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Blackboard Ultra

Going Ultra: Enhancing Blackboard at CMU

Coming to CMU Fall 2024, Blackboard Ultra! A new Blackboard interface that completely redesigns the course experience for instructors and students. “Ultra” features simplified navigation, a mobile-friendly experience, intuitive workflows, and data-driven learning analytics, making it easier for instructors to keep students engaged and on the path to success. Check out this video to preview some of Ultra’s key features.

Beginning in Fall 2023, various training opportunities will be available to faculty and other Blackboard users to learn Ultra and to start transitioning their courses for the Fall 2024 launch. Session planning is underway to provide the best opportunities for users to get the support they need (resources and materials) when they need it (self-paced, scheduled sessions, or scheduled drop-in support). Stay tuned for the full list of training opportunities and materials. 

In addition to the benefits and advantages listed in the table below, Ultra users will experience:

  • A cleaner and more modern interface, displaying content on one page with expanding and collapsing learning modules and folders.
  • Increased capabilities and tools, offering instructors greater choices in setting up and managing their courses.
  • A simpler, more intuitive, and accessible-friendly display, providing instructors and students with a more consistent experience.

First released in 2017 as a replacement for Blackboard’s “Original” Course View, Ultra has since grown into a robust collection of tools and features. As the Original interface will be phased out (by Blackboard), now is the time to begin our transition to Blackboard Ultra. Watch this video to start imagining the possibilities of Blackboard Ultra at CMU.

Ultra timeline

  • August 15, 2023: Ultra sandbox shells available to faculty.

  • September 2023: Launch of Ultra training opportunities to be offered throughout the fall semester including numerous webinars, recorded overview videos & tutorials, and virtual and in-person support sessions.

  • Spring 2024: Training & Migration continues.

  • Summer 2024: Training & Migration continues; Prepare for launch of Ultra courses in Fall 2024.

Benefits and advantages

In addition to a more modern and responsive design, Blackboard Ultra provides students and instructors with many enhancements. Here are a few of the new features gained with Ultra Course View:

Enhanced accessibility; consistent experience across courses for students.
AccommodationsAccommodations are easily set for a student via the Roster. Once set, accommodations apply automatically to all assessments in the course for a given student.
AnalyticsPowerful analytics that monitors student performance and engagement throughout the course.
Automatic ZerosAfter the due date, unsubmitted work is automatically assigned a '0' grade.
Batch EditingUpdate due dates or content visibility to students in bulk.
Controlled Posting of GradesGrades can be set to release either by individual students or by assessment.
ConversationsAdding a "conversation" to course content items allows instructors to add insight, provide a tip, offer encouragement, or allow students to post comments, share resources, and ask questions.
Drag & DropEasily relocate content in course by dragging and dropping into place.
Discussion AnalyticsBuilt-in analytics better informs grading by providing additional insight into the level of engagement and writing for graded discussions.
Forced Sequence
For content housed within learning modules, enabling Forced Sequence guides students through the content in an order defined by the instructor.
Many new features, including multiple views of the Gradebook by gradable items, individual students, or a specific assignment.
Parallel Grading
Multiple individuals can be assigned to grade work submitted for an assignment.
Pop-Up AnnouncementsNew course announcements appear in the Activity Stream as students enter the course. Announcements can also be emailed to students.
Progress Tracking
Students can visually identify what tasks they have started, completed, or haven't interacted with. Faculty can see which students have not yet opened content or marked the content as completed, including the date and time an action occurred.
Student Profile Photos
View student profile photos within Roster, Gradebook, Discussions, Conversations, Messages, and more. NOTE:  Students must add their photo to their Blackboard profile. Student photos are not automatically provided.