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We have just upgraded our Blackboard environment from SP11 to SP14. With this new version of Blackboard improvements and new features have become available. The most important new features and improvements are:
- Security improvements and bugfixes
- Content editor Math formulas – the equation editor has been replaced by the mathML equation editor (WIRIS) so it is now possible to enter simple Latex directly in the content editor. On the WIRIS LaTeX support page you can find several examples on how to use simple LaTeX.
- Date Management - After a course is copied, it is possible to speed up the transition of old dates to new ones relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management, instructors can adjust all availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates. Instructors can choose to update dates automatically or manually from one convenient location.
- Grade Center improvements - Blackboard has made several improvements to grading and the Grade Center.
Unfortunately a new version does not only fix bugs, it usually means new bugs as well. We have been testing this new version the last couple of weeks and did not run into any critical bugs. For security reasons it is important that we keep our Blackboard version up to date. We will keep you informed about the existing bugs and will help you and provide a workaround if possible.
Please check this weblog if you would like to be informed of any news regarding Blackboard and/or the upgrade process or follow us on twitter @TUDelftBb
For questions about Blackboard please contact E-Learning support (ELS@TUDelft.NL of 89194 )
We have noticed that many workstations at the TU Delft run Internet Explorer 10 (in compatibility mode) which is known to cause issues in combination with using Blackboard. Safari 6 works without any issues, but we have noticed that Safari 7 and 8 unfortunately don’t support all functionalities in Blackboard. As a result of this, we advise users to use either Chrome or Firefox when using Blackboard as these browsers are the most stable and have the least performance issues.
If you do use IE10 you will have to take note of the following known issue:
When running IE10 in Compatibility mode, Blackboard will not load as expected and the various tabs to access content are not visible. To use IE10 in standard mode, you can use the following work around:
1. Open your browser, and go to https://blackboard.tudelft.nl. You will see a file icon behind the url: If the icon is dark blue, it means that the compatibility mode is switched on in IE10 (see screenshot below). If the file icon is light blue IE10 is not running in compatibility mode and you don’t have do do anything.
NOTE! : If you do not see the above mentioned file-icon to indicate if you are working in compatibility mode, and you are experiencing problems with your IE browser, you can also try the following steps:
- Press on the ALT button and a menu bar will appear at the top of the screen.
- click on the tools menu, and go to the item “Compatibility View Settings”; click on it.
- in the pop-up, please deselect the option “Display all websites in Compatibility View” and click close.
If you continue to experience problems with your browser after trying this work around, please contact E-Learning Support (ELS) at email@example.com or 89194.
The weekend before Christmas, we will be upgrading our current Blackboard 9.1 SP11 environment to SP14. We will be starting the upgrade process on Friday evening December 19th around 18:00 hrs and will be working throughout the weekend. We hope to have the new version up and running by Sunday night December the 21st.
Please keep in mind that Blackboard will be unavailable during this period and that if you have any deadlines during this time frame that you make alternative arrangements.
More information about the coming upgrade will become available on the ICT Maintenance page this week. Osiris and all other systems can be reached as normal during the Blackboard upgrade.
With the new Service Pack several bugs that are currently in Blackboard are fixed, a couple of tools have been improved, and new features will become available. Next week you can expect a blog post with the highlights of Blackboard 9.1 SP14.
Blackboard is back online. Unfortunately not on the new version. During the upgrade we ran into some issues we knew we could not solve in time to be back online again tomorrow. Therefor we decided to restore Blackboard, so it is still the same as it was this morning before we started the upgrade.
We had hoped to be on the new version now. We are going to sort out, what causes the issues and prepare for a new upgrade probably just before Christmas.
Our read-only environment is corrupted due to the restore, but we do not need that environment at the moment. Blackboard is back online and we will stay online.
Since we had to postpone the upgrade we have been making new plans. We have weighed our options and we have decided that we are not going to wait until the Christmas Holidays. We are going to perform the upgrade this Monday and Tuesday.
We know this is short notice, but now, with so many people on holiday, is the best time. For those who are preparing for the exams. We have a copy of Blackboard on our test environment. Just go to Blackboard and we will redirect you to this application. Please Note: changes to this application will not be saved to our production environment! If you can’t find what you need here, please contact ELS (ELS@tudelft.nl of 89194), so they can assist you.
We hope not to disturb to many people, but not upgrading was a very big disappointment. Keeping Blackboard up to date is important in many way’s. There are security reasons, bug fixes and of course new functionalities.
We will keep you informed of the progress by means of this weblog and our twitter account @TUDelftBb.
If you have any questions, please call or e-mail E-Learning Support (firstname.lastname@example.org 015-2789194). They will makes sure your questions will be placed by the right people, and you will be contacted.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Blackboard upgrade is postponed.
We had to make the difficult decision to postpone the Blackboard upgrade due to a major issue we were not able to fix. The upgrade will not be possible before the start of the new academic year. A new date will be scheduled after consulting all parties involved.
The blocking issue, which we discovered during our test process, turned out to have more influence within Blackboard than we first thought. The last few weeks we haven been working on solving this issue together with the support staff from Blackboard, but we were not able to come to a satisfying result.
As soon as we know more about the new upgrade plan we will inform you.
The preparations of the Blackboard upgrade are ongoing. We will be upgrading to the new version starting on Friday evening July 18th and hope to be back online Sunday afternoon July 20th. The Blackboard courses for 2014-2015 will be available in the first week of August.
This new version of Blackboard will give us new functionalities, and bugfixes. The most important new functionalities and improvements are:
- Security improvements and bugfixes
- New portfolio’s – Portfolios are now accessed from the global navigation (top right corner) and have a new authoring canvas. Instructors can create portfolio assignments.
- Content editor Math formulas – the equation editor is replaced by the mathML equation editor (WIRIS) so simple Latex is possible directly in the content editor.
- Profiles – You can share your avatar and study with other users, just for now. We are looking into the more advanced options, but have to make sure this will not cause performance issues before turning those extra social options on.
- Student Preview – Instructors can view their course exactly as a student does by using a student account the system generates for them by clicking on the icon next to the Edit Mode. (The first time opening the student preview will take some time)
- Delegated Grading – Instructors can delegate grading to specific users.
- Date Management – After a course is copied, it is possible to speed up the transition of old dates to new ones relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management, instructors can adjust all availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates. Instructors can choose to update dates automatically or manually from one convenient location.
- Safe Assignment improvements - SafeAssign is integrated into regular Learn assignments. You do not have to choose between an Assignment and a SafeAssignment anymore. Just create an assignment and choose SafeAssign in the assignment options. The SafeAssign originality report has been changed as well.
- Grade Center improvements – Blackboard has made several improvements to grading and Grade Center.
- My Grades – The look and feel of My Grades has been updated. Students can now view feedback by clicking View Feedback.
Unfortunately a new version does not only fix bugs, it usually means new bugs as well. We have been testing this new version the last couple of months and did not run into any critical bugs. For security reasons it is important that we keep our Blackboard version up to date. We will keep you informed about the existing bugs and will help you and provide a workaround if possible.
In August there will be an open office by E-Learning Support (ELS). If you have any questions or issues, please come by, we will make time to sit down with you and help you as best as we can.
Due to the upgrade Blackboard is not available from Friday evening July 18th until Sunday July 20th. We will do our best to be back online again as soon as possible. Osiris can be reached during the Blackboard upgrade. The new Blackboard courses for 2014-2015 will be available the first week of August. They are created according to the data from CourseBase.
Please check this weblog if you would like to be informed of the upgrade progress or follow us on twitter @TUDelftBb
For questions about the upgrade or Blackboard please contact E-Learning support (ELS@TUDelft.NL of 89194 )
Internet Explorer Security Update Causes IE11 to Crash when an Instructor Accesses a Blackboard Learn Course
Microsoft has released a new version of Internet Explorer (IE), which is causing Internet Explorer 11 to crash when an instructor is accessing a Blackboard Learn course that has Edit Mode turned on.
Browsers are developing faster; they release new versions every month. Application like Blackboard get access to these new version the same time as we do. Blackboard has acknowledged this issue and is working on a solution.
BB Article summary:
On February 11th, 2014, Microsoft released a Cumulative Security Update, MS14-010. This security update causes Internet Explorer 11 to crash when an instructor accesses any Blackboard Learn course that has Edit Mode turned on. This security update was pushed to all Windows users with IE11. More information about the security update can be found here:
Please be assured that Blackboard is currently investigating this issue and developing patches to correct it.
The following link highlights the new platform and browser configurations tested for SP 11 using the following support terms:
- Certified: Fully supported technology with highest level of testing before release.
- Compatible: Fully supported technology with minimal level of testing before release.
- Unsupported: Unsupported technology because it is either impossible or not tested.
- Provisional: (Client Technologies ONLY) future technologies considered supported by Blackboard Support.
This summer we will upgrade Blackboard to version 9.1 SP11. Due to the upgrade Blackboard is not available from Sunday evening July 14th up to and including Wednesday July 17th. The new blackboard contains bugfixes and some new features of which the most important are summarized in the following sections.
Global Navigation & My Blackboard
The navigation menu accessible through My Places is replaced by a new and more comprehensive navigation menu. The new Global Navigation Menu is a gateway to My Blackboard and provides an one click access to other important places in Blackboard. This navigation menu can be accessed from anywhere in Blackboard and includes:
- Links to recently visited courses and organizations
- Links to other courses and organizations
- Links to Retention Center
- Personal settings
- List of posts (in Discussion Board, Blog, Journal or Wiki)
- List of updates in courses (newly added content)
- My Grades (for students)
- Home and Help links
See video for look and feel.
The Retention Center is an instructor-only tool that enables instructors to get early insight into student performance and give focused attention to students who need it. It replaces the Early Warning System feature with easy workflows, while retaining all existing Early Warning System data and rules. With the Retention Center instructors can:
- Check the overall academic health of their class.
- Find out which students needs their help and drill in to see their specific areas of difficulty.
- Contact the most at-risk students immediately and flag those you want to monitor closely by looking into:
- Missed Deadlines
- Course Activity
- Course Access
- Use course activity information to prioritize which areas of the course to attend to first.
See video for look and feel.
The new Discussion Board is more user friendly and easier to manage than the current Discussion Board. Some of these improvements are mentioned below:
- Discussion Board structure is immediately clear:
- All posts belonging to a thread can be seen at one once resulting in fewer clicks.
- Less meta-info that diverts attention from discussions.
- Get an easy overview all posts with the Collapse All feature.
- Much larger textboxes for discussion texts.
- The use of background colours to emphasize the difference between original post and reply posts.
- Control buttons can be found and used more easily:
- Less buttons and the buttons appear only when you want to use them.
- New Posts in discussion board can be seen at once. Users are informed about new discussion board posts through their course homepage in the What’s new module.
- Avatars: user profile avatars are more prominent in the discussions.
- Post First Setting – instructors can use a new forum setting to require students to post to a forum before they can see other students’ posts.
See video for look and feel.
The new blackboard offers a way for instructors an easy and time saving way to assess uploaded work of students without the need to download submitted files. When an Instructor views a document submitted through an Assignment, that document is converted to a format that is viewable inside the web browser. The converted document is displayed in a viewer on the Grade Assignment page. The viewer has a toolbar with following features:
- Comment – Shows a menu of all annotation tools.
- Annotation tools enable instructors to provide feedback — comments, highlights, and even drawing — directly on the inline view of the document
- Can be combined with rubrics.
- Download – Downloads a copy of the document. If annotations have been made, there is an option to download the copy in the original format or in a PDF version that includes the annotations. This feature is also available to students when they view their submission.
See video for look and feel.
New Content editor
The new content editor allows you to add and format text, insert equations and hyperlinks, tables, and attach different types of files to content. It contains the following features:
- Text: align full, find/replace, block quote, CSS editing, insert non-breaking spaces, anchors, symbols, and emoticons.
- Tables: set row and cell properties, insert and delete rows and cells, split and merge cells.
- Help button shows a full legend of the content editor functions
- Automatic HTML validation
- Full screen editing
- Automatic clean-up of code when copying and pasting from Word (choosing Mashups > Paste from Word is no longer necessary, you can paste the text directly)
- Supports copying and pasting of MathML formulas and equations directly in the editor.
- Basic operations, Matrix calculus, Calculus and series, Logic and set theory, Units, Greek alphabet, and more.
- Automatically converts formulas and equations to images so that users do not need download an applet to view them. The formulas and equations remain editable by the author.
See video for look and feel.
Video Everywhere is a feature of the content editor and very suitable for distant learning. Once installed and activated, you will see a new icon in the content editor that accesses your webcam. The feature provides the ability for instructors and students to:
- Record a video on the fly using a webcam and have it seamlessly embedded in course materials, interactions, and feedback through the content editor.
- Reuse previously recorded videos by choosing from one’s own “library” of videos.
See video for look and feel.
In August there will be an open office by E-Learning Support (ELS). There will be a daily presentation with various subjects. One of the presentations will give you an overview of all changes within Blackboard. The first week of August, the courses for next academic year will be produced.
Due to the upgrade Blackboard is not available from Sunday evening July 14th up to and including Tuesday July 16th. Osiris can be reached.
Please check this weblog if you would like to be informed of the progress of the upgrade.