The new features in Blackboard’s February upgrade will be available on Friday 2nd February. This month’s upgrade includes the following new/improved features to Ultra courses:


February upgrade’s will enable to staff to use forms/surveys in Ultra courses. The forms tool is very similar to the Ultra test tool, but with a slightly different set of questions that can be used, including a likert scale question. Forms are intended to be used where staff want to collect information from students but where there is no correct answer, and, usually, where there is no requirement to grade or provide feedback on the response. However, there is an option to grade a form response and to add feedback, but the default state for forms is to be automatically marked as complete upon submission.

To use a form in an Ultra course, select the + (plus) button in the course content area, and choose ‘Form’.

• Accessing a form in an Ultra course

The following question types are supported in forms:

  • Essay question (i.e., an open/free response question)
  • Likert question
  • Multiple choice question
  • True/false question

In addition, staff can use ‘Add text’ to add sections of text that do not require a response from students (e.g., to explain more about a particular section of the form), and can use ‘Add Page Break’ to split-up longer forms. ‘Add local file’ can be used where staff want to a upload file for use by students when completing the form.

• Question types in Ultra forms

Current limitations of forms
Please note that in this initial release of forms, it is not possible to collect responses anonymously. Note also that there is no single-select multiple choice tool in forms as there is in tests, as the ‘Add Multiple Choice Question’ tool works differently in forms and tests. When setting a multiple choice question in a form, students will be able to select more than one option, including all options. Additionally, the likert question type only allows ranges of 3, 5, and 7 to be used.

Data protection considerations
Forms should not normally be used to collect and store personal or confidential information about students. If you are considering using forms for this purpose, advice should be sought from the University’s data protection officer beforehand, or, if using forms for research, approval should be sought from one of the University’s ethics committees.

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Course activity report improvements

Getting an overview of student engagement in Ultra courses is very quick and easy compared to how it was in Original courses. Engagement data in Ultra is also considerably more reliable in Ultra than it was in Original as Ultra takes account of access via mobile devices, which was not the case with Original courses.

Following the February upgrade, as well as providing information about the number of days since each student last accessed the course, and number of hours each student spent in the course, missed assessment deadlines will also be included in the course activity page on Ultra courses, and staff can set flags for these in the alert settings.

In the following screenshot, the alert settings have been set up to flag students who have missed one or more deadlines, and who have not accessed the Ultra course for more than seven days.

• Course activity page in Ultra courses

Missed due dates and non-submissions
Please note that in the course activity page, missed due dates should not be taken to mean non-submissions, as an assignment that is submitted late is counted as a missed due date. However, non-submitters can be viewed and quickly contacted in Ultra courses via the student progress report for the assignment (see links below).

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More information

As ever, please get in touch with your learning technologist if you would like any more information about the new features available in this month’s upgrade: Who is my learning technologist?