Ultra Course View Tools & Features

The Blackboard Ultra Course View is a completely redesigned experience, and was released in 2017 with a small subset of the most essential tools commonly used in a learning management system. Since that time, it has been updated on a monthly basis with new tools and features, but there are some tools and features of the Original Course View that are not yet available in the Ultra Course View. 

NOTE: All tools continue to be available for the Original Course View unless otherwise noted. If a tool you rely on is not yet available in the Ultra Course View, you may want to continue using the Original Course View until it becomes available.

This list compares the features of the Original and Ultra Course Views, and will be updated frequently as features are introduced or updated.  

Last updated: 7/1/2020


Original Ultra Status Details
Achievements TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Manually create and distribute certificates or badges.
Adaptive Release Conditional Availability Date/time & performance-based release available now. For Learning Modules, Conditional Availability can also enforce sequential viewing of materials.

Feature Loss - membership-based release is not yet available, so conditional availability cannot be used for an individual or group. This capability is planned but not yet available. As an alternative, you can create a column in the Gradebook and enter a value to differentiate the groups, then use performance-based criteria to identify the group.
Anonymous Grading Anonymous Grading You must choose this option for each individual Assignment and Discussion you create. You cannot grade Tests anonymously.
Announcements Course Announcements To create an announcement, click Announcements under Details and Actions in your ULTRA course. Announcements can be scheduled in advance. Announcements appear in a pop-up box when students enter the course and cannot include any formatting (plain-text only).

Feature Loss - Announcements cannot be sent to students via email. You can use Messages to send announcements via email.
Attendance Attendance Access Attendance by clicking Attendance under Details and Actions in your ULTRA course. Functions and features identical to Original Course View.
Blogs TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Use the Discussion Board in Blackboard or an external blogging platform like Wordpress.
Calendar Calendar Click the Calendar icon at the top of an Ultra course to access. Additional capabilities are planned.
Collaborate Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate course room and scheduler are available in the Details and Actions area of an Ultra course. When a session is in progress, the Collaborate link will flash purple for all users.
Contacts -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Profile feature to add a photo of yourself and update who can view your profile information. Full name and email address are automatically updated. To share additional information within each individual course, you can create a Document (page) with information you would have included in your Contacts profile. Information about office hours can be added to the Calendar.
Content Collection Content Collection To access the Content Collection, click Tools in the left-hand menu on the Blackboard landing page. Additional capabilities are planned.
Content Editor Content Editor The content (text) editor in Ultra includes the ability to format text, add images, embed YouTube videos, and build equations. It does not include the ability to directly edit the html code, to ensure the text is accessible and mobile-compatible.
Course Banner TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View. Course Banner will also be used in conjunction with the Course Tile view for the Courses page.
Course Link TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.
Course Menu -- In the Ultra Course View, there is no course menu. All of the content is listed on a single page, to make it easier for students to navigate, and links to course tools are organized in the Details and Actions area or along the top right of the page. Content can be organized using folders and learning modules, which open and close.
Course Reports Student Activity The Ultra Course View does not include the same course reports as the Original Course View, but other reports are available. The Student Activity report summarizes student activity on an Assignment or Test. Access it by clicking the three dots next to the Assignment or Test and choose Student Activity from the menu. This provides information about whether students have opened the assessment, how long they had it open, and their grade. Click the three stripes above the list of students to reveal date opened, started, time from start to finish, and grade. You can also download the student activity details as an Excel spreadsheet.

Feature Loss - there is currently no way to view information on when or how often students have accessed the content in the course.
Date Management Bulk Edit Date Management has been replaced with the Bulk Edit tool in which you can bulk edit content due dates and visibility. You can also delete multiple course items from Batch Edit. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - You can only edit within a single folder at a time; you cannot bulk edit items within and across folders at the same time. You can, however, edit all top-level folders, learning modules, and course materials at the same time.
Delegated Grading Parallel Grading Currently, parallel grading allows for two (2) non-student course members to grade the same student submission and for a separate individual to reconcile the grades. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - There can be only 2 graders specified, graders cannot be assigned subsets of students, graders cannot also be reconcilers, graders cannot see the rubrics/scores or feedback submitted by other graders, and students can only view the rubric/score and feedback submitted by the reconciler.
Discussions Discussions Discussions can be created on the content page, such as in a folder or learning module, or they can be created directly on the Discussions page. Discussions have been flattened to reflect more modern discussion tools commonly used across the web. In the Ultra Course View, discussions with grading enabled have a detailed Discussion Analysis feature that provides insight on the level of complexity and critical thinking of a student's posts compared to their classmates. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - You cannot prevent students from editing or deleting their posts, but replies are not deleted when posts are deleted. Subscriptions are not available, but discussion posts are included in the Activity Stream and daily notifications.
Edit Mode -- Not available in Ultra Course View. You are always in edit mode unless you are in student preview mode.
Embed Media or Mashup Embed Media Images and web-based videos can be embedded within a Document (page) in the Ultra Course View.

Feature Loss - Video can only be embedded from select sources, including YouTube and Vimeo. For other platforms, such as social media or news sites, you will need to simply create a link to the video.
Files Upload or Insert Local Files Upload files from desktop or cloud storage. Files can also be dragged and dropped into your course.

NOTE: PDF files that are uploaded directly to the Course Content stream will open in a new tab, but PDF files that are uploaded as part of a Document do not open in the browser and must be downloaded and then opened from the computer.
Folders Folders Folders organize content within the course outline, and open and close to make it easier for students to find specific files or Documents. Folders can have short descriptions to tell students what content is inside. Folders can be made visible or hidden to affect all of the content inside the folder.

NOTE: In the Ultra Course View, folders can only be nested two (2) levels deep.
Glossary -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Create a web link to an external subject-matter glossary or upload the terms and definitions as a file.
Goals Goals & Standards Assessments can be aligned to specific Goals, including Assignments, Tests (including individual questions), Discussions, and Rubrics.
Grade Center Gradebook Most grading functions are available in the Gradebook, which is accessed by clicking the icon of a paper and pencil in the upper right of the course. Additional capabilities are planned.

The default Gradebook view is a list of the graded items, but there is a student list view that is similar to the Grade Center in the Original Course View. Only in Ultra Course View, you can automatically assign zeroes (0) for assessments that are not submitted by the due date. NOTE: Grades are not visible to students by default in the Ultra Course View; you must Post the grades when you are ready for students to see them.

Feature Loss
  • Overall Grade can only be calculated based on a weighted total. Workaround - created a calculated column for a point-based total, and base the Overall Grade entirely on the calculated total.
  • Columns cannot be sorted by clicking on the headers.
  • The Needs Grading view is discontinued, but you can view assessments that need to be graded in the Activity Stream or on the list view of the Gradebook.
  • Last Access date is not visible in the student list view. Workaround - download the Gradebook to work offline and open in Excel. The Last Access date is visible there.
Groups Groups Groups can be created manually or generated randomly. They can be created in three different places within a course and can be used for any of the following purposes:
  • Course Groups - Created in the Details & Actions area, these groups allow you to easily send Messages to a subset of students. These groups can be used for Discussions and Assignments
  • Discussion Groups - Created in the settings for a Discussion, these groups allow you to limit students to viewing and interacting in discussion only within their group. These groups can be used for Assignments but not for Messages
  • Assignment Groups - Created in the settings for an Assignment, these groups allow students to make a single Assignment submission on behalf of their group and assigns the same grade to each member of the group (which you can override individually if necessary). You can use these groups for Discussions but not for Messages

Feature Loss - Groups cannot be used for Conditional Availability to limit student access to materials and cannot be used to filter the list of students in the Gradebook. These capabilities are planned
Item Document The term "Document" refers to a page in Ultra that resembles a web page. Documents can include images, text, and uploaded files. If you only need to add a file without accompanying text, use the Upload option instead.
Item Analysis Question Analysis Run Question Analysis for a single test by clicking the ... button next to it in the Course Content view, or by clicking the pie chart icon in the upper right. Additional capabilities are planned.
Journal Journal Journals can be created by using the + menu to create content, then selecting Journal under Participation and Engagement.

Feature Loss - You can mark a Journal for grading, which automatically creates a column in the Grade Book for the Journal. However, there is not yet a workflow for reading and grading a Journal simultaneously. This is on the roadmap for future development. For now, you can review the Journal and then enter a grade directly into the Grade Book. You could also create an assignment with unlimited submissions to serve the function of a private journal or a discussion board to serve the function of a shared or public journal.
Learning Module Learning Module Learning Modules can contain multiple files, Documents, Assignments, Tests, or Discussions. You can force students to view the content in a Learning Module sequentially by changing the visibility to Conditional Availability and selecting the Sequence checkbox. Additional capabilities are planned.
Lesson Plan -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Learning Modules or Folders. Then, create Documents that house information that would have been in the Lesson Plan Content Information section (description, objectives, subject area). You can organize the order of items in your Learning Module or Folder however you want, and you can use Conditional Availability to force sequential viewing within a Learning Module. If you are using Lesson Plans as a planning tool only, you can follow the same steps above but keep the content hidden from students.
Performance Dashboard -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - You can view alerts within your Activity Stream, keep track of assignment submissions in the Gradebook, and view a single student’s grades by going to the Grid view in the Gradebook and searching the student in the search bar in the upper-right section of the Gradebook under the course navigation icons (click the student’s name from the drop-down after searching and the grid will only show that student’s grades in a single row). You can view when students last accessed the course by downloading the Gradebook and viewing in Excel.
Publisher Integrations Content Market Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View. Timelines vary based on the textbook publisher (e.g., McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Cengage); you should contact your publisher representative for more information.

Alternatives - Continue using Original Course View until publisher integrations become available or use the publisher's website directly with the Ultra Course View (in which case data will manually sync to the Blackboard Gradebook).
Retention Center -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Many of the features of the Retention Center have been repurposed through the Activity Stream, where you will receive alerts for students falling behind, absent, and failing. You can no longer create rules for early alert criteria. See Course Reports and Item Analysis for more information on ways to track student progress. Additional analytics and reporting features are planned.
Roster Roster Available in the Details & Actions area within an Ultra course. You can view the full student roster, enroll a TA or another Instructor, or add an accommodation for a student (such as extended timers) that apply to all assessments in the course.
Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics are available for all assessment types. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss - Rubrics are limited to percentage and percentage-range only; there are currently no point or point-range options. Also, rubrics are limited to a maximum of ten rows and ten columns.
SafeAssign SafeAssign SafeAssign is available for Assignments and for Essay questions on Tests. SafeAssign for Discussions is planned.
SCORM SCORM To add a SCORM package in your ULTRA course, click the plus sign to add content, click Create, select SCORM package, and select Upload SCORM package or Browse Content Collection.
Self & Peer Assessment TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Students can offer peer feedback on the Discussion Board or via Microsoft OneDrive.
Send Email Messages The updated Messages tool allows you to communicate with students via email. Messages retains a copy of the conversation in Blackboard and includes the option to send the contents to the student via email. To access Messages, click the envelope icon in the upper-right corner of the course or use the Messages link on the left-hand menu on the Institution Page.
SlideShare/Flickr Embed -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Create your slideshow (PowerPoint) or document and upload it to Blackboard directly or upload it to SlideShare and share the link to Blackboard. For Flickr images, search for the image on Flickr, copy the URL, and paste it to “Insert Image from Web” in editor (Document). There is currently no way to embed a slideshow for inline viewing, but you can embed a photograph for inline viewing.
Student Preview Student Preview Access via the Enter student preview mode button in the Details & Actions area within an Ultra course. Click the ... menu in the upper-right corner to exit student preview.
Survey TBD Not yet developed, but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Alternatives - Use an external anonymous survey site, such as Qualtrics or Microsoft Forms.
Tasks -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - The Activity Stream alerts students to upcoming due dates and assignments and alerts you about their progress and participation.
Tests and Pools Tests and Question Banks Tests can include Essay, Fill-in-the-Blank (single or multiple), Matching, Multiple Choice (single or multiple correct answers), and True/False questions. Questions can be reused from other Tests or from Question Banks (which are added in the Details & Actions area in an Ultra course).

Question Randomization - Questions can be displayed in random order for each student, and can be randomly assigned from a pool (e.g., each student receives 5 random questions from a set of 10 questions). This capabilities was released in August, 2019. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss:
  • Question Types Not Available - Calculated Numeric, Either/Or (Use True/False or Multiple Choice instead), File Response (Use an Assignment instead), Hot Spot, Jumbled Sentence, Opinion Scale/Likert (Use Multiple Choice instead), Ordering, Quiz Bowl, Short Answer (Use Essay instead). Hot Spot questions are planned, others may be available in the future.
  • Feedback - You can control whether students see the answers after completing the test, but the setting is not as granular as it is in Original Course View. With feedback enabled, students will see all answer choices, their submitted answer, and the correct answer. This setting can be changed at any time, so you could have feedback off initially and then manually enable feedback when you are ready for students to see the results. Further capabilities to control what students see and when they see it are planned.
VoiceThread VoiceThread Add through Content Market option under + in Course Content or in the Books & Tools course menu item.
Web Link Web Link To create a link to web content, you can create a link directly in your course by clicking the +, Create, and then Link.
Wiki -- Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives - Use Microsoft OneDrive for collaborative writing and editing, or try Microsoft OneNote for a shared space for note-taking. Use Google Sites or Weebly to have students create a website, or try a dedicated wiki tool available online.