Customers often ask us: when do other schools make classes available to students?
I work at a private university where the faculty have a great deal of authority over and responsibility for the ultimate success of our academic programs. Thus, this topic (like just about everything related to teaching and learning) generates lots of conversation. Pretty early on in our use of an LMS we realized that it was important to students that they be able to identify a consistent date when they could expect all of their courses to be available. (And this policy REALLY helps contain help desk traffic around this issue.) The problem was getting everyone to agree on exactly when that date should be. The last time that we opened the practice up for review we received proposals from everything from a month in advance to not one minute before 8:00a.m. on the day that the class begins. Ultimately, after multiple rounds of discussion, we settled on 1 week prior to term start. We made this more widely acceptable by assisting those who wanted earlier student access in setting up alternative tools (including Bb Organizations) that could be used to facilitate the type of pre-term interactions that they wanted and different fun image files that faculty could load into their courses if they didn't want the students to be able to access any actual content until the start of the term. We do still get one or two folks complaining every term, but most folks are at least relatively comfortable with the one week prior to term start shell availability now.
Thank you! This is super helpful.
I work at a private university, where quite a lot is automated.All our courses are created automatically based on templates and the schedules. All students and teachers are enrolled automatically as well based on their schedule.So the courses are available for teachers and student as soon as:
So most of the times the courses are available for teachers and students about 1-2 weeks before the semester starts.Teachers have access to teacher materials prior to this.
Our courses are instantly available when they are created. However, students' membership to rooms is synced when they've registered for the course. So in practical terms, they don't see the course until then (within 14 days of the first day of class)
14 days before the official class start.
Our course sections are created with default dates that match the academic calendar. Faculty are then free to adjust the dates to meet course needs.
Our practice is to allow instructors to make sites Available on their own. Some of the factors supporting that practice are: (1) In many departments, faculty assignments change on the first days of classes, as registrations pile up/decrease; (2) in many departments, part time instructors are not hired until the day classes begin; (3) although Blackboard is the only LMS for the institution, there is no institutional requirement that Blackboard be used for every class (and that would be a ridiculous requirement when the registration system includes CRNs for every practicum and private music lesson and for liability insurance coverage for nurses and practice teachers); (4) historically (since 1999) this practice has served our faculty and students very successfully.
Another related question might be -- When do you make courses UNavailable to students? We do take systemwide action, about two weeks into a new semester, to make all sites from the previous semester unavailable. We do this primarily to trim the list of My Courses seen by students. Most faculty are happy that we do this, so that students from last semester cannot easily give access to full course materials to those in current courses. After a site becomes unavailable, faculty are free to change that setting to allow access again, to satisfy incomplete grade requirements or to let students continue to review previous work, etc.
Good point, Gene Kleppinger - I am interested in that too. My practice was similar to yours and I'd love to hear what others are doing!
We also allow instructors to do make them available on their own. We make the courses unavailable on the last day before the first day of class (so Friday if class starts on Monday). This helps cover at least some late work and instructors are happy with it. They can always request an exception or make the course available again.
We've set up enrollments to allow students into their courses the Saturday before the term begins.
Oh! Also, Faculty gain access to their course 1-2 weeks before the term starts.
Do staff not want to have access earlier to edit content etc.?
Hi Emma, We operate in an institutional model where we use templatized courses to ensure that students are getting the same content no matter which section or professor they take. Courses are developed in a partnership between our e-learning department and our Assistant Deans. Adjunct faculty teach the content they are provided and add their flavor via engagement in course discussions and one-to-one student contact.
Lead instructors edit the Master Shell which are pushed five weeks before semester starts. Instructors have the ability to edit as soon as the master's are pushed into the semester courses.
I should have answered more clearly, sorry - courses are available to students three days before.
Y'all (I'm a southerner - can't help it!) - this is such great feedback. Thank you!
Three days before a course begins. Monday classes are open on Friday. Tuesday classes - Saturday.
Of course, nursing classes are different and begin one month before classes start.
We've been using this for at least the five years I've been at the community college and so far we haven't had any issues.
If the instructor wants the class opened earlier or later, they must have division chair/lead instructor approval with reasoning.
Jessica, I love that you say, "Of course, nursing classes are different." I suspect that anyone who has supported a nursing program can fill in lots of explanations for that claim and would agree that it should be obvious that "nursing classes are different."
Amen, Kimberly Gibson! Every campus I've worked with and my personal experience certainly substantiate that!
We have about 40.000 students and a lot of different classes - some during summer term, some quarter, some semester (and the start of the semester varies from faculty to faculty) so we have a hierarchy (university - faculty - department - course) where one can control the opening for students (and teachers as well) - and have different templates for each of the four levels
One week before first day of classes.
We used to offer customized load dates by instructor request, but it wound up generating support tickets from confused students, edge cases to document and test, and so forth. Over time we've learned that it's very important to have SIS enrollments feed into the LMS in a crystal-clear, transparent fashion, so the fewer exceptions we have to that, the more it will match end users' expectations.
Yes, Robert Utter, we also found that having consistent dates for student access to course shells significantly reduced our support tickets and student's anxiety. For us, the switch from letting faculty make their courses available when they wanted to having a standard available date was switching from focusing on faculty first to focusing on students first. And, except for one glaring exception with an adjunct faculty member who complains loudly every term, our faculty all seem quite comfortable with the switch.
Kudos on being student-centered! I'm glad your faculty, for the most part, see the benefit!
Typically, we make our courses available approximately 4 to 5 weeks prior to the start of each term, for both faculty and students - we also send a reminder to all teaching faculty for that term with instructions on how to use the "hide link" feature to suppress areas of their course menu while they are developing content. This way, faculty can determine when they want to make their materials available for students in advance. Online Courses developed and maintained by a partner are made available to faculty at the same timeframe, but are suppressed from students until one week prior to the start of that course's term.
While we allow faculty the option to suppress their course while it is being developed, we do not encourage this as a best practice, as this causes students to not be able to see the suppressed course on their courselist. Rather, we encourage faculty to suppress sections of their course under development, and to use the announcements feature to indicate when their content is ready.
Once more, everyone - thank you!
Courses are set as available via our Framework to available three days before term just for online courses. However, for our four physical campuses, faculty set it as available typically before class or the first week of class; we have nine day culinary labs to add to the mix (no pun intended) as well.
We do have targeted module reminder for both faculty and students reminding them to make their courses available for on ground courses with a link to instructions to do so.
BTW, in my last role, I supported directly several online nursing programs and they are indeed different. I say the same now with culinary and physician's assistant programs in my current role.
Our courses are available to instructors as soon as they are built in our student system. Students don't have access to courses until two business days before the 1st class day. We will likely change our nursing programs to become available two weeks before 1st class day, well because they are unique.
We allowed access to courses for all students two weeks prior to the 1st class day last semester program wide and needless to say I heard from many of the faculty concerning the change, not that they replied when asked their preference, but after the change was made I figured out very quickly that they did not like the courses being open two weeks before 1st class day. We have moved back to 2 business days.
Up on Trending Content...thought I'd reply.
We used to make them available 4 weeks before start of term. Oddly, the course outline information was only needed to be up a fortnight before term. So we moved, and are currently at, a fortnight before term for course site access for students.
In terms of unavailability, students have access for a year from the end of term. Do some use it towards the end of that time - the analytics tell me Yes! It surprised me how many and how often.
Interesting to read the variety of responses
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