October 25, 2011
Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 10/28 to 1 am Sat. 10/29
The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance from 10 pm Friday, Oct. 28 to 1 am Saturday, Oct. 29. DoIT staff will be performing MS Windows Server maintenance and updates during this time.
We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.
October 12, 2011
12/22 Bb Upgrade Will Delay Auto-Creation of WT & SP 2012 Courses
To fix a known issue of broken content links in some courses, reduce growing web browser incompatibilities, and install Collaborate (Blackboard’s replacement for Wimba), DoIT will be upgrading the Blackboard production system on Thursday, December 22, at 10 p.m. As a result, Winter and Spring 2012 course shells will NOT be auto-created until Monday, December 26.
Faculty can still develop 2012 content using older course sites, and simply delay the export/import process until 2012 course shells are auto-created on 12/26. However, given the start of Winter session on January 3, DoIT will manually create Winter 2012 course shells upon request, with the understanding that faculty who do so need to use a published work around if they encounter the broken links problem the upgrade is meant to resolve.
Important Note to Instructors About Fall Grades
While Fall 2011 classes end December 13, final grades are due on January 4. Accordingly, if you display Fall 2011 grades to students in a Bb course, DoIT recommends backing up the gradebook by downloading it to Excel BEFORE the 12/22 upgrade begins at 10 p.m. We do not anticipate any issues with the upgrade, but to be safe, faculty should back up their grade book before the upgrade.
Why DoIT Is Upgrading Blackboard Before Fall Semester Ends
Last month, DoIT announced the known issue after students in about a dozen Blackboard courses could not access uploaded documents. We have not received many new reports since then, nor have we (or Blackboard) identified a specific cause, though it appears to be related to importing a Spring 2011 course into an empty Fall 2011 shell under our current version of Bb (9.1.4). While the content IS present in the new shell, the displayed links to it in some Bb courses do not work. Additionally, there is no site-wide fix DoIT can implement after this export/import process has occurred, though faculty can manually work around it if they or their students encounter it.
Since exporting and importing Bb courses is the primary way all content is moved from one semester to the next, DoIT considers this to be a potentially very serious issue if it is more widespread, particularly in WT and SP 2012 courses. Blackboard believes upgrading our production system will allow the export/import process to work properly, and we believe it will also help minimize a growing problem with web browser incompatibilities due to some browsers changing more frequently than Blackboard. Additionally, we will be installing Blackboard Collaborate which is the new web-based conferencing system following Bb’s acquisition of Wimba and Eluminate in Summer 2010. Collaborate was released this past summer, but not in time for us to test for a Fall 2011 release at UMBC.
Unfortunately, there is no longer a convenient window of time when upgrades can occur during the academic year, but we have reviewed this decision with an informal advisory group of active Bb instructors in several disciplines, as well as the Faculty Senate’s Computer Policy Committee at its 9/16/11 and 10/7/11 meetings. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work to improve the campus’ use of Blackboard.
Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
UMBC Division of Information Technology