Ultra Course View Feature Guide

The Blackboard Ultra Course View is a completely redesigned experience, and was released in 2017 with a small subset of the most essential tools commonly used in a learning management system. Since that time, it has been updated on a monthly basis with new tools and features, but there are some tools and features of the Original Course View that are not yet available in the Ultra Course View. 

NOTE: All tools continue to be available for the Original Course View unless otherwise noted. If a tool you rely on is not yet available in the Ultra Course View, you may want to continue using the Original Course View until it becomes available.

This list compares the features of the Original and Ultra Course Views, and will be updated frequently as features are introduced or updated.

Last updated: 5/26/2021

Original Ultra Status Details
No result
Achievements TBD

Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Manually create and distribute certificates or award digital badges using an external platform like Badgr.

Adaptive Release Release Conditions

Items can be made available based on date and time, performance (such as a grade on another item), and by individual or group membership. For Learning Modules, Release Conditions can also enforce sequential viewing of materials.

Anonymous Grading Anonymous Grading

You must choose this option for each individual Assignment and Discussion you create. You cannot grade Tests anonymously.

Announcements Course Announcements

To create an announcement, click Announcements under Details and Actions in your Ultra Course. Announcements can be scheduled in advance. Announcements appear in a pop-up box when students enter the course and cannot include any formatting (plain-text only). Announcements in Ultra can also be sent to students via email.

Attendance Attendance

Access Attendance by clicking Attendance under Details and Actions in your Ultra course. Functions and features identical to Original Course View.

Blogs TBD

Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Use Discussion Board in Blackboard or an external blogging platform like Wordpress

Calendar Calendar

Click the Calendar icon at the top of an Ultra course to access. Additional capabilities are planned.

Collaborate Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate course room and scheduler are available in the Details and Actions area of an Ultra course. When a session is in progress, the Collaborate link will flash purple for all users. Collaborate sessions are also integrated with Assignments designated for Group submission, so that group members have a space to meet.

Contacts --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Profile feature to add a photo of yourself and update who can view. your profile information. Full name and email address are automatically updated. To share additional information within each individual course, you can create a Document (page) with information you would have included in your Contacts profile. Information about office hours can be added to the Calendar.

Content Collection Content Collection

To access the Content Collection, click Tools in the left-hand menu on the Blackboard landing page. Additional capabilities are planned.

Content Editor Content Editor

The content (text) editor in Ultra includes the ability to format text, add images, embed YouTube videos, and build equations. It does not include the ability to directly edit the html code, to ensure the text is accessible and mobile-compatible.

Course Banner TBD

Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View. Course Banner will also be used in conjunction with the Course Tile view for the Courses page.

Course Link TBD

Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Course Menu --

In the Ultra Course View, there is no course menu. All of the content is listed on a single page, to make it easier for students to navigate, and links to course tools are organized in the Details and Actions area or along the top right of the page. Content can be organized using folders and learning modules, which open and close.

Course Reports Student Activity

The Ultra Course View does not include the same course reports as the Original Course View, but other reports are available. The Student Activity report summarizes student activity on an Assignment or Test. Access it by clicking the three dots next to the Assignment or Test and choose Student Activity from the menu. This provides information about whether students have opened the assessment, how long they had it open, and their grade. Click the three stripes aboe the list of students to reveal date opened, started, time from start to finish, and grade. You can also download the student activity details as an Excel spreadsheet.

Feature Loss - there is currently no way to view information on when or how often students have accessed the content in the course. This feature is in development as part of a larger project related to tracking course progress.

Date Management Bulk Edit

Date Management has been replaced with the Bulk Edit tool in which you can bulk edit content due dates and visibility. You can also delete multiple course items from Batch Edit. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - You can only edit within a single folder at a time; you cannot bulk edit items within and across folders at the same time. You can, however, edit all top-level folders, learning modules, and course materials at the same time.

Delegated Grading Parallel Grading

Currently, parallel grading allows for two (2) non-student course members to grade the same student submission and for a separate iindividual to reconcile the grades. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - There can be only 2 graders specified, graders cannot be assigned subsets of students, graders cannot also be reconcilers, graders cannot see the rubrics/scores or feedback submitted by other graders, and students can only view the rubric/store and feedback submitted by the reconciler.

Discussions Discussions

Discussions can be created on the content page, such as in a folder or learning module, or they can be created directly on the Discussions page. Discussions have been flattened to reflect more modern discussion tools commonly used across the web. In the Ultra Course View, discussions with grading enabled have a detailed Discussion Analysis feature that provides insight on the level of complexity and critical thinking of a student's posts compared to their classmates. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - You cannot prevent students from editing or deleting their posts, but replies are not deleted when posts are deleted. Subscriptions are not available, but discussion posts are included in the Activity Stream and daily notifications. Discussions cannot be set to be anonymous.

Edit Mode --

Not available in Ultra Course View. You are always in edit mode unless you are in student preview mode.

Embed Media or Mashup Embed Media

 Images and web-based videos can be embedded within a Document (page) in the Ultra Course View.

Feature Loss - Video can only be embedded from select sources, including YouTube and Vimeo. For other platforms, such as social media or news sites, you will need to simply create a link to the video.

Files Upload or Insert Local Files

Upload files from desktop or cloud storage. Files can also be dragged and dropped into your course.

NOTE: PDF files that are uploaded directly to the Course Content stream will open in a new tab, but all files that are uploaded as part of a Document do not open in the browser and must be downloaded and then opened from the computer.

Folders Folders

Folders organize content within the course outline, and open and close to make it easier for students to find specific files or Documents. Folders can have short descriptions to tell students what content is inside. Folders can be made visible or hidden to affect all of the content inside the folder.

NOTE: In the Ultra Course View, folders can only be nested two (2) levels deep.

Glossary --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Create a web link to an external subject-matter glossary or upload the terms and definitions as a file.

Goals Goals and Standards

Assessments can be aligned to specific Goals, including Assignments, Tests (including individual questions), Discussions, and Rubrics.

Grade Center Gradebook

Most grading functions are available in the Gradebook, which is accessed by clicking the icon of a paper and pencil in the upper right of the course. Additional capabilities are planned.

The default Gradebook view is a list of the graded items, but there is a grid view that is similar to the Grade Center in the Original Course View. Only in Ultra Course View, you can automatically assign zeroes (0) for assessments that are not submitted by the due date. NOTE: Grades are not visible to students by default in the Ultra Course View; you must Post the grades when you are ready for students to see them.

Feature Loss

  • Overall Grade can only be calculated based on a weighted total. Workaround - created a calculated column for a point-based total, and base the Overall Grade entirely on the calculated total.
  • Columns cannot be sorted by clicking on the headers.
  • The Needs Grading view is discontinued, but you can view assessments that need to be graded in the Activity Stream or on the list view of the Gradebook.
Groups Groups

Groups can be created manually or generated randomly. They can be created in three different places within a course and can be used for any of the following purposes:

  • Course Groups - Created in the Details & Actions area, these groups allow you to easily send Messages to a subset of students. These groups can be used for Discussions and Assignments
  • Discussion Groups - Created in the settings for a Discussion, these groups allow you to limit students to viewing and interacting in discussion only within their group. These groups can be used for Assignments but not for Messages
  • Assignment Groups - Created in the settings for an Assignment, these groups allow students to make a single Assignment submission on behalf of their group and assigns the same grade to each member of the group (which you can override individually if necessary). You can use these groups for Discussions but not for Messages

Feature Loss - Groups cannot be used to filter the list of students in the Gradebook. This capability is planned.

Item Document

The term "Document" refers to a page in Ultra that resembles a web page. Documents can include images, text, uploaded files, and HTML content. If you only need to add a file without accompanying text, use the Upload option instead.

Item Analysis Question Analysis

Run Question Analysis for a single test by clicking the ... button next to it in the Course Content view, or by clicking the pie chart icon in the upper right. Additional capabilities are planned.

Journal Journal

Journals can be created by using the + menu to create content, then selecting Journal under Participation and Engagement.

Learning Module Learning Module

Learning Modules can contain multiple files, Documents, Assignments, Tests, or Discussions. You can force students to view the content in a Learning Module sequentially by using Release Conditions and selecting the Sequence checkbox. This also allows students to track what they have completed in the module. Additional capabilities are planned.

Lesson Plan --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Learning Modules or Folders. Then, create Documents that house information that would have been in the Lesson Plan Content Information section (description, objectives, subject area). You can organize the order of items in your Learning Module or Folder however you want, and you can use Conditional Availability to force sequential viewing within a Learning Module. If you are using Lesson Plans as a planning tool only, you can follow the same steps above but keep the content hidden from students.

Performance Dashboard --

Blackboard is currently developing capabilities for tracking student progress and monitoring their performance.

Alternatives - You can view alerts within your Activity Stream, keep track of assignment submissions in the Gradebook, and view a single student’s grades by going to the Grid view in the Gradebook and searching for the student in the search bar in the upper-right section of the Gradebook under the course navigation icons (click the student’s name from the drop-down after searching and the grid will only show that student’s grades in a single row). You can view when students last accessed the course by switching to the student list view in the Gradebook.

Publisher Integrations Content Market

Most publisher integrations are available in Ultra Course View; you should contact your publisher representative for more information.

Alternatives - If your publisher has not yet developed an integration for Ultra Course View, continue using Original Course View until it becomes available or use the publisher's website directly with the Ultra Course View (in which case you will need to manually enter data to the Blackboard Gradebook).

Retention Center --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Many of the features of the Retention Center have been repurposed through the Activity Stream, where you will receive alerts for students falling behind, absent, and failing. You can no longer create rules for early alert criteria. See Course Reports and Item Analysis for more information on ways to track student progress. Additional analytics and reporting features are planned.

Roster Roster

Available in the Details & Actions area within an Ultra course. You can view the full student roster, enroll a TA or another Instructor, or add an accommodation for a student (such as extended timers) that apply to all assessments in the course.

Rubrics Rubrics

Rubrics are available for all assessment types. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - Rubrics are limited to percentage and percentage-range only; point or point-range options are in development. Also, rubrics are limited to a maximum of ten rows and ten columns.

SafeAssign SafeAssign

SafeAssign is available for Assignments and for Essay questions on Tests. SafeAssign for Discussions is planned.

Feature Loss - Ultra Course View does not include a method for direct submission; instead, create Assignments with SafeAssign enabled.

SCORM SCORM

To add a SCORM package in your Ultra course, click the plus sign to add content, click Create, select SCORM package, and select Upload SCORM package or Browse Content Collection.

Self and Peer Assessment Peer Review

Assignments can now be designated for peer review. Select Peer Review in the Assignment settings, then set up peer review settings, such as the number of reviews per student and the due dates for initial submissions and peer reviews. Peer reviews are entirely anonymous, although the instructor is able to see the review assignments and who provided feedback.

Feature Loss - Peer review does not include a mechanism for self-assessment. Peer review currently only allows qualitative feedback, although you can connect it with a rubric to guide the review process. Future capabilities are planned, including quantitative scoring.

Send Email Messages

The updated Messages tool allows you to communicate with students via email. Messages retains a copy of the conversation in Blackboard and includes the option to send the contents to the student via email. To access Messages, click the envelope icon in the upper-right corner of the course or use the Messages link on the left-hand menu on the Institution Page.

SlideShare/Flickr Embed --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Create your slideshow (PowerPoint) or document and upload it to Blackboard directly or upload it to SlideShare and share the link to Blackboard. For Flickr images, search for the image on Flickr, copy the URL, and paste it to “Insert Image from Web” in editor (Document). There is currently no way to embed a slideshow for inline viewing, but you can embed a photograph for inline viewing.

Student Preview Student Preview

Access via the Enter student preview mode button in the Details & Actions area within an Ultra course. Click the ... menu in the upper-right corner to exit student preview.

Survey TBD

Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Use an external anonymous survey site, such as Qualtrics or Microsoft Forms.

Tasks --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - The Activity Stream alerts students to upcoming due dates and assignments and alerts you about their progress and participation.

Tests and Pools Tests and Question Banks

Tests can include Calculated Formula, Essay, Fill-in-the-Blank (single or multiple), Matching, Multiple Choice (single or multiple correct answers), and True/False questions. Questions can be reused from other Tests or from Question Banks (which are added in the Details & Actions area in an Ultra course).

Question Randomization - Questions can be displayed in random order for each student, and can be randomly assigned from a pool (e.g., each student receives 5 random questions from a set of 10 questions). Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss:

  • Question Types Not Available - Calculated Numeric, Either/Or (Use True/False or Multiple Choice instead), File Response (Use an Assignment instead), Hot Spot, Jumbled Sentence, Opinion Scale/Likert (Use Multiple Choice instead), Ordering (Use Matching instead), Quiz Bowl, Short Answer (Use Essay instead). Hot Spot questions are planned, others may be available in the future.
  • Question Display Options - Questions are displayed all-at-once. One-at-a-time display is planned for development.
VoiceThread VoiceThread

Add through Content Market option under + in Course Content or in the Books & Tools course menu item.

Web Link Web Link

To create a link to web content, you can create a link directly in your course by clicking the +, Create, and then Link.

Wiki --

Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Microsoft OneDrive for collaborative writing and editing, or try Microsoft OneNote for a shared space for note-taking. Use Google Sites or Weebly to have students create a website, or try a dedicated wiki tool available online.


Login to Blackboard

Get Help

Technical Support and Student Help

Division of IT Service Desk

815-753-8100
servicedesk@niu.edu

Teaching Support and Faculty Help

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning

815-753-0595
citl@niu.edu

Back to top