Blackboard Automated Administration Project

Project description

Blackboard has a basic range of processes that automate key administrative activities, such as the creation of student and staff accounts (logins), the creation of unit spaces ("courses" in Blackboard),and the enrolment of students onto courses based on unit enrolment data in SITS.

The current range of automated processes save staff a significant amount of time, however user feedback indicated that there were additional requirements that were not being met e.g. the creation of Programme spaces.

In addition there were some issues with the course lifecycle, and end and start of year administrative processes required significant staff time to manually resolve.

Finally the anticipated restructuring of faculty and staff who had a major role supporting Blackboard as part of Support Process Review brought forward the requirement to look again at what processes we could automate, or support in the central ESU and IS teams.

This project was rendered more complex by the need to support the objectives of the IeLS Project, namely the first re-request period for eReserves and the early wholesale deployment of the Content System.

Project timescales

July 2010

  • Initial meeting with IS

August 2010

  • Meeting with Blackboard Consulting re options
  • Drafting of intial requirements after consultation with key stakeholders

January 2011

  • Project Meeting with IS

February - May 2011

  • Options analysis

June  2011

  • Testing

July 2011

  • Implement system archive
  • Create new SITS units
  • Remove unwanted data e.g. 2010 - 11 student enrolment
  • Move SITS course content into Blackboard Content System

August 2011

  • Re-enable current integration with SITS scripts (6 weeks ahead of usual time)
  • Migrate active non-SITS course content into Blackboard Content System

September 2011

  • Create programme spaces
  • Enable enrolment from SITS onto programme spaces

October 2011

  • Create 2010-11 course archives in Blackboard for student use (if requested by academic).

Based on information from Blackboard Local System Administrators and feedback from an annual survey of Blackboard "power users" the automated archiving and re-creation of courses has saved at least 1 FTE.

Future Developments

It is expected that this project - in essence an ongoing service enhancement requirement will continue in 2011-12. Key requirements are:

  • Automated enrolment onto Programme spaces - currently this requires IS to initiate
  • Automated creation of groups and group enrolment based on data in Syllabus+
  • Assignment of "Institutional roles"

Project Contact

Hilary Griffiths