Online Campus News You Can Use – August 2022

Blackboard Online Campus News You Can Use

Welcome to Online Campus News You Can Use, your brief monthly newsletter to help you promote student success through MATC’s online learning environment, Blackboard Learn. In this edition, we share a few reminders, news about updates to Blackboard, and resources to support your teaching practice.

Hot Topics

Faculty – Remember to Submit Final Grades

Per MATC’s Operations Calendar, final grades for 8-week summer classes are due by August 9th 5:00 PM CDT. Faculty may submit final grades in Self-Service directly through these instructions to ensure completion. A slideshow containing screenshots and speaker notes to explain the process is available here

If you have concerns about missing final grades for this summer or a previous semester, review the final grades in Self-Service and follow the process for submitting final grades for any that are missing while the Registrar’s office coordinates an open grading window. We appreciate your continued commitment to student success.

Meeting the Minimum Requirements for Using Blackboard

Per the Faculty Appendix (P. 146) all faculty are required to use Blackboard (for all instructional methods), to ensure consistently high quality instruction which fosters student success. Each semester complete these tasks for each section: 

  1. Upload a syllabus, developed using CTE’s syllabus template, to the section’s Syllabus area. 
  2. Update the Faculty Information area with your contact information and office hours.
  3. Use the announcement and email tools to regularly communicate with students.
  4. Add learning module content and activities that reflect the learning plans in the syllabus.
  5. Set up a Career Essentials Assessment, and make course sections available to students. 
  6. Set up your section’s Grade Center to provide regular assessment feedback to students.
  7. And make your sections available to students by their start-dates.

Per the US Department of Education, online courses require instructor-initiated regular and substantive interaction (RSI). See our guide to Creating a Course Communication Plan to prepare for demonstrating RSI.

Blackboard Updates for August 2022

Publisher Integration Updates

As of August 3rd, the McGraw Hill Connect, Pearson MyLab & Mastering, and Pearson Revel integrations in Blackboard have been updated to standard LTI 1.3 to improve performance and security. The way that faculty will incorporate these tools in their fall courses will be different; these tools will appear under the “Build Content” menu within content areas. Refer to the following resources and your vendor’s technical support to learn more.  When using publisher-integrated materials in online courses, faculty must demonstrate regular and substantive interaction with students. Please see the Course Communication Plan Tutorial for ideas.

Blackboard Mobile App

In the past we had two separate mobile apps: the Blackboard App for students  and the Blackboard Instructor App for faculty. The two apps caused confusion for many faculty. On August 8th, Blackboard will consolidate to a single Blackboard App for instructors and students. The user experience will change based on the user’s role within a course. Instructors can use the updated Blackboard App for both Original and Ultra courses. Support for the separate Blackboard Instructor App ends in September 2022. Instructors and Teaching Assistants should download the latest version of the Blackboard App for iOS or Android. Students may continue using the existing Blackboard App, but should accept software updates through their device’s app store to stay current.

File Upload Indicator

Users sometimes upload large files or have slow upload speeds. In Blackboard’s Original Course View, it may not be clear to users that anything is happening. Some pages in Original Course View will now display a file upload indicator after users submit. Blackboard has added an upload animation to four course tools where large file uploads are most common: Assignment Submission, Content Item, Discussion Board Thread or Reply, and SCORM.

Blackboard Ally – Coming Soon!

In October 2022, Blackboard Ally will become available for faculty to enhance the accessibility and inclusivity of course content. All students benefit from improved accessibility of documents, images, text, and tables. Ally provides instructors with guidance on how to correct accessibility issues with digital course content and provides students with automated options to download alternative versions of files. Alternative versions of files can include electronic braille, speech-to-text MP3 audio, and Beeline Reader for easier on-screen reading. With Ally, learning materials will work better on mobile phones and tablets as well as with assistive technologies. To learn more about Ally, see the following resources  or contact with your questions.

Training & Support

Faculty Blackboard Training Courses

Faculty may learn how to use Blackboard original course tools for teaching and learning online. Register for classes online in Self-Service. See this video for more information. Additional information is available in our Fall 2022 schedule.

CourseDelivery ModeDate/Time
Saturdays 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
9/10/2022 – 9/17/2022
Sundays TBD
10/9/2022 – 10/23/2022

Special Topic Webinars to Help You Get Started with Blackboard this Fall

Recorded special topic webinars hosted by Blackboard are available for on-demand viewing. If you are a new instructor or would like a refresher on using Blackboard, we strongly recommend the following titles. Additional special topic live webinars hosted by MATC’s faculty support liaisons are coming soon.

  • Blackboard Learn Basics Original
  • Creating Assignments in Blackboard Learn Original
  • Creating Tests in Blackboard Learn Original
  • Setting up the Gradebook Learn Original
  • Grading in Blackboard Learn
  • Improving Student Engagement

21st Century Classroom Self-Assessment for New Faculty

In order to stay relevant, competitive, and to meet 21st Century student expectations there is a tremendous need for faculty to consistently develop within the profession. New faculty should complete the 21st Century Classroom Self-Assessment for New Faculty within 30 days of being hired. As a reminder, all faculty are required to demonstrate Level 1 skills in order to maintain a teaching assignment. To learn more about this assessment and the competency levels that faculty may achieve, see the Center for Teaching Excellence’s 21st Century Learner resource page. If you have general questions about this process, contact the Center for Teaching Excellence at For questions related to course reviews, contact the Online Learning Department Team at

Learn about Blackboard Ultra Courses!

Faculty are welcome to join Blackboard’s Instructor Webinar Series to learn more about using Ultra Courses, Blackboard’s modern, streamlined, and intuitive course experience. Register to attend a live session or be sent a recording to your email address. If you are interested in trying an Ultra Course, join our Ultra Course Pilot.

Workshop Title and DescriptionDate/Time
Blackboard Learn Ultra Basics
Review easy step-by-step instructions on how to upload course content, create discussion boards for students to engage in, and provide an overview of the types of online assessments available in Learn Ultra Course View.
August 18th, September 20th, and October 25th at 10:00 AM CDT

Register in Your Choice of Session Here
Ultra-Advantage – Converting an Original Course to Learn Ultra
Review how to prepare content in your Learn Original course for conversion to a Learn Ultra course. This session is designed to provide tips to the process.
September 7th, October 11th, and November 16th at 10:00 AM CDT

Register in Your Choice of Session Here

Faculty Support

Faculty liaisons are your first point of contact for Blackboard how-to questions and instructional support. See the Faculty Liaison Schedule for their availability to meet online for consultations. For high-level troubleshooting/errors, contact Faculty who need one-on-one support related to applying the 21st Century Classroom Competencies in their teaching practice should contact the Center for Teaching Excellence for assistance at

Student Online Blackboard Orientation Schedule

Students whose courses will be delivered in an online format this semester are advised to attend a Student Blackboard Orientation Webinar through Collaborate Ultra. Sessions will be offered throughout the month and additional sessions will be planned for the future. 

Educational Technology Resources

The following tools are available to support remote teaching and learning in Blackboard. If you have questions about using these technologies, please contact

Chromebook Resources

Faculty and students who are new to using Chromebooks may find these resources helpful.

Resources to Support Online Instruction

Faculty Support 

Student Support

Published by the Department of Online Learning

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