Blackboard Ultra Course Organization

When to Use?

The following article will introduce you to these components of an Ultra course:

Blackboard Ultra allows for a consistent navigation experience for students and provides faculty with a focused Course Content area in which to upload, build, and organize content into.

Course Organization Guidelines and Suggestions

Container Types in Blackboard Ultra

The following section will focus on the three types of containers in Blackboard Ultra: Learning Modules, Folders, and Documents.

Learning ModulesView of learning module from student perspective

In Blackboard Ultra, Learning Modules are used as a building block for organized collections of content. You can use Learning Modules to house the core content of the course such as assignments, quizzes, discussions, outside resources, etc. Learning Modules allow students to navigate from one content item to the next without distractions or extra clicks, which helps immerse them in the content.

  • Learning modules can be organized by Module, Week, Topic, etc. They are similar to folders; however, they are designed to provide better navigation, and students can advance through the module pages without having to leave the content page repetitively.

  • Use documents as the first item in a Learning Module to share module or weekly objectives. This is also a great place to share mini-lectures and specific instructions.

  • Learning modules provide students with navigation arrows that allow them to move forward and backward through the content within the module. Folders do not provide navigation arrows and require the students to close the current page before they can continue to the next item.

  • Inserting multimedia, links, files, and other objects directly in a Module or Folder also has advantages, including making content easy to find and view and the ability to view content sequentially using Learning Module navigation arrows.

More information: Create Learning Modules in Blackboard Ultra

FoldersView of Folder from student perspective

In Blackboard Ultra, Folders are used to organize course content that students may need to refer to often, but that does not require sequential viewing. Students can navigate easier when they don't have to search for materials, so consider adding a folder description to help students understand what content you’ve included in them.

  • Students can’t navigate to all the content within a folder sequentially, and have to leave each item to click on the next item they want to view. For this reason, Folders are recommended for adding content that may not need to be viewed in sequential order, such as your Syllabus, Schedule, Instructor Information, or Course Tour video.

  • You can create two levels of folders to organize your content. After you have two levels of folders, you can't create a third level or upload a folder into the second-level folder.
  • You cannot create a Learning Module within a Folder.

More information: Learning Modules and Folders (Ultra) - Instructors

DocumentsExample view of a document

In Blackboard Ultra, documents can be used as a “container” for text, links, files, and videos. A Document in Blackboard Ultra is equivalent to a blank Item in Blackboard Classic.

  • A document should have more than one or two sentences. If it is too short, you may not have enough contextual information describing your content, and perhaps you can combine documents.

  • If your document is too long, consider breaking it up into two documents and chunking the relevant content into separate documents.
  • In an Ultra Document, you can incorporate a blend of formatted text, multimedia, links, files, and various objects to craft a cohesive presentation document. This method proves most effective when the content items inserted in the Ultra document share close relevance or pertain to the same topic.
  • More information: Blackboard Help - Create Content Items or Documents

Functionality Types

The Due Dates feature lets you know about upcoming coursework. Course items show in Due Dates only if you specify due dates for them.

Due Dates

The Due Dates feature allows you to remind students about upcoming coursework. Any Due Dates that you set for coursework will appear on your and your student's Blackboard Calendar. Due Dates can be set for the following content items in Ultra courses:

  • Tests

  • Assignments

  • Discussions

  • Journals


More information: Due Dates

Course Organization Tips

  1. Include descriptions or instructional cues with all content uploaded to your course site. For example, if you have an article, highlight the key themes and how they relate to that module's objectives.

    • For assessments, use the description to tell students how the test/assignment connects to the course materials/learning objectives.

  2. Use tables for special formatting

    • Another option to emphasize content and direct learner attention is the use of tables in the Rich Content Editor. This allows you the option to use a border and header row to further emphasize text.

  3. If there's important, time-bound information that you'd like students to have easy access to, we encourage creating a folder or a module at the top of your Course Content titled Notes of the Week, Announcements, or an appropriate title for students. By having this item in a consistent place that's easily accessible with the rest of the course content, you'll regain much of what was done previously with Announcements in Blackboard Classic.

  4. When adding content to a document, there are ADA-approved colors and styles to choose from for fonts. The provided colors and styles are designed to enhance the accessibility of your course content.

  5. If you are using Zoom for synchronous course meetings or office hours, put that link in the course content area within your course. View this page on how to create a recurring Zoom meeting that can be used throughout the semester.

Examples of Course Layouts

Ultra Exemplary Course Site Tour

Please review the above video to see a sample course site built by the eLearning team. This Ultra Exemplary Course Site was built to demonstrate how course content can be organized when designed to be effective for student navigation, and follows a consistent format that does not require students to peck around the course for disconnected bits of content.

Consistent Overall Layout

Example of a consistent overall layout in Blackboard ultra

Within this course, the instructor built an Announcements folder that will be used to communicate important, time-bound information to students. The instructor has also created a Course Questions discussion board thread, and provided students with instructions on how to use it. The weekly course content has been divided into Weekly Modules. Modules provide students with the ability to track their progress, as well as right and left navigation arrows to view content sequentially without having to exit in and out of module pages.

Student View of a Module Format

Student view of a module in Blackboard ultra

With Progress Tracking turned ON, students can keep track of the content they have opened, and can mark content complete when they have finished viewing it. For content that requires submission, such as a Discussion Board post, a Test, or an Assignment, the progress tracking will automatically mark an item complete after students make a submission.

Consistency in Module Format

Consistency in module format in Blackboard ultra

In each weekly Learning Module, the instructor uses consistent naming to indicate what students are expected to do with the course content. The layout of each weekly module is the same, which allows students the consistency needed to complete coursework as expected. The rule of thumb used here is that each weekly learning module should contain everything a student needs to be successful within that module.

Ultra Course Tours

eLearning Technologies holds a regular series of webinars in which Ultra early adopters showcase how they have designed their Ultra courses. Please review the following course tours to see how other faculty members across the university are organizing their content in Ultra.

For more Ultra Course Tours, Show-and-Tells, and faculty testimonials, visit our Ultra Migration Champions.

Additional Training

Ultra Self-Paced Resources. All faculty have access to the Ultra Self-Paced Training through their Blackboard login. The training includes Ultra Essentials, Building Content, Communications, Assessments, and Gradebook. To find it, click the Current Courses Dropdown Menu > Select Professional Development. Select the Star icon to add it to your favorites.

Acessing Professional Development Course in Ultra Base Navigation of Blackboard Ultra

5 Steps for Course Design Series. Faculty can use their GVSU username and password to sign in to Sprout and sign up for this training here. This webinar series will guide you through course design using best practices, Universal Design for Learning principles, and Backward Design. Each webinar will cover pedagogy and strategies related to Foundational Items, Assessments, Activities, Navigation, and Tech Checks. Participants do not have to join all five sessions to benefit from this webinar.

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Article ID: 13013
Fri 3/31/23 3:06 PM
Wed 1/10/24 2:11 PM