Last October, when the Q4 2015 release of Blackboard Learn 9.1 was announced, we discussed the short and long-term investments we are making in the Blackboard Learn 9.1 platform that is used by millions of educators and learners around the world.

Today, with the announcement of the Q2 2016 release, we are furthering our commitment to Blackboard Learn 9.1 with a focus on investing in the underlying technology infrastructure and foundation of the platform. We are listening to your feedback and ensuring that Blackboard Learn 9.1 continues to support you for the long term.

One primary focus of this release was to upgrade Blackboard Learn 9.1 to run on the latest version of Java from Oracle, Java 8. In order to provide the most secure and high quality solution, we are leveraging the latest Java technology. Additionally, we have licensed extended Java 7 support on behalf of all Blackboard Learn customers, giving all customers access to Java 7 fixes and security patches while transitioning to a Blackboard Learn release that uses Java 8.

Another focus area for this release was the development of a shared code base across all three deployment options for Blackboard Learn: SaaS, Managed Hosting, and self-hosted environments. A shared code base allows us to provide the highest quality environment for all Blackboard Learn customers by increasing the number of customers who will benefit from fixes and improvements. From a developer perspective, Building Blocks can now be created once and work across all deployment options. Additionally, the shared code base makes it possible for us to enable REST APIs for Blackboard Learn 9.1 customers with this release, sooner than originally planned!

Earlier this year we made an initial set of REST APIs available to customers using SaaS deployment, through a SaaS Integrations Technical Preview. Based on strong customer feedback from developers participating in that Technical Preview, we announced at DevCon in the Netherlands earlier this month that we were going to bring REST APIs to Learn 9.1 later in the year. We have since decided to enable an initial set of REST APIs for Blackboard Learn 9.1 early, with this release. Like with SaaS deployment, we are making these REST APIs available to Blackboard Learn 9.1 customers via a Technical Preview. Administrators and developers can get started now by going to the Blackboard API Developer Portal. You can also find great resources and consult with other developers through the Blackboard REST Developers Community group.

Other highlights of the Learn 9.1 Q2 2016 release include:

  • Quality improvements: We are continuing our commitment to delivering strong product quality and providing a stable, reliable experience for educators and learners using Blackboard Learn. We have continued to address the top customer-reported issues that are affecting the largest number of customers. The bug fixes and enhancements in this release are primarily focused on improvements to accessibility, language packs, assessments and grading, as well as Enterprise Surveys.
  • SAML 2.0 Authentication and Just-in-Time Provisioning: The authentication framework has been updated to support the latest SAML 2.0 protocol, which focuses on security, improved user experience, and easier IT administration. This provides a way to authenticate, authorize, single sign-on (SSO), and optionally provision users and enrollments.
  • New VALUE Rubrics: As part of AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative, VALUE rubrics contribute to the national dialogue on assessment of college student learning. The original VALUE initiative included teams of faculty and other educational professionals from over 100 higher education institutions who engaged over many months to develop 16 VALUE rubrics for the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. For educators and instructional designers who are interested in using these rubrics, we are making them available for download and import. Each rubric has been built and formatted appropriately and is ready to be imported to Learn and used anywhere you can align and evaluate with rubrics today.
  • New DMARC email handling setting: Customers who have control over their users’ email addresses now have the option to turn off DMARC handling. Therefore, do-not-reply@local will be removed from mail headers.

Looking out at the rest of 2016, a primary focus of the Blackboard Learn team is the development of a new, modern system and course theme for Blackboard Learn 9.1 that is inspired by the Ultra experience. This new theme will not only provide a new look-and-feel, it will also optimize Blackboard Learn 9.1 to be increasingly responsive on mobile devices. Students and educators will experience improved navigation, course management, and usability of commonly used tools – resulting in a much more mobile-friendly experience. When released later this year, the new theme will be an option for customers running the Q2 2016 release. To learn more about the roadmap for Blackboard Learn 9.1, you can view a recording of the Teaching & Learning Roadmap Webinar we held earlier this month.

We are committed to providing you with transparency and being accessible to you. Whether it’s through our new Community Site, the Blackboard website, listserv posts, Twitter, webinars, email, or in person at events, we’re dedicated to making sure you can get the information you’re looking for. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Your feedback is important to us.

Related Posts

Share This Article

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Pinterest Email