As you may recall, Palomar maintains a Blackboard Sandbox environment so that the faculty can get accustomed to new versions of Blackboard prior to encountering them in production. There’s a new version up on BbSandbox now, Blackboard Learn version 9.1 Service Pack 10. (I’ll just say “SP10″ from here on, okay?)
The very first thing you’ll notice about SP10 is immediately after you log in; the whole screen will be a notice to let you know that the controls in the upper right corner of the screen are different. (How many of you knew there were even controls up there in the first place?) At any rate, you now have some informational menus, course hopping capabilities, and access to your account settings and other such information up in that corner of the screen, right next to the stylish new look for the logout button.
For most people the most significant change with SP10 is that the Visual Text Box Editor of prior versions is now replaced with the Content Editor, which looks quite different (and works significantly better). However, we here at Palomar have been using the Early Release version of the Content Editor since the start of the Summer term, so the only real changes here are some different styling around the Mashup Tool menu.
SP10 introduces a new File Picker tool as well, a huge improvement over the previous tool, although this will only matter if you use the “Browse Course” button when attaching a file. For those who just use the “Browse My Computer” button, nothing has changed.
There actually are a whole bunch of structural changes in the way the system works, a whole horde of security improvements, better browser compatibility support, and new tools available in SP10 that I can’t really show off yet. Some simply do not show up for users (such as the security improvements), and others I’ll be announcing as some time goes by. After all, I need time to put these new features through their paces before I can tell you about them. Similarly, I would encourage you to use the BbSandbox system and put SP10 to the test with the functions that you use in Blackboard. After all, that’s the whole reason we have a sandbox environment in the first place!