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Blackboard, Policies and Procedures Related to Use of, University of Kansas


To provide decision-making guidance for the use of Blackboard course management software licensed by the University of Kansas.

Applies to: 

Faculty and students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Policy Statement: 


This document is intended to serve as a set of guidelines for decision-making related to the use of the Blackboard™ (hereafter, Bb) course management software licensed by the University of Kansas. These policies apply only to the use of such software residing on and accessed from servers located on the Lawrence campus and available for use by faculty and students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Included are statements related to Access, Course Management, Information Security, Copyright, and Intellectual Property Rights. These policy statements have been reviewed and approved by the Provost and the Vice Provost for Information Services. For further information or clarification, contact Instructional Development and Support at ids@ku.edu.

This document is intended to reside solely online for ease in usability and access, as well as to ensure its currency. Do not rely on printed copies of this document without first verifying their accuracy against subsequent updates. Changes to these policies will be reflected in the “Last Updated” date listed at the end of the document.

1) Access –Access to Bb course management software, materials, and affiliated online tools will be granted as follows:

a. One User Account -- All KU students, faculty, and staff have one Bb account apiece that will be used for all of their Bb activities. Even if these individuals are not involved with a course or organization that is currently utilizing Bb, they will be able to use the calendar, task, organization sites, and other tools/features that are course-independent. Access to the Bb software will be attained using the KU Online ID (username and password).

b. Exceptions -- A limited number of users who are not officially affiliated with KU (guest discussants or mentors, for example) may each be provided an account that is a Blackboard-only username and password, at the request of a “sponsor” (faculty or staff member). These accounts (referred to as “exceptions”) are considered temporary, but are renewable on an annual basis, with the approval of the KU sponsor. Such accounts are assigned only to individuals who are working with KU faculty/staff on officially recognized activities on the Bb system (i.e., those included under the institution’s license for Bb).

c. Guests – The Bb system will allow an individual without an account (known as a “guest” in Bb terminology) to gain access to specific areas of course sites, not including course rosters, user tools (e.g., user directory), or communication tools. Course sites may, at the discretion of the instructor, be made entirely or partially available to guests. The default setting (determined by local system administrators) for access to course sites locks each site entirely, to facilitate Fair Use posting of course materials and may only be made accessible to guests by the instructor or system administrator at instructor’s request.

d. Student Access -- Students who are registered for classes with Bb components will be given full access to those course sites not later than the first official day of classes for each semester (given that course sites are requested not later than 24 hours prior to this point). Instructors may, at their discretion, provide full access to their course site(s) to currently enrolled KU students who are not yet registered for the course, or who are in the process of adding the course to their schedule. As students add courses to their schedule, after classes begin, they will be automatically added to the appropriate Bb rosters (“enrolled”), typically within 48 hours. Students who drop courses will have their enrollment within the Bb site “deactivated” to prevent unauthorized access to course materials

e. Length of Access to Course Site – At the end of a given semester, course sites will remain viable for not less than seven calendar days after the last day of finals week. Courses sites will not be available to students past the day before classes begin for the following semester. (For example, if final exams end on May 16th and Summer School begins on June 3rd, Bb course sites will be available to students until least until May 23rd, but not later than June 2nd.) Faculty members may request that students continue to have access to a course site beyond these dates. Reasons for extending course access might include providing access for students who are finishing “incompletes” or the continuation of an online discussion. Student's who are finishing an “incomplete” but who are not currently enrolled may be subject to loss of their KU Online ID. In this case, an exception account may be established for that student at the request of the instructor, with access not to extend beyond the student’s deadline for completion of work required to receive a course grade. In general, providing student access to courses beyond the usual cut-off will be discouraged, however, due to the potential confusion for students, increased work created for IDS staff, and possible copyright concerns.

2) Course Management – Sites on the Bb server are managed with the goals of reducing faculty time and effort needed to utilize online tools and materials, and improving server performance by eliminating redundant or unnecessary demands on the database.

a. Courses Kept on the Bb Server -- To provide continuous instructor access to all of their Bb sites throughout the year, course sites are maintained on the Bb server whether they are actively used by students or not. If an instructor has used a course site in the past but does not expect to use it again, it is encouraged that the instructor request that it be deleted from the server to conserve space on the server.

b. Course Size Limitations – At this time, there is no official limitation on the size of course sites, although sites using more than 150mb of memory may result in problems creating archives at the end of the semester. IDS will work with faculty whose Bb sites contain extremely large files (video clips, for example) to provide advice and assistance to help them compress files or move such materials to another server location in order to utilize space as efficiently as possible.

c. End of Semester Notification -- At the end of each semester, all Bb-using faculty will receive an e-mail message reminding them of the date students will lose access to that semester’s course sites. (See section 1) e. above for more information.)

d. Course Archives – Prior to removing students from the semester’s course sites, an archival copy of each course will be made. These copies will be retained for later retrieval, if this becomes necessary, but instructors will be reminded to print out the gradebook and any other documentation of student work in the event of a future grade dispute. Retrieving these records from the archive is a time-consuming and imperfect process, and should be considered a last resort for retroactive grade information. Once a course site has been archived, it will be retrieved only upon request of the original instructor who created/offered it (usually the instructor of record) or the appropriate dean. An exception to this will be made if IDS receives permission from the original instructor to make the archived course materials available to another instructor/staff member.

e. Re-using Course Sites – Faculty are encouraged to establish a Bb site for each course they teach, and to retain this site for use during each semester that course is offered. Prior to the beginning of each semester, faculty will have the option to indicate which course roster(s) should be loaded into their specific Bb site(s). At the end of the semester, those Bb rosters will be emptied, the gradebook cleared of names and scores, discussion boards deleted, and other evidence of student work removed from the site. Until the semester when the Bb site returns to active use, the instructor(s) and/or designee will be the only individual(s) with continued access to the site.

f. Transferring Course Sites – Instructors may elect to transfer a course site and its materials to another faculty member, or give other faculty members access to their course site. However, course sites will not be re-assigned to a new instructor for re-use without written permission from the original instructor. If a faculty member leaves KU for other employment, the faculty member may request a copy of course site(s) to take along or request that a copy of one or more Bb sites be transferred electronically to the new institution, where it may be used (within technological limits).

g. Requesting a Bb Course Site – Any faculty or instructional staff member may request that a Bb course site be established for their use. Course name and number, instructor name, and class number are required to set up a course site. Before the site will be made available, however, the instructor (or GTA) must complete an orientation workshop (in person or online) to become familiar with the Bb software. This is done to reduce the number of support calls made to IDS and IT, as well as to provide constructive teaching ideas for using online resources and instructional development advice for online teaching. Individuals who have experience working with Bb at other institutions may have this prerequisite waived, although it is recommended that they meet with an IDS staff member to discuss the course management protocols that are specific to KU.

h. Non-instructional Uses -- The Bb system is maintained for instructional use (i.e., to support courses offered by KU). IDS and IT encourage faculty and staff to use other campus servers or software for their purposes in order to reduce the potential drain on system resources (staff time, server memory, etc.). Bb sites may be established for non-instructional uses, however, and such requests should be directed to the Director of IDS. Questions regarding the establishment of other websites may be directed to IT.

i. Gradebook Information – The Bb Online Gradebook is a tool designed for the convenience of students and faculty. Thus, it is not an official record of student grades, nor should it be considered a legally binding record of student scores. Faculty are strongly encouraged to periodically print out a copy of the Online Gradebook, and to print a final copy for their records after the semester ends. In addition, faculty are strongly encouraged to post student grades only in the secure Bb gradebook.

3) Information Security – The Bb user database is fed directly from the KU Online ID system, thus allowing users to login with an already-familiar username and password. The security of these systems is of paramount importance in maintaining a reliable and trusted resource for virtually available instructional materials and tools.

a. Controlling Access to Student Information – As with other university records, faculty are cautioned to take care that student information (including, but not limited to, grades, test scores, usernames, or ID numbers) be closely guarded. As noted in the Gradebook Information section above, grades should not be posted so that students may see scores belonging to anyone but themselves (for example, in a spreadsheet uploaded to the course site).

b. Provisions for “Alias” Accounts – Students who have requested that their personal information (including directory information) not be released have the option to request an “alias” account. This provides them with an associated account “name” consisting of an alphanumeric code. This way, they are able to participate in Bb activities (such as discussions or online group work) without their name being displayed. It is the responsibility of the student to share this alias information with their professors to facilitate grading, recording of attendance, etc.

c. E-mail Address Display – All Bb users will have their KU Exchange account address (name@ku.edu) displayed as the e-mail address, even if this is not the registered address. E-mail delivered from a Bb site will be redirected to the registered address if it does not match the Exchange address. Instructions for disabling this, or for enabling the display of other directory information within the Bb system, are included in the Student’s Guide to Blackboard (found at http://www.ku.edu/~ids/docs/Blackboard_Student_Essentials.doc).

4) Copyright Issues -- Faculty are strongly encouraged to respect the property of others by obeying copyright law and requesting permission, when appropriate, before using the work of others.

a. Posting Copyrighted Materials – Copyright law and Fair Use Guidelines allow faculty to provide access to copyrighted materials using the Bb system, and information regarding these uses and legal constraints on such uses can be found at https://policy.drupal.ku.edu/provost/intellectual-property-policy.

b. Linking to External Sites from Bb – The Bb software provides an easy-to-use interface for integrating links to other websites into course materials. Instructors are encouraged to link to other sites, rather than attempting to integrate the desired materials directly into the Bb course site. This alleviates copyright concerns and also retains the integrity of the materials (and associated links) in their original environment. It is the responsibility of the instructor to confirm that links from Bb to external sites are viable.

c. Linking to Bb from External Sites – It is possible to link to a Bb course site directly from websites external to Bb. Users will, however, be prompted to log in with their recognized KU Online ID to prevent unauthorized access to materials residing in Bb.

5) Intellectual PropertyThe University of Kansas recognizes the intellectual property rights of faculty, staff, and students. The following policies are aligned with those already in place, which can be found at https://policy.drupal.ku.edu/provost/intellectual-property-policy.

a. Ownership of Course Sites – Instructors who create Bb course sites retain all rights to those materials, including the right to request and receive an archived copy of the site in digital format. Use of the site and access to its materials and tools are determined by the instructor, and these rights may be reassigned by that individual. Administrators are not able to arbitrate issues related to ownership of course materials; therefore, it is assumed that an individual with the status of Instructor for a Bb site also has rights (including copyright and intellectual property rights) to any materials found in the course, unless specifically designated otherwise.

b. Student-created Materials on Bb – Instructors may choose to post student work (or expect students to post their own work) on the Bb course site. Students must be informed of this (preferably in writing) at the beginning of the course. They must also be told if their work will be retained in the course site beyond the duration of the semester and whether others will have access to it. No evaluative commentary or grade information from the instructor may be included with student work if the work includes information identifying its creator. Students retain all rights to their work. These policies also apply to student-posted messages in a Discussion Forum. (Sample permission forms and syllabus statements may be obtained from IDS.)

c. System Management Data – Information regarding Bb system performance or usage is considered the property of the University of Kansas. Information regarding specific Bb sites or individual accounts will be held in confidence, although data may be gathered and presented in aggregated form by university staff members (e.g., IDS, IT, Library, etc.) for professional development activities such as conference presentations and/or scholarly/industry publication.


Chief Information Officer
345 Strong Hall
1450 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-4999

Approved by: 
Chief Information Officer
Approved on: 
Saturday, November 1, 2003
Effective on: 
Saturday, November 1, 2003
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Blackboard, course management
Review, Approval & Change History: 

07/011/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.

Updated 4/30/09; 11/11/10.

Academic Categories: 
Assistance with Schoolwork
Learning Communities
Information Access & Technology Categories: 
Information Access
Information Technology
Privacy & Security

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