Blackboard Enrollments

Contents

Overview

This post explains the current behavior of course enrollments between Blackboard and PeopleSoft (as of spring 2016), enrollment problems instructors and students may encounter, and a history of how we got here.

Let us know if you have any enrollment issues, and we’ll work closely with our colleagues in CSSD and the Registrar to sort it out.

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Enrollment Processing Today

Most enrollments in Blackboard courses originate from PeopleSoft class rosters, while some unofficial enrollments are added manually to Blackboard classes using Blackboard itself.

  • PeopleSoft: Course enrollments are set in PeopleSoft and transferred to Blackboard each morning. Blackboard remembers prior enrollments for a given term and course, so that if a student used PeopleSoft to enroll in a course yesterday but dropped this same course today, Blackboard will inactivate this student’s account in the particular course. The student’s account in this Blackboard course will remain inactive, preventing her from accessing the course materials, unless she enrolls through PeopleSoft again.
  • Blackboard: Some instructors and staff manually add enrollments directly to Blackboard for some courses. Reasons for adding enrollments outside of PeopleSoft include sharing course content among colleagues, allowing staff to manage course content, and preparing future teaching assistants (TAs) for courses they will help teach. Anyone who has the role instructor for a Blackboard course can add enrollments to that course.

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Problems

Enrollment problems arise when students, TAs, or instructors are officially enrolled in a course in PeopleSoft and then have their role or status changed manually in Blackboard. Blackboard remembers any person who has a course enrollment history in PeopleSoft (whether currently or formerly enrolled), and this history prevents instructors and administrators from manually overwriting these enrollments in Blackboard.

This is best illustrated with a few cases.

  1. A student registers for a course in PeopleSoft and then drops it before the term begins. His instructor then uses Blackboard to manually add (or activate) this same student in the Blackboard course but can’t, since Blackboard has set this student’s status to inactive. A Blackboard administrator can manually override this status for a day, but the following morning, Blackboard’s integration with PeopleSoft will run and inactivate the student in the course again. There’s no easy way to erase this history between Blackboard and PeopleSoft enrollments.
  2. An instructor adds his colleague as an instructor to a course manually in Blackboard. The added instructor has no enrollment history for this course in PeopleSoft. The result is that the added instructor will remain in the Blackboard course untouched by the daily PeopleSoft enrollment updates. The original instructor can further remove the added instructor, change his role to TA, or inactive his account in the course – all manually from Blackboard – so long as the added instructor has no enrollment history in PeopleSoft for this course.
  3. A graduate student is added as a TA for a course in PeopleSoft. The instructor, however, wants this graduate student in her Blackboard course with the student role, not the TA role, so the instructor sets the graduate student’s course role to student in Blackboard. The following day, the graduate student’s role will have been reset back to TA, since there is a history of the graduate student’s enrollment in the PeopleSoft course.

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History

The current behavior between enrollments in PeopleSoft and Blackboard started in May 2015, as part of a Blackboard upgrade, and more closely integrates PeopleSoft and Blackboard enrollments than before the upgrade. There are two reasons for the closer integration.

  1. The upgrade fixed a flaw that prevented student withdrawals in PeopleSoft from being accurately reflected in Blackboard courses. Prior to May 2015, when students withdrew from courses they were not automatically removed from Blackboard. Moreover, even if instructors manually removed students from their Blackboard courses, the students would appear active the next day based on the daily feed between PeopleSoft and Blackboard. This flaw allowed students to access courses and course material that they shouldn’t have been able to access, and there was little instructors could do about it.
  2. The University of Pittsburgh moved to Blackboard’s current enrollment technology since Blackboard no longer actively supports snapshot, which was the enrollment process Pitt used prior to May 2015.

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