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Update on the Upgrade

bblogoWelcome back! Throughout the Fall 2018 semester, SHSU Online Newsletter published several articles regarding the December 2018 upgrade to the Blackboard (Bb) software. We are glad to report that the upgrade was successful! If you have logged into Blackboard this year, you will have noticed some changes to the layout, the design, and the navigational flow.

  • My Courses module appears on the left of your screen, instead of the right. The repositioning of the My Courses module was prompted by changes made across all Blackboard, Inc. servers to make their platform more ADA compliant, as well as to make it mobile friendly.
  • Similarly, the landing page (which is the first tab you see once you log into Blackboard) has been streamlined and reconfigured in order to conform to accessibility guidelines.
  • Course themes are no longer supported in order to encourage accessibility in the online space. Instructors can still make adjustments to the course navigation menu text and background color.

In addition to the reconfiguration and design changes apparent throughout, the upgrade also fixed a few problems we have faced in previous semesters. For instance, some users may have dealt with a stubborn scroll bar in the Grade Center, which effectively blocked student names. This issue has been resolved.

In addition, discussion board threads that would not appear until the page refreshed are now expected to function properly, and Grade Center comments entered in the text box will now save. Finally, a fix we have been eagerly looking forward to is that assignment submissions that were failing in Safari will now work again.

One thing to bear in mind is that while the upgrade fixed a lot of bugs, there are still some wrinkles that Blackboard, Inc., has to iron out on behalf of their clients. An example of this is that in the upgraded version, changes made to course menu buttons in the Teaching Style section of a course will not stick. This means that for the time being, changing the color or the shape of menu buttons will not work. According to Blackboard, Inc., a patch for this “new bug” will be released later this year.

Another issue involves the “Set Grade Center Due Dates” tool. This tool allowed Blackboard instructors to provide due dates for items in the grade center without having to individually edit each assignment/activity. This was a plug-in or “Building Block” in Blackboard that was developed by another university. Unfortunately, that institution is no longer supporting updates to the tool. 

The good news is that Blackboard already has a feature that allows you to update due dates and availability dates in one place! Blackboard’s “Date management” tool will let you adjust dates by the semester/term start date, number of days, or list all days for review. See Blackboard’s help documentation on Date Management for further assistance.

For more information about the recent Blackboard upgrade, please visit the upgrade webpage at Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q4 2018 Release.