Course Creation Basics

This page is designed to assist instructors in getting started with designing their Blackboard ultra course. It includes steps to take at the beginning of setup that can save you work later. 

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Working from your syllabus during the course creation process will help ensure that your course is fully set up and organized effectively.

Step 1

Course Organization

Blackboard Ultra courses have a single course content page where all course materials are organized using modules, folders, and multimedia documents that users click to expand. Please visit Ultra Course - Navigation for more details. 

Modules and Folders are the two main ways instructors can group course material.  It's helpful to determine your course structure and create the folders or modules you need for the content before you begin creating/copying course materials Our  course structure gallery has examples of approaches you can take. If you are using modules, you can take advantage of the AI module generator to help create them quickly.

Modules and Folders Comparison

ModulesFolder
Exists only as a "Top Level" itemExist as a "Top Level" item or can exist within another folder or module.
Ability to force the sequence of items within the module. (Not required. Modules can exist without forced sequence, as well.)N/A
Ability to add a banner image.N/A
Progress tracking ability: Students are alerted to which items are still in need of viewing/completing; Instructors can view students' progress with course items.Progress tracking ability: Students are alerted to which items are still in need of viewing/completing; Instructors can view students' progress with course items.

Advanced module navigation will be available (coming soon.)

Image of advanced module navigation in Blackboard Ultra

N/A

Steps:

  1. Make a decision about your top-level organization. See the table for a comparison of modules and folders.
  2. Click on the plus sign (plus) 
  3. Click module or folder from the slide out menu
  4. Title the module or folder and adjust additional settings if necessary.
Step 2

Create Content

Once your course organization is in place, click to expand the folder/module and display the plus sign (plus) within to create content inside it. The (plus) allows you to create new content, like a Document or Assignment, or copy content from a prior course into the module or folder.

If you use weighted categories for grading students, it is important to properly categorize your any assessments you create. Each course includes a default set of categories you can use, or you can create custom categories in the Gradebook. See Gradebook Settings for more information before proceeding.

Steps:

  • Select the plus sign (plus) within the folder/module you wish to create content.
  • Choose the "Create" option to add items such as content items, links, and assessment items .  Create content by selecting an option from the slide out menu.
  • Choose the "Content market" for items such as Kaltura, PlayPosit, Turnitin, and Zoom, as well as links for major e-textbook publishers such as McGraw Hill or Pearson. More information about adding Content Market items can be found here.

 

If you will apply grades to items where grading is optional, like Journals and  Discussions, they should be set as graded immediately upon creation.  If you plan to create Group Assignments or Discussions, we recommend creating these group sets prior to creating the items so that you can apply the groups as you build. There is additional information available about Groups and Group Assignments & Discussions elsewhere in Answers.

Note to Instructors previous using Blackboard Original courses:

Content is copied in reverse fashion from the way it was done in Original courses.

To Copy Content:

  1. Enter the destination course — the new course where you want the content to appear.
  2. Select the "Copy Content" option (either within the "Add Content" options or the options menu via the ellipse icon).
  3. Search for course that contains the content you wish to copy.
  4. Check the box to select content that Is to be copied. Entire courses or individual items can be copied into your course. For transfering content from Original to Ultra, we recommend moving the content in small batches and verifying it as you go.
  5. You can search for additional courses if you wish to copying in content from multiple courses at the same time.

For more ideas and information about course content, visit our  creating content and copying content pages.

Step 3

Gradebook Setup

While gradebook setup can be performed at any point in your course, setting up your gradebook at the outset minimizes additional work when calculating final grades at a semester's end.

The following settings can be adjusted by clicking the gear icon within the Gradebook section of your course:

Grading categories should match the weighted categories in your syllabus to ensure an accurate overall grade calculation.  If using a points-based grading system, grading categories may not be needed to calculate your Overall Grade.

Custom categories should be added before graded items are created. Create custom categories by clicking "Add New Category." Reference the image to the right for default categories that already exist in Blackboard courses.

List of default grading categories included in the gradebook settings. Categories are assignment, test, discussion, journal, exam, homework, presentation, quiz, attendance, and form

You can adjust your Schema in the Gradebook settings:

  1. Go to Gradebook Settings.
  2. Locate and select "Manage Grade Schemas."
  3. Click the (plus) Add button located in the upper left.
  4. Enter a title for the new schema and click "Add."
  5. Hover between rows to reveal the option to add new entries
  6. Edit the Grade Name and Grade Ranges according to your custom schema

For more detailed instructions, visit our Answers page: Ultra Course - Grade Schemas

Image showing the location of the link to Manage Grade Schema Settings 

You can also create Rubrics from the Gradebook settings.

  1. Go to Gradebook Settings and browse to the "Course Rubrics" section at the bottom
  2. View previously made rubrics or create new rubrics.
  3. Click on the black "Create" button to create a new rubric. For more information on the "Generate" button,   see our Answers page on Blackboard's AI Design Assistant.
  4. Edit the table according to your custom rubric criteria.

For more detailed instructions, visit our Answers page: Ultra Course - Grading Rubrics

Screenshot of a list of rubrics in the Gradebook settings. A pink box is highlighting a black button that says Create at the top of the section and a pink arrow points to the button.

Use progress tracking to monitor student progress in your course. For more information please visit, Progress Tracking For additional information about the gradebook including additional settings , please visit Ultra Gradebook and  Ultra Gradebook Settings For information about how to apply accommodations for students, exceptions, and exceptions, please visit our answers page  Accommodations, Exceptions, and Exemptions .   

Step 4

Course Communication 

Blackboard Ultra has multiple ways to communicate with your students including announcements and messages . Due dates post automatically to the course calendar and you can add additional events, like office hours.

Announcements can be used to communicate information with your entire class. Ultra announcements are delivered by pop-up banners upon entering the course or via the Activity Stream. Some faculty opt to create a document in the Content area where they can post updated course information akin to the old announcements page. 

  • To add an announcement, click the plus sign (plus).
  • Assign a date and time if you wish to schedule the announcement into the future.
  • Select the indicated checkbox if you wish to also send the announcement via email.
  • Once the announcement is saved, be sure to select "Post" on the announcement draft.
 

Within the Announcements tab, a plus icon is shown to the right of the screen, highlighted by a red circle.

Select the "New Message" button to compose and send a message within the Messages tab of your course .

Messages can be sent to individual students or groups that have been created in the course.

Copies of the message can also be sent via email if the indicated checkbox is selected.

Screenshot of a pink arrow pointing to the Messages tab in the course navigation. The page is opened to the Messages page and another purple arrow is pointing to a button to create a New Message, located on the right hand side of the screen.

 Due dates on graded items automatically appear on the calendar. Click the Plus sign (plus) and "Add Event" to add office hours and other important events. Calendar events will also appear in the user's activity stream if they elect to receive them there.

Step 5

Item visibility  

When you create of copy new items in an Ultra course they are set as "Hidden from students" by default.  Prior to opening your course to students, you will need to change this setting to "Visible to students" for any items you wish for student to access. 

Visibility settings can be changed on an individual item basis or by "Batch Edit" in the Content options menu.

Release conditions can set the visibility of items for a scheduled date and time. These conditions can also be employed to make items visible to specific group(s) or student(s). Release conditions can be applied to folders and modules if a group of items need to be available simultaneously.

For more information about content visibility and release conditions, visit our Answers page:  Ultra Course - Content Visibility and Release Conditions

Step 6

Opening Your Course

Once your course is configured, it is ready for students to view.

To open your course from inside it:

  • Navigate to the Content tab and locate the  “Details and Actions” menu.
  • Locate "Course is private to students."
  • Click "Students can't access this course." 
  • Select "Open course to students."

You can also open your course from the tile on the Courses page:

  • Go to the Courses page on the main Blackboard navigation and locate the course you want to open.
  • Select the ellipse icon on your course.
  • Select "Open course."
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