I'm from a Blackboard Learn school with the Original Experience. As both a staff member and part-time educator, I will admit that I have been a bit behind in keeping up in the updates for the Ultra Experience. This event gave me an opportunity to catch up on the releases.
A few of my favorites of the new releases from a System Administrator, Support, and Adjunct Instructor perspective:
Users can receive notifications via SMS text message
This particular feature has been a hidden gem for our faculty and students in the Original Experience. Many have taken advantage of setting up the feature specifically to be notified if there is a new Course Message in a course. I'm glad to see it be included in the Ultra Experience as we've witnessed this setting bring a smile and excitement to many faces at our institution. (I will add that I was unable to view the settings in the Educator Preview site but that may be due to Connect setup, etc.)
Icons to indicate new activity
The icons to indicate new activity or new materials is a great idea in my opinion. For students in particular. Many students check their Blackboard courses multiples times a day. After a while, a course in the original experience looks the same and any new content or announcements blurs together. Students are checking courses to see if anything is new. Adding a pop of color icon to indicate... "this is new!" is perfect.
Grade Group discussions
A much needed feature that many of our faculty are utilizing as student group work in the Original Experience. Glad to see it being incorporated in Ultra.
Conditional release of course content based on student performance
Many instructors set up a course as self-paced. Adding conditional releases of content based on performance is an important functionality for a self-paced course. "If this student passed an assessment from the first module, open up the second module" Perfect. Much needed.
Record attendance in Blackboard Learn
We are currently utilizing Qwickly Attendance at our institution. Exciting to see Blackboard incorporate attendance into Ultra and the Original Experience. As an adjunct, I am tracking attendance each class period. The attendance tool allows a quick way to call roll and learn faces, names, and seating. I really enjoy the one-by-one option in Qwickly to take attendance instead of scrolling through rows and columns in the classroom. I'd like to see Blackboard incorporate the one-by-one approach as well as integration for students to use devices to check in.
I have to brag about the "ease of use" in Ultra to set up notifications within a course. How great of you to streamline the steps to make notifications happen! It is a bit of task to complete in the Original Experience. Glad to see the process improvement and that this functionality has been incorporated in the Ultra Experience.
In the Ultra experience, I am glad to see the basic workflows from an instructor perspective that are now just a click away. Making a Course Available to Students, Adding Content... multiple clicks to make it happen in the Original Experience. The course tools fixated at the top right of the course homepage. This is great! We do not have to add discussions, messages, etc. individually now. Thank you!