We are planning to open for all teachers to choose Ultra courses for autumn semester. But two very important issues for us are Guest Access and Group Spaces. Are these features in the roadmap for this year?
Hi Maria! Will you share more about what you are looking for with group spaces? Group workspaces were introduced in the 3500.5 release back in December. You can read about the current functionality with groups here: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Interact/Course_Groups/Create_Groups#ultra-about-course-groups_OTP-9
As far as I can tell, guest access is not on the roadmap for this year. Can you tell us about the use cases you have in mind for Guest Access? Is this something you need for all classes? Or are you using Guest Access for searching a course catalog? Something else?
Wade Fields for awareness.
I mean that the groups also have their own tools, like in Original courses.
Hi Maria, the short answer is that course level groups (the ones you create from the details and actions area) are currently not linked to an assessment or graded collaboration (test/quiz, assignment, or discussion) in the course. Right now, you can send messages to groups, but that is it. Later this year, the course level groups will have linkage to assessments so you will be able to create a group there and reuse it wherever you like in the course.
In the meantime, I find that I can do some things in Ultra with greater efficiency than I can in Original. For example, I could create an assignment, allow conversations, and assign to groups (I can reuse a group created for another assessment, or create a group just for the assignment in question). The students can use the Conversations piece for asynchronous exchanges along with the Collaborate Ultra component for live meetings to work on the group assignment. In this way, Conversations might be used to replace the Group Email and File Exchange tools in Original.
If you would like to share some common use cases, I would be glad to brainstorm with you on how we can use Ultra group tests/quizzes, assignments, or discussions along with other tools to meet the need.
We've been early adopters of Ultra, and now have some ~2700 Ultra subjects.
Groups support in Ultra is quite limited at the moment, but it's an area that they're actively working on. As Misty said, the only thing you can do with course-level groups is messaging group members. Even that is not very well implemented - for some reason, to message a group you have to edit it, and the 'message' link is just a link to the normal individual messaging feature but prepopulated with the user IDs of every user in the group.
Students can't see course groups at all in Ultra, which also means there's no way to have them sort themselves into groups or create ad-hoc groups for collaboration.
It's not possible to have groups that are NOT part of group sets in Ultra, and as students can't belong to more than one group within a group set, this makes some use cases a bit awkward. For example, if there are optional field trips where students can go to any number of them, you have to have separate group sets for each field trip with each group set only containing one group.
The REST API for group sets is currently non-functional too, which means there is no supported way of automating group creation in Ultra (which we have historically done in Original for timetabled tutorial/lecture groups), but this ought to be fixed soon. The developers were reviewing an implemented fix for it as of the 3rd of April, so I would expect it to be in the next major release.
The aspect of groups that I miss the most is the ability to use groups for adaptive release. I've got my fingers crossed that's coming soon, as we use it a lot.
This may be unintended at the moment, but there is a way to allow guest access in Ultra courses. You can simply add in the roster tool the user guest and grant them a role, a student role works, guest role will error out. From here you would need to construct the guest URL correctly (more about that here), but the auto-logged in user would see the Ultra course.
Of course, they would also be able to participate in activities, so it's not exactly the same. Perhaps granting a different role than student or guest may be a workaround. A role that prevents some activities.
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