Currently viewing the tag: "Ultra Upgrade"

The new features in Blackboard’s June upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 2nd June. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

Announcements moved to the top navigation bar

Following the June upgrade, Announcements will move from the ‘Details & Actions’ menu to the top menu in Ultra courses.

• Blackboard Ultra course with new location for ‘Announcements’ highlighted

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Ultra tests: upload questions from a file

Prior or to the June upgrade, Ultra tests could only be created directly in Blackboard. After the upgrade, staff will be able to author tests offline in Excel or in a plain text editor (e.g., Notepad for Windows or TextEdit for Mac) and create tests questions in bulk in Ultra courses by importing the file. For more information about how to do this, please see: Blackboard Help – Upload Questions

• Blackboard Ultra test setup screen showing option to upload questions from file

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Journals – submission status filters available when using assessed journals

Following the June upgrade, staff will be able to use filters in the Marks & Participation view in journals. These filters will allow staff to quickly view their students’ journal entries based on the status of their submissions.

• Journal Marks & Participation view with Marking Status options highlighted

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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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s May upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 6th May. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

Drag-and-drop content into Ultra courses

Staff will be able to upload files into their Ultra courses simply by dragging a file or folder into the course content area of their Ultra course.

• Drag and drop content into Ultra courses

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Email non-submitters of Blackboard Ultra assignments

Staff using Blackboard Ultra assignments will be able to quickly select and message students who have not submitted any work for assessment by setting the student status filter in the assignment inbox to ‘No Submission’, selecting all students, and choosing ‘Send Message’. When selecting more than one student as a recipient of a message, the recipients will be BCC’d into the message, ensuring that students’ identity and contact information remain confidential.

• Blackboard Ultra assignment inbox, with student status filter, select all, and send message button highlighted

As well as being able to email non-submitters from an Ultra assignment inbox, staff can also use this functionality to send email messages to students based on other critera. By using the inbox filters and the sortable header columns, staff can quickly organise the inbox, and can also manually choose one or more students to send email messages to from the Ultra assignment inbox.

Please note that this ability to select and email students directly from an Ultra assignment inbox is only able to be used with Blackboard Ultra assignments, and is not available when using a Turnitin assignment in an Ultra course.

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Improvements to hotspot questions in Ultra tests

Staff creating hotspot questions in Ultra tests will be able to zoom in to their image, and to view it full screen in order to more precisely define the hotspot area.

• Ultra test hotspot question with zoom in/out and fullscreen buttons highlighted

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Ability to prevent backtracking in Ultra tests with page breaks

Prior the May upgrade, staff could only use the ‘prevent backtracking’ option in Ultra tests if the test did not contain any page breaks. After the upgrade, staff will be able to prevent backtracking in tests which contain page breaks. The ‘prevent backtracking’ option ensures that students progress through the pages of a test in a predetermined sequence, and will be helpful when later test questions provide hints or reveal answers to questions on previous pages.

As tests with page breaks may contain multiple questions per page, students who have an unanswered question on a page and try to navigate to the next page will receive a warning message prompting them that they have an unanswered question, and that they will be unable to answer it should they proceed to the next page.

• ‘Continue to the Next Page’ unaswered question warning message

You can find out more about setting up and using Ultra tests at: Blackboard Help – Create Tests

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Ability to reuse questions in Ultra question banks

Staff will be able to copy questions between question banks by selecting the new ‘Reuse Questions’ option. Additionally, staff will be able to copy questions from existing tests directly into their question banks.

• Ultra question bank with ‘Reuse questions’ highlighted

You can find out more about using Ultra question banks at: Blackboard Help – Question Banks.

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Improvements to Ultra rubrics

When marking using Ultra rubrics the performance level descriptions will be hidden by default. This change streamlines grading for staff who are familiar with the performance level requirements. However, staff can quickly choose to display the performance descriptions if needed for grading.

• Marking with an Ultra rubric – ‘Show description’ highlighted

Following the May upgrade it will also be possible to deselect a performance level (e.g., excellent, good, statisfactory, etc.) if choosing another level of performance isn’t appropriate. Prior to the May upgrade, once a peformance level was selected, it could be changed, but not deselected.

The May upgrade will also allow criterion feedback to be collapsed, allowing for a more streamlined view of the grading panel.

Finally, keyboard navigation of rubrics will improve following the May upgrade, introducing the ability to navigate between rubric criteria using the tab key, and to use the up/down arrows to select a performance level.

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Grading attempt selector improvements

When viewing a student’s Blackboard Ultra assignment submission, if there are multiple submission attempts the assignment viewer will automatically choose the most appropriate attempt to present by default based on the ‘Grade Attempts’ setting and the grading completion status.

Grade Attempts settingGrading completion statusDefault attempt displayed
Last attempt with a gradeAnyMost recent attempt
First attempt with a gradeAnyFirst attempt
Attempt with the highest gradeAll attempts are gradedAttempt with the highest grade
Attempt with the lowest gradeAll attempts are gradedAttempt with the lowest grade
Average of all attemptsAll attempts are gradedMost recent attempt
Attempt with the highest gradeThere are ungraded attemptsOldest ungraded attempt
Attempt with the lowest gradeThere are ungraded attemptsOldest ungraded attempt
Average of all attemptsThere are ungraded attemptsOldest ungraded attempt

Regardless of the settings, all attempts will still be available to view in the assignment viewer, and can be quickly accessed via the attempt selector.

• Blackboard Ultra assignment with attempt selector highlighted

For more information about setting up and using Blackboard Ultra assignments, please see: Ultra Workflow 2: Blackboard Assignment

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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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s April upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 7th April. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

Additional features coming on Friday 14th April.

For the first time in Blackboard (this was never a feature in Original courses), after the April upgrade users will be able to search for and locate content in a course. The content search facility is available to both staff and students.

• Ultra course content area with the search button highlighted
• Ultra course content area with a search term entered and results showing

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Hotspot question improvements

Following the April upgrade, staff will be able to define hotspot areas in Ultra tests using a circle shape selector, as well as the rectangle and polygon shape selectors.

• Hotspot question editor with circle selector selected
• Hotspot question with two circular hotspot areas defined

You can find out more about using hotspot questions at: Blackboard Help – Hotspot Questions

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Multiple grading schemas

Prior to the April upgrade, Ultra courses could only contain one grading schema. Following the April upgrade, Ultra courses will be able to contain multiple grading schemas. Schemas can be added and updated in the Ultra gradebook settings, via the ‘Manage Mark Schemas’ tool.

• Ultra gradebook with ‘settings’ button highlighted
• Ultra gradebook settings with ‘Manage Mark Schemas’ highlighted

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Improved submission page sorting controls

After the April upgrade, staff will be able to more effectively sort Blackboard assignment submissions in Ultra courses, and will be able to sort by students’ first or last names, ascending or descending.

• Sorting Blackboard Ultra assignment submissions in the gradebook

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Discussion navigation improvements

After the April upgrade, staff will be able to more easily view student activity, and marks and participation in Ultra discussions via the updated tab navigation in the discussions panel.

You can find out more about setting up and using Ultra discussions at: Blackboard Help – Discussions

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Quick access to student overview from multiple locations

Prior to the April upgrade, selecting a student in the class register opened up the member information side panel which contains only limited information about the student.

• The member information side panel in the class register

Following the April upgrade, selecting a student in the class register will take staff directly to the student overview page for that student.

• Student overview page

Staff can still access the member information panel in the class register by selecting the ellipsis ‘•••’ menu located to the right of the student’s name in the class register, and choosing ‘Edit member information’.

Following the April upgrade, the student overview page will also open when a student’s name is selected in an Ultra discussion or message.

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Ultra analytics improvement – students with deactivated enrolments no longer show in the student progress reports

Prior to the April upgrade, students with deactivated enrolments (i.e., students who had been originally enrolled on a NILE course, but who subsequently transferred off the module, or withdrew from their studies) still showed up in the student progress report in Ultra courses

Following the April upgrade, the analytics tools in Ultra courses will no longer show students with deactivated enrolments.

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Bb Annotate – improvements to commenting feature

Prior to the April upgrade, when using Bb Annotate to add comments to papers submitted to Blackboard assignments in Ultra and Original courses, comments could only contain plain text. Additionally, once saved, staff could delete their comments, but could not edit them.

Following the April upgrade, staff will be able to both edit and delete comments they have made. Also, comments will allow rich text features to be added, such as the ability to change the font colour, to make text bold or underlined, and to add hyperlinks.

• Adding a comment to a Blackboard assignment

You can find out more about using Bb Annotate to provide feedback and comments on student assessments at: Blackboard Help – Bb Annotate

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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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s March upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 3rd March. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

  • Prevent editing or deletion of discussion posts
  • Improved data and analytics in Ultra courses
  • Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts

Prevent editing or deletion of discussion posts

The March upgrade includes an important enhancement to discussions in Ultra courses, which allows staff to prevent students from editing or deleting their discussion posts while the discussion is ongoing.

At present, staff can choose to lock an assessed discussion on the due date, but cannot prevent students from editing and deleting their own discussion posts prior to the due date. Following the March upgrade, staff will be able to select ‘Prevent editing’ when setting up an assessed or non-assessed discussion, which will make all published posts permanent.

• Discussion Setting with ‘Prevent editing’ selected

More information about setting up and using Ultra discussions is available at: Blackboard Help – Create Discussions

Improved engagement analytics in Ultra courses

Following the March upgrade, staff will be able to get a quick overview of their students’ engagement in their Ultra courses.

Under ‘Course Activity’ in the Analytics section of an Ultra course, staff will be able to see how much time students have spent in their Ultra course, along with the number of days since their last access. Both ‘Hours in Course’ and ‘Days of Inactivity’ will be sortable ascending and descending, and from this view staff will be able to select one or more students and bulk message them.

• View of ‘Course Activity’ panel following the March upgrade

Improved attempt switching when grading student submissions with multiple attempts

When students make multiple submissions to Blackboard assignments in Ultra courses, after the March upgrade it will be quicker and easier to navigate the submissions.

Rather then having to choose which submission to view, staff will immediately be presented with the most recent submission, and will be able to switch between submissions directly inside the submission viewer.

• Viewing a Blackboard assignment with multiple submissions

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s February upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 3rd February. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

  • Polygon shape tool available when creating hotspot questions in Ultra tests
  • Sort items by grading status in the Ultra gradebook
  • Students can see other members of their group in Ultra courses
  • Ally alternative format views count towards progress in progress tracking

Polygon shape tool available when creating hotspot questions in Ultra tests

Since the November upgrade, staff have been able to create hotspot questions in Ultra tests. Initially, the hotspot area could only be rectangular, but following the February upgrade staff will be able to define complex hotspot areas in Ultra tests using the polygon shape tool.

• Defining a complex hotspot area using the polygon tool

More information about how to add and use hotspot questions is available at:

Sort items by grading status in the Ultra gradebook

Following the February upgrade, when viewing the gradebook in list view, staff can sort the gradebook by the grading status.

• Sorting the gradebook by grading status

Students can see other members of their group in Ultra courses

After the February upgrade, students who have been assigned to groups will be more easily able to see who they are in a group with. However, they will not be able to see any information about groups that they are not a member of, nor will they be able to view detailed information about their other group members. All that will be disclosed when viewing other group members will be their name, their role in the course, and their profile image if they have uploaded one.

• A view of a student viewing the other members of one of the groups of which they are a member

Ally alternative format views count towards progress in progress tracking

When documents are uploaded into NILE they are automatically made available in various additional accessible formats by Ally. Following the February upgrade, when students download and view one of Ally’s accessible versions of a document, this will be tracked by Ultra’s progress tracking tool.

You can find out more about Ally at:

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s January upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 6th January. This month’s upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses:

  • Prevent students from editing or deleting Ultra discussion posts after the due date
  • Model answer question type supported in Ultra tests
  • Improvements to Ultra test randomisation options

Prevent students from editing or deleting Ultra discussion posts after the due date

Prior to the January upgrade, students could continue posting to Ultra discussions after the due date had passed. This created problems for staff when grading discussions. Following this month’s upgrade, staff can automatically lock the discussion after the due date has passed. When ‘Stop discussion activity after due date’ is selected, students can’t create, reply to, or edit posts after the due date. Students with a due date accommodation can continue to create, reply to, and edit posts after the due date.

• Ultra discussion settings

You can find out more about setting up and using discussions in Ultra courses at: Blackboard Help – Ultra Discussions

Model answer question type supported in Ultra test

Following the January upgrade, when adding an essay question to an Ultra test, staff will be able to include a model answer. The model answer will always be available for staff to view when marking the test, and staff can also configure the test settings to allow students to see the model answer once they have taken the test. As would be expected, regardless of how the test is set up, the model answer cannot be seen by students while they are completing the test.

• Adding an essay question
• Adding a model answer

The option for students to view the model answer is controlled by the ‘Correct Answers’ setting in the ‘Assessment results’ section of the Ultra test settings panel.

• Assessment results panel

Please note that the essay question must be marked in order to display the model answer to students. Therefore, where staff are using model answer questions in a formative test in which students are required to judge their own response(s) against the model answer(s), a quick option for staff would be to assign 1 point per model answer question, and to award the point to everyone who submitted an answer, thus revealing the model answer to students who view their test results.

You can find out more about setting up and using Ultra tests at: Blackboard Help – Ultra Tests

Improvements to Ultra test randomisation options

Prior to the January upgrade, staff were not able to randomise test questions if the test contained text blocks, files, or images. Following the upgrade, staff will be able to enable randomisation when the test has text blocks, files, or images, as these non-question elements will be locked in place, and the test will randomise the questions between the non-question elements.

Staff will also be able to randomise questions in a test that contains page breaks, as the questions will randomise within their assigned page. If a page contains non-question elements, the questions will randomise between those elements.

When there are pages for the test, staff can also randomise page order. If staff randomise the page order, they can also choose to lock the first page into position. This is particularly important if the first page of the test is a cover page or contains test instructions.

You can find out more about randomising Ultra tests at: Blackboard Help – Ultra Tests: Randomising questions and answers

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

The new features in Blackboard’s December upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 2nd December, with the exception of the drag-and-drop and course links improvements, which should be available by Monday 5th December. The December upgrade includes the following new features to Ultra courses, some of which were specifically requested by staff in our ‘What new features do you want to see in your Ultra courses?‘ survey:

  • Drag-and-drop content re-ordering improvements
  • Course links
  • Single student progress report
  • Improvements for copying content
  • Question banks descriptions and search
  • Simpler exit actions for student preview
  • Improvements to ‘needs grading’ count for Blackboard Ultra assignments

Drag-and-drop content re-ordering improvements

In response to feedback that the drag-and-drop content re-ordering function was clumsy and difficult to use, Blackboard have improved the way that it works. Following the upgrade, staff should find it easier to grab and move content items in their Ultra courses. Please also note that the location of the content re-ordering tool has moved from the right to the left-hand side of the content item.

• Location of the old content re-ordering tool
• Location of the new content re-ordering tool

Course links

As well as adding links to external web sites, etc., following December’s upgrade, staff will be able to add internal links to items already in an Ultra course. To create a course link, add a new link, and select ‘Create Course Link’.

• Adding a new link
• Creating a course link

In this initial release of the course link tool there are some limitations, but the functionality is expected to develop and improve over the coming upgrades.

Linking Exceptions

  • In this release, staff cannot create course links using the content editor.
  • In this release, staff cannot create course links to folders, learning modules, discussions, and web links.
  • Course links to learning modules where force sequence is enabled cannot be created. This is because links could allow users to access something they should not yet access. If a course link to a learning module exists, it will not be possible to enable forced sequence.

Copying Content

When a course is copied into a new course, course links are updated to link within the new course. However, there are exceptions:

  • In this release, staff cannot copy course links for documents and third-party LTI content, i.e., course links to anything originally added via the content market, e.g., Turnitin assignments, Kaltura videos, Leganto reading lists.
  • When copying or converting from an Original course, the copy process will exclude course links for folders, learning modules, and web links.

Single student progress report

Following on from last month’s upgrade, in which Blackboard introduced the ability for staff to find out more about how their students were interacting with Ultra courses, December’s upgrade adds additional functionality to the course analytics options.

When in grid view in the Ultra gradebook, selecting a student’s name will open up the student grades overview page, which shows an overview of all of that student’s grades in the course. After the December upgrade, staff will be able to view a progress report for a student, as well as details of the last time that the student was active in the course, along with a student activity link.

• Gradebook in grid view
• Student progress

Improvements for copying content

When copying content into an Ultra course, the copy content panel is quite narrow, which can make it difficult to navigate. December’s upgrade introduces a new, expanded copy content panel.

• The old copy content panel
• The new copy content panel

Staff can find out more about copying content into Ultra courses at: Blackboard Help – Copy Content from Other Courses

Question banks descriptions and search

Following December’s upgrade, staff will be able to add a description to a question bank. These descriptions may be useful for noting the topics or objectives the questions cover. The question bank description is displayed with the question bank title on the question banks page.

• Adding a description to a question bank

December’s upgrade will also bring in the option to search questions banks, with the search facility searching both the name and the description fields of the question bank.

• The question bank search function

Staff can find out more about using question banks at: Blackboard Help – Question Banks

Simpler exit actions for student preview

December’s upgrade will bring in simpler exit process when viewing a course in student preview mode, allowing staff to exit in two clicks, instead of three.

• The old student preview exit view
• The new student preview exit

Improvements to ‘needs grading’ count for Blackboard Ultra assignments

In addition to the above improvements, December’s upgrade also improves the way that the needs grading count works, as it has sometimes provided an incorrect count of the number of items which required grading when assessing work with multiple attempts where ‘last attempt with a grade’ or ‘first attempt with a grade’ was selected in ‘Mark attempts’ in the assignment settings.

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

Blackboard’s November upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 4th November. The November upgrade includes the following new features, many of which were specifically requested by staff in our ‘What new features do you want to see in your Ultra courses?‘ survey:

  • Hotspot questions in Ultra tests
  • Course activity report under the analytics tab in Ultra courses
  • Student course access data available in student grades overview
  • Improved grade history report available in the Ultra gradebook
  • ‘Sticky’ Ultra gradebook view
  • Turnitin icon is displayed in Turnitin assignments in Ultra and Original courses
  • All content market icons appear alongside the content item in Ultra courses
  • Improvements to unread messages indicator

Hotspot questions in Ultra tests

Following the November upgrade, staff will be able to use hotspot questions in Ultra tests.

• Hotspot question setup tool

More information about how to add and use hotspot questions is available at:

Course activity report under the analytics tab in Ultra courses

Staff are keen to know more about student activity in their NILE courses, and October’s upgrade saw the introduction of student progress reports for course content items in Ultra courses.

• Ultra course showing how to access student progress report

Following on from this, the November upgrade introduces a new feature in the ‘Analytics’ section of Ultra courses, where staff can find out more about students’ activity in their courses.

• Course activity panel in Ultra course

From here, staff can view reports about their students’ course activity related to grades, and individual students’ course activity data.

More information about Ultra course analytics is available from:

Student course access data available in student grades overview

When in grid view in the Ultra gradebook, selecting a student’s name opens up the student grades overview page, which shows an overview of all of that student’s grades in the course. After the November upgrade, the student grades overview will include details of the last time that the student was active in the course, along with a ‘Student Activity’ link which, when selected, will provide more details of the student’s activity in the course over time.

• Gradebook in grid view
• Student grades overview panel

Improved grade history report available in the Ultra gradebook

Following the November upgrade, staff will be able to able to download a more detailed grade history report in the Ultra gradebook. When downloading marks, staff will be able to:

  • Select which gradebook items to include in the download,
  • Include deleted items, and,
  • Select timeframes to optimise the amount of information downloaded.

The download file report will include additional information

  • Student username
  • Grade category
  • Submission receipt: The submission receipt number
  • Submission attempt: The number of the submitted attempt

These changes will make it easier for staff to access and search the log of changes to student grades.

• Download marks panel with ‘Mark History’ selected

‘Sticky’ Ultra gradebook view

November’s upgrade will make the Ultra gradebook view ‘sticky’, meaning that Ultra will remember your last gradebook view, list or grid, and will always open the gradebook in that view. If you change your gradebook view, Ultra will then update your preference and open the gradebook in your new preferred view.

• Gradebook with list/grid view selector highlighted

Turnitin icon is displayed in Turnitin assignments in Ultra and Original courses

Following the November upgrade, all new and existing Turnitin assignments in Ultra and Original courses will be more clearly identifiable as the Turnitin icon will be displayed to staff and students next to the assignment.

• Turnitin icon displayed alongside a Turnitin assignment in an Ultra course
• Turnitin icon displayed alongside a Turnitin assignment in an Original course

All content market icons appear alongside the content item in Ultra courses

Following on from previous item, all items selected from the content market and added to Ultra courses will, after the November upgrade, be displayed with their icons as shown in the content market. Existing items in Ultra courses which have been selected from the content market will be automatically updated to display the correct icon. This will make it easier for staff and students to identify and locate particular types of content in their Ultra courses.

• Adding an item from the content market in an Ultra course
• The content market

Improvements to unread messages indicator

The current unread messages indicator does not quickly and easily indicate in which course the unread message is located. After the November upgrade, the unread messages indicator will be more prominent. In future upgrades, courses with unread messages will be automatically shown at the top of the messages panel in NILE.

• The current unread messages indicator
• The new unread messages indicators

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

Details of this month’s upgrade, and all previous upgrades, are available at: https://blogs.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/category/nile-update/

Blackboard’s October upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 7th October. The highlight of the October upgrade is the addition of student engagement reports in Ultra courses, which will allow staff to see the extent to which students are engaging with course content. (Please note that progress tracking must be turned on for the student progress reports to be available.) Also included in the October upgrade is improved access to student grades overview in the gradebook in Ultra courses, enhanced auto save capability in the content editor in Ultra tests & assignments, and more accessible maths formulas in Ultra courses.

Student engagement reports for course content in Ultra courses

After the October upgrade, staff will be able to view reports which show the extent to which students are interacting with course content in Ultra courses.

The new reports allows instructors to select a piece of content and view:

  • Students who have not yet opened content;
  • Students who have opened or started viewing content; and
  • Students who have marked the content as complete.

The report includes the date and time an action occurred (e.g., when a student started viewing content). Staff may sort by student name or progress status. Staff can act based on this information by sending an individual or bulk message with a blind copy to each student.

• Viewing student progress for a content item in an Ultra course

Please note that progress tracking must be turned on for the student progress reports to be available.

More information about progress tracking in Ultra courses is available from: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Ultra/Courses/Progress_Tracking

Improved access to student grades overview in the gradebook in Ultra courses

Prior to the October upgrade, when in the grid view of the gradebook, when staff selected a student, the student’s account information appeared. Following the upgrade, an overview of the student’s performance on assessments will be displayed when selecting a student in the grid view of gradebook.

• The Ultra gradebook in grid view

Enhanced auto save capability in the content editor in Ultra tests & assignments

Following the October upgrade, student responses entered in the Ultra content editor will auto-save two seconds after the student stops typing. The ‘last saved’ time will also be displayed at the bottom of the assessment.

• Auto-save confirmation

In addition, if there is a disruption in connectivity, students will receive a ‘Connection lost’ warning. This warning informs students that they must act to re-establish the connection. When the connection is restored, the student’s work will be saved automatically.

• Connection lost warning

Maths formulas accessible with screen readers in Ultra courses

After the October upgrade, staff and students will be able to use screen readers to access maths formulas when creating, editing and viewing content. This update will help people who use a screen reader independently access maths formulas. This new functionality also supports easier content creation since no added effort is needed to make the math formulas accessible.

• Maths formulas added with the math editor and LaTeX equations read with screen readers

Course name appears in browser tab in Ultra courses

Staff and students often open different courses in separate browser tabs. Following the October upgrade, the course name will appear in the browser tab in order to help staff and students locate the correct tab.

• Course name included in the browser tab, after ‘Content /’

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist

Blackboard’s September upgrade will be available from the morning of Friday 2nd September, and includes improvements to the Ultra courses copy tool, including the ability to more easily copy rubrics into Ultra courses, and removing the option to accidentally copy a course back into itself. Also included in the upgrade are improvements to question banks sorting controls, the ability for staff to both reply to and grade a discussion on the same page, and improvements to the Ultra test timer for students.

The ability to add preferred pronouns and name pronunciations is available already in NILE, and Microsoft Immersive Reader will become one of Ally’s alternative formats at the end of August.

Add your preferred pronouns and name pronunciation to your NILE profile

Brand new to NILE this summer is greater support for pronouns and name pronunciation. This feature is available now. Staff and students who would like to can now add a written and an audio pronunciation of their name, and can select their preferred pronouns. If these are added, they will be displayed on the Ultra course profile cards. Staff and students can also add their photo to their course profile too. Adding a photo, selecting your preferred pronouns, and adding a pronunciation can all be done from the NILE profile page.

Copy rubrics into Ultra courses

Following the September upgrade, it will be much easier to copy rubrics into Ultra courses from both Original and Ultra courses. When copying content, course rubrics will be available to select, and either all or selected rubrics can be chosen to copy.

Ultra courses cannot be accidentally copied into themselves

Prior to the September upgrade, when copying content from one course to another, it was possible to select the same Ultra courses as both the source and the destination, thus copying an entire course into itself. After the upgrade, while individual content items can be copied from a course back into itself, the entire course cannot be, and will be greyed out in the list of possible course copy sources. However, staff can still go into the greyed out course and pick selected items to copy.

In the example below, Astronomy 101 cannot be selected as the copy source, as the instructor is already in Astronomy 101 (i.e., it is the copy destination). However, the instructor can select the arrow and go into Astronomy 101 and pick out selected content items to copy back into the Astronomy 101 course.

Improvements to question banks sorting controls

After September’s upgrade, question banks in Ultra courses will have improved navigation and sorting controls, making it easier for staff to more easily sort question banks based on the name, number of questions in a bank, or the last edited date.

You can find out more about using question banks at: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Ultra/Tests_Pools_Surveys/ULTRA_Reuse_Questions/ULTRA_Question_Banks

Discussion replies in Ultra courses are available from the grading page

Prior to the September upgrade, it was not possible to reply to a student’s discussion post when grading the discussion. Following the upgrade, staff can grade discussions, and reply to discussion posts from the discussions grading page.

Improvements to the Ultra test timer for students

When taking a timed assessment, it is important for students to be aware of the time that remains to complete it. However, a fixed display of the timer can also add stress. To support various student preferences, Blackboard are introducing notifications for timed assessments. These notifications are less invasive yet keep the student informed.

  • For assessments less than 10 minutes, there is no notification.
  • For assessments less than 1 hour but greater than 10 minutes, there will be a single reminder when 10% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a 10-minute time limit, the notification will appear when 1-minute remains.
  • For assessments longer than or equal to an hour, there will be an added notification when 50% of the time remains. For example, for an assessment with a one-hour time limit, the notification will appear when 30 minutes remain. A second notification will appear when 10% of the time remains.
  • If a student has a time limit accommodation, a notification will appear when 10% of the extra time remains. If the extra time allowed is less than 10 minutes, there will be no added notification.
  • If a student has an unlimited time accommodation, there will be no notifications for the time remaining.

All notifications for remaining time auto-dismiss after 20 seconds. If a student prefers, they can dismiss the notification

Microsoft Immersive Reader included as one of Ally’s alternative formats

At the end of August, prior to the September upgrade, users accessing content via Ally in Ultra and Original courses will be able to select Microsoft Immersive Reader as one of the alternative formats.

You can find out more about Ally at: https://help.blackboard.com/Ally/Ally_for_LMS/Instructor

And you can find out more about Microsoft Immersive Reader at: https://aka.ms/AllAboutImmersiveReader

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: https://libguides.northampton.ac.uk/learntech/staff/nile-help/who-is-my-learning-technologist