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 Table of Contents


What is Blackboard?

Blackboard Learn 9.1 is UAlbany's Learning Management System (LMS).  Blackboard (Bb) has many features which allow faculty to upload files and organize course content, communicate with students via announcements or email, and assign/grade assignments easily through the browser.  Students that have courses that use Bb are able to easily access course documents, contact the instructor or TA's, and check their course grades throughout the semester.  You can use Blackboard to help students fully engage with the course content and to build stronger class community.  At UAlbany, we have Blackboard courses that span the online spectrum: web enhanced to supplement face to face classes, blended which reduces class seat time with more online activities or fully online where students never have to come to campus.

Purpose and Permitted Use

Blackboard Learn (Courses) - The most common way Blackboard is used is to augment instruction and learning in Registrar-scheduled courses.  Beginning with summer 2013, a Blackboard course will be created for ALL course sections on the schedule of classes for each semester. A regular automated process facilitates course creation and class roster synchronization based on records in the PeopleSoft system. The process will begin according to the schedule below and will be run every four hours until the end of the applicable semesters. Instructors determine if their Bb course(s) will be available to students.

Blackboard Community (Organizations) - Blackboard's Community module can be used to host websites (called Organizations) to facilitate online interactions and knowledge sharing of the UAlbany community beyond the typical instructional purposes.  Organizations could support the activities of academic departments, academic advising, departmental teaching assistants, and academic support units as well as recognized student activities, service organizations, and clubs. To use Blackboard for such activities, submit a request form (student requests must designate a faculty/staff sponsor).

Note: Organizations are NOT created automatically, enrollment must be handled by the owner, and they are NOT backed up by ITS.

  • Request an Organization site: CLICK HERE ( NetID log in required )



Accounts and Access

Access to the Blackboard Learn system is governed by the University at Albany Identity and Access Management Policy and corresponding procedures. A Blackboard account is automatically created for everyone assigned a unique online identity and designated by the associated Albany ID and NetID.  The NetID and password are the electronic credentials that provide access to university IT resources, including Blackboard.  Access to Blackboard is enabled automatically at the time of enrollment or hire at UAlbany and remains active according to the UAlbany Computer Account Lifecycle


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Blackboard Course Creation, Access, Copy, and Retention

Course Creation

A Blackboard course is created automatically for ALL Registrar-scheduled and/or enrolled course sections for each semester.  A regular automated process facilitates course creation and enrollment roster synchronization based on semester schedule and enrollment records in the PeopleSoft system.  The process will begin according to the schedule below and will be run every four hours until the end of the current term.

Semester SIS Integration schedule:

Semester

SIS Integration Start

SIS Integration End

Summer

mid-March

End of classes

Fall

mid-March

End of finals

Winter

mid-October

End of classes

Spring

mid-October

End of finals

Start Dates Approximate

Start dates listed are approximate and based upon the expected deadline for semester schedule completion.

Daily SIS Integration Schedule:

SIS Integration is processed automatically every four hours beginning at approximately midnight.

Cross-Listed or Shared Resource Courses

Sections that are cross-listed or designated as shared resource by the academic department will be internally listed as a combined section in PeopleSoft.  Sections on the combined section list will be automatically merged as a single Blackboard course.  Instructors who wish to merge the enrollments of courses that are not already listed as a combined section in PeopleSoft can request this through MyUAlbany.

Course Availability

Blackboard courses are set to Unavailable by default.  The decision to use and open the Blackboard course to students rests entirely with the instructor.  So too does the responsibility for making the Blackboard course available to students.

Course instructors are able to access their Blackboard courses immediately upon creation - the availability setting does not affect instructor access.  Instructors are able to access their courses for as long as they are hosted on the Blackboard system (two years).

Instructors have control over course availability.  If an instructor does not wish to use Blackboard, no action is needed - students won't have access.  If an instructor wishes to use the Blackboard course, then the instructor needs to Make the Course Available.  Provided the instructor has made the course available, students are able to access their Blackboard courses beginning two weeks prior to first day of classes (known as the Go Live date).  Courses in use should be made available by the Go Live date. 

Students are able to access their available Blackboard courses until four weeks after the end of classes.

Course Copy/Import

Instructors who wish to copy or import course materials and learning activities from another Blackboard course, including a previous semester course, will use the Copy Course or Import Package processes available on the course Control Panel.  Using these processes, the instructor is able to copy/import an entire course or selected parts of a course as desired (enrollment should NOT be copied).

Course and Data Retention

Blackboard courses will remain on the system for two years after the semester in which they are offered (9 semesters, including the one in which the course was active).  The semesters include winter session, spring semester, summer sessions, and fall semester (4 semesters per year).  For example, a course offered in fall 2012 and hosted on Blackboard will be deleted from the system after the conclusion of the fall 2014 semester.

Blackboard courses created for course development purposes prior to the creation of the active term course (e.g., online/blended course development or for future semester courses) will remain on the system for two years after the semester in which they were created.  For example, a course created in Summer 2014 will be deleted from Blackboard during the Fall 2016 semester.

Blackboard courses will NOT be archived and stored centrally by ITS.  Instructors-of-record are responsible for retaining pertinent student and academic records according to the corresponding SUNY Records Retention and Disposition Schedules.  Options for doing so include downloading selected records/materials (such as the Grade Center data) and/or saving a complete Archive of the Blackboard course.  

Instructors may create a backup/archive of their course at any time to save for their records, but only the Blackboard system administrator is able to restore an Archive to include student interactions, submissions, and grades to the UAlbany Blackboard system.  A course Archive can be Imported to another Blackboard course.

Course Back Up Policy

ALERT

  • ONLY courses created through the PeopleSoft SIS Integration process are backed up by ITS according to the policy below.
  • This means only courses on the schedule of classes. 
  • All other types of Blackboard courses ARE NOT BACKED UP, including course development shells, training courses, testing courses, temporarily restored courses, and non-standard courses.
  • Organizations are NOT backed up.

Backups of individual courses are made by Information Technology Services on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the active term beginning at the start of SIS Integration (see above).   Courses are not backed up after the conclusion of their active term.  For example, courses created for spring 2017 will be backed up beginning from the date they are created (usually mid-October) until roughly when grades are due to the Registrar in May. 

Individual course backups are retained for 14 days.  

Schedule Changes Impact on Blackboard Course

ALERT about Course Cancellations

When a course is cancelled by the department and this status is updated in the schedule of classes by the Registrar, the existing associated Blackboard course will be automatically disabled and inaccessible to everyone, including the instructor. Re-enabling the course for the instructor to move/copy materials to a new shell is time consuming and will delay student productivity in their course work.

Prior to the cancellation of a course, the instructor should be given an opportunity to export the course so that it can be imported into a new Blackboard course, if necessary.


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Course Enrollment

Automated Enrollment

Enrollment rosters for Registrar-scheduled courses are managed and updated through a regular automated data feed from PeopleSoft.  This process ensures that the enrollment rosters for all Blackboard courses are synchronized with their corresponding Registrar-scheduled section as recorded in PeopleSoft.  Exceptions to the automated roster synchronization include Teaching Assistants and Secondary Instructors.  Individuals filling these roles can be enrolled in Blackboard by the Instructor-of-record following the guidelines and procedures for non-automated enrollment.

The automated enrollment process supersedes contradicting enrollment actions.  For example, if an Instructor enrolls a student who has officially been dropped from the course as recorded in PeopleSoft, the regular automated data integration process will remove that student from the course the next time it is run.

Students

PeopleSoft class rosters are synchronized with the Blackboard course according to the semester SIS Integration schedule noted above.  Enrollment changes recorded by the Registrar in the PeopleSoft system will be reflected in the Blackboard course according to the daily SIS Integration schedule.  

Instructors/Teaching Assistants

Individuals assigned to the course in PeopleSoft as Primary Instructor will be enrolled in the Blackboard course with the course role of Instructor.  Individuals assigned to the course in PeopleSoft as Teaching Assistant or Secondary Instructor will NOT be automatically added to the Blackboard course.  The Primary Instructor is able to enroll additional class members such as teaching assistants, course builders, guest instructors, and the like, according to need.  User enrollment is managed via the Control Panel in Blackboard course.    

Non-Automated Enrollment

This refers to enrollment other than that achieved through the PeopleSoft data update for Registrar-scheduled courses.  

Instructor Privileges and Responsibilities for Non-Automated Enrollment

The Instructor-of-record has the authority to approve non-automated enrollment in the Blackboard course as well as the responsibility to enroll individuals if necessary.  

Individuals enrolled with the Course Role of Instructor have system privileges that enable them to add existing accounts in their courses and organizations.  For example, Instructors are able to add Teaching Assistants, Secondary Instructors, and auditors in Blackboard courses.  The Course Role of Instructor does not have the system privileges that enable them to remove accounts from their Registrar-scheduled course.  ITS will remove individuals who were enrolled in through non-automated method at the request of the Instructor-of-record.  The Organization Role of Leader does have the system privileges that enable them to remove individuals from their organization (see below on enrollment in non-standard courses and organizations).  

ITS will not manually enroll accounts in Blackboard courses, except for the Instructor/Leader role in non-standard courses and organizations (in accordance with procedures required for creating these sites).

The process of enrolling Students and Participants in non-standard courses and organizations that are not part of the schedule of classes is not automated and is the responsibility of the Instructor (courses) or Leader (organizations).  Instructors/Leaders will use Blackboard’s standard enrollment features available on the course or organization Control Panel to manage enrollment in their courses/organizations.   

Guests

Course instructors are able to manage guest and "demo student" access in their courses.  See Demo Student and Guest Access for Blackboard for more details.

Instructor Responsibilities for Enrollment

Due to the heightened level of access to student records conferred to Teaching Assistants, secondary Instructors, etc., Instructors should take care when manually adding accounts in the Blackboard course.  Instructors are expected to comply with the Access and Compliance Agreement when enrolling people in their courses with elevated privileges that might enable access to student information protected under FERPA and other SUNY, state, or federal regulations governing the use of educational


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Course Disk Quota

To manage the storage available for Blackboard courses, the course size limit for a Blackboard course is 4 gigabytes.   


Organizations

Organizations are part of the Blackboard Community Engagement module.  Like courses, they provide an array of tools that enable interaction and information sharing for campus groups.  Aside from the creation of Organizations they are not centrally managed by the university. 

Creation

You may request an Organization here.  Your request will be sent to ITS-Faculty Technology Resources staff who will decide on creation after any necessary discussion with you.  Organizations should be sponsored by a UAlbany faculty/staff member who will be designated at the primary point of contact for the Organization.

Enrollment/Availability

The owner of the Organization is responsible for managing enrollment and participation.

Back Up and Retention

Organizations are NOT backed up by ITS

You can make a back up and archive files of Organizations that you own.  To make an archive or backup of your Organization, follow the same instructions provided for course backups (see above).

Help with Organizations

Organizations function exactly as Courses do.  You can learn more by checking our Solutions page and the information below under the "Getting Help with Blackboard" section.


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System Maintenance and Updates

Scheduled Maintenance

In order to ensure reliability, stability, and robust performance of the Blackboard system, regular maintenance has been scheduled.  ITS prepares a system maintenance schedule each fall for the upcoming year.  The schedule indicates dates when Blackboard and other systems will be out of service.  Maintenance outages are scheduled roughly once per month and typically on Saturdays.  Scheduled maintenance requires that the system be inaccessible to end-users.  Faculty, staff, and students should be mindful of the maintenance schedule when planning online course activities such as tests and assignment due dates.  See the schedule here: System Status and Scheduled Maintenance.

System Updates

Blackboard, Inc. provides periodic software updates that introduce new capabilities or enhanced features, bug fixes, and address security vulnerabilities.  System updates will be applied in a way that seeks to avoid undue disruption to teaching and learning (for example, we prefer not to apply a mid-semester update that introduced significant functional or interface modifications).  As a general practice, UAlbany Information Technology Services plans to apply system updates at times of the year and days of the week in which lower volume of system traffic is typically observed.  Thus, ITS often targets the January, May, and/or August scheduled maintenance dates as the most ideal times for applying system updates.


Getting Help with Blackboard

Many resources are available to you to help you effectively use Blackboard.

Blackboard Learn Help Documents

Blackboard On Demand Learning Center

Blackboard has provided a set of tutorials and videos to help you learn the system:

UAlbany AskIT Wiki

The Educational Technology Services group within UAlbany's ITS division maintains a set of resources and guidance about using Blackboard at Blackboard Help.

UAlbany ITS Service Desk

If you need to request assistance with technical difficulties using Blackboard, contact the Service Desk:


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