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Blackboard Ultra Experience

Available now at UTEP



The Ultra Experience offers a user-friendly course design that is seamless and modern. The new course view will be available to instructors upon request. This page offers guidance for your decision to switch based on new features and consistently used elements of a course, as well as steps for getting started.

For a detailed reference guide and comparison of both the Original and Ultra experiences, please see the Current Comparison Chart updated periodically by Blackboard. For questions about any tool or feature you discover, email .

  Ultra may only be enabled for courses that have not started.


What is the Ultra Experience?





Student Progress Tracking

Coming Soon!
Students’ progress through a course is tracked on the Course Content page with icons indicating whether a student has begun or completed an item, helping them to keep better track of where they are in a course. Progress tracking is only available for students to view, at this time and can be turned on or off with a single click.




Discussion Boards

Group Discussions are managed on the activity, not in individual groups
There is no longer a need to create a separate group discussion for each group. The discussion is created first and then groups are added to it; students can see their group members on the discussion itself. Group discussions also no longer create multiple grade center columns and can be easily managed within a single grading interface.

Discussion Assessment and Student Response Analytics
Discussion Boards now provide Student Response Analytics . For the entire class/groups, analytics examine overall student participation, most commented posts, and the average grade of students. Individual student response analytics will also gauge student’s sentence complexity, lexical variation, critical thinking level, and word variation. SafeAssign for Discussions are also in Blackboard’s plans for Ultra.





Multiple Grade Views
In the Ultra experience Gradebook there are 3 separate views that help to manage and organize student assessment records: Gradable Items, which displays a list of all gradable activities included in the course; Students, which provides a page for each individual student, to allow you to privately discuss grades; Grid View, which provides an interactive spreadsheet that displays all students and all gradable items in a spreadsheet format.

Complex Calculations
In the Original experience, you can create 4 types of calculated columns: Average, Minimum/Maximum, Total, and Weighted columns. With Ultra experience, you can create more complex Calculated Items by creating your own formulas including common arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – even using group operators (parentheses).

Save Grades to Post all at Once
In the Original experience, you had the option to save drafts of student feedback, but you needed to go into each saved draft manually to submit the grade and post it to their My Grades page. In Ultra, you can finish all the grading for an assignment and then Post All Grades at one time.

Automatic Zeros for Past Due Date Items
In Ultra Course View it is possible to enable the Gradebook to include automatic zeros for students who do not complete an assessment or activity by the due date.



Student Accommodations

Set Accommodations for a student once
You can set Accommodations for students one time and the setting will be applied to all assessments and activities.




Announcements appear as a pop-up inside the course
Whenever students log in to a UCV course, announcements will pop up in a window that keeps them from being able to access course materials without first dismissing the window.




Class Communication

Class Conversations
Enable Class Conversations to allow students to ask questions about content and discuss course materials directly on course materials and activities; promoting a community of support and helping identify student understanding of materials. Conversations on a group assignment allow students to collaborate directly on an assignment before turning it in.

Course Messages to keep communication organized
Course Messages provide multiple notifications to students, based on their individual preferences: UTEP email, Blackboard Mobile App and Messages count on the Blackboard Dashboard.



Course Materials

Embedded videos and HTML blocks in Documents
In the Ultra experience, you can create documents for students to read important instructions and information, download materials, or even to embed videos right into the page. This makes for an engaging “written” lecture.




Group Work

Group management is integrated in the course
Instead of needing to manage groups using a separate tool in Blackboard, groups are managed and members appear directly on the Group Activity they need to complete: Discussion Boards , Assignments, and even Tests .



Course Structure

  Redundant Links in Course not Possible
Some activities, like Discussion Boards or Journals, can require multiple updates throughout the semester (i.e. a reflection journal with a weekly update requirement). In the Original experience, you can create a new link to the same activity in multiple locations (i.e. weekly folders) and students would be taken to the same journal. In Ultra, only one link to the specific activity can be created which means the link will need to be located outside of organizational Learning Modules or folders to be visible to students throughout the semester.

  Learning Module and Folder hierarchy reduced to only 2 Levels
Only 2 levels (the initial and then one inside) of Learning Modules and Folders can be used for organization of course materials. For example, a weekly folder can only have 1 level of new folders inside of it (weekly materials, assignments, etc.) and those folders cannot have a folder inside of them. This will require tighter organization of course content.



  Journals cannot be made public
In the Original experience it was possible to create a journal that all course members could view and comment on. In Ultra, Journals remain private between the user and the instructor only. Discussion Boards will need to be used for a collective “Journal” activity.


Discussion Boards

  Students can edit/delete posts
In the Original experience, instructors have the choice of whether to allow students to edit or delete their own posts. In Ultra, students can always edit and delete their own posts and there is no way to turn this setting off. Replies made to deleted posts will remain.

  Discussion Notifications
In the Original experience, it is possible to subscribe to a specific discussion forum. The Ultra experience does not provide that option, however, notifications can be customized for the Activity Steam to include new discussion posts. Settings can also include for emails to be sent immediately with this information.



  Blogs are currently not available in Ultra
This feature is not available in the Ultra experience, but there are plans to implement it in the future.



  Wikis are not available in Ultra
This feature is not available in the Ultra experience and there are no plans to implement it in the future. An alternative to Wikis would be to use Microsoft OneDrive for collaborative papers.



  Gradebook connected to Activity availability
If an activity or assessment is made unavailable to students (whether hiding it completely or just making it so that they can no longer submit), students cannot see any feedback given for that item. They can see their score if the item is set to be visible but unavailable, but not any direct feedback given by the professor. In order for students to see this feedback, the item will need to be made visible to students.

  Default Overall Grade Calculation by Weighted Total Only
The default “Overall Grade” calculation is completed based on category or Gradebook item weighted percentages. This cannot be changed to points. However, you can create a separate Gradebook Calculation that totals the course points.


Course Reports

  Course Reports available by request
Course Reports are not currently available for the Ultra experience the way they are in the Original. There are many opportunities for analytics, but for the detailed course reports that are available in the Original experience, email your request to .


Retention Center

  Retention Center not available in Ultra
While the full Retention Center is not available, the Ultra Gradebook Settings can be customized to alert the instructor, and even students, if Student Performance (Course Activity and Grades) fall below specific parameters.


Observer Role

  Observer Role not available in Ultra
The Observer account is not currently available in the Ultra experience, but Blackboard has plans to implement it sometime in the future.


Tests, Pools, and Question Banks

  Question Banks cannot be manually created in Ultra
Test pools can be imported from an Original course to an Ultra course, but they cannot be manually created in the Question Banks area of an Ultra course. However, individual Tests created within the course can be used for question pools in other Tests.

  Supported Question Type Restrictions
The Ultra experience only offers these Supported Question Types for Assessments:

  • Calculated Formula
  • Essay
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Fill in Multiple Blanks
  • Matching
  • Multiple Choice
  • Multiple Answer
  • True/False

During import/copy of Tests, only supported question types will be included, all others will be removed.




Two Options to Switch!

Review the options below and decide which approach to adopting the Ultra Experience you would like to take.

  Ultra may only be enabled for courses that have not started.


Option 1:
Build from Scratch with the Ultra Experience

The best way to get started in Ultra is to build your course from scratch, giving you full control over what goes into the course and how it is set up.

Best Practice: Build a Master Course Shell that you will use each semester to make updates and to copy into the current semester. This will help reduce the number of errors that occur from recycling courses.

Once you receive your new course shell, use the resources below to get started:
Course Building Quick Start Guide
Blackboard for UTEP Faculty


Option 2:
Convert your Original course to the Ultra Experience

Not all elements of your Original course will transfer over correctly during the conversion process. It is important that you reference the links below as they will give you an idea of issues you might encounter.

To begin with, you will be given an Ultra Course Preview that will show how your current course will look in the Ultra Experience. Once you copy your course materials into the preview shell, you will find a report of what items do not transfer properly. If you decide that you do not want to proceed with the conversion based on this report, you can always choose to build from scratch or stay with the Original experience.

The video below demonstrates the Ultra Course Preview process:
Video: Ultra Course Preview Example




  Self-paced Training


Self-paced Blackboard Training
Available 24 / 7

Improve your understanding of Blackboard Learn, its tools, and how to best use them to facilitate student success at UTEP through these modular courses developed to be taken at your own pace.




  Self-paced Training


Self-paced Instructional Design Strategies
Available 24 / 7

Learn the foundations of course building, the best practices for online instruction, and an opportunity to preview the new Blackboard Ultra Course View.




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