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2017 Blackboard Learn upgrade details

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Michelle Donaldson  

4/19/17 - This story was edited to include information about the new Course Merge Tool.

Course Merge Tool

Instructors who teach multiple sections of the same course will be able to use the new Course Merge Tool to merge those sections into one for content development, enrollment and grading. The new tool works differently from the old Course Combine Tool. Instead of creating a new, separate course shell to contain the combined sections, the Course Merge Tool asks the instructor to choose one section to be the "parent" course and then add the enrollments from the other "child" courses to that section.

After merging sections, the view will vary between instructors and students. Instructors will work in only the Parent Course. All student enrollments, assignments, grades, etc. will appear there. Students will access their individual course sections (Child Courses). The content in those Child Courses will be that of the Parent Course. 


Detailed instructions for the Course Merge Tool can be found under Course Management and Navigation in the Faculty How-To Guides section of our Blackboard Learn support site. A PDF version also is available.

The original Blackboard Learn upgrade story continues below...

This year’s annual Blackboard Learn upgrade will focus on bug fixes and tool improvements and will not affect the way Blackboard Learn looks or feels for most users. The upgrade will start at 5:00 pm Wednesday, May 3 and is scheduled to end no later than 5:00 pm Thursday, May 4. This 24 hour window is significantly shorter than previous years’ upgrade windows.

See below for a summary of what will be changing. We will update this page as we learn more.

New Features

  • HTML 5 Support: The Content Editor now supports HTML 5 Audio and Video playback in Chrome and Edge browsers.
  • Browser Support: Microsoft Edge is now supported.

Updates and changes

Course Combine/Course Merge Tool

Our current Course Combine tool is not compatible with the new version of Blackboard Learn and has been disabled in anticipation of the upgrade. We are evaluating alternatives that offer similar functionality and will post additional information here when it becomes available. We understand the importance of this capability and expect to have a solution in place for Summer term. 


Turnitin is introducing Turnitin Feedback Studio. Feedback Studio has a new look and feel for navigation within Turnitin and includes enhancements to some existing features within Turnitin. Feedback Studio does allow you to toggle back and forth between the new look and what Turnitin now refers to as the "classic" look. For additional details, including an interactive preview of the new interface, visit these Turnitin Feedback Studio pages:

Announcement Updates

  • Announcement Email Header: When Blackboard Learn sends course announcement emails, the “From:” header now includes the sender's full name.
  • Announcement Date Restriction Default: When you create an announcement, "Not Date Restricted" is now selected by default.

Discussion Boards

  • Thread-to-Thread Navigation: Users will be able to navigate to the next or previous thread in a discussion directly from the Thread Detail page, without having to navigate back to the Discussion Forum home page.

Accessibility Features and Improvements

  • Assessments: When creating a “hot spot” question, an Image Alternate Text box is now available.
  • Content Editor: The default heading size for all of the embedded headings has been increased so they are properly read in both the view and edit state in the Content Editor.
  • Discussion Boards: Forum Descriptions are now read on the Create Thread Page.

Bug Fixes

  • Special Characters in Assignment Titles: Currently if you try to submit an assignment with a special character in its name, the submission can fail. In the new version, if you upload a file to Blackboard Learn with special characters in its filename, including:
  • / \ : ? * " < > |
    the system replaces each special character with an underscore.
  • Notifications: Improved notification performance in Assessments, Grading, and the Blackboard Learn mobile app.

Related Links

Blackboard Learn Support