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Frequently Asked Questions about Ultra

  • What is Ultra? "Ultra" is the premium learning management system product offered by Blackboard.  It has two components, the "Ultra navigation," which WSU will adopt on May 29, 2021, and "Ultra classes," which individual instructors will adopt on their own schedule between June, 2021 and December, 2022. The Ultra class interface brings with it a streamlined design and many upgraded tools and functionalities. See what Blackboard has to say about Ultra. Check if you are "in Ultra" already.
  • Do classes look different "in Ultra"? It depends on how whether you are talking about the "Ultra navigation" or "Ultra class" view.  After the transition to Ultra Navigation in May 2021, the only thing that will change is how users get into their course and, possibly, some of the colors used in each course. Your courses will look exactly as they always have until you decide to change from the "old course view" to the "Ultra course view."  This is a change you will initiate, and it will not happen by surprise. The current target for the migration of all Wichita State courses is December, 2022 with all classes for spring term, 2023 being offered in the Ultra class view. Read about using both Ultra and "old" Blackboard at the same time.
  • Why is WSU making the change to Ultra? Ultra is a far superior product in comparison to the Blackboard Learn interface we have used for years. Ultra is built on a new software base, and Ultra classes have a streamlined look-and-feel and new and powerful tools for professors and students to use. The move to Ultra is an affordable upgrade for Wichita State.
  • Can I use the new Ultra tools in my "old" Blackboard class? No. The shift from an old Blackboard class to a new Ultra class brings with it all the new tools and functionalities.  These are not part of the code that creates the original Blackboard class view and therefore are not available in those classes. But until you make the decision to adopt the Ultra format for your courses, you are not "in Ultra" and most or all of the tools you are used to will still function as expected for you. 
  • Can I teach in in both "old" Blackboard and Ultra at the same time? Yes. You can have some of your classes in old Blackboard and some in Ultra at the same time. In fact, the Office of Instructional Resources urges you to transition only one class for your first term teaching in Ultra. Some tools (especially grading) are very different in Ultra, and you will want time to get used to them before you transition all of your courses to this new interface. To be clear: once you transition a class to the Ultra class delivery, that class can't "go back" to the "old" Blackboard delivery.  You can teach some of your classes in one view and some of your classes in the other, but each individual class will be offered in only Ultra or the original Blackboard delivery. Read more about using both here.
  • Can I "roll" or "copy in" content from my "old" Blackboard class to my Ultra one? Yes, although the conversion process is not perfect and some things will be changed, moved, or even taken out.  The process of standing up a course in Ultra will take time, whether you choose to build a new course or start with an old course. We are working on some additional software-based support for faculty as we transition to Ultra classes, and these will streamline the process if you choose to use them. This new support will be announced soon. To do this yourself, follow these instructions:
  • Will students be expected to have classes in both "old" Blackboard and Ultra at the same time? Unfortunately, yes.  Starting in fall 2021, some classes will begin to appear in the Ultra class format. For the most part, these will be offered by faculty who participated in the Pilot Program for Ultra. After that, many more classes are expected to be offered in Ultra.  The Office of Instructional Resources is working with several student-facing offices to create and distribute support and training to students so they can navigate this time more easily. You can find the student support pages for Ultra here. (Remember to click "In This Section" to find all links.)
  • Will WSU provide professors with support to transition classes to Ultra? Yes.  Most courses that have been previously offered in 2020 and 2021 will receive an Ultra version that instructors can use. Instructors can find these versions in the "Development/Sandbox Course Shells" area in their "Courses" view.
  • I'm happy with "old" Blackboard. Can I choose to never transition to Ultra? You have control over when you tranistion throughout 2022, but all courses must be in Ultra by the start of spring 2023 term. "Old" Blackboard will not be supported after December, 2022.
  • Does the Blackboard App support Ultra classes? Yes.
  • Will Ultra work with Panopto and my publisher materials? Yes. If you experience problems during times of transition, please contact us at OIR@wichita.edu
  • It seems like technologies are changing very fast lately. When will things slow down? The pace of technological change has picked up in recent years, and with the move to remote classes in 2020 and all the changes that brought, everyone has had to learn more technology recently than they would like. This shift to Ultra is a significant upgrade in the quality of the technology and of the overall experience, and once we get through it, we hope to not have to make another significant change of this type for a long time. Nevertheless there are no guarantees because technologies are evolving at very fast rate on their own. We will continue to offer instructors training and as much support as possible.