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This article provides an overview of the updates to outcomes assessment for Blackboard Learn 9.1 clients who license the Outcomes Assessment module, also known as the Outcomes System or Outcomes. This article presents information about changes in the focus of the product, streamlined implementation processes, transition of existing evidence collection data, deprecated features, and minimum system requirements.
This article may contain statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future upgrades. Updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.
Change in focus of outcomes assessment
Outcomes assessment is a first-in-industry product as a fully LMS-integrated evidence collection and evaluation product. Originally, outcomes assessment encompassed the 360° assessment cycle, including the submission of evidence, evidence collection, evidence evaluation, reporting, institutional planning, and continuous improvement. These product capabilities became too expansive for clients to easily implement and contained cumbersome data management requirements. To create a more meaningful user experience, outcomes assessment was updated to ensure a more solid and efficient implementation and assessment processes. The updates were created in a multi-year effort between Blackboard and our clients, to smooth the transition to the updated outcomes assessment framework. The updated product is the culmination of these efforts to provide a simplified experience for all users of outcomes assessment.
Streamlined implementation process
The outcomes assessment updates are built upon the core data architecture of Blackboard Learn 9.1. Outcomes assessment uses data already present in Learn 9.1 enrollments, user records, courses, and (optionally) in the Community Engagement Institutional Hierarchy. System administrators and outcomes administrators are no longer required to create batch files with data to populate, create affiliations, and build the old Outcomes System environment, such as Outcomes Users/Persons, Outcomes Hierarchy, Outcomes Sections, Educational Experiences, and Outcomes Programs. All of these data are obsolete and deprecated in the outcomes assessment update. Populating Blackboard Learn 9.1 with the necessary data to build courses, enrollments, and users records, also creates the necessary data for outcomes assessment to facilitate the successful collection, assessment, and reporting of evidence.
Transition of existing data
When upgrading to the outcomes assessment updates, legacy clients transition existing evidence collection data to the updated software architecture. As with the transition of data from Outcomes Surveys and Course Evaluations to Enterprise Surveys in SP10, data tables are transitioned from the old architecture to the new architecture with minimal impact on the state of existing collections. All evidence collections transition to the new architecture in the same state (collecting, sampling, evaluating) as they were in the old. There is no outcomes assessment pre-upgrade verification process for upgrading the software. Users see changes in the user experience, with the deprecation of features below, and the update of the user interface to include the Evidence Assessment Dashboard.
All evidence collections transition to the updated outcomes assessment architecture in their existing states before the update: collecting, sampling, evaluating, and closed. The only impact on evidence collections during the upgrade process pertains to system roles and evidence collection rules and how these rules are handled post-upgrade:
Outcomes system and context roles
Users with the outcomes administrator system role are given the new assessment administrator role. This role provides users with the ability to access and administer outcomes assessment, including manage evidence collection projects, goals, enterprise surveys, and system rubrics. Context roles, also known as unit memberships, of secured manager, manager, participant, and reader do NOT transition. These roles are no longer necessary in the updated architecture.
Evidence collection rules: Goals
Individual evidence collections with multiple goals in a single rule or in multiple rules will have all rules collapsed into a single rule set.
Evidence collection rules: Dates and terms
Multiple date ranges and terms selected as a part of evidence collection rules are consolidated into a single date range with the widest date range identified from the existing date rages/terms: the earliest date and the latest date will be set as the start and end dates of artifact submission criteria to determine permissible artifacts in an evidence collection.
Evidence collection rules: Collecting evidence by unit/program
Evidence collections from a specified Unit or Program context in the legacy Outcomes Hierarchy transition with all individual Learn courses showing in the collection parameter "from specific places" in the new user interface.
Evidence collection rules: Collecting from Outcomes Courses
Evidence collections that are collecting evidence from specified Outcomes Courses transition with all individual Learn courses showing in the collection parameter "from specific places" in the new user interface.
Evidence collection rules: Project and rule names
Evidence collection project names transition to the new user interface as the name of the project. Names given to evidence collection rules won't transition, as multiple rules in the same evidence collection will be collapsed into a single rule in the transitioned evidence collection.
Evidence collection rules: Unsuccessful collections
Evidence collections identified as Unsuccessful are collections where no courses met evidence collection parameters in the rules. These evidence collections aren't migrated, as the evidence collection is invalid.
Rubrics used for the purposes of evidence assessment transition to the new system rubrics interface. All relevant rubric-specific data such as criteria rows, descriptions, and number values, remain intact.
Progress of transition
Transition of data from the legacy outcomes assessment to the updated outcomes assessment occurs as a background process. Users can create new evidence collections in the new user interface during the data transition. Assessment administrators and system administrators see a status indicator of the data transition as it occurs. This indicator shows the total number of evidence collections for transition and the number completed. A notice at the top of the Evidence Assessment Dashboard indicates the transition is in progress. This notice displays until the transition is complete and can't be dismissed. After the transition is complete, a final post-transition notification appears. After this notification is viewed once, it dismisses automatically. All evidence collections that existed in the legacy outcomes assessment now display in the updated user interface. If there is no evidence collection data to transition, then no notifications display. Errors in the transition process are logged in the system log.
In late 2011, announcements were made concerning several features of the outcomes assessment module. Some features are deprecated to improve the implementation and use of the software based on client feedback and research on the user experience. These features are deprecated upon upgrade to the outcomes assessment updates:
The evaluation of artifacts using templates has been replaced with evidence collection that use submitted assignments in Learn courses. Users are encouraged to run any necessary reports prior to upgrading. Additionally, all associated data with the feature will be removed from the system upon upgrade to SP14. The evaluation of external artifacts, or artifacts outside of Learn, is being considered as a future product enhancement.
Curriculum Maps are deprecated upon acceptance of the updates to the Outcomes Assessment module. Data contained as a part of the Curriculum Map feature is no longer available as a report. Users are encouraged to run any necessary reports before upgrading. Additionally, all associated data with the feature is removed from the system upon upgrade to SP14. A new Curriculum Map tool may be considered as a long-term future product enhancement.
Improvement initiatives are deprecated upon acceptance of the updates to the Outcomes Assessment module. Data contained within any Improvement initiatives is no longer available. Users are encouraged to run any necessary reports prior to upgrading. Additionally, all associated data with the feature will be removed from the system upon upgrade to SP14.
Improvement projects are deprecated upon acceptance of the updates to the Outcomes Assessment module. Data contained within any Improvement projects is no longer available as a report. Users are encouraged to run any necessary reports prior to upgrading; additionally, all associated data with the feature will be removed from the system upon upgrade. Templates for accreditation/program management, review, and collaboration are available for use in organizations or courses. To learn more, contact your account executive.
The Outcomes Hierarchy is deprecated upon acceptance of the updates to the Outcomes Assessment module. Institutions may choose to use the Institutional Hierarchy for Community Engagement to manage evidence with, and collect evidence from, specific places (business units) in the institution, such as Colleges/Schools, degree programs, academic programs, and departments. Community Engagement is available separately within Blackboard Learn 9.1. Institutions who don't choose to implement the Community Engagement Institutional Hierarchy lose critical data management and evidence collection features.
The Outcomes portfolio is deprecated upon acceptance of the updates to the Outcomes Assessment module. Data contained as a part of Outcomes portfolio are no longer available. Users are encouraged to transition all students to the personal portfolio, which is a feature of the content management system. Users may then ask students to submit a ZIP file of, or URL to, a content management portfolio within a Learn assignment to evaluate student portfolios. Future enhancements to the portfolio solutions provided through the content management system are in development for future release.
Ethnicity as a demographic in Outcomes reporting
The updated Outcomes Assessment module relies upon data present in the Learn 9.1 user record to populate demographic data for reporting. The field for the ethnicity demographic isn't currently a part of the Learn 9.1 user record. Ethnicity will be included for reports in a future release.
My Institution Tab modules
The Pending Outcomes Artifacts module and Portfolios and My Outcomes Evaluations module seen by users assigned to evaluations sessions are deprecated upon upgrade to the updated Outcomes Assessment module. Instead, assigned evaluators access assigned evidence evaluations through the notification on My Blackboard's Updates page or from a link in the notification email.
Any customizations and configurations beyond the standard software code, including custom reports, won't be supported upon update.
Minimum system requirements
Outcomes assessment is licensed separately as an additional product for Blackboard Learn clients. Clients need only the Course Delivery license to also license Outcomes Assessment. Community Engagement and Content Management licenses are strongly recommended, but not required. Clients who license Outcomes Assessment without Community Engagement miss critical Institutional Hierarchy and collection capabilities. Clients who license Outcomes Assessment without Content Management miss data management capabilities.
Clients must meet these minimum Blackboard Learn 9.1 system requirements to accept the Outcomes Assessment updates:
- Blackboard Learn 9.1, Service Pack 11 or higher with appropriate cumulative patch (CPATCH):
- Service Pack 11: CPATCH 11 or higher
- Service Pack 12: CPATCH 3 or higher
- Service Pack 13: CPATCH 2 or higher
Clients are STRONGLY recommended to go to the latest CPATCH available for your service pack to ensure the most stable experience possible.
An updated license is required to begin the process of installing the Outcomes Assessment updates. To request the updated licenses, please contact your account executive. Installation instructions are received as a part of the welcome letter.
Upgrade eligibility and legacy Outcomes Assessment support
Legacy outcomes assessment clients must accept the outcomes assessment updates no later than upon upgrade to SP14. The legacy code will no longer be supported in Learn 9.1 SP 14 and higher.
Clients delaying upgrade of outcomes assessment until after upgrading Blackboard Learn 9.1 to SP14 will loose access to the outcomes assessment code until the required new license in installed. After installation of the license, the new code activates. All deprecated features and associated data will have been removed from the system.
Legacy outcomes assessment functionality moves into operational support ONLY in October 2013. The code will no longer be supported as of October 2014.
Tab and role reference to 'caliper' may cause installation issue
Institutions with a legacy installation of the Outcomes System may encounter an installation issue during the upgrade process: an alert indicating the building blocks are corrupt. To resolve this issue, prior to installation, users are directed to manually delete the old "Outcomes" tab from and any custom roles referencing legacy Outcomes or 'caliper' prior to upgrading. Deleting these references will resolve the corrupt building block issue experienced in installation.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to perform system or data set-up BEFORE I upgrade?
No. All data in existing evidence collections transition to the new architecture. There are no requirements or pre-upgrade software processes outside of the installation/upgrade procedure.
How do I get my new licenses and software to perform the upgrade?
Please contact your account executive to request the necessary licenses to upgrade Outcomes Assessment.
Do I still affiliate Blackboard Learn courses to Outcomes sections after I upgrade?
No. This process is no longer required to successfully collect evidence with the outcomes assessment updates.
After I upgrade, do I still have to populate outcomes assessment with batch file data?
No. Batch file processing is no longer required. You no longer have to create the Outcomes Persons, Units and Programs, Courses, Course Sections, and Affiliations batch files. Outcomes Assessment relies on data present in Blackboard Learn 9.1, such as user records, courses, and goals.
What features are deprecated when I upgrade?
These features are deprecated upon accepting the outcomes assessment updates: artifact templates, curriculum maps, improvement initiatives, improvement projects, outcomes hierarchy, outcomes portfolio. To learn more, see the Deprecated Features section on this page.
What happens to my data when I upgrade?
Evidence collection data transitions to the updated Outcomes Assessment module upon upgrade. Data contained as a part of a deprecated feature will no longer be available as a report. Users are encouraged to run any necessary reports prior to upgrading.
Are Blackboard Consulting services available to help plan this upgrade?
Yes. Consulting services can assist in planning the upgrade and data transition. To learn more and get pricing for this engagement, contact your account executive.
Why do I no longer have the ability to report using the ethnicity demographic?
Outcomes assessment relies on data present in the Learn User Record. At this time, ethnicity isn't a data point currently captured in this data set. This data is planned for inclusion in a future update to the user record in Blackboard Learn 9.1.
How will my assigned evaluators assess assigned evaluations after upgrade?
Assigned evaluators access assigned evidence evaluations through the notification on My Blackboard's Updates page or from a link in the notification email.