Managing Guest Access in Blackboard Courses

Background

It has always been possible to make Blackboard courses available on a read-only basis to all UWE students and staff, in particular for showing course content to students who are making module selections. This is achieved by enabling “guest access” on a course and content basis. To support wider access, IT Services have been asked to enable this feature on all Blackboard courses from 2012/13.

All current courses will by default allow guest access to the ‘Course Materials’ content area. However if an instructor has a particular need to restrict access to content, they can decide which individual content areas are available to guests by following the Quick Steps below. Newly created content areas by default are unavailable to guests.

Please note guest access does not extend to discussion boards, assessments or other interactive tools. Special arrangements will be made for licensed content managed through Blackboard e-Reserves.

In this context guests are people who have already have access to Blackboard: they will generally be staff or students, and guest access does not equate to public access. This means:

  • UWE students and staff can search for courses using the search function on the Courses Tab in Blackboard and access content even though they are not enrolled on the course
  • Instructors retain control over which content areas are accessible to guests
  • Guests can only access available courses that have passed their start date and have not yet reached their Field Board date.
  • Guests cannot access Feedback courses (i.e. those which have passed their Field Board date) through the Course Search function.
  • Discussion boards, assessments or other interactive tools are never visible to guests

Guest access is of particular value for showing course content to students who are making module selections, or students who completed earlier runs of a module but still want access. There is guidance available for students: Accessing Blackboard Courses as a Guest.

QUICK STEPS: Enabling and restricting guest access to particular content areas

  1. Select the contextual menu to the right of the Content Area.
  2. Select Permit Guests.
  3. To deny access, select the contextual menu to the right of the Content Area.
  4. Select Deny Guests.

example screenshots showing quick steps 1 to 4 above

How users will find and access courses as guests

There are two ways for staff and students to access courses as a guest; they can either search for a course using the search function on the Courses Tab in Blackboard; or they can follow a link to a specific course which the instructor has placed in a Blackboard course.

QUICK STEPS: Searching for a course

  1. Select the Courses tab
  2. In the Course Search field enter all or part of the name or code of the course you are searching for, then click on Go.
  3. The Browse Course Catalogue page will appear with any matching courses listed. Please note that only available courses that have passed their start date and have not yet reached their Field Board date will be shown.
  4. Users can adjust the search criteria as required.
  5. To access a course, click on the Course ID link.

example screenshot showing quick steps 1 to 5 above

QUICK STEPS: Providing links to students to access the course as a Guest

  1. Navigate to the course from the Blackboard Welcome tab.
  2. Ensure that Edit Mode is OFF.
  3. Select the URL from your web browser address bar by highlighting it with your mouse. Right click and select Copy.
  4. Navigate to the course and content area where you want to provide the link.
  5. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  6. Select URL from the Build Content menu.
  7. On the Add External Link page, enter a Name. The name must be less than 255 characters long.
  8. In URL, right click and select Paste. The URL of the Guest Course copied previously will be added.
  9. Provide a description of the Guest Access provided in the Text box.
  10. Optionally, attach a file.
  11. Under Options, set Open in New Window to Yes. If this option is not set, the user will see multiple headers.
  12. Set the other Options as appropriate.
  13. Click Submit.

example screenshot showing quick steps 2 and 3 above

example screenshot showing quick steps 5 and 6 above

example screenshot showing quick steps 7 and 8 above

example screenshot showing quick step 11 above