Is the Ultra Course View Right for Me?

Following the May 2019 uprade to the Ultra Base Navigation, faculty now have the option to adopt the Ultra Course View. The Ultra Course View is cleaner with a more modern design and easy-to-use workflows. It also has powerful new tools that are not available in the Original Course View, like Discussion Analytics. There are some features of the Original Course View that are not available in the Ultra Course View, however. Some are on their way, others have been discontinued. Learn more and decide whether your course will work well with Ultra Course View!

Keep in mind that all courses will continue to use the Original view by default, and faculty can choose whether to enable the Ultra Course View on one or more of their courses.

Review the Ultra Course View Feature Guide for a complete comparison of the features in Original and Ultra Course Views. The lists below summarize the differences that would have the biggest impact on your decision to switch to Ultra Course View.

Low Priority

Instead of setting a test exception to allow a student to have a longer timer or extended availability window on each test individually, in the Ultra Course View you set an Accommodation for the student on the Roster. Those Accommodations then apply to every assessment in the course.

Individual exceptions can be granted on the Submissions page for an Assignment or Test to provide a longer availability window or additional attempts.

In the Ultra Course View, Announcements appear as a pop-up when students enter the course. They must dismiss the pop-up before accessing any files or assessments in the course. Announcements are also included on the Activity Stream and in the Daily Digest emails. Additionally, Announcements can also be sent via email just as they can in the Original Course View.

Blackboard Collaborate is available in Ultra Course View, and is accessed within the Details & Actions area of an Ultra course. However, it is not visible until your course is Open. You will have to wait to create Collaborate sessions until your course is Open to students.

The Ultra Course View makes it easier for students to find and access Collaborate sessions. When a session is active, meaning that there are people in the session, the Collaborate link will flash with a purple activity indicator to draw attention to it.

You can track student discussion activity in the Ultra Course View in a few ways. You can view student activity in the gradebook grid view. You can also view discussion activity in Discussion Analytics and in the Grades & Participation area of the discussion. To view individual student analytics, click on the student’s name under Grades & Participation for an individual Discussion assignment. Students are allowed to edit or delete their posts (there is no option to turn this off), but all replies to a deleted post are preserved in the thread; a system note appears to let users know that a post has been deleted.

Ultra Course View does not support the option to enable subscriptions for Discussion Forums. In the Original Course View, this option allows you and your students to sign up to receive email notification whenever a post is made to a particular Discussion Forum.

In the Ultra Course View, you can embed media from a number of sites, including YouTube, Vimeo, Prezi, FlipGrid, KhanAcademy, Spotify, O365, and more, within a Document. Click the plus icon where you would like to add content in the Document, then Add Content. Use the Insert Content icon on the text editor toolbar and choose Media. Paste a link to the media you are trying to embed.

If your media is not one of the options that is currently supported, you may be able to add it via HTML, instead. In the Document, click the plus icon and choose Add HTML. Paste the embed code for your media or widget and save.

In the Ultra Course View, folders can only be nested 2 levels deep. So, for example, you could have a Content folder with individual Weekly folders within it, but you could not then have a Chapter 1 folder within a weekly folder: Content (level 1) > Week 1 (level 2) > Chapter 1 (level 3). This promotes a simpler structure for your Blackboard course, which makes it easier for students to find the content, assessments, and activities that they need.

In the Ultra Course View, the workflow for creating group discussions is reversed from the Original Course View. In Ultra, you create a single Discussion Forum and then assign it to groups for private group discussions. Because you create new groups each time, you can reuse the membership from previous groups if you want consistent groups, or create new groups so students engage with other classmates each time.

Journals are now available in the Ultra Course View. Grading capabilities were recently added that allow you to read and assess a journal simultaneously.

In the Ultra Course View, Tests can include blocks of questions that randomly assign students a sub-set of a larger question pool. For example, you can have a pool of 25 questions on a topic and have Blackboard randomly assign each students 5 of those questions.

The terminology has changed from Original Course View to Ultra Course View, based on Blackboard's user research and industry standards.

Original Course View Ultra Course View Description
Pool Question bank A set of potential questions that can be used on any Test, individually or with a random sub-set
Random block and question set Question pool Created within a Test to specify that students receive a sub-set of the questions within these questions (e.g., the set of 25 questions out of which students will receive 5)

To create a random set of questions for students, either upload a Question Bank from your publisher in the Details & Actions area or create a Test with your questions that you do not deploy (it stays hidden from students). Then, create a Test, click the + icon to add a question, and select Add question pool.

Medium Priority

Achievements (badges and certificates) are not currently available in the Ultra Course View, but they are planned for a later release.

Blogs are not currently available in the Ultra Course View, but they are planned for a later release.

In the Ultra Course View, you set up the Overall Grade to automatically calculate student course grades. At this time, that is limited to using percentages for weighted grading, as opposed to calculating grades with total points. There are two potential workarounds, however.

Workaround 1: You can use the percentage system and convert your points to percentages by dividing each the points possible for each assessment by the overall points possible for the course.

Workaround 2: You can create a Calculated Column to build a formula that calculates the students’ grades based on points and then use the Overall Grade to display the students’ grades only based on the Calculated Column.

Rubrics are available in the Ultra Course View, but with some limitations. Currently, 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.

Surveys are not available in the Ultra Course View, but they are planned for future development.

In the Ultra Course View, you can enable test feedback to include automated feedback (if created), question scores, and correct answers. Once selected, you can determine when each type of feedback should be visible to students, including after the individual's grade is posted, after all grades are posted, after the due date, and on a specific date. You cannot prevent students from seeing the questions or their answers.

Wikis are not available in the Ultra Course View, and are not planned for future development.

High Priority

In the Ultra Course View, Delegated Grading is called Parallel Grading. While it is available, there are some significant limitations. Currently, parallel grading is limited to 2 graders and assumes that each grader is grading all of the students. There is no way to use Parallel Grading to assign graders to a subset of students, as you can in the Original Course View, or to have more than 2 graders. Also, students cannot see the rubrics or comments made by the graders, so rubrics and comments would need to be recreated when grades were reconciled.

The Ultra Course View is well-suited to a fully online course. It is easy to find course materials, Discussion Boards are more modern, and there are more embedded analytics on student progress and achievement. It is significantly different from a course in the Original Course View, however, and students in a fully online program expect a consistent experience for their courses.

Most publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley, have updated their integrations to be compatible with the Ultra Course View, but some of them are not yet available at this time.

There are several question types that are not yet included in ULTRA, including:

  • Calculated Numeric
  • Either/Or (you can use True/False question or Multiple Choice)
  • File Response (you can use an Assignment)
  • Hot Spot
  • Jumbled Sentence
  • Opinion Scale/Likert
  • Ordering (you can use Matching)
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Short Answer (you can use Essay question)

Most of these are being developed over time, or other question types can be substituted.

Blackboard has rebuilt a Peer Review option that can be enabled on Assignments to facilitate peer assessment. At this time, it only supports qualitative feedback, but quantitative scoring by peers is planned for a future release. Self-assessment is not yet available in the Ultra Course View, although it is planned. 

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