Thinking about adopting Ultra Experience for your course? Consider the tools you currently use in an Original course and evaluate how important they are to your transition to the Ultra course.


Low Priority Tools & Features

These tools & features are well supported in Ultra for a transition to a redesigned course experience!


Do you use points for calculating your course's overall grade? Ultra is right for you! The Ultra gradebook can be calculated with points, percentage, or advanced formulas. 

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. The gradebook now supports a points-based system for calculating your overall grades. You can drop grades and set a running total to display to students.

Rubrics are available in Ultra courses in percentage and percentage-range formats. They are also limited to 10 rows and 10 columns. Points-based rubrics are in development and coming soon!

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Point-based and point-range rubrics are available in Ultra as of December 2021! The new point-based rubrics in Ultra offer customized options such as varying scales, ascending or descending ranges, and totals exceeding 1,000 points possible for an assessment. Most importantly, point-based rubrics created in Original courses will migrate to Ultra courses when content is converted, which provides faculty with ample time to review the new rubric format and prepare SP2022 courses for Ultra.

Ultra courses display the announcement as an overlay, requiring the student to dismiss the pop-up before they can access any course content. Announcements can be emailed and formatted. Students can find announcements in the Activity Stream or receive a daily digest via emaill.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Students can get announcements in many ways. 

Original courses allow faculty and students to subscribe to the entire discussion board or to individual discussion threads. Ultra does not support discussion board subscriptions at this time.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. You can still get notifications for new posts to the discussion forum via the Activity Stream or a daily digest by email. A blue dot also appears next to the discussion board to indicate when there are unread posts.

Ultra courses offer the Ultra Document, which allows a variety of customization options. Native tools and new integrations provide easy options to add multimedia, interactive content, and customized designs to your Ultra course.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. You can embed media from YouTube, Vimeo, Spotify, Quizet, Prezi and other external sites. You can also add content or create HTML blocks in your Ultra course.

Items and Blank Pages are replaced with Ultra Documents. Items were text blocks that appeared immediately to students while blank pages required the student to click through to access. The Ultra Document combines both approaches into a robust digital resource for students.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Your Ultra Document can contain a wide range of assets including text, images, web links, multimedia, HTML blocks, files, media widgets, and third-party LTI tools. If you want text to appear inline to students on the course outline page, such as an annotation or instruction, you can use the item description. Click the Ultra Document's gear icon to edit the description and enter up to 250 characters in plain text.

As with Original courses, the Ultra course view also offer folders. However, folders are limited two levels while Original folders can be nested to the point of excess.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Although Ultra courses limit you to two folders deep, this increases support for students on mobile devices. We recommend rethinking your folder structure. Instead of loading all folders into Course Materials, consider placing your weekly folders or module folders at the top level for ease of access and organization.

Journals are available in Ultra courses. Both graded and ungraded options are available for courses with enrollments up to 1000 students.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Journals in an Ultra course are compatible with Original. If your journals are deployed in Original content areas, they will even convert to Ultra!

The Groups tool in Ultra has come a long way from its early days! With a new tool to support batch creation and enrollment, and enhancements to the native platform for searching and sorting students, there's a lot you can do now with the Groups tool.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. You can create groups manually, let students self-enroll, or batch import group sets and memberships. Groups can work with discussions or assignments, or you can use groups to control how content displays to your course. You can use groups to filter your gradebook, too. While you can set multiple attempts for group assignments, once students start working on an attempt, you can't add any new members. 

Group discussions are available in Ultra, but the workflow is different. You can either create the groups first and then assign the discussion, or develop the discussion and then create the group. Either way, the group discussion is available!

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. While the workflows are different, including how you and students access the groups discussion, the tool is available for your Ultra course.

When you create an assessment in an Ultra course, you can use question pools to be sure each student receives a different version of the assessment. However, there is new terminology.

Ultra

Original

Question poolRandom block & question set
Question bankQuestion pool
Question analysisItem analysis

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. The tool provides the same functionality as Original courses, just using new terminology.

Question banks can be created, edited, and managed within Ultra.

Individual tests cannot be imported into Ultra as archive files (zip) at this time. However, you can bring individual tests from both Original and Ultra courses into a new Ultra course using course copy. These tests will appear in a hidden folder called "Undeployed Tests" on the Course Content page.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. If you're not sure what tests you want to use in your Ultra course, you can bring them over and leave them hidden, but if you have a lot of tests, this can get cluttered. A great workaround is to export your tests as question pools, and then bring those into your Ultra course for reuse.

Nearly all major publishers are available for Ultra courses now with very few exceptions. 

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. Check our list of third-party integrations for your publisher. If you don't see your publisher listed, contact your rep or technical integration specialist to inquire about LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) support.

Gamification provides creative opportunities for instructors to design classroom environments that enhance student involvement, learning, motivation, and recognition. The Badgr integration can be used to gamify a course, award badges, and display a leader board to engage students in friendly competition.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)

YES: Use Ultra. New to Blackboard, the Badgr integration can be used in both the Original and Ultra courses. 

The Ultra course interface is redesigned for the mobile experience. There is no course menu to navigate. Tools exist the top and left, but these are fixed and determined by the application, not UMBC. You, the instructor, decide what content appears on the main page. The course outline now functions as your course menu.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. While it may take a little bit of time to adjust to the new course outline format, this structure is more mobile friendly and easier for students to navigate. It's far easier and faster to create content on the course outline: Just click the purple plus sign wherever you want to add content, and that's exactly where it will go!

In Ultra courses, you can send Messages to students. Messages replace the Send Email tool in Original courses. You can check a box to send the Message to students as an email. You can also send read-only messages to students.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Messages are a reliable way to communicate with your students and retain that communication in your courses. You can still send a copy of a Message to the student's email as long as you check the box for Send an email copy to recipients. Students can only reply using the Ultra Messages tool, which ensures the Messages become part of your course when it is archived.

Conditional Release criteria in Ultra courses are based on date/time, grade, or group/individual. There is no option for marking content as reviewed to release content. You can, however, create a Learning Module and enforce content to display in a sequential order. This means students must view Item A before Item B, and then Item B before Item C, and so on. 

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Release conditions in Ultra offer a good foundation for releasing content to your students. With Progress Tracking enabled, students can visualize what is expected when they access a module.

Surveys are not available in Ultra at this time, but they might be one day.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Although Ultra doesn't have a native survey tool, you could use Google Forms as a simple survey tool or Qualtrics if you need something sophisticated.

Blogs are not available in Ultra, but they might be one day. 

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Although Ultra doesn't have a native blog tool, you could use discussion boards, or Blogger under our Google platform.

You can specify test feedback in an Ultra course including when automatic feedback appears to students. You can also specify if/when students can see question scores and correct answers.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. You can set up your assessment so students can only see their grades, but not their answers or the assessment questions. You can also add an access code to prevent students from viewing the test after everyone has submitted it. You can also use Respondus Lockdown Browser for extra test security to prevent screen captures. 

Learning modules let students navigate from one content item to the next without distractions or extra clicks. In Ultra courses, learning modules can be open-ended or sequentially enforced. A learning module helps immerse students in the lesson or concept you're teaching.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Learning modules can be added to the main content page. Drag existing content into the module or add folders, Ultra Documents, files, tests, assignments, multimedia, website links, and other activities that promote interactive learning and collaboration. You can specify how and when students access learning modules using Release Conditions. The only differences between Original and Ultra learning modules are a missing table of contents and inline display.

Wikis are not available in Ultra. There are no plans to develop them for Ultra courses.

Is Ultra right for me? (thumbs up)YES: Use Ultra. Although Ultra will not support wikis, you could use another tool like OneNote Class Notebook.

Medium Priority Tools & Features

These tools & features are supported in Ultra or have alternate workflows to provide a good foundation for your transition to Ultra.


Several question types are not available in Ultra courses including:

  • File Response (use an Assignment)
  • Short Answer (use Essay question type)
  • Ordering (use Matching question type)
  • Hot Spot
  • Jumbled Sentence

Some question types will be developed and brought to Ultra, or you can substitute another question type as indicated above.

The hotspot question type is in development and should be available by SP2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (question)

MAYBE: If you don’t use these question types, you can use Ultra. You may also be able to redesign your questions to utilize the currently available question types.

Statistics tracking in an Original course lets you see the number of "hits" a student makes to content areas and items in your course. Ultra does not track "hits," but rather telemetry data to present a holistic engagement view of how, when, and where students are engaged in your course. These analytics are embedded within the context of an actual graded activity. Selecting the overflow menu (...) and choosing Student Activity will present the report for a specific discussion or a specific assessment. Content items are not tracked at this time.

Enhancements are in development for reporting, including content, and should be available by SP2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (question)

MAYBE: You can learn a lot about your students' engagement in your course through the Student Activity reports and the reporting tools in your course. You can also run a Question Analysis on your individual tests.

More importantly, while Ultra does not offer tools for you to track how and when students access your course content, UMBC regularly pulls all activity logs from Blackboard into REX, its extensive data warehouse and provides a variety of reports to faculty to monitor student engagement in their courses.

Peer Review can be enabled on Ultra 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 Ultra courses, although it is planned. 

Is Ultra right for me? (question)

MAYBE: If you've used peer assessment for qualitative feedback, yes! However, if self-assessment or quantitative peer assessment is critical to your course design, you might use alternate formats such as Google Forms to collect feedback. 

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. 

Enhancements are expected in 2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (question)

MAYBE: Students will see their grades only and not feedback provided by the graders. If essential, those rubrics or comments made by the graders would need to be recreated when grades were reconciled.

High Priority Tools & Features

These tools & features are not yet supported in Ultra or have missing features, which could be challenging for a transition to Ultra. Some features are coming for SP2023.


You can decide how assignments are graded (e.g., points, letter, percentage), but the overall gradebook only supports one type of grading scheme. 

This is in development and should be available by SP2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (warning)

At this time, you cannot create additional grading schemes in the Ultra gradebook.

Guest access allows you to add a user to your course to view content, but not interact with anything or take assessments. In an Original course, this is helpful role for waitlisted students. However, guest access is not supported in Ultra courses at this time.

This is in development and should be available by SU2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (warning)

Probably not. Guest access is in development, but it's not quite ready yet. 

On an Original test, you can choose to grade all responses to a specific question. You can move through submissions, and view and score the same question for each student. At this time, however, Ultra test questions must be graded on a per student basis. Fortunately, there are plans to support this grading format.

This is in development and should be available by SP2023.

Is Ultra right for me? (warning)

If you need to see how all students responded, and provide immediate feedback about how they performed on a particular question, you may need to keep using an Original course until Ultra can support this grading format.



This page was inspired and adapted from Is the Ultra Course View Right for Me? by Northern Illinois University.