Blackboard’s August upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 12th August, and includes a fix for Turnitin assignments in Original courses, improvements to Ultra’s question bank functionality, more exceptions for student assignments in Ultra courses, better Ultra Gradebook filters, more frequent auto-saving of student work, and support for LaTeX equations in Ultra courses. Following the upgrade, staff will also be able to import groups to Ultra courses via CSV upload, and will be provided with more information when using the Ultra Messages tool as to whether messages are sent privately or not to students.

Turnitin problem in Original courses fixed

Currently, when setting up a Turnitin assignment in an Original course, staff manually hide the corresponding column in the Grade Centre in order to prevent students from seeing their grades prior to the feedback release date. However, every time the Turnitin assignment’s settings are edited, the corresponding column in the Grade Centre is automatically un-hidden and staff have to hide it again.

Following the August upgrade, although staff will still need to check that the Grade Centre column is hidden immediately after setting up the assignment, if the Turnitin assignment’s settings are edited the Grade Centre column will now remain hidden.

Ability to manage question banks in Ultra courses

Prior to the August upgrade, staff could import question banks into Ultra courses from Original courses and could re-use them. However, staff could not create new question banks in Ultra courses, or manage/edit the imported question banks. Following the August upgrade, staff will be able to:

  • Create new, empty question banks in their Ultra courses
  • View and search for questions within a question bank
  • Add, edit, and delete all aspects of a question within new and existing question banks
• The new Question Banks interface

Question Banks can be created and managed via ‘Manage banks’ under Question Banks in the Details & Actions menu in Ultra courses.

Additional exceptions available for Blackboard assignments and tests in Ultra courses

Following the August upgrade, staff will be able to offer additional exceptions for individual students when using Blackboard assignments and tests in Ultra courses. The new exceptions options, which can be added from the Ultra Gradebook, allow individual students to be given a later due date, more submission opportunities, or to have access to the test or assignment submission point for longer.

• The new exceptions panel

Improved Gradebook filters in Ultra courses

After August’s upgrade, staff will be able to filter students’ submissions in the Ultra Gradebook by both student status and/or marking status.

Under ‘Student Status’ staff will be able to select from:

  • All Student Statuses
  • No Submission
  • Draft Saved
  • Submitted

And under ‘Marking Status’ staff will be able to select from:

  • All Marking Statuses
  • Needs Marking
  • Needs Posting
  • Completed
  • Nothing to Mark
• New Gradebook filtering option

Improved auto-save functionality for students when using the content editor in Ultra tests and assignments

If students are completing the written component of a test or Blackboard assignment in an Ultra course, their work will now auto-save when they stop typing for two seconds. Students will also see a message displaying the most recent auto-save time, and will be warned if their internet connection drops out.

• Test/assignment with last saved time displayed
• Test/assignment with internet connection lost warning displayed

Improvements to LaTeX equation support in Ultra courses

As well as being able to create equations using the math editor, after the August update, staff using Ultra courses will be able to create LaTeX equations in the content editor. When the text is saved, the LaTeX equations will render as images.

• LaTeX equation written in the Ultra content editor
• LaTeX equation as displayed

Import/Export group sets and members in Ultra courses

Currently, groups in Ultra courses have to be created manually. Following the August upgrade, staff will be able to import and export group sets and members into Ultra courses.

• New import group set option
• Import group set via CSV file upload

Improvement to the Messages tool in Ultra courses

After the August upgrade, messages sent from Ultra courses will declare to staff whether they are being sent to everyone in the group (i.e., all recipients can see who else got the message), or privately to multiple individuals. While it will not be possible to change the way that the messages are sent, this is planned for a future upgrade.

• A group message – all recipients will be able to see who else got the message
• A private message – each recipient will get their own message and will not be able to see who else got the message

More information about safely messaging students from Ultra courses is available in our FAQ, Is it safe to message multiple students in Ultra courses in NILE?

More information

As ever, please get in touch with your learning technologist if you would like any more information about the new features available in the August upgrade: