This article is archived. Go to the latest information on the Spaces tool.
What are Spaces?
The Spaces tool enables users to create ad-hoc communication and collaboration group spaces – for study groups, group projects, interest groups, or other informal learning purposes. Each Space contains a wall where the members of that Space can post and communicate with each other. These wall posts are then aggregated in each member’s Posts tool, so they can always stay up-to-date on the conversations going on.
Users can create a Space on their own in less than a minute. They don’t have to go through an instructor or administrator to have a Space created, they simply go to the Spaces tool in My Blackboard and click on “Create a Space." They can also search and join other Spaces that have been created by others at their institution and throughout the global learning network.
What is the difference between Groups, Organizations, and Spaces in Blackboard Learn?
The Groups tool is a tool for instructors to define and manage groups of students within an individual course and it replicates the richness of existing course tools (for example, blogs, wikis, journals, discussions, and so on) for group assignments.
An Organization is a full-featured collaboration area outside of courses that replicates the rich capabilities of the course environment and is best suited for standing clubs, groups, committees, organizations, and so on.
Spaces are lighter-weight communication and collaboration areas outside of courses, which can be created ad-hoc by users and are best suited for purposes of informal learning (for example, study groups), affinity or interest groups, and community-building. Most importantly, Spaces can include people from different institutions from across the global learning network so it provides a mean for cross-institution communication and community-building not offered by other Blackboard Learn features.
All three tools will remain available in Blackboard Learn, as they address different scenarios and different user needs.
Where are Spaces stored?
Because Spaces are cloud-based, they are stored in the Blackboard Cloud. Therefore, Spaces will not affect your Learn storage capacity.
At the time of launch for the Social Profiles & Tools, our cloud infrastructure will include services and components hosted both within Blackboard Managed Hosting data centers in Reston, VA, and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. Profile and Social data will reside within the US-based AWS-hosted components. Currently, all of the cloud services data is hosted in the United States.
One of the benefits of cloud-based services is the flexibility they provide to leverage multiple infrastructure platforms, so the details of our service deployments across infrastructure platforms may change over time.
What are the different privacy options for Spaces?
The different privacy settings for Spaces include the following:
- All Blackboard Users – Any Blackboard Learn user can discover and join this space.
- Protected – Any Blackboard Learn user can discover this space. Users can request to join or be invited to join. The Space manager(s) approve all members.
- Private – The space does not appear in searches, except to managers and members of the space. Users must be invited to join.
Can system administrators restrict certain privacy settings or set one as the default?
The default setting for Spaces is Protected. System administrators cannot restrict certain privacy settings or change the default setting, as these settings are the same for all Learn institutions that connect to the cloud-based global learning network.
How are Spaces monitored for inappropriate content?
Spaces can be monitored and reported in the same manner as Profiles. From a Space, any user can simply click Report and fill out the form to report the Space.
Spaces are associated with a specific Learn instance, so the system administrator of that instance is notified when the Space is reported – regardless of who reports it (from any Learn instance). The administrator can then take action and block the reported Space by going to Reported Items under Cloud Management on the Administrator Panel. When a Space is blocked, it is blocked across the entire global learning network. This is different than with Profiles, since when a system administrator blocks a Profile they are only blocking it from users in their Learn instance.
Can you invite someone who doesn’t have a Blackboard Profile to join your Space?
No, because Spaces are part of the global learning network of Blackboard Learn institutions, which is only accessible by people who have a user account on a Blackboard Learn instance that has Social Profiles & Tools enabled. Access to Spaces or any other social learning tool is not available for people without a Blackboard Learn user account, as other platforms are not currently supported and the global learning network is not open to the “public”.
Is there a way to tell who is a member of what spaces? For instance if I search for Jason’s user account, how can I see what spaces he has and is a member of?
Yes, a user’s profile will display what public or protected Spaces he/she is a member of at the bottom of the Profile’s sidebar. It only shows public or protected Space membership because those Spaces are discoverable through the Space search capability. It does not show membership in private Spaces, because those are only discoverable by being invited to them. There is no way for another user (including a Learn system admin) to determine what private Spaces a user has joined. Hence why it’s called “private.”
As an admin, how can I get a list of all of the spaces (public and private)? I see private, but not public unless I search for them in the global navigation.
There is no way to get a list of all public and private Spaces. Public and protected Spaces are discoverable from the Space search capability, however you actually must search for a keyword. There’s no way to just list every public or protected Space. However, all public and protected Spaces are discoverable.
There is no search for private Spaces, as that’s the definition of a private Space – it’s only discoverable by being invited to be a member of it.
The exception to that is a Learn system admin can get a list of private Spaces originated by users on that Learn instance. Note that this is not a list of all private Spaces, i.e. a Learn system admin has no right or privilege to see private Spaces created by users at other institutions. The list of private Spaces originated from users on that Learn instance exists because the Learn admin receives reports on inappropriate Spaces created by users on his Learn instance, whether those Spaces are public, protected, or private.
Can anything besides text be posted to spaces (images, files, etc)?
Not at this time, but being able to share files (incl images) through Spaces is a top priority on our roadmap for Social.
When the owner of a space is deleted, the space sees to still exist. It seems like after a while we could have a bunch of spaces that are just floating out in space (pun intended). Is there a way to clean those up?
Remember, the Profiles and Spaces are not Learn features. They are features of a cloud environment tightly integrated into Learn, but both are designed to be cross-institution and lifelong, hence they have a life independent of the Learn user account or the Learn instance.
Deleting the user record in Learn does not delete the user’s Profile, because that same Profile can be used simultaneously through other Learn instances or serially when the user goes to their next institution that has Learn. Nor does it delete Spaces that were created by that Profile, as (a) the Profile and Space may still be in use simultaneously at another institution or (b) the Profile and Space may be in use later when the user reconnects to their Profile from a future Learn instance. When the user reconnects to their Profile from another Learn instance, the user will should access to all the same Spaces that he/she always had.
A Space cannot exist without at least one manager. If a user who is the sole manager of a Space attempts to leave the Space, the system will alert him/her that they must either promote another user to manager of the Space or delete the Space. The system will not allow a Space to exist without a manager.
Although not implemented yet, we have plans for a Space purge policy. I.e., if a Space is inactive for n months, the managers of the Space will be sent a message letting them know the Space will be automatically deleted in n + 1 months if it remains inactive. This is to prevent inactive, unused Spaces from cluttering up the search.
How do we delete spaces? There does not appear to be anything that will allow an admin to delete a space.
As noted Profiles and Spaces are not Learn features under the full control of a Learn system administrator. They are intended to be cross-institution and lifelong, therefore they are not under the control of any individual Learn system administrator, but rather under the control of the end-users who created them. Admins are not allowed to delete Profiles or Spaces (or Messages, for that matter), because that would block the end-user from being able to maintain lifelong and cross-institution access to his or her learning network.