June 28, 2023

Migrating Courses from Blackboard Learn to Blackboard Learn Ultra: Unlocking the Next-Gen LMS

With hundreds of institutions now using Blackboard Learn Ultra, and almost one million courses being taught leveraging this market-leading learning management system (LMS), adoption of Blackboard Learn Ultra has never been higher—and it is easy to understand why. Blackboard Learn Ultra was created in collaboration with the education community, and that community continues to inform our product development roadmap. In 2023, we’ve picked up the pace of development and have launched more than 100 features in just six months' time, with 75 of these features born from the Anthology Idea Exchange, where clients can propose, discuss, and vote on the features they would most like to see in this next-generation LMS.

Transitioning to Blackboard Learn Ultra unlocks a powerful suite of tools and features for instructors and students, and in-product feedback has shown that both instructors and students consistently prefer Learn Ultra over Learn Original*. The team at Anthology has been working to help institutions realize the full potential of Learn Ultra, and as part of this, we have recently launched the Bulk Course Conversion tool to help institutions with the course migration process. 

This article delves into the many different approaches an institution can take to course migration depending on their specific needs and strategic imperatives. The different approaches detailed below each have pros and cons, and while every institution is different, the team at Anthology can help guide you on which approach is best for you and how to manage this aspect of upgrading to Learn Ultra as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Build from Scratch

One approach to course conversion involves institutions manually transferring content from Learn Original into Learn Ultra. This method requires instructors to recreate course materials including lecture notes, articles, assignments, quizzes, multimedia elements, and more, all within the new Learn Ultra experience. 

While this process is time-consuming and can be labor-intensive, particularly for large institutions with a vast number of courses to convert, manually converting courses provides faculty and instructional designers with a way to “learn by doing” within the LMS, helping drive both adoption of and familiarity with the platform. 

Institutions taking this approach should carefully assess their strategic imperatives in upgrading or moving to Blackboard Learn Ultra, as well as their available resources, instructional design expertise, faculty support, and the time required for course redevelopment.

Reuse and Rebuild

We know that instructors spend hours and hours building their courses and often don’t have the time or resources required to completely recreate them in an upgraded LMS. The Copy function within Learn Ultra allows instructors to copy various items from Learn Original into Learn Ultra either as a whole or selectively, based on what content the instructor wishes to maintain in the upgraded LMS. This approach is ideal for organizations wishing to streamline the course conversion process while still extending flexibility to instructors to review and optimize their materials before making them available for teaching and learning.

Another benefit of this approach is it gives instructors and instructional designers a sandbox environment to familiarize themselves with the new course experience, and therefore drives adoption as they explore the additional features and functionality available in the Learn Ultra course view.

To further support this and other course migration processes, Anthology can provide Course Optimization services to ensure courses are primed to take full advantage of the Learn Ultra experience. While content can be easily copied and migrated into Learn Ultra, the Instructional Design experts from Anthology can work with institutions to determine course structure and content placement and develop course templates designed to fully maximize the capabilities of our cutting-edge LMS.

Bulk Conversion (Native)

For institutions aiming to scale quickly and convert hundreds or thousands of courses, the Bulk Conversion tool is an invaluable time-saver. 

This native and free tool within Blackboard Learn Ultra enables rapid course conversion without significant manual involvement from staff or support services. Administrators simply select the courses to migrate, and the conversion process occurs seamlessly in the background of the LMS. The Bulk Conversion tool also extends the option to retain a copy of the original course for reference by faculty if needed. 

Unlike other approaches that may require months of migration work, this method typically takes only minutes to hours, depending on the number and size of courses involved. Once converted, faculty and instructional designers can optimize and update the courses to suit their needs before making them available for teaching and learning.

Bulk Conversion (Service Partner, K16 Solutions)

For institutions wishing to make considerable changes to their courses but lacking the time or resources to tackle the migration themselves, K16 Solutions is a service partner Anthology works with to provide an automated course conversion experience. In addition to supporting clients who come to Blackboard Learn Ultra from other LMS platforms, K16 Solutions collaborates with clients in an iterative process, offering a variety of custom transformation choices. 

As this is a service and not a tool offered natively within the LMS, there are additional costs associated with this approach. While each client's course conversion project has its own unique requirements, these engagements can take a minimum of 120 days to complete. The Anthology Professional Services and K16 teams work with you to ensure all parties are aligned on the final outputs and help manage the process from beginning to end.

By considering these different transition options, or a combination of these approaches, institutions can effectively migrate to Blackboard Learn Ultra while minimizing disruptions and maximizing the benefits of this advanced LMS. 

Much like choosing the best LMS for your institution, the ideal approach begins with thoughtful planning and partnership with your technology partner. To get started on your institution's transition to Blackboard Learn Ultra, consult with your customer experience manager, who can provide personalized recommendations and facilitate a smooth transition to our award-winning LMS.