The Ultra Course View offers a great deal of flexibility in how you structure your course and design your students' learning environment. The following best practices can help ensure your students have an exceptional experience in your course!
We strongly recommend developing your course for Ultra Course View in a Shell instead of a Course, so that you can experiment and start over without jeopardizing the course that your students will be accessing.
We also DO NOT recommend using the Ultra Course View conversion process on a past course or on a current course after students have begun working in it. It is possible to lose data, particularly student submissions, during the conversion process.
When transitioning from the Original Course View to the Ultra Course View, you will always get a better result by rebuilding your course fresh. However, you can combine rebuilding and granular course copy from Original to Ultra to increase your efficiency. We recommend building your structure first (see the tips below on using modules and creating a consistent structure), uploading files directly to the course, and copying assessments, like Tests, from Original to Ultra to avoid rebuilding them.
Once you have your course built in the Ultra Course View, it is perfectly fine to copy the entire course for a new semester.
The easiest way to create a consistent structure for your course is to build one Learning Module or Folder with all of the components that you want to have in each module/unit (e.g., an overview document, sub-folders for readings or assessments, placeholder for discussion) and then copy that for each module/unit. The ability to duplicate an item within a course makes this much easier!
Organizing your course into discrete sections, like modules or units, with consistent structure can make it easier for your students to navigate your course and find the readings, resources, activities, and assessments they need to complete in a single place. This reduces cognitive load for students and allows them to focus on learning the content of your course instead of how to navigate it.
If you plan to release your content over time (e.g., set modules to open on the first day of each week), then consider putting them in reverse chronological order. This puts the current module/folder at the top and makes it easier for students to access!
Keep titles short for modules, folders, content, and assessments because longer titles can be cut off when students access your course from a mobile device. Alternatively, place the most important information first in the title.
When you create content using the Text Editor in Ultra Course View, such as for Ultra Documents, Assignment instructions, or Discussion prompts, use the Text Style menu at the far left of the text editor toolbar to create headings and subheadings. This structure makes your content more accessible to students using screenreaders and increases your overall accessibility score in Blackboard Ally.
An Introductions discussion is a great way to engage students early during your course, even if the course meets in person. Having students post a short introduction starts to build connectedness and a sense of belonging, which promotes student success. As a secondary benefit, it will also ensure they know how to access Blackboard early in the semester.
Add a profile image for yourself in your Blackboard Profile so that students feel more connected to you. Your profile image appears in the Instructor list to the left of your course in the Ultra Course View.
Set up the Overall Grade calculation early in the semester. This helps you and your students monitor their progress. Blackboard provides a report for you to view student activity compared to their grade and a report for students to see their activity and grade over time compared to their classmates.
Blackboard does not round when applying a Grade Schema, so if the cut off for an A- is 90%, 89.99% would be considered a B+. To apply rounding, you can either override the overall grade calculation or modify your grade schema to have different cut-off values. For example, you could make the lowest value for an A- equal to 89.5% to allow for a rounding grades to the nearest whole number.
Custom feedback for test questions can be really helpful for students. The feedback allows you to give students an explanation on why an answer they chose was incorrect or to direct students to helpful resources they may want to review. Because this does require significant time, it is best applied for tests that you plan to reuse or that serve as knowledge checks.