University of Illinois College of Medicine
Instructional design, instructor / trainer, project management
Medical school staff
Microsoft O365, Blackboard (LMS), Zoom
N/A (internal project)
Year(s) / Project Duration
2018-present (ongoing / perpetual project)
The learning management system in use at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is Blackboard. The university pays Blackboard for cloud storage space. I am on the LMS Governance Board for the university and as a board and using data analytics, we deduced that many people across the university do not know how to use the content system that is built into Blackboard. I completed a comprehensive and systematic review of all of the courses for the college of medicine to determine overall course file size. Unfortunately, the college courses were some of the largest in file size at the university. It turned out that many coordinators and faculty who use the LMS did not understand or know that there is a content system within Blackboard. They did not know that when you mark a file as ‘removed’ in the LMS, it only deletes it for the end-user but the file itself continues to be stored in the storage system. This process resulted in many orphan files in the system that cause file bloat.
The file linked below will give you a visual representation of the process of selecting files within the Blackboard content system to recycle. It is in .tiff format. Therefore, the size of the file is around 7 mb and scales up and down more efficiently.
Initially, I worked with the UIC Teaching Solutions group to determine the amount of space the content in our college tends to use. Once we had a good idea of how much space each course used, I went through each one and used the 360º tool within Blackboard, to remove files that has been duplicated (sometimes many times) to reduce the size of our courses. In turn, this helped the university keep overall costs down.
I did some training sessions for our staff at UIC College of Medicine (UICOM) in spring 2021 on how to use the content storage system within Blackboard more effectively. By doing this, they are able to help us keep our sizes down to an acceptable limit. This ~45 minute meeting recording explains how we took action to reduce our storage to a more manageable level.
Results and Takeaways
Even after doing this training with our coordinators, it is still up to me in my role as director of instructional design for the college to ensure we are maintaining a reasonable content system size. The staff is overwhelmed and we are chronically understaffed. Otherwise I would have requested that they keep up with the content system and weeding unused files. After sharing with Technology Solutions what we have been doing to reduce the size of our courses, they were very appreciative.
This project is important for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons is to help the university keep costs low and to help our internal staff understand how to use the content system so they avoid re-uploading content which causes course bloat.