Use roles and privileges to set what your users can and can't do.

Use the roles to group privileges into sets that can be assigned to user accounts. Every user associated with a role has all of the privileges included in the role. When a user account is assigned multiple roles, the user receives all of the privileges included in all of the roles.

Example: Jonathon is a student in Course A. He is also a teaching assistant in Course B. Even though as a student he should not have access to the Control Panel in the Original Course View, he needs the Control Panel in Course B. He has access to the Control Panel in Course B only.

Default roles

When Blackboard Learn is installed, several standard roles are created. Administrators can edit these default roles.

  • System Roles: Control the administrative privileges assigned to a user. System roles enable administrators to share administrative privileges and functions with other users in Blackboard Learn.
  • Course and Organization Roles: Control access to the content and tools within a course or organization. Each user is assigned a role for each course or organization in which they participate. For example, a user with a role of Teaching Assistant in one course can have a role of Student in another course. Instructors can use these roles to delegate some of the responsibility for maintaining the course.
  • Institution Roles: Control what users see when they log in. Institution roles also grant or deny access to Content Collection files and folders.

There are several default course and institution roles with the same name, such as Student and Guest. A Student institution role is not the same thing as a Student course role.

Video: Roles Overview in Blackboard Learn

Watch an overview video about roles

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Roles overview provides a brief overview of the role types available in Blackboard Learn.


Blackboard Learn includes numerous privileges that can be applied to different roles depending on your institution's needs. For your convenience, Blackboard has developed a comprehensive Administrator Privilege Descriptions spreadsheet that organizes these privileges and provides descriptions for them.

The spreadsheet is current as of Blackboard Learn SaaS continuous delivery release 3900.0.0. These privileges also apply to Ultra if the feature exists for the Ultra experience or course view.

The Privileges Descriptions spreadsheet illustrates what settings are enabled or disabled by default for each privilege. Some privileges are grouped together and must be assigned to a role as a single unit.

This spreadsheet can be a useful reference when you are designing your roles. For example, if you are copying a default system/course role to use as a basis for creating a custom role, this spreadsheet can help you see what settings are turned on and off by default and understand the purpose of each privilege. Refer to this spreadsheet when you create and copy system roles and manage privileges for course roles.

Privileges from Outcomes Assessments aren't included.

The spreadsheet outlines the default settings for these system roles:

  • Community Administrator
  • Course Administrator
  • Facilitator
  • Goal Performance Viewer
  • Goals Manager
  • Guest 
  • Learning Environment Administrator
  • None
  • Observer 
  • Assessment Admin
  • Assessment Manager
  • Rubric Manager
  • Support
  • Survey Author
  • System Administrator
  • System Support
  • User Administrator

The spreadsheet outlines the default settings for these course roles:

  • Course Builder
  • Facilitator
  • Grader
  • Guest 
  • Instructor
  • Student
  • Teaching Assistant


You can see below how to change a privilege for a specific Instructor role named Support. The Support instructor is logged in and can not see the contents of the Username column on the Grade Book:

  • On the left menu, select the Admin icon 
  • On the Administrator Tools page, select System roles 
  • Right click on the Support instructor role to open the Privileges page 
  • Search for the Show username privilege 
  • Check the box in front of it and Permit Privileges 
  • It will look like this: 
  • And when your Support instructor user opens the Grade Book again, it will show the Username information: 


More on the Username column within the Grade Book from the instructor perspective

Get started with custom roles

Blackboard Learn includes a number of default roles at the system, institution, and course level. Your institution’s needs might require you to customize these roles or the privileges they contain. Use the following getting started guide to help define requirements, develop the role, and implement it at your institution.

Gather requirements

The method you use to create a new role is influenced by the requirements. For example, if you need to create a new role that’s very similar to the existing Grader role but with slight modifications, you could easily copy that role and make slight adjustments as needed. Alternatively, if you need to grant users access to specific parts of Blackboard Learn, you might find it easier to remove all of the privileges and build a role by adding privileges back one by one.

Learn more about the username column within the Grade Book from an instructor perspective here

You might find it useful to ask these questions as you plan a new user role:

  1. What is the purpose of this new role?
  2. Is there an existing role that might apply to this situation?
  3. Which role is most closely related to the new one?
  4. What parts of the application should this role be able to see?
  5. What parts of the application should this role be able to interact with or change?
  6. Will this role require system-level access (such as the Administrator Panel) or strictly access to courses?
  7. Does this role need access to student data? Should these users be able to see or manipulate information such as grades, contact information, or enrollment?

If you use Institution Hierarchy in Blackboard Learn, you might find it useful to create a custom system role for users to access that area of the Administrator Panel only.

Configure the role

Ready to get started? After you gather requirements, determine your path forward.

Copy the role that most closely resembles what you want to achieve with the new role.

More on copying a course role

More on copying a system role

You can also create a brand new institution or system role without any privileges.

More on creating an institution role

More on creating a system role

Test the role

Create user accounts that you can use to test new roles. For example, create a test user account for each institution, system, or course role and log in as the test user to see what users with that role will see when they access Blackboard Learn.

Blackboard recommends you create a test user with the institution role of Guest to preview what unauthenticated users will be able to see. Changes to the Guest institution role can have serious consequences as this role controls what users can see in Blackboard Learn without logging in.

Learn Guest Account can't be enrolled in courses

Guest Account can't be enrolled in courses

Previously, when an unauthenticated user accessed Blackboard Learn and the "Enable Guest" property was enabled they were associated with the "Guest" account. Instructors were able to enroll this "Guest" account in courses and organizations, circumventing application entitlement handling.

This account is a unique Blackboard System Level account that was never intended to be enrolled. Allowing this account to be enrolled meant possible data exposure to unauthenticated users as multiple un-authenticated users could be associated with the account.

Therefore, we removed the ability for the "Guest" account to be enrolled in courses stopping potential data exposure concerns between unauthenticated users. Existing "Guest" account enrollments will remain and be visible to instructors and administrators so they can clean up these existing enrollments through the user interface.