Course Structure Tools

Blackboard Ultra features a single, central course content area. This page offers guidance on how to use modules, folders, documents, and other Ultra features to organize course content in ways that align with the needs of your curriculum and make it easier to share information with students through Blackboard. 

With the modern look and simple functionality of the Ultra Course View in Blackboard, instructors will find it easy to build their Ultra courses.  The Ultra course layout is based on contemporary web design practices that meet current accessibility guidelines and responsiveness across all device sizes.  This creates a consistent and seamless experience for faculty and students alike when moving between a desktop, tablet and mobile device.

When you are ready to begin building your Ultra course, we highly recommend that you

  1. Reimagine your course design
  2. Build your UCV in a sandbox that we have created for you where you will have the flexibility of experimenting and testing without impacting your active course shell

In the Original Course View you have a left hand menu where you can customize different content areas.  In the Ultra Course View, you get one main level content area, which means that you will have to condense your menus into some combination of modules or folders.

Because there are some features that exist in original courses that are either not yet available in ultra courses or will not be enabled in ultra course, the original course copy method to populate your ultra course will result in broken and unconverted content.  It may take longer to try and find broken/not converted items and fix them than it would be to build the course from scratch by copying individual items over.  Thus, we strongly recommend copying granular items from (multiple) original courses into your Ultra course.  Copying items into your Ultra course is quite easy and instructions on how to do so can be found here. Or if you want to start adding content to your course, you can follow those instructions here.   Once your course is built in the Ultra Course View, copying an entire course and its content between Ultra courses is seamless. 

If you don't already have a sandbox and would like to get started, you can fill out a request for access to the orientation materials and a sandbox.
Below are a few simple examples of Ultra Course designs that might help you to reimagine your course design.

Modules

Why use modules?

Use modules when you want to control the flow of the content of the course.  Modules allows you to enforce a sequence.  Students must complete prerequisite items before moving onto the next item, ensuring that your students obtain information more systematically.  You can organize all course materials into modules by a unit of your choosing, such as days, weeks, chapters or topics.  Each module can be populated with files, discussions, assignments, exams and other learning materials, with the knowledge that you have control over the release and access of content.

Use Modules to:

  1. Create prerequisite activities that students must complete before moving on in the course.
  2. Track student progress through a sequence of learning activities.
  3. Organize course content by units such as days, weeks, topics or chapters.

Benefits:

  • Learning module content is presented sequentially thus enforcing sequential viewing of the items they contain.
  • Students can move through the content of a module without navigating to other parts of the course.
  • Modules are easily recognized by their gray shading.

Limitations:

  • A folder can be added to modules, but modules cannot be placed inside of a folder. All modules must live at the top navigation level of the course.
  • Ultra course view only allows a nesting folder depth of three. If you are adding a folder to a module, the module counts toward a folder depth.

For a more detailed example of a course design using modules, click here.

Folders

Why use folders?

Folders make it easy to group like items, e.g., readings, lecture recordings/powerpoints, exams or assignments.  You also have the flexibility to organize course materials by units, such as days, weeks, chapters or topics.  You can think of a folder as a type of drop box where your students can access the content and progress through the content freely and at their own pace.

Use Folders to:

  1. Organize your content without controlling the flow of the content of the course.
  2. Group several like course items together. e.g., readings, lectures, exams and assignments

Benefits:

  • Folders are an effective option for grouping content that students will reference throughout the course.
  • Students can click on any of the items in a folder, then close the item to launch another.
  • You can create three levels of folders to organize your content which avoids the layering of folders too deep that it becomes difficult to find content.

Limitations:

  • Students must open and close each folder in order to interact with the content which requires extra clicks and possible distractions.
  • Ultra course view only allows a nesting folder depth of three. You can put one folder inside another, and add one additional folder to the sub-folder.
  • Modules cannot be placed inside of a folder. All modules must live at the top navigation level of the course.
    • If you are adding a folder to a module, the module counts toward the folder depth.

For a more detailed example of a course design using Folders, click here.

Folders within Modules

Why use folders within modules?

You can organize all course materials using folders inside a module.  The folders can be organized by units, such as days, weeks, chapters or topics.  Each folder is then populated with files, discussions, assignments, exams and other learning materials with the knowledge that folders within a module will allow students to move through the contents of those folders without having to navigate to other parts of the course.  Students will have access to the back and forward navigation arrows available when accessing content within a module.

Use folders within modules to:

  1. Organize your content in folders by units that can leverage the ability of the module (navigation arrows) to control the flow of the content.
  2. Group several like course items together. e.g., readings, lectures, exams and assignments in folders

Benefits:

  • Folders are an effective option for grouping content that students will reference throughout the course
  • By nesting a folder inside of a module,  students can move through the contents of a folder in that module without navigating to other parts of the course.
  • Students will also have the flexibility of selecting any of the items in a folder, then close the item to launch another.
  • Layering a folder inside of a module creates an organized sub-layer that helps guide students to the appropriate content.

Limitation:

  • Modules cannot be placed inside of a folder. All modules must live at the top navigation level of the course.

Mix of documents and folders

Why use a mix of items and folders?

Documents in Blackboard Ultra are web pages that you can use to customize your course content.  Utilizing documents to organize your content is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  1. Documents can be added to the course content page, folders or modules to present a combination of content.
  2. You can enable the Class Conversation tool to allow students to communicate with each around the content of that document.
  3. Documents do not need to be downloaded to be viewed.
  4. Ally scores the accessibility of items added to the document to allow you to better meet accessibility requirements.
  5. Ally provides content in different alternative accessible formats for students.

This approach is useful when content items inserted in the Ultra document are like items, closely related or address the same topic and are meant to be consumed at the same time.

Benefits:

Documents can be added to the course content page, folders or modules to present a combination of content.  Documents can be used as containers for like items (e.g. lecture recordings or readings) or a combination of items such as images, text, links and media files.  In the image below (left), the Lecture Slides/Videos have all been grouped together into one document.  The image on the right shows a document that has a combination of content; an image, some text, a youTube video, links to readings and a file for students to download.  An added benefit of using documents to organize content is that you can utilize the Ally tool to better meet accessibility requirements.

Limitations:

 Using documents alone can lead to a long list of items in the course content area.  Note that documents cannot be nested inside of another document.


For a more detailed example of a course design using Documents and Folders, click here.


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