The New Blackboard Content Editor

The release of software version 9.1 Q4 2020 (3900.0) brings with it changes and improvements to the Content Editor in Blackboard Learn. Adding content has been simplified, and it works better on both hand-held devices and larger screens. There are several improvements for accessibility and some new features, too. Besides some updated tool icons, there are also some changes in behavior to know about. This guide outlines the most commonly used features with the most significant changes.  

The Power of Plus--The Add Content Icon

Adding attachments and media have changed. There’s now one easy menu for adding content from your computer, cloud storage, or integrated tool. The Content Editor will automatically recognize the kinds of files you add.

Select the add button (+) for all sources and options for adding content. If you select a file, the Content Editor will now automatically recognize what kind of a file it is. You can still edit the display options and add alt text by right-clicking on the item.

When adding local files, multiple files can now be selected at once using standard desktop actions (shift or control/command). Because the change in workflow removed the pre-upload properties page when uploading a file to link, there is no longer a drag-and-drop hotspot. For images and video, the ability to add multiple at once is a new capability. Controls for applying advanced settings such as class, style, and mouse-over images have been removed for a simpler user experience. Because images and media are automatically recognized and embedded, you can’t create a text link to these types of files anymore.  

When linking to an HTML file in the Content Collection, users were given multiple permissions options that could be confusing for users and result in linked websites that weren’t visible to course users. Now there is a single behavior to grant students read access to all files and folders in the same folder as the linked HTML file. A warning is given that if this isn’t acceptable, files should be reorganized before linking.

If adding videos, please do not add mp4 files and instead use a cloud hosting service such as YouTube or Echo360. Please see the guide on adding video for more information.

Mashups and YouTube Videos Moved to the Plus Menu

Embedding content from third-party Building Blocks has changed. Third-party tools (“Mashups”) have moved from the main toolbar to the Add Content (Plus) menu. Select the add button (+) for all sources and options for adding content. Choose the Building Block source under the “Additional Tools” area.

A/V Feedback Moved to the Plus Menu

Additionally, the option to record audio/video feedback from your device has moved from the main toolbar to the Add Content (+) menu and appears as "Insert from Webcam"

The new Plus Sign icon also appears in the Feedback to Learner window when grading, with broadened options for embedded content (the old learner feedback editor only allowed attachments).

When pasting links to websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion, the videos are automatically embedded for inline playback. Other sites including The New York Times, WordPress, SlideShare and Facebook will embed summary previews.

The new link button is now only for external sites. To add links to files in the Content Collection, go to the Add Content Menu indicated by a circled plus sign icon (+)

Easier HTML Editing

When authoring or editing HTML, it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for with line numbers and tag colors. The HTML editor now shows line counts and formats text for greater readability. The CSS editor tool has been removed to simplify the experience. Advanced users can apply styles in the HTML editor.

The security model for determining the users allowed to add trusted content is unchanged.

A new icon for a code sample tool allows code snippets to be displayed and properly formatted inline without being processed as actual code and removed for security reasons. Super handy for computer science classes and coding clubs.

Searchable Special Character Library and Updated Equation Editor

The “symbol” tool has been renamed “special character.” The special character library has been expanded and items are now categorized. Users can search for a symbol.  The HTML code for a symbol is no longer displayed. At release, the search feature will be limited to English.

The icon for accessing the equation editor has been updated. Accessibility in the equation editor has also been improved. The image of the authored formula automatically has alt text added that describes the formula. The alt text will be in the language of the formula author if using Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Norwegian (NB), Norwegian (NN), Portuguese (BR), and Spanish; otherwise, alt tags will be English.

Other Content Editor Icon Updates

The remove formatting icon has changed.

The icon for inserting an anchor has been updated to look like a bookmark.

Preview, help, and full-screen mode icons are updated, and content no longer launches in a new window.

The show more toggle has an updated icon more commonly used in modern applications. Because the editor is now fully responsive, as many tools as can be displayed on the first line will be. After that, the show more toggle will appear. Once a user has expanded the tool options, the application will retain this configuration.

Bold, Italics, Underline, and Strikethrough. Functionality unchanged, but Latin characters B,I,U, and S represent the formatting instead of T for all.

Bullet and list types are now displayed visually instead of in a text list.

Font choices are displayed as the indicated font rather than just a list of font names.

The new accessibility checker icon helps authors make content more accessible. Alternative text can be added, and formatting issues corrected when reviewing the content with the tool. The checker uses WCAG 2.0 guidelines.