Ultra Course View FAQ

The May 2019 upgrade to Blackboard at NIU included the option to adopt the Ultra Course View. The Ultra Course View features a cleaner, more modern design, easy-to-use workflows, and powerful new tools. All courses will continue to use the Original view by default, and faculty can choose whether to enable the Ultra Course View on one or more of their courses.

Questions and Answers

Can I convert my course back to the Original Course View if I have confirmed the conversion to the Ultra Course View?

No, once you have previewed your course in the Ultra Course View and then selected the option to keep the Ultra Course View, the conversion is permanent and cannot be reversed. You will be able to preview the course first in the Ultra Course View to determine whether you want to keep the Ultra Course View or return to the Original Course View. If you select to keep the Ultra Course View and then confirm the decision (this requires 2 clicks), the change will be permanent.

How do I drop a grade (such as the lowest quiz grade) from my Gradebook in the Ultra Course View?

The Original Course View has the option to drop one or more grades when you include a category in your Total or Weighted Total calculations. This feature is not yet available in the Ultra Course View, although it is planned for future development. In the meantime, you can create a calculation as a workaround to drop one lowest grade from a category.

First, ensure that all of the graded items to be compared are in the same category, and that there are no other items in that category. For example, if you are dropping the lowest quiz grade, you need to be sure that all of the quizzes are in the same category and that there isn't a test or other assignment in that category. The easiest way to verify this is to switch the Gradebook to the Grid View (click the grid icon below the word Gradebook) and then use the search field in the upper right to search for the category by name. This will filter the list of columns to only those in that category. To edit any grade items that are in the wrong category, click the column header and then click Edit.

The next step is to create a calculation that will drop the lowest grade in the category:

  1. Hover your cursor between two grade items and click the plus icon that appears
  2. Name your calculation (e.g., Quiz Total)
  3. Select how you want the grade to be displayed in the schema (e.g., points or percentage)
  4. Make the calculation visible to students (optional)
  5. Type a description (optional)
  6. Create the formula to drop the lowest score
    • Under Functions and Variables, click Total
    • Click the Total box in the formula to select the category you are using (this will calculate a total of every column in the category)
    • Under Operators, click Subtract
    • Under Functions and Variables, click Minimum
    • Click the Min box in the formula to select the category you are using (this will subtract the lowest grade in the category from the category total)
  7. Click the Submit button

Once your calculation is set up to drop the lowest grade, you can modify your Overall Grade to use the calculation instead of the category or individual items. Note: This workaround cannot be used to drop more than one lowest grade.

In Ultra Course View, how do I calculate the Overall Grade based on points?

In Ultra Course View, the Overall Grade only offers a weighted calculation at this time. There are 2 potential workarounds that you can use so that your overall grade is calculated based on points.

Convert Points to a Weight and Use the Overall Grade Column

Set up the Overall Grade using individual item weights instead of category weights. For each assessment in your course, divide the points possible for that assessment by the total points possible for the course and multiply by 100 to convert to a percentage. Then, use that for the weight for that assessment. For example, if you have a 50 point assignment and there are 500 total points in the course, 50/500 = .05, or 5%. Repeat this step for each assessment, and make sure the total of all the weights is 100%.

Create a Calculated Total Column and Set the Overall Grade Column to Only Be Based On That Total

In the Gradebook, hover your mouse over the existing items and click the plus (+) sign. From the drop down menu, click Add Calculation. Provide a Name for this calculation (like "Total"). In the Functions and Variables area, click Total. Click Total again on the right side of the screen, and select all of the categories or individual assessments to include in the total. Click the Save button.

Then, you can set up your Overall Grade using individual item weights, but with 100% as the weight on the Total you just created. Click the Exempt symbol (circle with a slash) to remove all other items from the calculation and then click the Save button.

Should I use a Folder or a Learning Module to organize my content?

Folders and Learning Modules are both great ways to organize your course materials so that it is easier for students to find what they are looking for. Learning Modules offer additional benefits over folders, however.

Benefits of Folders and Learning Modules

  • Both present content in an organized manner for easy navigation
  • Both collapse for a streamlined view of materials
  • Both include a sub-folder (i.e., a folder inside of a folder or a folder inside of a learning module; you can not nest a learning module inside a learning module, nest a learning module inside of a folder, or nest beyond 2 levels)
  • Both can be used to set overall release conditions to control access to content, such as releasing content on a specific date or to a specific group of students
  • Both can be copied from past courses as a block of materials with all of the contents inside

Benefits of Learning Modules

  • Students can navigate from one item to the next via forward and back arrows
  • You can enable sequential viewing to require that students view content or complete an assessment before moving to the next item
  • With sequential viewing enabled, the learning module displays checkmarks to show students what they have completed

Limitations of Learning Modules

  • Contents of folders can be copied granularly from one course to another (e.g., you can copy a single file from within a folder)
  • Learning Modules must be copied in their entirety from one course to another (e.g., you must copy the entire learning module and its contents, as opposed to a single item inside of the learning module)


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Last Updated: 4/9/2021