About Blackboard Learn Ultra (FAQ)

Blackboard Learn Ultra is a learning management system or LMS. It is an application for course material delivery, online teaching, learning, assessment and grading, community building, and knowledge sharing.

About Blackboard Learn Ultra at Drake University

Blackboard Learn Ultra is hosted, delivered, and managed using a modern cloud-computing infrastructure as the environment for our software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployment. Drake University is using the Continuous Delivery method which provides us with new capabilities and fixes known issues on a monthly basis. All system-wide updates are done automatically. Users experience the most recent version of Blackboard Learn Ultra without significant downtime or service interruptions.

Drake University is currently using the Ultra Course View. To learn more about the latest updates, please see the section below called Latest Updates or Release Notes.

Latest Updates or Release Notes

Blackboard SaaS Continuous Delivery publishes their latest release notes each month before the newest updates are pushed out to campus. Read about the latest updates from Blackboard.

Course Availability

Course availability is at the discretion of the course instructor. If students do not see their courses on Blackboard they should ask the instructor(s) if they are using Blackboard Learn Ultra this semester. 

Courses associated with Drake Online and Continuing Education (DOCE) will automatically open 7 days prior to the start date (known as Preview Week) and automatically close 21 days after the end date. Please reach out to your instructor or Drake Online staff for assistance with course availability dates for these courses.

Overview of Course Creations, Enrollments, Availability, and Archives

  • Blackboard Learn Ultra automatically receives information from Banner Self-Service, our course registration and student information system, about course creations and course enrollments in Blackboard Learn Ultra. The information has to be present in our student information system before it will pass to Blackboard Learn Ultra. The automated actions are scheduled regularly throughout the day. They happen daily between 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. 
    • Terms and Courses are created 180 days before the start date for the term.  
    • Instructors are added 180 days before the start date so instructors can begin to build content.
    • Students are added 60 days before the start date. To keep enrollments cleaner in courses, the approach of waiting until 60 days prior keeps many students who are still adjusting their registrations from being added to course rosters unnecessarily.
      • If you have a student who has registered for a class, but it has not yet reached one of the times listed above, the student will not show in Blackboard Learn Ultra as enrolled until the automation occurs at the prescribed times.
  • Instructors control Blackboard course availability for students. 
  • Courses are kept on the system for 2 years. The availability of the courses to students are at the discretion of the instructor. 
  • There are two different approaches to archived courses at the university. If you need access to any archived version of a course, please submit a Blackboard Learn Ultra Request and select the option to Restore an Archive
    • Blackboard auto-archives active courses for an 30 day period. The final automatic archive is retained on the system for the duration of the semester.
    • A single archived versions of all courses collected after the completion of a semester before courses are deleted from the system are kept for up to 5 years on a local server maintained by ITS. 

User Access

Student Access to Blackboard

  • New Students will have access to Blackboard when they meet the following:
    • officially register for courses and wait 24 hours for their account creation
    • have no holds on their accounts. 
  • Current Students will have access to login to Blackboard as long as they are registered for recent past, current, or upcoming courses. 

Instructor/Staff Access to Blackboard

  • Full-time staff and faculty will have access to Blackboard when they meet the following:
    • Updated and active employee account with HR; and,
    • One or all of the following:
      • It is within 180 days of the start of a course and you are listed as the instructor of record in Banner Self-Service.
      • You are enrolled in any institutional training offered from Drake University via Blackboard Learn.
  • Quick Hire, Visiting Scholar, or Early Access before Official Hire
    • Work with your department and HR to gather a background check and be added to a service group in Banner that provides both a Drake ID and Blackboard access. This takes up to 2 weeks to complete the background check and gain access to the system; and, 
    • Once your Drake ID exists, Users can be added to Banner Self-Service in an official role for a course or via a request asked of the LMS Administrator to assist with enrollments in Blackboard courses. For the latter, submit a Blackboard Learn Ultra Request and select the "Add User" option.
  • Community Engagement Volunteers

Support and Training



Blackboard Learn Ultra App

There is single app that supports both students and instructors to work remotely to meet their course expectations. 

Blackboard App

Bb Student logo

Students can access grades, course content, and more - right from the Blackboard app on your phone. Instructors and those in teaching roles are able to manage courses, mark assignments, communicate with learners and quickly complete administrative tasks. Find out more about the BB App Features.

Install the app available today on iOS or Android.


iTunes Google Play 

Blackboard's mobile solution helps students and instructors stay informed, up-to-date and connected. 

With the Blackboard app,

  • Students can:
    • Quickly view updates to your courses and content
    • Take assignments and tests
    • View grades for courses, assignments and tests
  • Instructors can: 
    • Build and preview course content and assessments 
    • Complete grading tasks
    • Send course announcements 
    • Create discussion boards threads and reply to comments

NOTE: The Blackboard app functions as a collaborative tool between our app software and your institution's Blackboard Learn Ultra server. Access is enabled by Drake University.

Designing Mobile Friendly Courses

As an instructor, it is important to build mobile friendly courses. Find out more about mobile friendly instructional design using Blackboard Learn Ultra

Blackboard Alexa Skill for Students

With Blackboard Alexa Skill, you can use an Alexa device to find out what's going on in your courses. 

You can ask Alexa what homework and assignments are due.

  • Alexa, what do I have due tomorrow?
  • Alexa, do I have anything due this week?
  • Alexa, do I have anything due next week?
  • Alexa, do I have any homework?
  • Alexa, what do I have due on [day]?
    • Alexa, what do I have due on Friday?
  • Alexa, do I have any homework in [course name]?
    • Alexa, do I have any homework in Economics?

Alexa can give you basic information that includes assignment name, type, due date, and course name.

Find out more about the Blackboard Alexa Skill for Students. NOTE: Alexa devices cannot be used on the campus DUEntertainment network.

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Article ID: 65060
Wed 10/10/18 4:17 PM
Wed 5/15/24 3:03 PM