Scheduled Blackboard Outage 12/18 – 12/20

We will be upgrading our Blackboard environment to the latest version of Blackboard Learn 9.1 (Q4 2018), and migrating our environment from Managed Hosted by Blackboard to Blackboard’s cloud-based hosting service known as SaaS (Software as a Service). This will take us completely offline for 2 days starting Tuesday, December 18th at 12:01 AM CST through Thursday, December 20th at 12:01 AM CST.

We will be doing a full migration of data, which means all existing content and database records will be moved.

Benefits of SaaS

  • Zero or minimal downtime during updates: With a cloud-based environment, we will no longer need to take our environment down for long periods of time to receive feature updates and enhancements and fixes.
  • Improved quality: Blackboard can now deliver maintenance, feature updates, and fixes to our environment faster and more frequently than ever before.

New Features in 9.1

Engagement & Efficiency

  • Cloud Storage Integration: Instructors – you can upload documents from their preferred cloud storage accounts – including OneDrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox – directly into your courses when authoring content items or creating assignments. Students – you can do the same when uploading assignments.
  • Enhanced accessibility: To make it easier for users of assistive technologies to navigate the structure of pages, skip links now work more consistently across Learn tool areas.
  • Nynorsk Language Support: Support for Nynorsk (written Norwegian) has been added.

Assessment & Grading

  • Download Annotated PDFs: A highly requested feature, instructors and students can now download annotated files for permanent record using in-line grading. DOC, DOCX, or PDF files with annotations will download as an annotated PDF. Students can download the annotated file after their submission has been graded.
  • Grading in Blackboard Instructor App: Instructors can now grade assignments in the Blackboard Instructor mobile app. They can review assignment submissions and attachments, provide comments and inline annotations, grade with rubrics, and publish grades to students – making this the easiest way to grade on the go.

If you run into any issues after the upgrade is complete, please contact us at: or submit a ticket with the ITS Helpdesk.

Updated 12/4/18

Scheduled Blackboard Outage 4/30/18

An upgrade to the Q4 2017 CU2 Release is scheduled to be performed to our Blackboard Learn system to address some maintenance needs and add enhanced features. This will take us completely offline for 12 hours starting Monday, April 30th at 10:00 PM CST through Tuesday, May 1st at 10:00 AM CST.  Faculty and students, please make all arrangements necessary to submit assignments or exams either before or after this time.

Faculty with classes Tuesday morning on campus before 10:00 AM will not be able to take attendance or enter grades in Blackboard while it is offline during this time. All Online classes will also be unavailable during this time.

With this upgrade will come new features!

Efficiency Enhancements

  • Grade Center Cleanup: Instructors can now more easily clean up their grade books by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.
  • Collaborate Ultra Sessions for Groups: Instructors can now add Collaborate Ultra sessions to Groups. If instructors allow, students can share content and use the whiteboard, as well as create recordings.
  • Discussion Board “Replies to Me”: Keeping up with large Discussion Board forums is easier by giving participants a count and filter to just look at new replies from others to posts made by the participant.
  • Chemistry 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.
  • Rubric Auto-save:  Selected levels of performance and feedback when grading with rubrics are automatically saved to the attempt as draft when the rubric is saved.
  • Improved course copy: Institutions often use courses as templates for future instruction. There is now a solution that keeps track of your placement so your content is not lost. The source course ID and content ID is tracked during course copy (and possibly archive/export) and the parameters are passed along with the launch in the respective history parameters.

Accessibility and Access

  • Mobile Optimization & Responsiveness: This release further expands the areas of Blackboard Learn suitable for use on mobile devices when using the Learn 2016 theme.
    • Blogs and Journals have been better optimized for use on mobile devices. Posts and comments composed with responsive content will render on smaller devices. Options for filtering posts or navigating groups or users will appear below currently viewed posts.
    • System Navigation of tabs and accessing the contents on those tabs is optimized for mobile devices. A menu icon (“hamburger” icon) typically found on many mobile web sites is used to switch between tabs and access My Blackboard.
    • Access and closure of the Course Menu is optimized for mobile devices.
  • Accessibility Improvements
    • ARIA landmarks have been incorporated in the course menu and the content area to better define the page structure and assist users with screen readers in navigating page elements.
    • First-time User Overlay removed: When a user first logged in to Blackboard Learn with the Original experience, an overlay appeared on the screen to highlight key navigation elements. The overlay caused a frustrating user experience for those using assistive technologies and has been removed to improve overall accessibility.

If you run into any issues after the upgrade is complete, please contact us at: or submit a ticket with the ITS Helpdesk.

Updated 4/23/18