New and Improved Features in Blackboard Ultra – Oct 2023 Update

Here are the highlights of this month’s new and improved features in Blackboard Ultra. For more details, please follow the links below:

SafeAssign Direct Submit

The SafeAssign Direct Submit tool allows instructors to check for plagiarism using the SafeAssign tool in the Books & Tools section. Simply Upload or Copy/Paste the document through the SafeAssign tool to generate an Originality Report or to add it to the institutional database. Instructors can view the status of the submission in the Direct Submit page.

  • Maximum supported file size is 10 MB
  • Supported file types are .zip, .doc, .docx, .docm, .ppt, .pptx, .odt, .txt, .pdf, .rtf, and .html.
  • Copy/Paste option: There is an option to enter a title for the submission and paste the text.

Instructors can organize the table entries by: Item Name (alphabetical order), Matching Score (from highest to lowest or vice versa) and Submission Date (from newest to oldest).

Delegated grading distribution by group membership

Instructors can assign graders to groups of students with the new Delegated Grading option. This new option allows instructors to easily distribute the grading workload for an assessment to multiple graders, which is a common practice in large classes.

It can be used with all group types. However, this first release of Delegated Grading only supports assignment submissions from individual students.

At least one Group Set complete with Groups must be present in the course before using the Delegated Grading option. After selecting the Delegated Grading option from the assessment setting panel, click “assign graders” to select the appropriate Group Set. Instructors can assign one or more graders to each group in the group set. Graders assigned to a group of students will only see submissions for those students on the assignment’s submission page.

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

In the past, instructors had to manually enter a value for the partial credit percentage for each option in multiple choice questions with multiple answers. This new feature auto-distributes partial credit across correct answers to improve grading efficiency and save instructors’ time. The values are editable for further customization.

Sorting controls for manually added gradable Items

Sorting controls in the Gradebook help instructors quickly organize information. Instructors can now use sorting controls on the grades page for manually created items. The controls can sort Student Names, Grades, Feedback, and Post Status in ascending or descending order.

Please note that instructors can only sort one column at a time. Sorting another column will reorder the items according to the new column.

Last access course alert default set to 15 days

The default value for “Number of days a student is inactive” is now set to 15 days. The previous default of 5 days was considered too short to trigger an alert. The frequency of access to Ultra courses depends on factors such as workload or class meeting recurrence. As before, instructors can adjust or remove course alerts as needed.

Student Activity report for Assessments enhancements for small devices and the Mobile app

Enhancements have been made to the Student Activity report for Assessments on small screens, enabling instructors to view a student’s Name, Grade, Late Submission Indicator, Date Opened, Date Started, and Attempts. This allows instructors with busy schedules to quickly access the report from a variety of devices.

Instructors can also download the report in CSV format. However, due to space constraints, the activity timeline chart is not available on small devices. Additionally, the “Time to open” metric has been removed from the Student Activity report based on user feedback.

The full list of October updates is available on the Blackboard Help Center website.

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