How to Prepare Your Courses for the End of the Semester

Best Practices Blackboard

All good things must come to an end, and that includes your semester Blackboard courses. Semester Blackboard courses do not reside permanently on the system; they are eventually removed to make way for new courses. Because of this, it is important that faculty perform the End of the Semester Process in each of their courses to save a record of the course’s content and grade data for future use.  Simple and straightforward, completing this process will help you prepare for next semester and avoid stressful situations regarding missing files. It is the faculty’s responsibility to complete this process for each of their courses at the end of the semester.

Step #1: Download the Grade Center for Offline Access

If you make use of your Blackboard course’s Grade Center for tabulating grades, we strongly recommend that you download your Grade Center as an Excel file for future reference. Downloading a copy of your course’s Grade Center is the only way that the grades can be saved and accessed at a later date.

Step #2: Make the Course “Unavailable” to Students

At the beginning of the semester, you had to “turn on” your course to make it available to students. Once the course is complete, the instructor must “turn off” the course to make it unavailable to students. This ends your students’ access to the course and removes the course from the student’s “My Courses” list in Blackboard. This step is important to maintain control over access to your course’s content.

Step #3: Request a Personal Master (Optional)

If you would like a place to permanently store your course materials in Blackboard or would like an area where you can revise your content between semesters, request a Personal Master. A Personal Master is your very own Blackboard course shell for saving or developing a master copy of a course. It is never deleted from Blackboard. The contents of a Personal Master can be imported into a live semester Blackboard course.

Step #4: Archive and Download Your Course

To save the contents of your course for later use, we recommend downloading an Archive of your course. An Archive file is a compressed .ZIP folder that contains all your course’s materials. Although it is not directly editable, this file can be imported into a Personal Master for revising content between semesters. Or, you can import this Archive into a semester course shell to add your content to that course right away.

To be able to save your course’s contents in an Archive file, the course must have a total file size less than or equal to 250 MB. If your course is greater than this amount, you will not be able to generate an Archive file; you will see a “Package Size” warning message when attempting to produce your Archive. To get around this issue, there are several things you can do to reduce the package to an accepted file size:

  • Review your course’s content and remove any large or unused files from the course. This could be large audio or video files, duplicates of PowerPoint files, or even old, unused Blackboard tests.
  • When you are creating your Archive, use the Archive Page’s “Manage Package Contents” button to selectively exclude any large files from the package.
  • Lastly, you could try to selectively package individual course components by generating Export files instead of an Archive file. Unlike an Archive file, which packs up an entire course’s contents, an Export file allows the instructor to pick and choose what content is added to the package. However, please be advised that when creating an Export file with gradable content, you must include the Grade Center and “Tests, Surveys, and Pools” area in the Export file for the export to be complete.

When all else fails, contact MATC Blackboard Support for assistance.

Step #5: Recycle Your Old Personal Master (if applicable)

If you already have a Personal Master for the course that has just ended, but would like to import your newest Archive into it, first recycle (remove) all content from the Personal Master. This is done through a process called Bulk Delete. The Bulk Delete process permanently removes all content and data from the Blackboard shell so that it can be re-used.

Step #6: Import the Archive File into your Personal Master (if applicable)

If you would like to view and revise the course’s materials between semesters, the last step of the process is to import your course’s Archive file into a Personal Master. The Archive-Import process is the most secure and complete way to transfer your Blackboard content from one course shell to another.