**EDIT - WORKAROUND FOUND** Customized Student-based Course Role - Workarounds for Discussion Board access issue?

Discussion created by ra0043350 on Jul 30, 2019
Latest reply on Jul 31, 2019 by ra0043350



We have a pretty big need for "Class Helper" course roles that are based off "Student" permissions that allow for a few other things, like creating/managing Announcements, maintaining Groups/teams, and facilitating class communications, without being able to access grading or modifying course content. The "class helper" would not be a university employee or enrolled student in that course, so under no circumstances should they have access to content management or grading.


Unfortunately, as far as I know, the Student Course Role cannot be copied to be used as the basis to create a new role just yet. This presents a lot of challenges for us, because when attempting to create roles based off Instructor or TA permissions, even if certain permissions are restricted, there's still ways that "restricted" areas can be accessed. 


For example, I have a role for a "Student Helper" in which the following permissions are set (and these are the ONLY permissions set):


- Trusted with Scripts

- Add/modify/edit/delete Announcements

- View all Groups

- Send Email (all permissions enabled) 

- Course/Org Control Panel > Help

- Course/Org Control Panel > Tools > Messages

- Course/Org Control Panel > Tools > Send Email

- Course/Org Control Panel > Tools > Groups (Add/modify/Edit/Delete/view groups)


This is generally fine as it only allows Edit mode on the Announcements area, and suppresses all ability to access the Control Panel or edit course content - however, if the course uses graded Discussion forums, then my "Student Helper" can select "grade" from these discussion forums, and view/edit/delete grades for individual students - and this is with NO permissions enabled for Discussion Board or Grade Center!


If you have any kind of workaround for this, so that a "student helper" can be used in classes which have Graded Discussions (or a better way to create course roles based on student permissions), we would genuinely appreciate your input - Thank you in advance!





After discussion with Blackboard Manged Hosting, a verified workaround has been found to create my "Course Helper" and have permissions restricted in the discussion forums. It DOES require some faculty maintenance however, so if this is used, be sure to communicate to faculty the steps to "Manage" each discussion Forum to set the appropriate Forum role for your designated Custom Course Role User. 


The key is that permissions on access in the discussion forums aren't set just at the course role level - they're also set at the individual USER level within the forum, which appears to override course-level settings. However, these can be managed on a per-forum basis!


  1. Step 1: Create a new Course Role based off the FACILITATOR role. Set the permissions as you like, with no permissions for grading or discussion forums. (note, if you create the course role off Course Builder or Instructor roles, this will not work!)
  2. Step 2: Enroll a user into the course and add them to the new Course Role that was created. 
  3. Step 3: On the Discussion Board, for EACH FORUM: 
    1. Click the chevron and go to "Manage"
    2. Locate the user from the list.
    3. Change their role in that discussion forum from "Facilitator" to either "Participant" (if you want them to be able to see and participate) or "Blocked" (if you don't want them to access it at all)
    4. Basically, just rinse & repeat with the other Discussion forums in this course. 


The end result is you get a user with a custom role in the course that has the level of access you want in the Discussion Board, set on a per-forum level, with no way for the user to access grading, or modify content. 


The only downside is that this is a workaround - if the instructor decides to add in additional Discussion forums after you have added their "helper" student for them, then they'll need to make sure those new forum permissions are managed as well.