Blackboard Changes Fall 2020

Blackboard Changes Fall 2020

This summer, Blackboard has gone through MAJOR updates and changes. We’re excited to introduce you to them! Please read through the updates below. More resources will be coming soon.

Course Structures

To facilitate some of the other updates below, we’re changing how courses are structured in Blackboard. Prior to Fall 2020, all sections and all teachers of a course were combined together into one class. Instructors had to wade through all students enrolled in a course to identify their students in the gradebook.

For 2020, we are adopting the approach used by colleges and universities.

This college model has one ‘Template” course that all instructors have access to. Teams can work to build their templates out with the goal of having a complete curriculum all in one place. No students are enrolled in the template.

Instead, students will be enrolled in a new Blackboard Course created for each instructor. When these courses are created, the content from the template course will automatically copied into it.

Overview of the new setup

For changes in course content happening after the copy is done, you have two options.

  1. Create the content in the template course and have each teacher copy it over into their section.
  2. Email/Share via drive/USB, etc. the content to each teacher. They then upload it to their section.

Here is what the setup looks like on the Blackboard homepage

Look for the “(Template)” tag on the template course.

The (optional) Debut of Ultra

Starting this fall, all staff have the ability to convert their classes to the new and improved Ultra format. This new format greatly reduces the cognitive overhead for students, as well as streamlines the interface for teachers. For the 2020-21 school year, this will be optional, and up to each individual teacher.

What is Ultra?

The overall design of Blackboard has not changed significantly in 9+ years. The new look and feel of Blackboard Ultra is clean and contemporary. Through simplified icons and a consistent visual design, the new Ultra experience feels modern and innovative.

Clean, modern look

Is Ultra right for you?

Probably, but not for everyone. Before you convert your course to Ultra, please take a look at these pages created by Northern Illinois University that highlight features that are not yet available in Ultra.

Ready to Switch?

Ready to move? Follow the steps below to convert your template and indivdual instructor course to Ultra. NOTE: Once the course is converted, you can’t go back!

All courses continue to use the Original Course View by default. You will need to preview and convert your course to use the Ultra Course View. If you want to build your course directly in the Ultra Course View, you can convert your course while it is empty.

You can also preview the course with your materials and assessments to fully explore how your course will look and function the Ultra Course View before committing to the switch. The conversion process will also provide a list of features and functions that change or won’t carry forward if you confirm the conversion to Ultra Course View. The preview is just that – a preview. You don’t have to make a permanent change to your course, and you can return to the Original Course View if you do not confirm that you would like to keep the Ultra Course View.

After you preview the Ultra Course View, you can either permanently convert the course to Ultra or stay with the Original version. Select the course view you want in the bar at the bottom of your screen. If you choose to return to the Original course, your course will revert to the way it was before the preview, and any changes you made during the Ultra preview are lost. 

If you choose to use the Ultra course, the conversion will be permanent. Your course cannot be converted back to the Original Course View once you confirm that you want to use the Ultra course

After conversion (or reverting back to the original view) don’t forget to re-enable your class and make it available for students.

Webex Integration

We’re happy to announce Webex integration into Blackboard! Each teacher will want to enable this integration in their own, teacher courses. To see what it entails, check out this video from Dr. Lance Ford.

To enable: