May ARC Revisited

Breaking News topic header image

Ultra is here!

If you have been into Blackboard since the end of the spring term, you will have noticed that the login and landing pages have changed.  What you are seeing is called "Ultra Base Navigation," and it is the first step toward Wichita State becoming a full Ultra campus! Over the next year and a half, we will work to complete our transition, and by December, 2022, all Wichita State courses will be offered in the Ultra Course format. For now, most courses are still in "classic" Blackboard (we call it "old Blackboard" in our office!). That means when you login to your actual Blackboard courses, they will look almost entirely the same as you came to expect over the last few years. Each instructor will make the decision about when to transition their classes to the Ultra Course format, so you don't need to worry that the transition will be made without you triggering it.  If you would like to transition your course to Ultra for the fall semester, please contact us at, and we will walk you through the process.


Brush up on "Old Blackboard" tools 

As part of the May sessions for the Academic Resources Conference, we offered a "rapid session" (50 minutes, 3 topics) on some underused "classic" Blackboard tools. If you plan to remain teaching in "old Blackboard" for the fall term, you will benefit from having a look at the session recording that covers the Goals, Rubrics, and Retention Center tools:

Learn about new Ultra tools

Ultra has several powerful tools and features that are going to improve our courses and Blackboard-delivered things like organizations and trainings, but in order to use those new powerful tools, you first need to learn what they are.  In May we had two Ultra sessions that cover information you should know in order to be effective in Ultra.  The first session is a general Ultra overview, and the second session is a rapid session covering three Ultra topics of interest. Make sure to have a look!


Accessibility is here to stay

Sometimes it seems that topics come and go on a campus, but accessibility isn't like that.  Accessibility is here to stay! We addressed it in some more advanced ways during the May ARC. Two presentations, one answering the age-old question, "Is this Accessible?" was provided by the University's Accessibility Coordinator, John Jones. The other addressed the accessibility auditing process and featured Heather Merchant.  Taken together, these accessibility presentations will help instructors understand how to determine what is (and isn't) accessible, and what to do when they want to try a new app or other technology in a class.  


It's the 21st century in here

We have a saying in OIR, "It's the 21st century in here!" While the calendar has argued that it's been the 21st century for a couple of decades, the real changes from an analog to a digital world have hit a tipping point in the last couple of years. For example, the long-hoped-for "paperless office" is mostly here, and Zoom is a reasonable option for most meetings, even in the post-pandemic world. 

It's anyone's guess what this new digital world means for higher education, but one thing is sure: today's students need to be prepared to work and live in that world. OIR is gathering resources to help instructors think through the implications, and you can browse them here, in our "LitReview" whitepaper section. We also sponsored a May ARC discussion with Brian Austin and Megan Madasz addressing 21st century workforce skills, and we hope you'll enjoy the recording:

Beyond the discussion board

A well-run discussion board is a great way to encourage all kinds of interaction in the online portion of your classes. Yet discussion boards are not the only tools Blackboard has to encourage interaction.  OIR's own Mary Morriss spoke on ways instructors can get beyond the discussion board to encourage interaction in a deeper and more impactful way in classes.  Interested in hearing more? Check out the recording of Mary's May session.


Savvy instructors use great libraries!

Everyone at WSU knows how lucky we are to have such great librarians and library staff. University Libraries is the gateway to nearly any resource instructors, students, and researchers might need, and if they don't have it, they often can get it. There is so much to know about library services, and Angela Paul came to the May ARC to explain many of those faculty resources. Did you miss Angie's session?  No problem! And while you are at it, check out this LibGuide on faculty resources.


Currently, Wichita State offers two online proctoring solutions, ProctorU and Respondus LDB. Nevertheless, talks are underway about potentially replacing one or more of those solutions. If you are interested in knowing more about the proctoring solutions we have and that are under consideration, you will want to review these sessions:

  • ProctorU: Online proctoring with human oversight
  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor: Online proctoring that automatically stops online browsing and can offer screen recordings and access to AI monitoring
  • Examity: AI solution with screen recordings and optional human proctoring (under consideration)
  • Honorlock: AI solution with screen recordings and optional human proctoring (under consideration)

By far, the most popular session in May's ARC was Sara Zafar's talk on Advanced Title IX. In fact, it was so popular that we ran out of time and have already asked Sara to provide TWO sessions for the August ARC. You will not want to miss this session both for the excellent information you can get today and so you have an opportunity to start thinking about questions to ask Sara in August:



So, you think you know Microsoft Office?

OIR has been running faculty help labs for a long time, and one of the things we have noticed is how often something that feels like a "Blackboard problem" to some people is really a misunderstanding about PowerPoint or even Word. Even though we all use both of these program in our daily work, it can be hard to know all the ways to optimize and leverage the software. To address this problem, the ARC invites Ali Levine, the Application Training Lead for the University to speak about tips and tricks in Microsoft Office software.  In May she gave us "Life-Changing Tricks with Microsoft Office" and you will not want to miss it:

Get free software for home and work

As a Wichita State employee, you have access to quite a bit of software for both work and home, and some of that software will make doing your job much easier. For example, if you get Microsoft 365 with OneDrive, you can access all your files from any computer, and taking screen capture videos is easy with Snagit. If you are unsure what software is available to you in your role, have a listen to Shadi Tafaroji, Amy Belden, and Ali Levine in this short session from the ARC: