During Winter Break we will be upgrading Blackboard to a new release. LIT has tested Blackboard’s Q2 2018 release and has scheduled an upgrade starting at 8 PM December 20th. As in the past, this upgrade is expected to take 12 hours and LIT staff will test the system when it becomes available on the 21st.
Why upgrade? As we move forward with our LMS review one issue is apparent, all current LMS’s are cloud hosted in SaaS (Software as a Service) environments that permit frequent upgrades with no downtime. Upgrading during each break to a recent release will help the community get comfortable with the increasing pace of change which for some LMS providers is monthly. The rapid pace of change in the LMS space is no different than the changes that occur on our Office 365 implementation or other web-based tools we use.
So what will change? Many of the changes in this release of Blackboard are behind the scenes and include enhancements to the integration tools allowing us to plug tools into Blackboard. Others are visible but cosmetic, such as new branding and theme options, and better presentation of content in the mobile apps.
Other changes have more effects on students and instructors facing such as:
- The ability of students to clear selections from multiple choice questions to avoid a penalty if there are negative points associated with an incorrect answer choice.
- The ability of instructors to allow additional attempts when a prior attempt can’t be cleared due to an anonymous grading state.
- The ability for students and instructors to copy files from cloud storage solutions to Blackboard.
- The ability to create audio/video recordings for the feedback in assignments, tests, graded discussions, wikis, blogs, and journals and also as feedback to manually graded grade center columns.
- The ability for instructors to delete multiple grade center columns at once.
Starting in January we will begin testing the latest release of Blackboard, Q4 2018, for the upgrade at the end of April 2019.