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August 23, 2009

Blackboard Login "Looping" Resolved

It's taken a while, but the occasional redirect "looping" problem that occurred when logging into Blackboard has been resolved. If you find otherwise, please report your experience via a myUMBC help request to the Division of Information Technology (DoIT)--preferably with precise steps and a screen shot to document the problem.

Always difficult to diagnose because it could not consistently be repeated--and never in any other application besides Blackboard--the "looping" problem was most likely solved when DoIT changed authentication systems for logging into Blackboard this summer. Specifically, UMBC's custom authentication script WebAuth, which made UMBC one of the first school's to provide users with a "single sign-on" experience, was replaced by Shibboleth, an open-source, standards-based authentication system that allows universities, businesses and government agencies to collaborate online.

Campus users may wonder why DoIT didn't make this authentication switch sooner? But while it was annoying, the looping problem wasn't frequent, and as we reported earlier, the simple workaround was to quit the browser and start over. In addition, the problem ONLY occurred in Blackboard, and we didn't want to affect other applications like webmail and myUMBC by switching to something we didn't fully understand.

For now, if you experience the redirect "looping" problem, please report it to DoIT. And if possible, try to describe or even capture the steps in a screencast or screencapture so we can diagnose it better.

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