Skip to main content
pdf?stylesheet=default
Blackboard Help

Institution Roles

Institution roles control what brands, tabs, and modules users see when they log in to Blackboard Learn. Institution roles also grant or deny access to Content Collection files and folders.

All licenses assign the default institution role to all users on the system. Institutions with Community licenses may assign different institution roles to different users on their system, and may add new Institution roles to the system that can be assigned to users.

Implementing institution roles effectively requires detailed planning to maximize benefits and avoid inconsistencies and overlaps. One of the best places to start is with other systems within the institution that store student information. For example, the student database might categorize students by departments (Language Arts, Science, History) and locations (Campus East, Campus West). Applying the same model for organizing student information to institution roles helps ensure consistency throughout the institution.

Example: An administrator creates an institution role called CY_2011 and assigns it to all users that are in the 2011 class year. Content is created and restricted to the CY_2011 role. Only users with a primary or secondary institution role of CY_2011 can see this content.

About Removable and Non-Removable Institution Roles

Previous versions of Blackboard Learn included a set of 20 institution roles. These roles appear in current versions as non-removable institution roles. You can change Role Names of non-removable institution roles, but you cannot delete them or change their Role IDs. These Role IDs might be required by existing Building Blocks, and third-party integrations.

You can create custom institution roles. You can remove custom institution roles or change their Role IDs. However, use caution when deleting roles or changing Role IDs as doing so will affect any Building Blocks or third-party integrations that use those roles.

About the Student Institution Role

The default primary institution role is Student. This is a non-removable role and you cannot change the Role ID. You can change the Role Name. For example, the Role ID remains Student, but the Role Name could be Participant or Basic User or some other word or phrase.

If a removable institution role is deleted, all users who were assigned that role as their primary institution role automatically return to the Student role.

About Primary Institution Roles and Secondary Institution Roles

Each user is assigned a primary institution role.

You can also assign one or more secondary institution roles to a user. Multiple institution roles grant the user the sum of their privileges. A user with multiple institution roles has access to all of the brands, tabs, modules, and Content Collection files and folders available to any of those roles.

Secondary roles allow you to grant additional privileges to users based on the requirements of their jobs and the tasks they need to complete in Blackboard Learn. This allows users to have access to more content and tools without changing their primary role or function.

Institution roles are not primary or secondary in themselves. Rather, the primary and secondary designation applies to the user account. For example, one user can have a primary institution role of Student while another user has a secondary institution role of Student.

About Planning Institution Roles: Blackboard Learn Best Practices

Design a Content Plan

In most cases, the different types of users need access to different types of content and tools within Blackboard Learn For example, students require a difference set of tabs, modules, and Content Collection files and folders than instructors.

When you have identified the main types of users at your institution, you can design a content plan that outlines the brands, themes, modules, and content collection files that provide the right user experience for each group of users. Then create institution roles that grant access to each content set.

Planning institution roles based on content is typically the most efficient way to structure roles that can support new content and future growth.

Create Institution Roles in Groups by Category

Use categories such as campus, major, and class year to define institution roles. Use other institutions as a model for developing categories.

Example:

  • Designation: STUDENT (Primary Institution Role)
  • Campus: CAMPUS_WEST
  • Major: MAJOR_PHYSICS
  • Class Year: CY_2011

Use a Naming Convention

Blackboard Learn lists roles in alphabetical order. A naming convention based on institution role categories helps make the right roles easier to find when editing their privileges and assigning them to users.

For example, if your institution has three campuses called Central, East, and West, naming the institution roles CAMPUS_CENTRAL, CAMPUS_EAST, and CAMPUS_WEST helps ensure that the roles are easy to locate in the list..

If you name them CENTRAL_CAMPUS, EAST_CAMPUS, and WEST_CAMPUS, the roles will not be grouped together in the list.

Test Institution Roles

Create user accounts that you can use to test institution roles. For example, create a test user account for each institution role. Log in as the test user to see what users with that institution role will see when they access Blackboard Learn.

Blackboard recommends you create a test user with the institution role of Guest to preview what unauthenticated users will be able to see. Changes to the Guest institution role can have serious consequences as this role controls what users can see in Blackboard Learn without logging in.

Example: The following example illustrates the planned effect of institution roles on two test users.

User: Jane Smith

Jane Smith Institution Role
Role Services
Campus – East (primary) East Branding General Campus Announcements
Dept – East Campus Chemistry Chemistry Department News and Announcements

Chemistry Department instructional tools such as simulations and interactive tutors

Function – Faculty Administrative resources and forms

Portfolio publishing capabilities

Status – Active Full-time Professor Special events for full-time faculty
Job – Student Advisor Training resources and guidelines for advisors
Job – East Campus Science Faculty Science faculty Content Collection of reusable learning objects, videos, and still imagery licensed by the department for teaching

100 MB of virtual hard drive space

User: Joe Bell

Jane Smith Institution Role
Role Services
Campus – West (primary) West Branding General Campus Announcements

West Traffic Updates

Campus – East General Campus Announcements
Dept – West Campus Chemistry (none)
Function – Faculty Administrative resources and forms

Portfolio publishing capabilities

Status – Adjunct Guidelines for Adjunct Faculty
Job – West Campus Science Faculty 200 MB of virtual hard drive space
Job – East Campus Science Faculty Science faculty Content Collection of reusable learning objects, videos, and still imagery licensed by the department for teaching

100 MB of virtual hard drive space

How to Create Institution Roles

Make sure the new role matches the content plan and naming convention used at your institution. You can remove roles that do not comply with the conventions, but better results come from detailed planning before creating any roles.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Institution Roles.
  2. Click Create Role. The following table describes the available fields. [r] indicates a required field.
    Create Role Available Fields
    Field Description
    Role Name [r] Identifies the role within the user interface. This field is required and must be unique. This field has a limit of 50 characters.
    Role ID [r] Identifies the role in the database and to external systems. This field is required and must be unique. Use only alphanumeric characters. Do not use spaces or special characters. This field has a limit of 50 characters.
    Description Provide usage notes or comments for administrators. Only users with administrative privileges see this description. This field is not required, but it is a good idea to add a description of the role. Do not use HTML code in this field. This field has a limit of 1000 characters.
  3. Click Submit.

How to Edit Institution Roles

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Institution Roles.
  2. Click the role's contextual menu.
  3. Select Edit.
  4. Type changes into one or more of the fields. The following table describes the available fields. [r] indicates a required field.
    Institution Roles Available Fields
    Field Description
    Role Name [r] Identifies the role within the user interface. This field is required and must be unique. This field has a limit of 50 characters.
    Role ID [r] Identifies the role in the database and to external systems. This field is required and must be unique. Use only alphanumeric characters. Do not use spaces or special characters. This field has a limit of 50 characters.
    Description Provide usage notes or comments for administrators. Only users with administrative privileges see this description. This field is not required, but it is a good idea to add a description of the role. Do not use HTML code in this field. This field has a limit of 1000 characters.
  5. Click Submit.

How to Delete Institution Roles

Deleting an institution role is permanent. You cannot restore the role. If you delete the role in error, an administrator must create a new, identical role and assign it to users. To avoid having to recreate and reassign the role, consider using Snapshot to disable the institution role rather than deleting it. To learn more, see About the Snapshot Command Line Tool.

Deleting an institution role breaks the link between users and that institution role. If the deleted role is the primary institution role for a user, the user's primary institution role returns to the default of Student.

Deleting an institution role does not delete content that displays only to users with that role. However, users cannot see the content until it is made available to an existing institution role.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Users section, click Institution Roles.
  2. To delete one role, click the role's contextual menu and select Delete.

    -OR-

    To delete multiple roles, select the check boxes of the roles you want to delete. If a role does not have a check box, it is a non-removable role or you do not have permission to delete it. In the action bar, click Delete.

  3. Read the confirmation message. If you still want to delete the role, click OK. Click Cancel to return to the Institution Roles page without deleting any roles.

How to Make Brands Available by Institution Role

When you create or edit a brand, you associate it with an institution role in the Availability list on the Brand Settings page. You can associate the brand with all institution roles by selecting Everyone or to a single institution role by selecting a Role Name.

The host name also affects which brand a user sees. Host names are part of the URL used to access Blackboard Learn. For example, an institution can create a different host name for different departments, such as http://law.yourschool.com and http://medical.yourschool.com. Host names are specified in the brand settings.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Communities section, click Brands and Themes.
  2. Click Manage Brands.
  3. Click the module's contextual menu..
  4. Select Edit.
  5. In the Availability section, select an Institution Role from the list. Only users assigned to this role will have access to this brand. Select Everyone to make the brand available to all users.
  6. To make changes to the brand properties, click Save and Customize.

    -OR-

    To save without making other changes to the brand, click Submit.

How to Make Modules Available by Institution Role

Institution roles control what modules users have access to within Blackboard Learn. To learn more about creating and managing modules, see Managing Modules.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Communities section, click Tabs and Modules.
  2. Click Modules.
  3. Click the module's contextual menu..
  4. Select Edit Properties.
  5. Scroll down to the Availability header.
  6. In the Available to section, select whether to make this module available to Everyone or to Specific Roles.
  7. If you selected Everyone, skip to the next step. If you selected Specific Roles, in the Items to Select list, select the roles to make this module available to. Click the right-pointing arrow to move the items into the Selected Items list. To reverse the selection in either box, click Invert Selection.

    For Windows, to select multiple items in a list, press the SHIFT key and click the first and last items. To select items out of sequence, press the CTRL key and click each item needed. For Macs, press the COMMAND key instead of the CTRL key.

    Image illustrating associated text

    • Make this module available to all users (Everyone) or restrict access by user's institution role (Selected Roles).
    • If you are restricting access by role, click a role to select it. Then click the arrow to move it to the other list.
  8. Click Submit.

How to Make Tabs Available by Institution Role

Institution roles control what tabs users have access to within Blackboard Learn. To learn more about creating and managing tabs, see Managing Tabs.

Access the tab group's contextual menu.

  1. Scroll down to the Availability header.
  2. If you selected Everyone, skip to the next step. If you selected Specific Roles, in the Items to Select list, select the roles to make this module available to. Click the right-pointing arrow to move the items into the Selected Items list. To reverse the selection in either box, click Invert Selection.

    For Windows, to select multiple items in a list, press the SHIFT key and click the first and last items. To select items out of sequence, press the CTRL key and click each item needed. For Macs, press the COMMAND key instead of the CTRL key.

    Image illustrating associated text

    • Make this module available to all users (Everyone) or restrict access by user's institution role (Selected Roles).
    • If you are restricting access by role, click a role to select it. Then click the arrow to move it to the other list.
  3. Click Submit.

How to Assign Institution Roles Through Snapshot

Institution roles can be attached to users through Snapshot and the Blackboard Learn APIs. To learn more, see the Administrative API specifications on http://www.edugarage.com (available in English only).

About Snapshot Files

Snapshot user files include the INSTITUTION_ROLE element. This represents the Primary Institution Role and is expressed as the Role ID.

Secondary institution roles are added through a separate Snapshot file type: User Institution Role Membership. Each record matches one user to one institution role. To match a user to multiple institution roles requires multiple records in the file. The following table describes the fields included in a record in a Snapshot User Institution Role Membership file.

User Institution Role Membership File Commands
Element Description
EXTERNAL_PERSON_KEY A unique identifier for a user at the institution. This ID is provided by the institution and is not displayed to users. String. Max length 64. Not Null, External Key
ROLE_ID Institution role. Passed as a string. Not null.

Commands

The following table describes the command line operations that handle User Institution Role Membership files.

User Institution Role Membership File Commands
Operation Description
PORTAL_ROLE_MEM_MANUAL Performs a smart update for institution roles.
PORTAL_ROLE_MEM_REMOVE Removes all institution roles in the feed file.
PORTAL_ROLE_MEM_SNPSHT To process a snapshot feed of institution roles.
DISABLE_PORTAL_ROLE_MEMBERSHIP To disable all institution roles for a data source.
PURGE_PORTAL_ROLE_MEMBERSHIP To purge all institution roles entities for a data source. Purge only deletes disabled items.

To learn more about running the tool, see About the Snapshot Tool.