Policies and Procedures for courses

These are policies and procedures regarding Blackboard that are specific to Oberlin College & Conservatory.

General Policies for course related sites

Who has accounts?

  • All current students and employees of the College have accounts made automatically.
  • Outside reviewers for tenure review, program review are created manually and added to the appropriate organization.
  • Faculty from other institutions or alumni that are working with courses or organizations.
  • Community members that are teaching EXCO courses.

When are accounts created?

  • Student accounts are created for freshman in May.
  • Staff and faculty accounts are created on their official start date or once they are assigned to teach a course.

When does one lose access?

  • Student accounts are terminated, disabled once they graduate.
  • Staff accounts are disabled on their contractual end-date
  • Faculty accounts are disabled on Jan 31st if their contractual end date is in Dec and on Aug 15th if their contract ends in May or June.

When are courses created?

Fall Courses:  Course shells made available to faculty after final grades for spring have been submitted): Courses are unavailable to students until the faculty makes that course available. 

Spring Courses: Course shells are made available to faculty after final grades for fall semester have been submitted): Courses are unavailable to students until the faculty makes that course available.

Courses will not be automatically made unavailable once the course is complete. However, faculty can do so if they wish.

Are shells created for ALL courses? All courses are created except the following:

  • APST
  • PVST

Forms for requesting  a course shell for a course that does not show up in your list can be found on the  ‘Need Help?’ tab after logging in to Blackboard.

When is my course removed from the system?  Course shells remain in the system for a 2 years after they have been taught.  This means that  a course will remain in the system for approximately 2.5 years before removal.
Combining multi-section courses into 1 shell. Enrollments for multi-section courses are combined at the request of the instructor. If your situation fits this description, go to the  ‘Need Help?’ tab after logging in to Blackboard and find the appropriate form.
Cross-listed courses. Enrollments for cross-listed courses are combined automatically.
Can I manually enroll users? All officially registered users are automatically added to the course. The reconciliation between PRESTO and Blackboard happens at 8am and 5pm everyday. Therefore, students may experience a delay between when they register on PRESTO and when they gain access to the course site in Blackboard.  While the option for instructors to add users manually is available, any student added in this manner will no longer be under control of the automatic feeds. If they drop the course, it will be the responsibility of the instructor to remove them.  It is also the case that by adding them manually, the student sometimes takes that as a sign that they are officially registered for the course.  We very highly recommend you not add students manually. *See below for very important information about the dangers of manually adding students to your course.
What can I put in my course site?  Pdf files, Audio files, video files, word documents, quizzes, tests, content from publishers made specifically for Blackboard, images, problem sets …
Who has access to my course materials?  By default, the course site is available to the official instructor, Oberlin College students that are officially enrolled in the the course and the Blackboard administrators.  The instructor can give others (e.g. colleagues, students that audit) access to their site by ‘enrolling’ them manually. There will be occasions when students are added by the administrator but the instructor will always be informed when this happens.
Only the course instructor can give access or approve access, barring, of course, exceptions for significant and weighty reasons that would require approval of the Dean.

*Many schools (Grinnell, BW) only allow adding/removing of users as a snapshot process i.e. the professors can not add/remove nor change roles of users (information from bb-admin listserv). This is necessary because the automation tool makes students unavailable at the end of the semester. If a student is manually entered, the system will not know they are there and will not make them unavailable. As a reminder, restricting access to course materials when the course is not being offered is important so that the institution can be inline with copyright policy (See Copyright officer, Alan Boyd, for reasons why this must be so). This mechanism of essentially shutting down courses that are not longer offered still provides a means for the instructor to make material available to students if they have filed for an incomplete. If this is done however, the instructor is then responsible for making the student unavailable once the course work has been completed.
The problem with this method, i.e. not allowing instructors to add/remove students, is that it becomes difficult to add ‘special students’ and to add students that are on the waitlist. The way Grinnell and others deal with this is to have the instructor send a list of the students (special and regular) to a central office. The staff there then create a file that is included in the automatic 2/day feed. Another option is to activate the waitlist tool in BANNER. We have too many criterion for letting in waitlisted students for this to be an option. Therefore, this PRESTO module is not an option.
We will leave the enroll user option available but faculty will need to understand the hazards of manually entering students.

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