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July 3, 2012

DoIT News Moving to myUMBC Groups

As of today, the DoIT News will be published through the DoIT Group on myUMBC, which in turn feeds the new DoIT site at doit.umbc.edu. As such, we will no longer be maintaining this Movable Type blog. However, it will remain for archive purposes.

FYI to DoIT Group members:

How do I post a new blog in myUMBC groups?

If you have questions, please contact the Technology Support Center (TSC) located on the first floor of the library next to the RLC or call 410.455.3838.

Posted by fritz at 9:19 AM | TrackBack

April 16, 2012

Known Issue: Error Accessing Blackboard Wiki Tool (RESOLVED)

UPDATE: DoIT staffed installed the patch for the Blackboard wiki error during the downtime on Friday, April 20, and the wiki tool is now functioning normally.

UPDATE: Blackboard has verified that the wiki error we are experiencing is a known issue (LRNSI-5667) and is due to a Java resource leak which results in unexpected behavior of the tool. DoIT is currently testing the patches provided by Blackboard, in anticipation of installing them on the production server Friday night.

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DoIT is tracking a problem involving the Blackboard Wiki tool. When users try to create or access an existing Bb wiki, an error is generated. DoIT staff are working with Blackboard, Inc. to troubleshoot this issue and we hope to have a solution soon.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Posted by readel at 12:44 PM | TrackBack

March 9, 2012

Known Issue: Non-Standard Characters in Course Title Causes Error When Sending Announcement as Email

DoIT has had several reports from faculty who have been unable to simultaneously post a Blackboard announcement and send it out as E-mail to students. This action generates an error message indicating that the announcement was created but that the E-mail was not sent.

announce.png



This is a known issue with Blackboard, and is due to a non-standard character in the Blackboard course title. Testing has revealed that the parentheses ( ) and forward slash / characters are not problematic, but the inclusion of a colon : in the course title will cause this error to occur. DoIT is working with Blackboard to obtain a patch to fix this issue. In the meantime, if faculty experience this issue, the workaround is to edit the course title to remove the non-standard characters.

Posted by readel at 9:00 AM | TrackBack

December 15, 2011

Blackboard Acknowledges Delay in Processing of Safe Assign Reports

UPDATE: Blackboard released a final support bulletin on Friday, December 23, regarding the performance of Safe Assign. They report that all of the backlogged papers have been processed and that processing times are back to normal (24-48 hours). If instructors have papers without SA reports generated in 48 hours, it is possible that the papers are corrupted, and Blackboard suggests that they should now resubmit those papers.
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UPDATE: Blackboard released an updated support bulletin on Monday, December 19, regarding the performance of Safe Assign. Though new submissions are on the decline, there is still a significant delay in processing papers, and faculty should expect reports within 3-5 days. As previously announced, they request that papers not be resubmitted unless they have verified that an error with them has occurred.
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On Wednesday, December 14, Blackboard released a support bulletin that provided an update on the Safe Assign paper processing delay that has happened over the past several weeks. They confirmed that there is still a global backlog of papers waiting to be processed, and that reports will take 3-5 days to generate. They reiterate that the worst thing instructors or students can do is to resubmit a paper, as that will move the paper to the back of the processing queue. If you have papers that have not received Originality Reports within 5 days of their submission date, please submit an RT ticket and include your name, the Bb course, the specific assignment, and the paper ID.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by readel at 3:26 PM | TrackBack

November 18, 2011

Known Issue: Potential Delay in Processing of Safe Assign Papers

Blackboard Support reported today that the Safe Assign servers experienced an outage at the beginning of this week. The outage resulted in a substantial backlog of papers to be processed by their servers. Their system is currently processing them and the backlog should be cleared within the next 72 hours. This outage did not affect students' ability to submit papers to Safe Assign. Until the backlog is processed users may experience a delay of several days in being able to view the Safe Assign Originality Reports generated from paper submissions.

Posted by readel at 1:50 PM | TrackBack

November 7, 2011

Blackboard Down for Maintenance from 10 pm Wednesday, Nov. 9 - 12 am Thursday, Nov. 10

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for two hours of maintenance from 10 pm Wednesday, Nov. 9 to 12 am Thursday, Nov. 10 in order to replace a failed RAID controller. DoIT staff have determined that a delay in this repair runs the risk of a system-wide degradation in performance, and therefore it can not wait until the scheduled maintenance window on Friday night.

We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconveniences that this down time may cause.

Posted by readel at 12:53 PM | TrackBack

September 7, 2011

Known Issue: Students Can't Access Bb Course Files

DoIT is tracking a problem that has emerged in a dozen Fall 2011 Blackboard courses in which students see the following error:

The specified resource was not found or you do not have permission to access it.

Workaround

Actually, the files DO exist in the course, but need to be re-linked (NOT re-uploaded). We understand this is a challenging problem and workaround at a very hectic time of year. We have submitted a support ticket into Blackboard, which is working to dentify the cause of this problem. We will update UMBC Bb instructors as we learn more.

Posted by fritz at 7:53 AM | TrackBack

June 9, 2011

Known Issue: Bb Course Auto Enrollment (RESOLVED)

The auto enrollment script that takes students who are officially enrolled in SA and places them into the corresponding Blackboard course shell stopped working on Monday, June 6. It was restarted as of 9 am Thursday, June 9.

Typically the Blackboard servers receive students enrollment data from the SA system multiple times daily; in this instance the data feeds were no longer being sent from SA to Blackboard. DoIT staff are working to identify the cause of this error.

We apologize for the inconvenience and are working to ensure that it does not occur in the future.

Posted by readel at 11:21 AM | TrackBack

Known Issue: Blackboard Connection Issues (RESOLVED)

One of the Blackboard file servers went down at approximately 11:50 am on Wednesday, June 8 due to a power outage related storage failure. DoIT staff became aware of this when users reported that they were unable to log in to Blackboard. The storage issue was corrected and full service was restored at 12:55 pm.

Thank you for your patience during this time.

Posted by readel at 10:56 AM | TrackBack

April 15, 2011

Known Issue: "Not Enough Space on Disk" Error Message (RESOLVED)

At approximately 10 am, Friday, April 15, DoIT staff received multiple reports from both faculty and students of a "not enough space on disk" error message on Blackboard. Typically this error message was returned when users were trying to upload documents, create assessments or complete assignments and quizzes. The cause of this error was isolated to one of the four Blackboard application servers. Several key routine "housekeeping" tasks had failed to run on this server, resulting in the disk space usage error. This server was restarted at approximately 2 pm and the problem has been resolved.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by readel at 2:28 PM | TrackBack

March 11, 2011

Blackboard Down for Extended Maintenance from 10 pm Fri. 3/18 to 10 am Sat. 3/19

As a part of DoIT's regular scheduled maintenance, Blackboard will be down for an extended time on Friday, March 18 (10 p.m.) until Saturday, March 19 (10 a.m.) in order to reindex the entire database. This process is the second phase of a 2-step process recommended by Blackboard in order to fix the previously reported spikes in database utilization. The first phase, replacement of a key database function, was completed on February 11. DoIT staff are hopeful that the completion of this second step will resolve any lingering Blackboard performance issues.

We are sorry for the inconvenience of this temporary downtime, and we thank you for your cooperation and patience.

Posted by readel at 1:01 PM | TrackBack

January 25, 2011

Known Issue: Bb Course Auto Enrollment (RESOLVED)

The auto enrollment script that takes students who are officially enrolled in SA and places them into the corresponding Blackboard course shell stopped working on Thursday, Jan. 13. It was restarted as of 12 pm, Tuesday, Jan. 25.

Typically the Blackboard servers receive students enrollment data from the SA system multiple times daily; in this instance the data feeds were no longer being sent from SA to Blackboard. DoIT staff have identified the issue and are working on the creation of business processes to ensure that this does not happen in the future.

Posted by readel at 4:38 PM | TrackBack

October 1, 2010

Bb Known Issue: Email Sent in HTML Format vs. Plain Text

Over the past month DoIT has received reports from both faculty and students that emails sent through Blackboard contain HTML code. In some instances users have complained that the embedded code makes the body of the email difficult to read. This format is the default setting in Blackboard, and DoIT is unable to change this to plain text at the system level. However, individual users can configure their local mail clients to display incoming email messages in HTML format. Directions for configuring Webmail to view HTML formatted email have been posted to the DoIT Frequently Asked Questions website.

Posted by readel at 4:46 PM | TrackBack

August 22, 2010

Blackboard Upgraded to Bb Learn 9.1; New Features and Known Issues

UMBC’s Blackboard Learning Management System was upgraded to Bb Learn 9.1 over Memorial Weekend. Approximately 300 faculty members successfully used this new system to teach their courses throughout summer, taking advantage of the many new features available. These enhancements include the accessibility of the Control Panel, the new Course homepage, the Course Files feature, and drag and drop ability. Highlights of these new features, as well as some of the known issues are detailed below.

New Features:

1. Control Panel - All course management tools are now immediately available upon course access for instructors, without having to open a separate page. The control panel is now permanently located at the lower left of the window (and is not seen by students). This area provides easy access to the Gradecenter, Group/ User Management, Course Tools, and Course Files. Instructors now have the ability to edit the Course Menu directly through the addition of content areas and tool links.

2. Course Home Page - The default course entry point is the new Course homepage, which contains a variety of modules such as “Course Announcements”, “What’s New”, “Calendar” and Tasks. The Course homepage provides “one stop shopping” for students by consolidating all relevant course information in one place.

3. Course Files - Bb Learn 9.1 now provides a Course Files area that allows instructors to view and manage all files related to their course content. Instructors can now upload a file once, and use it in multiple areas of the course. When a file is renamed or moved, any links to that file will remain intact. The new 360° View lets an instructor see all of the places that any given file has been used in a course.

4. Drag and Drop Function - Instructors are now able to use "drag and drop" to reorder Course Menu buttons, files, folders, and other content items.


Known Issues:

1. DoIT has received some anecdotal reports of Bb 9.1 system slowness. In some cases the issue was related to an older desktop machine, running IE 7.

2. When opening an Office 2007 document in Internet Explorer, the user is sometimes presented with an unnecessary authentication dialog. Canceling it allows the document to open normally.

3. If an instructor has created a Course Menu button to an external link, and set it to “open in a new window”, the URL is often appended with extra characters, making the URL unusable. The workaround for this is to set Course Menu buttons to external links to open in the existing browser window.

4. Documents that are added as “Content Items” do not have the ability to open in a new window. If a user clicks on the link, the item is downloaded directly to the local machine. There is a new “File” content type, which allows an instructor to attach a file, and also allows the option to open that file in a new window. The key differences between “Item” and “File” content types are that with the “File” type the instructor is limited to attaching a single file, and there is no ability to add a textual description to it.

5. When using discussion boards, if students post an attachment using the VTBE, the instructor will not be able to view it. Instead, the student should use the “attach file” button below the VTBE window.

Posted by readel at 7:12 PM | TrackBack

February 24, 2010

Bb Down for Maintenance 3/5, 10 p.m. to 3/6 1 a.m.

The UMBC Blackboard server will be down for three hours of scheduled maintenance starting this Friday, March 5, at 10 p.m.

Posted by readel at 11:29 AM | TrackBack

January 27, 2010

Spring 2010 Blackboard Auto Enrollment Issues (RESOLVED)

1/29/10 UDPATE: SP2010 Bb Courses Now Being Enrolled at 8 a.m./p.m. and 2 a.m./p.m.


The auto enrollment script that takes students who are officially enrolled in SA and places them into the corresponding Blackboard course shell stopped working on Thursday, Jan. 21. It was restarted as of 11 a.m. today.

DoIT is currently working to increase the frequency of auto enrollment, especially during the 10-day add/drop period. For now, however, auto enrollment occurs nightly at 2 a.m. and takes about 45 minutes to complete. In the meantime, the workaround for faculty members is as follows:

  • check official enrollments in SA
  • if student is missing in Blackboard course, instructor may manually enroll student (NOTE: If student is not officially enrolled in SA, do not put them in Blackboard)
  • check Blackboard the following day to verify roster
  • if student is no longer enrolled, submit a help desk ticket
If and when we are able to increase the frequency of daily auto enrollment, we will notify the campus on the DoIT News blog and inside Blackboard.

Posted by readel at 11:20 AM | TrackBack

September 18, 2008

FA2008 Clicker Support Issues: Duplicate IDs, Slowness, etc.

In recent weeks, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) has learned of and tried to work around issues related to the new version of eInstruction's Classroom Performance System (CPS) "clickers." Specifically, we have received reports of students getting a "duplicate pad ID" error message when they try to click, and we've heard some faculty have to wait as long as a minute to move from one question to another.

After working with faculty and technical support staff at eInstruction, this is what we know.

1. Duplicate Pad IDs

Two weeks before the semester start, eInstruction issued a software update for PC and Mac CPS users. Part of that update included a feature called “Out of the Box," which enabled students to participate in class clicker sessions without having to register their clickers during the first 21 days of the semester. Ostensibly, students could go straight from the bookstore to class without registering, but after the 21 day window, they would be blocked. However, in some cases, this caused duplicate Pad ID numbers to appear in the CPS roster. It also seems to have interfered with properly registered users. The “Out of the Box” feature expired late last week, and we've requested that eInstruction make this an optional (not default) setting on their next release.

In hindsight, we didn't realize what this setting was, and didn't have enough time to test its impact on other settings. We also knew of other problems that the update appears to have solved. For now, DoIT recommends that instructors sync their CPS rosters to confirm properly registered users on a weekly basis. The CPS "Best Practices" describes how to sync your class if you are unsure.

2. Slowness

While it appears to have subsided here at UMBC, eInstruction has acknowledged that slowness in displaying question results is a known issue. They expect to address this in a future update.

3. Support

UMBC standardized on CPS clickers in Spring 2007, but individual faculty had been using them a few years later. Currently, we support more than 4,000 student enrollments which represent nearly 3,000 distinct users. As demand has grown, DoIT has been working with eInstruction to represent our needs and support faculty teaching goals for audience response systems. As this technology matures, here are some recommendations for students and faculty to keep in mind:

Students: Registering Clickers

  • Remember to consult UMBC's clicker support page at www.umbc.edu/clickers.
  • Turn off browser pop-up blockers before trying to register a clicker.
  • ONLY register clicker through the appropriate Blackboard course.
  • Confirm your serial number when registering.
  • Use the same CPS student account for proper credit of payments.
  • If you encounter difficulties registering your clicker, contact eInstruction directly.

    Students: Using Clickers in Class

  • Make sure your batteries are fresh.
  • Wait for your professor to indicate the proper time to turn on your clicker.
  • Turn off your clicker between CPS classes.

    Faculty: Preparing to Use Clickers & Reporting Problems

  • Join the "clickers" email listserve (https://lists.umbc.edu/lists/info/clickers).
  • Sit in on a class of an instructor who uses clickers.
  • If you use clickers, make them required by having students buy them in the bookstore.
  • If you encounter a problem, report it on the clicker listserve.
  • If you don't get a workable solution from your colleagues or DoIT staff, request support from eInstruction and make note of your support ticket or case ID number.
  • If you don't hear from eInstruction in a timely manner, contact Classroom Technology Manager Steven Anderson.

    DoIT is actively working with eInstruction to improve the support process and improve the performance of the clickers in the classroom. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions, contact Steven Anderson or leave a comment on this announcement.

    Posted by fritz at 8:50 AM | TrackBack

    April 26, 2007

    Solution to Blackboard Login "Redirecting" Problem

    Sometimes Blackboard/myUMBC users have experienced a "looping" problem where the browser will continue to "redirect" in an attempt to open myUMBC or Blackboard. This is caused by anomolies in the custom authentication scripts written for the two applications. OIT is researching possible alternatives to the current custom login system for implementation in the future. For the time being; the solution is to close your browser and open a fresh one to continue using the applications.

    Should you have questions or concerns, please send an email to blackboard@umbc.edu.

    Posted by rarmstro at 9:54 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

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