Blackboard suggested WSU work with K16 to ease the transition into Ultra and help get its bespoke courses into the new format as close to ready-to-teach as possible.
WSU worked with K16 to handle the initial transition of about 30,000 sections—or two years’ worth of cours-es—to Ultra in just a few months.
The team identiﬁed courses that were 2GB and smaller for the initial migration, allowing WSU to apply some standardization, which improved course quality, explains Carolyn Speer, Director of the Oﬃce of Instructional Resources and an instructional designer.
Once K16 had transitioned the courses to Ultra, Jones and Speer shared them with instructors and gave them a choice: they could start with the migrated version or build their courses from scratch. Providing the option helped ensure that the transition didn’t feel forced. While the new versions weren’t perfect copies of the old courses, they were very close. “We weren’t just throw-ing them in the deep end—we were also giving them water wings,” Jones says.
An added beneﬁt of providing migrated courses to instructors: training. “It’s hard to learn brand new things without some sort of scaﬀold in your head,” Speer says. “So even if the instructors don’t want to use the courses we’ve created, they can imagine the courses in Ultra. We’ve given them someplace to start intellectually.”
Both instructors and students are pleased with the results. “I love the new UI,” says Jones. “It’s clean, smooth, user-friendly, consistent and mobile-friendly. Being able to swap the orientation of the grade book from student to assignment is useful, and really takes advantage of the environment.”
Speer, who also teaches online criminal justice and political science courses, says she enjoys being able to use both Learn Original and Learn Ultra formats. “I expected students to push back,” she said, “but we haven’t gotten a single complaint.”