What does ‘availability’ mean in Blackboard?

Put simply ‘availability’ determines if the students on your site can see something on the site. This could apply to the entire site, a content area, a tool on your site menu, a folder or an individual content item.

What determines if an item is available?

There are a number of reasons that a piece of content may be unavailable to students. These are:

  • The content has been set as unavailable – when you create or edit an item you can choose if it should be available to students. This option is usually called ‘Permit students to view’ or ‘Make Available?’.
  • There are date and time restrictions on the content – when you create or edit an item you often have the ability to set a ‘Display After’ and a ‘Display Until’ date. Outside of these dates the content will automatically become unavailable to students.
  • Adaptive release rules may be in effect – you can set criteria that determine who can see a piece of content. For example, allowing only members of a particular group to see something. If a student doesn’t meet the criteria then the item will be treated as unavailable for that student.
  • The parent folder or content area is unavailable – if you set a folder or content area to be unavailable that means that everything inside the folder or content area also becomes unavailable.

I’ve made something unavailable – why can I still see it?

Most instructors will be viewing the site with ‘Edit Mode’ turned on. In ‘edit mode’ availability settings are ignored so that you can make changes to content items. If you would like to see your site as your students do to see what is unavailable, you can turn ‘Edit Mode’ off.

What is this useful for?

Controlling the availability of content can be very useful for enhancing how students interact with your site. Some ideas for using availability include:

  • Hiding content or your site whilst developing it. This prevents students seeing work-in-progress content on your site, leading to a much more professional looking site.
  • Releasing content to students at appropriate times. For example, providing revision notes before an exam.  This can also avoid a sense of being overwhelmed when presented with too much content.
  • Encouraging engagement with tests or online collaborative activities at set points.
  • Preventing students from being able to change online collaborative tasks after the submission date (such as for wikis and blogs).

Where can I find out more?

For more information, including step-by-step instructions and support contact details, please visit the bb-support tab in shuspace.

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