Ultra: What's new in the Ultra Experience?

UMBC's Blackboard receives monthly updates as part of Blackboard's continuous delivery model. As a software industry standard practice, continuous delivery updates are small, may include maintenance, enhancements and/or new features, and are delivered on a more frequent and consistent basis. Read the latest news about Ultra updates at myUMBC.

This page lists the monthly updates. If you are looking for specific features, please see: What tools are available in an Ultra course? or Is Ultra right for me?

UMBC is committed to providing a consistent learning experience for everyone. The last day we will support Blackboard Original is December 31, 2024. Please check out our training and support: umbc.edu/go/ultra

March 7, 2024 (v3900.86)

Functional Category

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

AI Course Design Assistant Tools

Context picker for test question generation

Instructors can now select specific course items to help define test questions when using the AI Course Design Assistant to generate test questions. This option improves the alignment of generated questions to course content.

Assessment & Grading

Gradebook item statistics

Instructors can select a column in the gradebook to access summary statistics for any graded item. The statistics page displays key metrics such as:

  • Minimum and maximum value

  • Range

  • Average

  • Median

  • Standard deviation

  • Variance

The number of submissions requiring grading and the distribution of grades also displays.

Assessment & Grading

No Due Date option for assessments

There is no a “No due date” option for Tests and Assignments to support self-paced learning.

In the event a “No due date” selection conflicts with the Assessment Results settings, the instructor is prompted to review the settings.

 

 

Communication & Engagement

Announcement indicator

Users will now see a number indicator next to the announcement tab in the course to signal the number of unread announcements available.

Communication & Engagement

Mark Announcements Read / Unread

Users can now mark announcements as read or unread. On the New Course Announcement pop-up, users have the option to mark the read state. Users can also mark announcements as read or unread from the Announcement page.

Additional updates for March:

  • In flexible grading, instructors can collapse or expand the left panel (student cards) and right panel (feedback and rubrics). To provide a better user experience, the last used state is now preserved in the browser. Now, navigating between student attempts and across sessions provides a more efficient experience.

February 1, 2024 (v3900.84)

Functional Category

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

Assessment & Grading

Forms

Instructors can now create surveys in their courses – these are called Forms in Ultra. Question types include essay, multiple choice, true/false, and Likert. You can also add text, upload a file, and create page breaks. By default, a Form is not graded since questions do not have a right or wrong answer. Form data may be downloaded from the gradebook or submission page as an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file.

Surveys from Original courses will be converted to Forms in Ultra. Only questions and options that are supported in Ultra will be converted.

The next phase of Forms will support anonymous submissions - at this time, Forms are associated to the learner who submits the survey in the course where the Form is created.

Assessment & Grading

Send Reminder from Gradebook

The Send Reminder scenarios are refined to ensure the recipient list more accurate. A student user will be counted and receive the reminder if they didn't submit and:

  • they are available in the course.

  • they have not received an automatic zero.

  • they don’t have a manual override score that was posted.

Assessment & Grading

Send Reminder for LTI Third Party Tools

The Send Reminder option is now also available for LTI and 3rd party tools with assessments in the gradebook. This functionality is only available for tools that are LTI Advantage as the tool can inform Blackboard when a student has submitted, even if they haven’t yet received a grade.

NOTE: If the third party tool doesn’t support this, it is possible that students will receive a reminder even if they’ve submitted their work. The tool provider can enhance their integration to improve this experience.

Assessment & Grading

Feedback to learners for override and automatic zero grades

Instructors can give feedback for overridden tests, assignment grades, and automatic zeros. This option appears in the Gradebook grid view, and the Submissions list after the override or automatic zero is entered.

Assessment & Grading

Upload feedback for imported grades

Instructors can now upload feedback for students as part of the offline grading process. This means when you download your gradebook for manually created columns or offline assignments, you can enter grades and add feedback in the Feedback to Learner column, which will now show to students.

Content Management

Import Moodle packages

Instructors can now import Moodle packages into Ultra and Original view courses. Learn more about importing courses from Moodle for more directions. Blackboard also has a guide to help you understand the differences in terminology.

Additional updates for February:

  • The Rubrics grading interface stores the most recently used display option. This means that instructors who rely on performance-level descriptions when grading don’t have to turn them on each time they navigate to grade another submission. The performance level display option preference is stored on a per-user per-assessment basis.

  • To ensure easy and clear access to the Audio/Video Recording Feedback tool, the recording window appears on the right side of the screen so that the instructor can view the student submission. The instructor can scroll through a student's response while recording their feedback. The instructor can maximize the recording window for better visibility.

  • Feedback for all attempts on a test or assignment is visible to learners in a peek panel. Students can view override feedback after grades are posted.

  • Instructors can view the number of missed due dates for students in the Course Activity Report. Students who trigger the missed due dates alert appear in the Course Activity report table and chart and in the downloaded report. Instructors can customize the missed due date alert in the Alert Settings. The default is set to 4 due dates. New courses need at least 2 weeks of activity to start triggering these notifications. Alerts are triggered every day in case there are new students with alerts in a course.

January 4, 2024 (v3900.82)

Functional Category

Feature

About

Ultra Course

Original Course

AI Course Design Assistant Tools

Authentic Assignment Prompt Generation

The latest update to the AI tools in Ultra allows instructors to generate assignment prompts that encourage students to engage in higher-order thinking, apply learned knowledge, justify or challenge their beliefs and ideas and emulate real-world situations.

The generation process allows instructors to enter an assignment description, select a desired cognitive process based on Bloom's Taxonomy, set the complexity, and generate an assignment title.

The instructor can review the generated prompts and select one to add to the assignment. After adding the prompt, the instructor can edit or further refine the prompt as appropriate.

Assessment & Grading

Enhancements to gradebook grid view

The Ultra gradebook's grid view features several enhancements to improve usability and maximize the screen real estate including improved row visibility, reduced icon size and spacing, and improved student identification such as student IDs.

Assessment & Grading

Total and weighted calculations

Expanding gradebook functionality will now support total and weighted calculated columns that can be point-based or weighted calculations. Instructors may link/unlink items in a category in the calculation or exclude categories and drop scores from the calculation. 

If instructors wish to define a total calculated column for their own use, they can choose to hide from students. Total calculated columns can also be used in the overall grade calculation.

Assessment & Grading

Release conditions for grade visibility

When instructors set release conditions, such as hiding an assessment, the grades are unavailable to students. With this update, instructors can set release conditions without concern of hiding grades. Regardless of the settings, students will be able to see their grades. All other functionality of release conditions is unchanged.

Assessment & Grading

Assessment attempt logs for tests and assignments 

Test attempt logs provide detailed information, including the date and time of the start and answers to each question and question specific details such as a preview of the question and estimated time spent on each question. The instructor will also see the submission receipt number, final grade, and attempt grade. For assignments, the attempt logs will provide the start and submission date and time, submission receipt number. Instructors can access the Attempt Logs from the submission page or the Grades Tab under the Student Overview Page for both group and individual assessments

Assessment & Grading

Improved attempt display in Flexible Grading

If multiple attempts are permitted for an assessment, the grading interface will display the attempt that reflects the grading status and attempt aggregation. For example, if the attempt aggregation is set to Attempt with Highest Grade, when all attempts are graded, the attempt with the highest grade will display. If any ungraded attempts exist, then the most recent ungraded attempt will display for the instructor.

Content Management

Unused files tool

To help instructors understand the usage of files in their course, the Unused Files tool can find and delete course files that are not in use. Instructors can locate the Unused Files tool in the three-dot menu on the Course Content page. Instructors can download a copy of the file before deleting.

Content Management

Batch edit date and time

Using Batch Edit, instructors can override the existing date and/or time for selected items. Instructors can adjust the due date time for all assessments using this option. The same feature also works on show on and hide after dates and times.

Note: Batch edit of dates/time only works with items that have pre-existing date and time values. Items without a date or time value will not have one applied.

Additional updates for January:

  • A category column is added to the Gradebook list view to provide clarity for those items to be graded. The category column can be sorted in ascending or descending order alphabetically.

  • Instructors can use delegated grading for anonymous assessments. Sorting controls are available for submission date (old to new or new to old).

 

View previous updates to the Ultra Experience.