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November 4, 2009

24/7 Blackboard Support Starts Wed, Nov. 11

As indicated in the August 24 "Challenges and Changes to Blackboard Support" announcement, UMBC's Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will begin working with Presidium Learning to provide basic Blackboard support starting Wednesday, Nov. 11. The DoIT Help Desk and Instructional Technology staff will still provide walk-in and by-appointment Bb support, but all students, faculty and staff will be able to get 24/7 Blackboard support via phone, IM chat or online knowledge base. Based in Lexington, Kentucky, Presidium specializes in answering technical support questions for faculty, staff, and students at more than 700 educational institutions, and provides a 95 percent first call resolution rate.

UMBC Blackboard Support Portal (sample)
The partnership with Presidium is a one-year pilot to determine if and how external support can improve use of Blackboard, as well as free up DoIT staff for more advanced issues and opportunities, including refinement of Blackboard course creation and enrollment integration with the new Student Administration (SA) system, trend analysis of our most frequent user support demands, and assessment to help identify and promote effective uses of Blackboard.

For the Nov. 11 implementation, students, faculty and staff can do the following to get Blackboard help:

1. Access the online knowledge base at http://bbsupport.umbc.edu (will be active on 11/11).
2. Ask a question via live Instant Messenger (IM) Chat
3. Call the existing DoIT Help Desk phone number of 410.455.3838

Note: A short, brief phone tree will be implemented so as to route all other IT-related calls to the DoIT Help Desk, while still allowing Presidium to handle Blackboard-related calls. In addition, UMBC users will have to create a separate account and password the first time they submit a help request ticket. This may change in the future to use the UMBC userid & password, but is not available at this time.

Initially, Presidium will be responsible for the following:


  • All Blackboard-related application questions or issues, including how to get started, add content, manage discussion, create electronic assignments, quizzes and surveys and use the new grade center.
  • Refer all UMBC-specific uses of Blackboard back to the DoIT Help Desk. These include all account management and password resets as well as integration with SA to auto-create and enroll courses.
  • Provide a monthly report to DoIT showing all Bb-related support requests or knowledge base accesses, identify trend and root-cause analyses, and help benchmark UMBC usage against similar institutions using Blackboard.

"As we go forward in this pilot, it is important to note we are augmenting not outsourcing Blackboard service," says John Fritz, Asst. VP for Instructional Technology & New Media. "By supporting one part of the overall structure with a partner who has a wealth of experience in higher education technical support, we hope to provide a higher level of service for UMBC students, faculty and staff."

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