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.
Faculty and students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
This document is intended to serve as a set of guidelines for decision-making related to the use of the Blackboard Learn™ (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, staff, and students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses.
Included are statements related to Access, Course Management, Information Security, Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights, and Americans with Disabilities Act (AD) Compliance. These policy statements have been reviewed and approved by the Chief Information Officer. For further information or clarification, contact the Educational Technologists at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
a. One User Account -- All KU faculty, staff, and students each have one Bb account 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 – Users who do not have a KU Online ID (continuing education students, 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 “special users”) 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. Each site is locked to facilitate Fair Use posting of course materials and may only be made accessible to guests by the instructor or system administrator at the instructor’s request.
d. Student Access – In order for students to have full access, instructors make courses available. Instructors may, at their discretion, provide full or partial 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, typically within 24 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 – Students have access to their course site(s) until an instructor makes the course unavailable. This is typically done at the end of a term, but is at the discretion of the instructor. Students 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. However, providing student access to courses beyond the usual cut-off will be discouraged due to the potential confusion for students 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. Academic courses are any courses listed in Enroll and Pay. Academic courses made available or that have any students in the course remain on the system for 5 years. Non-Academic courses are any courses created in Blackboard not listed in Enroll and Pay. Non-Academic courses remain on the system for 1 year, but can be renewed each year. Any Non-Academic course that is not renewed will be archived for one year; thereafter it will be permanently removed.
b. Course Size Limitations – At this time, there is no official limitation on the size of course sites, although sites using a large amount of storage may result in problems creating archives. Educational Technologists 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 tool in order to use space as efficiently as possible.
c. Re-using Course Sites –Instructors are encouraged to copy forward materials from previous Blackboard course sites, rather than to use one site in multiple academic terms.
d. 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).
e. Non-instructional Uses –Bb sites may be requested for non-instructional uses and such requests should be directed to the Educational Technologists. Any faculty or instructional staff member may request that a Bb course site be established for use. Course name, course ID, description, instructor name, and a justification for the request are required to set up a course site. The Educational Technologists may direct the request to other IT teams, when other tools better fulfil the desired goals. These courses can be renewed on an annual basis.
f. 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. That said, faculty are strongly encouraged to post student grades only in the secure Bb gradebook. The official student grades will be entered in Campus Solutions as the official record at the end of the semester.
3) Information Security – The Bb user database is fed directly from the KU Identity Management 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. E-mail Address Display – All Bb users will have their primary e-mail address displayed in courses. The primary email address is the Online ID by default.
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.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 Property – The 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.ku.edu/provost/intellectual-property-policy.
a. Ownership of Course Sites – Ownership of Bb course sites is determined by the Vice Provost for Faculty Development. System administrators are not able to arbitrate issues related to ownership of course materials, and will refer all questions to the Vice Provost for Faculty Development.
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.
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. IT, Library, etc.) for professional development activities such as conference presentations and/or scholarly/industry publication.
6) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance – The University of Kansas is committed to providing electronic resources that are accessible to everyone, including individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all course materials, (i.e. documents, videos, etc) posted online be made accessible. KU’s Content Accessibility website (http://content.accessibility.ku.edu) contains tips and information for creating or converting these elements to an accessible format before they are posted in a blackboard course. Please also see the Acceptable Use of Educational Technologies: Guidelines for Faculty and Staff.
Chief Information Officer
Price Computing Center
1001 Sunnyside Ave
Lawrence, KS 66045
11/26/2019: Updated policy link.
02/23/2018: Updated to match current internal policies.
Updated language to non-existent departments and positions.
Length of Access to Course Site
Courses Kept on the Bb Server
Course Size Limitations
Removed End of Semester Notification
Removed Course Archives
Re-using Course Sites
Removed Requesting a Bb Course
System Management Data
Removed Provisions for “Alias” Accounts
E-mail Address Display
Added Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance section
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.