable Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board activity can 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, they 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.
    • Timed Assessments: Attempt information for timed assessments includes details on how much time the student spent on the attempt versus how much time was allotted. Instructors can choose to make the timed assessment save and submit automatically when the timer expires, or to allow the assessment to continue beyond the allotted time.
    •  Test Announcements: If announcements are created for a Test, the date and time of the most recent announcement appears on the Test Options page.
  • Interactive Rubrics
    • When creating a rubric, instructors can assign weights to categories, allowing the same rubric to be used across multiple items with different possible points. Rubrics can be imported and exported for use across courses. Existing rubrics in ANGEL and CE8 courses will be converted as part of the course conversion process.
    • Instructors can associate rubrics when creating gradable content items, including Blogs, Journals, Wikis, Discussion Boards, Assignments, and short-answer, file-response, or essay questions in tests and pools. Rubrics can be associated with multiple items, and all associations can be viewed from the Rubric tool. Multiple rubrics can be associated with an item. The rubrics can be visible to students at any time, or only after grading has been completed.
    • Instructors can interact with any associated rubric for grading in a grid or list view, and Feedback can be typed for each criteria as well as the entire assessment. Grades calculated using rubrics can be overridden. When a rubric has been used for grading, a report is available to view the results of all content graded with that rubric.
  • SCORM Engine Integration
    • Through a co-development partnership with Rustici Software, a new SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) content player is integrated into Blackboard Learn. This feature will provide users a stable and reliable platform for SCORM content. Along with the new content player is a new report available through the Control Panel to show activity and progress.
  • Content Management
    • Adaptive Release Rules Work on Content Collection Items
    • Adaptive Release now works on Content Collection items that are created within a course and accessed through the Content Collection. Instructors (or those users creating course content) are no longer prompted to give Read access to newly created items. Items that are released at a later date will not show up in a search before they are released.
    • Important Note: To ensure that adaptive release rules are functioning correctly, courses created prior to Blackboard Learn Service Pack 6 need to be copied, imported, or restored after upgrading. This process updates all links to content within a course and removes specific read permissions from students. Updating the links provides students with access to all files they had previously been granted access to. Removing specific read permissions prevents students from accessing content that they are not allowed see while honoring adaptive release rules.
  • Desktop Integration
    • BbDrive must be installed to engage in desktop integration. Once installed, files will automatically open without download. Updates are saved and re-uploaded after a refresh of a Course Content page. Any files that a user has access to will open within their native application. If users have set specific files to open with a specific program, they can open the contextual menu and select open in browser to view the file in a new tab or window. Entire folders can also open right on the desktop to manage files, making deleting multiple files easy for example.
  • Automatic Student Access to Linked Files
    • Links to files within courses do not rely on students having read permissions. If a file is linked in a course students enrolled in that course will be able to see it. They will not need explicit read permission.
  • Improved Browser Support
    • The following browsers will now be considered compatible:
      • Internet Explorer 9
      • Google Chrome 10 (stable channel)
      • Firefox 4 (final release channel)
    • Note 1: The Firefox Release Channel is the fully tested version by Mozilla and intended to be the most stable. This channel is updated roughly every 6 weeks.
    • Note 2: The Chrome Stable Channel is the fully tested version by Google and intended to be the most stable as the name implies. This channel is updated roughly every 2-3 weeks for minor releases and 6 weeks for major releases.
    • No longer supported:
      • Internet Explorer 6, 7
      • Firefox 1.x, 2.0, 3.0, and 3.5
      • Safari 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 and any version on Windows
      • Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4 “Tiger”
      • Java 5, although it may continue to work

Blackboard also resolved several issues in Release 9.1, Service Pack 6, including:

  •  Users with the Course Builder role are now able to access unavailable courses.
  •  In Internet Explorer, content items with date restrictions now display properly on the Course Calendar.
  •  When accessing an “In Progress” attempt from the contextual menu in the Grade Center, the instructor is no longer intermittently taken to the wrong student’s attempt page.
  •  Announcement Notification emails that are the result of the “Override User Notification Settings” option are now sent from the user creating the announcement instead of the Blackboard Administrator email account.
  •  Columns in the Grade Center with “No Category” no longer prevent the instructor from viewing student attempts.
  •  Instructors are now able to access graded Group Blogs and Journals after unenrolling a student who participated in these tools.
  •  The session invalidation task now invalidates more than 1,000 records at a time. All invalid sessions are removed when the task is run.