Benefits and Limitations of Ultra Course View

Benefits and Limitations of Ultra Course View

Blackboard Ultra Course View has significantly rebuilt various features and functionalities with the course experience in Blackboard Learn. Overall, Ultra Course View has a more modern user experience compared the Original Course View, however, there are some limitations to the new features and functionalities that have been highlighted below.




Accessibility and Accommodation Settings 

The new accessibility features are timesaving, including the ability to bulk apply accommodations across exams for a student. 

An instructor can still leverage test exceptions, and the test exceptions are found in the student’s pending submission, for each test, which may be confusing to instructors. 

AI Design Assistant 

This tool provides a useful brainstorming tool for faculty who are creating a course structure, and potential test questions, and rubric items, integrated directly into Blackboard. 

The outputs for rubrics and test questions are general and require further editing. The images are often irrelevant or inaccurate. We recommend using your own images or finding suitable ones from other sources. 

Apply Points to Test Questions 

Instructors can apply partial, negative, and extra credit to questions throughout a test or question bank 

Bulk editing of test question points is not yet available. Therefore, points must be updated on a per question basis. 

Assignment Attempts 

Assignments work like Original, and now have a new ‘offline assignment’ feature that will allow an instructor to add a gradebook item but collect the work offline. 

When a student views an assignment in Ultra, the system saves a draft. Once a draft is in place, instructors can no longer edit the assignment. 

Enter Grades 

Instructors can enter grades directly in the gradebook or launch the Flexible Grading panel, which allows them to grade each attempt individually or in bulk, by question or by student. 

Instructors can only enter point values directly into the Gradebook and this will require using the grade schema to show a letter or alternative display of grades. 

Gradebook Column Organization 

Gradebook columns (or items) can be easily dragged and dropped into a meaningful order for review, and they automatically launch the corresponding assessment when clicked. 

The workflows to create manual columns (now called ‘items’) and create calculated columns can prove confusing to engage with. Rubrics cannot be attached to manual items. 

Gradebook Views 

The gradebook offers a streamlined, student list view and grid list view, allowing instructors to contact students who have not submitted assessments. 

In each view, not all columns are sortable, and smart views have been replaced by gradebook filters.  

Import Questions 

Test questions and question banks can be exported and imported into an Ultra course. 

Converting Original tests to Ultra tests is not completely supported, and test points may not be calculated correctly. 

Mobile Application 

The mobile application 'Blackboard Learn' has a similar interface to Ultra and supports consistency across devices. 

The mobile experience is sometimes problematic for students when launching quizzes. 

Organization of Content 

Ultra allows the organization of content quickly and professionally, and the linear course content layout provides easy access to students 

The "layered" view is sometimes problematic when launching new files, or pages, and can cause a user to exit a course. 

Perform Bulk Actions 

Ultra is easier to perform bulk actions including making course sections available, messaging, changing dates, with fewer screens to access. 

When copying content to a course, all items are hidden by default to students. Instructors will need to use the Batch Edit feature to change visibility of all students 

Post Grades 

Instructors have more control when to post grades. They can decide to post grades automatically, or by clicking the 'Post Grades.' 

As there is a separate action to post grades to students, each assessment needs to be configured to automatically post grades. 

Progress Tracking  

Progress tracking is a new feature; students can easily mark and track their progress as they study in a learning module 


Respondus Experience 

Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor are linked directly within the test settings, and can be configured, by clicking the link, and enable a test to use Respondus Lockdown Browser.  

The workflow is different in Ultra Course View. Students need to launch a Chrome or Firefox web-browser, access the test for it, and it will then launch Respondus Lockdown Browser and start the test session. 

Reuse and Copy Course Content 

Instructors can copy entire courses and/or select individual items from other courses currently teaching or have taught in the past. 

Not all items can be copied individually, and original items are automatically converted into the Ultra format. 

Send Messages 

Instructors and students can send messages to each other, multiple people, or an entire class. Messages activity remains inside the system. Messaging settings can be customized. 

Depending on a user's notification setting, not all messages are sent to email, and messages on the institutional homepage, or course, can be easily missed.  

Share a Final Course Grade  

This is called the 'Overall Grade' - this is optional and can be set up for each course as required. Once configured, this will display across all student facing experiences. 

If this grade is not configured correctly, students will see an incorrect grade. We recommend not showing this grade to students unless configured. 

Submission View Options 

The submission view options offer automated feedback, question scores, and other options are shared with students. 

By default, all the submission view options (except correct answers) are set to show after the submission and must be configured by an instructor. 

Test Access Logs 

Instructors can review student activity within a course, including their activity within an assessment. 

Instructors are unable to review the progress of a student within a test via an 'Access Logs', on a question-by-question basis. 

Timer Settings in a Test 

Instructors can add a time limit and can either enable the test to automatically submit work when the time expires or allow students to have extra time to work after the time limit expires. 

Once a test has started, there is no ability to add extra time to the timer during a test. Forced completion is no longer available. 

User Experience 

A linear, more intuitive interface than Original Course View, easier to navigate, less time-consuming to perform daily tasks, navigate resources, and leverage core features. 

Due to the significant change, for existing faculty, staff, students of Blackboard, features may require getting used to, and require practice or assistance. 

Visibility of Gradebook Items 

Instructors can edit the visibility of a gradebook item which will impact the visibility for student view of the gradebook. 

If an assessment on the course page is hidden or has release conditions for specific students, it will be hidden in the gradebook to all students.