What’s new in Blackboard? – Summer 2016

upgrade_toolbox_webOver the weekend of June 25/26/27 iSolutions will upgrade Blackboard. 

This upgrade will bring a number of useful feature enhancements, and some important background technological updates. 

Below you will find higlights of new features with links to guides on how to use them.  You can also read about the technological updates. 

With any upgrade some bugs are fixed but some new ones arise, a known issues list summarises any important issues as we become aware of them.

HTML 5 Support for Video and Audio Clips


Whilst we recommend using Panopto to stream large videos you can now use Blackboard to host short video and audio clips within your course and have then play via HTML5 playback.
This will provide the highest level of compatibility with modern web browsers and devices. It also means that those who view the videos no longer have to deal with unstable plugins such as QuickTime which are no longer supported within Chrome or Firefox


Useful for: Students and Staff

Bahasa Melayu, Czech, Polish, and Thai Language Packs


New language packs have been added providing support for Bahasa Melayu, Czech, Polish, and Thai.

These may be selected by individuals so that Blackboard’s features appear in that language (course materials are not translated), courses may also be set to appear in those languages, as is current practice in many of our language teaching courses.


Useful for: Students and Staff

Thread to thread navigation within Discussion Forums


An improvement has been made when working within course discussion forums.

Whilst viewing or posting with a thread, a handy button allows you to navigate between separate discussion threads within a forum.

This makes it faster to use the discussion board: previously course members would have no option other than to leave the thread they were viewing, go back to the list of threads within the forum, and then enter the next thread.

With this enhancement course members may now quickly jump from thread to thread within the same forum.

Useful for: Students and Staff

Calendar enhancements

calendarUpdates to the calendar functionality have provided two new benefits when using the calendar:

– Choose whether the calendar should be based on the Gregorian calendar, the Hijiri calendar, or a mix of both.

– Choose on which day the week begins. (Sunday, Monday, or Saturday)


Useful for: Students and Staff


Support for Microsoft Edge and Windows 10

edgeWindows 10 introduced a new browser from Microsoft named Microsoft Edge.

This version of Blackboard will be the first that has been fully tested with Windows 10 and which brings full support for the Microsoft Edge web browser.


Useful for: Students and Staff

New default duration setting for announcements

announcenewAn improvement has been made when creating course announcements.

Previously the default setting for the announcement duration when creating a new announcement was for it to be date restricted.

Feedback from the global user community to the vendor resulted in their decision to change the default setting so that no date restriction is the default option.

This does not prevent setting date restricted announcements, it simply means that the most commonly used setting is the default choice, which can be changed when creating an announcement.

Useful for: Staff

Spell Check now enabled by default


When entering text into the text editor, the UK English spell check is now enabled by default and will highlight spelling mistakes as you type.


Useful for: Students and Staff



A description of the forum is shown when making a new discussion thread.


Along with the thread to thread navigation another subtle improvement has been made to the discussion thread creation process.


When posting a new discussion thread in a discussion board, the forum description is shown to the poster.  This assures the poster that they are creating their new thread in the appropriate forum.


Useful for: Students and Staff

Embed your unlisted YouTube videos into Blackboard.



When adding YouTube videos to your course via the mash up feature you will not see your own unlisted videos when you search for them.

An adjustment to the deprecated Video Anywhere feature will now allow you to sign into your YouTube account and post videos from that account including unlisted videos.

Useful for: Students and Staff

Support for Chromebooks

ChromebookThe version of Blackboard to which we have upgraded is the first to officially support Chromebooks.

More than 2000 members of the University of Southampton use Chromebooks and we are very happy to report that this operating system is now officially supported.

From the above linked page you can find the full list of officially supported browsers and operating systems.

Useful for: Students and Staff

Technology Improvements

databaseThe backend database used by Blackboard will be upgraded during our yearly downtime from version 11 to version 12.  This brings the Blackboard database onto the newest supported version of Oracle.

The database upgrade is expected to take one of the two allotted days (with one day remaining as a contingency) due to the amount of data held within Blackboard and its complexity.

Known Issues

bugsWith any system upgrade new bugs can creep in that cause problems.  As we find and verify them we will post them here.

New features from previous upgrade

Review what new features were added in the previous upgrade.