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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Activity Stream – the benefits and opportunities the activity stream offers in Ultra Base Navigation

The Activity Stream is a completely new feature in Blackboard Learn which is present in the Ultra Base Navigation (UBN) menu and accessible at any time. In essence, it brings together the most recent information across all your courses in a single location.

One aspect of Blackboard Learn that has frustrated users in the past is that it only allowed for a fairly siloed course-by-course experience, with very little linkage or easy navigation between courses. In many ways, UBN turns this around completely and now puts having an easy overview of all relevant information at the core of the user experience. This typifies the new approach within Learn Ultra more generally, which seeks to provide a more integrated and fluid VLE experience.

The activity stream is perhaps the best example of this new approach. If we were to compare it to existing online experiences, you could describe it like that of a Twitter feed or Facebook wall, in that it is a dynamic and provides an up-to-the minute overview of selected activity.

Not only can you now see what’s new in all your courses but as the activity stream has active links, you are able to jump directly into the right place to complete the task at hand. You no longer have to dig through all your courses to search for upcoming assessment deadlines, find new course announcements, or stumble on new course engagements.

Information in the activity stream is populated from a variety of sources but you control the type of content you want to see by toggling this on or off as it suits you. In the same way as you choose who to follow or connect with on social media, you can control the types of information included within your activity stream. The activity stream could contain course announcements and assessment deadlines.

Staff can choose to follow latest posts on graded discussions as they happen or view how many submissions are ready to grade. What’s more, new submissions can be accessed directly from the stream.

Whether you’re a student or a staff member, you can also choose to receive reminders about personal events and meetings. These choices can be modified at any point but can also be filtered if you, for example, just want to view upcoming assignments. The activity stream automatically prioritises the most important information for your day whilst allowing you to view other less pressing content.

Activity stream items are grouped into four categories to make the list easier to scan:


Important: Students see overdue assignments, tests and marked discussions that need immediate attention.

Upcoming: View your top five events that will happen in the next seven days.

Today: See everything happening and due in the next 24 hours.

Recent: If you haven’t checked in for a bit, you can view items from the last seven days.

In summary, the activity stream has the potential to change the way users now interact with Learn, making it a more simplified and integrated VLE experience.


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