Starting today, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is directing faculty to the DoIT Help Desk to resolve basic (tier 1) Blackboard issues or escalate to DoIT's Instructional Technology & New Media group. Presidium Learning will continue to support basic (tier 1) student Blackboard issues, excluding DoIT's auto-enrollment and auto-course creation processes, which are unique to UMBC.
Generally speaking, tier 1 IT support refers to basic but frequent end user support (e.g., forgotten passwords), tier 2 refers to less frequent but more advanced application support (e.g., how to export/import a course or use the grade center), and tier 3 refers to a handful of back end, but high impact system administration issues (e.g., server is down).
We are making this change in faculty Blackboard support for a number of reasons:
First, a steady number of faculty continue to report lack of consistency in the depth and quality of 24/7 Bb support they have received from Presidium Learning. We have continually worked with Presidium to address specific issues when we learn of them, and results of a recent user satisfaction survey are generally positive. However, feedback from some faculty is still mixed. As we announced in May, one reason we proceeded with the 9.1 summer upgrade was to learn about issues that may affect support of faculty before the start of Fall. While any upgrade can be challenging, we don't want support of faculty to complicate the transition, so we are making this change now.
Second, student use of 24/7 Bb support continues to outpace faculty--especially during nights and weekends, and feedback is generally positive. Since nearly all students have at least one Blackboard course, faculty may want to ask students to start with 24/7 Bb support if they have technical issue. In turn, this may reduce the default "help desk" role many faculty play in their Blackboard courses now. Also, as Presidium continues to provide student support, it frees up DoIT staff to provide more advanced, tier 2 application support.
Finally, as I announced a year ago today (and again in November and January), we continue to face challenges in providing support for an application that is now used by nearly all UMBC classes--with the same Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing as when we started using Blackboard ten years ago. To do so, faculty have stepped up to not only support each other, but also to lead by example in how to get the most out of Blackboard and other instructional technologies or effective practices (e.g., AV, clickers, digital storytelling, hybrid learning, etc.). DoIT values and intentionally facilitates these kinds of faculty learning communities, but as technology adoption increases, we need to find the right balance between supporting people while also helping them to help themselves and others.
To be clear, this change now means that "after hours" faculty Bb support will be limited to the UMBC support staff (and faculty colleagues) who able and willing to provide it. But we hope this change and continuing use of 24/7 Bb student support will be a step in the right direction.
If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, please let me know.
Asst. VP, Instructional Technology & New Media
UMBC Division of Information Technology
410.455.6596 or firstname.lastname@example.org