This page answers frequently-asked questions about setting up Blackboard courses for the start of a new semester, and can serve as a rough timeline and/or checklist of things to do to get your new course ready for the semester.
When Will my Blackboard Course for Next Semester be Available?
New Blackboard course shells are typically created 6-8 weeks before the start of the term, shortly after the registrar's office finalizes the term schedule of courses . Fall course shells are typically available to instructors in Blackboard before July 15. Spring course shells are typically available before Thanksgiving break.
Students enrollments are added to Blackboard courses 4 weeks before the start of the semester in the same timeframe that the registrar typically populates course rosters in MySlice.
Blackboard instructors control if and when a Blackboard course is made visible to students (see "How do I Open My Course to Students?" below).
All university registrar courses are governed by the automated data feed between MySlice and Blackboard. Blackboard admins do not bypass the data feed to create official Blackboard course shells early. If an instructor urgently needs to begin building a Blackboard course before they are created, OLS can create individual 'sandbox' courses upon request. Instructors can build Blackboard course content in the sandbox and then copy the files into the official course shell once it has been created. Sandboxes are only available to instructors for the purposes of building and testing online course content—they will not be populated with student enrollments. The contents must be copied into official, feed-created courses for students to access the content. Email email@example.com with the purpose, course name, and instructor netids to request a sandbox.
How do I Add a Co-Instructor, TA, Course Builder or Grader to my Course?
The "Manage Users" tool formerly used to allow instructors to directly add/remove other instructors, TAs, course builders, or graders is no longer available in Ultra courses. ITS is working to implement a replacement user management tool and return this functionality to instructors as soon as possible. For the spring 2024 semester, all requests to add co-instructors, TAs, etc should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by an existing instructor. Please include in your request:
- The course name and Blackboard number (i.e. FYS.101.M001.FALL22.First Year Seminar; 26597.1241)
- The NetID of the user(s) to be added (i.e. tanders05)
- The role requested (instructor, TA, course builder, or grader)
The Acceptable Use Policy requires the permission of the instructor of record to grant Blackboard access to any other user. Blackboard admins will not process requests that come from TAs, department admins, replacement instructors, etc. without the written consent of an existing instructor.
All Instructors and TAs assigned to a class in MySlice are automatically added to the corresponding course shell(s) in Blackboard upon creation. Instructors and TAs assigned to a class after Blackboard shells have already been created will also be automatically enrolled in Blackboard, but the process can take up to 12 hours from the time the user is entered in MySlice. Contact your department course coordinator for questions about enrollment status for Instructors or TAs that will be officially added through MySlice.
If an Instructor, TA, etc needs to be added to Blackboard manually (if they are assisting with the course in an unofficial capacity not recorded in MySlice, for example), the instructor of record can email email@example.com to request course access for the user. Please include the following information in the request:
- User's NetID (the username/first part of the @syr.edu email address)
- Course name and 9-digit Blackboard ID number (i.e. BIO.105, 12345.1231)
- User role requested (Instructor, TA, Course Builder, or Grader)
How do I Copy Content from Another Blackboard Course?
To copy content from another Blackboard course into your new course shell, go into the course content area of the destination course, click → Copy Content, search for the course you wish to copy from, and select the folders/items to be copied.
See the full Answers page on course copy for more detailed instructions and troubleshooting tips.
Trying to copy many items or an entire course at once can slow down the process considerably and make it difficult to identify errors. We recommend copying smaller folders or sets of related items in smaller batches, and double-checking all copied content to make sure copied items are displaying/functioning correctly in the new course.
How do I Merge Multiple Courses/Sections into One Blackboard Course?
To have your Blackboard courses merged, please complete the Merge Course Enrollments Request Form.
The merge process creates a new, empty "parent" course shell and adds all enrolled users from the "child" course sections to it. Course content from child courses is not copied and will have to backed up and rebuilt in the new parent course after the merge. We recommend completing your merge request before adding content to an upcoming course.
How do I Post an Announcement/Send an Email for an Upcoming Course?
Blackboard's built-in communication tools, including announcements and course messages, are designed to for use in active courses. To use these features, you must first open your course to students (see next section of this FAQ). If you wish to communicate with students enrolled in a course without making that course available in Blackboard, you can do so through the class roster in MySlice.
Blackboard announcements cannot be posted before the course is opened to students. Announcements can be scheduled for a future date, but will not be released if the course is not available by that date.
Blackboard messages can be sent to all course members (including other instructors, TAs, etc.) or all students, even if the course is unavailable. Students will receive an email copy of the message, but cannot reply until the course is made available in Blackboard.
How do I Open My Blackboard Course to Students?
Student enrollments are added to Blackboard and the course roster is automatically populated 4 weeks before the start of the semester. This allows instructors/TAs to view the course roster and do things like send announcements and create groups. However, the course will remain private/hidden from student view until the instructor opens it.
To open your course, go to the Details & Actions menu bar on the left side of the course content area. Find the lock icon labeled "Course is private" and click the link to access the settings options. Select "Open to Students" to make the course available to students.
For original course view instructions and troubleshooting guidance on managing course availability, see the full Answers page on course access/availability.
How do I Add a Student to My Blackboard Course?
Students who are enrolled in a course through MySlice will be automatically added to the course in Blackboard. It may take up to 12 hours from the time the enrollment is registered in MySlice for the user to appear in Blackboard — please wait one day after a MySlice enrollment has changed before contacting the help desk about student Blackboard access.
University policy prohibits OLS from adding students to Blackboard manually because of enrollment issues like late registrations or holds.
Students with an administrative hold or other registration delays should work with their advisor or department to resolve the hold and enroll in classes through the registrar as normal.
For students who are not enrolling in a course but who need Blackboard access (such as a student participating in a class as part of an independent study for which they are enrolled instead), the instructor of record should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request that the student be manually added. Please include the following information in the request:
- Student's NetID (the username/first part of the @syr.edu email address)
- Course name and 9-digit Blackboard ID number (i.e. BIO.105, 12345.1231)
- Reason for the request (i.e. independent study, finishing an incomplete, etc)
Do not attempt to manually add unenrolled students in another role such as TA. Students added in a non-student role can view course materials, but cannot submit assignments or receive grades, and will have to be manually disabled and reenabled in a student role which can further delay their ability to fully participate in Blackboard course content. Additionally, students added in non-student roles may be able to access the grades or other private academic information of their classmates, which is a violation of FERPA guidelines.