Blackboard Use Policy

I.     Purpose of Document

The purpose this document is twofold: (1) to formalize existing policies and procedures related to the use, management, and operation of Blackboard and (2) to recommend new policies and procedures related to the use, management, and operation of the Blackboard learning management system (LMS).

II.     Definitions

  1. Instructor of record.  The individual(s) listed in Banner as the instructor for a course. Additionally, for Blackboard purposes, this includes individual(s) the Banner instructor of record may have added as instructors for the Blackboard course.

  2. Snapshot(s).  Duplicating Banner course information into Blackboard. For example, placing all fall classes, students, and enrollments in Blackboard for use.

  3. Manual(s).  Requests made by instructors to have blackboard add to or deviate from Banner information. For example, adding a development shell or enrolling a student finishing an incomplete.

  4. Disable(d).  Restricting access to a user account, course, or enrollment record without permanent deletion. All content associated with the record(s) will remain intact and will be accessible when the record is re-enabled.

  5. Delete(d).  Removing and completely deleting a user account, course, or enrollment record. All associated content is permanently deleted.


III.     Appropriate Use Policy

  1. Appropriate behavior.  Like all users of UAA technology, Blackboard students, faculty, and staff must adhere to the behavior standards outlined in UAA's "Acceptable Use Policy" (http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/admin/PoliciesAndProcedures/acceptableUse.cfm).  Individual instructors may also elect to set standards for behavior that exceed these minimum requirements.

  2. Removal of inappropriate content.  IT technicians will remove offensive or illegal content from a course if asked to by the instructor of record or by the department chair and/or dean.  Students wanting offensive or illegal content removed from a course will need to appeal their case to the course instructor. All instructors of record will be notified of the removal.

  3. Removal of users for inappropriate behavior.  Instructors can partially “disable” students from active participation in Blackboard activities using the control panel, allowing read-only access to the course.   The IT Call Center will officially "disable" a student from a course upon written request of the instructor of record and confirmation of the Dean of students.

  4. Content disclaimer.  UAA is not responsible for the accuracy, integrity, and/or legality of the content uploaded to Blackboard courses by its students, staff, or faculty.  Users who upload material to Blackboard are responsible legally and otherwise for their own content.

  5. Non-sanctioned uses of Blackboard courses.  Instructors are not permitted to use UAA's Blackboard system for purposes other than university-affiliated activities.  For example, the use of Blackboard to conduct a personal business or to teach workshops or courses as part of a contract external to the University of Alaska.


IV.     User Management & Access

  1. User accounts.  All current UAA students, staff, and faculty are assigned an individual account on the Blackboard system.  Users who are not formally teaching or taking a UAA course, administrative staff for example, may log on to Blackboard and make use of the system-wide portal tools available (e.g., calculator tool, thesaurus tool, text pad tool, etc.).  Users who are not formally teaching or taking a UAA course do not have access to individual Blackboard courses.  Access to individual courses is limited to the following groups: formally enrolled students, the instructor(s) of record, and any additional users added at the request of an instructor of record.

  2. User access & login.  Qualified Blackboard users will access the system through a username and password that is person-specific.  That username and password is issued by IT and is the same as a person's UAA email username and password.

  3. Blackboard updates from Banner.  Students, faculty, and staff are automatically entered into the Blackboard system within 24 hours of being added to Banner.

  4. Schedule for populating courses with users.  Registered students and course instructors are added to new Blackboard courses roughly eight weeks prior to the start of a given semester.  Newly registered students (and instructors) will continue to be added to Blackboard courses on a 24-hour basis from that time all the way up until the end of the semester.

  5. Patron accounts.  A "patron" is any person who is not affiliated with the university but who seeks to have formal access to UAA's Blackboard system for the purposes of being able to participate in a university-related activity.  Patrons must have a university sponsor.  A valid university sponsor must be a faculty or staff member of the university.  Patron accounts may only be requested by the sponsoring party and must be emailed to the IT Call Center at callcenter@uaa.alaska.edu.  A patron account entitles a non-UAA user to his/her own username, password on the Blackboard system and university email account.

  6. Guest access.  A "guest" is defined as any person (UAA-affiliated or non-UAA-affiliated) who seeks to access UAA's Blackboard system.  In contrast to Blackboard patrons, Blackboard guests do not receive an individual username and password on the system.  Instead, they may access the system at any time by simply typing "guest" into both the username and password fields of the Blackboard login page.  By default, guests do not have access to any courses on the UAA system.  Individual instructors may elect to make their courses available to guests on a course-by-course basis.  Individual instructors may also limit the areas within a given course that guests can access.  It is important to know that opening up a course to guest access has the effect of making that course broadly available to the public.  There is no way to make use of the "guest access" feature without allowing everyone and anyone to view that course.

  7. Faculty-as-student user accounts.  All faculty members in Blackboard are assigned a sample student user account.  Sample student accounts will automatically be added to each course taught by the corresponding instructor.  The accounts are designed to allow instructors to view their courses from a student's perspective.  The username and password for each sample student account follows a set pattern:

    username = facultyusername_student (e.g., aftd_student)
    password=  uaid_student (e.g., 30123456_student)

    Sample student user accounts should not be used as a shortcut for granting someone "patron" or "guest" access to a given course, as the login for each account permits a given user to access the entire menu of an instructor's courses rather than just one course.  Instructors should know that the addition of a sample student user account will skew the grade book statistics for a given course.   Instructors may elect to have their sample student user account permanently disabled from their courses by contacting the IT Call Center.

  8. Authority to add and remove users from courses.  The instructor of record or any person enrolled as an instructor in the Blackboard course has primary authority to add and remove students, instructors, staff members, and patrons to/from that course.   Such users, however, may also be added to or removed from a course at the request of the department chair and/or dean. Instructors will be notified of any changed requested by a non-instructor like a dean and/or department chair.

  9. Process for adding users to courses.  Formally enrolled students in a class will automatically be added to the appropriate Blackboard course for that class within 24 hours of registering (within 24 hours of being added to Banner, that is).  Non-registered students and additional instructors, staff members, and patrons may be manually added to a course, but only at the request of an instructor or the appropriate department chair and/or dean.    All requests for user additions and removals must be through the online web request form found at http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/kb/Computer/Blackboard/bbuserform.cfm.    The maximum turn-around time for such requests is 48 hours. 

  10. Automated "disables" and deletes of students from courses.  Students that withdraw or drop from a course will be disabled in Blackboard within 24 hours. Removals and complete deletion of all a users content will only be done long after students’ enrollments are valid within the parameters of university policy, resources, and IT Services’ discretion.

  11. Section 508 compliancy.  Although the Blackboard software program itself is compliant with Section 508 standards, not all of the content uploaded to Blackboard is.  Instructors and students are therefore urged to consider ways to make their files and other materials accessible to users with disabilities.  The Disability Support Services (DSS) Office on campus is available to provide assistance in this regard. See the DSS web site http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/dss/
    for more information.


V.     Course Management

  1. Course size limitations.  There is no size limitation associated with UAA Blackboard courses.  In other words, there are no limitations on the size or number of files that instructors and students can upload to a given course.  Note that uploading large files to Blackboard may take a long time, and your browser may time out during the process.  If that happens, contact the IT Call Center for assistance.

  2. Creation schedule for new courses.  New Blackboard courses are created according to the following guidelines:
    Fall and summer courses are created in mid March. Fall courses are created in March to facilitate course development during the summer.
    Spring courses are created mid October of the year prior to the semester

  3. Copying courses.  The instructor of record has the ability, through the course control panel, to copy the content of one course into the shell of a pre-existing course which he/she also teaches.  If an instructor wants an existing course to be copied to a brand new course shell (e.g., one that is not yet on the system), then he/she must request a new course shell.

  4. Archiving courses.  The instructor of record has the ability, through the course control panel, to archive his/her courses at any time.  Archiving a course does not delete the course from the system.  Instead, it simply provides the instructor with an off-line copy of that course in zipped format.  Archived courses in zipped format may be re-imported into the Blackboard system by using the tools provided in the course control panel.

  5. Instructor-initiated deletion of courses.  The instructor of record has the ability, through the control panel's "recycle course" feature, to delete the content of any course he/she is teaching.  The "recycle course" feature only deletes the content of a course; however, it does not remove the course shell from the instructor's list of courses.  If an instructor wants an existing course to be fully deleted, then he/she must contact the IT Call Center to have that request processed.  The IT Call Center must have the approval of the faculty member’s program Director or Dean before deletion of a course.  This does not apply to workshops, organizations, development, or other types of content shells.

  6. Automated deletion of courses.  This policy only applies to official courses in banner and excludes manuals like workshops or development shells. Expired Blackboard courses will remain on the system for a minimum of three years from the last day of the semester in which the course was taught (thus, a course taught in fall 2004 will only be eligible for deletion after December 2007).  Each year, courses eligible for deletion will be deleted on April 15.  On the previous March 1, a notice about such deletions will be posted to the general university community in a manner deemed appropriate by IT.  Additionally, on that same day, email notifications of impending course deletions will be sent to each instructor.  Instructors will have until April 1 to email the IT Call Center and request that a particular course be retained for an additional year.  Instructors wanting to save an archived copy of their courses before April 15 may do so by using the archive feature in the control panel (see section on "archiving courses").

  7. Development and Workshop course shells.  Development and workshop courses refer to a course on the Blackboard system that is not a formal Banner course. They are functionally identical to a formal course.  Development courses are generally set up for faculty and staff who would like to practice using Blackboard. Workshops are set up to accommodate workshop training classes. Course shells can be requested by the instructor of record online at
    http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/kb/Computer/Blackboard/bbshellform.cfm.

  8. Setting up development and workshop courses.  Course shells may be requested by university faculty and staff online at http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/kb/Computer/Blackboard/bbshellform.cfm.  The maximum turn-around time for development course requests is 48 hours.

  9. Course availability settings for new courses.  By default, all newly created courses in Blackboard are "unavailable" to student users. That means that while a newly created course is automatically "on" and accessible to the instructor of record, the course is automatically "off" and inaccessible to all students in the class.  Instructors are responsible for manually turning on each of their courses for their students.  Such action must be done through the control panel.  The IT Call Center will email instructors a reminder of that necessary action two weeks prior to the start of each new semester.  

  10. Course availability settings for expired courses.  By default, all expired courses will automatically revert to "unavailable" status one month from the last day of the semester in which the course was taught.  Instructors may use the options in the control panel to override that "unavailable" setting.  (Note: This policy is designed to fulfill part of the institutional requirements mandated by the TEACH Act.)

  11. Organizations.  An "organization" is a Blackboard course shell that is set up for the purposes of facilitating a non-course-related activity (i.e., an online forum for a committee, a book club, a student group, etc.).  Organizations may only be set up for university-affiliated groups and/or events.

  12. Setting up organizations.  Organizations (sometimes called "communities") may be set up by university faculty, staff, and students. Participation in an organization requires a user account, a patron account, or guest access. Students require a faculty or staff sponsor. Organizations are requested online in the same manner as courses.


VI.     Information Accuracy & Security

  1. User information.  In an effort to comply with FERPA regulations, the current default settings in Blackboard prevent student users from inadvertently making their personal information available to other users in a course.  The one exception to this occurs in the discussion board, where student email addresses are always visible to the entire class unless a user happens to post anonymously.  This is a known bug in the Blackboard software.

  2. Course rosters.  Although there are two rosters in each Blackboard course (one visible to students and another visible to instructors), neither of those rosters should be consulted as the "master list" of all formally registered students in a course.  Banner, not Blackboard, should be sought to provide an up-to-date account of who is formally enrolled in a course and who is not. 

  3. Grade book.  The online grade book is a useful communication and grading tool, but is not the official repository of grades. Instructors should always keep a backup copy of their online grade books if they are using it as their main grading record.


VII.     Copyright & Ownership

  1. Copyright-protected materials.  Current copyright law (including fair use and the TEACH Act) allows students and instructors to post copyright-protected materials to Blackboard for course-related activities without obtaining prior permission.  Such materials may not be saved, printed, copied, or further disseminated by students.  Instructors are encouraged to accompany all copyright-protected works in Blackboard with a visible explanation about the appropriate and legal handling of such content.  Instructors are also encouraged to "turn off" or delete such materials in Blackboard once their use in the course has passed.  Implementing both practices is a requirement for those who seek to take advantage of the exemptions of the TEACH Act.

  2. External links.  Instructors creating external links to websites from within Blackboard are encouraged to check the box next to the standing option that reads "launch item in external window."  Not choosing that option means that the external website will open up within the frame of Blackboard itself, without reflecting the URL address for the linked site.  "Capturing" a website in this manner can be illegal and should be avoided.  

  3. In General:
    1. All Blackboard specific content is copyright Blackboard Inc.
    2. Faculty data belongs to the faculty unless contracted otherwise.
    3. Student data belongs to the student.
    4. General UAA content, like letter marks, word marks, graphics, text and statistics belong to the university.

VIII.     System Maintenance, Outages, & Upgrades

  1. Notification of scheduled outages.  Scheduled maintenance outages in Blackboard will always occur at some point between midnight on Saturday and noon the following Sunday.  The IT Call Center will use appropriate means to alert UAA students, staff, and faculty of scheduled maintenance outages at least 72 hours before the outage occurs.  "Appropriate means" could include any or all of the following: emailing the UAA Community listserv, posting a message to the technology homepage, and posting a message to the Blackboard login page.

  2. Reporting unscheduled outages.  The IT Call Center will use appropriate means to notify UAA students, staff, and faculty of unscheduled outages within 2 hours of the outage being detected or reported.  All unscheduled outages and problems must be reported, even if the problem has already been solved.  If an outage or problem cannot be quickly solved, then a new, updated notice shall be posted to users once every 24 hours until the problem is resolved.

  3. Reporting outages and performance problems.  Users who detect problems with the Blackboard system (e.g., outages, error messages, slow load time, etc.) should contact the IT Call Center immediately to report the issue.

  4. Access to outage reports.  All outages will be reported online at the technology site. Planned outages are reported 72 hours in advance by email and at http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/kb/Outages/. Unplanned outages will be posted within 2 hours of IT services awareness of the event at http://technology.uaa.alaska.edu/kb/Incident_Reports/.

  5. Outages and academic responsibility.  An outage prevents an individual from participating in Blackboard based activities. Instructors should not hold posted outages against a student.   Other computer, connection or technology difficulties are the responsibility of the individual and make up opportunities are at the discretion of the instructor.