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Blackboard Observer FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions: Blackboard Observer Tool for Kansas Athletics Academic Counselors

Why was the Blackboard Observer tool launched university-wide for use by KU Athletics academic counselors?

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) requires athletics academic counselors to monitor current academic progress of student-athletes for eligibility purposes.  The Blackboard Observer tool allows KU Athletics academic counselors to see only live grade data for the university’s 500 student-athletes in courses where faculty utilize Blackboard and its gradebook tool.

What if I don't want KU Athletics academic counselors to see any student-athlete grade information in my course?

The Observer tool removes the need for instructors to manually give reports to KU Athletics academic counselors. However, all instructors have the option to disable access, “opt out,” of the Blackboard Observer tool completely for any reason.  Opting out is easy. To do so, instructors can follow the instructions posted here to disable “Athletics Counselors” access to student-athlete grade data in their courses.

What if I don't use Blackboard at all for my courses?

Faculty are not required to use Blackboard or the Blackboard Observer function. The Observer tool is simply available and helpful for those instructors who use Blackboard in their teaching and who have student-athletes enrolled in their courses.  The launch of the Observer tool is not intended to encourage usage of certain functions of Blackboard or even general use of the Blackboard platform. In situations where instructors do not use Blackboard or its Observer tool, KU Athletics academic counselors will continue to directly communicate with instructors to obtain grade information necessary to determine student-athlete eligibility for NCAA purposes.

What can KU Athletics academic counselors see when accessing the Blackboard Observer tool?

The Blackboard Observer tool pairs student-athletes individually with their respective courses where the instructor uses the Blackboard platform and the My Grades function. It gives KU Athletics academic counselors the ability to see only the current grades for the student-athletes in those courses.  The tool is in read-only format, and it is currently limited to the individual student-athlete's My Grades page.

How can I tell which student-athletes have a KU Athletics academic counselor assigned to access the Blackboard Observer tool?

In your course Users list (found under the Users and Groups tab in your course navigation menu), you will see a column labeled "Observer."  Student-athletes who have a KU Athletics academic counselor actively paired with them will show “athletics_counselors” next to the student-athlete's name.

What if I want to allow the KU Athletics academic counselors access to see more than just the My Grades function?

An instructor may choose to allow KU Athletics academic counselors access to see more than a student-athlete's grades. To customize access to the Observer tool, please visit https://blackboard.ku.edu/blackboard-observer-role

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