Ultra Courses 2023-24

When you come back for next academic year, your new courses in Blackboard will look a little different. From September 2023, all new courses in Blackboard will be Ultra courses.

We’ve been using Ultra Base Navigation (UBN) in Blackboard since January 2023, and we know that many of you have found it easier to use – especially on mobile devices.

Ultra courses have the same accessible and mobile-friendly design as UBN – here’s what an Ultra course looks like:

Screenshot of a Blackboard Ultra Course

Because of the way it’s designed, an Ultra course never has more than two levels of folders – this makes it much quicker and easier to find your course materials and assignment submission links. And there’s also a search tool inside every course.

We’ve also redesigned our course template to make sure it uses the language that the course is taught in. If your module is taught in Welsh, your course template will now be in Welsh. And bilingual modules have a bilingual course template.

There’s lots of information about Ultra on the Blackboard website, including an introduction to navigating your way round an Ultra course (note – the video on this page is on an external site and only available in English).  

All your previous years’ courses are still available – so if you need to look back at old course materials, you can do that too.

Keynote announcement: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce our keynotes for this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference (4-6 July 2023).  

Booking for the conference is already open. Book your place today. 

We will be joined by colleagues from Blackboard and Bangor University to ensure that we are well prepared for our move to Ultra. 

There will be opportunities to: 

  • Learn all about the benefits of moving to Ultra 
  • Hear about some exciting new developments that will help enhance your teachingListen to colleagues from Bangor about the lessons that they’ve learned from their move 
  • Take a look at what excellent means with Ultra courses 
  • Attend a workshop to help enhance your modules to ensure that they are the very best that they can be for September 
  • Give your feedback on Ultra to product developers to help it meet our needs 

We’ll be announcing the rest of our programme shortly, but you can expect sessions on Artificial Intelligence, Creative Assessment Design, and developing resilience in students.  

We’re excited to see you in person on 4 and 5 July and online on 6 July.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: External Speaker Announcement

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce our first external speaker as part of this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference.

Taking place between 4 and 6 July, bookings for the conference are already open.

Michael Webb from Jisc will discuss Artificial Intelligence in the session Navigating the Opportunities and Challenges of AI in Education.

Since the introduction of Chat GPT, colleagues have been finding ways in which the power of artificial intelligence might be used in Higher Education alongside the challenges that it poses.

Jisc’s national centre for artificial intelligence in tertiary education aims to help institutions adopt AI in a responsible and ethical way. We are working across the sector to help institutions navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI. In this session we’ll review the strengths and weakness of generative AI, the practices and approaches we see emerging, and take a look at how technologies and practices are developing as ever more generative AI applications are released.

Michael Webb is the director of technology and analytics at Jisc – the UK digital, data and technology agency focused on tertiary education, research, and innovation. He is co-lead of Jisc’s national centre for AI in tertiary education, supporting the responsible and effective adoption of artificial intelligence across the tertiary education sector. As well as artificial intelligence, he has worked on projects around the internet of things, virtual reality, and learning analytics. Before joining Jisc, Michael worked in the higher education sector, leading IT and learning technology.

This session will be of interest for colleagues who would like to add AI into their teaching and learning activities, as well as explore ways in which it can be used productively.

Our full programme will be announced on our webpages in due course. Aberystwyth University has been working on its own guidance for Artificial Intelligence. Take a look at ourConsiderations for Generative AI Detection blogpost for further information.

James Wood: Improving feedback literacy through sustainable feedback engagement practices

Banner for Audio Feedback

On Wednesday 10 May, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit welcomed Dr James Wood from Bangor University to give some ideas around student feedback design and engagement.

The recording from the session is on Panopto and the PowerPoint slides can be downloaded below:

In the session, Dr Wood outlined

  • The changes to the feedback NSS questions for 2023
  • The purpose of feedback
  • The move away from feedback transmission to one of action
  • Barriers to student feedback engagement
  • Screencasting your feedback

The next big event for LTEU is our annual Learning and Teaching Conference which is taking place between 4 and 6 July. Bookings for this are already open.

If you have any external speakers that you would like LTEU to invite to next year’s series then please email lteu@aber.ac.uk with your suggestion.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 16/5/2023

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery. 

Online events and webinars




Resources and publications

Resources on Artificial Intelligence

Other resources


  • Monthly series European Network for Academic Integrity, ENAI monthly webinars free open webinars on various topics related to academic integrity.
  • Subscribe to SEDA’s mailing list for email discussions about educational development and emerging teaching practices. This is one of the sources I use when identifying useful material for the Roundup.
  • Follow University of Birmingham’s Higher Education Futures institute HEFi on Twitter for daily posts with links to pedagogical literature and more. This is one of the sources I use when identifying useful material for the Roundup.
  • Join the #LTHEchat on Twitter Wednesday nights for one hour of lively discussion about learning and teaching in HE. I often find out about good resources for the Roundup from the chat.

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff. I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.

Blackboard Ultra Courses created for Academic Year 2023-24

Icon Blackboard Ultra

The Blackboard Ultra Courses for the Academic Year 2023-24 have now been created blank using the pre-agreed University template.  

The early creation of Ultra Courses is the next phase in our move to Blackboard Ultra and prepares us for training over the coming months.

To access your courses for next academic year, click on Upcoming Courses:

Screenshot of Ultra Courses page with Upcoming Courses highlighted

You will see any courses that you are listed as an instructor on as well as courses that you might support as departmental administrators.

If you don’t see a course that you are meant to be teaching on then check with your departmental administrator – it might be that you haven’t been added to the module record in the Module Management System. We are updating this feed every Tuesday morning so you can expect to see your modules on a Tuesday afternoon once the update has gone through.

The courses are currently private and will be made available on 1 September 2023. Students won’t appear on your courses until they have completed their registration.

Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching have been contacted to arrange a training session for your department.

If you want to get started on setting up your courses, you might want to:

The next phase of the move to Ultra is focusing on training and making sure that our support materials are up-to-date. See our overview of training for further information.

If you have any questions about Blackboard Ultra, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Can I access old courses and materials after the move to Ultra?

Blackboard Ultra icon

Previous year courses will remain available (in line with the university’s retention policy). You will be able to access old courses, and course materials using the Courses dropdown menu.

Please note that access to Turnitin submissions from before summer 2022 has changed – read our guidance on downloading Turnitin submissions made before summer 2022.

Considerations for Generative AI Detection 

This blog post is written by Generative AI Working Group members. 

The landscape for learning and teaching in the age of Generative AI has been developing rapidly. As staff will be aware, the UAP regulation has been updated to address the use of AI in student assessment. The UAP Form and penalty table have been updated to include ‘Presenting work generated by AI as if it were your own’ (approved by Academic Board March 2023). 

A Generative AI working group, chaired by Mary Jacob, was created in January 2023 to coordinate university efforts. Please see Generative AI for current guidance and resources. We are designing training materials for staff and students that will be available well before next academic year. 

Advice for marking 

On 3/4/2023, Turnitin enabled its AI detection tool. At present, staff can see the ‘AI Score’ but students cannot. This may change if Turnitin updates the tool later in the year. Please see Launch of Turnitin AI writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability on the LTEU blog and Turnitin’s AI Writing Detection from Turnitin (note that sometimes the same passage can be identified as both AI generated and matching an external source).  

There is a clear consensus among experts in the sector that no AI detection tool can provide conclusive evidence.  

This comes from the QAA, the National Centre for AI in Tertiary Education (sponsored by Jisc), and others. You can find links to this evidence on the Generative AI page, including the QAA recording where Michael Webb from the National Centre explains why this is the case. 

If you face a potential UAP case, your professional judgement is key to making the right call. Here is the best advice we can give departments: 

  1. Use the Turnitin AI detection tool in conjunction with other indicators – The Turnitin detection tool can identify red flags for further investigation but cannot provide evidence in itself.  
  1. Check sources – Gen AI often, but not always, produces fake citations. These can seem plausible at first sight – real authors and real journals, but the article doesn’t exist. Check the sources cited to see if they are 1) real and 2) chosen appropriately for the assignment. Is the source on topic? Is it the type of source a student would have read when writing the assignment (e.g. not a children’s book used as a source for a business case study)? This isn’t conclusive proof of AI use, but it is solid evidence that the student didn’t do things correctly. 
  1. Check facts – Gen AI often produces plausible falsehoods. The text may sound reasonable but include some made-up ‘facts’. Gen AI is not intelligent, but merely a sophisticated predictive text machine, so if you spot something that seems a bit off, check to see if it is a plausible falsehood. 
  1. Check level of detail – AI tends towards overly-generic output, e.g. using abstract terms with no concrete definitions or examples. Is the essay or report written in generalities or does it include concrete examples in enough detail to support the conclusion that a student wrote it? Again, lack of detail isn’t conclusive evidence that the student cheated but it can be a red flag in combination with other factors.  
  1. Hold an interview to determine authenticity – If you see strong indications of unacceptable academic practice, an interview or panel where the student is asked questions about their assignment may be a way to get conclusive evidence. We know this isn’t feasible at large scale, however. This is a sticky problem not only for our university but across the sector.  

To find out more about Generative AI, see the Weekly Resource Roundup for events and materials, e.g. this article specifically about a study on Turnitin’s AI detection: Fowler, G. A. (3/4/2023), We tested a new ChatGPT-detector for teachers. It flagged an innocent student, Washington Post. Fowler explains how they tested it, what they found, and why it generated the false results.  

In short, if staff don’t see anything suspicious other than the Turnitin AI score, we would recommend against bringing a UAP case forward. There’s too much potential for harm if the student really didn’t cheat.