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Blackboard Tip: Spring Cleaning (for Blackboard Courses)

As we sweep up the remnants of the yellow mounds of pollen marking the start of the spring cleaning season, this is also a reminder that courses in Blackboard copied forward from semester to semester also need to be regularly thoroughly shaken out, repaired for any parts that have frayed with time, and then trimmed of bits that are no longer used. Regular maintenance will make for a more pleasant experience for everyone using the course (including you as the instructor) and can help prevent issues before they arise. With the coming option to update your courses to the Ultra course view, a cleanup in advance will also simplify that conversion process. 

bblogoIf courses exceed a 1GB size limit, they can no longer be archived or copied forward. We have also found that silent copying errors (where some content does not come across, but the logs show a successful copy) happen more frequently in larger courses.   

It is also easier for you as the faculty member to determine which version of a syllabus or other file to attach if you remove old versions from the content collection of your current course. 

To look for items in the content collection that are no longer used in your course, do the following: 

  1. Go to the Course Management area of your course, select Content Collection, then the first option, which will be your full course ID (ex. TSUS123401222). 
  2. This brings up all the content of your course. Navigate over to the column entitled Accessibility. Items with a gas gauge or speedometer looking icon (of any color) under the Accessibility column are linked/being used in the course and should *not* be deleted
  3. To double check that an individual item is not active in the course, open the context menu and choose 360° View
  4. A new tab will open that will take you to the 360° View of the content. Scroll down the page until you see the Links section. If something is listed under this section, it is actively being used in the course. If nothing is listed, it is not currently active in the course. 

Be sure that you are viewing the accessibility column at an individual file level (per file). Any files that do not have the accessibility icon or have something listed under Links in the 360° View may be deleted if you choose to help clean up the content in the course. Things that are not in use can be moved to the Recycle Bin.  

If your course is using Articulate presentations, embedded web pages, or interactive simulations, check with your instructional designer as you start to clean up. Some content of those types might not correctly reflect being used in the course. 

If you have video or audio media files attached as files directly into your course from the content collection rather than using YouTube or SHSU’s Kaltura/MyMedia streaming server, your instructional designer can also help you move those resources to KalturaDoing so will both free up disk space in Blackboard and get that media into a state easier for students to access and use. 

Course archival policy 

As part of keeping things tidy on our side, we keep Blackboard courses on the server for a bit over two years and then store them offline for another two years according to our Course Archival PolicyIf you teach a set of course content (such as one class of a rotating and infrequent special topics series) less often than every 4 years or want to make sure you always have your own copy of content you helped develop, you should save a copy of a course to a secure local storage area. You can ask your instructional designer for assistance with this process. If you would like to back up your own courses, please complete both of the following steps. Be sure to download the archive file you create within 30 days, after which Blackboard automatically deletes these sorts of manually generated archive files (again, to preserve disk space): 

  1. Archive - create a backup of the course 
  1. Download the archive to a secure local storage