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Blackboard Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Availability, Course

How do I make my scheduled section available to my students?

Courses, by default, are not available to students until the faculty member decides to make them available. After the scheduled section is created and materials added to the course, faculty can make the course available by entering the course and following these steps:

  • From the Control Panel, click Customization
  • Click Properties
  • Locate Item 3 and select Yes to Make Course Available
  • Click Submit

Setting the availability is an immediate process (meaning the faculty member does not have to wait for the server to run in order for the command to be processed).

At the end of the semester, faculty do not need to reverse this process, as all NIU courses are automatically set to be "unavailable" two weeks after the end of the semester. Once a course is made unavailable, students lose all access to the course and are unable to see the course in their list of courses.

Why can't I leave my course available after the semester is over?

When a Blackboard course is available, it continues to appear on the course list for every student who was enrolled in the course. Many students complain that this is confusing, as their new course intermingles with old course titles. Additionally, any copyrighted materials need to be made unavailable to students at the completion of the term according to the rules of classroom fair use.

I can see records of students in my scheduled Blackboard course roster, but students say they can't access my course. What's wrong?

If your students can log into Blackboard but can't see your course, you may have forgotten to make the course "available". To make the course available:

  • From the Control Panel, click Customization
  • Click Properties
  • Locate Item 3 and select Yes to Make Course Available
  • Click Submit

Without these steps, students enrolled in your course cannot access the course.

I made my course available yesterday, but now it is unavailable again. Why won't it stay available?

Courses in Blackboard only need to be made available once. After the course is available, it will remain available until approximately 10 days after the end of the semester. If your course reverts to unavailable sooner than that, it is likely that it is a Shell and not a Course.

Shells are designed for development purposes only, so they do not remain available for more than a day. Students are not enrolled in a Shell, either. Check the Course ID - if it starts with SHELL, then it is indeed a Shell and not a Course.

To request a Course for teaching purposes, follow the steps available at http://blackboard.niu.edu/blackboard/start/request.shtml. Then, copy the materials and settings from the Shell to the Course by following the steps at http://blackboard.niu.edu/blackboard/build/migration/copy.shtml.

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Last Updated: 08/28/2013