When DoIT announced the phased rollout of Blackboard (Bb) Ultra on April 4 of this year, we did so based on the number of courses typically using Bb in each college as of Spring 2019, starting with least to greatest, to afford more time to colleges using Bb the most. To date, 270 courses have moved to Bb Ultra in Fall 2019, nearly doubling the 147 who did so in Spring 2019.
However, of the 270 Fall 2019 Ultra courses, 61% are from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS), which was not expected, followed by 11% from the College of Engineering & Information Technology (CoEIT), and 3% from CNMS. The Division of Professional Studies (DPS), Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs (DUAA), Erickson School and Social Work collectively represent 65 courses (24.5%), which was DoIT’s priority focus for Fall 2019.Interestingly, while CNMS typically has fewer courses than any other college each term, average student use of Bb (e.g., logins, interactions, duration, etc.) is typically much higher than any other college.* DoIT has determined this is due to relatively more CNMS courses using assessments, which research by UMBC and others has shown is related to higher student use of a learning management system (LMS) generally.
As such, given how the campus has typically used Blackboard in the past -- and particularly in CNMS -- DoIT decided to focus more on courses that suggest they are ready for Ultra next term. We think that means some high-enrollment courses making heavy use of groups and assessments might be better suited staying with the traditional Blackboard classic for another term. Currently, there are relatively fewer such courses in CoEIT than CNMS, so DoIT has adjusted its Ultra support approach accordingly.
At the same time, we recognize some courses in any college may have similar usage profiles, which is why DoIT will also be notifying any instructors of such courses of our findings and recommendation prior to Winter & Spring 2020 courses being created after Thanksgiving.
Finally, we have shared our findings & recommendations with Blackboard’s Ultra Development team, which was here on campus last spring to meet with UMBC’s Ultra faculty and ambassadors, and continues to monitor UMBC’s experience as an early adopter and valued client institution. We are also conducting a survey of students in current Fall 2019 Bb Ultra courses (results to be shared at the end of the term).