Blackboard Course Retention

 Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my course back? I don't see it listed.

To retrieve an archived course, contact the Get Help with the Blackboard course ID or term, subject code, course number, and section. ITS will send you a file containing your course that can be re-imported into Blackboard.

How can I get my syllabus or my favorite handout back?

  1. Contact the Tech Desk with the Blackboard course ID or term, subject code, course number, and section.
  2. ITS will send you a .ZIP file with your Blackboard course
  3. Open the .zip file and drag-and-drop out onto your desktop or another folder the file(s) you want.
    Note that your files are typically located in subdirectories within the .ZIP archive and the locations will be labeled differently depending on your course’s structure.

What if I don't know the exact section or course number that I taught?

At this time, ITS does not have a "look up" tool to determine which courses someone may have taught in archived semesters.

If you can provide a narrow window, ITS can individually restore each course onto a temporary server and look to see who the instructor of record was, then provide you with the course(s) to which you were assigned.  Note that each course must be retrieved, restored and inspected separately, so please provide as much information as you can and adjust expectations accordingly.

Can I get a copy of a colleague’s archived course?

Your colleague can request a copy of the course archive, and then pass the .ZIP file to you. Ask your colleague to contact the Get Help

If your colleague is no longer at St. Thomas, such a request would require permission from your department chair; contact your department technology consultant to discuss the situation.

I am a student; how can I get the old course materials that my instructor taught from?

Contact your instructor and ask him or her for those materials. Just as if you seeking access into your instructor’s office for copies of printed handouts in a file cabinet, those old Blackboard materials are provided at the discretion of the faculty member.

What will happen to Community sites or “pre-production” courses?

There are no current plans to archive sites other than those automatically created by Murphy. 

However, backing those up for your own archival purposes would be wise; please read and follow the Backup Your Blackboard Course (PDF) documentation on a schedule that makes sense for your particular site(s).

How can I archive my own course?

To follow the exact process that is done automatically, but on your own personal schedule, follow the Backup Your Blackboard Course (PDF) process.

Can I be given a place in Blackboard that won't be archived?

Yes!  If the two-year window isn’t large enough for your course development purposes, request a pre-production course site and build that site as a “course template” for future work.

Can any courses be exempted from archiving?

No. The archiving is done by the date, based on the ID and schedule as the courses were originally fed into the Blackboard server.

(This is why, during St. Thomas' accreditation processes, courses not related to the accreditation weren't selectively archived.)

Why archive?

Archiving courses more than two years old has been university policy since 2012 (a broader accommodation than the original one-year policy established in 2006); however, archiving has not been implemented during recent accreditation processes at the request of schools and colleges that wanted to provide accreditors convenient access to historical data. 

Moving ahead with archiving older courses puts St. Thomas  back in compliance with our previous stated policy and with Blackboard’s support recommendations.

In addition, a reduced number of active courses in the system will dramatically improve the functionality of features like Blackboard calendaring and course lists, which become unwieldy when several years of courses are combined.

Does Blackboard, Inc. recommend this process?

Blackboard, Inc. recommends regular course purging and prefers that no more than one year be kept on the “live” server. 

Given typical St. Thomas teaching schedules, ITS felt it important that two years of courses be kept in place; this means that faculty can not only go back to the previous year, but two years back in case they teach a particular course every-other-year.

My Blackboard doesn't look any different to me; I thought old courses were gone already?

Display of year-old courses is not set to be “required” on the My Courses module that you see when logged in to Blackboard, and after a year they revert to “not displayed,” so they disappear from view in the My Courses module.  An example is the course archiving process in June 2015 removed the pre-2013 courses from the Courses tab and from customized views of the My Courses module.

Blackboard always ran fine in the past; why is archiving necessary?

St. Thomas has traditionally kept Blackboard on a conservative upgrade schedule, running one or more versions behind “current” and slowly upgrading the system through thousands of old courses.

Today, online programs require more advanced features and St. Thomas can't afford to hold its Blackboard installation back because the system is overloaded.

Blackboard has indeed been very stable in recent years because of the efforts of IT staff to keep the overburdened server functioning; the risk has shifted now, from “maintaining long-term historical information in convenient form” to “keeping the current system up-to-date and modern while maintaining efficiency and stability.”