Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4

Bulk User Management

The Desire2Learn conversion process strips our Blackboard Vista sections of students and instructors. Our clients naturally want instructors and designers enrolled in the migrated courses (BbVista sections are D2L courses). So obviously we had to enroll them.

The options were the XML (Holding Tank) format or the CSV (Bulk User Management) format.

Do or do not. There is no try. I helped a coworker write the SQL to generate IMS standard XML for a content migration between Vista 3 and 8. In that case, it was created the hierarchy of the groups and courses for the restores of sections. Writing XML to create enrollments was definitely feasible. The hesitation was a sense that Holding Tank was pretty demanding.

Back in March we used Bulk User Management to seed the golden master instance with accounts. BUM also has an okay UI process which shows what it is going to do before it actually does it. Especially in setting up this process that came in handy.

Either was clearly viable for what we wanted to do. Basically that was to write SQL against the Vista databases to generate Section Instructor and Section Designer enrollments. CSV was the easiest to create. (Jr and III in last names were very rare. I’ve only seen a couple dozen.)

Some problems and their solutions:

    1. Missing users. The student information system creates most users for us. This data changes so generating new files under the new format still could miss users. Plus, there are users created in Vista that never existed in the SIS. The best way to match users to the migrated courses is to use the same data source: Vista. Solution: I created a CSV file to make the users.
    2. Inconsistent codes. Courses created by the SIS have a simple code of an id number + a term code. The term usually looks like year plus the month. Courses created by Vista have a long sequence of numbers and letters that do not really match to anything. The D2L conversion process replaces the Vista codes with the title of the course. Solution: When producing the actual file, loop through the SIS sourced ones and come back through and make the Vista sourced ones. Concatenate the files later if need one.
    3. Special characters. My favorite of these is the single quote. The D2L conversion process lets these through as this character does not affect the course code. It does, however, not let the Bulk User Management enroll users into the course. Oops. Solution: Instead of just fixing the enrollment data, one has to remove the single quotes in course codes. Which means looking through the database because 200,000 courses is too much to deal with one-by-one. And finding a single quote in SQL where it has special meaning is one of those special level of Hell annoyances.








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