What's New in Ultra

Here are the latest highlights and features  in Blackboard Ultra.  For a full list of new features, visit the Anthology What's New website at

SPRING 2024 New Features

  • The new AI feature can assist in generating a topic and description for discussion and journal if the instructor chooses
  • Click ‘auto-generate discussion’ when starting a new discussion, then define the discussion parameters. This feature is implemented to encourage instructors to create more engaging and authentic assessments rather than resorting only to typical tests or assignments. While AI can assist, instructors are always in control of editing the content to align with learning outcomes.
  • The drag-and-drop item is now clickable (instead of using only through arrows). When you begin to drag the item, it will be highlighted with a purple border and a purple shadow that will indicate where the item would be placed when released.
  • Specific changes to drag-and-drop:
    • The entire item is now clickable for drag-and-drop functionality instead of only the arrows. Click the title of the content to open it.
    • Click and pause. When a person begins to drag the item, it will be highlighted with a purple border.
    • A purple shadow will indicate where the item would be placed when released.
    • Course links allow you to place multiple links to a single item in your course, making it easier for students to access items that are used in several places.
    • For instance, you can create an Assignment in a single module and then link to it in several modules, instead of instructing students to return to the previous module to view it.
    • To add a course link, click the Plus Icon (+) on the Course Content page and select Create from the menu. Select Link in the peek panel and switch to the Create Course Link tab at the top of the page.
  • Tests containing non-question elements like text blocks, files, or images can now also include randomized question order. The non-question elements are locked in place and questions between those elements are displayed in a randomized order.
  • This will allow instructors to create questions that reference the same set of instructions or content, such as multiple questions about a single data set.
  • You can now set discussions to stop discussion activity after the due date. This prevents students from creating new posts, replying to existing posts, and editing their posts after the discussion due date.lockDiscussions.png

  • Note, students with a due date accommodation can continue to create, reply to, and edit posts, in accordance with their accommodation.

  • The following items are supported in a Form:

    Essay question
    Likert question
    Multiple choice question
    True/false question
    Local file
    File from cloud storage
    Page break

    By default, a Form is not graded. Questions in a form don’t have correct or incorrect answers.

  • Image 1. An example ungraded Form used for a clinical teaching placement


    Some instructors may choose to grade a Form to encourage participation. When this is the case, instructors must manually enter a grade for each submission.

    Instructors may view Form submissions by student or by question in the new grading view.

  • Image 2. Ungraded Form submissions by question
  • Image 3. Graded Form submission by student

    Instructors may download the Form results from the Gradebook and Submissions page as an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file.

  • Image 4.Download Form results from Gradable Items view

  • Image 5. Download Form results for Submissions page

    In the Gradebook grid view, student submissions for an ungraded Form appear as “Submitted.” Graded Forms display the manually entered grade or appropriate grading status.
  • In the Ultra Course View Gradebook, you can view all of the assessments for a single student by clicking their name in the Student List View or the Grid View. The Student Grade Overview page provides instructors with a quick way to review students performance. The Student Grade Overview page included additional information and tools:
    • Date that the student last accessed the course
    • Username
    • Access to view their accommodations, if any
    • Access to the Student Activity report
    Progress tracking, which is enabled by default, allows students to identify and track the content and assessments in a course. It also gives the instructor access to more details on how and when students have accessed items in your course. Progress Tracking can still be disabled, if desired.

    In the Progress Tracking report, you can view:
    • Status of the item for that student, including unopened, started (i.e., first opened), and completed
    • Date and time stamp for when the student started (i.e., first opened) or completed an item
    • Student information like the last access date, name pronunciation, and accommodations
    • Student Activity log, which includes a chart view of student activity as well as a list view of date and duration of the time they spent in the course.
  • The "Add Image" button is an easier way to add images within the text editor by uploading files or searching the Unsplash library.
    With the latest update, the "Add Image" button is now also available in the text editor in the following tools:
    • Announcements
    • Assessment Questions
    • Student answers on questions (by uploading a local file only; no access to Unsplash)
    • Submission feedback
    • Journal entries and comments
  • When students submit multiple files to an Assignment, it has been difficult to review and provide feedback on all of them. The files were displayed in individual Bb Annotate windows, so it was easy to miss additional files at the bottom of the page. This also caused multiple scroll bars to appear on the page, making navigation difficult.

    Now, when grading file-based submissions, the student's file(s) will be displayed using tabs at the top of the page. The first tab will display the assessment instructions for reference while grading.

    This new tab-based navigation has several benefits, particularly on devices with smaller screens:
    • More of the student submission is visible to you without scrolling, yet you can also conveniently switch between the assessment instructions and the submitted file(s).
    • Navigating file-based submissions is more transparent and easy by removing multiple scroll bars.
    • The option to download the student-submitted file(s) is more visible with a Download icon to the right, above the Bb Annotate window.
    • The number of files the student attached to their submission is clear.
    • You can easily navigate across the submitted files.
This list is not an exhaustive list, but highlights the major features implemented recently. For a full list of new features, visit the Anthology What's New website at