Blackboard, Fairfield University’s bridge between professors and students, is getting a new look. The new update is called Ultra Based Navigation, and promises to provide a sleeker and more intuitive interface. 

Blackboard is an online resource site that allows professors and students to interact outside of the classroom. For example, professors can use Blackboard to post readings or online homework for students to complete, as well as announcements regarding the course or extracurricular events. Students can also use Blackboard to contact their professors, engage with their classmates in discussion forums and check their grades. Blackboard, which exists as both a website and a phone application, is an important tool for students to stay engaged in their courses outside of the classroom. 

“Personally, I find Blackboard really useful,” wrote Katerina Valente ‘21. “It’s a great tool that centralizes the online work for all my classes. As a PLG leader for the Biology department, I used it to post study materials for my students, which they found beneficial.” Blackboard is equally important for professors as well. 

“I use Blackboard for nearly everything because it is a way to create a classroom space out of the classroom for low stakes writing assignments, streaming films as homework, sharing open access articles and turning in work,” said Professor Michelle Farrell PhD via email. “It’s a way to use technology to move out of our emails and create a class archive. As you can tell I’m a huge fan!”

The Ultra Based Navigation promises to make Blackboard even easier to navigate for students. With the new update, “you have access to core features in the list where your name appears,” according to Blackboard’s website. “You can easily return to the list from wherever you are—even if you’re in a course. The list peeks from behind the other layers you have open. The activity stream displays all the action in all your courses.” 

Additionally, all tabs for Blackboard will show a “Global View,” meaning that all information will be shown at once and organized by courses. For example, when a student clicks on the grades tab, all of their graded assignments will appear, organized by course, instead of a list of courses that have to be viewed individually. Overall, the update is an attempt to give students a more holistic view of their academics and help to bring all of their courses together. The real test will come in the Fall when students will be using this interface for their courses. 

“I didn’t know that Fairfield’s Blackboard was changing,” said Valente, “but I hope it is just as user-friendly as the previous version!”

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