Ultra Course Format Delays

Breaking News topic header image

Required Move to Ultra Courses Delayed

As our loyal readers know, Wichita State's plan has long been that we would move fully to the Ultra Course Format no later than December 31, 2022.  But our experience with our pilot program plus Blackboard’s ongoing commitment to improving the Ultra Course Format has led us to make a change in that decision.  In consultation with the Accessibility and Technology subcommittee of the Faculty Senate, we have decided to suspend the deadline to move to Ultra Course Format, at least for now. We are committed to supporting instructors in both formats through at least the end of the 2022-23 AY. That means that we will not be moving into Ultra Course Format fully before the end of May, 2023, and it could be after.

The Office of Instructional Resources will continue to support instructors, staff, and students in both formats, and we continue to encourage instructors to move to the Ultra Course Format over time.  Ultimately, the Classic Blackboard Course Format will sunset on our campus, but we want to make sure that the Ultra Course Format will do all we need it to do before we take that step. 

If you would like to start your move to the Ultra Course Format, now is a good time. We have a new webpage designed to help instructors of all ranks know their options and choose a personalized path to Ultra Course Format.  As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us at OIR@wichita.edu, or make a plan to drop in to our online lab times.


Ultra or "Classic" ("old") Bb? How to Choose

Instructors now have two choices for their content delivery in Blackboard. For courses that require a large suite of tools, OIR recommends instructors choose Blackboard Classic or "old" Course Format.  For instructors who want a more streamlined experience and updated look, we recommend the Ultra Course Format. 

The Blackboard Ultra Course Format is currently in active development. That means that instructors who choose it can participate in its future development by giving feedback directly to Blackboard or thorough the Office of Instructional Resources. Because Ultra is a moving target, any comparison between it and the Original experience become dated almost immediately, but a rough difference is that Original Blackboard is more customizable, has more tools, and has a familiar interface for many instructors, and Ultra has a more modern design, more powerful data and analytics, and allows for more instructor-student interaction at a variety of levels.  Ultra Courses also have a very different grading and gradebook interface, and it takes time for most instructors to become comfortable with it, so OIR recommends that instructors transition a single course first so they can get used to it before jumping in with both feet.

Most instructors who have taught with Blackboard courses in the past now have an Ultra Course Format version of those classes already available. You can locate your Ultra Courses by logging in to Blackboard, clicking the "Courses" link, and going to the Development/Sandbox Course Shell area.  All courses that end with -U are Ultra versions for instructors to use or disregard, as they see fit.  If you would like help with Ultra, please consider coming to one of the Ultra ARC sessions this January the 13th


Examity for Proctoring

As of December 31, 2021, Wichita State will be moving from ProctorU to Examity for high-stakes, paid proctoring. If you require a paid proctoring option in your courses, please check your syllabus for any mentions of ProctorU and replace them with Examity. You can find pricing information here under the heading, "Proctoring Options With Costs to Students." Examity is integrated into Blackboard, and you will find that it is an especially easy tool to use. 

The technical aspects of the Examity integration are now complete, but customized, WSU-specific training is not yet complete. If you need Examity for a pre-session course, please let OIR know by sending an email to OIR@wichita.edu. For those of you who will be using it in the regular Spring term, the only step you need to take care of now is to make sure your syllabus is up-to-date. Watch WSU Today for updates about when training is available.

ARC Academic Resources Conference

January ARC Events 10th-13th

The Academic Resources Conference will be returning in early January. Most events will be offered on Zoom, but GTA-specific events, including special sessions with President Muma and Interim Provost Lefever, will be in person on January 12 in the RSC. If you work with any GTAs, whether they are newly appointed or have been teaching for awhile, please encourage their participation in the sessions on the 12th.  Any questions can be directed to OIR@wichita.edu.
Here is a look at the schedule so far, and the links will open calendar invites.  Other events may be added, so you will also want to keep an eye on the full January schedule here.  Like always, most sessions will be recorded, and you will be able to find links to the recordins on the schedule page.


Moving to Ultra Courses? Bring your Panopto Videos!

WSU has had Panopto for several years, and in that time the way Panopto "talks" to Blackboard has changed. We see this very clearly with Ultra Courses, which have a whole new "integration" with Panopto. What that means for you is that while you will be able to use your "legacy" Panopto videos in your Ultra Courses, you may need a little help in the setup. If you are standing up an Ultra Course format course for Spring, 2022 and you find you are having problems with Panopto videos not playing or coming over correctly, let us know and we'll make it right. You can email us at OIR@wichita.edu, or better yet, come to our come-and-go lab times in Zoom.

Around Campus

Dates to Know and How to Remember Them

Blackboard course shells for Spring, 2022 were generated on Friday, December 3. If you would like to start putting together spring classes, everything is ready for you. Grades will be due by 10:00pm on Tuesday, December 14. Did you know that these dates follow rules? Once you know the rules, you'll be able to work the dates out for any term:

  • ITS and OIR work together to create Blackboard shells for all courses. We create the shells 30 days before the first day of presession. If that day falls on a weekend, we create them the last weekday before 30 days before presession.
  • For Fall and Spring terms, grades are always due at 10:00pm on the Tuesday after the last day of finals. For Summer term, grades are due at 10:00pm on the Tuesday after the last day of classes because there is no finals period.

FN? FF? What Code Do I Need for Grades?

The Registrar would like to remind instructors of the following grade codes:
Instead of the single option of F to represent fail, instructors will see three failing grade options. This will allow faculty to distinguish between an earned F and one given because a student stopped attending or never attended the course. The grade drop down will display the following three F grades:
  • FF = attended/participated all term, earned F
  • FN = never attended/participated in the class
  • FQ = stopped attending/participating at some point; only the Q failing grade will require the last date of attendance or educationally-related activity (LDA)
DO NOT enter a last date of attendance for FF or FN.  If the student stopped attending/participating, they should be given FQ grade with that last date. Please make note of what each F grade means and have it handy when you enter grades. The same F, N and Q characters will apply to failing grades of U, NCR and NBG (e.g., UF, UN, etc.).


One Small Thing

Have a Wonderful Break

All of us in the Office of Instructional Resources want to wish you a joyful and restful Winter Break. OIR is proud to support Wichita State instructors. Each of you has gone above and beyond to keep everything going over the last two years, and we hope this year's longer shutdown provides you the time you need for your own wellbeing and happiness.