- What are Blackboard Organisations and when are they used?
- How are students enrolled into Organisations?
- Requesting an Organisation
- Organisation design: good practice guidance
1. What are Blackboard Organisations and when are they used?
Blackboard Organisations are used for supporting student engagement and learning that goes beyond a particular RISIS module. While teaching and learning in Blackboard is mostly delivered through Blackboard courses which represent one or more RISIS modules, students also need access to a range of information which sits at University, School or Department level.
Organisations complement standard taught modules by providing student-focussed subject support materials and administrative information that cut across different modules, programmes or levels of study. Organisations continue from one year to the next, unlike modules and programmes, which have a new Blackboard course set up each academic year.
An Organisation has the same features and tools as a Blackboard course, however, they are bespoke spaces that provide continuous access to content, on which enrolled students have permanent access until they leave the university or are manually unenrolled by instructors.
Note: A Blackboard Organisation may not always be suitable for programme delivery, see guidance about using Blackboard for programme delivery.
Examples of use:
- To provide essential information for students at School or Department level, or for a group of related programmes – this type of organisation replaces the former School portal pages.
See School and Departmental Organisations: recommended structure and content
- Study advice resources
- Staff Student Partnership Groups
- Careers and placement information
- Projects and initiatives involving students
- Student research networks
2. How are students enrolled into Organisations?
Enrolment in Organisations is either by self-enrol, manual enrolment or custom RISIS feed and is the responsibility of the person with the role of organisation ‘Leader’. (The role of ‘Leader’ is used instead of ‘Instructor’ when it is an Organisation. People enrolled onto the organisation by the Leader are called ‘Participants’).
Students can be enrolled automatically to an Organisation based on a number of criteria, for example, enrolment on specific programmes and modules, all UG or PG students in a School or Department. Their enrolments are disabled when they leave the university, or no longer meet the Organisation enrolment criteria.
3. Requesting an Organisation
A Blackboard Organisation needs to meet the following criteria in order to be set up. An Organisation needs to:
- Be student facing. Students need to be enrolled and accessing the Organisation.
- Have a clear purpose for supporting teaching and learning that cannot be met by a standard ‘Course’ area on Blackboard for a specific module or programme.
- Be for generic, non-assessed and /or optional teaching activities or resources.
Please note: Organisations should never be used to deliver summative assessment.
Before requesting an organisation
Coordinate within your School or Department before making a request for an Organisation, and where appropriate make use of existing Organisations to avoid any duplication and proliferation. Not all staff in a School are necessarily enrolled on all Organisations, so you may not be aware of them without checking.
Contact your Senior Programme Administrator as they tend to oversee the Organisations in a School / Department.
Please ensure that:
- You have liaised with other staff in your programme, Department / School or Support Centre to co-ordinate your request.
- An existing organisation for this purpose is not already in use.
- Your requirement cannot be incorporated into an existing organisation. Avoid setting up separate Organisations just for one-off activities. These are usually best incorporated into existing Organisations or carried out using an alternative.
- You have identified staff who have responsibility for maintaining the Organisation and can keep it up to date.
- You are aware of design good practice.
- The Organisation will not include summative assessment.
How to make a request for an Organisation
Periodic Review Organisation requests: Please contact CQSD Quality Support Office (email firstname.lastname@example.org), who make arrangements for Periodic Review Organisations.
Organisations are set up for an initial period of 2 years, and can then be renewed if still in use at the end of that period.
All Organisations must have one named Leader, and one named administrative contact.
4. Organisation design: good practice guidance
If you are replacing School Portal pages and Briefcases with Organisations, please see our separate guidelines: School and Departmental Organisations: recommended structure and content.
Blackboard module design guidance can also be used for effective Organisation design. Some of the key considerations relating to Organisation design include:
- Avoid use of over-long menus – students should not have to scroll down to see the bottom of the menu.
- Avoid creating folders within folders.
Recommendation: Use a maximum of 3 folder levels to keep navigation simple. (This will be the folder limit when Blackboard is updated to the new version called Ultra.
- Sharing content between Organisations
- Files which need to be placed into several organisations can uploaded centrally to the Blackboard Content Collection and set as visible to all Blackboard users. A link to the document can be placed in each organisation – so that when the document is updated in the Content Collection, it is updated everywhere.
- Reusable Objects can be used as an efficient way to update content that appears directly in Blackboard which is used on multiple organisations and/or courses.
Tools you can use to promote student engagement in an Organisation include:
- Discussion boards (for example, to answer FAQs around exams and module options.)
- Blackboard Collaborate (for live online sessions)
- Microsoft Forms
For more suggestions, please see the Online Teaching Toolkit: Engaging your students.
We recommend that you don’t add the general ‘Tools’ link to the Organisation’s menu; if you do, you should disable the Blackboard tools you do not want students to use, as this provides access to all of them.