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Blackboard Course Availability and Retention

Information Technology Standards
Blackboard Course Availability and Retention

Section 1. Overview

1.1 Purpose, Scope, and Objectives
The purpose of this standard is to define the duration of course availability and course data storage on the Blackboard Academic Suite at William & Mary. This standard refers to academic course sites as well as guest user accounts in the Blackboard System, and also outlines the availability of student enrollments. The deletion of expired courses in Blackboard is necessary to maintain a manageable database size with consistent speed and performance. Course instructors will be notified multiple times well in advance and given explicit instructions for archiving their course content before any data is permanently purged from the system.

1.2 Assumptions and Constraints
The Blackboard system is hosted on hardware located in the Information Technology (IT) central machine room, protected by a backup power generator and specialized fire suppression systems. While Blackboard has proven to be reliable, IT maintains extensive backups to recover data lost due to disaster. IT performs nightly incremental and weekly full backups to tape of the Blackboard System. The full backup tapes are copied and vaulted to an offsite secure location each week. The amount of data instructors can upload to Blackboard has not been limited by quota restrictions.

For these reasons, it is important to minimize the amount of database information within Blackboard and to best utilize that space for active courses. Purging inactive courses that are more than two years old will help maintain database size and provide consistent performance and download speeds.

Most courses are taught at least once every two years. Blackboard gives instructors the ability to copy content from inactive to current courses and to archive/export course content to their own local or network storage. Students who have successfully completed a course no longer need access to the course’s Blackboard site and its content. When student enrollments are made unavailable in Blackboard, all course content persists with the exception of the grade book. Students who take an incomplete for the course will need to remain active in Blackboard so that they can access course material to finish the course after the term has expired. At the end of each semester instructors will need to specify in Banner the students who have not completed the respective course(s).

Section 2. Description

2.1 Guidelines/Procedures
Thirty days after the end of each semester, student enrollments will be made unavailable in Blackboard unless a student has taken an incomplete and the instructor has recorded the incomplete in Banner. Instructor availability will persist for two years until the course is deleted from the system. Courses will be marked for deletion exactly two years after the course creation date. Course deletions will occur twice a year during Spring and Fall break.

Instructors will be contacted via email notification at two months, one month, and one week prior to the course site being deleted. Notifications will remind instructors that courses are being deleted on the designated date and time and will provide explicit instructions for archiving courses and course content.

All user accounts in Blackboard with the “wmb” prefix which designates the account as a guest account will be deleted from the system after two years of inactivity. These accounts will be deleted twice a year concurrent with the course deletions. Owners of the guest Blackboard account will NOT be notified, however, instructors can have new guest accounts created for non-W&M users at any time.