Blackboard will have intermittent downtimes Thursday, Nov. 25 (Thanksgiving Day). The system is being upgraded to improve its performance. Users should avoid using Blackboard during this time. For more information, contact

teaching today be in the know each month.

The November issue of Teaching Today features a guest column from interim provost, Shirley Lefever. The issue also provides updates about the transition to Ultra Course Format.

To subscribe to Teaching Today, send a request to the Office of Instructional Resources at

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Now is the time for instructors to consider converting one Blackboard course to the Ultra Course format for spring 2022. Converting a course now gives instructors time to learn the format before all courses convert to this format in spring 2023. The Ultra Course format has both design, layout and grading interface differences from the past versions Blackboard.

The Office of Instructional Resources (OIR) knows this conversion is a big ask for instructors. OIR is here to help and support instructors throughout the process, and they have compiled many of their support materials on a single webpage to help instructors get started.

The Office of Instructional Resources has developed a curriculum packet for faculty who want to add more information about freedom of speech and expression to their fall or spring courses. The packet offers information representing multiple points of view as well as an optional short quiz faculty can provide to students for extra credit.

For more information or help setting up the freedom of speech and expression packet in your Blackboard class, please contact the Office of Instructional Resources at

Instructors of all ranks have been asked to learn new educational technologies and methods quickly this past year. The Media Resources Center (MRC) would like your feedback about how effective you have found our service, training, and technology by taking part in a short survey.

The data you provide will be valuable as the MRC works to improve the services they provide to its customers. Your response and ideas will help in our effort to reach our Strategic Enrollment Managements and Kansas Board of Regent priorities and to provide an excellent learning experience for our students.

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As you know, Wichita State is in the process of becoming a full Blackboard Ultra school. At this time, all Blackboard users are in the Ultra Navigation area when they log in to Blackboard, and approximately 100 instructors are also offering their courses in Blackboard Ultra Course format.

To assist all instructors in the move to Ultra courses, WSU has been working with a vendor to provide an Ultra version of most of your previously offered courses. Beginning Sept. 20, most instructors will receive an Ultra course version copy of their current and previous courses going back about two years. Here is what you need to know:

  • Most courses on the Blackboard server have been copied and the copy has converted to an Ultra version. This Ultra version of the course can be found in the Development/Sandbox Course Shells area in Blackboard and can be identified as a copy by the U at the end of the course name.
  • These Ultra version courses are copies of the original courses and the original courses also still exist. The original versions can be found under their associated semester in Blackboard.
  • Instructors are not required to use these new Ultra course version courses. This version is provided as a gift and is intended to help instructors as they develop their courses in Ultra. Instructors are welcome to use these new versions in the future, but it is not required.
  • Eventually, all courses at WSU will need to be in the Ultra course format. The Office of Instructional Resources recommends that instructors work in only one Ultra course format initially to get used to the new tools and then adopt the Ultra course format for the rest of their courses over time.

All courses at WSU must be in the Ultra Course format by the spring 2023 pre-session.

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Need help with Ultra? The Office of Instructional Resources (OIR) offers a weekly come-and-go faculty lab 1-3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays via Zoom. If you have questions about the Ultra environment or Ultra courses, you are welcome to come to this lab.

To address more in-depth Ultra questions, OIR offers a monthly “Please Help Me With Ultra!” lab 3-4 p.m. on the last Wednesday of each month.

Blackboard has also provided the university with an Ultra technical expert, who will offer a monthly Ultra lab. The labs are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Sept. 22
  • Oct. 20
  • Nov.19
  • Dec.15
Teaching Today: Be in the know every month.

The September issue of Teaching Today features a guest column from Dr. Carolyn Shaw, associate vice president for strategic enrollment management, who shares several easy ways to reach students to make them feel more welcome in class. The issue also provides teachers with ideas about how to manage in-person class discussions when everyone is wearing a mask.

To subscribe to Teaching Today, send a request to

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Until further notice, students and faculty should not rely on Blackboard’s calendar integration. The Office of Instructional Resources will push out any updates as they become available.

Recently, the Blackboard calendar tool has experienced problems when integrated with external calendars such as Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar. This interrupts the transfer of assigned items to flow from Blackboard to these integrated calendars.

This is a nationwide issue that is not limited to the Wichita State campus. For more information, contact

Need help with Ultra? There is another "Please Help Me With Ultra!" workshop 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Sept. 9 via Zoom.

Need help with Ultra? There is another “Please Help Me With Ultra!” workshop 10:30 a.m. to noon Thursday, Sept. 9 via Zoom. The class is hosted by Mary Morriss Media Resources Center Learning Management System specialist and Dr. Freh Wuhib, MRC Science, Technology, Engineering and Math senior instructional designer.