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Blackboard Teaching and Learning Software Upgrade Slated for Winter Break

SHSU Online will conduct its annual upgrade of the Blackboard Learn application (Bb) this December after grades have been posted. Every year, SHSU Online takes advantage of the winter break to install updates and patches on software applications used for online teaching and learning. This year’s upgrade for Bb is noteworthy as it is one of the most significant ones in over five years.

BB-Logo-600x600The upgrade is scheduled to start on Tuesday, December 11, the day after final grades for Fall 2018 are due. We believe that Bb will be inaccessible for four to five days during the winter break while the servers are upgraded. Please bear this in mind if you intend to work on your Blackboard courses while sipping on some eggnog during the holidays. 

We will be migrating to what is called a “SAAS” environment (software as a service). On a practical level, this will result in faster and less disruptive implementation of new improvements and service enhancements. “Once we move to SAAS, we won’t be looking at so much downtime to make changes in the system,” says Ricki Hodges, SHSU Blackboard Administrator. 

Enhancements and Improvements:

  • Zero-downtime updates: Once we move to SAAS, updates will be managed without significant downtime or service interruptions to the LMS. Zero-downtime updates are an excellent benefit because we will be able to apply bug fixes and make corrections to the system throughout the year without having to limit access to Bb or wait until the winter break to make a necessary change. Less downtime means fewer interruptions for your students and your online courses!
  • Improved Maintenance: Blackboard can deliver maintenance and fixes to production faster than ever, as well as enhancements and new features. This means that if a Bb tool malfunctions, it will be fixed faster, as the patch is released.

This also means that when Bb releases new functions or new tools, we will gain access to them right away, helping us keep pace with the latest enhancements to online courses.

  • Less Disruptive Change management: More frequent, modest releases allow for easier change management. By releasing updates, upgrades, new features, and bug fixes throughout the year as they are released, we can count on subtle, easier-to-manage changes occurring over time. Ultimately, this can result in fewer disruptions to the online teaching and learning experience.

Bug fixes to be applied during the upgrade:

  • Sometimes the scroll bar in the Grade Center appears on the left of the screen, effectively blocking student names. This issue will be fixed as an outcome of the upgrade.
  • Discussion board threads that would not appear until the page refreshed will now work as originally designed.
  • Grade Center comments entered in the text box will now save.
  • Assignment submissions, which were failing in Safari after a browser upgrade, will now work again.

 If you have any questions about the upgrade, I encourage you to contact our Blackboard Administrator, Ricki Hodges, at rickilee@shsu.edu.