ARES E-Reserves LTI

Post-upgrade to Blackboard Learn 3900, we learned that the older E-Reserves Building Block integration no longer worked. If your course uses the older integration, you now see an error “Unable to compile class for JSP”, e.g.,

Error message Unable to compile class for JSP

There is a newer “E-Reserves LTI” integration that replaces the legacy integration.

Steps to add the ARES “E-Reserves LTI” link to your Course Menu.

1. Click on the Plus sign at the top of the Course Menu
Add to Course Menu

2. From the drop-down list, select the option “Tool Link”

Select Tool Link from menu

3. On the Add Tool Link form:
a. Name: Give it a name, e.g., E-Reserves LTI
b. Type: Select E-Reserves LTI from the list
c. CHECK : Available to Users
d. Submit

Add Tool Link for E-Reserves LTI

4. You should now have an “E-Reserves LTI” tool link on your Course Menu.

Note: You can re-position the tool link on your Course Menu.

If you need further assistance, please reach out to your School’s faculty/technical support.

What is New – Blackboard Learn 9.1 3900.26

Starting with this Learn 9.1 release, the name will shift from using the quarter/year as the name to a version number to align with the SaaS release model.

The 9.1 3900.0 release focuses on 4 of these areas:

  • Enhancements through platform features. Enhancements are delivered in the Original Experience through enhancements to platform features, capabilities not specific to the Original Experience. In some cases, these features can also be enhanced without requiring a Learn release upgrade. These features sometimes have differing timelines for global availability due to regional requirements for data storage and handling.
  • Iterative feature improvements. Enhancements to existing features in the Original Experience or are implemented as part of work for the Ultra Experience.
  • Standards and Interoperability. As a leader in openness, Blackboard continues to invest in expanding support for standards and interoperability within Learn in order to give institutions increasing options for expanding and defining their unique EdTech platforms.
  • Quality and Maintenance. Blackboard continues to make changes to technologies and processes to further improve quality. This includes improvements to security frameworks and processes to achieve various security certifications, performance improvements, changes to address compliance with ever-evolving global regulations, and updating technologies and libraries used within the application.

Enhanced Content Editor

Blackboard Learn 9.1 3900.0

This release introduces big changes to the Content Editor in the Original Course View including numerous simplifications and improvements:

  • The Power of Plus – One easy menu for adding content from your computer, cloud storage, or integrated tool. The Content Editor will automatically recognize the kinds of files you add.
  • Better for All Devices – The editor is better suited for all devices—small screen or big. Pop-ups are gone for a better mobile experience.
  • Improved Accessibility – The editor is more accessible, and a new accessibility checker helps authors make content more accessible. Ally not required. Compliments Ally use.
  • Better Copy and Paste – Pasting content from Word, Excel, and websites is even better. You can choose to remove extra HTML but retain basic formatting.
  • Simple Embed – When pasting links to websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion, the videos are automatically embedded for inline playback. Similar to social media sites or collaborative services like Slack and Yammer, website links that express a meta description will display a summary preview card.
  • Display Computer Code – Authors can now share formatted computer code snippets, super handy for computer science classes and coding clubs.
  • Easy Text Wrapping – Flow text next to images by selecting an image and choosing left or right justification. Text will wrap next to the image using the float style which is both mobile responsive and accessible.


Blackboard is utilizing TinyMCE 5.3.2 for its new content editor. TinyMCE is a flexible rich text editor that instructors will use when adding content to their Blackboard Courses.  It looks and feels like current rich text editors that are used across the Internet today.

Some Highlights

New toolbar:

Enhanced Content Editor buttons displayed

Button Description
Add Content button Add Content: this takes the place of Blackboard’s Mashups menu in the old editor.  Here is where you will find ways to embed things like:

  • Images
  • YouTube Videos
  • Panopto / Kaltura Videos
  • and more
Insert a Math Equation - MathType Insert Equation: MathType Equation Editor
Source Code button Source Code Editor: HTML Editor with color coding.
Blackboard Ally now supports Instructor Feedback for Rich Text Editor content. The Rich Text Editor (RTE) instructor feedback will give course editors a live accessibility score on their RTE content and guidance on how to fix issues. (Enabled in Production Blackboard on January 20, 2022).

More on the content editor for students

More on the content editor for instructors


Pronouns in Blackboard

In Blackboard, we are limited in how Pronouns can be populated and displayed. We have plans to improve this in the future.

Current Limitations:

  • Only Students and Faculty Pronouns can be populated in Blackboard.
  • Pronouns should propagate from myJH portal/JHED to SIS to Blackboard in 24 hours.
  • Pronouns will only be displayed in the Blackboard User Directory, not in Course Tools (e.g., Grade Center, Discussions).
  • Only users who choose to be listed in the Blackboard User Directory will appear in user search; see steps on how to Make Your Pronouns Searchable in Blackboard User Directory below.

Searching the Blackboard User Directory

  1. On the My Institution tab, under the Tools module, select User Directory.
    The User Directory is a tool on the My Institution tab.
  2. Search by Username (JHED), First Name or Last Name.
    Search Users by username, first name, last name
  3. You should see results if the Students/Faculty have made their Pronouns searchable.
    Example of Search Results

Make Your Pronouns Searchable in Blackboard User Directory

  1. On the My Institution tab, under the Tools module, select User Directory.
    The User Directory is a tool on the My Institution tab.
  2. Click on the Edit My Privacy Options link (on the right side of the screen).
    Select "Edit My Privacy Options" link
  3. On the Set Privacy Options screen:
    1. Under Personal Information, check the box next to “Additional Contact Information (Home Phone, Mobile Phone, Website)“.
      Checkbox for Additional Contant Information selected
    2. Under Directory Status, check the box next to “List my information in the User Directory“.
      Checkbox for List my information in the User Directory is selected
    3. Click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page.
      Submit botton at the bottom of the page
      Note: Blackboard does not populate Home Phone, Mobile Phone from the SIS, so the only attribute that should appear is Pronouns.
  4. Test by searching for yourself in the User Directory.

Chrome/Edge 91 and Panopto videos in Blackboard

There was an issue with Panopto and the recent release of Chrome/Edge 91.

6/2/2021, we’ve put in a fix to the login process so you can view Panopto videos.

When you initially come to a Blackboard page that contains embedded Panopto content, you may see a new “Click to sign in and play video” prompt.

Once you click to sign in, you should then be returned to the page with the videos.  You will not need to sign in again for the duration of your browser session.

Note: if you are using Safari (13 or later) :

You still have to TURN OFF the security setting “Website tracking: Prevent cross-site tracking”; see > 5. Enable Third Party Cookies in Safari

LMS Migration Project

JHU completed a comprehensive evaluation process to select a replacement for Blackboard Learn, the University’s primary learning management system (LMS). Our configuration of Blackboard Learn will no longer be supported by the vendor at the end of 2023. To learn more about the new LMS, how it was chosen, and implementation timelines, visit the new website: (As a note, the School of Public Health’s CoursePlus will continue to be maintained by that division, and it is not affected by this process.)

Blackboard What Is New – 9.1 Q4 2019

Blackboard continues their commitment and investment in the Learn Original Experience (Learn 9.1). The following release highlights were delivered in the Learn 9.1 Q4 2019 release.

Authentication lockout

Too many failed attempts to log in to a user account could be a security risk. In this release, if Blackboard Learn is involved in the authentication process (e.g., Non-JHED Email Accounts), Learn will lock user accounts after 5 failed login attempts.

Open file upload warning for Edge browser users

Due to a known Microsoft Edge issue, some users who access Blackboard Learn through the Microsoft Edge browser have encountered problems attaching and submitting open Microsoft Office files. To help prevent file submission problems, Learn now warns Microsoft Edge users that they should close files before uploading them. The message only displays the first time the user encounters a file upload workflow in a Blackboard Learn session.

Dialog Edge can't attach files correctly when they're open.

Course availability controls in more places

We first introduced a course availability indicator and toggle control for Blackboard Learn Original courses with the 9.1 Q4 2017 release. In 9.1 Q4 2019, the indicator and toggle now appears in additional tools and management pages, including the Discussion Board.

When an instructor, teaching assistant, or other entitled user has the privileges to edit course availability settings, they can select the padlock icon to toggle availability. If availability date settings need adjustment, the padlock icon will take the user to the Settings Management page.

Needs Grading filter selection is remembered

With this release, Blackboard Learn will remember instructors’ preferences for the Show attempts that don’t contribute to user’s grade filter on the Needs Grading page. By default, the checkbox is unselected and student attempts that don’t affect grades won’t show on the Needs Grading list. When an instructor changes the setting, Learn will remember the preference across that user’s sessions and courses.

Needs Grading example filter

Grade Center improvements on desktop for the Learn 2016 Theme

For the Learn 2016 Theme, we’ve decreased the cell padding in the Grade Center for desktop users so that more Grade Center data will display.

grade center with decreased cell padding

Grade Center improvements on mobile for the Learn 2016 Theme

With this release, instructors can more efficiently manage the Grade Center on their mobile devices. We’ve made the behavior, display, and actions of the Grade Center’s mobile card view more consistent with the grid view.


Usability improvements for the Learn 2016 Theme

We’ve made several improvements for the Learn 2016 Theme in this release, including:

  • When configured, course color menus also apply to the pop-out course menu
  • Contextual menus now display with dividers between sections

LTI Advantage improvements

If a tool implements the grading and submission state handling in the LTI Assignment and Grades service, instructors can see which students have submitted including in the Needs Grading workflow and whether grading has started. Students will have more accurate due and overdue notifications because their submissions will register with Blackboard Learn even if the submission requires grading before a score is sent to the grade book. An integrated tool must implement these capabilities of the standard in order to users to have the improved experience.

In prior releases, tools have been able to request a list of students in a class, if allowed, to create a better experience for users in the tool—this uses the Names and Roles Provisioning Service. In this release, tools can now also request group definition and group membership data through the extension to this service, the Context Membership Service. Tools can then use the existing group data in Learn to create group activities or list filters as appropriate for the tool without requiring instructors to set up their groups again.

Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is a standards specification defined and certified by the IMS Global organization. Blackboard participated in the development of the LTI Advantage specification.

Java 11 JDK and Building Blocks

Blackboard Learn 9.1’s Q4 2019 release uses a new version of Java, Java 11 JDK. Java are the libraries on which the Learn application runs and also the libraries that power Building Blocks, the add-on tools and features you may use in your environment. We’re implementing Java 11 to improve security and performance. Staying on recently updated libraries is crucial to staying ahead of those who may try to compromise your learning environment.

Guest accounts can’t be enrolled in courses

Previously, when an unauthenticated user accessed Blackboard Learn and the “Enable Guest” property was enabled they were associated with the “Guest” account. Instructors were able to enroll this “Guest” account in courses and organizations, circumventing application entitlement handling.

This account is a unique Blackboard System Level account that was never intended to be enrolled. Allowing this account to be enrolled meant possible data exposure to unauthenticated users as multiple un-authenticated users could be associated with the account.

Therefore, in this release we removed the ability for the “Guest” account to be enrolled in courses stopping potential data exposure concerns between unauthenticated users. Existing “Guest” account enrollments will remain and be visible to instructors and administrators so they can clean up these existing enrollments through the user interface.


Miscellaneous updates

  • Course Copy performance has been improved. The time to create copies, exports, and archives are all improved.
  • Course Copy handling for links has been improved. Previously, if link URLs were manually copied from the details page for a resource in the Content Collection and added to the Content Editor, these links would break on course copy. The Course Copy procedure now attempts to identify common scenarios of bypassing the linking process with a URL cut-and-paste to allow access for users in the new course.
  • The 360 view for a resource in the Content Collection has been improved to more accurately display the various ways the resource can be used.
  • Empty searches in Content Collection are now restricted to prevent accidental long-running searches that have negative performance impact.
  • Numerous libraries have been updated to improve security and performance, including a number of Spring libraries.
  • Pearson MyLab and Mastering are now supported in Partner Cloud (Content Market).
  • Accessibility improvements

Adding LinkedIn Learning Content to Blackboard

There are two ways to add LinkedIn Learning content to a course in Blackboard. You can either add a web link or search in the content market.

There are a few differences between these two methods:

  • Adding a web link allows you to add Points Possible and a Due Date to the content item. This adds a column to the Grade Center, allowing instructors to track whether students completed the item.
  • Searching for courses in the content market is simpler to set up. Adding a web link requires you to construct the SSO URL.
  • Searching for courses in the content market automatically populates the content item with the course title and description from LinkedIn Learning.
  • Overall, searching the content market is the easier method to use, but it lacks the ability to track scores in the Grade Center.

First, construct the SSO URL. This is done by taking the link to a course, e.g., and adding it to the end of
In this example, the full SSO URL would be

Next, add the web link to a course in Blackboard:

  1. Go to a content area within a course
  2. Build Content > Web Link
    In a content area within a Blackboard course, select Build Content, then Web Link
  3. Set the URL to the SSO URL that you constructed, and check the Tool Provider checkbox. Optionally, enable evaluation to allow grading.
    Check the box for This link is to a Tool Provider
  4. Click Submit
    LinkedIn Learning web link content item

Searching in the Content Market

In order to search for LinkedIn Learning courses, the content market must first be enabled in the course.

  1. Go to the Course Menu > Customization > Tool Availability
    In the course menu, under Customization, select Tool Availability
  2. Enable Content Market and Content Market Tools
    Enable Content Market and Content Market Tools
  3. Click Submit

To add a link to a LinkedIn Learning course in Blackboard:

  1. Go to a content area within a course, and select Partner Content > Content Market
    In a course content area, select Partner Content, then select Content Market
  2. Click Browse all content providers
    Click on Browse all content providers
  3. Select LinkedIn Learning
    Select LinkedIn Learning
  4. Search for a course, select one or more, click Submit
    Search for a course and select one or more
  5. Click Submit
    LinkedIn Learning content item from the content market

Blackboard Ally

Introducing Ally Alternative Formats

To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, we’re introducing a new feature called Ally into your Blackboard courses. As more of our courses are being facilitated online due to COVID-19, the importance of accessible online content has become imperative. Johns Hopkins University is making Ally available across most of our FA20 courses at the end of September to support students in engaging with digital content as well as to support faculty in providing accessible content.

Ally will provide support to your students by allowing them to download your course files in different formats, like a MP3 or mobile-friendly version. Next to your course files, students will find an icon for a dropdown menu. They can then simply select the dropdown icon and then select “Alternative Formats”:

From there students will see a menu of options from which to choose. Download speed will depend on the size file.

Depending on the type of document, students may find some or all of the options below available:

  • An OCRed PDF which is used to improve the text of scanned documents
  • A Tagged PDF with improved navigation, especially for students using a screen reader
  • An HTML version that will allow students to adjust text for your mobile devices
  • An ePub version for use an eReader or tablet
  • An audio version for listening to an MP3 on a computer or mobile device
  • BeeLine Reader, which makes reading easier and faster by using color gradients
  • A translated version that translates content into over 50 different languages


Learn more about Alternative Formats, their benefits to students, and how to access them at Alternative Formats for Students.

We hope you will encourage your students to take advantage of the Alternative Formats being made available in their Fall 2020 courses to support their learning.  If you have questions, you can contact us at

Frequently Asked Questions:

As we encounter questions, we will start gathering the answers in an FAQ section.   

Why do some Alternative Formats give me “We’re sorry. We were unable to generate the alternative format.”

There are currently some limitations to the conversion:

  • Some PDF files are not able to be processed correctly
  • Audio formats fail, if the original document contains more than 100,000 characters.


What content is checked by Ally?

Currently, Ally checks files in these formats:

  • PDF files
  • Microsoft® Word files
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint® files
  • OpenOffice/LibreOffice files
  • Uploaded HTML files
  • Image files (JPG, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BPM, TIFF)
  • WYSIWYG/VTBE content
  • YouTubeTM videos embedded in WYSIWYG/VTBE content

In Blackboard, Ally also checks these content types created through the system content WYSIWYG editor:

  • Blackboard Learn
    • Content Folder (application/x-folder)
    • Content Item (application/x-item)
    • Learning Module (application/x-learning-module)
    • Lesson Plan (application/x-lesson)
    • A link to a Forum (application/x-link-discussion-topic)
    • Web Link (application/x-link-web)
    • Embedded LTI application (application/x-lti-launch)
    • All other WYSIWYG content types including Blank page and Module page (application/x-page)

For an up-to-date list, see

What about E-reserves?

Ally currently won’t be able to get to electronic reserves (e.g., Ares) content. In the future, Ally as a Service could be used to access repositories outside the LMS.

Can the Ally options be turned off by item?

Yes. An instructor can turn off alternative formats for individual content items, if you want. You can enable it again later.

What is Instructor Feedback for Rich Text Editor content?

The Rich Text Editor (RTE) instructor feedback will give course editors a live accessibility score on their RTE content and guidance on how to fix issues. (Enabled in Production Blackboard on January 20, 2022).

Image shows Accessibility score Click to Improve


Bb Annotate- New Tool for Inline Grading

Bb Annotate, Blackboard’s new inline assignment grading tool is now available. Created in partnership with institutions around the globe, Bb Annotate will replace the existing inline grading tool found in your courses today. This new tool will offer a more robust feature set for you to provide customizable feedback to your students, including a sidebar summary view, freehand drawing tools, various color selections, and more.

To prepare for the arrival of Bb Annotate:

1. Watch a video about Bb Annotate:

2. Download your Quick Start Guide:

3. Visit the Help documentation site:


1. What will happen to my previous annotations?

All pre-existing annotations created through New Box View (Blackboard’s prior inline grading integration) will be migrated and visible in Bb Annotate. When a user accesses an annotated file during the migration, it will take a little bit longer to load but will be displayed in the new Bb Annotate viewer. If a user is actively annotating a file using New Box View during the migration, the file will not migrate to Bb Annotate until the user has completed that session. Upon loading the submission file again, it will display in the Bb Annotate viewer. User will be able to delete annotations as well as add new comments to any existing comment created using New Box View.


2. Will Bb Annotate work with Pen-enabled devices?

Yes, Bb Annotate provides a much improved experience to users on mobile devices. Touch / stylus (e.g. Apple Pencil) usage is much more responsive so you have more granular/higher fidelity of detail when compared to New Box View.


3. What file types are supported in Bb Annotate?

You can view and annotate these document types in the browser:

  • Microsoft® Word (DOC, DOCX)
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint®(PPT, PPTX)
  • Microsoft® Excel®(XLS, XLSX)
  • OpenOffice® Documents (ODS, ODT, ODP)
  • Digital Images (JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, TGA, BMP, HEIC)
  • Source code (Java, PY, C, CPP, etc)
  • Medical Images (DICOM, DICM, DCM)
  • PDF
  • PSD
  • RTF
  • TXT
  • WPD

Note: Office Suite Macros, such as Visual Basic, aren’t supported.


Known Issues:

  • Bb Annotate does not render annotated PDFs — we’ve submitted issue to Blackboard

Troubleshooting Opening, Viewing, or Printing Adobe Acrobat PDF Files

Sometimes the built-in Browser PDF viewer does not display a particular PDF properly.

1) install Adobe Acrobat Reader

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader:

2) download the PDF first, then view it

You would want to enable Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Browser.

Google Chrome Browser

Google Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer.

Windows / Mac OS

Google Chrome has a built-in PDF viewer enabled by default, which opens the file directly in your browser window. To disable the built-in viewer, enter chrome://settings/content in the address bar  and scroll down to ‘PDF Documents’. Toggle ON “Download PDF files instead of automatically opening them in Chrome”. Restart Chrome.

Download PDF files OFF

Download PDF files OFF.
Download PDF files ON

Download PDF files ON.

Mozilla Firefox Browser

Mozilla Firefox has a built-in PDF viewer.


Choose ‘Options’ and go to the ‘Applications’ section. Find ‘Portable Document Format (PDF)’ and click on it to select it. Click on the drop-down arrow in the ‘Action’ column and select ‘Use Adobe Acrobat (in Firefox)’ or ‘Use Adobe Acrobat (default)’ or ‘Save File’ (if you want to download it). Restart Firefox.

Detailed Instructions:

Mac OS

Choose ‘Preferences’ and go to the ‘Applications’ section. Find ‘Portable Document Format (PDF)’ and click on it to select it. Click on the drop-down arrow in the “Action” column and select ‘Use Other’ and select ‘Adobe Acrobat’ or ‘Save File’ (if you want to download it). Restart Firefox.

Detailed Instructions :

Other Solutions

Disable Display PDF in Browser and Fast Web View

Close all browsers. Open Adobe Reader. Choose Edit>Preferences>Internet. In the ‘Web Browser Options’ section, uncheck ‘Display PDF in browser’ and uncheck ‘Allow Fast Web View’. Click ‘OK’ to confirm the change.