Academic Technology @ Palomar College

The Blackboard Course Life Cycle

We are occasionally asked something like ‘can you restore a class to the active system that I taught 3 years ago?’  The answer is ‘no.’  We have explained this many times, but the information always seems to come as a surprise to someone, so let me go over it again.

We keep the current semester, the previous 3 semesters, and the future semester (as soon as future courses are created in Peoplesoft, which is approximately 90 days before the start of a semester) in our Blackboard database.  Old courses are pruned from the system on a rolling year schedule.  For example, at the conclusion of the fall 2012 semester, the fall 2011 courses are pruned from the system.  Immediately on the conclusion of the spring 2013 semester the spring 2012 courses will be pruned, and so on.

Let me repeat that last idea.  It is always misunderstood.  When a semester ends, the semester’s worth of courses taught A YEAR AGO, are deleted from the Blackboard system.

For this reason, we strongly recommend that professors make an archive of their courses once they are complete so that if they only teach a course every 2 years, say, or if they have some reason to review student performance long after a course has ended, they will be able to restore the content from the archive file.  Course archives contain all course content AND all student work.  Here is a screen video that explains how to make an archive, and here are written instructions [PDF].

Note:  Archives larger than 2.5GB cannot be restored to the Blackboard system, and are therefore essentially useless.  If your archive exceeds this size limit please contact us so that we can work with you to develop an alternative backup strategy.

Put another way, Professor access to the courses they teach using Blackboard persists for a year after the course ends.  Student access to courses is different.  Students can only access the course from the time the instructor first makes the course available until two weeks after the semester in which the course was taught, or until the professor makes the course unavailable, whichever comes first.  Student work and grades are available to the instructor at all times during the course’s life cycle, but not to the student.  If a student later needs access to the course to complete an incomplete, contact us for assistance.

To sum up the Blackboard course life cycle, then, take a look at this sequence:

Date Event
≈ May 20, 2012 Blackboard courses for the fall 2012 semester are created in PeopleSoft and Blackboard.  Instructors have access to them, but they are created as unavailable to students until such time as the instructor makes the course available.
June 20, 2012 Summer 6 and 8 week courses begin.
August 15, 2012 Summer semester courses end.  (Actually, the 6-week courses end August 1, the 8-week end August 15, but for Blackboard purposes we treat the end of the summer semester as August 15.
August 15, 2012 Summer courses that were taught in the summer of 2011 are deleted from the Blackboard system.
August  20, 2012 Fall 2012 classes begin.
≈ October 22, 2012 Blackboard courses for the spring 2013 semester are created in PeopleSoft and Blackboard.  Instructors have access to them, but they are created as unavailable to students until such time as the instructor makes the course available.
December 15, 2012 Fall 2012 semester ends.
December 15, 2012 Blackboard courses taught during the fall 2011 semester are deleted from the Blackboard system.
January 22, 2013 Spring 2013 classes begin.
≈ March 20, 2013 Blackboard courses for the summer 2013 semester are created in PeopleSoft and Blackboard.  Instructors have access to them, but they are created as unavailable to students until such time as the instructor makes the course available.
≈ May 17, 2013 Blackboard courses for the fall 2013 semester are created in PeopleSoft and Blackboard.  Instructors have access to them, but they are created as unavailable to students until such time as the instructor makes the course available.
May 24, 2013 Spring classes end.
May 24, 2013 Classes taught in the spring 2012 semester are deleted from the Blackboard system.
June 17, 2013 Summer 6 and 8 week classes begin.
And so on…

Therefore courses exist on the Blackboard system a) for 90 days prior to the semester in which they are conducted; b) during the semester they are conducted; and c) for one year after they are conducted.

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