The Institutional Hierarchy is a hierarchy management user interface designed to allow administrators to create a multi-level framework within Blackboard Learn that mirrors their institution. For example, an institution with multiple schools with departments or multiple academic programs with academic plans and courses.

The Institutional Hierarchy is designed to allow administrators to delegate administration tasks to other users when appropriate. This means, for example, that individual campuses within institutions can now administer their own hierarchy level node such as, administering their own enrollments, courses, organizations, and branding.

  1. The Nodes panel displays the levels within the hierarchy and their child/parent relationships as a list. A node is a level in the hierarchy. It could be a school, program, unit, department and so much more. Each hierarchy level node contains the level enrollment, course, and descendant level node data. Select a node to open it.
  2. The page title identifies the hierarchy level node you are looking at.
  3. Create Children level nodes within the current node.
  4. From each hierarchy level node, users, enrollments, courses, availability and settings can be organized and managed.
  5. Search for specific hierarchy level nodes from the Search Nodes panel.

Find the Hierarchy

The Institutional Hierarchy is found on the Administrator Panel and can only be managed by administrator roles with proper permissions.

Institutional Hierarchy and Domains

Blackboard recommends using Institutional Hierarchy features in place of Domains in most cases. Institutional Hierarchy enables fuller utilization of other Learn functions and doesn’t require logic based on custom rules.

Both the Institutional Hierarchy and Domains offer flexible administration models. Each can:

  • Organize users, courses and organizations
  • Delegate administration
  • Assign different administrative responsibilities to users

The Institutional Hierarchy does this through a user interface by making a tree that allows System Administrator to add the administrators, courses, organizations and users to each hierarchy level node. Any user can be added as an administrator and given specific administrator roles for each hierarchy level node.

Domains make sets using rules to group objects. The attributes of the objects determine which sets they are in and who can administer them.

Learn more about domains

For example, with Domains a user can be the Course Administrator of All Unavailable Courses - as soon as a course is made available, it is gone from their scope. With Institutional Hierarchy, a user can be the Course Administrator of the College of Arts and Sciences. The user and the courses must each be added to the College of Arts and Sciences hierarchy level node.

The primary difference between Hierarchies and Domains is the way the permissions are assigned. Hierarchies provide permissions based on the location, whereas Domains provide permissions based on criteria. A Hierarchy administrator will still have access to courses regardless of whether they are marked as available or unavailable, as long as the course is still located in the Hierarchy to which the administrator has access. A domain administrator will no longer have access to a course if the course is marked as unavailable, no matter the location if their permissions do not extend outside of available courses if their domain permissions apply only to available courses. Domains are rule-based, Hierarchies are location-based. Domains make sets of rules-based groups of objects so that the attributes of the objects themselves determine which sets they are in and therefore who can administer them. Hierarchies make trees so that the location of the objects determines who can administer them.

Institutional Hierarchy and other Blackboard hierarchies

The Institutional Hierarchy, Outcomes Unit Hierarchy, and Course Catalog are all designed for specific purposes and do not interact with each other.

  • The Institutional Hierarchy is designed to delegate administration tasks to other users when appropriate
  • The Outcomes Unit Hierarchy is available only if your school licenses outcomes assessment. It is designed to represent both the academic and administrative units of an institution with the purpose of aggregating data to a specific level of the institution.
  • The Course Catalog is designed to display courses in the catalog itself.