Blackboard Ultra

Unlock the full potential of Blackboard Ultra as our university's Learning Management System (LMS) to enhance course organization, create engaging content, streamline assessments, foster communication and collaboration, and track student progress. Explore the resources and best practices provided here to optimize your use of Blackboard Ultra and create a dynamic and effective online learning environment.

Course Organization and Structure 
Effectively organize and structure your online courses using Blackboard Ultra, our university's chosen Learning Management System (LMS). Discover best practices for creating a logical and user-friendly course layout within the Blackboard Ultra platform. Learn how to arrange modules, units, or topics to guide students through the learning journey. Explore strategies for presenting course materials, resources, and assignments in a clear and intuitive manner using the features and tools provided by Blackboard Ultra. Customize navigation, set prerequisites, and create a well-organized course structure that enhances student learning within the Blackboard Ultra environment.

Why Course Organization Matters

A well-organized course enhances student learning by providing clear pathways to content, activities, and assessments. When your course is structured thoughtfully, students are more likely to:

  1. Stay Engaged: Clear organization reduces confusion, making it easier for students to locate and complete assignments.
  2. Understand Expectations: Organized modules help students understand the flow of the course, the topics covered, and the sequence of activities.
  3. Manage Time: Structured courses help students manage their time effectively, as they can anticipate upcoming assignments and deadlines.
  4. Access Resources: Easy navigation allows students to find resources, readings, videos, and additional materials without frustration.
Steps for Course Organization
  1. Plan Your Modules: Start by outlining the modules or units you'll cover in your course. Divide your content logically based on topics or weeks.
  2. Create Course Areas: In Blackboard Ultra, you can create different course areas such as "Announcements," "Modules," "Assignments," "Discussions," and more.
  3. Use Content Folders: Within each area, use content folders to organize related materials. For instance, create a "Week 1" folder for all content related to the first week.
  4. Module Consistency: Maintain a consistent naming convention for modules and folders, making it easy for students to identify and navigate them.
  5. Add Descriptive Titles: Use descriptive titles for modules and folders, so students know what to expect in each section.
  6. Content Organization: Organize your content using headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering. Use clear labels for documents, presentations, and videos.
  7. Use Date Management: Consider setting release dates for modules, assignments, and assessments. This helps students pace themselves and stay on track.
  8. Provide Clear Instructions: For each module, provide clear instructions on what students should read, watch, and complete. Include learning objectives.
  9. Visual Elements: Incorporate visual elements like icons, images, and banners to make your course visually appealing and engaging.
Additional Tips for Effective Organization
  • Consistent Navigation: Use a consistent layout throughout the course. Position navigation elements in predictable locations.
  • Discussion Boards: Set up regular discussion boards. Clearly define discussion guidelines and expectations.
  • Weekly Overview: Create a weekly overview with a summary of the week's activities, objectives, and due dates.
  • Contact Information: Provide clear instructions on how to contact you for questions or concerns.
Testing Your Organization

Before your course goes live, take time to review it from a student's perspective. Ask yourself:

  1. Is the Navigation Intuitive: Can students easily find their way around the course?
  2. Are Resources Accessible: Are readings, videos, and assignments easily accessible?
  3. Is the Flow Logical: Does the course content flow logically from one module to the next?
  4. Are Instructions Clear: Are instructions for assignments and activities clear and easy to understand?

Effective course organization in Blackboard Ultra is essential for providing a positive and productive learning experience. By following these steps and tips, you can create a well-structured course that supports student engagement, learning, and success. Remember that ongoing review and updates will help ensure your course remains organized and effective throughout the term.


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Course Organization and Structure  by Open AI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Content Creation and Sharing 
Leverage the features of Blackboard Ultra to create and share engaging course content. Explore the various methods for developing multimedia-rich materials, including videos, slideshows, and interactive presentations within the Blackboard Ultra platform. Learn how to upload and organize content, making it easily accessible to your students. Discover options for embedding external resources, such as websites, articles, and multimedia, to enrich the learning experience within the Blackboard Ultra environment.

Why Content Creation Matters

Engaging and well-designed course content is at the heart of a successful online learning experience. When you create and share content thoughtfully, you provide students with:

  • Clarity: Well-structured content helps students understand the material better.
  • Engagement: Interactive content keeps students engaged and motivated to learn.
  • Accessibility: Online materials are accessible 24/7, allowing students to learn at their own pace.
  • Variety: Different types of content (text, images, videos, quizzes) cater to different learning preferences.
Steps for Effective Content Creation
  1. Define Learning Objectives: Before creating content, identify clear learning objectives for each module or topic.
  2. Choose Content Types: Use a mix of content types such as text, images, videos, interactive elements, and assessments.
  3. Create Engaging Text: Write clear, concise, and engaging text. Use headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs for easy readability.
  4. Incorporate Visuals: Include relevant images, charts, and diagrams to enhance understanding.
  5. Leverage Multimedia: Embed videos, audio clips, or podcasts to provide diverse learning experiences.
  6. Interactive Elements: Integrate interactive elements like quizzes, polls, and discussions to engage students actively.
Creating and Sharing Content in Blackboard Ultra
  • Create Content Items: In Blackboard Ultra, use the "Create Content" option to add text, images, videos, links, and attachments.
  • Embed Media: Embed YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, and other external media for a rich learning experience.
  • Use Collaborate: Use Collaborate for virtual classes, guest lectures, and interactive sessions.
  • Interactive Tools: Use interactive tools like discussions, blogs, wikis, and journals for student engagement.
  • Assessment Tools: Create quizzes, tests, assignments, and surveys to assess student understanding.
  • Announcements: Keep students informed by posting regular announcements and updates.
Content Sharing Strategies
  • Structured Modules: Organize content into modules, each focusing on a specific topic or theme.
  • Sequential Flow: Present content in a sequential order to build a logical learning path.
  • Chunk Information: Break content into smaller sections to make it more digestible.
  • Linking: Use hyperlinks to connect related content and provide additional resources.
  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent formatting style and layout for a cohesive look.
  • Accessibility: Ensure content is accessible to all students by providing alt text for images and using readable fonts and colors.
Testing Your Content

Before your course begins, navigate through your course as a student to ensure:

  • Links Work: Verify that all links are functioning correctly.
  • Media Compatibility: Test multimedia elements to ensure they play smoothly.
  • Readability: Ensure that text is clear, error-free, and easily understandable.

Effective content creation and sharing are vital for delivering a high-quality online learning experience. By following these steps and strategies, you can create engaging, interactive, and well-organized course content that supports student learning and engagement. Regularly update and refine your content based on student feedback and evolving instructional needs to ensure a successful learning journey for all students.


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Content Creation and Sharing by Open AI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Assessment Tools and Grading 
Streamline the assessment and grading process with the assessment tools provided by Blackboard Ultra. Learn how to create different types of assessments, including quizzes, assignments, discussions, and surveys, within the Blackboard Ultra platform. Explore strategies for aligning assessments with learning objectives and ensuring their validity and reliability within the Blackboard Ultra environment. Utilize the features of Blackboard Ultra to set up automated grading, provide timely feedback, and track student progress through the grade book. Enhance your assessment practices using the assessment capabilities provided by Blackboard Ultra.

Importance of Assessment

Assessments play a crucial role in gauging student understanding, measuring learning outcomes, and providing valuable feedback. Using assessment tools in Blackboard Ultra allows you to create a diverse range of assessments to suit various learning objectives.

Types of Assessment Tools
  • Quizzes and Tests: Create online quizzes and tests with different question types, such as multiple-choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions.
  • Assignments: Set up assignments for students to submit files, essays, projects, and other assessments.
  • Discussions: Engage students in meaningful discussions through threaded discussions, blogs, journals, and wikis.
  • Surveys and Polls: Collect feedback and opinions from students through surveys and polls.
Steps for Effective Assessment
  1. Clear Instructions: Provide clear and detailed instructions for each assessment.
  2. Alignment with Objectives: Ensure that assessments align with learning objectives and course content.
  3. Varied Question Types: Use a variety of question types to assess different levels of understanding.
  4. Timely Feedback: Provide timely and constructive feedback to guide students' learning journey.
  5. Assessment Integrity: Implement measures to prevent cheating and plagiarism.
Creating Assessments in Blackboard Ultra
  1. Create Assessments: Use the "Create Assessment" option to choose from quizzes, assignments, discussions, and more.
  2. Question Banks: Utilize question banks to store and organize assessment questions for future use.
  3. Question Settings: Adjust settings like time limits, attempts, and feedback options for quizzes and tests.
  4. Rubrics: Create rubrics to clearly communicate grading criteria to students and streamline the grading process.
Managing Grading
  • Grade Center: Access the Grade Center to view, manage, and input grades for all assessments.
  • Grading Workflow: Use the "Needs Grading" feature to quickly identify assessments that require grading.
  • Rubric Grading: Utilize rubrics to efficiently and consistently grade assignments and provide feedback.
  • Inline Grading: For assignments, use inline grading to provide comments directly on student submissions.
Feedback and Communication
  • Feedback Options: Provide feedback through comments, annotations, and rubric criteria.
  • Grade Availability: Release grades to students as per your chosen schedule.
  • Private Feedback: Offer private feedback for sensitive discussions.

Effective assessment tools and grading strategies enhance the learning experience for both instructors and students. By using the assessment features and Grade Center in Blackboard Ultra, you can design diverse and engaging assessments, provide timely feedback, and manage grading efficiently. Remember to align assessments with learning objectives, communicate clear instructions, and foster an environment of academic integrity. Regularly review and refine your assessment strategies based on student performance and feedback to ensure continuous improvement in your online courses.


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Assessment Tools and Grading by Open AI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Communication Channels and Collaboration Features 
Foster effective communication and collaboration among students and instructors using the communication channels and collaboration features of Blackboard Ultra. Learn how to set up discussion boards, chat rooms, and messaging systems to encourage student interaction and engagement within the Blackboard Ultra platform. Explore options for synchronous and asynchronous communication to accommodate different learning preferences. Discover collaboration tools, such as group workspaces and shared documents, to promote teamwork and knowledge sharing within the Blackboard Ultra environment. Maximize the potential of Blackboard Ultra to create a supportive and interactive learning community.

Importance of Communication and Collaboration

Effective communication and collaboration are key to fostering an engaging online learning environment. Blackboard Ultra offers a range of tools that enable real-time interaction and seamless collaboration, promoting active participation and deeper understanding.

Communication Tools
  • Announcements: Use announcements to share important updates, reminders, and course information with your students. Announcements are prominently displayed on the course homepage.
  • Discussion Boards: Create threaded discussions to facilitate in-depth conversations on course topics. Students can post, reply, and engage in meaningful dialogues.
  • Messages: Send private messages to individuals or groups of students. Encourage open communication and address individual concerns.
  • Notifications: Configure notifications to keep students informed about new announcements, due dates, and other course activities.
Collaboration Features
  • Collaborate Ultra: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a virtual classroom and web conferencing tool that enables live interaction through video, audio, chat, and shared content. Conduct virtual lectures, group discussions, and guest speaker sessions.
  • Groups: Create groups for collaborative projects or discussions. Each group gets its own set of tools, including discussion boards, file sharing, and collaborative documents.
  • Wikis: Foster collaborative knowledge creation by allowing students to collaboratively edit and contribute to course-related content.
  • Blogs and Journals: Encourage reflective thinking and writing through individual or group blogs and journals.
Best Practices for Communication and Collaboration
  • Clear Expectations: Communicate expectations for participation and interaction to students at the beginning of the course.
  • Structured Discussions: Create well-structured discussion prompts to guide meaningful interactions among students.
  • Active Monitoring: Regularly monitor discussions, messages, and collaborative activities to ensure timely responses and maintain a positive learning atmosphere.
  • Encourage Respectful Communication: Foster an environment of respect and inclusivity where students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

Effective communication and collaboration are vital components of successful online courses. Blackboard Ultra's diverse communication tools and collaboration features empower instructors to create interactive learning experiences that promote engagement and knowledge exchange. By utilizing these tools, you can facilitate real-time interactions, enhance understanding, and foster a sense of community among students, ultimately enriching the online learning journey. Regularly assess and adapt your communication and collaboration strategies based on student feedback to ensure continuous improvement in your online courses.


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Communication Channels and Collaboration Features by Open AI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Analytics and Tracking Student Progress 
Use the analytics and tracking features of Blackboard Ultra to gain insights into student progress and inform your instructional decisions. Learn how to monitor student engagement, identify at-risk students, and assess learning outcomes using the analytics capabilities of Blackboard Ultra. Explore data visualization tools within the Blackboard Ultra platform that enable you to track student performance, and identify patterns, and trends. Use analytics to personalize learning experiences, provide timely interventions, and support student success within the Blackboard Ultra environment. Make data-driven decisions and continuously improve your teaching practices using the analytics capabilities provided by Blackboard Ultra.

Analytics Tools
  • Performance Dashboard: The performance dashboard provides an overview of each student's activity, grades, and engagement. Use this tool to quickly assess student progress and identify any red flags.
  • Retention Center: The retention center flags students who may be at risk of falling behind or struggling. Receive alerts and use intervention strategies to provide timely support.
  • Activity Stream: The activity stream displays a chronological list of student activities, such as discussion posts, assignment submissions, and quiz attempts.
Tracking Student Progress
  • Gradebook: The integrated gradebook allows you to track and manage student grades. Organize assignments, quizzes, and exams, and provide timely feedback on assessments.
  • Course Analytics: Gain insights into course-level statistics, such as average grades, engagement levels, and assessment performance. Identify patterns and trends to enhance course design.
  • Item Analysis: Dive into detailed assessment data using item analysis. Identify questions that were challenging for students and evaluate the effectiveness of your assessments.
Best Practices for Analytics and Progress Tracking
  • Regular Check-ins: Regularly review analytics data to stay informed about student engagement and performance. Use this information to make informed instructional decisions.
  • Early Interventions: Leverage the retention center to identify struggling students early and provide personalized support or resources.
  • Transparent Communication: Share analytics data with students so they can track their progress and understand their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Data-Informed Adjustments: Use analytics insights to adjust your teaching strategies, content delivery, and assessments to better align with student needs.

Analytics and tracking student progress are integral components of effective online teaching and learning. Blackboard Ultra's array of analytics tools empowers instructors to monitor engagement, identify at-risk students, and fine-tune their teaching strategies. By consistently analyzing data and leveraging insights, instructors can create a more personalized and engaging learning experience, ensuring that students receive the support and resources they need to succeed. Regularly assess your use of analytics to refine your approach and continue to enhance the learning journey for both instructors and students.

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Analytics and Tracking Student Progress by Open AI is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Technology Support Teams

At the University of Maryland, Baltimore, each of the seven schools has its own dedicated technology support teams, ensuring that faculty, staff, and students receive tailored assistance specific to their academic disciplines. These school-based technology support teams are well-versed in the unique technological needs of their respective schools and are readily available to provide guidance, troubleshoot issues, and offer solutions. In addition to the school-based teams, there are two centralized support services available to the entire university community. The Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) focuses on providing comprehensive technology support, managing infrastructure, and delivering enterprise-wide services. Whether it's network connectivity, software support, or hardware troubleshooting, CITS is there to help. On the other hand, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) specializes in supporting pedagogy and instructional practices. FCTL offers expertise and resources to faculty, staff, and students who seek to enhance their teaching and learning experiences. From integrating technology into the classroom to exploring innovative teaching methodologies, FCTL provides guidance, training, and support to foster effective teaching practices across the university. Together, these dedicated technology support teams and centralized services ensure that the University of Maryland, Baltimore community has the necessary resources and assistance to excel in their academic pursuits.

UMB School-Specific Technology Support  
Discover a realm of cutting-edge technology support units at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), where innovation meets academia. UMB houses a dynamic range of school-specific technology support teams, catering to the unique needs of each discipline and empowering students, faculty, and staff with the tools they need to excel.

At the Carey School of Law, the Technology Services team seamlessly integrates technology into the legal education experience, offering comprehensive support and solutions to enhance learning, research, and collaboration within the legal community.

The School of Dentistry's Educational Technology Center Services provides a state-of-the-art environment for dental students and faculty to explore the intersection of technology and dentistry. From advanced simulation labs to digital imaging resources, they equip aspiring dentists with the technological prowess needed for success in the modern dental landscape.

The School of Medicine's Instructional Technology Group & Curriculum Support Services stands at the forefront of medical education technology, delivering innovative solutions that enrich the learning journey of medical students. From virtual anatomy platforms to interactive learning modules, they nurture the next generation of healthcare professionals with technology-driven educational experiences.

The School of Nursing embraces the power of learning technology to foster excellence in nursing education. With their Learning Technology services, they provide a digital ecosystem where nursing students can engage with immersive simulations, e-learning modules, and advanced learning management systems, preparing them for the dynamic healthcare field.

The School of Pharmacy's Computer and Network Services team ensures that pharmacy students and faculty have seamless access to the technological infrastructure they need to drive pharmaceutical innovation. From state-of-the-art research labs to robust network security, they lay the foundation for breakthrough discoveries and secure knowledge sharing.

The School of Social Work recognizes the role technology plays in empowering social work practitioners and researchers. Their Tech Support, IDEA Team unit provides expertise in using technology for social impact, equipping students and faculty with the digital tools necessary to advocate for social justice and make a meaningful difference in communities.

Centralized Services 
The Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) focuses on providing comprehensive technical support, managing infrastructure, and delivering enterprise-wide services, and the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) specializes in supporting pedagogy and instructional practices that often intersect with various technologies.

All faculty, staff, and students across the university, including faculty with primary appointments to the Graduate School, can avail themselves of the resources and support offered by the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning which focuses on fostering excellence in teaching and learning across disciplines. With their innovative approach to instructional design and technology, they empower faculty members with the skills and resources needed to create engaging, student-centered learning experiences, ensuring a transformative graduate education.

The Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) is the central information technology organization for UMB. Our mission and focus are to treat UMB students, faculty, staff, colleagues, and co-workers as treasured customers. Excellence in service to the UMB community is our challenge and responsibility.