After extensive updates to assessments and grading, Ultra is expected to reach 95% feature parity by the end of spring 2023, allowing faculty to migrate their Original courses into the most current version of the Blackboard platform. As more faculty adopt Ultra, students benefit from having a single course delivery system.
"I am pretty much ready to adopt and move into that space," says Sarah Bass, lecturer of the largest Blackboard course, CHEM 101. Bass notes improvements to tests and question banks will help with the transition and adds, "I really don't see why I can't do the conversion during the Fall semester for a Spring launch."
In the last year, Ultra has seen dramatic enhancement across key functional areas, particularly assessment and grading. Now offering points-based gradebooks and points-based rubrics, robust question banks, extensive group management tools, and more, Ultra features a modern, streamlined interface that is mobile-friendly and accessible, increasing opportunities to engage students. When surveyed, 86% of UMBC students expressed satisfaction with Ultra, praising its clean design and ease of use. "Ultra makes everything really easy to find and use," says one student. "It's a major step up from the old Blackboard system."
Much of this new development comes from Blackboard's merger with Anthology, a provider of higher educational software solutions, and their triple investment of resources into Ultra. The accelerated development since October 2021 resulted in more than 100 enhancements across content, engagement, assessment, grading, and administrative areas in Ultra. DoIT tracks and shares new Ultra features each month.
Since 2018, faculty have been able to opt-in to using Ultra, resulting in 46% adoption across the entire campus. Ultra templates are used across all IHU and ENGL 100 courses. Theatre was the first department to fully adopt Ultra and more than 88% of language courses, including first year Spanish courses, and 30% of MATH/STAT courses now use Ultra.
As Original Blackboard continues to age, Instructional Technology encourages faculty to use AY22-23 to migrate their courses to Ultra for FA2023. In addition to course migration assistance and instructional design consulting, we offer training from an extensive catalog as well as FAQs and technical support to faculty and departments for transitioning to Ultra. Additionally, faculty serve as Ultra Ambassadors, providing peer support, coordinating additional training, and sharing feedback.
For more information about Ultra, please contact:
Dr. Mariann Hawken
Director, Instructional Technology
As always, if you have any questions about teaching, learning, and technology, please consider the following options:
- PIVOT | Academic Continuity | Keep On Teaching | Student Technology Resources
- Check our extensive FAQ collection
- Open a ticket via RT
- Follow the Instructional Technology & DoIT myUMBC groups
- Request a consult with instructional technology staff
~ by Mariann Hawken