14 Replies Latest reply on Apr 21, 2017 9:04 AM by js21588

    Question about Course Shells / Templates

    js21588

      Hello

       

      My question is about course copies.

      A little background:

      We have Banner connected with Blackboard (October 2014, CU5) and the courses are created automatically through SIS integration.

      We have a default course menu that is distributed to all courses.

       

      Now for my question(s): Is it possible for a course copy to override, rather than add to the existing template: for example if a faculty member renames the default 'Information' content area to 'syllabus', when a course copy is done, it will have both an empty 'information' area and the copied 'syllabus' area.

      Also, would it be possible to make it such that a specific set of courses has a different template, for example anything with the course ID relating to a specific course code have a modified template automatically applied?

      Thanks!

        • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
          gw0046349

          So, I have a question.  Why does you SIS create blank shells?  It can create a new course through course copy.  We have our SIS doing both.  For courses where there will be many blackboard instances of instructor led, finite length courses, SIS creates new courses by copying the master in blackboard which has already been built (has the "syllabus" content area ready to go, so to speak).  For new courses that will be continuous enrollment, no schedule for completions, etc, and are anticipated "living" a long time, our SIS creates the blank shell and developers get to work on it.  They are different integrations, obviously.

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            • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
              js21588

              Thanks Gail, as well as Ian and David.

              We do produce courses from a template, they're not blank.
              What happens is some of our faculty go into the template and will rename the content area called "information" to "syllabus" or "content" to "assignments" and a variety of other things.

              Then, when they do a course copy into their next semester, they will have empty areas called "information" and "content", however will also have the "syllabus" and "assignments" areas they created.

            • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
              goh.ian

              Similar to Gail, we have one group that has "master" site templates which our SIS feed users to copy into new sections.   So this mapping is based on certain course information (course offering-level, or in some cases, down to the section-level).

               

              It's hard to extend that idea more broadly to everyone because the majority don't control the content at the school-level.  It's really at the instructor-level. 

               

              So for the majority, our SIS sets up stock course templates with some standard content menus (like you do), and the instructors do the course-copying on their own (in most cases).  There are some groups who do a bit more hands-on help with the course copying but that's their call.

               

              I've heard of other Institutions that have set up request systems for course copying (if they didn't want their instructor touching it). So if you can gather than information, you could extend the SIS integration to process those.

               

              'course you might still have to deal with last minute instructor changes, and suddenly you have to wipe out a course to allow another instructor to re-do it their way...

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              • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                da31384

                Yeah we generate courses from templates through the SIS.

                When creating a feedfile I nominate which course ID i'm using for the template, and the SIS copies from there.

                This allows me to have a different Template for each course if I need to.

                We're a k-12 school so whilst, the Junior School just have one course template, per year level, the Middle and Senior Schools have different templates for Maths, English, Science etc at each year level. So that much is possible.

                In terms of course copy overriding content, i don't believe this is the case. In my experience you just end up adding to the course.

                  • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                    js21588

                    Thanks David,

                    Is it possible to give me some more information on this? Right now we have a default template for the school, however if we wanted say, every course with a specific course ID - for example, every Educational Leadership course, which has EDL in the ID, to have a separate template, this is possible?    

                      • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                        gw0046349

                        So, the way it works for us is our LMS will have an item created, designated as a Blackboard delivered instructor led scheduled offering type.  This is something like Algebra, which will be taught over and over again.  By the way, our LMS is different from Blackboard.  Our LMS handles the complete transcript and course creation, management and history for students and courses. When a new item of this type is created in the LMS, we have to manually create a master in Blackboard and the course content gets developed there.  When ready, the item in our LMS can creating scheduled offerings.  Each time an offering is created in our LMS, SIS is triggered to do a course copy from the master in Blackboard and create the new Bb course for that offering.  There is always an enrollment period for each offering and that, too, happens in our LMS and trickles to Blackboard via SIS.  There are MANY such items in our LMS.  They have their own ID's and their scheduled offerings get ID's too, and both numbers are in the Blackboard course IDs for perfect tracking.  I hope that helps!

                        • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                          da31384

                          Sure thing John, yes this is possible, it's what I do as part of my role.

                          I should point out that the decision to use templates this way was made before came on board so I'm not sure it's the best practice.

                          Whilst it gives you the ability to manage templates down to a finer level, it does mean that I spend a big chunk of time getting templates right and making sure the they are signed off on, so that if/when a Head of a Learning Area says "this isn't what we wanted", I can point back to the template and say "But this is what you signed off on".  Just something to think about...

                           

                          Here is an example of one of my feedfiles:

                          feedfileexample.PNG

                           

                          This is a bite sized feedfile that i used to re-create couple of courses after I'd done the bulk of them, but it gives you the right idea.
                          You can see that in this instance I created 5 new courses from 3 different templates.

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                      • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                        j.blatchford

                        Hi John,

                         

                        We have similar issues, some departments have a very curated course template that they don't really want staff to alter, or have items in the left hand menu that URL link to other resources that may need updating over time.  The only way to "manage" that at the moment would be a custom development that made a note of the unique id of those items when the course was created and had the capability of periodically checking e.g. overnight that those items still had the same name and if not, re-name them back.  Not a path we have gone down as yet however the new restful API has the potential to make that easier in the future if we do choose to progress it.

                         

                        We have been feature requesting a proper course "template" system from Blackboard for years that would allow you to have a master template that could be applied to a selection of courses via id or hierarchy that would allow you to dictate items that would appear in the left hand menu that would be permanent and out of the tutors control e.g. would appear greyed out and not removable/hide able but would appear as part of the course to students.  Also there should be the option to add editable content areas etc that have a fixed left hand menu name but the tutor can then add content....  Hopefully we will get it one day, it's one of the sadly lacking bulk management features we would like to see so that we could easily roll out new tools/features in a managed way and not have to ask staff to add/not remove "mandatory" content.

                          • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                            js21588

                            I agree.

                            Though, the renaming part isn't the one we're concerned about. Profs can rename whatever they like. What we want to prevent though, is for example: if a prof renames a folder in the fall and copies it in the spring, there are now empty content areas in the spring. While this isn't a huge concern, we have had cases where profs would then put an updated syllabus in "information" in the spring, and now there's two syllabi in the course.

                              • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                                j.blatchford

                                In that case you might be able to setup a scheduled DB query (easier if you are self hosted but not impossible if Bb host) that looks for content areas it wouldn't expect to be empty e.g. your "information" content area... If you expect it always to have some content and its only in these rename instances that it shows up empty you could get the query to flag course ID's where there are no child items under that left hand menu item... May be too sweeping an approach but might let you catch what you are looking for with a little tweaking of the query...

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                            • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                              linda.morosko

                              We have a similar situation, John. We have our menu set, but we're moving from ANGEL to Bb with Ultra Navigation and the menu issue is frustrating us. We can't figure out how to push out the menu we want to use.

                               

                              We create blank shells for each semester as well. The majority of our faculty prefer to have control over what's loaded or not. We use master courses for our large volume courses - English, Psych, Sociology, etc.. The majority of content is loaded in each shell by the instructor and we can't load in advance.

                              • Re: Question about Course Shells / Templates
                                jefflong

                                There is no way to override the existing target course menu when copying into it.  We've been bugging Blackboard to add this for years but they claim they can't understand a use case for it or some such.  There must be some extremely nasty code inside Blackboard that nobody wants to touch is the only thing I can think because to me it seems a simple feature to add.

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