Blackboard Ultra Pilot

The New Blackboard Pilot at The University of Illinois at Chicago

In preparation for the May 2019 upgrade of Blackboard Learn, ACCC- LTS has been conducting a software pilot to test this new system. Phase 1 concluded on November 30th with over 50 participants.

One of the features that participants tested was the new home page navigation. This new page now includes links to an Activity Stream that includes up-to-date information about your courses as well as a new My Courses link that lets you sort courses more efficiently. There is also a new global gradebook that gives a birds eye view of what has been submitted and what needs grading in all your courses.

This chart explores the new features:

Blackboard Ultra Chart

The results from a survey asking participants to rate the usability of these features found that Activity Stream, Courses View, and Calendar were all very easy to use. The average score for Grades and Messages was lower as it appears participants were unfamiliar with these types of tools and couldn't quickly grasp the purpose or convenience.

Overall, though, most participants found that their courses functioned as expected when using the Original view, and the new home page navigation did not impact that use.

Participants also tested courses in the new Ultra View that is now available.The Ultra Course View provides a simplified set of options with a lighter less complicated workflow, as opposed to the Original View that uses the traditional Blackboard features and workflow.

While not directly surveyed, anecdotal information about the Ultra view resulted in conflicting views, ranging from dislike to great enthusiasm.

Phase 2 of the pilot will call for instructors to teach a live course using the pilot system. It is expected that at least 5 courses will be run using the Ultra View and another 5 in the Original View. Altogether there should be about 15 instructors and staff participating, representing the Colleges of Public Health, Nursing, Medicine, LAS and Applied Health Sciences. Call for participants has closed.

Here are the Phase 2 details

  • Dates: January 7, 2019 to May 10, 2019 (Spring 2019 semester)
  • Commitment: Regular course commitment plus training as needed
  • Support provided: An instructional designer from ACCC-LTS will work closely with faculty for the duration of the semester.
  • ​GOALS
    • Become familiarized with the new system
    • Run a live course on the pilot system.

Learn more about the new Blackboard:

You are welcome to preview and test the new Blackboard in our test environment prior to the May 2019 launch by logging in here: You can also  import your current courses into the Blackboard test environment by emailing with a request to transfer a specific course or set of courses from the current system into the test version.

May 2019 Blackboard Upgrade Scheduled Downtime:

Please note that Blackboard will be unavailable from Wednesday, May 15 at 10PM  to Sunday, May 19, in order to perform this upgrade.

For questions or comments, please contact ACCC-LTS at

Last updated: 

December 21, 2018