Introducing Blackboard Learn 9.1 April 2014 Release

A Look At What's Next For Blackboard - May 2015 Upgrade to the "April 2014 Release"

See What's Better

Blackboard Learn, the course management system utilized by Northern Illinois University faculty, staff, teaching assistants, and students, continues to be an important platform for facilitating teaching at learning at NIU, with over 97% of students and 85% of teaching faculty using the system during Fall 2014. Over the past several years, there have been significant upgrades implemented to the system which have added many new features as well as an improved overall user experience.

The upcoming upgrade was be completed over Memorial Day weekend, May 22 - May 25, 2015 and will provide an even more user friendly and modern experience for students and faculty alike. An outage will be necessary to perform the upgrade, and details will be announced as they become available. In this upgrade, many existing features have been improved and some exciting new features added to make the user experience more accessible and efficient. The following is a quick overview of the tools that are now available.

Portfolio **NEW**

The new Portfolio system in this release will entirely replace the legacy portfolio tool currently available. The Portfolio tool is intended primarily as a tool for students to reflect on their own learning or as a tool for assessing student learning. Portfolios created in the existing Portfolio tool will automatically be converted to the new Portfolio framework. 

screenshot of a sample portfolio

Portfolio design in the new system is streamlined, with easier to use options and more attractive templates. Portfolios can include content added by a student as well as from graded Assignments submitted within a course. In addition, portfolios can be easily assigned as an assessment within a course.

For further information see: Portfolios 

Anonymous and Delegated Grading **NEW**

Anonymous & Delegated Grading provides a more useful, robust option and best practice than has been previously available through the "Hide User Names" capability to enable anonymous grading and provides a mechanism for delegating grading to other instructors or teaching assistants.

screenshot of delegated grading page

For further information see: Anonymous & Delegated Grading

Student Preview **NEW**

Previously in Blackboard Learn, the Edit Mode On/Off control was the only way to appropximate a student view. NIU faculty could request a student ID to view their courses, but that was not a convenient process. The new Student Preview features provides faculty with the ability to easily see the course exactly how a student would see it, such as content, Assignments, Tests, Grades, and the Discussion Board. 

screenshot of achievements

For further information see: Student Preview

Assignment and SafeAssignment Integration - Enhancement

In the past, Assignment and SafeAssignment were distinct and separate features. Now, SafeAssign is integrated with the Assignment feature, making it easy to check student submissions for plagiarism by clicking a checkbox when creating an Assignment. In addition, all compatible submissions (including those that have been checked for plagiarism) can now be graded using the inline Grading workflow currently available for Assignments. 

screenshot of Blackboard Assignment options for plagiarism checking

For further information see: Assignments

Learn More

For a complete listing of new features coming in Blackboard 9.1 April 2014 Release, visit

Manuals and quick guides developed by Blackboard are also available in addition to workshops from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

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Last Updated: 4/1/2016