Anthology, the company that owns Blackboard Learn, has created a new layout and look of your Blackboard course – Ultra Course View (UCV) (YouTube 1:55) Some instructors in the USC system have been using UCV since Spring 2020. Many instructors have taken this opportunity to revise their course materials and activities and, as a result, they created a cleaner course web site.
Beginning in Fall 2024, all new USC courses will be created in the Ultra Course View. The transition plan is outlined on the Office of the Provost’s web page, Blackboard Learn Ultra Transition.
There are several options for getting started with your transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra. It is recommended that you consult with an Instructional Designer from the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) or a member of the eLearning Services staff through the DoIT Service Portal to discuss which option is the best fit for you, and to assist with designing your course in the Ultra Course View. Explore the guidance provided in the How do I decide the best way to start my transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View (UCV)? resource and check out the Getting Started with UCV section below for detailed information regarding your transition options.
One way to become familiar with Ultra Course View is to Request a UCV “Sandbox" Course, which is an empty Ultra course shell that does not contain student enrollments. You can create new material or copy materials into the sandbox from other courses (both Original Course View and Ultra Course View) that you have taught.
The CTE also has a UCV template that you can import into your Ultra sandbox and/or your existing Ultra course. The CTE UCV template includes various elements, such as a "Getting Started" section, a course café discussion board, an example module, and a designated space for your initial module. Instructions for utilizing the template are conveniently included within the template.
Plan to attend webinars and presentation accessed through the Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View (UCV) Calendar to sign up for UCV webinars and presentations. If you would like to schedule a presentation to your department or program, please consult with an Instructional Designer from the CTE or a member of the eLearning Services staff through the DoIT Service Portal.
The University of South Carolina is transitioning from Blackboard Learn Original to Blackboard Learn Ultra. It is an updated design, style, and interface designed for consistency and enhancing student navigation.
Beginning in Fall 2024, all USC course shells will be created in Ultra Course View. The transition plan is outlined on the Office of the Provost’s webpage – Blackboard Learn Ultra Transition.
Using the Ultra Course View requires converting your original course to UCV.. If this conversion hasn't occurred, you are utilizing the original view. In Blackboard, "Ultra" might appear in a few locations, yet the Ultra Course View predominantly features a white background with tool menus positioned at the top and left side, differing from the original dark background and single left-side menu.
Access to your previous Blackboard Learn Original Courses will remain available, enabling you to transfer materials into UCV and maintain records. Beginning Fall 2024, the default course view for Blackboard course shells will be created in UCV.
Yes! You can choose to transition early. We recommend requesting a UCV “Sandbox" Course to begin preparing your course in UCV. A sandboxis an empty Ultra course shell that does not contain student enrollments. When you are ready you can convert your original course to the Ultra course view and copy the content from the sandbox. Fall 2024 course shells, created in UCV, will be available in March 2024.
Yes! If you would like to use Ultra Course View in Spring or Summer 2024 with a merged course, please contact eLearning Services (eLS) for assistance in making sure that the merged course gets converted properly.
Converting your course to the new Blackboard Learn Ultra course view is easy, and if you plan to use the Ultra course view, we recommend converting your course before you add any content. Once the course has been converted, you can add and organize your content. View instructions on how to convert an original course to the Ultra course view.
Yes. In an Ultra course site, users with certain roles can copy course materials, discussions, assignments, tests, etc. from previous courses (including sandbox courses) in which you are an instructor. They can be Original courses or Ultra view. You can select individual items from the course or an entire folder. Roles in Blackboard that grant these permissions are Instructor, Teaching Assistant, and Course Builder. Check out the Building Course in UCV -> Copy Content from Other Courses section below for detailed information about copying course materials.
Learning modules and folders are both great for organizing content. With both tools, you can add documents, file attachments, tests, assignments, multimedia, and links to websites, discussions, and journals. Only two levels of folders can be created to organize your content. For example, you cannot include two folders within a folder. You can copy a single file from within a folder from one course to another.
Learning modules can be used as containers for organizing collections of content. Learning modules can be the top layer of content organization, and folders can be the second layer of content organization. Modules let students navigate from one content item to the next without distractions or extra clicks using forward and back arrows. You can enable sequence viewing that requires students to view content or complete an assignment before moving onto the next item. If you need to copy content from a learning module from one course to another, you’ll need to copy the entire learning module.
Below are best practices for designing and teaching your course in UCV:
- UCV is very different from Blackboard original view. Be open minded and prepared to re-think how you design and structure your course.
- Start early. If you’d like to use UCV extensively or design an online course in UCV, it is recommended that you start the process at least a month in advance of the course start date. A well-designed course takes planning. Do not convert your course once the semester has started.
- Organize your course in a logical manner. Start with a Learning Module and then add folders and documents (a Learning Module should always be the top layer)
- Know where you need to check in the course and get into the habit of doing so. (e.g. Messages, Discussions page, grade book) to track student learning and respond to communication.
Learn more about Best Practices for Presenting Content in UCV.
This will vary widely depending on the complexity of your course and if you use this as an opportunity to update your course materials. You will need to spend time evaluating the materials and activities that you want to reuse, just like you do when you copy materials from one semester to a new semester. You will also need to confirm that due dates are current and confirm that links to outside resources are still active.
Many of the features you are familiar with in Original View have been redesigned or simply re-named. The most comprehensive list of features that will and will not be available in Ultra Courses is on the Ultra Course Preview page in Blackboard Help.
The most obvious change is that the menus in Ultra Courses cannot be edited by the instructor. This is by design so that students will have consistent access to tools across all their Blackboard courses. Instructors use the large main Course Content area for their course materials. For information about the items found on the course menus, see the article Navigate Inside a Course in Blackboard Help.
Anthology – Anthology is the parent company that owns the learning management system, Blackboard Learn.
Blackboard – The university of South Carolina enterprise supported learning management system.
Blackboard Collaborate / Blackboard Collaborate Ultra / Collaborate Ultra – Real-time video conferencing tool within your Blackboard course(s) that lets you add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact.
Blackboard Learn Ultra – An updated, modern, and intuitive course view within the Blackboard Learning Management System. Also referred to as Learn Ultra and Learn Ultra Experience in existing Anthology (Blackboard) documentation.
Class Collaborate – Formerly named Blackboard Collaborate which has been purchased by the company Class.
Learning Management System - A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, automation, and delivery of educational courses, training programs, materials or learning and development programs. The learning management system concept emerged directly from e-Learning. The enterprise supported learning management system at the University of South Carolina is Blackboard.
Original Course View – The Original Course View (OCV) most closely mirrors the course experience in Blackboard Learn 9.1. 95% of courses being taught at the University of South Carolina in Blackboard are currently being taught in the Original Course View. The goal of this project is to transition all courses from Blackboard Learn Original Course View to the updated Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View beginning Fall 2024.
Sandbox - Working in an Ultra Sandbox is the preferred option to explore the updated look, feel and features in Blackboard Learn Ultra. The sandbox is not a live course, has no student enrollments and allows you to pull in content from previous courses. Sandbox course content can be copied into regular semester courses.
Ultra Base Navigation - The Ultra Base Navigation (menu) is the left-hand menu that you see when you first log in to Blackboard. It provides you an easy way to access your courses and organizations and displays links to help and other resources and updates on your courses. It has a modern and simple layout that is designed to re-size for mobile devices, and which improves the accessibility of Blackboard.
Ultra Course Preview / Ultra Preview - The feature allows you to fully explore your Original course in the Ultra preview before deciding whether to switch to the updated Ultra Course View.
Ultra Course View (UCV) – The Ultra Course View (UCV) is a simpler and more modern course experience for instructors and students. The workflows and tools are easy to find and use in the Ultra Course View. Instructors and students need little experience with Blackboard Learn to find and use the tools available to them. The goal of this project is to transition all courses from Blackboard Learn Original Course View to the updated Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View beginning Fall 2024.
Blackboard Learn Original and Ultra Terminology - Terminology highlights between Original Course View and Ultra Course View.
Some instructors at USC have been using UCV since Spring 2020. Students have smoothly adapted to its user-friendly features and modern appearance. Below are resources that can be shared with students:
- Introduction to Blackboard Learn with the Ultra Experience for Students
- Blackboard Learn Help for Students - Ultra Course View
For support, instructors and students can call 803-777-1800 or submit a help ticket.
At this time, Organizations will remain as they are in Original Course View. Once Fall 2024 courses have been converted to Ultra Course View, eLS will work with Organization owners to transition them to UCV.
Multiple approaches are available for viewing your Blackboard original view course in UCV and converting your original course to UCV. Explore the UCV Decision Tree to determine the best option for you. The video, Converting Existing Content to Ultra Course View (6:02), demonstrates the steps of the conversion process.
Start fresh and rebuild your Blackboard Original course in Blackboard Learn Ultra. Working in an Ultra Sandbox is the preferred option to explore the updated look, feel and features in Blackboard Learn Ultra. The sandbox is not a live course, has no student enrollments and allows you to pull in content from previous courses.
To begin your journey to Blackboard Learn Ultra, request a sandbox, under "This request concerns," select Blackboard Learn Ultra – Ultra Course View from the drop down.
If you have an empty Blackboard Original course shell (with no course content) available, you may want to consider converting it to Blackboard Learn Ultra prior to moving content to the course.
Follow these instructions to convert your empty Original course shell to an empty Ultra Course shell.
Once converted, check out the Building Course in UCV section of this page below to begin adding content to your course.
You can fully explore your Original course in the Ultra preview before you switch
to the Ultra Course View. You can also review a list of features and functions that change or won't carry forward if you convert.
Note: Any changes an instructor makes to a course in Preview are carried forward if they opt to convert to the Ultra Course View. If they choose to go back to the Original Course View, changes made in the Preview are lost.
Once you confirm that you want to keep Ultra Course View, you cannot switch the course back to the Original Course View. After conversion, you can begin building your course.
Add Content to the Course Content Page (video 3:54)
Creating content in your Ultra courses is simple. There are several ways you can add or upload content to your course. You can create new course content items, copy content from other courses, upload files from your computer, add items from your Content Collection, add files from cloud storage, and add content and tools from external sources from the Content Market.
Learn more about Adding Content in UCV.
You can create folders and learning modules to create and organize content. You can add documents, file attachments, tests, assignments, multimedia, and links to websites, discussions, and journals in folders and learning modules. Folders and modules can collapse for a streamlined view of items. Only two levels of folders can be created to organize your content. Learning modules can be used as containers for organizing collections of content. Modules let students navigate from one content item to the next without distractions or extra clicks using forward and back arrows. You can enable sequence viewing that requires students to view content or complete an assignment before moving onto the next item.
Learn more about Using Containers for Content.
Create Learning Modules (video 1:25)
You can use learning modules in your course as a container for organized collections of content. Modules let students navigate from one content item to the next without distractions or extra clicks. A learning module helps immerse students in the lesson or concept you're teaching.
Learn more about Learning Modules.
Use the Content Editor (video 0:47)
The editor appears wherever you can format text, such as in assignments, tests, and discussions. You can add bullet and numbered lists, and bold and italicized text. Use the Text Style menu to add headings. You can also launch the math editor to embed mathematical formulas in your text. The WIRIS (Math and Chemistry) editor opens in a new window.
Creating a Document (video 2:24)
On the Course Content page, you can create a document or page to present a combination of content. For example, you can include introductory text for a lesson, an audio file of a lecture, and an image. When students select the document title, the materials you added are all presented together on one page. Students see the content just as you see it, without the editing options.
Learn more about Creating Documents.
Batch Edit (video 1:13)
In UCV, you can use Batch Edit to update common settings across all content. Batch Edit lets you control content settings in one place and all at once to save you time managing your course.
Learn more about Batch Edit.
Preview Course as a Student (video 1:34)
With student preview, you can review the course content from a student's perspective. You can also validate course behaviors.
Learn more about Previewing a Course as a Student.
Release Conditions (video 2:59)
With conditional availability, you can withhold assignments from students in UCV. Assign coursework to appear in a specific order after students have achieved specific criteria you set, such as scoring a B or above on a quiz before they can take a test.
Learn more about Release Content.
Copy Content (video 1:32)
Users with certain roles can copy all the content or select individual items from the other courses they teach. Roles in Blackboard that grant these permissions are Instructor, Teaching Assistant, and Course Builder. Attendance data isn't included when you copy a course into a new or existing course.
Learn more about Copying Content from Other Courses.
Communicating with Students
Use the Roster link on the Course Content page to view your class list, connect with your students, and match faces to names. You can also send messages to anyone involved with your course. The Roster link can also be used to enroll users (students, teaching assistants, course builders, graders, facilitators, instructors and guests) into your course.
Learn more about Managing the Roster.
Create Announcements (video 1:40)
Announcements help you share important information with others in your course. They appear immediately when a student opens a course and students must open the announcement to make it disappear from the screen. Students are less likely to ignore the information you share in a course announcement because it demands attention before viewing course content. You can create and save your announcement before sending them to students. This is very helpful for proofreading and checking to see if you have all necessary information.
Learn more about Creating Announcements.
Messages (video 3:20)
In UCV, your messages all have one home - just like a normal inbox. You can access all your messages right from the base navigation menu, or directly in your course. Course messages helps you organize course related questions and organize them inside of Blackboard.
Learn more about Messages in UCV.
Create Discussions (video 2:10)
Discussions encourage students to think critically about their coursework and interact with each others' ideas. Discussions can also be used as a designated space for students to ask for assistance with course material, policies and procedures.
Learn more about Creating Discussions.
Discussion Analysis (video 1:12)
Discussion analysis provides an in-depth look at each student’s discussion participation, critical thinking level, and sentence complexity. These performance-based insights show you which students who may need help or are out of the normal range of participation. Learn more about Discussion Analysis.
Groups in UCV
Create Course Groups (video 2:50)
With a group set, you can create multiple groups around a theme, such as a lesson, brainstorming, studying, or volunteering. You can also pair students based on certain attributes, situations, or tasks.
Learn more about Creating Groups.
Create Group Assignments (video 2:07)
You can use group assignments to teach students how to effectively work in teams. This type of assignment helps students realize that each team member can contribute something useful to solving a problem and that the group's result can be more than the sum of its parts. Students demonstrate their knowledge while learning to appreciate the perspective of others.
Learn more about Creating Group Assignments.
Create Assignments (video 1:04)
Assignments allow students to apply course concepts and demonstrate their knowledge in tangible ways. Instructors can create assignments within the course alongside other content. Students access their work next to the content they need, right when they need it.
Learn more about Creating Assignments.
Grant Assessment Exceptions (video 1:49)
When special circumstances arise, you may allow an exception on a specific test or assignment to an individual student. An exception includes additional attempts or extended access, even if the assessment is hidden from other students. An exception overrides the two settings applied to everyone else for that specific assessment only. Students don't see the exceptions you've added. You might use exceptions for students who have internet issues, disabilities, or technology and language differences.
Learn more about Attempt Management.
Grant Student Accommodations (video 1:14)
You can set accommodations for individual students. You can exempt students from assessment due dates or time limits. Use accommodations to help students progress in the course even though they may have difficulty with some requirements.
Learn more about Granting Student Accommodations.
Use SafeAssign (video 1:20)
You can use SafeAssign to check for potential plagiarism in student submissions in both tests and assignments.
Learn more about Using SafeAssign.
Create Tests (video 1:17)
You can use tests to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students. You can create tests alongside the other content students need as they prepare. Learn more about Creating Tests.
There are various test questions that can be used:
Use Question Pools in Assessments (video 1:42)
When you create an assessment in UCV, you can use question pools to be sure each student receives a different version of the assessment.
Learn more about using Question Pools in Assessments.
Import Question Banks (video 1:16)
You can import Original Course View question pools or files from outside resources into your UCV course. This creates a database of questions that you can reuse in multiple assessments. Only ZIP files are supported.
Learn more about Importing Question Banks.
Reuse Questions (video 1:35)
In the UCV, you can reuse questions and other content from all existing tests, assignments, and question banks in your course.
Learn more about Reusing Questions in UCV.
Timed Assessments (video 3:03)
You can add a timer to assessments to help keep students on track and focused. You can only add a time limit before students begin an attempt.
Learn more about Timed Assessments.
Mark Attendance (video 1:38)
For each class meeting, you can mark whether a student is present, late, absent, or excused. The attendance records for each student appear in a single column next to other grades. On the Attendance page, profile pictures appear so you can easily identify students.
Learn more about Marking Attendance.
Create Rubrics (video 2:36)
A rubric is a scoring tool that you can use to evaluate graded work. When you create a rubric, you divide the assigned work into parts. You can provide clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each part, at varying levels of skill.
Learn more about Creating Rubrics.
Associate Rubrics (video 0:49)
You can associate an existing rubric to an assignment or test unless you've already graded the assessment. You may associate only one rubric to each assessment.
Learn more about Associating Rubrics.
Inline Grading (video 1:21)
You can annotate and grade student files directly within the browser. On the assignment submission page, supported file types open in the browser.
Learn more about Assignment Inline Grading.
Download Assessment Submissions (video 2:05)
From the gradebook, you can download files and text students add to their assessment submissions and review them offline.
Learn more about Downloading Assignments.
Parallel Grading (video 1:44)
You can have specific users in your courses grade sets of assessment submissions. Graders can't see other graders' grades, feedback, annotations on student files, and rubrics. They grade in parallel and provide provisional grades. The instructor role is the default final grader or reconciler. The reconciler reviews the provisional grades and determines the final grades that students see. You can assign the ability to reconcile grades to one or more other users with grading privileges and remove your ability to reconcile.
Learn more about Parallel Grading.
Gradebook Overview (video 2:20)
See what you need to grade in all your courses, or drill right into a course and get started. From the base navigation, you have immediate access to all your courses' grading tasks on the global grades page. You can quickly scan everything you need to grade without navigating to each course. Within your course, you can access the course gradebook on the navigation bar. Wherever you start your grading process, everything you need is just a click away.
Learn more about the Gradebook.
References and Resources