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Blackboard Upgrade Scheduled for Early January 2018

Fresh look for mobile devices, accessible to screen readers

December 18, 2017 1:04 PM

Blackboard will be updated on Friday, January 5, 2018 beginning at 5 PM EST as part of DoIT’s biannual Blackboard update. No downtime is expected: Blackboard should remain online and available, but some tools and services may be slower to respond during this twelve-hour cycle as those backend processes restart across supporting servers.

Prior to the update, Blackboard’s overall look will be refreshed during the holiday break with a new system theme featuring standardized colors, fonts, and spacing for greater consistency between the learning management system, Bb Collaborate, and Blackboard’s mobile apps.

The new Bb Learn theme

The new theme also provides:

  • Support for Mobile DevicesWhen users log in to Blackboard on a mobile device or tablet, screen elements such as the course menu and control panel compress or change position so they stay visible. As the screen gets smaller, modules and tool tiles stack so you will still have access to everything at your fingertips. 
  • Support for Accessibility - The updated theme follows WCAG 2.0 principles and accessibility guidelines for structure, color contrast, and navigation. New ARIA landmarks define the page structure in courses, menus, and content areas to better assist users with screen readers in navigating page elements.

Standardized across the entire Blackboard system and all courses, this theme is also the first step toward the Ultra Experience, which UMBC will begin to explore with a small pilot in SP2018 in partnership with Blackboard.

Two new features will also be available in this release:

  • Course Availability Status - An open or closed padlock, located next to the Student Preview icon in the upper right corner of your course, will represent its availability state to students. Instructors can modify the availability of the course with one click within the shell.  
  • Chemistry Notations in Content Editor - The math editor will be updated to feature tools specific to chemistry including an embedded periodic table of elements.

Finally, the inline grading tools will be upgraded over the same weekend after the main Blackboard site is updated. The Blackboard update occurring on Friday, January 5, is a requirement before the inline grading tools can transition to the New Box View on Saturday, January 6. Inline grading tools may be unavailable for up to six (6) hours that morning. Faculty will be able to download student submissions during the conversion process, but the inline grading tools within Blackboard will be temporarily unavailable. Please review the FAQs about grading with inline tools during this transition.

In preparation for this downtime:

  • Instructors: If you need access to your gradebook during the downtime, please review this FAQ for information on downloading a copy of the Blackboard Grade Center to Excel.

After the Blackboard update is finished, please clear your Internet browser cache and cookies before logging in using these step-by-step instructions.

The UMBC Blackboard team identified a time period that should have a reduced impact on our users. If our Blackboard site is down longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances, updates will be posted to this news article. We appreciate your patience as we continue to improve our systems to bring you a better Blackboard experience.

As always, if you have any questions, please consider the following options:

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