Transitioning to Blackboard Learn Ultra: A Guide for Faculty
The University of South Carolina is transitioning from Blackboard Learn Original to Blackboard Learn Ultra. To ensure a seamless transition, we strongly advise you to take proactive measures and begin the conversion of your course(s) to the Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View (UCV). Beginning Fall 2024, the default mode for Blackboard course shells will be created in the Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View. Faculty will continue to have access to their past Blackboard Learn Original View Courses and this access can be used for copying materials into Ultra Courses and for the purpose of maintaining records.
This guide outlines the benefits and rationale behind this transition and provides insights to help you navigate the change effectively. Our goal is to enhance the learning experience for both students and faculty while ensuring the university's position at the forefront of innovative educational technology.
Blackboard Learn Ultra brings a user-friendly and intuitive interface to the forefront. This streamlined design and mobile-first approach ensures a seamless experience across devices. Whether students are accessing course materials, participating in discussions, submitting assignments, or engaging in collaborative activities, they can do so effortlessly from anywhere, anytime. This enhanced user experience leads to increased student engagement, satisfaction, and improved learning outcomes.
Blackboard Learn Ultra equips faculty with a range of advanced tools, empowering them to create interactive and engaging learning experiences. These tools include integrated multimedia support, real-time collaboration features, personalized learning pathways, and adaptive learning capabilities. Faculty can spend less time on administrative tasks, focusing more on delivering high-quality instruction. Customizable rubrics, improved grading interface, and multimedia capabilities enhance efficiency and effectiveness, catering to diverse learning styles and promoting active student participation.
Transiting to Blackboard Learn Ultra provides robust analytics and reporting capabilities. Comprehensive data and insights into student engagement, performance, and progress are available. Faculty can identify at-risk students and personalize instruction based on individual needs. Effective monitoring of learning outcomes leads to evidence-based decision-making and continuous improvement.
The transition aligns with the university's strategic goals of enhancing the student learning experience, retention, recruiting, faculty efficiency, and technological advancement.
Blackboard Learn Ultra simplifies administrative tasks, reducing the burden on faculty. Intuitive workflows and streamlined processes facilitate quicker course creation, management, and updates. Faculty can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on teaching and student engagement. Integration with existing university systems reduces duplication of effort.
The transition offers academic units an opportunity for a pedagogical review, enhancing instructional practices organically. Leveraging the advantages of Blackboard Learn Ultra can lead to thoughtful and robust instructional design improvements, benefiting both instructors and students.
Blackboard Learn Ultra places a strong emphasis on accessibility, adhering to standards like WCAG 2.1. This dedication promotes an environment where students with disabilities can access course materials without barriers. Features for generating accessible content and support for assistive technologies contribute to making course materials usable.
Blackboard Learn Ultra integrates seamlessly with Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) compliant tools and applications. This integration enhances instructional activities, assessments, and multimedia content, fostering engagement and personalized learning experiences.
The comprehensive features of Blackboard Learn Ultra may eliminate the need for specific third-party applications, resulting in cost savings over time. Faculty can utilize these features, reducing the need for additional software licenses or subscriptions, benefiting students financially.
Blackboard Learn Ultra is backed by reliable support and continuous improvement from Blackboard's parent company, Anthology. This investment has led to the development of new features and enhancements, driven by user feedback, ensuring a robust and evolving platform.
Transitioning to Blackboard Learn Ultra aligns with the University of South Carolina's commitment to reimagining the student learning experience, supporting faculty pedagogical practices, and embracing educational technology. This transition positions the university as a leader in affordable digital learning, creating an engaging and inclusive environment for both students and faculty.
A common concern raised about making the transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra is why not start the process of moving to another Learning Management System (LMS), such as Canvas or D2L. The University of South Carolina has a significant history and experience with Blackboard Learn as it's our enterprise Learning Management System (LMS). Faculty, students, and LMS support partners across the USC system are familiar with the platform's features, workflows, and traditional interface. Transitioning to Blackboard Learn Ultra would provide a smoother and more organic migration path, allowing users to leverage their existing knowledge while benefiting from enhanced functionalities. Our phased approach with a transition like this will allow faculty to continue to teach their courses as they are comfortable doing while learning how the new Learn Ultra experience can benefit them. The first major course milestone is to have all Fall 2024 course shells created in Blackboard Learn Ultra with the end goal of all courses being in Blackboard Learn Ultra by Summer 2025.
Fully transitioning to a different LMS from our current Blackboard learning environment would be premature at this time.
The continuity that Blackboard Learn currently offers would enable uninterrupted teaching and learning processes. Transitioning to Blackboard Learn Ultra would minimize disruption and ensure a seamless transition to the new interface for faculty, students, and LMS support partners throughout the USC system.
This approach will allow the university to maximize its return on investment by leveraging its existing infrastructure and familiarity with Blackboard.
During this transition, faculty members will receive high-quality guidance, support, and assistance from the Division of Information Technology (eLearning Services), Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE), and the Office of Distributed Learning (ODL). This includes a range of comprehensive services such as:
- Virtual training sessions and weekly virtual office hours dedicated to our transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra as well as other popular Blackboard topics are available on a regular basis. Registration required.
- Departmental/Unit/Program focused consultations and training sessions. Submit a request for a consultation or training session.
- Access to Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View Tutorials and Resources available on the CTE's website.
- Personalized instructional design assistance. Request a consultation with a CTE instructional designer.
- Participation in the Redesign for Teaching Excellence Program.
- The availability of optional and customizable course templates to streamline the process. Contact the Center for Teaching Excellence if you are interested in utilizing a template.
- General Blackboard Support or assistance related to the Blackboard Learn Ultra Transition.
Blackboard Learn Ultra Resources
- Blackboard Learn with the Ultra Experience Video Tutorials
- Blackboard Learn Help for Instructors - Ultra Course View
- Blackboard Learn Ultra Course View (UCV) Decision Tree
- CTE UCV Template
- Convert a Blackboard Original Course to Ultra
- Converting Existing Content to Ultra Course View (video: 6:02)
Additional Instructor Resources
We encourage you to join the Anthology Community, where you can benefit from a wealth of experience from those already using Blackboard Learn Ultra.
Blackboard Help contains a wealth of information and resources. The following help page provides information on Blackboard Learn Ultra’s innovative tools and features.
The Quick Start guide is the ideal resource for instructors who want to hit the ground running with Blackboard Learn Ultra.
The Exploring Blackboard Learn Ultra webinar series is available to anyone who would like more information about how Blackboard Learn Ultra works. In this two-part series, product experts guide you through the features and functionalities of Blackboard Learn Ultra Base Navigation, Course View, and third party integrations.
The Anthology Idea Exchange allows you to share, like, vote, and comment on your favorite ideas, proposed and submitted by Anthology clients. Drive change in the EdTech community by sharing your ideas today.
Scroll down to Teaching & Learning. Click 'Start Now'. (This site requires you have or create an Anthology username and password. This is not your USC credentials)
In order to streamline the student experience, the Office of the Provost is requiring all faculty to use the same LMS, Blackboard Ultra Course View, by fall of 2024. However, the Office of the Provost, DoIT, and the Faculty Senate have collaborated to put together a process for faculty to request a temporary waiver to either delay transition to Ultra Course View from Original Course View or to use an alternative LMS, on the condition that they provide a compelling administrative and/or pedagogical justification linked to the needs of a specific course. Waiver applications for fall 2024 courses must be submitted by March 1st, 2024 deadline.
The Quick Start guide provides students with instructions to get started with Blackboard Learn Ultra.
If you need help using Blackboard, submit a ticket through the DoIT Service Portal or call Support 24/7 at 803-777-1800.
These videos will enable students to unlock the true power of Blackboard Learn Ultra, by highlighting tools and features that support their learning style.
Ultra Transition Communications
This fall, we will begin implementing the first phase of a systemwide transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra as the university's enterprise-supported learning management system (LMS). This transition will be an important part of creating a more user-friendly university and carries a multitude of benefits for both students and faculty.
- Faculty will experience a reduced administrative burden through a simplified and modern interface.
- Students will be able to access course materials, participate in discussions, submit assignments and engage in collaborative activities from anywhere at any time via a streamlined design and mobile-friendly user experience.
- The updated interface prioritizes accessibility and ensures compliance with accessibility standards, so all students have equal access to course materials and online resources.
- Blackboard Learn Ultra also boasts enhanced analytics and reporting capabilities with comprehensive data and insights into student engagement, performance and progress.
What does this mean for you? While the full transition is set to launch in Fall 2024, I encourage you to begin exploring Blackboard Learn Ultra. The Office of the Provost, in collaboration with the Office of Distributed Learning, the Division of Information Technology eLearning Services team, and the Center for Teaching Excellence, has made available a variety of resources designed to help you get comfortable in Blackboard Learn Ultra ahead of the change.
- Learn more about navigating Blackboard Learn Ultra and the plan for the transition.
- Participate in Blackboard Learn Ultra training.
- Drop in for weekly virtual office hours.
Request a consultation for instructional design or a consultation for converting your course to Blackboard Learn Ultra.
A Teaching Technology Review Task Force comprised of representatives from DoIT, Faculty IT, INDEV and system institutions will be formed to review LMS options, develop evaluation criteria, gather requirements and assess faculty needs from faculty across the university system to make a recommendation regarding the future of our learning management system. As we transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra, the core project team will collaborate with the Task Force, Faculty IT Committee and INDEV Committee representatives to ensure updates are communicated and faculty have the resources needed for a smooth transition.
I am excited about the prospect of alignment among our USC system institutions and what this LMS means for our faculty, academic staff and students. You will continue to hear from the transition team as the project progresses, and if you have questions in the meantime, you can contact Rhiannon Mayer, director of eLearning Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donna Arnett, Ph.D.
Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs
Contact Rhiannon Mayer, Director, eLearning Services at email@example.com if you have questions about the Blackboard Learn Ultra transition.