Blackboard has created a second option for the layout and look of your Blackboard course – Ultra Course View (UCV). UCV may also be referred to as “Blackboard Learn with the Ultra Experience.” UCV is still being developed and does not currently have all the features you are familiar with in original Blackboard. Courses will continue to be created in Blackboard’s original view as the default. However, UCV may be ideal for instructors who are designing a new course, familiar with working in other Learning Management Systems (like Canvas), or who are considering revising their course materials and activities.
It is recommended that you consult with an Instructional Designer from the Center for Teaching Excellence or a member of the eLearning Services staff before designing your course from scratch or converting your course to UCV. Once conversion happens, you cannot undo or get back data that did not convert in the process.
The Center for Teaching Excellence has a UCV template that can be copied into courses. If you would like the template copied into a course, contact an instructional designer. Access the CTE events calendar to sign up for UCV webinars and presentations. The resources below will help you become familiar and proficient with UCV.
Frequently Asked Questions
Converting your course to UCV is optional at this time; it is not mandatory. UofSC does not have a date when original view courses will no longer be used. If you would like to try UCV, call the DoIT Service Desk at 803-777-1800 or complete the UCV Next Steps Survey. You may also schedule a consultation with a CTE Instructional Designer
There are many advantages to using UCV. There are also some potential obstacles to using UCV, but they can be overcome with re-thinking your course design and using other available tools. The advantages outweigh the potential obstacles. Schedule a consultation with an Instructional Designer to discuss the advantages of using UCV for your course.
Advantages of Using UCV
- Interface has a clean and modern look and feel.
- Navigation and menus are consistent for all courses.
- Content is displayed on a single page.
- Designed with accessibility in mind.
- Adapts to the screen size of users when viewing courses on mobile devices, tablets, or computers.
- Files can be added via drag and drop.
- Course announcements appear in a pop-up box when students access courses. Students must close the announcement before viewing course material.
- Interactive documents can be built using text, images, videos and files.
- Accommodations for students only need to be added one time. You do not need to add accommodations for each assignment.
- Discussions include analytics to quickly view students who are regularly participating.
- You can easily view courses in student preview mode.
- You can control when students see their grades in the gradebook. Grades are private until you “Post” them.
- Allows for quick searches and rapid filter options in the gradebook.
- Includes "Messages" that are internal to Blackboard. Instructors and students can send “Messages” to others in the course. Message are kept in UCV and can be sent via email.
- Ability to have class conversations for individual content items, including documents, assignments and tests.
- Multiple websites, like VidGrid, Panopto, FlipGrid, SlideShare, Prezi, VoiceThread, KhanAcademy, Kalture, NearPod, Quizlet, Vimeo, and YouTube can easily be embedded into the text editor.
- You can access your files from Office 365 from courses.
- You have the ability to use Batch Edit to update content due dates when you reuse, copy, or import content.
- You can add an external calendar to your Blackboard calendar.
- You have the ability to automatically assign zeros to work not submitted.
- It is easy to find Blackboard Collaborate Ultra sessions in the “Details & Actions” section of UCV. An indicator light will flash when people are in the session.
Potential Obstacles of Using UCV
- You can only have two levels of folders. This helps to provide a simple structure in your course so that students can easily find course materials.
- Several question types are currently not available.
The following question types are currently available:
- Calculated Formula
- Fill in Multiple Blanks
- Fill in the Blank
- Multiple Answer
- Multiple Choice
The following question types are not currently available:
- Calculated Numeric
- Either/Or (can use True/False or Multiple Choice)
- File response (can use the Assignment feature)
- Hot Spot
- Jumbled Sentence
- Quiz Bowl
- Short Answer (can use the Essay question)
- Blogs, surveys and self and peer assessments are currently unavailable. An alternative is to use the discussion board or an external blog tool. You can use Google Forms or Office 365 for surveys. Peer feedback can be collected in a survey tool.
- Wikis are not available. There is not a plan to add Wikis to UCV. An alternative is to consider Microsoft OneDrive, Microsoft OneNote, Google Sites or Google Docs for collaborative assignments.
- Cannot bulk create groups, bulk enroll students in specific groups, or export group lists.
- Text formatting is current limited.
- Points are not currently available for rubrics. There is a current limit of 10 rows and columns for rubrics. Additional rubric capabilities are being planned.
- Course banners cannot be used. There is a plan to include course banners in UCV.
- Course links cannot be used. There is a plan to include course links in UCV.
- The Tasks feature is not available. There is not a plan to add the Tasks feature to UCV. Students receive alerts about due dates on the Activity Stream.
- Subscribing to discussion board posts is not available.
Check out an Ultra Course View Feature Guide for a comparison of Blackboard original view and UCV.
It is recommended that you start your course design in UCV from scratch. Starting from scratch allows you to re-think the design of your course and how it best fits into UCV. When you convert a course from original to UCV, some items may not convert to the new Blackboard format and become unrecoverable and/or may not be structured in a logical format for you or your students.
Learn more about content types that will and will not convert.
The CTE has a template that can be copied in UCV courses. Contact an Instructional Designer for the template.
No, once you convert your course from original Blackboard to UCV, you cannot go back. It is recommended that you start from new and build your course in UCV, as you may need to change the structure and organization, but, if necessary, copy your original course into a sandbox course and then convert the course to UCV. To request a sandbox test course, call the DoIT Service Desk at 803-777-1800 or complete the UCV Next Steps Survey. You can also schedule a consultation with a CTE Instructional Designer.
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.
Getting Started with UCV
UCV Introduction (video 1:27)
UCV is a learner-centered environment designed to improve user efficiency and satisfaction in a modern, comfortable, and simple interface. This overview will help you become familiar with the new interface. The streamlined navigation and workflows are designed to allow you to get in, get done, and get out.
Note: All of your course content appears in the main part of the page. Menu items cannot be changed in UCV. Under “Details & Actions” on the left of the course, the following items are available:
- Roster: view your class roster
- Course Description: view your course description
- Course Groups: create and manage groups
- Course Availability: make your course public or private
- Blackboard Collaborate Ultra: access Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
- Attendance: mark attendance and view detailed records
- Announcements: create or schedule announcements
- Books & Tools: link to 3rd party and other tools
- Question Banks: manage question banks
- OneDrive: connect to your OneDrive account
- Student Preview: enter student preview mode
There are 6 items located on the top menu of UCV courses (navigation bar):
- Course Content: view all course content
- Calendar: view and add information to a calendar
- Discussions: view all course discussions
- Gradebook: view and modify the gradebook
- Messages: view course messages
- Course Analytics: view course analytics
Learn more about the UCV menu items and interface.
Preview Original Course in UCV (video 2:10)
You can fully explore your original course in the UCV preview before you switch to UCV. You can also review a list of features and functions that change or won't carry forward if you convert. Learn more about the previewing original courses in UCV.
Note: If you decide to convert your course to UCV, it is recommended that you convert it in a sandbox course (test course). To request a sandbox course,submit a ticket through the Division of Information Technology service desk at or call 803-777-1800. If you permanently convert your course to UCV in a live or past course, you will not be able to convert it back to original and may lose information during the conversion process. Contact a CTE Instructional Designer or a member of the eLearning Services staff for a consultation before converting your course.
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.
Building Course in UCV
Add Content to the Course Content Page (video 3:04)
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. Learn more about using the content editor in UCV.
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.
Conditional Availability (Release Content) (video 1:58)
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 conditional availability.
You can copy all the content or select individual items from the other courses you teach. You can only copy content from other courses in the UCV. 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
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 1:33)
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 2:02)
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 1:02)
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 1:19)
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 granting assessment exceptions.
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 1:48)
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 1:23)
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 1:46)
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 1:51)
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.