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Office of Information Technology
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Helpdesk: ECS 020 / 410-455-3838 / Email:

« December 2011 | Main | February 2012 »

January 22, 2012

New Features in Bb Learn 9.1 SP6

The December 23 upgrade of the Blackboard Learn 9.1 system to Service Pack 6 has introduced a variety of new features and enhancements, several of which are listed below.

1. Increased Browser Support: Blackboard is now compatible with Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5, and stable release channels of Firefox and Chrome.

2. Timed Assessments: Attempt information for timed assessments includes details on how much time the student spent on the attempt versus how much time was allotted. Instructors can now choose to make the timed assessment save and submit automatically when the timer expires, or to allow the assessment to continue beyond the allotted time.

3. Interactive Rubrics: Instructors can now create interactive rubrics for gradable content items including Blogs, Journals, Wikis, Discussion Boards, Assignments, Tests etc. When creating a rubric, instructors can assign weights to categories, allowing the same rubric to be used across multiple items with different possible points. Instructors can interact with any associated rubric for grading in a grid or list view, and Feedback can be typed for each criteria as well as the entire assessment. Rubrics can be made visible to students at any time, before or after grading has occurred.

4. Enhanced "Needs Grading" Tool: Gradable Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board activity can appear in Needs Grading status in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page. When an instructor chooses to make an interactive tool gradable, they will also have the option to choose how many interactions will place the item in needs grading status. A Discussion Board forum, for instance, might be set to only appear in Needs Grading status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post.

Posted by readel at 10:41 PM | TrackBack

UMBC Blackboard Update: SP2012

UMBC Blackboard update is provided by the Division of Information Technology for students, faculty and staff using Blackboard at UMBC. If you have questions or need help, please consult the Blackboard Help tab inside Blackboard or directly at You can also contact the Technology Support Center (formerly the Help Desk) at 410.455.3838 or submit an RT (Request Tracker) ticket via the myUMBC Help menu or directly at


1. Known Issues with Enrollment of Bb Courses
2. New Features in Bb Learn 9.1 SP6
3. SP2012 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions
4. Bb Down for Maintenance 10 pm 1/27 to 1 am 1/28
5. Sloan-C Workshops on Online Teaching Open to UMBC Faculty

Posted by readel at 10:16 PM | TrackBack

Sloan-C Workshops on Online Teaching Open to UMBC Faculty

UMBC is an institutional member of the Sloan-C College Pass program and has approximately 70 free seats to be used towards their workshops. The 2012 workshops include such topics as Getting Started in Online Teaching, Academic Integrity in Online Education, Copyright Compliance, Second Life and Improving Student Engagement in Online Courses. UMBC full time and part time faculty can access the required College Pass Coupon Code by going to this URL: You will need to be logged in to myUMBC in order to access this webpage.

Posted by readel at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 1/27 to 1 am Sat. 1/28

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance from 10 pm Friday, Jan. 27 to 1 am Saturday, Jan. 28. 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.

Posted by readel at 9:58 PM | TrackBack

January 20, 2012

Known Issues with Enrollment of Bb Courses

UPDATE: 1/24/12

As of 10:30 a.m. today, course enrollment updates are now occurring hourly.

Current SA to Bb Update Schedule:

  • New user updates - top of the hour
  • New enrollment updates - bottom of the hour
  • New course updates - daily at 2:15 a.m.

    As reported previously, there have been a number of issues with auto creation and enrollment of Blackboard courses since the December 23 upgrade:

    12/29/11: Spring 2012 Bb courses were auto created but auto enrollment is still once a day
    12/28/11: Bb auto enrollment changed from every two hours to once a day
    12/26/11: Winter 2012 courses were manually created by hand, not auto created

    Basically, DoIT has had to completely re-engineer Bb's integration with the Student Administration (SA) system, a project we'd planned for Summer 2012. Good news? It is nearly completed and appears to be working. Bad news? It is not fully tested.

    Current Status & Next Steps

    • Blackboard courses are being auto-enrolled ONCE A DAY at 3 a.m. using the new "snapshot" process.
    • This process can take up to 90 minutes to complete and has impacted performance.
    • Enrolling courses more frequently risks overall performance and usability of the system at the hectic start of semester.
    • DoIT is testing a new "event driven" process that would update Bb course enrollments every hour, based on incremental changes in SA. If it doesn't work, we can and will roll back to the once-at-3 a.m. approach.

    What You Can Do To Help?


    If you cannot access your Bb course 24 hours after officially enrolling in it via SA, please submit an RT ticket via myUMBC help or directly at Please include the following:


    Similarly, if you do not see your Bb course, confirm you are the official instructor of record in the Schedule of Classes (SOC). If not, contact your department scheduling coordinator so you can be added to the course in SA, which updates Bb instructor enrollment, just like students.

    If you ARE the instructor of record but still can't access your Bb course, follow the same steps as students (above), but also include your Blackboard courseID.

    Posted by fritz at 2:23 PM | TrackBack

    January 17, 2012

    Resolved: Slow RT (Request Tracker) Performance


    DoIT staff have identified an issue with the system storage which has been fixed. Please contact DoIT if you are still experiencing the slowness identified earlier today.

    DoIT has received several reports of sluggish performance of the RT (Request Tracker) ticketing system. Initial attempts to adjust the system memory resources have not been successful, so DoIT staff members are exploring possible hardware issues.

    The Technology Support Center (TSC) can still be reached at 410.455.3838, but RT's current issues will affect the TSC staff's ability to update existing tickets. Meanwhile, several IT-related frequently asked questions (FAQs) are available from the myUMBC help menu or directly at

    DoIT will update the campus when we know more.

    Posted by fritz at 10:43 AM | TrackBack

    January 9, 2012

    SP2012 Blackboard Drop-in Sessions

    DoIT is offering drop in Blackboard Drop-in sessions to assist and help faculty prepare for the spring semester

    The following drop in sessions will be held in Engineering 025. A DoIT staff member will be available to work one-on-one with with users who show up during the designated times. Please note that this is not a formal Blackboard training class. Users may show up or leave at any point during these sessions.

    Additional dates and times may be added as demand warrants.

    SP2012 Blackboard Drop In Schedule
    W 1/183-5 pm
    Th 1/1911 am-12 pm
    M 1/2312-1 pm
    M 1/235-7pm
    Tu 1/243-5 pm - HELP WITH GRADE CENTER
    W 1/2511 am-12 pm
    F 1/2712-1 pm
    M 1/3011 am-1 pm - HELP WITH GRADE CENTER
    Tu 1/3112-1 pm
    Th 2/212-1 pm
    W 2/812-1 pm
    F 2/1012-1 pm
    M 2/13 12-1 pm
    W 2/1512-1 pm

    Posted by readel at 1:31 PM | TrackBack

    Office of Information Technology • Main Office: ECS 125 • Phone: 410-455-3838 • Email: