New Features in Blackboard Learn

What's New in Service Pack 10 for Educators - View the Webinar
SP8 Client Impact on Functionality & Design - Download the Report

Listed below is an overview of the primary new features that faculty and TAs will find in Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 10/11 (SP11). Blackboard most recently upgraded from release 9.1 SP8 to 9.1 SP11 in June 2013.

The written documentation on this page comes from the Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP10 Feature Guide for End Users provided by Blackboard. Additional manuals, quick guides, and tutorials developed by Blackboard are also available in addition to workshops and podcasts from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

My Blackboard

New Feature-Set for All Users

Students and educators have stated that they don't want to go to multiple places to stay up-to-date on what's going on across all their Courses and Organizations in Blackboard. That's why Blackboard has developed the new "My Blackboard" feature. Now, the critical information you need to know from across all of Learn is consolidated in a simple, modern, easily consumable way.

My Blackboard Preview

My Blackboard is about making the lives of students and educators easier. How? Through five new tools that make up My Blackboard – Profile, Posts, Updates, My Grades, and People. Each tool will be discussed in detail below. But first, let's discuss how you access My Blackboard.

New Global Navigation Menu

New Feature for All Users

The entry point to My Blackboard is a new Global Navigation Menu. This new menu is available all the time in the top right corner of the Learn interface and provides one-click access to your Courses, Organizations, Settings, Blackboard Help, and the new My Blackboard tools. You can see the new My Blackboard tools going down the left-hand side of the menu in the screenshot below. And the numbers in red tell you if there's something that’s new or needs your attention – so you never have to worry about missing anything. With this new Global Navigation menu, you can access everything you need quickly and easily, from wherever you are in the Blackboard Learn platform.

Global Navigation Menu

Global Navigation Menu Expanded

My Blackboard: Posts

New Feature for All Users

The Posts tool in My Blackboard makes it really easy to stay up-to-date and engaged with all the conversations going on across Blackboard Learn. The Posts tool consolidates posts from all of your courses and organizations – so posts from Discussion Boards, Journals, Wikis, and Blogs – as well as the comments and replies to those posts. And to make it easy to manage the posts, they’re presented in a familiar, chronological stream interface and there are filter options. With the different filters, you can look at all posts, just those that directly involve you, or you can choose to only look at posts from one particular Course or Organization.

Additionally, with Journal, Wiki, and Blog posts, you can comment right from within the Posts interface or you can click to see the full context of the post in the course environment. With Discussion Board posts, you can click right into the interface in the course environment where you can type your reply. So it’s simple to both stay up-to-date and involved in the conversation.

My Blackboard Posts

My Blackboard: Updates

New Feature for All Users

The Updates tool in My Blackboard consolidates all of your Notifications from across all your Courses and Organizations, so you never miss a thing. This tool updates you on course announcements, when new content or assignments are added to a course, when an assignment or assessment is due, and much more. And educators can also see when assignments and assessments need grading. To make it easy to manage this information, there are filters so you can look at all Notifications at once, only those from one particular Course or Organization, or just all Course Announcements. You can also change your notification preferences and pick exactly what you want to show up in this tool. With these helpful features, you can ensure you're always up-to-date on important updates from across Blackboard Learn.

My Blackboard Updates

My Blackboard: My Grades

New Feature for Students

The My Grades tool found in My Blackboard consolidates all your grades from across all your courses into one view. There's no need to go in and out of all your courses to check your grades. You can quickly see a stream of the latest grades you’ve received, so you never miss a new grade that was posted. When you click on a grade in the stream, you will see additional detail like your instructor's feedback and the class average if your instructor has made it available. You can also click into a Course view if you want to see your grades by course. For each Course, you can see your current overall grade (if your instructor has made it available to you), as well as graded items in the course, submitted items that haven't been graded yet, and upcoming assignments and assessments. My Grades is the only place you need to go to check your grades.

My Blackboard Grades

See further information at: My Blackboard

New Content Editor

Enhancement for All Users

The new and improved Content Editor enables simple content creation through an easy to use interface. The editor reads, writes and renders modern HTML – so the content you created in Microsoft Word and the course pages you designed so carefully in Dreamweaver will render with great fidelity within Blackboard Learn. We’ve made sure that the essential functions you need are there – the ability to resize images, find/replace, and simple icons in the toolbar for everyday tasks. And you can easily add rich content by pulling in mashups from YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, and more. Another great feature of the new Content Editor is that you can expand it for full-frame editing, giving you a lot more real estate to build rich content.

Content Editor

Additionally, there is a new math editor in Blackboard Learn that simplifies creation and delivery of equations by enabling editing directly from the Content Editor. The new math editor supports saving and copy/paste of equations using mathML.

Math Editor

Item Analysis

New Feature for Educators

The new Item Analysis feature helps you easily refine your tests and quizzes by evaluating the quality and validity 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 you can quickly correct them with the Automatic Regrade feature.

As an educator, you will be able to access an at-a-glance summary of your Blackboard assessments (see below). This summary provides insight into student performance on that assessment and how the question items performed.

Item Analysis

And from this summary page, when you scroll down, you can see a list of questions sorted in order of discrimination – with the most ineffective listed on top. A simple red dot next to a question tells you if the question requires review.

Summary Page

After examining the question, you can see whether it was poor wording, vague answer choices or some other factor. If you decide to change or update that question, you can immediately take action right from this page by clicking the “Edit Test” button. You will be taken directly to the assessment where you can use the automatic regarding feature to either update or delete the question and regrade it – even if students have already completed the assessment. And the updates flow automatically into the Grade Center. In summary, with the new Item Analysis feature, you can quickly and easily ensure that your assessments are successful discriminators of student performance.

See further information at: Item Analysis

Fill in the Blank Question Enhancement

Enhancement for Educators

Educators can now take advantage of using "contains" and "pattern match" logic when grading Fill in the Blank questions. That means you no longer have to rely upon an exact match for Blackboard Learn to automatically grade these questions. So you no longer have to enter multiple answer choices when creating a Fill in the Blank question in order for Blackboard to grade the question for you. For example, let's say your test question is "Who was the first president of the United States?" Instead of trying to enter all possible correct answers for the blank (George Washington, Washington, President Washington, President George Washington, etc.), you can simply select "contains" and type Washington.

Fill in the Blank Question

Integrating External Tools

Enhancement for Educators

Blackboard Learn allows you to integrate third-party tools into your course. These tools use the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard to connect Blackboard to the tool. If you use external resources that require logins for activities, such as virtual science experiments, interactive demonstrations, or assessments, you can specify a web link as a Link to a Tool Provider. Depending on configuration, this can then pass user information to the Tool Provider, creating a seamless experience for your students. Service Pack 10 now allows these Tool Providers to post grades directly to the Blackboard Learn Grade Center, making management of assignments much easier for you.

Adding Link to External Tool

File Picker Enhancement

Enhancement for All Users

A new and improved File Picker will be available everywhere you attach files. The goal with Service Pack 10 was to de-clutter the page, remove unnecessary functionality and make the primary action of choosing a file as easy and simple as possible. The new File Picker will be available for both direct file attaching, as in Assignments, or attaching files via the Content Editor.

File Picker

Inline Assignment Grading

Enhancement for Educators

Inline Assignment Grading is a revision to the workflow for grading Assignments in Blackboard Learn. Instead of requiring Instructors to download student-submitted files to view or edit those submissions, Instructors will now be able to view student-submitted files “inline,” i.e. in the web browser, without requiring any plugins, applets, or client-side applications. Additionally, annotation tools will be made available as part of the inline viewer, enabling Instructors to provide feedback including comments, highlights, and even drawings/annotations directly on the inline view of the document.

Inline Assignment Grading

See futher information at: Inline Grading

Retention Center

Enhancement for Educators

The Retention Center provides an easy-to-use data visualization and pre-configured rules for identifying at-risk students in a course. Because it requires no set up on the part of the instructor or administrator, it automatically calls out students who may need the instructor’s attention, making it easy for instructors to catch and respond to risk factors quickly, while there is time to help the at-risk students succeed in the course.

Retention Center

See further information at: Rentention Center

New Calendar

Enhancement for All Users

A new and improved Calendar significantly enhances the Calendar features in Blackboard Learn. Students and instructors can view items that are past due, due today, or due this week by navigating to the overview capability in My Blackboard.

New Calendar

Calendar events are color coded to indicate which place/entity they are associated. Easily add calendar events by clicking on a date and adding an item. Items with due dates automatically appear on the calendar. Faculty can move calendar events by dragging and dropping them to a new date. The due date on the associated item is automatically updated. Users can click through calendar events directly to the associated item. Calendar honors adaptive release and availability rules. External calendars can subscribe to events created on the Blackboard Learn calendar through an iCalendar feed. When reusing content through course copy, archive/restore or import/export, the course calendar events are propagated to the new course.

See further information at: Calendar

Blackboard Drive

Enhancement for All Users

Blackboard Drive is new desktop software that provides choice and simplicity in how you create, access, manage and edit the files you store in the Content Collection of Blackboard Learn. With Blackboard Drive installed on your computer, you don’t have to go to the Blackboard web interface to edit and manage files you store in the Content Collection. Blackboard Drive brings all your files and folders to the desktop by mapping a lettered network drive on Windows or a shared volume on Mac. This means you can work directly from your desktop or with desktop tools like Windows Explorer, Mac OSX Finder and Microsoft Office and the changes are automatically reflected in Blackboard.

editing files and folders as mapped drive letter

In addtion, editing files from the Blackboard Content Collection in the web interface becomes just a three-step process – open, edit, save. You will no longer waste time saving edited files on your computer, locating them, and uploading them back to the Blackboard server. This cuts the editing process in half!

edit files directly from within Blackboard Content Collection

The written documentation on this page comes from the Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP10 Feature Guide for End Users provided by Blackboard. Additional manuals, quick guides, and tutorials developed by Blackboard are also available in addition to workshops and podcasts from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

Last Updated: 3/24/2016