Moving to SaaS and Ultra has greatly improved the student and faculty teaching experience and it has fully improved my team’s ability to support it.

Lisa Sawtell of Stetson University
Lisa Sawtell, M.Ed.
Director of Online Learning & Educational Technology
Stetson University

Reason for moving to the Ultra experience: 

Stetson's overarching vision is to offer a single, stable, best-in-class digital learning environment across all schools, campuses and curriculums. 

Stetson set out to find a learning management system that would enable the university to improve teaching and learning experiences, prepare for online growth, and become a leader in online learning innovation.

Transition timeline:

  • Winter 2016/2017 – Moved from Managed Hosting to SaaS, enabled the Ultra Base Navigation, and rolled out Collaborate Ultra
  • Summer 2018 – Blackboard's Help Desk Support is added to give all users access support anytime, anywhere, from any device

Perspective on Learn Ultra:

“When selecting a partner, we're looking for one that is going to be there for the long run. What we have achieved with Blackboard is a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership. In Blackboard, we have finally found a partner willing to listen.”

          - Jose Bernier, Ed.D., Associate Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer       

“The upgrade to the SaaS environment and the Ultra Base Navigation has allowed us to be very considerate of our faculty’s needs, as some were hesitant about the change. It worked out well because we were able to gradually introduce this to them in different steps.”

          - Dawn McCain, M.A., Academic Technology Specialist, Office of Online Learning and Educational Technology

“I will openly admit that I was a little resistant at first...I’m just so busy. But I was very pleasantly surprised by the Ultra experience.  I’ve been able to use it in multidimensional ways to enrich my teaching, but most importantly, to impact my students’ learning. I also find the new interface to be more learner-centric.”

          - Rajni Shankar-Brown, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice Education

“The Ultra experience has that modern, sleek, warm interface. I call it warm because my faculty members and students don’t shy away from it. It is so modernized. It looks like an app, so they’re not intimidated by it. They are ready to dive in and they will even explore on their own instead of rushing to pick up the phone for support or help.”

          - Dawn McCain, M.A., Academic Technology Specialist, Office of Online Learning and Educational Technology

“With the Ultra Base Navigation, there was almost no learning curve. I could tell it was different, but I found that it was easier to navigate and use the new menu structure.”

          - Stuart Michelson, Ph.D., Professor of  Finance and Department Chair of the School of Business Administration

Perspective on SaaS:

“It was the right time to move into a Software as a Service environment. It doesn’t tie us into hardware and it offers a good return on investment.”

          - Jose Bernier, Ed.D., Associate Vice President of IT and Chief Information Officer 

“The time was right to move to SaaS because we needed to use our resources more efficiently. Moving to SaaS puts the onus of keeping the system up and running on Blackboard. In these difficult and sometimes trying times, it is really about us using our resources in the most efficient and budgetary way. At the end of the day, it is a more stable system and it's less resource intensive.”

          - Lisa Sawtell, M.Ed., Director of Online Learning & Educational Technology


  • DeLand, Florida
  • 4,330 FTE
  • Blackboard client since 2000
  • Blackboard products: Learn, Collaborate, Help Desk Support, Connect