Blackboard Upgrade 2014 – What’s new?

welcomecFollowing the upgrade to Blackboard there are a number of exciting new features available along with an updated interface. This page summarises what Blackboard users at the University of Southampton need to know. A shorter summary is available on our blog at

While we have updated more than 100 of our Blackboard guides we still have more work to do and will be updating all our pages to account for the updates and changes to Blackboard over the coming months.

Below is a summary of the main changes. On the left is the information you really must know. On the right are the links to where you can find instructions on using the new features.

Watch this 6 minute video for an overview of some of the changes

Achievements, Badges, and Certificates in Blackboard

Instructors can reward students on their Blackboard courses with achievements in the form of badges and certificates. These can be set up so that students receive the badge or certificate when they have fulfilled certain criteria that the instructor has set, for example achieving a certain level in a test, completing certain course activities, and participating in group work. In non-academic uses of Blackboard badges and achievements can be used to demonstrate extra-curricular activities. If students use Mozilla Open Backpack they can take their badges to their backpack where they can display them to potential employers and other interested parties.

Web Browser / Operating System Compatibility List for Blackboard

Find out what web browsers are supported for using Blackboard.

Internet Explorer 8 and Blackboard

If you are a member of staff using a Windows UDE computer and if it are still using Internet Explorer 8 then you must install a different web browser to use with Blackboard. Follow this link to find instructions on how to do this.

Learn about the updated interface

Watch two videos showing you how the interface has been updated to remove on-screen clutter.

Adding content from is a library of high-quality video tutorials on a wide range of software and business topics. To embed a course into your Blackboard module follow this guide.

Using Blackboard's Global Navigation

Blackboard’s “Global Navigation” is an area that is always shown at the top right corner wherever you are in Blackboard. Beside your name a number appears telling you how many notifications there are for you to view regarding news about and changes to your Blackboard courses.

New Text Editor

The text editor has been updated to use “true HTML” and have much better handling of tables and other elements. A “full screen” mode is also available. The text editor also supports copy and paste from Word without requiring the special “Paste From Word” mashup.

Video Everywhere

Blackboard now allows you to create videos using your web cam and post them within the text you are writing. The system does this by linking into your YouTube account and using this to create an “unlisted” video that is only known to you and those with whom you share it, e.g. other people on your Blackboard course.


You can now upload a picture to be used as your Blackboard avatar (150×150 pixels). This is shown at various parts of the course.

Retention Centre

Blackboard’s Retention Centre alerts you to students who meet rules that may indicate their educational experience is at risk on each of your courses. Each course is set up with some predetermined rules and you may add your own.

New Blackboard Assignment Features

Blackboard has added some new aspects to this feature, namely online marking, delegated marking, anonymous marking and rubrics.

New Discussion Board

The look and feel of the discussion board has been refreshed and looks much more contemporary. User avatars are shown beside discussion board posts. Instructors can set their discussion board so that students must post an introductory message before being permitted to view the rest of the forum, to encourage interaction.

Student Preview

Student preview is a feature that allows Blackboard course instructors to review their course in the exact same way as a student.

Course Themes

Instructors will have the opportunity to change the colour scheme of their course from a preset selection

Updated test deployment options

There are a number of improvements to the quiz engine, including staggered feedback and auto-submit

Improved Group Administration

The groups feature has been improved. It is now possible to create Grade Centre smart views based on group membership, and upload group members via a CSV file.