By Wilfredo Rodríguez, EdTech Coordinator
Traditionally, CUNY Blackboard is upgraded every December after the grades submission due date. Last December was not an exception to this tradition and Blackboard was upgraded to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version. Usually, upgrades bring new features or fixes to the system. We will talk about how the Learning Management System (LMS) will be upgraded from now on and its new features.
Blackboard was touched up to the SaaS version on December 27, 2021. The system was inaccessible for four days so it could perform these improvements. The same has happened with previous enhancements as well. However, after these renovations and fixes, it will operate differently in the sense that the LMS will no longer need to be unavailable for days to upgrade. In fact, new features will be added without stopping Blackboard or making the system unavailable to faculties and students for days. The way this works is that new upgrades will be added to the stage environment for a couple of weeks and Blackboard administrators at each CUNY campus will test the features before they are released to the production environment (available to every user). Blackboard has a schedule with all the releases that will take place monthly, and the new features or fixes covered. Please visit this website to learn more about the upgrades:
https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Release_Notes. Having upgrades and fixes delivered to Blackboard without making it unavailable for hours or days is a good development.
One of the features that was introduced with this upgrade was a new and improved Content Editor in Blackboard. It is easier to add or upload content because all the different elements can be added from one button, the sign, on the right side of the editor. It allows users to add local files like MS Word, PDF, Excel, PowerPoint presentations, pictures, YouTube videos, and many more from one location. Before, different file types were added using different buttons (one for videos, another for pictures, etc.)
Check out some attributes of SaaS below:
Copy and Paste: Allows users to keep the source formatting or clean the HTML.
Special Character: Find special characters more easily since it allows users to insert special characters in a simpler way.
Accessibility Checker: Allows instructors to check the content being generated for accessibility and taking corrective action.
Preview: Better for all devices and provides a better experience
Insert/Edit code sample: Provides users with the ability to share computer code snippets for specific computer languages.
Besides these features, there are additional ones that improve the Content Editor in Blackboard in such ways that users will feel excited about this tool. Using it will be simpler and smoother.
In short, the Blackboard upgrade to SaaS is a promising, better, and more friendly future for the system. Gone are the days when the LMS needed to be unavailable to faculties and students for days for upgrading purposes. The improved Content Editor brings needed and long-awaited features such as working smoother on all devices, improved accessibility, uploading various kinds of content from one button, and more.
“Learn SaaS Release Schedule.” https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Release_Notes/Learn_SaaS_Release_Schedule#cd_schedule. Accessed 28 December 2021.
“Release Notes for Learn SaaS.” Blackboard Learn, https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Release_Notes. Accessed 28 December 2021.