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Eric van Hoof, Leiden University

This session explores the implementation of Blackboard Hierarchies within an existing (live) Blackboard environment, while at the same time phasing out an outdated building block that had previously structured Blackboard data.In this session people will learn of the experiences of Leiden University – the difficulties, benefits, bugs, workarounds, and as of yet unsolved issues – concerning implementing Blackboard hierarchies.

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  • 1. Leiden University Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles Trials and Tribulations Blackboard Hierarchies Implementation eiden Implementation of Blackboard Hierarchies
  • 2. Leiden University Blackboard Hierarchies Implementation Our Long Road to a Structured Environment In other Words: Our Strange Encounters A Feast of Recognition
  • 3. Leiden University Blackboard Hierarchies Implementation • Ye Olde Situation • Why Hierarchies • Flaws in the Plan: Internal Procedures • Foiled Again: bugs and ‘per design’ issue • Decisions We Made • This is The End
  • 4. Leiden University Ye Olde Situation In 2003 Leiden University started the implementation of Blackboard. Blackboard had, at that time, limited functionality. Coordinators had no access to the System Admin tab. The Leiden University Work process  Central Bureau (Application Management)  Faculties (Faculty Coordinators)  Departments (Heads of Department)
  • 5. Leiden University Ye Olde Situation Rough break down:
  • 6. Leiden University Ye Olde Situation We needed to: • Grant faculty coordinators access to their courses and users • Easy way to create and maintain courses • Maintain data integrity within a loosely organized framework the System admins based on course ‘suffix’, i.e. [coursename]-[1314LAW] • Coordinators gained an additional institution role: BMS • Additionally, BMS provided an easy way to enroll lecturers whilst creating and linking courses
  • 7. Leiden University Ye Olde Situation BMS (Blackboard Management System)
  • 8. Leiden University Ye Olde Situation
  • 9. Leiden University Why Hierarchies Business case The follow up to the outdated and instable BMS should have: • A sustainable data structure • Within the perimeters of the system • No additional costs • Transparency • Flexibility
  • 10. Leiden University Why Hierarchies Hierarchies is part of Blackboard, it regulates the course and module data structure based on ‘Permissions’ (what user has access to what items) It is located:
  • 11. Leiden University Flaws in the Plan Simplified: Hierarchies provides a framework that allows system admins to grant course coordinators / tutors / instructors (only) access to courses embedded in the Node of which they are ‘administrator.’ This does not include Subnodes.
  • 12. Leiden University Flaws in the Plan ‘Cross-over’ courses (i.e. courses which are organized in cooperation with other faculties) need to be embedded in their consecutive nodes.
  • 13. Leiden University Foiled Again Some things worked a bit different than what one might expect. • It is not possible to create a dependency between Course Catalogue List on Hierarchies, if desired. We have 400+ course catalogue entries…and thanks to the BMS the automatically generated id’s are highly ‘useful’. But BMS did create this dependancy.
  • 14. Leiden University Foiled Again Blackboard demarcates between course privileges and hierarchical permissions; i.e. admins of a node do not automatically have the ‘privilege’ to access a course via the ‘Courses’ option on the System Admin tab. However, they can via the courses tab.
  • 15. Leiden University Foiled Again BMS allowed coordinators to enroll instructors when creating a course. • Via course menu • Via batch • Extra action required
  • 16. Leiden University Foiled Again ‘Batches’ seemingly provide an easy answer. Work via data integration Except…
  • 17. Leiden University Foiled Again Adding instructors in batch is difficult for coordinators - Either external person key (via data integration) - Or user name (via batch within courses) Data integration does not support both options!
  • 18. Leiden University Foiled Again Creating a course, and its correlation with Course Catalogue, Hierarchy Nodes, and Instructors are in total 4 batches. As opposed to 1 in BMS.
  • 19. Leiden University Foiled Again Check marks matter
  • 20. Leiden University Decisions We Made 1. Involvement of our coordinators 2. Keep the Hierarchy structure simple and transparent 3. Redesign Course Catalogue: accessible, transparent, student point of view 4. Work with batches where possible 5. Create system role to support working with Hierarchy structure and support the coordinator work flow
  • 21. Leiden University Decisions We Made System Role privileges overwrite Hierarchy Node permissions. Users can have more privileges than strictly based on the hierarchy structure.
  • 22. Leiden University This Is The End