Semester Quick Start Guide

Semester Quick Start Guide

We’ve gathered some frequently asked questions regarding the start of the semester in one place, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for while setting up your courses.

If you are having trouble finding the information you need, or if you have a question about something not included here, please feel free to contact us!

How do I copy my courses?

When preparing for the start of a semester, you may plan to use content from a previous semester. The easiest way to accomplish this is by going to the old course and using the Course Copy function to copy the materials into a new course. This Quick Start Guide will explain how to copy the contents of a course from the old semester’s shell into a new shell.

Step One: On the Control Panel, expand the Packages and Utilities menu and select Course Copy.

Browse for the course into which you want to copy.

Step Two: On the Copy Course page, click the Browse button to select the Destination Course ID. A popup window will open with a list of courses available to you in your account — select from this list the course into which you’d like to copy.

Browse for the course you want to copy into.

Step Three: Click the Select All button to copy the entire course, or select specific items to copy into a new course by checking the boxes in the list.

Select the contents you'd like to copy.

Note: Graded content like Assignments and Tests must be copied with their grade center columns, so you must select the ‘Grade Center Columns and Settings’ option along with these items or else they won’t copy.

If you use the discussion board, you may wish to toggle the setting to ‘Include only the forums, with no starter posts’ to prevent from having to remove posts from the previous semester in the current term.

Step Four: At the bottom of the page, choose Copy links and copies of the content (include entire course home folder) and click Submit.

Select from the file attachment options.

PDF: How do I copy my courses?

How do I merge my courses?

Merging courses allows instructors to manage multiple sections from one shell.  When merging sections the instructor will identify one of the sections to be the primary or “parent” course, and all enrollments from the sections known as “child” courses will be merged into the parent.

diagram of course merge process

To merge a course:

Step 1: Access the course you wish to act as the ‘parent’ course. This is the course that contains content and will be the main section the course is managed from.

Step 2: Go to the Course Management Control Panel and expand the Course Tools menu.  Select Course Merge from the drop-down.

course merge tool

Step 3: Select the link to manage merged sections.

link to select or unselect merged courses.

Step 4: Place a check mark next to the sections you wish to merge into the parent course. Press Next.

add child pending screen

Step 5: Confirm the selected child courses.  Press Update Children.

update children screen

PDF: Merging your Blackboard courses

How do I make my courses available to students?

There are two levels of availability related to a student’s access to a course. The first is enrollment availability, which is determined by the registration system. Beginning Fall 2020, student enrollments will become available one week prior to the first day of the term.

There is also a course availability setting that allows the course instructor to control whether student can access a particular course section once enrollments become available.

To adjust the availability setting for a course, just click the lock icon that appears at the top, right of the screen next to the ‘Edit’ button when you enter a course:

An unlocked icon means the course is available to students.

How can I backup a course taught in a previous semester?

As each semester comes to a close, on the day that grades are due, courses taught in the term two years prior will be removed from the system. Once this date has passed, these courses will no longer be accessible from the Blackboard interface.

This removal is part of our archival process, which allows us to manage the amount of space used by inactive courses on the server. The current process keeps courses dating back six semesters, or two academic years, available through the myBlackboard interface. Here’s an example of this schedule:

Semester Removed from LMS
Spring 2014 May 13, 2016
Summer II 2014 June 29, 2016
Summer I 2014 August 4, 2016
Summer IV 2014 August 10, 2016

If you want to retain a copy of a course for your own records, you can easily do so by archiving them yourself before the removal date and saving them to your computer. These archives are saved as a zip file that can later be imported into a blank course shell.

Learn more: How to Export and Archive Courses, How to Import Course Packages

How can I add users to my course?

Most users are added to the courses in which they belong automatically by our enrollment script. Either the instructor of record or the department chair can also request the following types of access through the request form:

  • Course Copy Access – allows users to copy course contents without being listed as instructor.
  • Viewer Access – provides view-only access to courses for faculty and department staff.
  • Incomplete Access – students with an official incomplete can be added to a section of the course in the current term to finish collaborative work like group assignments and discussion boards.

Additional levels of access can be granted by providing a short narrative regarding the nature of the request.

You may also request access to a course by using the form. Once you’ve submitted a request, we will contact the appropriate party for permission and notify you once the request has been completed.

Please keep in mind, we can’t add users as the instructor of a course; this must be assigned through Banner. Users in the student role must also be added to a course by the enrollment script, which happens automatically when they register for a course in BOSS.

Any additional roles that can access student records in the grade center — like Teaching Assistants and Course Coordinators — must be assigned to the course in Banner. Once assigned, these users will be automatically added to the course by the enrollment feeds.

On the STaR website: Blackboard Course Access Request Form