Transition to new Bb interface (Ultra)

TERMINOLOGY:  Ultra refers to 2 different changes that have been made in the Blackboard application. The first is the change to the main navigational structure. This is referred to as Ultra Nav or Ultra Navigation.   The second is the option to use a different format for your course.   In our current system ALL courses are in the same format as they were in previous semesters and are not in the ‘Ultra’ format. In the new Ultra Nav system, these types of courses are referred to as ‘Classic’ or ‘Original.’
The Ultra course format is cleaner but doesn’t have all the features that the Original format provides. Ultra has 1 discussion forum called Discussion Board that doesn’t have the ability for students to comment anonymously. It does have wikis, journals, or blogs. However, it does provide the ability to upload or connect to documents that are to be shared with students, an updated grade center, the ability for students to turn in assignments and for faculty to create tests/self assessments, ability to create groups, and a few other features related to student performance and feedback. It does not have the ability for students to anonymously post or to engage in a 1:1 journal-type dialogue with you. A more comprehensive comparison of Ultra and Original course functionality can be found here.
If you decide to go with the Ultra view for your course, Blackboard has provided some valuable, short videos to get you started.
Both the Original AND the Ultra versions now have the ability to take attendance.

What’s changing with respect to navigating the system.

  • A messages area will be added – this will provide access to any correspondence from classmates, teachers or leaders of orgs.  This will also allow messages to be sent from you to others and a mechanism for sending messages as emails. It replaces, ‘send email’ and ‘announcements.’ 
  • Courses and Organizations are categorized by Term.
  • Activity stream will consolidate due dates from courses, and announcements and messages from all courses and organizations.
  • A new framework will be available for courses. These are referred to as ‘Ultra’ courses. Past courses use the ‘Classic’ or ‘Original’ framework.

What’s changing in courses:

    • The Photo roster from year’s past can only be found in navigating to the ‘Photo Roster-Confidential’ tool found in the Control Panel>>Tools area of courses using the ‘Original’ format.  A roster is available in the ‘Ultra’ format but will look different.
    • Student photos will now appear on pages where student content has been added e.g. discussion board, attendance tool, grade book, …
    • Attendance tracking has been added to courses.
    • Courses are being automatically archived.
    • New mobile apps are available. Grader/Instructor & Students (Windows, IOS and Android) are available.
    • Grading/Feedback tool for assignments turned in via Balckboard has been updated.
    • Goal/Outcome alignment and tracking for instructors, departments and the institution are now available.
    • Courses can remain in the current format i.e. ‘Classic,’ or they can be converted to an ‘Ultra’ framework. If you are interested in testing out the new course format, go to, create an account and start working.  Not all ‘Classic’ courses are suitable to be converted into ‘Ultra’ courses. Feature lists for the two frameworks can be found here. If you wish to officially make your course an ‘Ultra’ course, contact OCTET  at

If you have any questions, comments, email

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