Thursday, October 11, 2012

REUSING BLACKBOARD COURSE MATERIALS


REUSING BLACKBOARD COURSE MATERIALS FROM PRIOR TERMS: Best Practices
Midterm time is a good point to be sure your Blackboard materials are backed up and to make plans if you expect to re-use course material in future terms.

As you may know, our Blackboard system is not designed to be a storage bin. Right now, there are over 7,400 courses and nearly 25,000 users on our Bb system.  So Institutional Computing has to manage the load on the server by periodically removing older courses.

We have recently extended the time that courses are left on the server so that two terms of the same semester are on the server for a period of time. For example, at the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, the fall 2011 semester courses remain on the server for a short time into the semester. This is so that instructors may still have access to export course materials from the old course to the new one. However, soon after the newer semester begins, IC needs to remove the old courses from the server to free up space so that materials can be added for the new term.

We strongly recommend keeping a backup or archive of your classes, both after mid-term grading, and once the course is completed. This is a safeguard in the unlikely event that the Blackboard files become corrupt or unavailable.  The best way to do this is to use the ARCHIVE function in the ARCHIVE/EXPORT manager, and store the copy on your own computer or on CourseSites.com (see below).

Note: When reusing content from one semester to another, we recommend using the EXPORT/IMPORT method, rather than COURSE COPY. We experience far fewer mechanical issues when courses are exported and imported.

SHORT LIST:
·         Twice each semester, after midterm and final grading, create a backup or archive of your own course and save that file (.zip format) to your computer. Do not open an archive file (or it doesn’t work). It can only be restored on a test server by Institutional Computing, or uploaded into a Blackboard course shell (materials only) by the instructor.
·         PLEASE do not go back to an older inactive course and make changes…i.e. remove or change assignments, tests, etc.  Doing so will compromise the integrity of the official archive that the Bb Admin must create. Consult bbsupport@su.edu for a safe work-around.
·         PLEASE do not store materials in a course that is no longer active for later use. The course may not be there when you need it. Instead, consider creating an account at CourseSites.com (a free server), and building courses there, from which you can export full packages or tests, etc.   Many faculty like this easy method that gives them full control over managing their content that is backed up for them.
·         At the END of each semester, if you plan to use your course materials again, we recommend you create an EXPORT file from your course(s). Save that .zip file safely on your computer, hard drive, thumb drive, or whatever is best for you. Again, DO NOT OPEN that .zip file. It must be IMPORTED into another Bb course shell to be functional.
·         Instructions for some of the above-mentioned functions are contained in our Bb Support page of How-To’s, or directly at:
·         Archiving a Course
·         Exporting a Course
·         Importing a Course Package


As always, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and George Hoffman, the Technology Training Coordinator, are here to answer questions and to help you through these processes if you need us.


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