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#BbWorld15 Notes: The Ultra Experience in Blackboard Learn

Notes from The Top 20 Questions (And Answers!) About The Ultra Experience in Blackboard Learn.


  • Bb Administrators can make all new courses use the Ultra experience or allow instructors to choose between the Original or Ultra Course Experience.
    • My thoughts: This is an interesting setup. Ultra is all about consistency, yet a student could have courses using both the original and ultra experience. It makes sense for an instructor to choose to use the original experience while new features are being developed, but a new student to Learn would now have to learn two different experiences.
  • Instructors can preview their original course in the Ultra experience.
  • Student Stream Badge: “You’re a rockstar in this course.”  Allows student to view their activity compared to other students in the same course.
    • Algorithm: Posting to a discussion board, Viewing Content and other behind the scenes. Generates activity score.
    • My thoughts: A great motivator!
  • Instructors can make previous courses available to students in a read-only view.
    • My thoughts: It would be great if the course would automatically enter into a read-only view after the last day of the term rather than the instructor needing to manually enable it. The instructor could get a splash notification x days before the end of the term saying that the course will go into a read-only mode and that they need to select the content/tools they want to keep available to the students. If the instructor doesn’t edit this feature there could be an institutional setting that says for example, grades and content will remain available. Overall this is a great feature because time and time again I have wished I had saved a piece of content from a previous course.
  • Ultra automatically saves content as you type in case you lose your connection.
    • My thoughts: This is probably one of the best new features in Ultra. I’ve seen it happen to others many times and even myself that I hit Submit, something goes wrong and the essay, journal entry, etc is gone forever.
  • Existing features such as Content Collection, Portfolios, Enterprise Surveys, Goals available using the original experience.
  • Instructors can add a course schedule and office hours to a course calendar.
  • Course Schedule and Office Hours appear on the course homepage.
    • My ‘way out there’ thought: It’d be neat if BbStudent was integrated with Mosaic so if a user clicked on an office or classroom location it would open the map in the institution’s Bb app. (Connected and Integrated workflows…)
  • Calendar month and due date views.
  • Within the roster, users can search and send messages.
  • Add content inline.
  • Drag & Drop content into the course outline.
  • OneDrive integration. Additional cloud services in development.
  • Gradebook Views: Item & Grid
  • Breadcrumbs now appear as a Layer Fan View.
  • New Analytics: Course Activity Related to Grades.
  • System can automatically flag students it thinks are having trouble.
    • My thoughts:  A great start! We have the data, so it should be acting as an Early Alert System.
  • Ultra is not a new product. It’s an optional user interface based on Learn 9.1.
  • SaaS does not mean Ultra. Institutions have the option which experience they want.
  • Bb is ‘exploring the ability to deploy Learn SaaS and Ultra to a customer’s datacenter.
  • Bb is committed to Learn 9.1. Twice-Yearly Releases. October ’15 and April ’16.
  • Focused on Quality, Usability and Innovation.
  • NO 9.1 end of life is currently planned.
  • Learn Ultra supports a lot of the essentials.
  • New features will be coming frequently via continuous delivery.
  • In Development:
    • Tests
    • Discussion Grading
    • Rubrics
    • Groups
    • Rich Page Editing
  • In Research:
    • Audio & Video
    • SafeAssign
    • Learning Outcomes
    • Publishers & More (Integration Framework)
    • Locale & Language Selection
    • Enhanced Cloud Profile
    • Tabs & Modules
  • Continuous Delivery: Bug fixes, workflow updates, new features.
  • Administrator controls: Control for some new features.
  • Frequency: At least once a month.
  • Test Environment: Learn SaaS customer have early access.
  • Customization options depends on SaaS level.
  • SaaS Standard: No customizations.
  • SaaS Plus or higher: Building Blocks, Extend the system.
  • Ultra is more consistent. Customizations include changing logo. Future: Changing Colors and other options.
  • Course Level Customizations Future: Exploring different design options (color, images, navigation).
  • Admin & Original Course building blocks work now.
  • All SIS integrations will continue to work.
  • CAS/Shibboleth and Custom authentication types requires SaaS Plus and higher.
  • Cohort program coming soon.
  • Can I change back to Original from Ultra? Possible, but not advisable.
  • Instructors can go back to an Original course, but data after the Ultra transition will be lost.

Presentation Resources


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Eric Silva

Eric is a Systems Analyst and Blackboard Administrator at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and a graduate from Boise State University. Learn more about me.


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