How much content can a Blackboard course section contain? Is there a limit? Up until now we haven’t had to think about the issue of course size; however, beginning with the Summer 2015, CUNY CIS instituted new size limits for courses. These are the size limits, which are organized into “tiers”:

Tier 1: 750 MB (default).

Tier 2: 1.5 GB (Upon request with justification by the campus Bb Admin).

Tier 3: 3 GB (Upon request with justification by the campus Bb Admin).

CUNY set the limits so that about 99% of available sections previous to Summer 2015 fall within the current lowest allowable limit (Tier 1). Therefore these new requirements shouldn’t’ be a problem for most faculty.

CUNY CIS provided Hostos EdTech a list of courses previous to Summer 2015 that were over the Tier 1 limit. Instructors whose courses were on the list were alerted by EdTech, and given recommendations on how to deal with the issue.

Course sections previous to Summer 2015 will not be affected by the requirements and will remain intact. But if you try to upload or insert content into a current, or future, course section that brings its size to greater than 750 MB, or if you do a course copy where the source course is greater than 750 MB, the process will be stopped and a message alerting you to this fact will appear. Again, the statistics show that this won’t happen to most people.

If via course copy or content upload your course content increases over the limit, and there’s no way you can afford to cut back on any of the content, then you can request CUNY CIS to move the course to a higher tier. You do this by sending the request to the Hostos EdTech office, which then forwards the request to CUNY CIS. The section should be ready for increased content by the next day.

If, however, you wish to prevent course sizes going above the Tier 1 limit and/or reduce course size, here are some steps you can take:

  • If the system hangs after clicking the Submit button or you get an error message, DO NOT re-click Submit or redo the Course Copy process without checking the target course (the course in which you’re copying content). This can lead to multiple copies of content being copied, which is a common cause of course oversize. Wait a few minutes and then check the target course, whether you receive an error message or not. Sometimes an error message appears even after the course copy was successful. If there is a problem copying a course, contact EdTech.
  • Avoid uploading videos directly into Blackboard. One alternative is to create an account in YouTube and upload videos there, and have links to the videos in your course. Make sure there are no copyright issues with the videos you upload. Other alternative sites for storing content that can be linked to are Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, and Prezi (web-based application for creating presentations, which is an alternative to Powerpoint).
  • All documents uploaded and posted in your course should be in pdf format. This should especially include Powerpoint files. Avoid posting Powerpoint files (.pptx or .ppt format) in Blackboard! Save them as pdf files. An effective way to post a Powerpoint slideshow is as note pages format in a pdf file. Not only is it of smaller size, it’s easier for the students to navigate through online, and it saves paper and ink when downloaded and printed out.
  • Before posting documents from Powerpoint slides provided by publishers, edit them, tailoring them for your lesson goals. Often these publisher Powerpoint files are very large with many slides and graphics. Try to merge slides and eliminate unnecessary or redundant graphics.
  • If you are posting scanned documents or images, check the file sizes. Often the scan resolution is set much higher than necessary. For images that are only to be viewed online, 72 dpi .jpg or .png saved at medium to high quality is usually sufficient. For a document that is intended for download and printing a size smaller than the standard 300 dpi, such as 100 to 200 dpi, will probably be sufficient. An oversized scanned Word or other text document saved as pdfs can be reduced in size by opening in Acrobat Professional and doing a “Save As…”, and saving as a lower resolution pdf. If you need help with this, please Contact EdTech.
  • Use the “My Content” area of the Content Collection as a repository for content that can be shared across course sections. The content can then be accessed in the course sections through links. The limit on the area is 750 MB, which is the size of a Tier 1 course.

In conclusion, most faculty who use Blackboard will not notice any difference with the new size limits, or even realize that there are limits. For those with large Blackboard sections, the options of raising the sections to upper-size tiers or, alternatively, making adjustments in the amount and size of content, means that these new requirements will have virtually no effect on present and future course content.

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