Blackboard Updates – December 2018

On Sunday December 16, 2018 Odessa College will be installing the 2017 Q4 Service Pack to Blackboard. This service pack comes with some new features and improvements for the instructional side that you’ll want to know about! See the list below for all the changes that are coming.

Chemistry Notation Support

The math editor function that is part of the content editor will contain tools specific to chemistry notation, including an embedded periodic table of elements. To see the Chemistry Notation information, go to the text editing area of any available content/assessment item in Blackboard and click on the toolbar button to launch the Math Editor.

BB Update - Chemistry Notation

Click on the “Greek and Letters” tab on the list of options across the top of the new window, and then select the expandable arrow function on the far right of the tool ribbon row to display the periodic table.

Blackboard Update - Chemistry Notation

Course Availability / Updating

Instructor users in courses will be able to more easily see the availability state of a course and change that availability from the main course view. Previously, to change course viewing availability, instructors would have had to have gone through Control Panel –> Customization –> Properties –> Set Course Availability. Now, instructor users will be able to change course availability on and off easily from a padlock icon that will be located in the upper-right corner of their Blackboard course screen. It is located next to the edit mode and student preview functions.  When the padlock is open, it means the course is available and students will be able to see it  (assuming that the time falls within the defined display after and display until dates of the course).

BB Update - Course Availability Icon

The closed red padlock icon means that the course is completely unavailable to students regardless of what display-after and display-until dates are set.

BB Update - Course Availability Icon

SCORM Player Update

The integrated SCORM player is updated to a newer version and improves playback of responsive content. Instructors that are interested in using third-party software that utilizes SCORM content will now have wider range of support for a larger variety of SCORM activities.

BB Update - Scorm Player

Collaborate Ultra for Groups

An update to the Collaborate Ultra building block through this service pack will allow instructors to now add a Collaborate room option to any student groups that they create within a course. You will see this tool as a new tool option when first creating groups (and also when editing group tools).

BB Update - Collaborate Rooms for Groups

Grade Center


When grading with rubrics, Instructors can now save feedback in a rubric and the content feedback remains saved when changing from simple/inline rubric view to detailed rubric view, or visa versa (you must make sure to click the SAVE RUBRIC button after you’ve entered feedback, before switching views, for this to work).

Blackboard Update - Rubric Feedback Update for Views

Grade Display

Grade display has been standardized. Grades will support up to five decimal points, aren’t rounded, and are consistent for all display types.

BB Update - Grade Center

Delete Multiple Grade Columns

Instructors will be able to delete multiple grade center columns at once. We recommend that you exercise EXTREME CAUTION when using this feature! Make sure that you only select columns that you REALLY need to delete. Also make sure that the columns do not have any student submitted work or grades in them, and that they are not tied to an assessment item still available in the course.

BB Grade Center - Manage and Delete Multiple Columns

Send Email Option Customization

Instructor users will now be able to control the options that student users are able to see when they access the “Send Email” tool in their courses in Blackboard. By default, the “Send Email” tool contains a large list of different sending options – and sometimes this can be overwhelming for students to try and figure out which one to use. You can limit their choices – making this tool much more simple to use.  To customize the Send Email options that appear, go to Control Panel –> Customization –> Tool Availability.

Scroll down through the list of available course tools until you find the Email tool. You’ll notice an editing chevron beside it. Click on that and select the “Email Settings” option.

On this page you’ll be able to see all the different sending options. De-select any that you do not want users to be able to see. Options on the list that are grayed out are options that have already been disabled system wide by BB System Admins.

BB Update - Email Options

Blogs, Journals, Discussions

Blogs and Journals

The blog and journal tools are optimized for use on mobile devices to be more responsive.

Discussion Board

Discussion Boards will now have an additional filter called “Replies to Me” that will make it easier for users to filter discussion threads into new replies from others to that individual participant. This will be particularly helpful in large classes where discussion threads get really large! The view of “Replies to Me” can be seen in two areas. The first is the main discussion forum. There will be a new column called “Replies to Me” added to the page. This column is sortable! Users can click on the heading title to sort the page threads to only show threads where replies have been made to them.

If a user clicks on a thread where replies have been made to them, they will also see a clickable collection-summary number in the upper-right corner of the thread display screen.

If users don’t want to sort through a multitude of threads just to find the ones where they are getting replied to, they can click on the number in the “replies to me” box and it will take them to a Collection page where all of the replies specific to that user for that thread will be grouped together for easier viewing.

Blackboard Discussion Update - Replies to Me Option

Mobile Improvements

Navigation improvements have been made to the Original Experience for the system and course menus.

Blackboard Update - Mobile Navigation Improvements

If you have any questions about these new features or experience any issues with the new service pack once it is installed, please reach out to OC Global immediately ( so that we can help to quickly address and resolve the issue.

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