Community System

What is the Community System?

The Blackboard Community System was one of the additional modules purchased as part of the Integrated e-Learning Systems project (IeLS).  The Community System adds a new type of Blackboard space called an organisation.

Organisations are very similar to Blackboard courses. The location in Blackboard, look and feel, navigation and content management options are all similar or identical to that in courses, which will make it fairly easy for staff and students who are already familiar with Blackboard to use the new organisations feature.

Organisations can be requested for any purpose,  Blackboard courses will be used to for unit and programme spaces with SITS integration.

What is the difference between courses and organisations?


Organisations can be requested for any purpose, by students and staff.

Students are manually enrolled.

Organisations are not subject to automated administration procedures (e.g. saving of organisation information -archiving.)

Courses for units and programmes are created automatically from data in SITS.

Students are automatically enrolled from SITS.

Courses are subject to automated administration procedures.


Organisations display in the My Organisations module on your Blackboard Homepage.

Courses display in the My Courses module on your Blackboard Homepage.


Organisation leaders are contacted once a year to determine if the organisation is still required.

Responsibility for archiving rests with the organisation lead.

New organisations need to be requested.

Blackboard courses run for one academic year.

Automated course archiving, with option of making archives of units available to students.

New versions of courses automatically created.


May be used for academic, administrative, professional or social purposes by students and staff for any activity that does not easily fit within a unit or programme.

Organisations can be created, led and used by staff, students or a combination of both. Users share content and can collaborate within the space.

Leaders and members present content relevant to the organisation members e.g. photos from socials for societies, useful articles/links for working groups, department administration information or School or Faculty spaces.

Often used to directly support teaching and learning, which can include social or collaborative learning (e.g. peer assessment)  linked to a specific unit or programme of study.

Courses are usually created and led by staff, though individual activities may be student led.

Provides a range of communication, collaboration and assessment tools. Content may be formal educational material such as lecture slides, copies of or links to relevant documents, reading lists, online tutorials and eReserves.

Users and permissions

Current roles include Leader, Participant, Assistant, Organisation Builder (admin roles). New roles can be created according to the requirements of individual organisations; allocating varying levels of permissions.

Allow and encourage more active involvement of all users on an equal basis and multi-way communication in an informal environment.

Specific and predetermined roles within the course (Instructor / Student) determine user permissions across all Blackboard courses.

Communication or collaborative activities may be generally designed and instigated by the instructor.

Getting started

To request a community space email: 

Organisation leaders enrol students manually.

Organisation leaders enrol colleagues.

Courses are created automatically from SITS.

In 2011 Programme spaces will also be automatically created.

Automatic student enrolment on course and programme spaces from SITS.

For new courses or existing instructors enrol staff.

For existing courses Instructors can enrol colleagues.

Why use it?

Some possible uses of  organisations include:

What support is available?