So far, most of the articles around the Affiliations series have focused on specific tasks: creating an Affiliation, adding learners to an Affiliation and finally, assigning a Manager to an Affiliation. This Article is slightly different. In the Managing Affiliations article (as well as all other articles titled Managing…) in this Knowledge Base, we provide a reference-style overview of all the tools available and at your disposal to manage Affiliations.
We try to provide you with examples of when it would make sense to use each of the tools we describe in each section below. The Article begins with an overview of the Affiliations tab, and then continues on to discuss the options available to you when you click on an Affiliation in the Affiliations’ main content page.
The Affiliations Tab
As you have seen in other articles throughout this series, the Affiliations tab is the start of all things related to Affiliations. Some operations regarding Affiliations are performed through the Administration tab, but in general, most tasks related to active Affiliations are performed in the Affiliations tab.
In this Section, we provide an overview of what you see when you first click on the Affiliations tab, and explain the meaning and actions you can perform when you click on each of the items in the menu on the sidebar of the Affiliations main content page.
When you first click on the Affiliations tab, you notice that the Active Affiliations menu item changes to bold, underlined text. This means that this is the active page you are currently visiting in Genius. The Active Affiliations page shows all the affiliations that are currently active (meaning, that have been created and that have not been archived – more about this below):
In the Active Affiliations page, you see that Affiliations are listed in table format. We explain what each of the headings in this table mean below:
- Affiliation is the name of the Affiliation on display. Sub-affiliations are shown with whitespace. The more to the right an affiliation’s name, the more nested it is with respect to the other affiliations in your organization.
- ID is the internal identifier provided by Genius to this Affiliation.
- Path reflects the hierarchical relationship of this particular affiliation to others in its ‘branch’. So, for example, you can have the affiliation Blackboard, and below it, the affiliation APAC and the affiliation Australia, resulting in a Path that reads Blackboard > APAC > Australia, with Australia being the lowest
- ContactName is the name of the contact person defined for this Affiliation. Typically, the contact person for an Affiliation is defined when the Affiliation is created.
- ContactEmail is the email of the contact person defined for this Affiliation; also defined when the Affiliation is created.
- Status indicated whether the affiliation is Active or Archived.
- Level denotes whether the Affiliation is a parent (Level 1), a sub-affiliation (Level 2) or a sub-sub affiliation (Level 3).
- Learners indicates the number of active and archived learners that form part of this Affiliation. This should closely
- Users indicates the number of users who do not have either a Learner, Administrator, Manager or Instructor role and who are a part of this Affiliation. Ideally, this should be 0, as there shouldn’t be any ‘users’ who play no active part in your learning initiative, other than Administrators.
- Instructors indicates the number of Instructors who are a part of this Affiliation
- Sections indicates the number of Sections whose enrollment is reserved for this specific Affiliation. Genius allows you to reserve a Section for learners with a specific Affiliation only. In this way, you can restrict access to your learning opportunities to learners with a specific role or function in your organization – more about this here[link: restricting access to courses based on role]
- Enrollments means the number of learners who form part of that specific Affiliation who are enrolled in active courses. Typically, you would want the number of Learners to match or be greater than the number of Enrollments. The number of Enrollments can be greater than the number of Learners because an individual Learner can be enrolled in multiple courses at a time.
Clicking on the column headings should re-arrange the table on ascending or descending order based on that specific Column. By default, Genius shows you all active Affiliations in the topmost level by alphabetical order, with this being repeated for active sub-affiliations beneath each Affiliation.
When you want to perform actions on Affiliations, the Active Affiliations page is a good starting point. You can either filter or perform a search for Affiliations, or use this page to browse through, find and obtain critical information about all the Affiliations you have created in your learning initiative.
In the Active Affiliations page, you can see all active affiliations in your learning initiative. However, what happens when you have too many affiliations that are currently active? The Filter Affiliations tool allows you to reduce the number of ‘hits’ displayed so that you can narrow down your search. Filter Affiliations also allows you to pull information from affiliations that have been Archived – allowing you to quickly reach out and find historical information about Affiliations.
Using the Filter Affiliations tool is easy. Click on this item in the Sidebar, and Genius will open this screen for you:
Select any of the fields in the drop-down menus and click Get Data. Genius will pull any information for Affiliations that match this request. You can even include custom fields associated with Affiliations in your request. In this case, we want to see the number of archived affiliations. We select Archived from the drop-down menu, and we see 31 affiliations that were not a part of the Active Affiliations screen we discussed earlier:
You can filter these Affiliations by additional criteria until you arrive at the Affiliation you are looking for. Genius makes it possible for you to add custom fields to any user-created data structure (users, learners, affiliations, courses, sections and enrollments) – and you can make use of these Custom Fields to tailor your search efforts.
Unlike Active Affiliations, “All Affiliations” prints out all affiliations that currently reside in your Genius instance. This means that Archived affiliations are also included. In this example, this instance of Genius has a total of 184 affiliations (both active and archived), with 153 affiliations active and 31 affiliations archived.
Add Affiliations makes it possible for you to create an affiliation and add it your instance of Genius. We cover this feature in detail in Creating an Affiliation.
The Affiliation Profile Page
If you return to the Active Affiliations page, you will see that each affiliation has a link that makes it possible for you to click through and access the Affiliation’s Profile Page. In general, each data structure (affiliation, user, learner, instructor, course, section and enrollment) you create in Genius will have a Profile Page, allowing you to make edits to the data structure. Because of this, you will find that many of the tools you will learn to use when managing Affiliations will also apply to other data structures (see above) in Genius.
In this Section, we will provide you with detailed information about each of the menu items that appear in the Sidebar when you click through and access an Affiliation’s Profile Page.
The Main Information items in the Sidebar of the Affiliation Profile Page are the ones you will typically use the most when managing Affiliations in Genius. We provide an overview of each of the items under this heading in the Sidebar below:
The Main Page link in the Sidebar of the Affiliation Profile page returns you to the Affiliation Profile page. Think of this link as the affiliation’s Home page. You can’t perform any edits to the Affiliation from this page, but you can use it to verify that any of the changes you made have been performed properly.
The Dashboard page shows a visual representation of the progress, performance and engagement of your learners across the entire learning initiative. The Dashboard shown in this page is a general dashboard for your learning initiative as a whole, not a specific dashboard related to this Affiliation specifically.
By clicking on the gear icon on the top right-hand corner of your screen, you can edit the Dashboard and add new graphs, content and lists to meet the specific needs of your learning initiative. We provide a complete overview of this functionality here[link: editing dashboards].
The Edit Information menu item in the Sidebar makes it possible for you to edit the data used to create this Affiliation. The menu used to create the Affiliation is similar to the one you used to create the affiliation[link: creating affiliation] in the first place. When you enter the Edit Information menu, you can make changes to an Affiliation’s name, level (the Affiliation under which it sits, or its parent), the contact information for the person responsible for the Affiliation, and any other custom fields you may have defined for Affiliations in your instance of Genius.
Typically, when you create the Affiliation, you can define the values of these fields as well. When you enter the Edit Information screen, you can make changes to the values you defined when you created the Affiliation - allowing you to update your Affiliations at any time.
Note that when you enter the Edit Affiliation link, you can also add or edit a profile picture for this Affiliation by clicking on the Edit Picture link on the top right-hand corner of your screen.
When you are finished making your changes, don’t forget to click ‘Save’ in order to ensure that your changes are saved in the system. If you do not click Save, your changes will be lost when you browse away from this screen.
When you create a data structure in Genius, Genius makes it possible for you to upload and associate external files with each data structure you create in the system. ‘External files’ can be anything – ranging from pictures, to PDF or Word documents, to Excel sheets that are relevant and associated with this data structure.
When we say ‘data structure’, we mean a user-created object. This includes:
- And, naturally, Affiliations
In this case, you can take advantage of this feature to add external files to an Affiliation. To add an external file, simply click on the Upload New File icon.
The External File interface appears as a floating screen in your interface. You can pick the file you want to upload by clicking the ‘Browse’ button, which will open a file picker you can use. You can also add a text string describing the file on the Description field. Finally, you can also associate the file with a specific document you have defined for your instance of Genius. By doing so, you let other users know that this document being uploaded is, for example, a Financial Application, a Proof of Citizenship or a Transcript – allowing you to keep the external files uploaded into Genius in order.
Choose the file you want to upload, add a short description of the file, select the Contents (transcript, proof of citizenship, etc.) that this file belongs to, and click Upload to upload this file to your system. When you return to the External Files interface, you will see a list of the files you uploaded:
Genius includes a powerful Calendaring function that allows you to define calendar events for the users of the system. In Genius, Calendars can be created at multiple levels – at the System, Affiliation and Section levels, specifically. You can use the Calendars included with Genius to create events and leave the communication of those events in Genius’ hands, as Genius will send an email notifying your learners that a new event has been created and will send them an attachment that makes it possible for them to save that event back to their personal calendars.
Creating an event in the Genius calendar is easy. Simply click ‘Add new event’, and a floating window will appear allowing you to create an event:
You can define the category for the event amongst the following:
- Deadline – useful when you want to communicate with your learners about an upcoming deadline.
- Event – used when you want to create an event that you want to bring to the attention of the users that belong to this Affiliation
- Information – used to provide general information to your Learners
- Reminder – a reminder to your users of the need to provide information, complete coursework or in general, take action.
Next up, we have the “When” field. When you click the "When" field, a Calendar will pop-up allowing you to define the date when the event will take place.
You can then define the ‘Name’ of the event. The ‘Name’ of the event will also be the subject line in the iCal event that will be generated when you create this event – more about this later.
Finally, there are fields for you to add a Description to the event, and even a Link in case the event is performed through a Web conferencing tool like Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom, for example.
When you create the event, it will appear in your Genius calendar. You can click on the event in the calendar to find out more about the event:
To create or view an event during a different month than the current month, click on the arrows on the top left and top right of the Calendar displayed by Genius:
When you create an event at the System level, all learners associated with your instance of Genius will be sent an email with details of this event. When you create an event at the Affiliation level, all users (instructors, managers and learners) who are associated with this specific Affiliation will receive an email notifying them of this event, and providing them with an iCal attachment that makes it possible for them to save this event back to their personal calendars:
Deleting an event in the Genius calendar is easy. Use the ‘Delete this event’ feature to simply choose one of the events on the month in display in order to delete them. Genius will delete the event from the calendar, and it will no longer be available for view.
Because events and calendars in Genius exist at multiple levels, you have to be strategic when it comes to creating events in Genius calendars. In this particular case, you want to create events that apply for all members of an Affiliation – so, for example, if you want all members of a specific Department at your organization to attend a virtual meeting, you can create an event in the Affiliation calendar – but if you are creating an event that is relevant to the learners in a specific course, we recommend that use the calendar at the section level, such that you reach the learners enrolled in that specific learning opportunity only.
We provide more details about the way in which Genius handles events in another article in the Advanced Administration series – Calendaring and Events in Genius[link to this article]. Please make sure to check back before March of 2019 to learn more about how this feature works in Genius.
The ‘Add Manager’ functionality has been covered in detail in the article titled Adding a Manager to an Affiliation[link: adding a manager to an affiliation]. We refer you to this article for a complete overview of the way in which the Add Manager functionality works with our Solution.
Genius includes a powerful Automated Notifications feature that makes it possible for you to create personalized notifications that are automatically sent to your users if a few specific trigger conditions are met. The cornerstone of this functionality are the Templates that Genius uses to create these communications, which are sent via email to your learners and other stakeholders in your learning initiative:
Like Calendars, Templates can exist at the system, Affiliation, Course or Section level – allowing you to define communication templates that apply for the users in each specific Affiliation only. We provide a complete overview of the Automated Notifications functionality included in Genius in our article series around communication in Genius[link: introduction to communications].
If you define a Template at the Affiliation level, the Managers and Instructors associated with that Affiliation will be able to use this Template to communicate with their users. Please refer to the article series about this topic for additional information about how this functionality works, and how you can take advantage of it to facilitate communication with your learners.
Notes are text-based comments that you can add for each Affiliation. Through Genius, you can view all the notes associated with an Affiliation, or add a note of your own. The advantage of adding Notes is that your note-keeping will be structured, allowing you to keep a ‘log’ of the comments made around a specific Affiliation where Genius not only saves the content of your note, but also the date and time in which you made your note.
The first operation available under the Notes sub-heading in the Sidebar of the Affiliations tab is View Notes. When you click on View Notes, you will see a summary of all the notes that have been created around this Affiliation:
You will be able to filter through these notes by Period (the time elapsed between the current date and the date in which the Note was created) and by the Category of the note (more about this below, under Add Note). You can also perform a free-text search to find a specific note you may have created in the past.
The results of your queries will appear in a Table below the filter menu. Each row in the table represents a note that has been created with regards to this Affiliation. You can click the pencil and paper icon to view this note in detail. A floating window will appear, allowing you to review the contents of the note:
You can make changes to the note using this window. Click ‘Save’ to ensure that your changes to this specific note are saved, and click ‘Cancel’ to close the window without saving your changes.
You can add a note associated to an Affiliation in Genius by clicking the Add Note item in the Sidebar that appears when you visit an Affiliation’s profile page.
Genius will complete a Date field describing the time and day in which you created this note. It will be up to you to select the Category of the note (as defined from the drop-down menu under the Category field) and the Subject of the note. In Genius, notes are structured, which means that each note you create is assigned a timestamp, a subject and a main content, and they are saved in a table that you can consult when clicking the View Notes item in the Sidebar of this menu.
You can then use a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor to add contents to the note in real time. You can use rich-text formatting, including bold, underline and italics, or even add pictures and links to the notes you create with Genius. Finally, you can even add HTML code to your note by clicking on the HTML icon on the bottom left of the user interface used to add a note.
Click Save, and your note will be added. You can check that your note has been added by revisiting the View Notes page and seeing the note you just created listed in the table, along with any other notes you or other users have created regarding this particular Affiliation.
Notes are a particularly useful way to keep track of ‘events’ or important information about an Affiliation in a centralized location. Keep in mind that you can add notes to almost any user-created data object in Genius – which includes learners, users, courses, sections and, as you see in this Section, Affiliations.
The items under the Historic Data heading make it possible for you to pull up any historical data associated with this Affiliation. Genius makes it possible for you to pull up both the enrollment history and an audit log of changes performed that involve this Affiliation. We describe how both of these tools work below:
When your learners begin to enroll in their courses, you will need a way to check back and ensure that, for example, a specific learner in an Affiliation has been enrolled in a course. Consider this scenario: as an Administrator, you receive a complaint from a Manager in the “Blackboard” department in your organization. She says that a key member of her Department (represented in Genius by the Blackboard affiliation) is not enrolled in a key course.
You can use the Enrollment History feature to check the historical enrollments for all learners in the Blackboard affiliation. Use the Affiliations tab to display all active affiliations in your learning initiative, and then scroll to search for the Blackboard affiliation.
Click on the Blackboard affiliation, and access the Affiliation’s profile page. Scroll down to find the Historic Data heading in the Sidebar. Under this heading, you will find the Enrollment History feature. Click on it:
The Enrollment History window appears. Genius allows you to filter the Enrollments associated with this Affiliation by period and by the status of the enrollment. An Enrollment’s status can be:
- Active, meaning that the learner is currently completing the course.
- Not Active, meaning that the learner has enrolled in the course, but has not engaged with his or her coursework.
- Dropped, which means that the learner was enrolled in the course, but has withdrawn (or been removed) from the course.
- Completed, meaning that the learner has enrolled in a course and has successfully completed the course.
- Blocked, meaning that the learner has been blocked from both his or her current and any further enrollments.
- Future, meaning that the learner will be enrolled into this course in the future.
Your instance of Genius may have fewer options available to you depending on customizations. For now, we want to filter our search to find all Active enrollments in the Blackboard affiliation. We select Active in the drop-down menu under Status:
The display of the screen changes, and we see that there are 57 active enrollments of learners that belong to the Blackboard Affiliation. We can sort these columns in ascending or descending order by clicking on the heading of the column to find the learner we are interested in, and check if he is, in fact, enrolled in the course or if he’s somehow AWOL.
Alternatively, we can also send a note to the Manager of this Affiliation with an attachment containing the list of all learners who are enrolled in a course and who belong to the Affiliation that she’s responsible for. We can do that by exporting the results of our table to Excel format by clicking the Export Results to Excel link on the top right-hand corner of our screen. An Excel file will be generated, and you can now send an email to the Manager responsible for this Affiliation with this Excel sheet as an attachment, asking him to please review the listing to check if her learner is, in fact, enrolled in the course.
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Finally, the two operations under the Academic heading in the Sidebar make it possible for you to obtain a listing of all Learners associated with this specific Affiliation, or obtain a printout of all the current enrollments associated with this specific Affiliation. We review both of these operations below:
The purpose of the Learners page is simple. Click on this page, and Genius will produce a list of all learners that belong to this Affiliation. Learners will be included in the list whether they are active or not, allowing you to quickly obtain a listing of all Learners associated with a specific Affiliation.
Like the Learners page, the Current Enrollments page also lists all enrollments of learners associated with this Affiliation. The Current Enrollments page shows more information than the Learners page. Specifically, because enrollments are “live”, Genius will also show dynamic information about the status of the enrollment – so, for example, it will show a graphic representation of the grade, to-date, obtained by the learner, the number of assignments the learner has completed, and importantly – the number of days since the learner was last active in the system.
While the Enrollment History item under Historic Data allows you to answer the question: “Is my learner enrolled in Course X”, the Current Enrollments item allows you to answer the question: “How are my learners doing across all the courses that they are enrolled in?”
Current Enrollments provides you with the capability to edit each individual enrollment in this Affiliation by clicking on the pencil-and-paper icon:
When you edit each individual Enrollment, you can manually:
- assign a grade in this course;
- define the number of Assignments completed by this Learner
- define the Total number of Assignments in this course
- edit the Start and End dates for this course (allowing you to, for example, provide Extensions to your learners if they require an accommodation)
- set the Status of the Enrollment – active, not active, dropped, completed, blocked or future, as described earlier.
You can also use the interface provided by Current Enrollments to select a few enrollments, and then perform a bulk operation on them. In this example, we search for all enrollments of the learner Roger Hanley by adding the string ‘Hanley’ to the Search Box. This returns all enrollments for this learner. We can force-complete 2 out of his 3 Enrollments by simply clicking the “Completed Selected” button:
We can now search for ‘Hanley’ again, and drop him from his remaining enrollment by clicking the ‘Drop selected’ button:
This is a very powerful tool to manage enrollments within your Organization. For example, if you need to track down a specific Learner in your organization who has experienced technical problems and who claims she has completed her coursework, you can begin by searching for that learner through her Affiliation under Current Enrollments. You can use this interface to force-complete her enrollment in this course, allowing her to continue along her learning pathway.
I don’t want this Affiliation anymore…
Finally, the last operations you need to be aware of when managing Affiliations are archival and deletion.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Deleting an Affiliation typically has more severe consequences than Archiving it. If you delete an Affiliation, all items associated with that Affiliation will also be deleted. This means that, for example, the Manager user of that Affiliation will also be deleted, as well as any courses that have been reserved and associated with that Affiliation only.
If you want to suspend the use of an Affiliation, we recommend that you archive it first. Archiving the Affiliation will make it impossible for other users and yourself to add new users or associations to the Affiliation. You can then remove all associations from that Affiliation and then proceed to delete the Affiliation. In fact, Genius will not allow you to delete an Affiliation that has active associations with it. This helps protect the integrity of the data in your instance of Genius.
Archiving an Affiliation in Genius is easy. Click on the Affiliations tab, and then use the Active Affiliations tab to find the affiliation you want to archive. For example, in this case we want to archive the Accounting sub-affiliation that sits under the affiliation Corporate. We use the Active Affiliations page to browse down and find this specific Affiliation:
Now, we click on Edit Information under the Main Information heading. We can use this opportunity to maybe add a note about the reasons why we’re archiving this Affiliation, and then under the Status drop-down menu, we change the Accounting affiliation’s status from Active to Archived.
Click ‘Save’, and the Affiliation will be archived.
When you Archive an affiliation, the enrollments, courses, instructors, managers and learners associated with this Affiliation will continue to be valid. Because Affiliations are central to many of the things Genius does, this is important. Do not attempt to delete an Affiliation until you are sure that the Associations[link: assigning a manager to an affiliation] involving this Affiliation have been removed.
Deleting Affiliations in Genius requires the use of the Administration tab. To delete an Affiliation, you must first archive the Affiliation using the process described above. Then you must remove any associations between that Affiliation and any sections, courses, learners and instructors in the Genuis. Once you have done that, click on the Administration tab and scroll down until you see the System Setup heading in the Sidebar.
Under System Setup, find the Delete an Object operation and click on it:
The Delete an Object screen appears. You can select the type of the object you want to delete, and then select the object itself. When it comes to deleting Affiliations, you will note that Genius will not allow you to delete an Affiliation that still has associations with other learning objects in your learning initiative.
Select the affiliation you want to delete, and Genius will perform the deletion for you. A message confirming the operation will appear, and the Affiliation will no longer be available for consultation.
Note: We highly recommend archiving data objects, as opposed to deleting them, in Genius. As you begin to make use of Genius, you will find that more than a Student Information System, Genius slowly becomes a system of record. Archiving data objects makes it possible to recall information about them later – information that may be required for regulatory or record-keeping purposes, for example.
To learn more…
This is the final article in our Affiliations series. We have covered the basics around Affiliations in Genius, ranging from how to create an affiliation, to how to add a learner to an affiliation (both manually and in bulk) and how to add a manager to an affiliation to enable a few delegated administration workflows that should save you, the Administrator, some time.
Additional topics we would like to touch on include the association between Affiliations in Genius with roles in the Blackboard Learn LMS, as well as other advanced topics that we will be adding to our Knowledge Base as time goes on. Please continue to check back for new content on some of the more advanced features around Affiliations soon!