Roles determine what a user can and can't do within Blackboard Learn. Administrators use 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. As an example, consider this scenario. A role is assigned to a user account that doesn't include access to the course Control Panel. However, the user is also assigned a role that does include access to the Control Panel. The user receives the privilege, even though it was excluded from one of the assigned roles.


Default roles

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

System roles

System roles control the administrative privileges assigned to a user. This enables administrators to share administrative privileges and functions with other users in Blackboard Learn.

More on managing system roles

Course and Organization roles

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.

More on managing course and organization roles

Institution roles

Institution roles control what brands, tabs, and modules users see when they log in to Blackboard Learn. Institution roles also grant or deny access to Content Collection files and folders. All licenses have a limited default set of institution roles. Organizations with access to community engagement features may add new institution roles.

More on managing institution roles


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.

You can build system and institution roles from scratch if you’d like to start without any existing privileges, but there’s no way to build a course role from scratch. You can modify or remove all of the associated privileges from a copied course role if you want to build a course role this way.

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.


Privileges descriptions spreadsheet

Blackboard Learn includes numerous administrator 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 9.1 Q2 2019 release (3700.0.0).

The Privileges Descriptions spreadsheet illustrates what settings are turned on and off 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. Referring to this spreadsheet can help you create and copy system roles as well as 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
  • Instructor
  • Student
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Guest