Ultra: Self-Starter Guide

What’s New in Ultra?

Its modern, contextual design houses content on a single page, allowing learners to explore content through expanding and collapsing modules rather than clicking through menus and folders.


Documents function as pages mixing files, texts, images, and videos. Instructors can now build dynamic content with ease. Simply select the plus sign wherever you want to add content.  Create new content, upload something you already have, or embed content from external sources like YouTube and other social media. To reorganize, just drag and drop. 



Students experience consistency in design across all of their courses, which they can readily access from a central dashboard. They can also manage their online profile and modify notification settings. Calendars and organizations are fully integrated, providing a global view at a glimpse. With Base Navigation, basic information is always one click away.


All content is now mobile friendly. Instructors can easily view student profiles with photos. The Conversations feature allows students to question, discuss, or share resources in direct response to content such as documents, assignments, or tests. And in addition to email alerts, students see new Announcements as pop-ups front and center the next time they enter the course. The Activity Stream provides up-to-the-minute updates, giving students their own educational news feed.




Basic Components of Ultra

Base Navigation Menu


Learn More About Base Navigation


The left-menu provides you with quick access to institutional and course-level tools, all in one convenient location. As you navigate Blackboard, this menu will remain easily accessible. Your Blackboard content will open in layers in the foreground. You can return to the menu by clicking the X at the top left corner. The number in red next to each icon on the menu indicates the presence of new information from that tool, such as new messages and new posts. This configuration, much like a “dashboard,” is called Base Navigation. It consists of  of the following areas:

  • The Institution page contains links to important information and messages.
  • The Profile page gives you access to some of your personal information and settings.  From here you are able to upload a profile photo.  The profile photo will show in the class register and in discussions, conversations, and messages next to your activity.
  • The Activity Stream page will display notifications from your courses or items that need attention. This will include posted announcements,  new content items, grades and due assignments. Notifications are shown on the website, through email and via push notifications if you have installed the Blackboard app. You can change which notifications you receive by clicking on the “gear” icon at the top right corner of the screen, and then following the on-screen prompts.
  • The Courses page gives you access to all your current, previous and future modules.  Your courses will be divided into sections according the semester in which they started. You have the option of viewing courses in list view or grid view.
  • The Organizations page contains all the school and department organizations you are enrolled on.  Organizations can also be viewed in List View or Grid View.
  • The Calendar displays the calendar items within all your courses.  This is also your own personal Calendar area any events added here are only viewable by yourself.
  • The Messages page displays a list of all your courses and number of any unread messages within a course. You can reply to messages from this page. The number of unread messages are indicated on the base navigation menu.
  • The Grades page provides an overview of all your current gradable items status and tasks including submissions to grade and post. Instructors can begin to grade from this page.


The Course Tools Menu



Learn More About Ultra Grading

This menu, located along the top of your course view, consists of six components:

  • In the Content tab, you’ll see your course content displayed as a continuous stream of modules that expand and collapse.
  • The Calendar inside your course will show you actions associated within the course only, while the Base Navigation calendar will show you a global view of actions associated across all courses.
  • The Discussions page will display all of the Discussion threads you’ve created in a list view. With drag-and-drop capability, you can instantly reorder threads.
  • The appearance of the Gradebook content has been dramatically streamlined. When you open the gradebook, content will appear in list view, labeled with icons indicating item type. You will clearly see due dates, grading status, and submission dates at a glance. You can easily toggle to a grid view as well, which displays gradable content by student.
  • In the course Messages tab, you’ll see only course specific messages.
  • Under the Analytics tab, you can access a variety of reports on student progress as it relates to their activity in the course and even how it compares across courses in the same department.



The Details and Actions Menu


Learn More About Announcements

Located in the left margin of your course view, this menu contains several global tools including:

  • The Course Roster allows you to view all students, displaying a profile page for each. From the ellipsis menu next to each student, you can see individual student information and set any accommodations for students. Any accommodations set from the register page will filter through to all applicable assessment items. Accommodations can be set as either a due date accommodation – never marking submissions late – or a time limit accommodation – allowing more time for submissions during timed assessments.
  • The Course Groups feature allows you to create and manage groups into reusable sets.
  • The Progress Tracking feature allows you to give your students an easy way to keep track coursework. You can turn progress tracking on at any time.
  • The Course Image feature gives you the option of easily uploading a picture that will be displayed on the course tile that will show in the grid view of your students’ Courses page.
  • The Course Privacy feature allows you to regulate the availability of the course to students.
  • The Attendance feature gives you the option to enable tracking and associate grading.
  • The Announcements feature allows you post time-sensitive information for immediate or scheduled release. New announcements will appear as pop-ups when students enter their courses and then as recent events in their activity stream. Students can also view the full history of announcements by via the Announcements page available in the Details and Actions menu.
  • The Books and Tools link will show you the authorized tools for your institution, such as Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Select the plus sign to use a tool in your course.
  • The Question Banks page allows you to create a searchable database of re-useable questions.
  • With the Conversion Exceptions preview, instructors can track how features will be impacted by Ultra conversion.
  • The Microsoft Teams link will allow you to sync your courses with Teams.

I'm an Ultra Self-Starter!

As part of Marshall's strategic vision for digital transformation, the Design Center is tracking the conversion to Blackboard Ultra courses. If you've prepared yourself for the updates using this self-starter page, will you take a moment to submit your name?

Please let us know what's on your mind. Have a question for us? Ask away.

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