Coming November 5th: New myLesley Text/Content Editor

On the evening of November 5th, Blackboard will release their new text/content editor! The new editor has been streamlined to make adding content into your course easier and the new design will work better on both mobile devices and larger screens. Blackboard has also improved their accessibility tools and introduced a few brand new features.

View the New Content Editor video for a sneak peak of the new content editor.

Better for All Devices

The editor is better suited for all devices—small screen or big—and editor tools will no longer open in new pop-up windows for a better mobile experience.

The toolbar will show as many tools as it can for the size of your screen before wrapping to the next line. Show and collapse the additional tools with the ellipsis icon.
ellipsis tool to show or hide more tools

Adding Content: The Power of Plus

Blackboard content editor with callout to Add Content buttonThere is now one easy menu for adding content from your computer or integrated tool. Click the Add Content button to upload content such as files or images or built-in tools such as Kaltura or Hoonuit (formerly found under Mashups).

Uploading multiple files? Instead of uploading them one at a time you can now upload multiple files at once.

Improved Accessibility

New Blackboard Accessibility Checker

The editor itself is more accessible to all users, and the new Accessibility Checker helps you make content more accessible as you’re adding it to your course. Combined with Blackboard Ally, you can ensure that your content is more accessible to all users.

Text Formatting, Bullets, List

Blackboard content editor with callout to formatting options

Options for formatting text, bullets, and lists are now presented in recognizable ways rather than just as text, more closely matching other editors, such as Google and Microsoft. For example, font choices will appear as those fonts and bullet options will display visually as those bullet types.

New Table Options

Blackboard content editor with callout to Table button and options

Creating a table has been simplified with a grid selector instead of a pop-up. When adding tables, column widths default to use percentages rather than fixed widths in order to ensure that they display nicely on different screen sizes.

Better Copy and Paste

Paste formatting options: choose to keep or remove formatting in the pasted content

Tired of wonky formatting when you copy and paste from Word, Google, etc.? Blackboard will now allow you to remove the extra HTML that gets in your way and still retain basic formatting.

Spellchecker Updates

New improved spellchecker suggests replacements for misspelled words

The Spellcheck tool has been improved for language and an updated and expanded dictionary. Click the tool to run spellcheck.

Simple Embed

Image of simple embed using the content editor

When pasting links to websites such as YouTube and Vimeo, the videos are automatically embedded for inline playback. Other sites including The New York Times, WordPress, SlideShare and Facebook will embed summary previews. However, you will still need to use HTML in order to embed VoiceThread content.

Easier HTML Editing

sample source code using HTML Editor

When authoring or editing HTML, it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for with line numbers and tag colors.

Display Computer Code

Blackboard content editor with callout to Insert Code button

Authors can now share formatted computer code snippets. This is very useful for computer science classes.





Merging Your Content with the New Course Menu

A new course menu and template were created for this Fall. The purpose was to create more consistency for students across all their courses and to embed supports where possible. However, if you are copying content from a previous course in myLesley to your Fall 2020 course, you may need to merge the two and clean things up a bit.

What’s in a course menu?

There are three main types of course menu items: content areas, tool links, and web links.

Course Content & Assignments is a content areaContent Areas are places in your course where you post various types of course content, such as items, uploaded documents, assignments, and more. Think of them as a folder on your computer where you group common items together. Course Content & Assignments is an example of a content area.


Tool Links are links to tools that are part of Blackboard or integrated into Blackboard, such as Discussions Boards, Class Email, My Grades, etc.



Technology Resources is a web linkWeb Links are links to external content. This external content can be anything on the internet that you wish to link to. For example, Technology Resources links out to the IT & eLearning Support Site at Lesley.


Course content and Communication are headers in course menuThe new course menu also contains Headers. These are non-clickable titles for groups of related content. They can be renamed, edited or moved just as any other menu item. “Course Content” and “Communication” are examples of a header.

Your course menu is completely editable by you. Course menu items can be renamed, moved, deleted, and hidden from student view.

Modify menu

A Common Issue After Course Copy

If you copy your course content from a prior course you may notice that you have menu items for “Course Content” and for “Course Content & Assignments.” myLesley (Blackboard) will not merge these two content areas together automatically. Just as with folders you create on your computer, these are two separate containers with different names. You need to tell Blackboard what you want it to do.

Fix your course menu in 3 easy steps

1. Rename menu items

Many faculty choose to rename the older “Course Content” menu item to “Course Content & Assignments.”

For more information see Modifying your Course Menu.

2. Delete menu items

Delete the original (now duplicate) placeholder content.

Be very sure to delete. There is no undo.

Also, delete any duplicate or unneeded menu items that copied to clean up your course menu and make it easier for your students to navigate your course menu.

3. Reorder menu items

When a course copy is done, all new content copied in is at the bottom of the menu. You can easily reorder the menu items, but clicking on the double arrow icon to the left of the menu item and dragging it to a new location.
move icon


For more information see Modifying your Course Menu.

Comparing Lesley’s Online Meeting Tools

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Collaborate Ultra are all great online meeting tools. They simply do the job in slightly different ways. The one that’s right for you depends on your task, your preferences, and your attendees.

Scheduling Meetings

It’s fairly easy to schedule a basic meeting in all three tools.

Creating a meeting in Teams is very similar to creating on in Outlook. Enter a meeting title, the date and time, the names of the attendees, and click Save. Your meeting will be created and your attendees invited.Calendar invite Teams

To create a meeting in Collaborate Ultra, navigate to your myLesley/Blackboard course and use the Collaborate Ultra scheduler to enter the name, date, and time for your meeting. Optionally, you may set controls for what tools you attendees can use during the meeting. Your students will be able to access the meeting from your class site or you can copy the guest link for the meeting and send it to anyone you wish to join including outside guest speakers.
Create Collaborate Ultra meetingmeeting options for Collaborate Ultra

Zoom meetings are created using the Zoom application or web portal although you can optionally use add-ons for Outlook. Simply click Schedule a New Meeting, enter your meeting name, date, time, and duration and click Save. You can choose meeting options such as requiring a password or enabling a waiting room for security.

Once your meeting is created, copy the invite and email it to your attendees or share the link in your myLesley/Blackboard course.


Meeting Online

All three options are solid online meeting tools. Which one is right for you depends on what you need to do.

Looking for the most webcams: Zoom
If you are looking to have a meeting where you can see everyone’s face and have a discussion, Zoom is the way to go. Zoom can potentially display up to 49 participants. However, that number is dependent on your computer hardware and you will likely need to scroll to see everyone. That said, if your meeting has 20 people or less you should be able to see their face using the gallery view.

Teams will currently display four people, although that number is supposed to go up to nine very soon. Collaborate Ultra will display four people when using Chrome and two when using Firefox. However, that number is expected to increase to around 30 later this year.

Collaboration around projects: Teams
Teams is not just an online meeting tool. It also has individual and group text chat, document sharing and collaboration using OneDrive. You could organize a whole project in Teams (and I have). Create a team for your class. Then create channels, or topics, for discussion and collaboration. The great thing about Teams is that you can use it synchronously and asynchronously allowing you to meet as needed, but keep working together in between meetings… all in the same place.

Traditional virtual classroom: Collaborate Ultra
Collaborate Ultra was built for educators to have class online. Therefore, it has participant management tools for allowing (or not) video, chat, and screen sharing. If you want present a Powerpoint or PDF to your online class in a way that won’t use up all the internet bandwidth, Collaborate is the one to choose. You can do all of these things in Zoom now, too. The main difference is that Zoom started out as a meeting tool and has been adding in participant controls and security. Collaborate Ultra began as a virtual classroom and has been adding in ease-of-use meeting features.

Breakout groups: Collaborate Ultra or Zoom
Both Collaborate Ultra and Zoom will allow you to create breakout groups on the fly for small group discussions during your meeting. Participants can use their mics, video, screen share and use the whiteboard. Zoom’s communication tools to the breakout groups is currently a little better while Collaborate Ultra is integrated into the Groups tool in Blackboard. This would allow each group to use Collaborate Ultra whenever they needed.



Collaborate Ultra is fully integrated into Blackboard. You can use the always available Course Room, schedule additional sessions as needed, view recordings, track attendance, and allow students doing groupwork to have their own Collaborate Ultra session within the Groups tool.

Zoom is integrated into Blackboard with almost all the same capabilities. It won’t integrate into other Blackboard tools the way Collaborate Ultra does, but you are able to schedule meetings, watch recordings and track attendance. Zoom also has a marketplace of apps you can integrate to make Zoom even more useful. Currently approved apps include Teams, OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Calendly. Please note: Marketplace apps must be approved for use by Lesley.

Teams also has a long list of apps you can integrate, but most of them won’t be useful unless you are using all of Teams capabilities, not just meeting online.



Zoom began as a meeting tool that was easy to use and access. The downside of that ease of use is it has been less secure than other tools. However, there are ways to make your Zoom meeting more secure. Do not post the link to your meeting publicly. Set a password for the meeting for extra security. Use the Waiting Room feature and then admit each person as they arrive. Only the people you admit will be able to access the meeting. Or create your meeting in your Blackboard course and ask students to access it there.

Collaborate Ultra is available in your Blackboard course. Online meetings created in your course can only be accessed by students and faculty with access to that course. However, if you broadly share the guest link to your meeting or post if publicly, anyone with that guest link will have access to that meeting. Moderators may remove any uninvited guests.

For Teams meetings, you will invite each person to your meeting as you would when creating an Outlook calendar invite. Those invitees could forward the invite to others, but they will be placed in a waiting lobby until you allow them to join the meeting.



Real-time captions – Teams
Currently Teams is the only meeting tool that has live machine captions. Unfortunately, not everyone has it as it’s still in beta, but it should be rolling out to everyone soon. Both Zoom and Collaborate Ultra allow you to assign someone to act as a captioner. This person can then type in the captions and anyone who needs them can view in real time.

If you are using an ASL interpreter, both Zoom and Teams will allow your attendees to pin the interpreter’s video on the screen so it is always visible.

Captioned recordings – Zoom and Teams
Both Zoom and Teams will automatically caption your recordings using machine AI. This option is still not available for Collaborate Ultra, but it is expected soon. All three tools will allow you to download a video of your recording. This video can be uploaded to Kaltura in your Blackboard course. Kaltura will automatically caption the video.

Polls – Collaborate Ultra and Zoom
Both Collaborate Ultra and Zoom will allow you to create and share a poll during your online meeting, but they do it a little differently. Zoom requires that you create your poll in the Zoom web portal. This means that only hosts can create a poll, although co-hosts have the ability to launch it. Polls in Collaborate Ultra are created within the meeting and can be done by any moderator or presenter. However, polls are much simpler in Collaborate Ultra. You simply choose the number of multiple choice options and then either state the question or have it on a presentation slide. In Zoom, the question can be included with the multiple choice options.

Attendance – Collaborate Ultra
Collaborate Ultra has a slight edge if you wish to track attendance. Both Collaborate Ultra and Zoom will allow you to view a report of who attended your meeting. However, Collaborate Ultra will also allow you to send that information to your Blackboard courses Attendance tool allowing you to take attendance for all of your meetings in one place. An attendance grade will appear in the Grade Center for you to optionally include in your overall grade calculations.


View Online Meeting Skills and Tutorials to find out more about using each of these tools.


Introducing Bb Annotate!

Later this month we will be upgrading myLesley’s inline grading tool from New Box View to the new and improved Bb Annotate! Bb Annotate will allow you to provide inline grading and feedback to your students’ assignment submissions.

When is the upgrade?

Bb Annotate will be rolling out on Monday, May 25th. There is no expected downtime – myLesley will be up and running the whole time.

What is Bb Annotate? How is this different from the current inline grading tool?

Bb Annotate is more robust than the current inline grading tool, New Box View. Bb Annotate contains many more features, including a sidebar panel, annotation tools (including a highlighter, freehand drawing tools, eraser, image or stamp, text box, shapes, and more) and commenting tools.

For an overview of the available features, watch the Bb Annotate Overview Video.

How will this be different for my students?

Students won’t notice much of a difference. Like the current tool, once you have graded your students’ assignments, they will be able to view, download, and print their annotated files but are not able to add annotations to their submissions. For the best experience, students will need to open their annotated PDFs in a native PDF viewer, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to view annotations.

Which file types are supported?

Like the current inline grading tool, Bb Annotate supports the following file types:

  • Microsoft® Word (DOC, DOCX)
  • Microsoft® PowerPoint®(PPT, PPTX)
  • Microsoft® Excel®(XLS, XLSM, XLSX)
  • OpenOffice® Documents (ODS, ODT, ODP)
  • Digital Images (JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, TGA, BMP)
  • Medical Images (DICOM, DICM, DCM)
  • PDF
  • PSD
  • RTF
  • TXT
  • WPD

What happens to my students’ old assignments? Do I need to do anything?

You do not need to do anything on your end. All content will be migrated over to Bb Annotate during the upgrade. Your students’ old assignments will be imported over and all of your previous annotations will remain intact.

Does this affect the whole Grade Center?

No. Bb Annotate is only available for student submissions via the Assignments tool. Your Grade Center will not be affected by the upgrade.

How do I learn more?

Online Training

Blackboard is offering free online trainings on May 12th and 14th as part of their ongoing webinar series. Find out more or register for a training: Blackboard Instructor Webinar Training Series.