What’s new in Blackboard? – Summer 2018

upgrade_toolbox_webWe upgrade Blackboard each summer to in order to maintain support from the application vendor, ensure compatibility with current browsers, and benefit from new features and enhancements.

Below you will find highlights of new features with links to guides on how to use them.  

With any upgrade some bugs are fixed but some new ones arise, the known issues page linked to further down this page summarises any current issues.  

Updated icon set

Ahead of an updated user interface expected to be introduced in Summer 2019 the icon set has been updated to a more modern aesthetic.

Collapsing course menu

When the web browser falls below a certain size the course menu will collapse.  This maximises the visibility of content.

To reveal the course menu when it has collapsed, click on the icon that appears when you hover your mouse pointer over the bar on the left hand side.

Chemical Notation Support

The math editor found in the Content Editor has been updated to a newer version of WIRIS.

This version adds tools specific to chemistry including an embedded periodic table of elements.

Easily Toggle Course Availability

Within course content areas a padlock icon now appears that signifies whether or not the course is available to students. 

Clicking on the icon will toggle the availability setting on and off.  An unlocked padlock signifies a course is available to students.  A locked padlock signifies that the course is not available to students.

You may continue to make your course available using the earlier methods if you prefer.

Blackboard Assignment Submission Receipts for Students

Students can receive a notification email for each Blackboard assignment attempt with information about their submission. Students can also access receipts at any time on the My Grades page in the submissions filter area. Administrators can optionally disable the email notifications.

This applies to the Blackboard Assignment Feature only.  The Turnitin assignment tool retains its own submission receipt system.

Adjust date restrictions en masse

When a Blackboard course is copied any existing date restrictions on content will also be copied over.

Usually those date restrictions will have become anachronistic. It can be an onerous process to adjust the dates manually.

The date management tool allows you to adjust date restrictions en masse.

Delete multiple Grade Centre columns en masse

Instructors can now more easily clean up their Grade Centre by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items (e.g. tests and surveys) are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Centre.

Important: Deletion of columns and the data contained therein cannot be undone, and so we recommend that this tool is used with caution.

Quickly identify replies to your posts in the discussion board

Keeping up with large Discussion Board forums is made easier by giving participants a count and filter to just look at new replies to their own posts made by others.

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.

But wait… there’s more!

Further updates you may have missed from the 2017 upgrade

“Floating” Submit button

The submit and cancel buttons allow you to confirm or reject an action you are taking in Blackboard.

To save un-necessary scrolling to view options you won’t use, the submit button remains in position floating at the bottom of the browser screen whilst using relevant features.

Instructor Quick Tools

The Instructor Quick Tools link are for power users managing multiple courses.  They allow you to:

– quickly make multiple Blackboard courses available

– send emails and announcements to multiple courses at once.

View photographs of members of your Blackboard course

You can use the class photo roster to show photographs (where available) of users who have access to your course. This includes users with any role including students, instructors, and teaching assistants.

Where a photograph is not available a placeholder image is used.



Drag and drop files from your computer into Blackboard

When you come to attach files to an entry you are submitting to Blackboard you may see a dotted line around the “attach files” box.  This signifies that if you wish you may drag and drop files from your computer into the box as a faster way to attach files than browsing for them one by one.



Receipts for Blackboard Assignment Submissions


When students make a submission using the Blackboard assignment feature they receive an on screen receipt number.

As an instructor you may view the student receipt numbers from submitted assignments.



Send reminders to students who have not yet submitted ‘Bb assignments’, tests or surveys

If you have a Blackboard Assignment, Test, or Survey, you can send reminders to students who have not yet completed the assessment.

Note this does not apply for Assessed blogs, journals, discussion boards, nor TurnItIn assignments. To do that you could use the email button above the Grade Centre instead.



Norwegian Language Pack


Norwegian is now available as a language pack.  In addition the Swedish, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean language packs have been updated.

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.

Make “Deep Links” into your Blackboard course

A “deep link” is a web link that goes directly to a page within a website.

Usually if you copy a link from Blackboard it would only work if the person who follows the link is already logged in.  Our deep link tool will help you to create a deep link into your Blackboard course that will work regardless of whether the person who follows the link is logged in or not.

You can also make a deep link for guest users (users who do not have accounts).  Your course should have guest access enabled for the link to work.  This can be useful if you wish to give a preview of your Blackboard course to colleagues outside of the University, prospective students, employers etc.

New Turnitin GradeMark Interface

As part of the upgrade, a new interface for Turnitin’s GradeMark feature has been introduced.  You can read more about this updated interface here.

New features from the 2016 upgrade

Review what new features were added in the 2016 upgrade.