While we already underwent a major overhaul to Blackboard with our switch to SaaS hosting in late 2021 and early 2022, one of the biggest and most notable changes coming to Blackboard is the change from the Original Experience navigation to the Ultra Experience navigation. This new navigation interface is called Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation.

Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation is a more modern and responsive way to access all of your course content. It’s easier to use on mobile devices and offers improved accessibility both for faculty and students. Ultra’s centralized navigation system also provides a more streamlined way to view, edit, and interact with content, course sites, and students, saving time and ensuring that all of your important course information is always front and center. 

Read on to learn about some of the changes you’ll see in the Ultra Base Navigation, as well as some new features and functionality that you’ll be able to take advantage of as this change comes to Bb over the next year. 

What Is Ultra Base Navigation? 

At the most basic level, Ultra Base Navigation is just what it sounds like– a navigation system for using Blackboard. Ultra Base Navigation it differs from our current system in that it is a more modern, intuitive, and personalized Blackboard Learn user experience, characterized by simplified workflows and an accessible, fully responsive design—making it easier than ever to teach and learn from any device.

What New Features Are in Ultra Base Navigation? 

You’re already familiar with many of the features that will be integrated into Ultra Base Navigation but there are also some really great new additions that will make using Blackboard easier and more enjoyable.

  • Navigation Panel: The Ultra Base Navigation menu will replace the horizontal menu that you currently see in Blackboard Learn. The menu in Ultra Base Navigation is a vertical menu which, instead, resides on the left-hand side of the screen and will allow you to access all of your courses, grades, and activities in one centralized location. 
  • Activity Stream: One of the best new features of the Ultra Base Navigation is the Activity Stream. The Activity Stream shows you a holistic look of your courses, including due dates, grading, submissions, and other course activities. Even better, you can jump directly from any of the items shown in the activity stream to where you need to go to complete the action. 
  • Global Grades: Using the new global grades page in Ultra Base Navigation, you’ll be able to see a summary of grades for each course and what grades-related tasks you need to complete. Students will be able to use this page to see their recent assignments and overall grades in a course.  
  • Courses Page: On the new courses page, you’ll have some additional flexibility in how your courses are organized. You can set them to appear as tiles or a list and change things around depending on your needs and preferences for interacting with your courses. You can favorite courses, filter them and you will only ever see your active courses. A drop-down menu on the Courses page will allow you to view courses from previous and future terms.

Why Are We Changing? 

In short, because it’s better! Ultra Base Navigation is an upgrade to our current Blackboard system and will make it easier for both you and your students to use Blackboard.

Part of that is increased accessibility. Ultra Base Navigation is mobile friendly allowing students to utilize any device to access their course content and offers more accessibility features for students who need or want them.

Overall, we think you’ll find that Ultra is a more modern, streamlined, and user friendly system which will improve your overall experience of Blackboard.

How Will This Change Impact You? 

We’re hoping to make these changes as seamless as possible and we hope that you won’t notice anything at all while the actual site is being upgraded. We will do our best to minimize the impact of this change for our users, however Blackboard will look different when you log on for the Spring Term.

After the update, you will no longer be able to access Blackboard using the Original Experience with regard to the main navigation. Please note however, that your course sites will remain untouched. You do not have to make any changes to your Blackboard courses at this time to utilize Ultra Base Navigation. 

Throughout Spring 2023 we will be providing additional training and support for Blackboard and will be on hand to answer any of your questions as you start to navigate using the new menu. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. If you need help when we are not available, you can always use our Knowledge Base or Blackboard Help to assist you with your questions.

Overall, Ultra Base Navigation should be much more intuitive and user-friendly than our previous iteration of Blackboard, and we hope that the transition period will be relatively painless for most users. 

If you have any questions about the timeline, expectations, or anything else related to Ultra Base Navigation, please let us know at learningtech@cod.edu