Ultra adoption continues to grow as UMBC faculty shifted to online learning in response to COVID-19 safety precautions. More than 40% of all active Blackboard courses are now using Ultra in the fall semester. The number of Ultra courses increased to 670 in FA2020 from 145 the previous year.
With the overwhelming majority of UMBC courses offered online this semester, Ultra offered faculty an easy way to set up and organize their courses, especially for the online format. Effective course design was demonstrated and reinforced through the PIVOT program and faculty cohort mentors. A deeply integrated web conferencing tool, Collaborate, supports synchronous engagement, while a wide range of third-party tools, such as Panopto, VoiceThread, and CourseArc, enhance the Ultra course environment.
When surveyed, faculty participants in the PIVOT program observed Ultra was “more intuitive” and “better adapted for online teaching.” Across all three colleges, Ultra adoption expanded to 51% of all CAHSS courses while CNMS and COEIT also saw a nearly 25% increase in Ultra course adoption.
While the new course interface expands its functionality to support assessment, engagement, and content creation, DoIT continues to share UMBC priorities with Ultra developers and track faculty feedback regarding tool availability and configurable options. As a result, a recent enhancement is the new batch group enrollment tool available in both Ultra and original courses, which is especially helpful for large enrollment courses.
For more information about Ultra, visit umbc.edu/go/ultra.
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