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Blackboard Service Pack 13

Learn More about What's Better


Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 13

Service Pack 13 for the Blackboard Learn platform delivers exciting innovations as well as deep improvements to core capabilities, resulting in a product that is more intuitive, engaging, and focused on you. Nearly 640 schools and over 1,800 individuals – including educators, students, instructional designers, and administrators – contributed to the development of Service Pack 13 and have made Blackboard Learn simply better.

Purpose of this Document

The purpose of this document is to provide educators and students with an overview of the new features and enhancements that are part of Service Pack 13.

What's New?


New Feature-Set for All Users

The achievements tool allows instructors to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates. Students can see which rewards they’ve earned and what is required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies. Students are able to publish badges to the Mozilla Open Backpack, transporting evidence of their learning outside of Blackboard Learn. You can easily see which students have reached learning milestones.

achievements workflow

  • You create achievements in course content areas -OR- from the  Control Panel  >  Course Tools  >  Achievements .
  • Any rewards students earn appear in their course  Tools . 
  • Students can publish their rewards to their Mozilla Open Backpacks.


To learn more about Open Badges and Mozilla Open Backpack, see


To learn more about the achievements tools, see Achievements.


Date Management

A. Select Use Course Start Date or Adjust by Number of Days to adjust the date accordingly.     B. You can also review all dates and ajust them later on the Date Management Review page.

New Feature for Instructors

After you have copied a course, speed up the transition of old dates to new one relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management you can adjust availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates within a course. 

You can choose to update the dates automatically or manually from one convenient location.

To learn more, see Date Management.

Groups Management

Photos of students arrange in a rowNew Feature for Instructors

The Groups Management Building Block provides the ability to:

Blackboard All Users view

  • Easily see and modify group memberships. Avatars are now available to distinguish among users.
  • Choose and manage membership for groups sets with an improved workflow.
  • Import and export groups and group memberships.
  • Sort columns, perform bulk actions for deleting groups, and create Grade Center smart views for one or more groups on the  All Groups  page.
  • Optionally, manage tool availability for all groups on the All Groups  page.


Groups All Groups view

Course Menu

Course MenuNew Feature for All Users

Viewing the folder structure of the course now always opens in a new window, to ensure users have the space needed to read the expanded contents. Click an item in the tree to navigate directly to that location.

Accessibility Improvements

New Feature for All Users

Blackboard Navigation quick linksBlackboard is committed to ensuring that the platform is usable and accessible. The code and user interface design techniques are continually audited to ensure that the application is usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age, ability, or situation.

Content Editor Math Formulas

WIRIS provides the Math formula editing capabilities of the Content Editor introduced in SP10. In SP10 the WIRIS plugin came in the form of a Java Applet. This meant that math editing was not available to all platforms as java virtual machine capabilities were required on the target platform. SP12 brings a new WIRIS editor that is based on JavaScript. This removes dependence on Java, enabling full math-editing capabilities on platforms that cannot run java in browsers including iOS. The functionality of the WIRIS math editor is not extended to all platforms capable of running a JavaScript enabled browser.

The move from the non-accessible applet-based editor to a JavaScript-based editor improves accessibility.

To learn more see Using the Content Editor.

Accessibility Standards

Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). A third party conducts audits of our software releases to ensure the accessibility of the products. For  Blackboard Learn  9.1's conformance with the accessibility standards under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act using the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template® (VPAT®) tool, see the VPAT for Blackboard Learn Release 9.1. For Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP11 conformance statement for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Level AA see Learn Accessibility Conformance Statement. To learn more about Blackboard’s commitment to accessibility, see (These resources are available in English only.)

Interactive Tools

We have improved the usability of all of our interactive tools (discussion boards, wikis, blogs and journals). Service Pack 12 introduces usability improvements for everyone, especially those customers that use assistive
technology. The new experience of reading a thread is simple to consume with screen reader technology.
We also removed clutter on the page, so screen reader and keyboard-only users have less to sift through as they navigate the interface.

Test and Survey Improvements

 New Feature for All Users

Test Availability Exceptions

test availability exception screenshot

New settings—called  Test Availability Exceptions —have been added to the  Test/Survey Options  page, available only after the test or survey is added to a content area. The new settings allow instructors to select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. Instructors can use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a disabled student, or provide accommodations for technology and language differences.

You can change these settings at any time, even after the test has been attempted by some students. If conflicts in rules occur, the most permissive settings for that user or group of users is granted. For example, students would receive the greatest number of attempts, longest availability time, and so on.

You can create exceptions for:

  • Number of attempts.
  • Time of test.
  • Auto submit on or off.
  • Availability of test using start and end dates.
  • Force completion on or off.

Show Test Results and Feedback to Students

After they complete a test, test results and feedback are available to students. By setting up rules, you can set the release of progressive feedback to keep test results secure and prevent cheating.

For example, you can choose  After Submission  to present  Score ,  All Answers,   Correct ,  Submitted ,  Feedback , and Show Incorrect Answers  to show students their scores along with all answer options. Student also see their submitted answers marked as correct or incorrect and any feedback you provided.

Test Previously Taken Page

Test Previously Taken screenshotIf students already completed an attempt, they see a new test previously taken page. From here they can:

  • See previous completion information, and the number of attempts remaining, if any.
  • Go back to their courses.
  • View previous attempts.
  • Take the test again, if permitted.

Instructors can also choose to prohibit a test from being able to be completed if the due date has passed.

Test Access Log

A source of frustration for students, instructors, and test proctors is the inability to confirm whether students began a test or ran into problems during a test. Teachers and proctors have no way to verify student activity or lack of activity during a test. Students have no way to prove that they did begin a test and when. If students reported problems occurring during a test, they were either given the benefit of the doubt and the test was reset, or they were penalized for circumstances beyond their control.

Test Access Log screenshotSP 13 addresses this issue by providing detailed information on student test attempt interactions. Instructors and other users who are granted permission, can view the Access Log for a test from the Attempts page of the test.

Test Access Log screenshotThe access log shows a detailed list of every interaction that students engage in when taking a test. If a student claims to have started a test, the log will show the time the test was started. If a network or internet disruption occurred during the test for example, the log would show an unusual gap in the time.

Exporting Test Questions

All questions are now retained in exported and imported tests, including questions that originate outside the exported test, such as Question Sets, Random Blocks, and Question Links. When the user exports a test and imports it back into a different course, all questions are now present irrespective of their origin.

Inline Grading

New Feature for Everyone

For interactive tools and assignments, you can view, provide comments, and grade student-submitted items without leaving the tool page.

While assigning grades, the inline grading sidebar allows you to view information about gradable items, navigate between users and attempts, and view and use associated rubrics inline.

Inline Grading has been updated with many new features such as the ability to view the work in full screen, as well as inline grading support added to Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion boards in addition to assignments.

A. Expand assignment details to show the information from the assignment content item.
B. Collapse or expand the grading sidebar for more screen real estate.
C. Select additional attempts from a drop-down list. Click the attempt to load the submission in the inline viewer and update the sidebar with the appropriate attempt-related data.
D. Type a grade for the attempt.
E.  Download the originally submitted file. If more than one file was submitted for the attempt, all files are available here.
F.  Expand the rubric and comments fields.

Blackboard Learn.  Simply. Better.

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