Performance-Based Release Conditions


This page offers some instructional design examples for using the release conditions function in Blackboard Ultra course view to create dynamic content that responds to student performance on specified graded assignments or grade center columns. 

By their nature, performance-based release conditions should generally be used in conjunction with a grading policy that allows students to re-attempt or make up missed work, to avoid creating a situation where a student could get 'locked out' of progressing through the course because they cannot meet the conditions to access necessary content.

For details on how to find and set release conditions, see the Instruction page on Content Visibility and Release Conditions

For details on how to create and track Gradebook columns, see the Instruction page on the Ultra Course Gradebook



Example 1: Using Quizzes to Lock/Unlock Course Modules

In this example, you can use performance on the concluding assessment of each course unit or module to lock/unlock the next module. This can be used as a participation check (by simply requiring that students submit something to unlock the next module, regardless of grade) or as a performance check (such as requiring a score of at least 80% on a unit quiz before students can unlock the next unit). 

This can help prevent students from missing/skipping important information in your course and ensure all students demonstrate necessary foundational skills before moving onto more advanced applications. 


To set a performance release condition, go to the content item you wish to lock, open the visibility settings dropdown menu below the title, and open the release conditions pane. 

Check Performance under the additional conditions options, then select the Graded item you wish to use as the 'key' to lock/unlock the content item. You will need to use an existing graded item; at present there is no way to create a new graded item from this pane. 

Under Grade Requirement, the menu will automatically populate with scores from 10-90% at 10% increments, rounded to the nearest point, or you can select "custom range" to manually set minimum and maximum points thresholds. 

Once you have entered the graded item and grade requirement values for your key, scroll to the bottom of the pane and click Submit to save your settings. 

This screenshot shows an example of a locked item from the student perspective. 

Items with release conditions can be visible or invisible while locked. If visible, the item header will appear with a lock icon next to it and show "Content isn't available" below the title. Students can click that message to see details on the release conditions for the item. 

In this case, the release conditions for Module 2 require students to receive a score on the Module 1 Capstone Quiz of at least 1/20 points (this is avoids interfering with the automatic 0 that is entered for a missed/overdue item that is part of the Ultra course view default settings). This example is designed as a simple participation check, to ensure that students have reviewed the contents of Module 1 and attempted the key quiz before unlocking the next part of the course content. Alternatively, this could be set up as a proficiency check, requiring a score above a certain threshold on the key quiz before the student can unlock Module 2. 

This screenshot shows an example of a locked item from the student perspective. 

Items with release conditions can be visible or invisible while locked. If visible, the item header will appear with a lock icon next to it and show "Content isn't available" below the title. Students can click that message to see details on the release conditions for the item. 

In this case, the release conditions for Module 2 require students to receive a score on the Module 1 Capstone Quiz of at least 1/20 points (this is avoids interfering with the automatic 0 that is entered for a missed/overdue item that is part of the Ultra course view default settings). This example is designed as a simple participation check, to ensure that students have reviewed the contents of Module 1 and attempted the key quiz before unlocking the next part of the course content. Alternatively, this could be set up as a proficiency check, requiring a score above a certain threshold on the key quiz before the student can unlock Module 2. 


Example 2: Assigning Test Corrections Based on Score

In this example, you can set a corrections or revisions assignment to automatically release for students who score below a set threshold on an exam. This helps ensure that students who need additional content review get the opportunity (or requirement) to do so, while students who have already demonstrated proficiency can move onto new course content directly. 


Start by creating the key assessment that will be used to lock/unlock the release conditions. In this example, the key assessment is a midterm exam. 

Course Content page showing a test titled Midterm Exam with nothing else below itNext, create the review assignment in Blackboard. Depending on how/whether you want corrections to affect the original test grade, this could be a separate graded assignment, an extra credit assignment, or an ungraded discussion board or other activity. 

Once you have created the assignment, open up the release conditions options and set the desired performance range. 

In this example, students who score 85 points or lower on the exam will see the test corrections assignment the next time the log into Blackboard. Students who score 86 points or above will not see the corrections assignment. These students could simply not see anything new, or they could be given a different wrap-up/review activity, rather than revisiting an assessment on which they have already demonstrated an acceptable level of proficiency. 


Example A: this student scored 70 points on the key assessment, and can now see the test corrections assignment directly below the midterm on the course content page. 

Example B: This student scored 90 points on the key assessment; instead of the corrections assignment, they see an encouraging note directly below the midterm on the course content page.  

You could even create three or more different dynamic items keyed to different performance thresholds on the key assessment, for example to create different outcomes for students who score above 80%, students who score between 1%-79%, and students who do not submit the assignment and get an automatic 0. 


Example 3: Enforcing Participation/Attendance Requirements Without Grades

In this example, you can set a minimum threshold for attendance or discussion participation as a release condition for the final assessment, so that students must meet the requirement(s) in order to complete the course. This can be useful in cases where you want to mandate a certain minimum level of participation as a course requirement, but do not want to include attendance/participation directly in students' overall course grade calculation. 



First, choose the "key column" in the Gradebook you will use to set the release condition. The key column chosen for this example is the category total for Discussions. Then, set up the performance release condition for the folder or module for your final assessment.

If you do not want the key column to be included in students' course grade, go to the Overall Grade column and select 'edit.' Find the list entry for the key column and click the Ø icon. This will exempt values from the key column and all associated assignments from inclusion in the overall grade total. Exempting a column will change the Ø icon from black to purple and the column value will display as 0 in this view, regardless of the actual column value in the main Gradebook view. 

For more details on using these Gradebook settings, see the Features page on the Ultra Course Gradebook

When a performance release condition is keyed to a category or calculation rather than an individual graded item, students cannot see the specific grade requirement on the locked header icon, but will instead see a message reading "You can't access this content right now. Please contact your instructor." 

If you want to use this idea to create course participation requirements which do not count as grade requirements, that distinction should be clearly communicated to students in advance through the course syllabus and within individual item descriptions in Blackboard. As indicated at the top, performance-based release conditions should only be used in conjunction with policies which allow students to re-take or make up key assignments in order to avoid creating a situation where a student could get 'locked out' of advancing in the course because they cannot meet the conditions to access necessary content.