Availability is an item setting that dictates when students can see something. Adaptive release is a condition (or set of conditions) applied to an item that dictates who can see it (and, to a lesser degree, when they can see it). Make sense?
Adaptive release is more like an “if this, then that” rule with four kinds of criteria. This means that you can use adaptive release to determine an item or activity’s availability based on membership (in a group, or just to give access to one student), grade (you have to get at least 80 percent on activity 1 to see activity 2, for example), review status (you have to mark activity 1 reviewed to see activity 2) or date criteria (activity 2 is only visible during X time range).
Keep in mind: In all these examples, you’d need to apply your adaptive release rule to activity 2, not activity 1.
More things to know about availability
The display after/display until settings on graded activities, pages, announcements and just about all other Blackboard content determine if visibility limitations by date. For example, this is not a good idea …
So, if you want your students to only be able to see an exam the week its due, set that bad boy up to display after the start of the eligible week and the display until becomes the cutoff. Keep in mind: Display until isn’t the same as due date (see below) and totally hiding stuff — especially tests — can mess with your students’ ability to review.
You can make almost anything hidden from students and you don’t have to hide by date — the “make the link available yes/no” option can keep stuff hidden or visible until you manually change it.
If an activity is unavailable, students can’t see it on the calendar, either. To fix this, “hide” at the folder level, not the item level. So, if I have Test 2 in a Module 2 folder, I can have the test be open and available but hide the folder with display after/display until settings, meaning that the students can’t see or access the folder or test via the content area (Lessons), but they can see that the test is coming up via the calendar.
Availability ≠ due dates
Due dates are neither availability nor adaptive release. Graded forums, tests and assignments can have due dates; apply them to have those items automatically appear in the calendar. Other than that, due dates don’t affect activities’ visibility. If students can see a forum or an assignment, they can post to it, even after the due date. But late submissions will appear in your needs grading queue with LATE right next the them, so you’re call if the student gets any consideration.
You can prevent students from taking tests late, however. Just add a due date in the test options and then select the box below for “do not allow students to start … ”
Keep this setting in mind if you do allow for exceptions — you’ll need to turn it off if you’re allowing just one student to take the exam late, for example.