Common Cartridge is an initiative led by the IMS Global Learning Consortium to promote sharing across Learning Management Systems (LMS). The Common Cartridge Extension Building Block ships with Blackboard Learn and is available by default for administrators and instructors to export and import Common Cartridge packages.

Common Cartridge allows instructors and administrators to export a package that can be used in any LMS that supports Common Cartridge.

Supported standards

Blackboard Learn supports Common Cartridge packages in Common Cartridge 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 formats. For detailed information about Common Cartridge, go to IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Common Cartridge export specifications

Common Cartridge standards are designed to enable flexibility and sharing. To enable reuse in a broad number of systems, the package is limited to widely available features.

Files, items, discussion forums, web links, and assessments are exported, but certain components may be excluded. For example, topics in discussion forums are exported, but grading, which is not supported by other LMS, is not.

The IMS Common Cartridge standards don't currently support all assessment question types or attributes. Exported tests and pools won't include incompatible questions.

The following content types are supported in accordance with Common Cartridge standards.

Supported Content Types
Content Type Description
Course Files All course files are exported as a web content folder to the /csfiles/home_dir/my_files directory. Role restrictions are used to limit permissions to Instructors only on any file not available to all users.
Discussion Board All course forums are exported together, including group forums, if present. Threads are not exported.
Surveys Surveys are not exported.
Pools Pools are exported as a single question bank.
Tests The following question types are exported as specified:
  • Multiple Choice: Includes feedback for each answer. Partial credit is not supported.
  • Multiple Answer: Includes feedback for each answer. Partial credit is not supported.
  • True/False
  • Fill in the Blank: Includes the first answer only.
  • Essay Question: Includes a sample answer.

Other test information included:

  • Correct and incorrect feedback
  • General feedback
  • Embedded images and files in question text linked to source files in course files
  • Single categories (if a question has multiple categories, only one will be included)

Test information and content not included:

  • Instructor notes
  • Layout information
  • File attachments
  • Random blocks
  • Question sets
Content Areas Common Cartridge export packages place a course into a single folder of content. Each content area is then exported as a sub-folder inside the main course folder. For example, if a Common Cartridge package were exported from a course and then re-imported, the result would be a course with a single content area containing a folder for each original content area and a web links content area containing all of the web links.

The following items are supported upon export:

  • Folders
  • Items: Text entered in the text editor is exported as an HTML file. Attachments aren't exported as part of the item, but if they are stored in Course Files, they are included in the course package.
  • Files: Files are exported as web content without descriptions and display as a link to the file.
  • Assessment links
  • URLs: URLs are added to the package's web links section without associated text or attachments. If they have been deployed in a content area, they will also be in the corresponding folder.
  • Links to discussions forums
Basic LTI Links Basic LTI Links can be exported and imported. If using an imported Common Cartridge package, instructors need to configure the LTI link in the Packages and Utilities area of the course's Control Panel before it is functional.
Assignments Assignments are supported both in export and import. This is a very limited format, so no information outside of the actual content is exported/imported. On import, an assignment with a single file attachment is created. The file can be HTML with links. If the assignment is not used in the main organization, it is restored in an assignments content area. On export, a single file is produced, which merges the description and attachments. Also web content can be marked as an assignment.
Alignments Alignments to standards are exported for all Common Cartridge items. Alignments are restored on import if and only if the standards currently exist in the system. If it doesn't exist, a log entry (informational) is added to the import log. Only external standards (coming from a vendor) are exported. Custom standards are ignored.

Common Cartridge import specifications

Common Cartridge packages imported into Blackboard Learn accept content as described in the Export Specifications table. Administrators and instructors should be aware that the package is intended to share as much content as possible, but won't reproduce courses identically.

When a Common Cartridge package is imported, the course is compressed into a single content area, with folders and sub-folders inside. A web links content area is added to the Course Menu to provide access to all URLs included in the course package.

IMS specifications

The Blackboard packaging format follows the IMS Content Packaging Specification with extensions to support content types that are specific to Blackboard Learn.

  • IMS Content and Packaging Specification 1.1.2
  • IMS Metadata Specification 1.2.1
  • IMS Enterprise Specification 1.01
  • IMS Question and Test Interoperability Specification 1.2

Curriculum Standards Alignment

The Curriculum Standards Alignment option allows for the inclusion of standard alignments. In this context, the "Standards" is a globally unique identifier (GUID) that links to the standard description. It's up to the installer to connect to the actual standard's description as determined by the provider. Though specification supports any provider, Blackboard limits links to Academic Benchmark standards.

Manage the Common Cartridge Building Block

When you upgrade Blackboard Learn, the latest version of the Common Cartridge Building Block is installed. The default status is set to Available.

  1. In the Administrator Panel, in the Building Blocks section, select Building Blocks.
  2. Select Installed Tools.
  3. In the row for the Common Cartridge Extension, ensure that both Availability and Course/Org Default are set to Available.
  4. Select Settings.
  5. Select whether to Allow Instructors to export Common Cartridges.

    If instructors aren't allowed to export in Common Cartridge format, administrators are still able to from the Administrator Panel. For instructions, see Export a Common Cartridge course package from the Administrator Panel. Importing Common Cartridges isn't affected by this setting. Set the building block to Unavailable if you want neither instructors nor administrators to import Common Cartridge packages.

  6. Select Submit.

Export a Common Cartridge course package from the Administrator Panel

  1. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, select Courses.
  2. Search for a course. To learn more, see Searching for Courses.
  3. Open the course's menu.
  4. Select Export/Archive.
  5. Select Export Common Cartridge.
  6. Select the check box for the Common Cartridge version the destination system supports.
  7. Select Submit.

Export a Common Cartridge course package from a course

  1. In the course's Control Panel, expand the Packages and Utilities section and select Export/Archive Course.
  2. Select Export Common Cartridge.
  3. Select the check box for the Common Cartridge version the destination system supports.
  4. Select Submit.

Download the course package

  1. Go to your Blackboard Learn email account and verify that you have received the confirmation email for the course package. This email contains a link to the log file contents of the package and confirms that the archive package is ready.
  2. On the Administrator Panel, in the Courses section, select Courses.
  3. Search for the course you archived.
  4. Open the course's menu.
  5. 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.
  6. Open a ZIP file's menu.
  7. Select Open.
  8. In the Opening File dialog, select Save File and select OK to download the archive package to a local computer.
  9. Optionally, permanently delete the package from Blackboard Learn by opening the ZIP file's menu and selecting Delete.

Import Common Cartridge packages

Administrators and instructors can import packages in Common Cartridge 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 formats into courses in the same way as other course packages. To learn more about the import process for administrators, see Creating Courses from Templates and Export Packages (Importing Courses).