What does Blackboard Ultra offer over the current Blackboard Learn?

The transition to Blackboard’s new VLE, Ultra, will provide a number of user advantages. Students will have a more activity based user experience and will also be able to access and use Blackboard on any sized screen (mobile phone, tablet or computer). Staff will benefit from new simpler workflows designed to make it easier to manage a Blackboard site.

The Ultra Experience is the next generation of the Blackboard  learning management system, focusing on:

  • Improved workflows and deep integrations with mobile devices

Improved workflows and deep integrations with a mobile-first  design to better support teaching and learning. The Ultra experience is consistent in design across the learning management system itself, Blackboard Ultra Courses, Blackboard Collaborate, and the Bb Student mobile app.

  • Seamless transition between mobile and desktop

The new interface provides a seamless transition between mobile and desktop, allowing students to move between app and browser.

  • Aesthetic

The Ultra Experience provides a clear, personalized interface to focus on the learning process.

  • Embedded analytics

Embedded analytics keep students informed about their progress and tell quantitative stories about learning.

  • Releases and updates

Each month, Blackboard releases new tools and improvements to the Ultra Experience, allowing the university to adapt dynamically and progressively.

How does Ultra Experience change Blackboard overall?

The Blackboard environment has not changed significantly since its arrival. The Ultra Experience will change both the system interface and, eventually, the course\module view. In the Ultra Experience, you will see a new Base Navigation window with the menu on the left hand side; where you can navigate to the other core features.

Stream Blackboard

The Navigation window open by default to the ‘Activity Stream’. Those of whom have been using the  Blackboard App, are already familiar with the ‘Activity Stream’; this is the area where recent activity such as discussion posts and submitted assignment are shown. You can use the stream to lunch into course\module interactions or marking.

Recent work

The ‘Notice Board’ is where you will find sections corresponding to the ‘tabs’ we have in the current version like ‘Personal Tutoring’ and ‘Staff E-Learning’

Notice Board

‘My Modules & Courses’ is where you will find the modules and courses you have access to. The modules\courses are identifiable by the color of  the bar on the left; If the bar on the left of the course listing is gray, the module\course is Original, If the bar on the left of the course listing is in color, the course is Ultra. In image below, four courses are Original and three courses are Ultra.

Module and Courses

‘Organisations’ is where all the Organisations sites you have access to, will be listed:

When Blackboard switches to the new Ultra Experience, what will my course/module sites look like?

Initially, after the upgrade to our system, you will see no significant change to your Blackboard sites and the way that they look, you will still see the your courses/modules in the original view. However, the  Blackboard site will open in a layer over the ‘base navigation’. The original module view on the top of the ‘base navigation’:

Base navigationg

Will I need to do anything to adapt to the ‘Ultra experience’?

Yes you will need to adapt but this adaptation can be done gradually. Initially you will experience a very different landing page when you login to Blackboard (as outlined above) but after you access your Blackboard sites from the landing page, your blackboard sites will look just as they did last year. The reason that the landing page will be different is due to the fact the new architecture and design of Blackboard Ultra allows for the pages to display on any device size including mobile phones and tablets.

The reason that your Blackboard sites will look the same as they look last year is in order that you can become familiar with the Ultra environment fully before you switch your blackboard sites to the ultra architecture and design. You will be given access to an Ultra ‘sandpit’ test site where you can familiarize with the new ‘Ultra’ course/module view and try out the new features.

The Ultra Course View (Currently only available on ‘sandpit’ test sites)

Once the Ultra Experience is enabled at the course\module level, the interface and workflow changes may feel dramatic, but they are greatly simplified and fully responsive on all devices. We will be running workshops and online resources to help you get fully  acquainted with the Ultra course view.

Navigation bar

A. Navigation bar: Open frequently used tools in one step.

  • Select an icon to check the course calendar, respond to class discussions, access the course gradebook, and send a message.

B. Add content: Select the plus sign wherever you want to add content.

  • If you want to copy or import content, select the More options icon next to the Books and Tools link. Ultra courses can only import or copy from another Ultra course.
  • In a new, blank course, use the functions to add content, such as Create and Upload.

C. Details & Actions: Manage your course with these options:

  • Roster: View your class list or send messages to anyone involved with your course.
  • Course availability: Open your course when you’re ready for students to participate.
  • Course Room: Access Blackboard Collaborate. A purple icon lets you know when there are users in the room. The Course Room will not be visible while your course is set to private.
  • Attendance: Track attendance using Blackboard native tool.
  • Announcements: Create or schedule course announcements for all course members to view.

D. New activity: Activity indicators appear for conversations and discussions

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