Instructional Technology Newsletter 27 – Enrollments in Blackboard

Beverly Riddell, Office of Information Technology

OIT runs programs daily that add and drop students from your Blackboard course based on their status in EX (which you can view via MyMBU). This means you no longer need to add and drop students yourself. It also means that if you are combining your course enrollments, you need to do it a new way. If you usually combine enrollments for your course, please see “How do we combine enrollments” below for the new workflow.

For the rest of us:  Blackboard allows us to combine enrollments for two courses by doing a course merge, setting one as the ‘parent’ and one as the ‘child’.
Why would you combine your enrollments?

There are a variety of reasons that people might combine enrollments from two courses in one Blackboardcourse:

  • Dual listed courses (REL202/PHIL302).
  • Online and face to face courses (PSYC101 and PSYC101WA)
  • Two sections of the same course (BIOL101L01 and BIOL101L02)
  • Graduate and undergraduate courses (ED3xx/ED6xx) with some shared content but different levels of assignments.

Why should you merge your courses rather than just adding the students from one course to the other?

Because we are now using an automatic add/drop process, you cannot use the method of manually copying enrollments from one course to another. 

There are two advantages to merging courses. The first is that your students see the course they are enrolled in when they log into Blackboard, and they aren’t confused by seeing another course ID in their course list.
The second advantage is that if a student adds or drops the child course, they are automatically added to or dropped from the parent course.

How do we combine enrollments?

Firstly, both courses need to be ‘flagged for Blackboard’ by the Registrar.

Secondly, you need to let OIT know which course will be the ‘parent’ or ‘master course, and which course will be the ‘child’ course. Parent courses will contain all the course content and all the students’ work and the gradebook. The child course will not be Available to students, will not have any course content, and only exists so that the enrollments can be merged into the parent.
Request OIT to merge your courses here: https://goo.gl/forms/zLVYQcRYI4ETUaby2

How to create groups to differentiate using course of record.

Under some circumstances, you may need to differentiate between the students based on their course of record. For example, you may need to email your on-campus students about snow day alternative learning activities, or release one final exam to your graduate students and a different final exam to your undergraduate students.
To do this in Blackboard, you would create two Groups. This is an example of how to set up a group for on campus students and a group for online students.
Go to Users and Groups, Groups. Click on Single Group, Manual Enroll. Name the group “Online Students” and Submit. Repeat these steps to create another group for “On Campus Students”

Now click on All Users and click on the box for each student in your on campus course. Click on Add Multiple Users to Groups and select the On Campus Students group. Repeat these steps to put your online students in the Online Students group.

How to communicate with and selectively release content to each group.

You can email students in one group from Course Tools, Send Email.  Choose Single/Select Groups. Highlight the group you are emailing and click on the arrow to move that group (or groups) into Selected. Enter a subject and your message and click on Submit.

You can release content or a quiz or a test, to users in a group, using “Adaptive Release”.  Hover over the Item (test, assignment, content area) that you want to show a group of students and choose Adaptive Release.
Then, under Membership, click on the Group you want to be able to see this item and click on the right arrow to move that Group into Selected Items. Click on Submit. In this example, the Bonnie Prince Charlie quiz will only be able to be taken by the students in the “On Campus Students” group.

How to manage Groups in the Grade Center.

Different groups might have different assessments. For example, you might ask your on campus students to attend a lecture about Poverty and participate in a question/answer forum following, whereas your online students will be watching a recorded lecture about Poverty and taking an online test. Both assessments are worth 5% of the final grade.
How can you set up your Weighted Final Grade to include one column for your online students and another for your on campus students?
The easiest way to show different grades to your students might be to create two separate weighted columns, calling one ON CAMPUS STUDENT GRADE (which includes the Poverty Forum but not the Poverty Quiz) and the other ONLINE STUDENT GRADE (which includes the Poverty Quiz but not the Poverty Forum). Blackboarddoes not allow us to selectively show Grade Center Columns, so you would just tell your students to ignore the column that does not apply to them.
However, if you want to show your students one Weighted Final Grade column, there is a way to do it.

  1. Create a category called “Poverty” from the Full Grade Center, Manage, Categories.
  2. Create a ‘manual’ column from the Full Grade Center by clicking on Create Column. Call this column “Poverty Forum”. Change the Category from “No Category” to “Poverty”. Here is where you will record the grade for the Poverty question/answer forum.
  3. Build and deploy a test called “Online Poverty Test” for your online students, and use Adaptive Release to ensure that only your online students can see this quiz.  Make sure you have the same number of points in the test that you used for the Poverty Forum column. Go into the Full Grade Center, Edit the Column Information for the Online Poverty Test and change the Category from “Test” to “Poverty”
  4. Create a Total column called “Poverty Grade”.  Click on Select Columns and Categories and move the Category “Poverty” from “Categories to Select” to the “Selected Columns” Pane.  Click on Drop Lowest Grades and enter 1. Then Change “Calculate as Running Total” to No and Submit.

  1. The Poverty Grade column will now hold the greater value of either the Poverty Forum or the Online Poverty Test, and it can be used in the calculations for your Weighted Final Grade that is shown to all students.


Previous Instructional Technology Newsletters are located here:

About the Committee:
The Instructional Technology Committee at Mary Baldwin College is a faculty committee made up of representatives from the faculty and Instructional Technology staff at MBC. Members of the Current Committee are:Doreen Bechtol
Paul Callo
Carol Creager
Doris Dodson
Emily Ely
George Guba
Joe JohnsonCarolyn Moore 
Reid Oechslin
Beverly Riddell
Kari Salois
Carey Usher
The charter of the committee is to:

  • Provide a forum for input to the Instructional Technology staff on the relative value of technological improvements from a pedagogical perspective.
  • Be a champion and example for technology enhanced teaching within their schools
  • Try out new technologies that seem promising
  • Develop and share best practices & rubrics for technology enhanced teaching
  • Recommend equipment and management for mixed use (instructional and non-instructional) space
  • This committee meets as necessary.
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