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 (

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.

Blackboard Ultra Project Update

Blackboard Ultra icon

It’s been a little while since we gave you a progress report on our move to Blackboard Ultra. We’ve been working hard to prepare for the start of our training programme and making sure that our integrations are working.

Technical Update

We have been focusing on our Course Creation process. To help colleagues with the move to Ultra, we are creating courses for next academic year much earlier this year.

This will also help with our training as colleagues will be preparing their live Ultra course.

Our integrations have also taken a lot of work to set up and get working:

  • Panopto: Panopto has been moved to an API connector ready for Ultra Courses.
  • Talis Aspire: Talis Aspire LTI is now enabled. We have been working with colleagues in Academic Engagement to ensure that this is as smooth as possible.
  • Turnitin: Work on moving Turnitin to a LTI connector was completed in summer 2022, and no additional changes to Turnitin are required for the move to Ultra Courses.
  • Microsoft Teams meetings: We will move to the Teams LTI in summer 2023. This tool will be for scheduling Teams meetings.

These are existing tools but one of the benefits of moving to Ultra is the introduction of Office 365 LTI integration. This allows you to upload documents from your OneDrive straight into Blackboard as well as offering students the opportunity to collaborate on a document together. For those of you who have been following our progress on our blog, you will see that this collaborative tool forms the basis of our Wiki solution.

Training Update

Our E-learning Essentials: Introduction to Blackboard Ultra training session has now been designed and is ready for staff departmental training sessions.

We have communicated with all Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching to start arranging your departmental training session. If you are unable to make your scheduled session then we will be running them centrally.

See our training blogpost for an overview of our training package.

Required Minimum Presence

As Blackboard Ultra Courses have a completely different approach to organising and arranging content, our Required Minimum Presence has been re-written. Keep a look out for our updated RMP.

Guidance Materials

We have been working on rationalising and preparing our guidance materials, including our FAQs. One change you’ll notice once we’re in Ultra Courses is that our FAQs will link directly to Blackboard help materials. These materials are available bilingually in Welsh and English.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

Our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference is taking place between 4 and 6 July. A key strand of the conference will be the Blackboard Ultra. Keep an eye on our blogposts as we announce our keynote speakers. A reminder that our Call for Proposals closes on 5 May – you can submit a proposal using our online Call for Proposals form.

Exemplary Course Award 2022-23

Exemplary Course Award image

Anna Udalowska, from Lifelong Learning, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module XN16710: The Science of Wellbeing.

In addition to the winner, the following modules achieved Highly Commended:

  • Alexander Taylor from the Department of Psychology for the module PS32120: Behavioural Neuroscience
  • Kathy Hampson from the Department of Law and Criminology for the module LC26120: Youth Crime ad Justice
  • Lara Kipp from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies for the module TP30020: Contemporary Drama
  • Panna Karlinger from the School of Education for the module ED20820: Making Sense of the Curriculum

The diverse range of teaching and learning styles evidenced in this year’s applications reflects the innovative work that is taking place across the institution.

The aim of the Exemplary Course Award, now in its eighth year, aims to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices. It gives staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on to improve.

Modules are assessed across 4 areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The self-assessed nature of the award gives staff the opportunity to reflect on their course and enhance aspects of their module before a panel assesses each application against the rubric.

The panel and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to thank all of the applicants for the time and effort that they have put into their applications and modules this year.

We’re looking forward to receiving more applications next year and many congratulations to the recipients of this year’s award.

Blackboard Ultra: Blog Alternatives Overview

Blackboard Ultra icon

This post outlines the solutions that the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit are working on for Blog activities in Blackboard Ultra. Once these solutions have been tried and tested, we will work on providing guidance for colleagues.


Blogs are a collaborative tool used for a number of assessed and unassessed activities at Aberystwyth University.

The tool is not currently available in Blackboard Ultra (despite our enhancement requests) and is not on Blackboard’s roadmap of development.

The unavailability of the Blog tool has been included in all parts of the decision-making process to highlight it as a risk in the move to Blackboard Ultra.

In their very nature blogs offer students the opportunity to reflect on their learning, organise their thoughts and ideas chronologically, and comment on each other’s posts.

Whilst there aren’t blogs in Ultra, there are two fully-integrated participation and engagement tools that will offer alternatives: Journals and Discussions.

Option 1: Use the Journal tool

Whilst blogs don’t exist in Blackboard Ultra, the journal tool does remain. Journals are used in a similar way to blogs but they are private between course tutors and students. If the activity can function without making student’s posts visible to all, we recommend using this tool.

You can get an overview of the journal tool by watching this Journal overview tutorial.

Option 2: Use the Discussions tool

If the activity requires an interactive element between students then we recommend using the discussion tool. Here you can create a thread, organise your discussions via folders, set the discussions to be graded, encourage student participation by not viewing the thread until students have completed their initial post.

For an idea as to how discussions work, take a look at this demonstration video.

Even though our discussion board tool has changed, our principles on discussion board design and engagement still remain the same. Take a look at our discussion board design blogpost for some tips and questions for you to ask yourselves in the design of the activity.

Option 3: Use WordPress blogging tool

Whilst we recommend that discussion board activity remains in Blackboard so that student engagement and assessment can take place, there is another blogging tool supported by the University: WordPress. If you think that WordPress is the only option for you then we recommend that you get in contact with us first to discuss your activity and so we can advise further (

Blackboard Ultra Training

Blackboard Ultra icon

In this blogpost we’ll be outlining the training that we’ve been designing ready for the move to Blackboard Ultra.

We will be offering every department an E-learning Essentials: Introduction to Blackboard Ultra training session. We will be liaising with your departmental director of learning and teaching to arrange this, offering either an online or an in-person session.

In this session, we will outline what colleagues need to do to get their modules ready for September. The main outcome of this session is that colleagues will be able to achieve the Required Minimum Presence. The session includes some design tips, an overview of the analytics available in Blackboard Ultra, as well as how to create Turnitin submission points, links to your reading list, and Panopto links. We’ll introduce you to the updated interactive tools: Discussions and Journals. In addition to this, we’ll look at the new workflow for creating Blackboard Assignments and Blackboard Tests, and the Grade Book.

If you cannot make your departmental session, then we are also offering them centrally.   

 To complement this session, we are running some centrally organised E-learning Enhanced Sessions:

  • E-learning Enhanced: Introduction to Discussions
  • E-learning Enhanced: Introduction to Journals
  • E-learning Enhanced: Introduction to Tests
  • E-learning Enhanced: Designing Wiki Equivalences
  • E-learning Enhanced: Designing Blog Equivalences

These sessions will be advertised on our course booking site.

If the session is taking place online then a Teams link will be emailed to you.

If you have any questions about our move to Blackboard Ultra, then do contact  

Blackboard Ultra: Wiki Alternatives Overview

Blackboard Ultra icon

This blogpost outlines the solutions that the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit are working on for Wiki activities. Once these solutions have been tried and tested, we will work on providing guidance for colleagues.


Wikis are a collaborative tool used for a number of assessed and unassessed activities at Aberystwyth University.

The tool is not currently available in Blackboard Ultra (despite our enhancement requests) and is not on Blackboard’s roadmap of development.

The unavailability of the Wiki tool has been included in all parts of the decision-making process to highlight it as a risk in the move to Blackboard Ultra.

In their very nature wikis are collaborative giving students the opportunity to contribute as part of a group. Students can produce media rich resources linking to external content, videos, and images. The content can be arranged over a number of pages, with a structure pre-given by the tutor.

This blogpost outlines a number of options for Wiki equivalences. The options are listed in order of LTEU preference.

Read More

Blackboard Ultra: Directors of Learning and Teaching Consultations

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On 1 and 2 March, LTEU met with Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching to update on the Blackboard Ultra project and discuss our plans for training, ways in which we can address challenges, and the support required for the Ultra project.

The slides from the session can be downloaded from this link.

The slides include an update on the project timeline, what academic colleagues will have to do, and an overview of our training approach.

Summary of discussions

  • Support contact – if you are having any difficulties with using e-learning tools then do contact and we will be happy to help you out.
  • Adding Reading List and Panopto Link – Staff members will have to add links to these in their modules. There is currently no way of doing this automatically, but we will continue to investigate ways of doing so.
  • Departments will be able to choose whether they have an in-person training session or an online training session.
  • LTEU will continue training on using Ultra over the summer and into the new academic year
  • Academic colleagues will be able to access and copy materials from historical modules – the current retention period is 5 years + current year.
  • Where possible, colleagues should use Blackboard text editor features to ensure that their content is as accessible as possible.
  • A checklist will be produced so that colleagues can check that they’ve done everything required in building their modules.
  • Colleagues would like a consistent message from Information Services about the project.
  • Training sessions will be offered to all Registry teams as well as external examiners and franchise campuses.
  • Communications and approach will include the benefits of the move to Ultra and a list of new features.
  • Where possible, video materials will be created.

If you have any questions, concerns, or want to speak to us about something specific in your course, then contact us on

Ultra Practice Courses created

Blackboard Ultra icon

Now that the templates have been confirmed we have created an individual Ultra Practice Course for all staff members.

This practice course is private to you and has no students enrolled on it. You can use this course to create content and try out the new Ultra course interface.

You will find your practice course by going to Organisations on the left-hand side menu:

Ultra Base Navigation with Organisations showing

The course has been created with the bilingual AU course template. For further information on course templates, see our previous blogpost. They will be named your name Cwrs Ymarfer Ultra / Ultra Practice Course.  

To help prepare you for Ultra courses next academic year, try the following:

  1. Create an announcement
  2. Create a folder to organise material
  3. Create / upload a document
  4. Post a link to a website
  5. Copy material from one of your modules into your Ultra practice course

You’ll notice that you can drag and drop content much more easily in Ultra.  Additionally, you can choose where you add content (without newly created content defaulting to the bottom of the page).

As Ultra is much more fluid than Blackboard original, your approach to content organisation is essential to help students navigate the module. Make sure that you use the preview features so that you can get an idea of how the content looks to students:

Participant Preview button

It might be that you want to discuss content organisation with colleagues to see if there’s departmental approach that you want to take.

We will be using these practice organisations for training purposes over the coming months. Keep an eye on our blog and webpages for additional information as further guidance is produced.

We’ll be blogging additional tasks over the coming months for you to try in your Ultra practice course. In our next blogpost of this nature, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Grade Book, Assignments, Turnitin, and Blackboard tests.

If you’ve got any questions about the move to Blackboard Ultra, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

Blackboard Ultra Course Template Confirmed

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit has been working to confirm the templates that will be used in new Ultra courses.

Unlike previous years, there will no longer be departmental templates. Following the decision by Academic Enhancement Committee and consultation with Associate Deans of Welsh-Medium Academic Provision, 3 templates have been created for Ultra:

  • Welsh template
  • English template
  • Bilingual template

The template that your course will have is determined on the language of delivery for the module recorded in AStRA.

Courses with language delivery of 100 Welsh will be created with a Welsh template. Courses with NULL or 0 will have an English template. If the score is between 1 and 99, a bilingual template will be used. Unlike Blackboard Original Menus, the course templates can be edited by instructors.

The course content template is comprised of 3 folders:

  • Gwybodaeth am y Modiwl / Module Information
  • Asesu ac Adborth / Assessment and Feedback
  • Arholwyr Allanol / External Examiners (hidden)

An image of the bilingual template is below:


The next stage in our Ultra Project is to create practice organisations for all staff. These organisations will be a space where you can look at Ultra functionality and copy course content from existing modules. We will also be making use of these practice organisations in our staff training programme that will be communicated with you over the coming months.

If you have any questions about the Ultra project, then please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (