Does an 'Ultra Course' offer the same features as an 'Original Course'?

An 'Ultra Course' provides several enhancements and new features that are not available in an 'Original Course'. This includes the ability to add stimulus material to test questions, progress tracking, and 'Conversations' that can be enabled for each content item, along with inline Discussions. Certain features have been revamped to increase accessibility and improve workflows. However, please note that some features (e.g. Wikis and Glossary) have been discontinued. Other features, like Blogs, are planned for future vendor releases.  

Will there be an outage?

No. Courses will be individually converted to an Ultra Course.Will there be a lot of work involved in updating my course from Original to Ultra?

Courses will be converted to Ultra and 'tidied up' by the eLearning team. The effort required to update a course by teaching staff for the new semester will be minimal (i.e. comparable to what staff have previously experienced). However, teaching staff will need to familiarise themselves with the new modern interface and content creation features. Once staff are familiar, we anticipate even less time required to update course content moving forward due to more efficient workflows.

What support will be available during the POC?

The following services will be available to teaching staff as part of the Proof of Concept: 

  • dedicated Microsoft Teams channel to ask questions and share insights about functionality
  • email support for questions and to report any issues
  • consultation booking system dedicated to POC courses
  • urgent support + after hours.

What support will be available after the POC?

Standard eLearning services will be available for Ultra courses such as online workshops, in-person workshops, self-paced workshops, one-on-one eLearning Adviser consultations, and technical eLearning support.

What resources will be available for support staff?

  • a staff communications pack for schools and faculties to disseminate information through local channels 
  • a student communications pack for coordinators of proof of concept (POC) courses 
  • staff guides – a curated vendor list and UQ contextual guide 
  • student guides - UQ contextual guides 
  • Exemplar Ultra course - staff will be able to self-enrol as students 
  • 'Sandbox' Ultra courses – this will enable staff to explore an Ultra Course when requested. 

How was the project initiated?

The Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic) requested ITaLI develop a proposal to update UQ's Learning Management System (LMS) with the least amount of impact and maximum benefit, noting UQ's Online Learning Platform is currently highly regarded by students according to National QILT student experience surveys. The Ultra course activation proposal was approved by the Digital Learning Subcommittee on 6 June 2023 and the Digital Learning Program Management Steering Committee on 22 June 2023.

Will there be changes to existing UQ tools?

Core tools integrated into Learn.UQ (Blackboard) including Blackboard assignments, Blackboard Tests, and Grade Centre will be updated. All other UQ developed and third-party tools (i.e. Turnitin, H5P, Echo360, UQ Extend, Inspera, Buddycheck, Ed Discussion Board, Gradescope, Course Insights, RiPPLE and Learning Pathway) will remain unchanged.

Why can we not just switch on Ultra now for all courses?

For a successful rollout of Ultra to occur, a staged approach is required to target particular courses based on their level of readiness. The first 6 courses in the Proof of Concept (POC) will provide an opportunity to gather feedback on courses using only the core Blackboard tools and to test the transition process, communications, resources, and support required. The 50 courses POC will then provide a chance to gather feedback from courses that use a range of both UQ-developed and external LTI tools, as well as core Blackboard tools. After this point, faculties will be consulted about the deployment speed and approach with plans being released shortly after the 50 course POC has been completed.

Will there any implications for existing tools? 

Blackboard Assignments, Blackboards Tests, Grade Centre and content tools in Learn.UQ (Blackboard) will have enhanced functionality. All other UQ developed and external eLearning tools connected to Learn.UQ (Blackboard) may be accessible from a slightly different location, however there will be no changes to the tools themselves (i.e. Turnitin, Inspera, Ed Discussion Board and Learning Pathway).

Will all courses need to activate Ultra at the same time?

A course activation approach will be decided in consultation with Associate Deans (Academic). For instance, Ultra may be rolled out by year group, program, or another approach.  Individual courses can be converted to Ultra while other courses continue to use 'Original' course sites.

Why is testing required for tools that only connect to Ultra?

Testing is required on the connection between UQ developed and external eLearning tools and Blackboard Ultra to ensure everything is functioning correctly prior to the Summer Semester proof of concept.  

Will Ultra affect the transfer of grades from other eLearning tools into Grade Centre?

Once the connections for all UQ developed and external eLearning tools to Ultra have been tested, the transfer of grades from these tools to Grade Centre should all function the same as in “Original”. Grade Centre itself has enhanced functionality and a new interface in Ultra.

Why is UQ trialling Ultra instead of another LMS?

National student surveys show that UQ students already rate their online learning platform ahead of most local and interstate competitors, so Ultra represents a sensible low-cost and low-risk evolution providing a modern look and more efficient workflows without large disruptions to teaching staff. 

How do courses get converted to Ultra? 

Once Ultra has been enabled at a course level the course can be previewed in Ultra and then permanently converted to an Ultra course.

How do I order a sandbox course so I can test Ultra before I convert my course?

Ultra Course sandboxes are now available for staff to explore Blackboard’s most recent look and functionality for course sites. To request a sandbox course, email with the subject line Ultra Course sandbox

Can previous versions of Learn.UQ (Blackboard) courses be transferred over?

Yes, courses can be copied as normal and then converted to Ultra, although a minor tidy up will be required.

Will I be able to copy my Blackboard Test questions across to my Ultra course?

Most question types will be available in Ultra courses, but some types will be discontinued (File Response, Jumbled Sentence, Opinion Scale/Likert, Ordering, Quiz Bowl). An enabling project may be required to convert question types that are no longer available to a different format.  

How will Allocate+ and Course Profiles integrate? 

There will be no changes to how Allocate+ integrates with Ultra and the Course Profile link will still be available, just accessible from a different location in the course.

Will all courses need to convert to Ultra at the same time?

No, courses will be converted in stages starting with a 6 courses Proof of Concept (POC) followed by a 50 courses POC. After this point, faculties will be consulted about the deployment speed, timing and approach with plans being released shortly after the 50 course POC has been completed.

What impact is this going to have on delivery of course material?

All course material can either be copied over from a previous semester or created from scratch within a blank Ultra course copy.

What if I have a Learn.UQ Exam? Will they be transitioned to Ultra Courses?

All Learn.UQ (Blackboard) exams will be transitioned to Ultra in the same semester. The timing of this transition will be determined through consultation with schools and faculties.  

What will Course Coordinators be required to do for the Summer Semester POC?

  • briefing meeting
  • course site consultation / content tools training
  • 1 – 2 Consultations to set up assessment tasks and Grade Centre
  • check-ins after each new Blackboard assessment item
  • Ultra courses evaluation interview + survey.

What will Course Coordinators be required to do for the Semester 1, 2024 POC?

  • briefing meeting
  • course site consultation
  • workshop attendance and feedback
  • 1 - 2 Consultations to set up assessment tasks and Grade Centre
  • 2 x check-ins during semester
  • Ultra courses evaluation focus group + survey.

How many folder levels can I have in an Ultra course?

In Ultra courses you can have up to 3 levels (i.e. two folders plus a content level). This improves accessibility for students and limits the amounts of clicks for more simplified navigation. If your course has more than 3 levels when converting to an Ultra course, the content in folders greater than 3 levels deep will be moved to the level above. Staff will be consulted on how to adapt their site structure so that multiple folder levels are not necessary.

Why didn't UQ move to Ultra years ago?

While Ultra has been available for a number of years UQ has been careful to monitor the maturity of the product in order to gauge the optimal adoption time, based on balancing advantages against any potential disruption to teaching. Ultra was judged to be ready from 2023 onwards. 

Is Guest Access available for Ultra Courses?

No, until the proof of concept is accepted guest access will not be available. This capability can be added after the POC if required. 

If my course requires redesign or uplift, can I be part of the Proof of Concept?

There can be no course redesign or uplift during the proof of concept due to potential contamination with the Ultra evaluation process. The university decided to delay deeper collaboration with faculties until Semester 2, 2024 due to limited timeframes and resources. The project team will be providing high-touch support and will be contactable for all Ultra related issues throughout the proof of concept.

Will tutors need to undergo additional training?

Detailed guides are made available to tutors in support of the marking process. Minor changes to Blackboard Assignments, Journals, Tests and Gradebook, may affect the marking process, at about the same level of impact as regular tool updates. There are no changes to marking in tools external to Ultra (i.e. Turnitin), although the method of access may be slightly different. Course Coordinators can choose to book a 30-minute eLearning custom workshop to be presented during a pre-scheduled tutor marking or orientation meeting, or direct tutors to the online guides.

Do Ultra Course have text column functionality in Gradebook?

While there currently is no text column functionality in Ultra courses, the vendor (Anthology) has informed us that this functionality is due towards the end of 2024.

Are you able to Quick Enrol in Ultra courses?

Quick Enrol functionality is not currently available in Ultra courses, however we hope the vendor (Anthology) will implement this functionality in the future and encourage staff to vote for Quick enrol for Ultra courses on the Blackboard Ideas Exchange.

Can you add accommodations/exceptions for individual students in Gradebook?

Extra time (Accommodations)

Accommodations in Ultra courses are set for individual students and then apply to all timed assessment items within the course. Accommodations can include adjusting or overriding time limits. For more information, refer to the Accommodations for timed assessment guide.

The following table shows the additional time required as a percentage of an hour for accommodations.

Additional time requiredAdditional time as a percentage of an hour (rounded up to a whole number)
5 minutes per hour9%
10 minutes per hour17%
15 minutes per hour25%
20 minutes per hour34%
25 minutes per hour42%
30 minutes per hour50%

Due date extensions, time-zone adjustments or additional attempts (Exceptions)

Exceptions in Gradebook allow instructors to make a one-time change to assignment settings for an individual student, such as:

  • extending the due date for students with an approved extension
  • customising the 'Show on' or 'Hide after' date/time for students in different time-zones
  • allowing an extra attempt to account for personal circumstances

For more information, refer to the Grant Exceptions and Exemptions guide.