Blackboard Bulletin, Fall Semester 2015

Blackboard Bulletin:
Fall Semester 2015!

Table of Contents

July 16: See edits to the course save and course content transfer areas below!

I.   Support
a. Save for future reference!
b. Help Desk – Use for all tech-related problems, requests or reports
c. IT Wiki – Technology-related documentation including faculty and student Bb

II.  End of Semester
a. Process of closing course shells
b. Saving course copies — New Material!
c. Hiding old course shells

III. Start of a New Semester
a. Dates of Fall semester course shell availability
b. What to do of you don’t see your course shell

IV. Standard practices
1.2 Transfer course content — New Material!
1.3 Combine x-listed, multi-section shells — New Material!
1.4 Activate courses shells – the need, the process
1.5 Communicate w students before semester begins
1.6 View student roster


A.   Blackboard Bulletin:
Reduce Blackboard-oriented stress by reading and saving the Bb Bulletin for future           reference!  It can be found on the Center for Teaching/Learning with Technology blog:

and the Bb Faculty Support site on the IT Wiki:

Bb/Faculty Page of the IT Wiki

Bb/Faculty Page of the IT Wiki

Shortcut for accessing the Bb/Faculty page of the IT Wiki:
bb memo faculty support




B.  Web Help Desk:
Faculty can obtain support for all technology-related problems, questions or reports           by filing a ticket with the Web Help Desk:                                                                   

C.  Information Technology (IT) Wiki:
Technology-related information and documentation is available on the IT Wiki: 




A. Closing course shells
In the Control Panel  select Customization, then Properties

Control Panel

Control Panel

Scroll down to area #3, Set Availability, in the ensuing interface and select No, then            Submit (located in the upper and lower right corners of the interface).

Availability: No

Availability: No













B.  Saving course copies — New Material!
At any time you can save copies of your course for editing or re-importation.  Why save your own course content?

  1. Course content is your intellectual property. It belongs to you and it makes sense to have your own, locally-stored copy!
  2. Having a copy of your course shell makes it a snap to restore in a new semester.

Short Videos
Archive, machine readable
Export, human accessible
Restore course to a Bb shell

All-in-one document

Archive/Restore online    


C. Hiding old course shells

If your Courses module is getting crowded please follow these instructions for hiding         unwanted course shells.  Students see old course shells and their course modules get crowded as well, so hiding a course shell works to simplify student course access.  Finally, every hidden course shell can be un-hidden!


III.    Opening Fall 2015 course shells


A.  Dates of course shell availability

All semester course shells are available to faculty in the My Courses module                   of each Blackboard page:

Fall semester course shells will be available beginning in early May and are                     pre-pended with the year (2015) and the semester designation (40):


Why don’t I see my course shell?

  1. Your department and Banner may not be in sync.  Check with your department to make sure that Banner has been updated.
  2. You may have so many courses on your Blackboard site that you can’t see the         forest for the trees.  In that case please thin out your course-shell forest by hiding     un-needed shells:
  3. If your department confirms that Banner is up to date and you can see all your course shells clearly please file a ticket for Blackboard help with the Web Help Desk specifying the semester, course designation and section:


IV.   Standard Practices

It’s always a good beginning-of-the-semester practice to review the Standard Practices area of the Faculty Bb area of the IT Wiki. It covers beginning-of-the-semester topics including how to   transfer course content between semesters, how to contact your students before they are added to Bb, and how to view the student roster:

Standard Practices

Standard Practices: Transfer content, merge student enrollments, activate course shell, communicate with students prior to start of the semester, view roster






Each of these issue are covered below —


1.2 Transferring course content between semesters – New Material

  1. The simple and direct method of transferring course content which offers faculty the most control of the transfer material and timing is to archive or export a course from the originating shell to the destination shell.  Why would you want to take control of this process?
    a. You can transfer content in a matter of minutes on your own schedule
    b.  The process lets you save your intellectual content on your own computer.

Short Videos
Archive, machine readable
Export, human accessible
Restore course to a Bb shell

All-in-one document

Archive/Restore online    
The second option is to use the Course Content Transfer tool (see below).  Please note that transfers will be processed once a day during the week and no transfers will be processed over weekends or holidays.  This new policy reflects:
1. the responsibility of faculty to take control of their own intellectual property and
2. faculty ability to expedite their own content transfer with greater economy than can be exercised when third-party agents are brought into the process.

  1. Notes:
    a.  Importing a course often produces a raft of meaningless error messages.   Before panicking check your course and get back to us if you need help
    b.  Courses over one 1 GB in content can’t be transferred, period.  If you suspect this is a problem please find content to remove before you save content.  You can always re-load it after the transfer is complete.

For expedited service please archive/export and restore your course material following the instructions above.

Access the Course Content Transfer tool using this URL:
Optimized for Fall 2015 course sections

Faculty will receive confirmations when the transfer has taken place


1.3 Merge and Master Courses – New Material

Cross-listed and multi-section courses can be merged in two different ways.  Until this semester we’ve only been able to offer one option, the Merge, but after some experimentation lasts semester we can also offer a Master alternative.

Merge:  students from child sections are diverted into a single, existing section.  The child sections are unavailable to students and all content and interaction takes place in the parent course shell.  For example, bio1010-01 could server as the parent course shell for bio1010-02, and bio1010-60.  Students from -02 and -60 (child sections) are diverted to the section -01 parent and the children are closed, inactive, and inoperative.  This is useful when one faculty member is teaching three sections and prefers to combine students from all sections into one arena.

Master:  A new “master” section is created and hosts students from participating client sections. The client course shells can all be active and independent of each other.  Bio1010-master would host students from all three sections and the course shells from each of the client sections can offer their own content and interaction.  This setup is a good solution for lab courses in which the Master can serve as the lecture course shell and each of the clients serve as environments for autonomous content and interaction.

See this link for a different perspective on the merge-master alternatives.

As of this writing we’re still working on a form tool to handle both scenarios, and when it is up it will be at the same address as the Merge request has always been:

Until the new form is ready either kind of course-shell combine can be requested for cross-listed and multi-section courses using the Web Help Desk:


1.4  Activate Course Shells

All course shells are unavailable to students/unless until the faculty member teaching the course activates the shell.  The reasoning behind this policy is straightforward: not all faculty take advantage of the Bb learning management system and students would be reasonably confused by open but content-free course shells.  Activating a course shell takes less than a minute:

  1. Point your web browser to Bb Home,, and log in using your university credentials.
  2. In the upper left column of the initial page select the link reading Faculty: Set Course Availability
Faculty: Set Course Availability

Faculty: Set Course Availability








3.  Find your course and click green (available) ore red (unavailable)

Activate course shells

Activate course shells




1.5 Communicate with students before the start of the semester

Because all students needs a single start date for the semester course shells are not populated until the day before the semester begins.  But faculty can use Banner to communicate with students before shells have been populated:

1.6  View Student Roster

After course shells have been populated* you can find the student roster in the course Control Panel:

a. In the Control Panel (beneath the course menu) find
b. Users and groups, then
c. Users
d. The course roster will appear on the right

Student Roster

Student Roster


Quality Matters has come to William Paterson!

Quality Matters (QM) is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning. The program features:

— Faculty-centered, continuous improvement models for assuring the quality of online courses through peer review
— Professional development workshops and certification courses for instructors and online learning professionals
— Rubrics for applying quality standards to course design

We’ve held four in-person “Applying the QM Rubric” (APPQMR) workshops and are hosting a two-week online version from: May 21 through June 3.

For more information see: