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Ultra Base Navigation for Staff


In August of 2022, Blackboard Learn will begin to use the Ultra Base Navigation (UBN). This will update the appearance of Blackboard Learn and is a stepping stone towards - a move to - Blackboard Learn Ultra. It does not significantly change module areas, module navigation, tools or workflows - all of which will continue to work as before. There will be some - small - design changes to improve the usability and responsiveness of the system, particularly on mobile devices.

This video explains the changes and how they fit in to a wider ambition to upgrade to the full Blackboard Ultra experience by Summer 2023.

Table of contents

What is the Blackboard Learn Ultra Base Navigation?

Ultra Base Navigation is an update to the layout and appearance of Blackboard Learn, designed to improve the virtual learning environment’s accessibility and mobility. 

Ultra Base Navigation benefits academic staff in the following ways

  • Modern, intuitive experience.
  • Responsive layout for mobile devices.
  • The new activity stream and aggregated calendar helps you to better manage your time. The aggregated courses calendar can be linked to an external calendar tool using an .ics file.
  • Actionable information about your students and modules are available immediately when you login.
  • Quick access to important information by opening modules and tools in layers, reducing the number of clicks needed to take an action.

What’s new?

The Navigation Panel

Instead of displaying tabs across the top of Blackboard Learn, there is now a persistent left-hand navigation menu that provides you with access to your modules (and other Blackboard areas) and course tools:

Note: You can longer use the Personalise Page feature to customise the course menu colour.


The Ultra Base Navigation will open module contents and tools in stacked layers to reduce the number of steps to move between courses and tasks.

In the example shown below, the contents of the 'BSc (Hons) Diagnostic Radiography & Imaging' programme support area has been opened in a layer above the persistent navigation menu layer (the persistent navigation menu is highlighted with the red line in the image below):

Selecting the close icon:

Will close the content layer and return you to the persistent navigation menu layer .

The animated image (below) also demonstrates the use of layers:

Note: The purple X, used to close the overlay, is in a similar location to the button used to add items to the left hand navigation - in our current version of Blackboard Learn. It can be frustrating to select the close button by mistake, so it may be helpful to know where the new icon to add navigation elements can be found. The new icon is highlighted below:

Personal Profile

The new profile page allows you to upload a photograph, clarify the pronunciation of your name through phonetic spelling and edit your Global Notification Settings (the e-mails and updates you receive from Blackboard Learn).

To access your profile:

  1. Select the profile button (shown below):

  2. This will open the Profile page which contains your contact details:

Activity Stream

The Activity Stream is the default landing page when you first login to Blackboard Learn. The Activity Stream will notify you of relevant information from across your modules, related to your role. As an Instructor in a module you will see announcements, notifications and some new features related to how your students are engaging with your module areas. Upcoming events from your personal Blackboard Learn calendar will also be displayed.

Note: For important notifications and communications, it is advisable to continue to check your staff email and Blackboard Learn modules.

To access your activity stream:

  1. Select the Activity Stream button (shown below):

  2. The Activity Stream page will open, in the example below you can see that Blackboard has identified some students in specific modules who are showing online engagement that is lower than their peers.

Monitoring students in the Activity Stream

A new feature, for instructors, is the identification of students who show patterns of engagement that may need further investigation. These students will be identified in the Activity Stream with a text link stating how many students are falling behind.

On clicking the link you will see a list of the students identified as 'falling behind' on a chart showing Marks and Course Activity. 

Software is unable to understand a complete picture of a student’s learning experience and there are limitations with any approach that only uses accessible digital data. 


The Courses page helps you organise and personalise your courses list. Use it to access the modules or programme support areas you have been enrolled on.

To access the courses list:

  1. Select the Courses button (shown below):

  2. The Courses list will open:

Courses Tile/List View

Within the Courses tool, you can view your modules in tile or list view, using the view toggle button (highlighted in red in the image below):

List View

To see your modules displayed in list view:

  1. Toggle the course list view button:

  2. The modules will then appear in list view:

Tile View

To see your modules in tile view:

  1. Toggle the tile button:

  2. The modules will then appear in tile view:

Finding your courses

Your modules and programme support areas will be listed under Current Courses. You can use the Current Courses drop-down list to show upcoming courses:

If you are teaching large number of modules, the Search your courses box is useful for filtering your Current Courses list:

Favourite Modules

If there are modules you access more often than others, they can be added to your Favourites. Making a module a favourite will ‘pin’ it to the top of your Courses list.

To mark a module as a favourite:

  1. Select the star icon next to the module title (highlighted in red in the image below):

  2. The star icon will change colour (to purple) to indicate that the module is a favourite and the module will be pinned to the top of the Courses list in the Favourites section (see image below):

Hidden/Private Modules

Any modules shown in the Courses list as Private are unavailable to students but will be accessible to you.


The Organisations section is not currently used and can be ignored for now.


The Calendar page aggreagtes teaching events and deadlines from all your courses in one place. You can change between day and month view using the toggle button:

To access the Calendar:

  1. Select the Calendar button (shown below):

  2. The Calendar view will open:


The Messages tool can be used to send messages to individuals, multiple people, or an entire cohort - within the modules you have access to. Messages only exist within Blackboard Learn; they are not sent to e-mail accounts and can only be accessed via the Messages tool.

To access Messages:

  1. Select the Messages button (shown below):

  2. The Messages page will open:

  3. If you have any new messages, it will be indicated by a red circle next to the Messages icon. For Example: