CourseWeb Retention Guidelines


This document defines the length of time that a course may reside on the University’s Blackboard Learning Management System (CourseWeb) prior to being deleted. This document also explains the process for obtaining a copy of the contents of a CourseWeb site prior to the scheduled deletion date.


The University will maintain four consecutive terms of Blackboard content on its Blackboard Learning Management System. Live Blackboard content will include the current term and the three terms prior to the current term. This change became effective in the Spring 2012 Blackboard courses and applies to all Blackboard courses created after the Spring 2012 term.

Examples: If the current term is Spring 2016, the CourseWeb site terms that currently reside on the Blackboard Learning Management System are: Spring 2016, Fall 2015, Summer 2015 and Spring 2015.

The Spring 2014 courses would be removed at the end of the Spring 2016 semester. The University Center for Teaching and Learning will send out regular notifications reminding instructors of the relevant dates for Blackboard site deletion several weeks prior to a scheduled deletion date.

  • The primary purpose of Blackboard is to provide a method for delivering content and tools that are used to enhance the teaching and learning environment for a class during a given academic period.
  • A great convenience of Blackboard is the ability to export materials from older Blackboard sites into newer Blackboard sites, and to allow instructors to maintain their own local copies of all of their Blackboard sites.
  • Blackboard is not intended to be the archival record of a course. There are other university systems that serve as the archival record of course enrollments, grades, etc.
  • Retention practices in Blackboard exist as guidance for faculty.
  • The older a Blackboard site is, the less likely it is to function properly in the University’s latest Blackboard Learning Management System implementation, particularly as upgrades are applied to the Blackboard software.

Guiding Principles

  • To comply with any University guidelines related to course material retention.
  • To retain centrally stored Blackboard sites and materials for a period of time that is helpful to instructors and students.
  • To guide instructors in developing their own procedures for long-term storage of their CourseWeb site materials.
  • To optimize the performance of the Blackboard system.
  • To ensure that online storage space provided by the University for Blackboard is used efficiently, and to minimize the financial and technical impact of constantly increasing disk use.

What gets deleted from a Blackboard site?

  • Deleting a Blackboard site permanently removes it from the Blackboard Learning Management System so that it is no longer accessible. When a Blackboard site is deleted it is automatically removed from an instructor’s course list.
  • All materials stored in the Blackboard site are deleted. This includes all files, grades, assignments, quizzes, surveys, links and anything else associated with the course site that is stored in the Blackboard database and file system areas.
  • Content stored outside of Blackboard and linked from within the Blackboard site is not deleted. Rather, only the links are deleted, because that is what is stored in the Blackboard database. The retention of materials outside of the Blackboard system is subject to the terms and conditions of those other systems, whether they are departmental servers and systems, centrally-supported systems, or external systems.

How Do Instructors Retain External Copies of Their Blackboard Site Content, or Transfer Content From an Older Blackboard Site Before A Course is Deleted?

Instructors can easily transfer content between Blackboard sites from an older CourseWeb site into a new CourseWeb site. Please see our instructions for using the Course Copy Tool.

Instructors may also maintain local copies of their older Blackboard sites, by Exporting or Archiving the site to their computer or external drive prior to its scheduled deletion.

What tools does the Teaching Center offer to assist instructors with transferring or maintaining their Blackboard content?

The Educational Technology Center at the Center for Teaching and Learning provides a variety of self-help/how-to documents and videos that may assist you with learning to export, archive or import your course.

In addition, The Educational Technology Center can send an Educational Technologist to your office at your convenience to walk you through the process of exporting, archiving or importing your course materials. To request an appointment, click here.

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LMS Support and Consulting Usage Guidelines


  • Thank you for choosing LMS Support and Consulting to assist you with your technology needs. If this is your first time visiting the Educational Technology Center, we ask that you please review our usage guidelines below.


  • The ETC is intended for educational purposes. Please do not use equipment for a private enterprise and please limit personal computing activities as not to interfere with other users wanting to use the facilities for University of Pittsburgh scholastic purposes.

Business Hours

  • Regular ETC business hours are from 8:30am-5:00pm Monday-Friday. The ETC is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Signing In

  • Signing in helps us keep track of traffic flow within the ETC and helps us improve our services by providing data regarding your visit. When entering the ETC, please sign in via the electronic sign in sheet.

Food and Drink

  • Please refrain from bringing food and drink into the ETC while working with ETC equipment.


  • Please ask for staff assistance before rebooting hardware.
  • Please do not reconfigure, rearrange or remove any ETC hardware.
  • We ask that you do not install additional software on ETC machines.

File Storage

  • Please do not store files of any kind on the ETC computers. Should files be left on a lab computer, the lab staff is not responsible for ensuring that files are:
  1. private or secure
  2. backed up or restored
  • ETC patrons are encouraged to bring their own storage devices for media and should refrain from storing media on ETC computers. Flash drives are available for purchase across the hall in Instructional Media Services.
  • All files stored on ETC computers are automatically deleted each evening at the close of business.

Telephones & Printers

  • ETC telephones are for staff and emergency use only.
  • Printing is not available in the ETC. Patrons wishing to print may utilize print services down the hall in the OSCAR lab.

Scheduling Appointments

  • ETC patrons are encouraged to schedule one-on-one appointments in advance to ensure availability of desired equipment/consultants.


  • When using ETC equipment, please do not reproduce software, videos or images, except within the accepted definition of fair use.
  • The University Center for Teaching and Learning recommends using the following checklist to determine whether you are within the boundaries of fair use.

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CourseWeb Shell Automation

Educational Technology Services

Faculty and Staff support for the CourseWeb system is provided by the Educational Technology Services group at the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Our office is located in: Alumni Hall, Room B23.

Business Hours

• 8:30-6:00 Monday-Thursday

• 8:30-5:00 Friday

For assistance with CourseWeb please contact us at: 412-648-2832 or

To schedule an appointment with an Educational Technologist, please click here.

The University of Pittsburgh has adopted an automated CourseWeb shell creation process.

The previous process required faculty members to manually look up CRN’s in PeopleSoft and to type them into the CourseWeb shell request form. Under the new process, instructors do not have to look up information in PeopleSoft and transfer it to a CourseWeb request form. The new process saves time, reduces errors, and reduces waiting times.

What tools do we offer to assist you with this transition?

1. The Educational Technology Center provides a variety of self help how to documents and videos that may assist you with learning to export, archive or import your course.

2. The Educational Technology Center can send an Educational Technologist to your office at your convenience to walk you through the process of exporting, archiving or importing your course materials. To request an appointment, click here.

3. To request a cross listing for your course, please use our online form.

What this means for instructors using CourseWeb:

1. Pitt instructors no longer need to manually request CourseWeb courses. CourseWeb shells are automatically created and populated from course and enrollment information maintained in the PeopleSoft student information system.

2. Every course section that exists in PeopleSoft has a corresponding CourseWeb course shell that is automatically created and populated with instructor and student enrollment information. Any person who is listed in PeopleSoft as a course instructor will be automatically enrolled as an instructor in that course in CourseWeb.

3. Course shells are created in an “unavailable” state. They are not visible to students until instructors make them available.

4. Instructors who choose to not use CourseWeb for their courses do not have to use it.

5. Many instructors have asked for the ability to export the content of courses to their own computers at their convenience. Based on your requests, this feature of CourseWeb has been enabled. With the implementation of this export feature for instructors, LMS Support and Counseling is no longer keeping backup copies of old courses or cloning courses.

6. Starting with spring 2012 term (2124), course names in CourseWeb appear differently than they have in the past.

Under the prior system, the course name included the term and CRN number:

2121_24680 – BIOL 0360: Cell Biology

The same course under the new naming convention includes the PeopleSoft section number instead of the CRN:


7. CourseWeb has a default 250MB import limit, therefore all Course Quotas are now set at a maximum of 250MB. If you receive an error message for exceeding this limit, please contact the Educational Technology Center for assistance at or (412) 648-2832

Why was the process changed?

1. We changed our process because, as a complex manual process, it was prone to errors. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the old process and the new one:

Old Process New Process
Instuctor finds CRN in PeopleSoft. Instructor logs into CourseWeb and the course is there to work on approximately two months before the term starts. Courses are not visible to students until the instructor chooses to make them available.
Instructor completes CourseWeb Course Request Form with Pitt affiliation, first and last name, Pitt username, phone number, e-mail address, course subject, course catalog number, course title, CRN, term the course will be offered, campus where the course will be taught. Course information is automatically updated from PeopleSoft.
Instructor may request a “cross listing.” The course request form becomes a cross-listing request form.
Instructor may request a course “clone.” Instructor can export course materials and import them into their new courses as they choose to, when they want to, without requiring assistance from LMS Support and Counseling.
Instructor may request permission to use another instructor’s materials. Instructor may contact the other instructor directly for materials to be copied. No LMS Support and Counseling involvement is required.