Blackboard hack: Merging classes from multiple pages

Blackboard has a feature called Course Merge that lets instructors teaching more than one section of a course merge the sections into a single roster and course space. It turns out, though, that in Blackboard 8, if a professor has more than 25 or so courses alive in the system (which can easily happen when lab subsections of a large lecture course are listed separately), the Merge tool breaks. In particular, the list of courses to select as parent/child courses of the merge gets broken up into multiple pages. You’ve got to check the boxes next to the courses you want merged and hit Submit to complete the process. But (O! miracle of UI design) the Submit button only appears on the last page, making it impossible to merge courses on any pages but the very last one.

I’ll pause to say that this bug means that the people who most need to merge their courses – the ones who have big classes with lots of subsections – are the most likely to be unable to do so. Yikes.

So here’s an ugly but functional workaround. I’ve cobbled together the information in the HTML form element on the final step of the merge process into a single form. The value attributes in the input tags have be replaced with the unique identifiers for the classes to be merged, which you can find by viewing the source of the course list. You’ll also need to change the URL in the form tag to point to the absolute location of your Blackboard installation. Save the file to your local disk. As long as the HTML file is run in a browser that is logged into Blackboard as a user with the permission to do the merge, selecting the radio button and clicking submit on the local file will successfully submit the form and complete the merge.

Here’s the code:

 <form name="CourseCreateForm" method="post" action="/webapps/bbgs-coursemergetool-bb_bb60/setupMergedCourse.do" onsubmit="javascript:return validate();">

<input type="hidden" name="tab_id" value="_1_1">

<!-- The following two lines are the courses to be merged. Replace the values with your course identifiers -->
  <input type="hidden" name="selectedCoursePkString" value ="_217005_1" />
  <input type="hidden" name="selectedCoursePkString" value ="_217007_1" />

<!-- The following line identifies the "target" or "parent" course into which the others will be merged -->
  <input type="radio" name="coursePkString" value="_217005_1">

<INPUT TYPE="image" ALT="Click here to merge" name="submit" src="/images/ci/formbtns/submit_off.gif" BORDER="0" HSPACE="5">
</form>

Blackboard hack: Merging classes from multiple pages by Boone Gorges, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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