#wnybug2016 – The Ultra Experience: Blackboard Learn, Collaborate, Mobile Apps

#wnybug2016 - The Ultra Experience- Blackboard Learn, Collaborate, Mobile Apps

Naveen Ramnanen, Blackboard Customer Success Advocate shared information about the upcoming change to the Learn Ultra Experience for Blackboard. This will result in a completely new look and feel for Blackboard. Personally, I think they took a lot of their inspiration from the Canvas learning management system.

Before Naveen began his presentation, he shared a number of resources for getting Blackboard teaching and learning ideas:

Learn Ultra Experience – The new Learning experience

Naveen next introduced the Learn Ultra Experience. It was redesigned with a focus on the learner. It is more responsive to the learner and is based upon research.

The Learn Ultra Experience is tightly integrated with workflows. It has a focus on simplicity, e.g. reduce clicks to success. It provides a “fun” user experience.

According to Naveen, it has improved performance with better uptime. Here is a feature list of improvements as well as future features:

Learn Ultra feature list with future improvements

Learn Ultra feature list with future improvements

As Naveen discussed the new Learn Ultra Experience, here are some items that stood out to me:

Data analytics

There will be increased access to data and analytics to support decision making. This will provide insight into online experiences.

Mobile application

We need to ensure students download the Blackboard Student application. The current Mobile Learn will not be available after 31 Dec 2016. Blackboard is working on a Blackboard application for instructors.


Just like Canvas, messaging with Blackboard is a function outside of the course but can be seen across courses.

Learning Tools Interoperability

Blackboard will continue to provide The Promise of Learning Data Interoperability (LTI), the ability to provide access to third-party learning tools.

Course enhancements

Naveen mentioned a number of course enhancements that I think JCC faculty will appreciate. The first is improving audio and video in courses. This can aid in providing more engaging student feedback. Additionally, they are adding an attendance tracking feature. This is a much-wanted feature on the SUNY JCC campus. Also, there will be a much granular course copying feature. You can then pick and choose what you want to copy from one course to another.

Blackboard Collaborate

Naveen also showed off the Blackboard Collaborate tool. It allows for web-conferencing from within Blackboard. At this time, I am not sure if this is an additional purchase or not.

Blackboard Collaborate can be used for:

  • Office hours
  • Group collaboration & Meetings
  • Virtual classrooms, record sessions, invite external speakers.
  • Events & Webinars

While using Blackboard Collaborate, moderators can see network connection capability for participants, assign captioners for those who hearing impaired, display content on a whiteboard, share files (persistent for future sessions), conduct polls, record sessions, create breakout groups, conduct private chats, and connect via telephone.

Although 250 participants can be on, only 5 videos will be displayed at a time. Blackboard is working towards an audience of 1,000. Attendance can be automatically taken in Blackboard Collaborate. During a recording, the chat is synchronized with the video. Finally, Blackboard is working on incorporating a sign language interpreter.

Final thoughts

While there is a lot that will transfer in terms of understanding the new Blackboard interface, it is basically a really new version of Blackboard. This will require moving through another learning curve. Some will like the new capabilities and others will pine for the Blackboard they have come to know.


Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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