There is a New Theme

With the 2019 Update, WCU’s Blackboard environment was upgraded in many ways, but the main upgrades were:

  • We moved from a non-device-responsive user experience “theme” to a theme that has been updated to work more effectively with mobile devices and especially with modern screen reading equipment used to ensure universal accessibility.  This standardized viewing experience reflects the most recent accepted practices in online pedagogy and, most importantly, assures a student experience that allows for the inclusion of students with exceptional challenges. It also assures a more engaging view for students using their smartphones to access the LMS.
  • We moved to a cloud-based software-as-a-service platform that will allow for a more robust learning platform and will no longer require extended periods of outages.
  • We upgraded the Blackboard log-in from a last-generation security system separate from the integrated university multi-factor system to a login experience that is integrated with all other university systems.  It will no longer be necessary to login to both myWCU and Blackboard.  Everything can begin at myWCU. 

About the New Theme

The “Learn 2016” theme for Blackboard Learn Original is a modern version of the user interface that incorporates elements from the new Blackboard design language including color, fonts, and spacing for greater consistency between Blackboard Learn, Collaborate, and the Blackboard mobile apps for Instructor and Student roles.

Upgrading to this theme supports WCU’s compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I change the color of the course menu?
    To ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act following the recommendations of the Web Content Accessibility Initiative, color choices are limited in the new theme.
  • Can I still use buttons on the course menu?
    We do not advise the use of buttons since these do not provide a consistent student experience between browser and mobile app.
  • How do I disable the icons in content areas?
    You can remove icons from your course by enabling the text-only view for a content folder.
  • Can I still use a course banner?
    Yes, you can still use a course banner, although we advise faculty to follow the recommended guidelines for size.
  • Can I make stretch the theme for wider displays?
    No, unfortunately, there is a maximum width to ensure it will function on smaller formats such as tablets and smartphones.

Support for Mobile

When users log in to Blackboard Learn on a mobile device or tablet, screen elements such as the course menu and control panel either compress or change position so they stay visible to the user eliminating the earlier problems with side-scrolling. As the screen gets smaller, modules and tool tiles stack so the user still has access to them as a part of a vertical scrolling experience similar to modern mobile app design.

 

Support for Accessibility

The new version of Blackboard at WCU follows WCAG 2.0 principles and accessibility guidelines for structure, color contrast, and navigation. Fully visible keyboard focus has been built directly into this theme as well as best practices for the definition of buttons and menus used for navigation. ARIA landmarks have been added in courses to the course menu and the content area to define the page structure and assist users with screen readers in navigating page elements.

Differences

Feature
Old Blackboard theme
New Blackboard theme
Branding Supported

Banner image is supported

Color settings and background image are not supported

Course themes are not supported

Mobile Browser Not optimized

Improved experience

WCU still does not recommend taking exams on tablets or browsers.

Content Area Not optimized on mobile

Responsive

NOTE: Content within a content area is responsive when the content is built using responsive practices.

Login page Not optimized on mobile Responsive and updated
Tests Not optimized on mobile Improved experience and anticipated increased successful completion on mobile.  Still not recommended for major exams, though low-stakes quizzes may be appropriate.
Tabs and Modules Not optimized on mobile Improved experience
Discussion Board Not optimized on mobile Responsive and more modern interface
Course Menu Not optimized on mobile Improved experience especially on mobile or in smaller windows