Click on the question to find our advice:
Moving to Ultra
- Why are we moving to Blackboard Learn Ultra?
- How is Ultra different to the Blackboard (Learn Original) we are using now?
- When will I get an Ultra Practice Course?
- When will I have access to my 2024/25 Ultra courses?
- What will happen to my old courses and previous assessments?
- Can I still merge courses together?
- Where can I get help and support with using Ultra?
- What is the new course content structure in Ultra?
- Are Microsoft Teams & Teams Meeting being integrated with Ultra?
- Will Ultra have reports and analytics to check my students’ progress?
- What is the difference between Announcements and Messages in Ultra?
Building your Ultra course
- Is course rollover happening this year to automatically copy over my content?
- Can I copy content from my existing course into an Ultra one?
- How long will it take to build my course in Ultra?
- Will Ultra courses need to follow a standard course template?
- Will I be able to copy and re-use my current Tests in Ultra?
- What will happen to the Talis Reading List linked to my course?
Moving to Ultra
Ultra is the latest version of Blackboard Ultra and provides a more modern and efficient user experience for staff and students. Moving to Ultra allows us to benefit from the new or enhanced features and functionality being released on a monthly basis for Ultra. It also offers the ability to set up better integrations with third-party tools that extends opportunities for you to use digitally enabled learning. We are moving to Ultra courses for the start of 2024/25 so colleagues are able to consider the re-design of their modules during Portfolio Review in conjunction with the modernised features and content structure of an Ultra course.
Blackboard Learn Ultra focuses on improved usability and accessibility making it easier for you and your students to use, especially for those everyday tasks. Its clean and simple design is fully responsive for use with mobile devices. You will still be familiar with many of the features and tools in an Ultra course, but they may have been revised or updated. They might have a different name and the course layout is different. There are some new features such as Progress Tracking, whilst others remain unchanged, for example, marking in Turnitin and Blackboard Assignments.
We’re planning to make Ultra Practice Courses available for staff in Spring Term 2024. This will align with the TEL staff development sessions that will be available to support colleagues to move their modules to Ultra.
The courses for your 2024/25 modules will be available in Blackboard from April 2024 once module diets are scheduled in RISIS. You and your colleagues can start preparing them from this point. The named Module Convenor in the Module Description will be automatically enrolled in the course and can then enrol other key teaching colleagues. Your Programme Administrator can also enrol you onto courses in your School.
There is no change to 2023/24 courses and assessments or previous years courses. They will remain as Original courses for staff and students, and access to them is unchanged.
Yes, there will be a process for you to request merges and supplementary courses. More information on how to request these will be provided in advance of 2024/25 courses being available in April 2024. Please do not use the current forms we have available for Ultra requests; revised ones will be provided.
A suite of staff development opportunities and training will be provided to support the move to Blackboard Ultra courses. This includes dedicated training sessions, workshops, online self-access resources and guides. This is available in early Spring term 2024. To discuss any School-specific support requirements please contact the TEL team via the DTS Self Service Portal.
The modernised course content structure has been re-designed to work with mobile and touch screen devices. It uses an expanding and collapsing menu structure for ease of navigation with a maximum folder depth of two levels. Content can be organised into either Folders or Learning Modules. The new Documents feature can be used to assemble and present different content into a web page. When moving to an Ultra course, we recommend planning where and how to structure your content in the Institutional Course Template. See the Ultra Course View Tour guide for details.
We are exploring an integration between Microsoft Teams, Teams Meetings and OneDrive that would create a Class Team space and enable you to set up Teams Meetings for students enrolled on a course. This is currently in testing to understand how it works, set it up in a way that makes it simple for you to use and ensure we can support you. We’ll share more information with you in early 2024 following our investigations.
Analytics in Ultra courses now provide accurate data and dynamic dashboards with actionable insights based on students’ activity. These allow you to make timely interventions to support students. For example, alert settings based on the last time a student accessed the course.
Announcements and Messages are both features you can use to communicate with students. Announcements are course-wide messages, new un-read announcements pop-up when a student enters the course site and can be sent to email. They can also be scheduled and you can see how many students have viewed it. Messages can be sent to individuals or groups of individuals in a course. They appear in a feed under the Message tab and can be initiated by clicking on the envelope icon. Copies of a message can also be sent to email. The ability for students to reply to messages is disabled in Blackboard.
Building your Ultra course
A different approach is required this year to enable us to move to the new modernised Ultra content structure that means the usual rollover process is not taking place. Instead:
- Empty course shells for 2024/25 modules will be available from April 2024, for colleagues to populate and build with their chosen content.
- Improved content creation and copying features in Ultra will allow easier selection, copy ing and organisation of content.
- Unneeded old content will not be copied forward.
You can use the new copy feature in an Ultra course to copy individual or multiple items from an Original course. Many of the content types in Original can be copied but we recommend a selective approach, copy individual items in small batches and only bring across content needed for 2024/25. It may present a good opportunity to refresh your course. The revised content structure in Ultra means some content may not copy in exactly the same format and may need to be re-organised. This could take additional time to sort out. It may be quicker to directly upload copies of files stored on your computer or OneDrive. Ultra courses also offer some new ways of presenting content, e.g. Learning Modules and Documents, that you can use to re-construct your content. Training and support is available to help you navigate this process effectively.
Please note some items should not be copied: Turnitin assignments, Gradescope assignments and embedded YuJa Classroom Capture recordings. If they are copied they need to be deleted.
It’s difficult to be specific about exactly how much time it will take to build the course for your module(s) in Ultra. It will be different depending on what type of module you have, the amount of content, if you share the teaching with colleagues and whether it is an existing, new or revised module. It won’t take any longer to build courses in Ultra and the features to add content have improved the ability to do this more efficiently. It will take a little time to get used to the new Ultra iterface but there will be lots of advice and staff development provided to help colleagues become familiar and confident with the new functionality. This includes practical and supported course-building workshops. As a rough estimate, we’d recommend setting aside half a day per course.
We’ve introduced a Blackboard Ultra course template to make it easier for students to know where to look to find what they need and assist you to structure and locate learning materials, activities, and assessments by providing a familiar and user-friendly experience for everyone.
Student feedback often mentions the variability in layout of courses and have expressed a desire for greater consistency across their modules, which not only saves them time but also enhances usability and accessibility.
The Ultra course template builds on and brings together the good work done locally in Schools to improve consistency in ‘Original’ Blackboard and has been developed using valuable feedback from a range of staff and students.
The Test tool has been re-designed in Ultra and some of the terminology is different. You can copy tests and question pools from Original into Ultra but these should be checked carefully. Not all question types exist in Ultra and settings and test options work differently. Full guidance will be provided to support colleagues to copy and use Tests.
Note: If you have multiple tests linked to one question pool in a course, copy all tests at the same time. Copying them separately will result in multiple copies of the pool in your course.
The Library will be working closely with Module Convenors to ensure that your reading list will be available when your Ultra Course is available. The new course template includes a link to your online reading list ready for you to edit as needed for the new academic year 2024/25. Your Academic Liaison Librarian will be in touch soon to ascertain your module specific requirements.
If you have any queries based on the information on this page, please log a ticket via the DTS Self-Service Portal.
[Last updated: 29/11/2023]