- Responsibilities: Instructional Design, Educational Technology
- Target Audience: Staff
- Tools Used: Zoom
- Budget: N/A, internal project
- Client: University of Illinois College of Medicine
- Year: 2021
At the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), we use the learning management system, Blackboard. The university pays for storage space. I am on the LMS Governance Board for the university and we have 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 of med courses were some of the largest at the university. It turned out that many coordinators and faculty did not understand or know that there is a content system within Blackboard. What they would do is re-upload documents over and over, which ultimately made the course sites massive in file size. There were situations also when they assumed when the unlinked a document within the system, it was deleted from the back end, which is not how it works.
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 bloat.