How do I use adaptive release to control when items in Blackboard are made available? (Staff)


Adaptive release gives Instructors a flexible way to control which items in a Blackboard module are available to students. You can customise your material to fit the needs of individual students or groups. This is especially useful if you have both core and supplementary materials. For example, you might want to release supplementary material only to those students who score poorly on an assessment, but not to the whole class. You can set up a path of contingent prerequisites, such that students cannot see more advanced material until they have viewed the introductory material. You can make material available only for the time period when it is relevant, such as before or after a laboratory practical. You may also wish to make material available only to a selected group of students, perhaps releasing information to a group of students on their group project topic.

Adaptive release applies to content items. If you wish to use it with the tools such as the discussion board or chat, first add the discussion board or a forum within the discussion board to a content area and then create an adaptive release rule to that item. This can be used to promote student-to-student communication so that students can exchange ideas after a learning activity such as a field trip, for example.

There are four criteria that can be used to determine whether an item is released to a student:

  • Date - makes an item available until a certain date, after a certain date, or between dates
  • Membership - whether a student is a member of a particular group
  • Grade - whether a grade is above or below a certain level
  • Review status - whether a student has reviewed another item or not

Enable adaptive release

To enable adaptive release, follow these steps:

  • Open the Content Area that contains the content you wish to manage.
  • Click the arrow next to the content and select either:
    • Adaptive Release - If you want to set one rule or criteria.
    • Adaptive Release: Advanced - If you want to use multiple rules or criteria.

Screenshot of the 'Content Area' options. The option 'Adaptive Release' is circled.

Basic Adaptive Release

You can set rules for any one of four criteria. The options for each criterion are listed in the table below, together with details for setting them.

Criterion Details

To release the item after a specified time, choose Display after date/time. For example, you might use this to make an answer key or problem set solution available after the due date for the assignment.

To make the item unavailable after a specified time, choose Display until date/time. For example, you might use this to remove information about a laboratory practical once it is no longer relevant (such as after the date of the session).


To release the item to a customised list of users, enter usernames in the Username box.

To release the item to a group you have already created, select a group from the Available Course Groups box and click the right-arrow button. This will transfer the group name into the Selected Course Groups box.


To release an item based on a Grade Center mark, choose an item from the Grade selection box. Then choose one of three options:

User has at least one attempt - Releases an item if a student has attempted the gradebook item.

Score - To release an item to students who score poorly on the gradebook item, choose Less than or equal to . To release an item to students who have done well, choose Greater than or equal to . You can also choose Equal to .

Score Between ... and ... - To release an item to students who score within a range, enter the upper and lower value of the range in the boxes.

Review Status

To make the item available to students who have viewed another item in the course, click the Browse button next to Select item . This allows you to set up a path of contingent prerequisites.

Important note: Review Status can only be enabled for individual content items or folders within a content area. If you select an entire content area when setting an adaptive release rule for Review Status, the students will have no way to mark the content area reviewed, and thus will be unable to view the item you wish to make available.


Adaptive Release: Advanced

If you wish to use multiple rules for one item, you must choose Adaptive Release: Advanced . You can create multiple rules, or multiple criteria within a single rule.

  • Click on Create Rule to add a rule.
  • Enter a name for the rule and then click Submit.
  • You will be taken to the Manage Criteria screen.
    • Hover over Create Criteria  for the Date, Membership or Grade criteria
    • Click Review Status for review criteria
  • Enter the details of the rule.
  • Now the Manage Criteria screen will list all the criteria that have been created for this rule. You can add more criteria by clicking another one of the criteria buttons or change existing ones by clicking the double arrows next to an existing rule and then clicking the Edit option.
  • Click OK . You will be returned to the screen that allows you to add new rules and manage existing ones.

Note: Within one rule, you may add multiple criteria for Grade and Review Status. You may have no more than one criterion per rule for Date and one for Membership. To create different rules on a single item for different users (such as groups working on various projects), you must add a new rule for each group. The procedure for adding a new rule follows steps similar to those just described for adding new criteria to an existing rule.

View adaptive release

There are two paths that allow you to see which items are currently available to each student based on adaptive release. This feature is integrated with Review status, so you also can see whether the student has viewed any item for which Review has been enabled. Depending on the path you choose, the information will be presented in a slightly different format.

View by content item

  • Open the Content Area and click on the arrow next to a content item.
  • Click User Progress .

You will see a screen showing the visibility of that item for each student.

The open eye icon means the item is visible to that user, while the closed eye icon means it has not been released. If review has been enabled, you will also see the review status of that item for each student.

A tick in the Reviewed column means that the user has marked the item as Reviewed.

View by student

  • Go to the Control PanelEvaluation and select the Performance Dashboard .
  • Click on the Adaptive Release icon for an individual student.

You will see a course map of all of the items in the module, indicating which items are visible to the student. You will also see the review status of any items for which Review has been enabled.

Screenshot of course map with visible / not visible items highlighted, and reviewed and not reviewed items highlighted

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