November 2023 Blackboard Learn Ultra Update

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight five enhancements for Instructors from the November Blackboard Learn Ultra Update. These enhancements are in three areas:

  • Making your content more visual using Images.
  • Updates to Tests.
  • Managing your Gradebook.

Making your content more visual using images:

1. Image insertion option for Ultra Documents, Journals, Discussions, Assessment attempts, and Courses 

Images play an important role in a student’s education experience. Images help to enhance comprehension of and engagement with course content. To help instructors more easily identify high-quality images, Blackboard have added a new image button in the content editor in the following places: 

  • Ultra Documents 
  • Journal prompts 
  • Discussions 
  • Course Messages 

Image below: Instructor view – New image button on content editor for Ultra Documents. 

Screenshot of an Ultra Document

When selected, the instructor has the following options: 

  • Upload an image through selection or drag and drop. 
  • Select a royalty-free, high-quality image from Unsplash. 

Image below: Instructor view – Image source options. 

screenshot of uploading an image

Students can also access the new image button on the content editor in the following areas: 

  • Discussion responses. 
  • Assessments and test question inputs. 
  • Course Messages. 

Image below: Student view – New image button on content editor for discussion response. 

Image below: Student view – Drag and drop or upload an image file. 

After selecting the image, instructors and students can reposition the focus and zoom of the image. There’s also an option to alter the aspect ratio of the image. 

Image below: Modify the zoom and focus of the image; set the aspect ratio. 

Users can rename the image. It is important always to consider the accessibility of course content. The user should mark the image as decorative or provide suitable alternative text. 

Instructors can also set the view and download file options for the image. After the image is inserted, the instructor can resize the image. 

Updates to Tests:

2. Edit/Regrade in Questions 

Instructors may spot a mistake in a test question when grading a test submission. For example, instructors may have found a typo, chosen a wrong answer, or wanted to adjust points. 

In the past, the “Edit/Regrade Questions” option was only available when grading submissions by “Student.”  Now, instructors can also access the Edit/Regrade workflow when grading by question. 

Image below: Instructor view – Edit/Regrade option when grading a test by question.

Image below: Instructor view – editing a question using the Edit/Regrade option. 

3. Matching question updates: partial credit auto-distribution and other updates 

Matching questions are useful for testing a student’s skill in making accurate connections between related concepts. This question type also checks students’ understanding in a structured format. 

To reward students who show partial understanding, some instructors wish to award partial and/or negative credit for matching questions. 

In the past, instructors selected a scoring option: 

  • allow partial credit. 
  • all or nothing. 
  • subtract points for incorrect matches, but question score can’t be negative. 
  • or allow negative question scores. 

These options were exclusive and, at times, created confusion for instructors.  

Now, partial and negative credit is turned on by default. Blackboard auto-distributes partial credit as a percentage across the matching pairs. The auto-distribution of credit saves instructors time. Instructors can edit the partial credit values if needed to grant some pairs more or less credit. Values for partial credit must sum to 100%. 

If desired, instructors may also specify a negative credit percentage to any pair. Negative credit is only assessed when applied and when a student mismatches a pair. If desired, instructors may choose to allow an overall negative score for the question. 

We also made a few other improvements to this question: 

  • Blackboard re-worded the question construction guidance and moved it to an info bubble. 
  • In the past, the “reuse an answer” and “delete pair” options were behind the three-dot menu. Now, these options appear on the right side of the answer for each pair. 
  • Before reused answers appeared as “Reused answer from pair #” in the answer field. Now, the answer itself is displayed in the answer field. “Reused answer” appears beneath the answer for the pair. 
  • “Additional answers” renamed to “Distractors.” 

Image below: New Matching question layout. 

Managing your Gradebook: 

4. Gradebook grid view performance improvements 

Some instructors prefer to work in the gradebook grid view. To improve the user experience, we made several improvements to this view. These improvements address overall performance and reduce the load time. 

Performance tested scenarios: 

  • 25K student enrolments and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 108 s (about 2 minutes) to 14s (87% performance improvement) 
  • 2000 student enrolments and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 19s to 8s (57% performance improvement) 
  • 40 students and 400 gradable items: 
    Load time reduced from 8s to 6.8s (14.75% performance improvement) 

5. Sorting controls for Student Name, Overall Grade, Assessments, and Manual Columns in grid view. 

To use the grid view click the toggle grid and list view button:

Sorting options in the gradebook provide a more efficient grading experience. 

Now instructors can sort the following gradebook grid view columns: 

  • Student Name 
  • Overall Grade 
  • Tests and Assignments 
  • Manual columns 

Instructors can sort records in ascending or descending and remove any applied sorting. A purple highlight in the column header helps instructors identify where sorting is applied. 

Any sorting applied yields a temporary change to the sort order of all columns in the gradebook grid view. 

Image below: Sorting an assessment in the grid view with filters applied. 

Can’t find the item that you are after in your Blackboard Ultra Course? Try the search function.

In this blogpost we’re outlining a useful feature to help both staff and students navigate their Blackboard Courses.

If you can’t find the content that you’re after or you need to navigate to an area of a course quickly, try using the search function which is available in all courses.

The course search function appears at the top of every Course:

Screenshot of Course Landing Page with the search function highlighted

Click on the magnifying glass and start entering the name of the content that you are after.

As you enter the name of the content, the item will appear as a link. Clicking on the link will take you to that area of the module.

Take a look at the screencast below to see this in action:

If you’ve got any questions about Ultra or want to provide feedback on your experience, please contact

Blackboard Messages

Staff teaching on Blackboard courses can use the Messages tool to send messages to their students, and these are often sent by email.

Because of the way that the Message tool works, all messages are sent from the e-learning support email address ( ), rather than the staff members’ personal email addresses. Replying to a Message sends it to our e-learning support staff.

Students – please don’t click the Reply button to respond to a Message.  Instead, use the Forward option, adding in the relevant email address for the staff member. If you aren’t sure what their email address is, you can find it on the University Directory.

Staff – to help students get back in touch with you, we recommend including your email address in any Messages you send.

This is an example of a Blackboard Message sent via email

[Alt text: screenshot of a Blackboard Message sent via email]

And the image below shows what happens when you click on the Reply button in your email – the To: box sends the message to

[Alt text: Screenshot of the email message created when you Reply to a Blackboard Message]

We are working with Blackboard / Anthology and colleagues to resolve this issue, but in the meantime please check before replying to a message. This is especially important if you are sending personal information.

Blackboard Learn Ultra: October Update 2023 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight four enhancements to Instructors from the October Blackboard Learn Ultra.

1. Partial credit auto-distribution for correct answers for Multiple Choice questions

Multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer are valuable assessment tools. Also known as multiple-answer or multiple-select questions, these questions assess comprehensive understanding. They also promote deeper learning and higher-order thinking skills. 

Some instructors wish to award partial credit for these question types. This practice awards students who have a partial understanding. It also fosters a positive learning experience. 

In the past, instructors had to enter a value for partial credit percentage for each option. Now, Blackboard will auto-distribute partial credit across correct answer choices. This distribution provides efficiency and saves instructors’ time. If desired, instructors can edit the values if some correct answer options warrant more or less credit. Values for correct answers must sum to 100%. 

Image below: Question credit auto-distributes across correct answer options; values can be edited.

A screenshot of creating a multiple choice question. Allow partial and negative credit highlighted. Percentages highlighted.

2. Send reminder from gradebook list and grid views

Instructors may want to send a reminder to students or groups who haven’t yet made a submission for an assessment. To make this easy, Blackboard have added a “Send Reminder” option to items in the Gradebook. 

There are two views of the Gradebook that can be toggled between using the button. List view and grid view

Image below: Use the list view and grid view button to toggle between views. 

From the Gradebook list view, the option to send a reminder is in the overflow menu (three dots). 

Image below: Send Reminder option from list view 

A screenshot of the Gradebook in list view. Send reminder is highlighted.

Instructors may access the “Send Reminder” option in the grid view by selecting the gradebook column header. 

Image below: Send Reminder option from grid view

A screenshot of the Gradebook in grid view. Send reminder is highlighted.

3. Delegated grading distribution by group membership

Instructors sometimes distribute the grading workload for an assessment to multiple graders. This is a popular practice in larger classes. Instructors can assign graders to groups of students with the new delegated grading option. Each grader will only see the submissions made by students in the group(s) assigned to them. 

Delegated Grading can be used with all available group types. This first release of Delegated Grading supports assignment submissions from individual students. Tests, group assessments, and anonymous submissions are not supported at this time. These will be released at a later date. 

After selecting the Delegated Grading option, select the appropriate Group Set. Instructors can assign one or more graders to each group in the group set. If multiple graders are assigned to the same group, they will share the grading responsibility for the group members. 

Graders assigned to a group of students will only see submissions for those students on the assignment’s submission page. They can only post grades for their assigned group members. Any unassigned instructors enrolled in the course will see all student submissions on the assignment’s submission page. They also post grades for all students. 

Note: At least one Group Set complete with Groups must be present in the course before using the Delegated Grading option. 

Image below: Instructor view of the assessment Settings panel with the Delegated Grading option enabled.

A screenshot of the assignment settings. Delegrated Grading is highlighted.

4. Sorting for manually added gradable items.

Sorting controls help instructors organize and find information in the gradebook. Instructors can now use sorting controls on the grades page for manually created items. The sorting controls enable sorting in both ascending and descending order. Instructors can sort the following information: 

  • Student name 
  • Grade 
  • Feedback 
  • Post status 

The applied sorting order is temporary and resets when you leave the page. 

Note: Sorting controls can be applied to one column at a time. When you sort another column, items will order according to the selected column. 

Image below: Instructor view of sorting controls on the grades page for a manually added gradable item 

A screenshot of the the Gradebook for a manually created item. The sorting controls at the head of columns are highlighted.

Using Blackboard in Welsh

When you next log in to Blackboard you may notice that the language of the interface has changed. The initial language you see in Blackboard is decided by the Preferred Language you have set in either ABW as staff or Student Record as a student.

If you have already set your Preferred Language to Welsh, you’ll see the Welsh language interface of Blackboard, and if you have set your Preferred Language as English, you’ll see the English language interface of Blackboard.

If you don’t see the Blackboard Interface in the language you prefer you can easily change it:

Use the Language option on your Profile Page

screenshot of Profile Page, language options

The new Blackboard Ally tool also gives you access to Welsh language audio versions of Welsh content in Blackboard courses. Any Welsh language documents, PowerPoints, PDFs etc can be read aloud using the Audio MP3 version. For more information on using Blackboard Ally, take a look at our staff or student FAQ.

September 2023 Blackboard Learn Ultra Update

This month saw the release of several further enhancements in Blackboard Learn Ultra. 

Batch Editor enhancements

Batch editing streamlines making changes to multiple items at once in Blackboard whether that is editing visibility, release conditions or deleting. Blackboard have updated batch edit so that actions now apply to all items inside of Folders and Learning Modules. 

All items are now visible on a single page. Blackboard have added the ability to expand and collapse Folders and Learning Modules.   

For more information on using the Batch Editor, see the Blackboard Batch Editor help page

Unsplash Image Library

As we covered in a previous blogpost, Instructors can now search the extensive Unsplash stock image library for high-quality, royalty-free stock images to use within Blackboard.  

See our previous blogpost here. 

Blackboard Ally

This month also saw us enable the Blackboard Ally accessibility tool that allows students to download alternative formats of content as well as accessibility checker for Instructors. 

See our previous blogpost here. 

If you have any questions regarding Blackboard Learn Ultra please contact 

Make Blackboard Learn Ultra Courses more visual with Learning Modules, Course Images, and Unsplash Images

Some of the feedback that we’ve received regarding Blackboard Ultra Courses is that they are not as visually customisable as Blackboard Original Courses. Ultra is created with accessibility in mind which means that some of the features that we previously had, such as textured or coloured backgrounds and text that could result in low colour contrast are no longer available.

In this blogpost we’ll give you some tips that might help make your Blackboard Ultra Courses more visually appealing, including some brand-new features that arrived in the September release.

Learning Modules

Learning Modules work similarly to folders and can be placed on the top level of the Content Page. You can use these to arrange your Learning Materials. One of the developments that arrived recently is the ability to upload images to Learning Modules.

To create a Learning Module, click on the + and Create > Learning Module:

Learning Module editor with Add image highlighted

From there, you can Add image to upload an image from the file explorer. Select the image from the File Explorer that opens and upload. Alternatively, you can drag and drop your image into the Learning Module editor. Once you’ve added an image to a Learning Module, it will display as below:

Learning Module with image attached and Weekly folder

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Panopto Assignment Workflow in Blackboard Learn Ultra

In our previous blogpost we outlined some of the changes to Panopto with our move to Blackboard Learn Ultra.

In this blogpost we’ll outline the changes to using Panopto for Assignments. Panopto Assignments are used for students to submit a recording or presentation.

As part of this change, we recommend that you:

  1. Create a Blackboard Assignment
  2. Students submit via Blackboard Assignment and upload via the Panopto submission tool

The advantages to this new workflow are that:

  1. The workflow for submission and marking is easier
  2. Marks and feedback automatically go into the Gradebook
  3. Students receive an email receipt for their submission

To support staff with this process, we have a Panopto Assignment guide that takes you through setting up the assignment, student submission, and marking on our Lecture Capture webpages.

We’ve also got a FAQ for staff and students.

If you’ve got any questions, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

The Ultra Essentials Playlist

If you’re a busy bee preparing your courses before the students arrive and don’t have any time to attend training sessions, how about visiting our new bite sized training video clips on how to work in Blackboard Ultra.

We’ve created The Ultra Essentials Playlist to help staff to familiarise themselves with the exciting new features in Ultra. The playlist is comprised of 15 short videos (2-8 minutes) with a longer first introductory video Introduction to Blackboard Learn Ultra.

If you’re unsure about how to do something specific in Ultra or just need a quick refresher then take a look at our bilingual training videos. Here’s a breakdown of the individual video clips:

  1. Navigating your Ultra Course
  2. Creating a Link to your Reading List
  3. Creating a Link to all Panopto Recordings
  4. Creating a Folder and Learning Module
  5. Creating a Document
  6. Copying content from previous years
  7. Link to individual Panopto recording
  8. Creating a Turnitin Submission Point
  9. Creating a Blackboard Assignment
  10. Creating a Blackboard Test
  11. Creating a Link
  12. Creating a Collaborative Document
  13. Creating a Discussion
  14. Creating a Journal
  15. Creating an Announcement

We are still providing online training sessions in English and Welsh and you can book and view other sessions on the booking page.

If you have any questions about Blackboard Learn Ultra then email:

Welcome to new staff joining Aberystwyth University

We’re the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit. Based in Information Services, we work with staff across the university to support and develop learning and teaching. We run a wide range of activities to do this.

All the information that you need is on the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit webpages. Our Supporting your Teaching webpages will help you with various teaching solutions.

We write a blog full of the latest updates, details on events and training sessions, and resources.

If you need to get in touch with us, you can do so using one of two email addresses: (for pedagogical and design questions, or to arrange a consultation) or (for technical queries regarding our e-learning tools listed below).

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