We migrated to the Bb native merge tool from our own home grown approach. In the past we added section numbers in parenthesis of the course name and this controlled who was enrolled in the course. It allowed instructors to merge sections by themselves, but also led to some mistakes.
Enter Bb native merging! We tested the tool and it seemed ok. There is one scenario, where things went nuts.
1. Section A+B+C are merged into M.
2. Student enrolls in Banner in section A (automation adds student in Bb to A).
3. Student drops section A in Banner (and it is marked unavailable in Bb)
4. Student enrolls in section B, but cannot see it in Bb. They expect to see section M in their list. Since the student is already in A (although unavailable), they cannot be added to B.
5. Instructor logs in and makes the student available again in section A.
6. Next morning automation drops them in section A, according to Banner. Section B still cannot be added, because the student is still in A and A+B are merged.
7. To enable the student we need to delete them from A or row_status disable, and then add to B.
A few things to remember:
If A and B are being merged and a student is in both, Blackboard automatically selects a child section to row_status disable the student. The other section will have an available and row_enabled enrollment for this student.
If the student is already enrolled and unavailable in any child section, automation or manual GUI action will not add them.
For us it means that at the start of the semester we can't use availability indicator as a class drop, we need to either delete or row_status disable. Later in the semester we need to keep student work and grades in the course and visible to the instructor. That's why we don't delete, disable, we just set the availability to unavailable.
If you have experiences or wisdom to add on the merging process, please share.