Let's Take Ultra to the Next Level
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Join us each Wednesday for Blackboard Ultra Lunch and Learn virtual office hours! eLearning staff will be ready to help you from 12 to 12:30 pm. Join us in Zoom.

How do your Grades Look?
If you are teaching this summer semester or are getting your fall courses ready and want some grade book assistance, we are hosting virtual drop-in help on August 9, 2024, between 9 and 11:00 am. Join us in Zoom

3 Tips to Help You Prepare for the New Semester

Tip 1.  Learn Your Student’s Names
Using your students' ID photos is an excellent way to learn their names. You can easily access these photos through the "Class List" tool in GVSU Faculty/Staff Additional Banner Applications (a VPN connection is required for off-campus access).

Note: Faculty will only see photos in courses in which they are the instructor of record in Banner. Assistance with using this tool can be found in this Knowledge Base article found in our Service Portal.

Tip 2.  Check your Bb Readiness
The New Semester Checklist is a great place to review some of the basic and essential functions found in Blackboard. Bb makes it easy to share your syllabus or a lecture, efficiently collect and manage assignments, and securely share grades and feedback.  A PDF version of our checklist is also available to help instructors ensure a successful start to the semester.

Tip 3. Get your students oriented
All students and faculty have been enrolled in a Blackboard "orientation" site geared toward helping students prepare and determine their readiness for online learning. The orientation provides advice and skills for online learning success and familiarizes students with many Blackboard Ultra features that their courses will use. When you create your welcome announcement, it's not a bad idea to remind your students to review the orientation site so that they are prepared to have a successful semester.


Course Design Institute – Develop your Bb Course in a Day with eLearning and FTLC!

Join us for a day of course design and development, fast-track your course for the start of the semester, and can learn the 5 Steps for Course Design badge. Faculty will walk through best practices in course design and pedagogy using backward design and a Course Alignment Map while breaking down the process into 5 Steps: Foundation Items, Assessments, Activities, Navigation, and Tech Check.

Bring your device, syllabus, and course materials, and let us lead you through the steps. Take advantage of this professional development opportunity to prepare your course for the semester and work towards a badge to showcase your achievement on LinkedIn, Workday, or other social media. Lunch will be provided. This event is in partnership with FTLC.

Event Details

  • Date: August 21, 2024
  • Time: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
  • Location: SCB2006 (Seidman College of Business/Pew Campus)
  • Bring: Laptop, course syllabus and schedule, and any course materials.

Reserve your seat by registering today and mark your calendars!

2024 Fall Bb Courses

As of July 1, 2024, faculty listed in Banner as the instructor of record for the Fall semester will have access to their Blackboard Ultra courses. If you don't see your course, please contact your department coordinator. Student enrollments for Blackboard will begin on August 5, 2024. 

Before you start building your Spring/Summer course site, we would like to highlight a few frequent requests that will help you for the next semester.

T-Squared: a Teaching and Technology Podcast


Curious about Artificial Intelligence and Education?

If you're curious about the impact of AI on higher education, we invite you to join the eLearning Technologies and Innovation and Research teams for a special season of the podcast "T-Squared: a Teaching and Technology Podcast."

Each episode takes a closer look at an aspect of artificial intelligence and education. In the second and third episodes of the season, Matt Roberts and Jacob Fortman talk to Dr. Eric Covey from Grand Valley's Department of History about the ethical issues raised by the use of artificial intelligence.

To listen to episodes, to subscribe with Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and to learn more please visit the podcast's website.

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What Works Better in Ultra

Sure, Blackboard Learn Ultra has a new and improved interface. More importantly, though, Ultra also works better than Blackboard Classic. Take a look at our list of "What Works Better in Ultra."

What your Students Say about Bb Ultra

At the end of the fall semester, Anthology and Information Technology teamed up to host an Exam Cram event, distributing over 2,000 donuts and hot chocolate to mark the transition to Bb Ultra across the Health, Devos, and Allendale campuses. Students expressed their satisfaction with Ultra, highlighting its user-friendly navigation, simplified assignment submissions, and modern design. Review their additional feedback with associated resources to help you maximize Blackboard Ultra.

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Check the Map!

Periodically, Anthology provides an update on what features will be added to Blackboard Learn Ultra. They refer to this as their "roadmap."

View the roadmap

Need ideas for organizing your Ultra course?  

Make the Most of Blackboard Ultra


Monthly Release Schedule and Release Notes

Blackboard releases new features and functionality on the first Friday of each month.  See the Release Schedule and the Release Notes for monthly and upcoming features and improvements.

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Help Shape the Future! 

Anthology, Blackboard's parent company, loves hearing from its users. They've created a website where the community can share their thoughts on Blackboard's future. We encourage all faculty to sign up for the Idea Exchange so they can add their own suggestions and vote on ideas offered by others. Anthology staff regularly interacts with the Idea Exchange, providing updates on if and when new features and changes will be added.

Join now and help shape the future of Blackboard!

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Consult with your eLearning Liaisons

We welcome faculty to contact their dedicated eLearning Liaisons whenever you have questions regarding Bb Ultra features. Feel free to set up a consultation for additional guidance or troubleshooting assistance. Our top priority is timely support, and your feedback is essential.


Reminders for Faculty New to Ultra

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Remember the following:

  • eLearning has put together some tips and tricks for how to best copy content from your Classic courses to your Ultra courses
  • See this knowledge base article for best practices and tips for course design in Bb Ultra. 
  • Grand Valley State University uses the Continuous Delivery method, which provides new Bb capabilities and fixes known issues monthly. All system-wide updates are done automatically. Users experience the most recent version of Blackboard Learn Ultra without significant downtime or service interruptions. See the Release Schedule for the planned timeline and the Release Notes for current and upcoming features and improvements.

New to Ultra? Check out our Ultra Care Package!

Learning Ultra Course View

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The eLearning Technologies team is offering a variety of training opportunities for faculty to learn Ultra Course view. Check out our webinar page to register for an Ultra training.

Learn from the Champions!

Many faculty have been using Blackboard Ultra Course View since Fall 2022.  They've gladly shared their experiences and advice with the rest of the university.

Learn more by visiting the Ultra Champions page

About eLearning

About eLearning

eLearning Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate a cohesive and seamless digital learning experience for students at GVSU -  through supporting faculty in delivering high-quality, high-impact, high-engagement innovative teaching. 

We support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and enhance student success through:

  • IDeL
    Exemplary Instructional Design for Online and Hybrid Courses
  • Teaching with Technology
    Effective Application of Instructional Technologies
  • Blackboard
    Learning Management System Enhancement
  • The Bridge
    Interactive Digital Media Development
  • We also partner with the Atomic Object Technology Showcase to bring innovative emerging technologies to GVSU.

Email Us: [email protected]
Call: (616) 331-2101

Hours: 8:30 am - 4pm, Monday through Friday
24x7 After Hours Support is Available

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What's New from eLearning

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Grand Valley Hosts 2023 miBUG Conference

On Friday May 5, 2023 Grand Valley State University's eLearning Technologies team helped to host the spring 2023 conference for the Michigan Blackboard Users Group. Attendees from almost 20 institutions gathered in person and virtually to share best practices for teaching with Blackboard Learn and learn more about the product's future.

Learn More  Visit the Mobile App

Students share the value of online and hybrid learning at GVSU

“I keep very busy between my family and my work, however, I wish desperately to finally finish my degree in education. Online/hybrid courses will hopefully open doors to the courses I could more easily take from my home.”

- Hope Garlock

"Supporting faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning."

Credits: Bird Tangram Puzzle by irene hoffman from NounProject.com ; Light Bulb by Numero Uno from NounProject.com

Page last modified July 10, 2024