Ultra Course View Feature Guide

In January 2022, myLesley (Blackboard) upgraded to Ultra Base Navigation. Faculty can now adopt the new Ultra Course View. Ultra courses feature a more modern, mobile-first design, intuitive navigation, and improved accessibility.

For most faculty, moving to Ultra simply means reorganizing course content to take advantage of the new navigation. In other cases, features and tools will have changed and content will need to be updated. New features will also provide new opportunities for delivering content and streamlined workflows allowing for increased efficiency.

Ultra is updated monthly with new tools and features. This list compares the features of the Original and Ultra Course Views and will be updated frequently as features are introduced or updated. All tools continue to be available for the Original Course View unless otherwise noted. If a tool you rely on is not yet available in the Ultra Course View, please talk to eLIS about alternatives and workarounds.

Last updated: 11/08/2023

Original Ultra Status Details
Adaptive Release Release Conditions


Items can be made available based on date and time, performance (such as a grade on another item), and by individual or group membership. Additional features are planned (2024).
Anonymous Grading Anonymous Grading


You must choose this option for each individual Assignment and Test you create. Anonymous grading for Discussions is planned (2024).
Announcements Course Announcements


Announcements appear in a pop-up box when students enter the course. Announcements in Ultra can also be sent to students via email, although attachments in the Announcement can only be accessed from within the course.
Attendance Attendance


Functions and features identical to Original Course View.
Blogs TBD

Future Consideration

Not yet developed but planned for Ultra Course View and still available in Original Course View.

Many blog assignments can easily be moved to the Discussion Board or another tool. Reach out to elis@lesley.edu to discuss alternatives.

Calendar Calendar


Click the Calendar icon at the top of an Ultra course to access. Additional capabilities are planned.
Content Editor Content Editor


The content (text) editor in Ultra includes the ability to format text, add images, embed videos, and build equations. Colors are limited to ensure a sufficient contrast ratio for improved accessibility. HTML cannot be directly edited, but you can create HTML blocks on Documents.
Course Banner Course Image


When a Course Image is set, it is displayed as the Course Tile on the Courses page list. It can also be toggled on to be displayed as a course banner.
Course Link Course Link


Create a link to another location within the course that you wish the student to reference.
Course Menu


In the Ultra Course View, there is no course menu. Course content is listed on a single page to make it easier for students to navigate. Links to course tools are organized in the Details and Actions area or along the top of the page. Content can be organized using folders and learning modules, which open and close.
Course Reports Student Activity


Course reports on student activity are now delivered in new ways. The Student Activity report summarizes student activity on an Assignment or Test. It provides information about whether students have opened the assessment, how long they had it open, and their grade. The Course Activity Related to Grades report provides a distribution of students grades and the time spent in the course to help identify students who may be falling behind.

If you have enabled Progress Tracking, you can view the Student Progress report for individual items to determine whether students have opened content, when they accessed it, and whether they marked it as complete. The Single Student Progress report focuses on the path each student is taking through the course content.

Date Management Bulk Edit


Date Management has been replaced with the Batch Edit tool in which you can bulk edit content due dates and visibility. You can also delete multiple course items from Batch Edit. Additional capabilities are planned.
Discussions Discussions


Discussions can be created on the content page, such as in a folder or learning module, or they can be created directly on the Discussions page. Discussions have been flattened to reflect more modern discussion tools commonly used across the web. Discussions with grading enabled have a detailed Discussion Analysis feature that provides insight on the level of complexity and critical thinking of a student’s posts compared to their classmates. Additional capabilities are planned.

Feature Loss –  Subscriptions are not available (planned for early 2024), but discussion posts are included in the Activity Stream and daily notifications.

Edit Mode


You are now always in edit mode unless you are in student preview mode.
Embed Media or Mashup Embed Media

Redesigned *Available with Limitations

Images and web-based videos can be embedded within a Document (page) in the Ultra Course View.

Feature Loss – Video can only be embedded from select sources, including (but not limited to) YouTube and Vimeo. For other platforms, such as social media or news sites, you will need to simply create a link to the media or paste embed code into an HTML block in a Document.

Files Upload (Course Content page), Upload from Computer (Document), or Attachment (Text Editor)


Upload files from your computer or cloud storage. Files can also be dragged and dropped into your course. You can also create collaborative documents from Microsoft OneDrive.

NOTE: PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files can now be configured to open as a preview directly in the browser. The instructor can also decide whether students have the ability to download the file.

Folders Folders


Folders organize content within the course outline. They open and close to make it easier for students to find specific files or Documents. Folders can have short descriptions to tell students what content is inside. Folders can be made visible or hidden to allow content to be released in stages.

NOTE: In the Ultra Course View, folders can only be nested three (3) levels deep. You cannot place a Learning Module within a folder.

Grade Center Gradebook


Most grading functions are available in the Gradebook. Additional capabilities are planned.

The default Gradebook view is a list of the graded items, but there is a grid view that is similar to the Grade Center in the Original Course View. Ultra allows you to automatically assign zeroes (0) for assessments that are not submitted by the due date.

NOTE: Assessments can be set to post grades automatically or manually to control visibility of grades to students.

Overall Grades can be calculated by points, weighting, or advanced calculations. Grades can be dropped in point-based and weighted overall calculations.

Feature Loss
The Needs Grading view is discontinued, but you can view assessments that need to be graded in the Activity Stream or on the list view of the Gradebook. Status filters on Assignment and Test submission pages can help to identify items that need to be graded. Additional capabilities are planned for 2024.

Groups Groups


Groups can be created manually or generated randomly. They can be created in three different places within a course and can be used for any of the following purposes:

Course Groups – Created in the Details & Actions area, these groups allow you to send Messages to a subset of students. These groups can be used for Discussions and Assignments and can be used to filter the Gradebook.

Discussion Groups – Created in the settings for a Discussion, these groups allow you to limit students to viewing and interacting in discussion only within their group. These groups can be used for Assignments but not for filtering the Gradebook.

Assignment Groups – Created in the settings for an Assignment, these groups allow students to make a single Assignment submission on behalf of their group and assigns the same grade to each member of the group (which you can override individually if necessary). With Course Conversations enabled on a group assignment, students can have asynchronous conversations about the assignment. You can use Assignment Groups for Discussions but not for filtering the Gradebook
As of August 2022, group sets and membership can be imported via CSV file.

Group Spaces 
The Group Space allows students to see other member of their course group and access their Group Assessments and Discussions. Additional features planned for 2024.

Item Document


The term “Document” refers to a page in Ultra that resembles a web page. Documents can include images, text, uploaded files, and HTML content. If you only need to add a file without accompanying text, use the Upload option instead.
Item Analysis Question Analysis


Run Question Analysis for a single test. Additional capabilities are planned.
Journal Journal


Journals can be created by using the + menu to create content, then selecting  Journal  under  Participation and Engagement.
Learning Module Learning Module


Learning Modules can contain multiple files, Documents, Assignments, Tests, or Discussions. They can also contain two levels of folders to organize materials within the module.

You can force students to view the content in a Learning Module sequentially by selecting the Forced Sequence option in the Learning Module settings. Additional capabilities are planned.

Performance Dashboard


The Course Activity Related to Grades report provides a distribution of students grades and the time spent in the course to help identify students who may be falling behind. Access this report from the Analytics tab or on the Grades page in the main navigation menu.

Alternatives – You can view alerts within your Activity Stream, keep track of assignment submissions in the Gradebook, and view a single student’s grades by clicking a student’s name on the Student List View or the Grid View of the Gradebook. You can view when students last accessed the course by switching to the student list view in the Gradebook.

Additional capabilities are planned.

Publisher Integrations Content Market


Most publisher integrations are available in Ultra Course View. Reach out to elis@lesley.edu with questions or to request a publisher integration..

Alternatives: Use the publisher’s website directly and manually enter grades in the Blackboard Gradebook.

Retention Center


Not available in Ultra and not planned. However, many of the features have moved to the Activity Stream, where you will receive alerts for students falling behind, absent, and failing, and the Course Activity Related to Grades report, which provides a distribution of students grades and the time spent in the course to help identify students who may be falling behind.
Roster Roster


You can view the full student roster or add accommodations for a student (such as extended timers) that apply to all assessments in the course.
Rubrics Rubrics


Rubrics are available for all assessment types.

Feature Loss – Rubrics are limited to a maximum of fifteen rows and columns. Support for large rubrics anticipated late 2023.

SafeAssign SafeAssign


SafeAssign is available for Assignments and for Essay questions on Tests. SafeAssign for Discussions is planned.

SafeAssign DirectSubmit is available from Details & Actions –> Books & Tools.



To add a SCORM package in your Ultra course, click the plus sign to add content, click Create, select SCORM package, and select Upload SCORM package or Browse Content Collection.
Self and Peer Assessment Peer Review


Assignments can now be designated for self and peer review. Peer reviews are entirely anonymous, although the instructor is able to see the reviewed assignments and who provided feedback.

Feature Loss –  Peer review currently only allows qualitative feedback, although you can connect it with a rubric to guide the review process. Future capabilities are planned, including quantitative scoring.

Send Email Messages


The updated Messages tool allows you to communicate with students via email. Messages retains a copy of the conversation in Blackboard and includes the option to send the contents to the student via email. Additional capabilities are planned.
Student Preview Student Preview


Access via the Enter student preview mode button in the Details & Actions area within an Ultra course. Click the … menu in the upper-right corner to exit student preview.
Survey Forms

Anticipated in 2024

In development for Ultra Course View (early 2024) and still available in Original Course View. Forms will have the option to be graded or ungraded. Not yet

Alternatives – Use an external anonymous survey site, such as Qualtrics or Microsoft Forms.

Tests and Pools Tests and Question Banks

Available with Limitations

Tests can include Calculated Formula, Essay, Fill-in-the-Blank (single or multiple), Matching, Multiple Choice (single or multiple correct answers), and True/False questions. Questions can be reused from other Tests or from Question Banks. Questions can be marked as Extra Credit.

Question Randomization – Questions can be displayed in random order for each student and can be randomly assigned from a pool (e.g., each student receives 5 random questions from a set of 10 questions). Additional capabilities are planned.

Grading – Grade tests by student or by question.

Feature Loss:
Some Question Types Not Available – Either/Or (Use True/False or Multiple Choice instead), File Response (Use an Assignment instead), Jumbled Sentence, Opinion Scale/Likert (Use Multiple Choice instead), Ordering (Use Matching instead), Quiz Bowl, Short Answer (Use Essay instead).

VoiceThread VoiceThread


Add through Content Market option under + in Course Content, in the Books & Tools course menu item, or embed on a Document.
Web Link Web Link


To create a link to web content, you can create a link directly in your course by clicking the +Create, and then Link.


Not available in Ultra and not planned.

Alternatives – Use Microsoft OneDrive for collaborative writing and editing, or try Microsoft OneNote for a shared space for note-taking. Both tools are integrated into Ultra courses and allow for the creation of collaborative spaces.

Use Google Sites or Weebly to have students create a website or try a dedicated wiki tool available online.