The flexibility of Outcomes Assessment can model each institution’s unique initiatives for the planning and execution of assessment and reporting. This is achieved by reproducing an institution’s structure within Outcomes Assessment using Units. Units are logical divisions of an institution based on the organization and hierarchy of that institution. Units can be academic, or administrative, and they can represent the university as a whole, any system within the university, a college, school, or individual department. Each Unit has a Manager and a home page within the system.
Blackboard Learn is shipped with one "master" or “root" Unit. All subsequent Units created by the institution are children of this Unit. The information required for defining the creation of new Units within an institution is determined by the institution and is controlled by a customizable form available in the Template Builder located on the Administrator Panel. Depending on the individual requirements of a Unit’s definition, data collection fields that reflect the types of data desired can be added. To learn more, see Configuring the Outcomes Environment.
After the institution’s hierarchy has been established by creating Units, it becomes the main operating context within Outcomes Assessment. Units can then be populating with related organizational objects including Sub-Units, Programs, Courses, Educational Experiences, Sections, Rubrics, Surveys, and much more. Each of these objects has an owning Unit where they reside within the hierarchy. Users navigate to a Unit to view its related data such as what Programs and Courses are offered, what Goals have been established, or which Improvement Projects have been launched by the Unit.
Setting up and populating outcomes assessment requires strategic planning and the involvement of all stakeholders. This requires an examination of the following:
- The organizational structure of the institution, processes, and business rules that are in place.
- The goals of Improvement Projects.
- Any back-end products involved if importing data takes place from external systems.
Blackboard recommends a Services engagement.
The Unit hierarchy does not imply inheritance of privileges or permissions of the users affiliated with the Units. It is only a way to model the hierarchical relationships among Units.
Configuring and Managing Units
Blackboard Learn is shipped with one root Unit. All subsequent Units created by the institution are Sub-Units of this Unit. The information required for defining the creation of new Units within an institution is determined by the institution and is controlled by a configurable form available in the Administrator Panel. Depending on the individual requirements of a Unit’s definition, data collection fields (attributes) that reflect the types of data desired can be added. To learn more, see Configuring the Outcomes Environment.
Units can be added in a batch process to the system to initially populate the system. A batch process can also be used to edit a large number of Units. Units can be added and edited one at a time to update the system to reflect changes in the structure of the organization.
Each Unit can be customized by adding a Unit Header to give it a unique display and usability. Users more readily identify where they are if Units have distinctive headers. A Customize Unit button appears on the Unit home page if the user has the right to customize the Unit. Create a Unit Header using the content editor to format text, add links, and upload graphics.
Sub-Units can be moved and assigned a new parent Unit. Any objects that are owned by that Sub-Unit are moved with it so that the entire hierarchy is moved down from that point. You move a sub-Unit from the parent Unit page by clicking Sub-Units located on the Plan Measure Improve menu under Institution.
Units can be removed from the system. However, any objects that are owned by the Unit need to be reassigned a new parent Unit before the Unit can be deleted.
Unit properties can be changed by clicking Properties located on the Plan Measure Improve menu under Manage. Unit Properties are determined by the Template that defines a Unit. To learn more, see About Form Templates. Properties for a Unit must include:
- Unit Name: The name or title of the Unit.
- Public: Selecting this option means that the Unit appears to all system users and populates all system lists and catalogs. Units that are not public only appear to users who are members of that Unit.
Unit settings can be changed by clicking Settings located on the Plan Measure Improve menu under Manage. Settings for individual Units control the Collaboration Site and Content Collection links, Curriculum Maps Levels of Support definitions, and Unit-level Report Brands.
- Collaboration Site: Each Unit can be linked to one Blackboard Learn Organization for group work using the collaboration tools such as Discussion Board and Calendar as well as other features of the organization. The Organization that the Unit links to must be created separately using the Administrator Panel. Selection of an Organization does not enroll the Unit users in the Organization. Enrollment must be established separately. Enrollment in the Organization is not severed if this connection is later removed for the Unit.
- Content Collection: Each Unit can be linked to one folder in the Content Collection that can be used as repository for files, for file-sharing and version control. The Content Collection folder that the Unit links to must be created separately using the Administrator Panel. Settings for the Content Collection folders including properties, permissions, passes, and Web Folders/Shared Locations must be established separately using the Administrator Panel.
On the Mac, a Web Folder is called a Shared Location.
- Curriculum Maps Levels of Support: Each Unit can set its own Levels of Support definitions for Curriculum Maps owned by the programs in the Unit. To learn more, see About Curriculum Maps.
- Unit-level Report Brands: Each Unit can create a unique brand for its reports, changing the header and footer information.
Affiliations are the internal connections between Person Records and Units. One Person Record may be affiliated with multiple Units and other entities within the system. For example, a student may be affiliated with the Unit that represents the institution as a whole, the Unit that represents the student’s major field of study, and the Unit that represents financial aid. This same Person Record may also be affiliated with a program of study such as a Bachelor’s degree, and all the sections of the courses the student was enrolled in during a particular time period.
Affiliations can be added manually or they can be batch added from the Administrator Panel or from any Unit. Affiliations that are made Public appear to all users on their list pages. Affiliations that are not public appear only to the users in the owning Unit. To learn more, see Outcomes Affiliations.