Understanding Non-Standard Modules and Enrollment Rules

A big part of implementing our new module creation process is sorting through the tangle of legacy processes and requirements that have built up over the years in Blackboard so we can have a more efficient, ordered platform. In this post I’m going to talk about non-standard modules, enrolment rules and how we’re handling them this year. This is useful for anyone who needs to understand how their modules are created in Blackboard and how students are enrolled, especially if your module has any kind of special enrolment requirements.

Standard Modules?

The goal for our new course creation process is that modules are automatically created, and the appropriate students/staff are enrolled, all based on the information contained in SITS. This is straightforward for standard modules, which have a single module code being matched to a single cohort of students i.e. there a one-to-one relationship between a module and it’s cohorts. This way the system knows to create the module in Blackboard, then when the time comes enrol all students who match that module’s code in SITS.

What is a non-standard module?

A non-standard module is one that does not have this simple one-to-one relationship between the module in Blackboard and the cohort in SITS. The most common type of non-standard module where a single module is created in Blackboard from SITS but requires multiple cohorts to be enrolled on it. This many-to-one type of enrolment would be used when you have multiple groups of students from different cohorts being taught together on the same modules. Another kind on non-standard setup is where you have a manually created module (not created automatically from SITS), but still need students enrolled from SITS. At the moment these non-standard module usually require some manual input to make them appear as expected in Blackboard and have the right students enrolled on them. This is generally achieved using enrollment rules.

What are enrolment rules?

Sometimes called business rules, enrolment rules are small scripts (defined actions performed by a computer) that run in between SITS and Blackboard to directs module creation and enrolments. For standard modules, there is no need for a rule other than to say something like “If a student is assigned to PH10001 in SITS, then enrol them in PH10001 in Blackboard”. Special rules are required if you need a different enrolment pattern e.g. “I want students assigned to PH10001 or PH15002 in SITS to be enrolled on PH10001 in Blackboard”. This kind of traffic directing requires rules to be set up by our colleagues in IT so that your students show up where they are supposed to. Most of us don’t need to understand this other than to remember that if your module requires more than a standard, one-to-one enrolment, then you need an enrolment rule in place.

What if you do need an enrolment rule?

Because non-standard modules and enrolment rules need to be specifically created, we need to know about them (preferably well in advance of the start of a semester). This year (2018) we are getting in touch with schools directly to ask about these, but the university is a complicated place so if you think your module follows a non-standard process and you aren’t sure if we know about it, then contact help4u@dundee.ac.uk, noting that that this is about Blackboard Modules.

The Future

As we’ve previously noted, this whole module creation process will continue to be improved and we hope to create a more automated process for all module types. Let us know if you have any suggestions or have any questions at ctil@dundee.ac.uk.