Online Learning

CWU Blackboard Policy

Purpose of this Document

The purpose of this document is twofold:  (1) to formalize existing procedures related to the use, management, and operation of Blackboard and (2) to recommend new procedures related to the use, management, and operation of the Blackboard learning management system (LMS).


  1. Instructor of record. The individual(s) listed on Safari as the instructor for a course.  Additionally, for Blackboard purposes, this includes individuals(s) the Safari instructor of record may add as instructor(s) for the Blackboard course.
  2. Snapshot(s).  The use of the snapshot tool enables the duplicating of Safari course information into Blackboard.  For example, placing all fall classes, students and enrollments for use in Blackboard.
  3. Manual(s). Requests made by instructors to add to or deviate from Safari information in Blackboard.  For example, adding a development shell or enrolling a student finishing an incomplete.
  4. Disable(d). Restricting access to a user account, course, or enrollment record without permanent deletion.  All content associated with these record(s) will remain intact and will be accessible when the record is re-enabled.
  5. Delete(d). Removing and completely deleting a user account, course, or enrollment record.  All associated content is permanently deleted.

Appropriate Use Policy

  1. Appropriate behavior.Like all users of CWU technology Blackboard students, faculty and staff must adhere to the behavior standards outlined in CWU's Acceptable and Ethical Use of University Information Technology Resources 
    Individual instructors may also elect to set standards for behavior that exceed these minimum requirements.
  2. Removal of inappropriate content. Blackboard staff will remove offensive or illegal content from a course if asked to by the instructor of record or by the department chair and or/dean. Students wanting offensive or illegal content removed from a course will need to appeal their case to the course instructor. All instructors of record will be notified upon removal of the content.
  3. Removal of users for inappropriate behavior. The Blackboard administrator will  "disable" a student from a course upon written request from the instructor of record.  Instructors who request to have a student's access to a course temporarily disabled because of disruptive or inappropriate behavior should consult the Dean of Students for further advisement.
  4. Content disclaimer. CWU is not responsible for the accuracy, integrity and/or legality of the content uploaded to Blackboard courses by its students, staff, or faculty.  Users who upload material to Blackboard are responsible legally and otherwise for their own content.
  5. Non-sanctioned uses of Blackboard courses.Instructors are not permitted to use CWU's Blackboard system for purposes other than university-affiliated activities.  For example, the use of Blackboard to conduct a personal business or to teach workshops or courses as part of a non-university contract is not permitted.

User Management and Access

  1. User accounts.  All current CWU students, staff and faculty are assigned an individual account on the Blackboard system.  Users who are not formally teaching or taking a CWU course do not have access to individual Blackboard courses.  Access to individual courses is limited to the following groups:  formally enrolled students, the instructor(s) of record, and any additional users added at the request of an instructor of record.
  2. User access and login. Qualified Blackboard users will access the system through a username and password that is person-specific.  That username and password is issued by ITS and is the same individual's Safari/Netware username and password.
  3. Blackboard updates from Safari. Students, faculty and staff are automatically entered into the Blackboard system within 24 hours of being added to Safari.
  4. Schedule for populating courses with users. Registered students and course instructors are added to new blackboard course roughly 2 weeks prior to the start of a given quarter.  Newly registered students (and instructors) will continue to be added to Blackboard courses on a 24 hour basis from that time through to the end of the drop/add period.
  5. Patron accounts. A "patron" is any person who is not affiliated with the university who seeks to have formal access to CWU's Blackboard system to participate in a university-related activity.  Patrons must have a university sponsor.  A valid university sponsor must be a faculty or staff member of the university.  Patron accounts may only be requested by the sponsoring party and must be emailed to the Blackboard administrator at A patron account entitles a non-CWU user to his/her own username, and password on the Blackboard system.
  6. Guest access. A "guest" is defined as any person (CWU-affiliated or non-CWU-affiliated) who seeks access to the CWU Backboard system.  In contrast to Blackboard patrons, Blackboard guests do not receive an individual username and password on the system.  Instead, they may access the system at any time by simply typing "guest" into both the username and password fields of the Blackboard login page. By default, guests do not have access to any courses on the CWU system.   Individual instructors may elect to make his/her courses available to guests on a course-by-course basis. Individual instructors may also limit the areas within a given course that guests can access.  It is important to know that enabling guest access to a course has the effect of making that course broadly available to the public.  There is no way to make use of the "guest access" feature without allowing everyone and anyone to view that course.
  7. User accounts. All current CWU students, staff and faculty are assigned an individual account on the Blackboard system. Users who are not formally teaching or taking a CWU course do not have access to individual Blackboard courses. Access to individual courses is limited to the following groups: formally enrolled students, the instructor(s) of record, and any additional users added at the request of an instructor of record.
  8. User access and login. Qualified Blackboard users will access the system through a username and password that is person-specific. That username and password is issued by ITS and is the same individual's Safari/Netware username and password.
  9. Authority to add and remove users from courses. The instructor record or any person enrolled as an instructor in the Blackboard course has primary authority to add and remove students, instructors, staff members, and patrons to/from that course. 
  10. Process for adding users to courses. Formally enrolled students in a class will automatically be added to the appropriate Blackboard course for that class within 24 hours of registering (within 24 hours of being added to Safari).  Non-registered students and additional instructors, staff members, and patrons may be manually added to a course, but only at the request of an instructor.  All requests for user additions and removals must be through the online web request found at (online form to be created).  The maximum turn-around time for such requests is 48 hours.
  11. Automated "disables" and deletes of students from courses. Students that withdraw or are dropped from a course will have their enrollment disabled in Blackboard within 24 hours. Removals and complete deletion of users' content will be accomplished according to the parameters of university policy, resources, and the discretion of the Blackboard administrator.
  12. Section 508 compliancy. Although the Blackboard software program itself is compliant with Section 508 standard, content uploaded to Blackboard May not be compliant. Instructors and students are therefore urged to consider ways to make their files and other materials accessible to users with disabilities.   The Disability Support Services (DSS Office) on campus is available to provide assistance in this regard.  See the DSS web site for more information:

Course Management

  1. Course size limitations. A quota not to exceed one gigabyte of storage has been placed on courses.   If the course utilizes large size media file types including mp3, Real Video, QuickTime, or Windows Media files the instructor of record will be notified when the course quota has been exceeded.  To assist faculty using multimedia content the MTIS staff will arrange with faculty to store and make these files accessible from  the CWU streaming server or other streaming server.
  2. Creation schedule for new courses. New Blackboard courses are created (course creation time schedule info here to facilitate faculty course development and preparation).  For example courses for the fall quarter will be created (time of month here) of the previous summer quarter.
  3. Copying courses. The instructor of record has the ability, through the course control panel, to copy the content of one course into the shell of a pre-existing course that s/he also teaches.  If an instructor wants an existing course to be copied to a brand new course shell (e.g. one that is not yet on the system), the s/he must request a new course shell. 
  4. Archiving courses. The instructor of record has the ability, through the course control panel, to archive her/his course at any time.  Archiving a course does not delete the course from the system.  Instead, it simply provides the instructor with an off-line copy of that course in zipped format.  Archived courses in zipped format may be re-imported into the Blackboard system by using the tools provided in the course control panel.
  5. Instructor initiated deletion of courses. The instructor of record has the ability through the control panel's "recycle course" feature to delete the content of any course s/he is teaching.  The "recycle course" feature only deletes the content of a course; however, it does not remove the course shell from the instructor's list of courses.–
  6. Automated deletion of courses. Only official courses in Safari can be deleted automatically. Manuals like workshops or development shells must be deleted manually.  Expired Blackboard courses will remain on the system for a minimum of 1 year from the last day of the quarter in which the course was taught.  Instructors wanting to save an archived copy of their courses before the expiration date my do so by using the archive feature in the control panel (see section on "archiving courses"). Alternatively faculty may request a "master course" to contain the content of a course slated for deletion. To request a master course faculty may do so at:
  7. Development and workshop course shells. Development and workshop courses refer courses on the Blackboard system that are not formal Safari courses.  However, they are functionally identical to a formal course.  Development courses are generally set up for faculty and staff who would like to practice using Blackboard.  Workshops are set up to accommodate workshop training classes.  Course shells can be requested by the instructor of record online at:
  8. Setting up development and workshop courses. Course shells may be requested by university faculty and staff online at:
  9. Course availability settings for new courses. By default all newly created courses in Blackboard are "unavailable" to student users. A newly created course is automatically "on" and accessible to the instructor of record. Courses are automatically "off" and inaccessible to all students in the class.  Instructors are responsible for manually turning on each of their courses for their students.  Such action must be done through the control panel. 
  10. Organizations. An "organization" is a Blackboard course shell that is set up for the purposes of facilitating a non-course related activity (i.e., an online forum for a committee, a book club, a student group, etc.). Organizations may only be set up for university-affiliated groups and/or events.
  11. Setting up organizations. Organizations (sometimes called "communities") may be set up by university faculty, staff, and students.  Participation in an organization requires a user account, a patron account, or guest access.  Students require a faculty or staff sponsor.  Online requests for Organizations are made in the same manner as courses.

Information Accuracy and Security

  1. User information. In an effort to comply with Federal Education Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, the current default settings in Blackboard prevent student users from inadvertently making their personal information available to other users in a course.  The one exception to this occurs in the discussion board, where student email addresses are always visible to the entire class unless a user happens to post anonymously.  This is a known bug in the Blackboard software.
  2. Course rosters. Although there are two rosters in each Blackboard course (one visible to students and another visible to instructors), neither of those rosters should be consulted as the "master list" of all formally registered students in a course.   Safari, not Blackboard should be accessed to provide an up-to-date account of who is formally enrolled in a course and who is not.
  3. Grade book. The online grade book is a useful communication and grading tool, but is not the official repository of grades.  Safari is the official repository of grades.  Instructors should always keep a backup copy of their online grade books if they are using it as their main grading record.

Copyright and Ownership

  1. Copyright protected materials.  Current copyright law (including fair use and the TEACH Act) allows students and instructors to post copyright protected materials to Blackboard for course related activities without obtaining prior permission under specific circumstances. Such materials may not be saved, printed, copied or further disseminated by students.  Limitations relating to time and portion of the copyright content must be observed and complied with.  Instructors are encouraged to accompany all copyright protected works in Blackboard with a visible explanation about the appropriate and legal handling of such content.  Instructors are also encouraged to "turn off" or delete such materials in Blackboard once their use in the course has passed.  Materials used in one quarter may not be used in future quarters under copyright law without expressed permission of the copyright holder.  Implementing these practices is a requirement for those who seek to take advantage of the exemptions of the TEACH Act.
  2. External links.Instructors creating external links to websites from within Blackboard are encouraged to check the box next to the standing option that reads "launch item in external window."  Not choosing that option means that the external website will open up within the frame of Blackboard itself, without reflecting the URL address for the linked site.  "Capturing" a website in this manner can be illegal and should be avoided.
  3. All Blackboard specific content is copyright Blackboard Inc.
  4. Faculty data belongs to the faculty unless contracted otherwise.
  5. Student data belongs to the student.
  6. General CWU content, like letter marks, word marks, graphics, text and statistics belong to the university.

System Maintenance, Outages and Upgrades

  1. Notification of scheduled outages. The CWU university community will be notified by "appropriate means" of outages.  Appropriate means could include any or all of the following:  emailing the CWU Blackboard faculty, posting a message to the Blackboard announcements page, posting a outage message to the CWUOnline outages web page and/or to the ITS outages web page.
  2. Reporting unscheduled outages. The Blackboard administrator will use appropriate means to notify CWU students, staff, and faculty of unscheduled outages within 2 hours of the outage being detected or reported.  All unscheduled outages and problems will be reported even if the problem has already been solved.  If an outage or problem cannot be quickly re-solved, then a new, updated notice shall be posted to users every 24 hours until the problem is resolved.
  3. Reporting outages and performance problems. Users who detect problems with the Blackboard system (e.g., outages, error messages, slow load time, etc.) should contact the Blackboard administrator immediately to report the issues.
  4. Outages and academic responsibility. An outage prevents an individual from participating in Blackboard based activities.  Instructors must not hold outages against a student and should provide them with means to make up or disregard the activity.  Computer connection or technology difficulties that are not the result of CWU outages are the responsibility of the student.  Make up opportunities for these problems are at the discretion of the instructor.

If you have any questions or comments, please call (509) 963-1224, or email: