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Teaching and Learning Software Upgrade

Every year, SHSU Online takes advantage of the winter break to upgrade some of the software applications used for online teaching and learning. One of those applications is Blackboard Learn (Bb), the official SHSU Learning Management System (LMS). This coming December, we will be conducting one of the largest upgrades to the LMS since it was implemented on campus five years ago.

We will be moving to what is called a “SAAS” environment (software as a service). Our installation of Bb will be managed using a more modern cloud-computing infrastructure. On a practical level, what this means is that we will gain access to handy improvements and service enhancements faster and with less disruptions to the up-time.

Here are a few gains as a result of the upcoming upgrade:

Zero-downtime updates: Once we move to SAAS, updates will be managed without significant downtime or service interruptions to the LMS.

  • What this means for you as an online practitioner: Zero-downtime updates is 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.

 

  • What this means for you as an online practitioner: 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.

 

  • What this means for you as an online practitioner: 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.

 

In addition to the added features, the upgrade in December will fix a few problems we have been facing. For instance, some of you may have noticed that the scroll bar in the Grade Center sometimes appears on the left of the screen, effectively blocking student names. This issue will be fixed as an outcome of the upgrade. In addition, 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, and, finally, a fix we have been looking forward to earnestly, is that assignment submissions which were failing in Safari after a browser upgrade, will now work again.

The upgrade is scheduled to start on Tuesday, December 11, the day after final grades for Fall 2018 are due. If you have any questions about the upgrade, I encourage you to contact our Blackboard Administrator, Ricki Hodges, at rickilee@shsu.edu.