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April 12, 2021 - Blackboard course development shells created prior to January 1, 2019 have been deleted.

In accordance with the UAlbany ITS Policy for Blackboard Course and Data Retention ITS will delete "course development shells" created two years prior to January 1 each year.  These courses will be deleted in April each year, and will NOT be backed up or archived by ITS.  You should archive, download, and store your course development packages NOW.  The following FAQ intend to clarify questions about this process.

How do I archive my Blackboard course?

See: Archive Your Blackboard Course

What is a “course development shell?”

A course development shell is a temporary Blackboard course in which you can prototype online learning activities and features that would ultimately be copied or cloned to a scheduled semester course.  Most typically, course development shells have been created for faculty who participated in the Online Course Development Program or Teach Online so that they could create their Blackboard learning environment in advance of the semester in which their online course was to be offered.

What is a “scheduled semester course?”

Every semester a course is automatically created on Blackboard for each class section on the Schedule of Classes.  In accordance with the UAlbany ITS Policy for Blackboard Course and Data Retention ITS will delete semester scheduled courses from Blackboard that are older than two years. ITS continues to work and has a schedule to clear a backlog of prior semester courses that remain on the Blackboard system.

How do I know if I have a course development shell?

All of the courses in which you are enrolled are listed on the My Courses module on the Academics tab of Blackboard.  You should group your courses by Term to better manage how your courses are listed. 

Some tips to help you view this listing:

  • Group your course list by Term to be able to see your list in collapsible categories.
  • Check for courses that you may have hidden from your list.
  • Scheduled semester courses are automatically assigned a Term corresponding with the semester/term in PeopleSoft, such as “Fall 2016” or “Winter 2018.” 
  • Course development shells are usually assigned to the Term “Course Development.”
  • It is possible that a course would not have been assigned a Term. 
  • Courses with no Term assignment will be listed under the heading “No Term Assigned” once you have grouped your course list by Term.

How can I keep my course development shell?

You should archive the course and download the ZIP package for storage on your computer or other local drive in case you wish to use it in the future.  

How can I keep activities I have created in my course development shell that I want to use in the future, like assignments, discussion forums, tests, or other Blackboard items?

Archive the course.  These items will be available in the downloadable ZIP package for import or restore in a future course.  You could copy or transfer these items into a scheduled semester course where they are needed.  Here they would remain until you need to copy them into a new course iteration.


I stored files in the content folder of my course development shell.  How can I keep these easily available outside of a course archive ZIP package?

You can download/move files in the course content folder to store them elsewhere, such as your computer, OneDrive, or your personal folder in the Blackboard Content System.


  • If you have links in another Blackboard course to any of the files in the content folder of your course development shell, those links will be broken once the development shell has been deleted.  In this case, you should fix the links by copying the linked file to the content folder of the course in question and re-add the file where it is needed in the course.
  • The storage capacity of your personal Blackboard content folder is 500 MB.

How can I access or restore my archived course?

Once you download a course archive ZIP package, you should maintain an undisturbed copy (don't open the ZIP folder) that can later be imported or restored into the Blackboard system.  You are able to import the package into a course in which you are enrolled as Instructor.  ITS can restore the course as-is when necessary.

If you download just the course contents in a ZIP package, as described above, then you can unpack or otherwise open the ZIP folder to be able to access the files contained.

Why does ITS need to delete course development shells?

Over years of use, the content system and database can become bloated with data and files, much of which is no longer used or needed.  It is prudent to pare down the data and content that is stored in Blackboard in order to maintain the health of the system and ensure it remains stable and reliable for our faculty, staff, and students.

Course development shells are intended to be short lived and to have been copied into a scheduled semester course and since they can easily be archived and stored offline, it is unnecessary to indefinitely keep them on the system.

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