On behalf of the Provost’s Office, I’m writing today to bring you all up to date on the Academic Division’s plans for an upcoming transition to the newer, more modern interface to Blackboard, known as Blackboard Ultra Course View. Throughout 2023 and into 2024, the University will be moving all courses to this Ultra view, beginning with the online graduate programs during the current spring and upcoming summer semesters.
I want to assure everyone that our adoption of Blackboard Ultra will take place in the same way that all Blackboard support has unfolded for more than 10 years - with individual faculty consultations, a respect for each instructor’s teaching style and preferences, and deference to an instructor’s particular scheduling and curricular demands. As we enter 2023, however, it’s clear that we need to make this move to the platform’s latest iteration to take advantage of the improved interface, mobile capabilities, and streamlined workflow in order to best serve the demands and expectations of our growing base of students. The Ultra Course View in Blackboard is now a number of years old and has been tested by a small cohort of Fairfield faculty over the past couple of years. In addition, the Academic Computing staff have been devoting significant time to learning its details and how activities can be transitioned from the prior version to the new one.
In coordination with Academic Computing, we have worked out the following general timeline for the transition:
- Spring 2023: Train and support faculty who teach in online graduate programs to prepare upcoming courses to be offered in Ultra, with the goal of having all of these courses running in Ultra for the second Summer Session in 2023.
- Spring and Summer 2023: Train and support faculty who teach in face-to-face graduate programs to prepare upcoming courses to be offered in Ultra, with the goal of having all of these courses running in Ultra for the Fall 2023 semester.
- Spring, Summer, and Fall 2023: Acquaint undergraduate instructors with the Ultra Course View in spring and summer and provide a high-level understanding of how it works. The goal is to get instructors dipping their toes into it prior to Fall 2023, with a small number perhaps using it in their Fall courses, then follow that up with a significant number of undergraduate faculty using it in the Spring 2024 semester.
- The hope is that all undergraduate courses will be using the Ultra Course View in Summer and Fall 2024.
Of course, not everyone’s courses will be equally affected by this move to Blackboard Ultra, since some of you may use Blackboard only to post your syllabus or take attendance. Our objective is not to make people use Ultra rather than other tools but instead to make certain that those classes that do make use of Blackboard are on the most up-to-date version.
Mary Kleps and her staff in Academic Computing will be handling the details of this transition, with the support of the Center for Academic Excellence, so please look for announcements regarding upcoming info sessions and hands-on workshops very soon. (In the meantime, you can get a sneak peek at the Ultra Course View by viewing a brief video at https://youtu.be/A6H2M2egLbY
.) We hope to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone, and we look forward to having all our instructors experience the same kind of positive student feedback that those of us who’ve piloted Ultra have received.
With best wishes for a productive new year,
Associate Vice Provost for Pedagogical Innovation & Effectiveness