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Exporting, Archiving, and Restoring Courses

Last Modified
11:47, 20 May 2014

Exporting and archiving courses have two distinct purposes in Blackboard Learn:

  • Export a course when course materials will be reused at a later time to teach a new set of students.
  • Archive a course to maintain a record of a course.

To learn more about importing exported courses, see Creating Courses From Templates and Export Packages (Importing Courses).

Exporting a course creates a ZIP file of the course content called a course package. You can import course packages back into Blackboard Learn to create a new course with the same content. Exporting a course includes only the course content. The export does not include any user interactions such as blog posts or grades.

Archiving a course creates ZIP file of the course content and user interactions called an archive package. You can restore archive packages, but they are not intended for teaching the course again as all user interactions are restored as well. Store archive packages in a secure location.

Do not unzip or extract a course or archive package. Do not remove files from the package or try to import a file contained with the package. You can only import or restore the course if the package is intact. Editing the ZIP file and then importing or restoring the package results in unstable and unpredictable behavior in the course.

You can import course or archive packages from older versions of Blackboard Learn into the current version. However, you cannot import packages exported from newer versions into older versions.

About Required User Permissions

To include course files in a course package when exporting or archiving a course, a user creating the package must have manage permission on the course folder.

To add course files from a course package to a destination folder when importing or restoring a course, a user performing the operation must have manage permission on the course folder.

If your school licenses content management, users with read permission can include links to course files during an import/export or archive/restore operation. Users with manage permission can include links to course files and copies of the course files themselves.

If a user importing or restoring a course does not have manage permission, some of the package contents might not upload successfully.

Links to files that are not included when the package is created will not work when the package is imported or restored. For example, if a course area links to a test but the package does not include tests, surveys, and pools, the link to the test will not work in the new course.

All course users have read permission on the course files included in the package. Users with the following roles have manage permission:

  • Instructors
  • Course builders
  • Teaching assistants

To learn more, see Content Included When Creating Course Packages.

About Content Type Availability

Prior to Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP 4, only available items were included in a course package when exporting or archiving a course. When importing a course package from a pre-SP 4 environment, items that were unavailable may now be available because the package does not contain the unavailable items. Blackboard Learn cannot differentiate between unavailable course tools omitted during export and any new items that were not present in the older version and are set to available by default. In versions since 9.1 SP 4, the exact settings made at the course level, both available and unavailable, are tracked and maintained in the export package.

How to Archive a Course

Archive packages have the following file naming structure:

ArchiveFile_Course_ID_date/time_stamp.zip

The Blackboard Learn packaging format follows the IMS Content Packaging Specification, with extensions to support content types that are specific to Blackboard Learn. To learn more about exporting courses in Common Cartridge format, see Creating Common Cartridge Course Packages.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, click Courses.
  2. On the action bar, point to Backup Actions to access the drop-down list.
  3. Select Archive Course.
  4. In the Source Course ID box, provide a valid course ID. If you do not know the exact course ID, click Browse to search for the course. To learn more, see Searching for Courses.
  5. To Include the Grade Center History, select the check box following the course ID. Selecting this option increases file size and processing time.
  6. In the File Attachments section, select whether to include only the links to course files or to include the links and copies of the course files content.

    If you select Copy links and include copies of the content, click Calculate Size to ensure that the package size does not exceed the displayed Allowed package size. To remove files and folders from the package, click Manage Package Contents.

  7. Click Submit. Blackboard Learn creates the archive package and sends an email to your Blackboard Learn account. This email contains a link to the log file contents of the package and confirms that the archive package is ready.
  8. Go to your Blackboard Learn email account and verify that you have received the confirmation email.
  9. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, click Courses.
  10. Search for the course you archived.
  11. Access the course's contextual menu..
  12. Select Export/Archive. The Export/Archive page lists all export or archive packages for this course that have not been deleted from Blackboard Learn, even if you have already downloaded the package. The file names include the date and time the package was created.
  13. Access a ZIP file's contextual menu.
  14. Select Open.
  15. In the Opening File dialog, select Save File and click OK to download the archive package to your computer.
  16. Optionally, permanently delete the package from Blackboard Learn by accessing the ZIP file's contextual menu and selecting Delete.

Course cartridge information is included in the archive and can be restored, but SafeAssignments are not included and cannot be restored. To learn more, see About SafeAssign.

The method for archiving cross-listed courses is to archive the parent course. Only parent courses have content, and archiving the parent course includes the child courses. There  is no need to archive a child course as it only contains enrollments.

How to Export a Course

You can import an exported course to create a new course. To learn more, see Creating Courses From Templates and Export Packages (Importing Courses).

The Blackboard Learn packaging format follows the IMS Content Packaging Specification, with extensions to support content types that are specific to Blackboard Learn. To learn more about exporting courses in Common Cartridge format, see Creating Common Cartridge Course Packages.

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, click Courses.
  2. On the action bar, point to Backup Actions to access the drop-down list.
  3. Select Export Course.
  4. In the Source Course ID box, provide a valid course ID. If you do not know the exact course ID, click Browse to search for the course. To learn more, see Searching for Courses.
  5. Click Submit.
  6. On the Export Course page, select whether to include only the links to course files or to include the links and copies of the course files content.

    If you select Copy links and include copies of the content, click Calculate Size to ensure that the package size does not exceed the displayed Allowed package size. To remove files and folders from the package, click Manage Package Contents.

  7. In the Select Course Materials section, select the check boxes for each course area and tool to export. To learn more about what is included with each item, see Creating Courses.
  8. Click Submit.

About Restoring Courses

Restoring a course uploads the archive package into Blackboard Learn in the same state that it was in at the time it was archived. Archive packages include course content (including all course cartridges if your school licenses community engagement), user data, and user interactions.

Archive packages are designed to provide a permanent record of a course. To save course materials to teach another set of students at a later time, export the course instead of archiving it. To learn more, see Creating Courses From Templates and Export Packages (Importing Courses).

When a course is restored, the settings and options specified in the archive package replace the default settings and Course Menu options that are in effect for new courses.

Course packages created in earlier versions of Blackboard Learn may not be supported. Check the Release Notes for the release that you are working in for a list of supported versions.

Size Limit for Restoring a Course

The default size limit for content uploaded though the user interface is 2.5 GB. When attempting to upload files larger than 2.5 GB using the interface, users will receive an error. This limit does not apply to web folder or shared location (WebDAV) uploads.

To upload larger files, administrators can upload the files using the command line or they can increase the Tomcat default size setting.

To learn more about uploading files using the command line, see Command Line Tools.

To increase the maximum upload limit, open config/bb-config.properties and modify the upload limit parameter. The file size upload limit is tied to Tomcat and is not encountered with WebDAV uploads. Because the setting is tied to Tomcat, the services must be restarted for the change to take effect.

You can also increase the maximum upload package size from the System Admin panel. Select Course Settings > Default Course Size Limits and type a new size or select Unlimited.

Restoring User Records

When performing a restore, Blackboard Learn checks to see if users are in the system by validating their usernames against email addresses.

If a username exists with a different email address than the one included in the archive package, Blackboard Learn creates a new user account. The new account has the same username with a sequence number appended.

If the username exists with the same email address, Blackboard Learn does not create a new user.

If a user account exists, but the account is disabled, Blackboard Learn creates a new user account. In order to avoid another user being created on the system the original user account must able be enabled.

 

An archive package is uploaded with an account that has the username bb_user. The restore process looks for users with this username in Blackboard Learn. If bb_user exists in the system, the process compares the email addresses. If the email addresses match, the process creates a new enrollment record in course_users with the existing user (bb_user). If the email addresses are different, the process creates a new user (bb_user1).

As a security precaution, any users that are added during a restore are created with only their primary system roles. Secondary system roles are not included.

How to Restore a Course

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, click Courses.
  2. Search for a course. To learn more, see Searching for Courses.
  3. On the action bar, point to Create Course to access the drop-down list.
  4. Select Restore. The following table describes the available fields. [r] indicates a required field.
    Restore Course Available Fields
    Field Description
    Destination Course ID Provide a new course ID. Blackboard Learn creates a course with the data and settings from the archive package.

    Course IDs can contain numbers, letters, hyphens (-), underscores (_), and periods (.). All other characters, including spaces, are prohibited.

    You cannot change course IDs after they have been set.

    This field is searchable.

    Select a Package Provide the exact file location of the archive package or click Browse My Computer to navigate to the file.
    Folder for Content Collection Files This field appears only if your school licenses content management.

    To exclude content collection files from the restore, select Course Files Default Directory.

    To include Content Collection files in the restore, select Select Folder. Click Browse to navigate to the folder. Blackboard Learn creates a sub-folder and copies the Content Collection files into it.

  5. Click Submit.

How to View Export and Archive Logs

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, click Courses.
  2. Search for a course. To learn more, see Searching for Courses.
  3. Access the course's contextual menu.
  4. Select Export/Archive.
  5. The Export/Archive Course page lists all export or archive packages for this course that have not been deleted from Blackboard Learn, even if you have already downloaded the package. The file names include the date and time the package was created.
  6. Access a ZIP file's contextual menu.
  7. To view the package creation date and time and the status, select View Basic Log.
  8. To view the package creation date and time, status, and a list of course materials included in the package, select View Detailed Log.

How to Export, Archive, and Restore Courses in Batch

Blackboard Learn includes the batch_ImportExport tool for handling the import/export and archive/restore of a number of courses at once as well as the import/restore of files that exceed the default maximum upload limit.

This tool processes batch files that include the course ID and the full path to the ZIP package.

Default Maximum Upload Limit

The default size limit for content uploaded though the user interface is 2.5 GB. When attempting to upload files larger than 2.5 GB using the interface, users will receive an error. This limit does not apply to web folder or shared location (WebDAV) uploads.

To upload larger files, administrators can upload the files using the command line or they can increase the Tomcat default size setting.

To learn more about uploading files using the command line, see Command Line Tools.

To increase the maximum upload limit, open config/bb-config.properties and modify the upload limit parameter. The file size upload limit is tied to Tomcat and is not encountered with WebDAV uploads. Because the setting is tied to Tomcat, the services must be restarted for the change to take effect.

You can also increase the maximum upload package size from the System Admin panel. Select Course Settings > Default Course Size Limits and type a new size or select Unlimited.

Creating the Batch File for Export/Archive and Import/Restore

A batch file used with the batch_ImportExport tool only has two values in each row: the course ID and the full path to the ZIP package.

  • When running an export or archive action, Blackboard Learn creates a ZIP package using the specified path and file name.
  • When running an import or restore action, the specified path and file name point to the ZIP package associated with the destination course ID.

The following are examples of the contents of a batch file for use with the batch_ImportExport tool. Save batch files as text (TXT) files.

Export and Archive Batch Files

Export and archive batch files require only the path to the directory where each package will be stored. It also requires a Boolean designation true to include Course files, the first "true" and Grade Center History, the second "true". Do not include a package name. Adding a package name results in an error.

HIST101, C:\Course_archives\,true,true
HIST201, C:\Course_archives\,true,true
HIST301, C:\Course_archives\,true,true
HIST401, C:\Course_archives\,true,true

Import and Restore Batch Files

Import and restore batch files require the exact file path, including the name of the package.

HIST101, C:\Course_archives\Archive_File_HIST101.zip
HIST201, C:\Course_archives\Archive_File_HIST201.zip
HIST301, C:\Course_archives\Archive_File_HIST301.zip
HIST401, C:\Course_archives\Archive_File_HIST401.zip
HIST331, C:\Course_archives\Archive_File_HIST331.zip

How to Run the Batch Tool

The batch tool for running import/export and archive/restore functions must be run from the command line. The tool must be run from the Web/app server. The command syntax is shown below.

Windows Syntax:

C:\Blackboard\apps\content-exchange\bin\batch_ImportExport.bat –f path_to_file -l delimiter -t operation -n virtual_hostname

Use cmd.exe to open a command line for running the tool. Running the tool from command.exe will result in errors.

UNIX Syntax:

/usr/local/blackboard/apps/content-exchange/bin/batch_ImportExport.sh –f path_to_file -l delimiter -t operation -n virtual_hostname

The exact path to the Blackboard directory may be different depending on where Blackboard Learn was installed.

Paths to Blackboard Directory
Argument Description
path_to_file Provide the full path to the batch file.
delimiter Provide one of the following values:
  • 1: Identifies comma (,) as the delimiter.
  • 2: Identifies semicolon (;) as the delimiter.
  • 3: Identifies TAB as the delimiter.
operation Provide one of the following case-sensitive values to indicate the operation being performed:
  • import
  • export
  • restore
  • archive
virtual_hostname The name of the virtual installation that the tool will run against. If there are no virtual installations, or if this argument is not given, the tool will run against the default virtual installation.

An optional true/false parameter in the fourth column of the feed file is available for batch_ImportExport operations. It is only used in archive actions and controls whether the Grade Center history will be included in the package.

How to Customize the JVM Heap Size for the batch_ImportExport Tool

  1. Open the batch_ImportExport.bat or batch_ImportExport.sh file for editing.
  2. Add an $OPTS or %OPTS parameter to include the customized JVM heap size. The syntax is shown below. The following example uses a JVM Heap size of 6 GB, and should be changed to meet the requirements of your school.

    Windows Syntax:

    OPTS="%OPTS -Xmx6g"

    UNIX Syntax:

    OPTS="$OPTS -Xmx6g"

Supported Paths for Importing and Restoring Courses

The following table identifies the supported paths for importing or restoring a course that was exported or archived from older learning management systems. Certified paths are fully tested and supported by Blackboard. Compatible paths are not fully tested but should function correctly based on past performance.

Paths for importing and restoring courses are not backward compatible. Courses may be imported or restored to a newer version, but courses from a newer version may not be imported or restored to an earlier version.

Supported Paths for Importing and Restoring Courses
Source Support
Blackboard Learn Release 9.1 Certified
Blackboard Learn Release 9.0 Certified
Blackboard Academic Suite Release 8 Certified
Blackboard Academic Suite Release 7 Certified
Blackboard Academic Suite Release 6 Certified
Blackboard ML Certified
Blackboard 5.5* Certified
Blackboard 5.0* Compatible
CourseInfo 4 Not Supported 
Blackboard Vista and CE 8.0.5 or higher  Certified
Blackboard Campus Edition 4.1.7 Certified
ANGEL LMS 7.3 Not Supported 
ANGEL LMS 7.4 Certified
ANGEL LMS 8.0 Certified

*Blackboard 5 and Blackboard 5.5 did not include an archive and restore function. Courses from these releases may be imported but courses cannot be restored with user data and interactions intact.

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