For more than 15 years, Blackboard Learn has been the foundation for educational programs throughout the world, ranging from K-12 to global higher education to corporate learning. With all of the talk around the Ultra experience for Blackboard Learn and Collaborate and our SaaS deployment options, it’s important for us to make sure that you know that we are investing heavily in Blackboard Learn 9.1 and will continue to do so in the future.
Since this is already an extremely feature-rich learning platform, we are listening to your feedback. We are focusing on stabilizing and strengthening its quality and performance aspects so that it can continue to support you, whether you’re just moving courses online or if you have fully online distance learning programs.
In lieu of this April’s traditional release, we issued cumulative updates (CUs) to further strengthen Learn 9.1 and make sure that the vast majority of you could move to the October 2014 release of Learn 9.1 successfully and uneventfully. Now that we have a large percentage of customers on this release, we’re returning to a bi-annual release cadence for Blackboard Learn. Specifically, our next two releases are planned for Q4 2015 and Q2 2016.
We know that getting a reliable, consistent schedule of releases is important to you. That’s why we want to make clear our plans going forward and how this investment will translate into releases.
Here is a quick snapshot of our upcoming releases for Blackboard Learn 9.1 and the support around them.
What does this mean?
- 20 months of Full Support: We will continue our practice of fully supporting our major releases for 20 months, providing ample time to test, upgrade, and plan for future upgrades aligned to common seasonal upgrade windows.
- Extended Learn 9.1 Oct 2014 Support: To make it easier for customers to get to a stable release with less testing and downtime, and getting more bug fixes more quickly, we decided to skip our traditional Q2 2015 release. As a result of this, we’ve extended the support of 9.1 Oct 2014 to ensure that we continue to provide a reasonable support window to you.
And that brings me to something that I’m very excited and proud to talk about – the upcoming Q4 2015 release of Blackboard Learn 9.1. This release has a new feature that got a lot of people talking at BbWorld – the Goal Performance Dashboards. This functionality, which supports competency-based education, allows learners and instructors to easily track progress toward competencies and learning milestones. With goal performance dashboards—in addition to badging, standards and goal alignment, ePortfolios, and other capabilities—we have the workflows and data capabilities needed to support many competency-based programs.
Other highlights of this release include:
- Grades Journey: This allows instructors to seamlessly exchange grade information between LMS and SIS.
- PowerSchool SIS Integration: Blackboard’s SIS Central will provide bi-directional integration between all Blackboard Learn deployment options and the PowerSchool Student Information System.
With this release, we are committed to delivering strong product quality and providing a stable, reliable experience for educators and students using Blackboard Learn today. In addition to the new features described above, we are addressing the top customer-reported issues that are affecting the largest number of customers. The bug fixes and enhancements in this release will improve core components of the educator and student experiences, including grading, assessments, the content editor, and notifications.
(And don’t forget that Learn 9.1 works with our new Bb Student mobile app and the new Ultra experience for Blackboard Collaborate – we hope your students and faculty have leveraged those technologies already.)
To stay in the loop on our latest updates, sign up for one of our upcoming Teaching & Learning Roadmap Webinars – even if you can’t join live, you can access on-demand recordings from this link.
We’re committed to providing you with transparency and being more accessible to you. Whether if it’s through the Blackboard website, our brand new community site, listserv posts, Twitter, or in person at events, we’re dedicated to making sure that you can get the answers you’re looking for. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Your feedback is important to us.