Each year members of the Computing & Information Service upgrade duo, to ensure the system is stable, compatible with the latest browsers, as secure as possible (and also to introduce new or replacement features). This year’s upgrade took place on the first weekend in September – we used the traditional early July slot to carry out significant improvements to the underlying infrastructure of duo.
This page details our plans and it will be regularly updated – keep checking it for the latest information.
What Changed in September?
- A new simpler, more responsive interface
- Support for drag and drop of content
- A new Instructor mobile app aimed at staff
- The removal of functionality that require the installation of java applets – including the antiquated virtual classroom and chat tools
- Removing features that no-one uses – such as the Social Spaces – there are better alternatives elsewhere!
- Standardising the Home tab – so that everyone sees the same thing after login and the content doesn’t keep moving around. This request is based directly on student feedback.
The system was upgraded to the latest version of Blackboard’s software – Learn 9.1 2017 quarter 2, cumulative update 3. It seems to be running quickly and the new theme has been successfully deployed. An issue uploading content was detected and has now been resolved. Normal service has been restored.
9.30 am Saturday 2nd of September
On Sunday we hit a few spaces issues around 12 pm (12 noon) and again around 6.30 pm. These were detected and the problem resolved. We are working with colleagues who manage the storage to understand why this wasn’t detected automatically. MONITORING
The relocation of the My Organisations list from the Home page to the Training tab seems to have caught some people unawares. Apologies for any confusion caused. As such we have temporarily put it back on the Home Tab too. We will still be migrating many of the teaching focussed “organisations” to become standard “courses”. When this is complete we will remove the My Organisations module from the Home tab again, as it shouldn’t have any teaching content left in it. SOLVED
We also found problems with Campus Pack/Learning Objects since the switch to java 8 on the servers. We worked with the vendors to resolve this – they supplied a new version of the integration tool which restored access. SOLVED
Access to Blackboard Collaborate webinars for Business School staff and students was not possible immediately after the upgrade. We have worked through the affected courses and restored access. Apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. SOLVED
We fixed a bug in the new My College module shown to students – for students whose College was not picked up automatically, it was not saving their selected College as it should. SOLVED
A bug exporting data in Excel format from the Manage Users tool has been fixed. SOLVED.
10.00 am Thursday 7th September
We have confirmed a bug affecting notifications – particularly for people who subscribe to discussion board posts. Whilst all new posts are always displayed in the My Blackboard link at the top right hand corner of the screen, email subscriptions seem to be more a case of good luck at present. Blackboard are working on a fix but do not have one at the time of writing.
Some staff users on some courses are having trouble re-ordering content by dragging and dropping it. There is a work-around for this – use the keyboard accessible re-ordering tool at the top right of the list of content.
Monday 2nd October
Further Planned Changes
That’s just the start. Here is a sneak preview of other things we hope to roll out over the summer:
- Integration with the University Training Course Booking System – making it easier to find online training courses and ensuring that successful completion of these courses is added to your official training record. More details about the new Training tab…
- Expanding the number of Course roles – rather than the default ‘Instructor, Course Builder, Marker’ labels that come with Blackboard, we plan to use names that indicate a person’s role more clearly – e.g. ‘Module Leader, Lecturer, Departmental Administrator, Librarian, Tutor or Demonstrator’. This will lay the groundwork for a future new module evaluation tool. If you’ve suggestions for particular names please forward them to a member of the LTT.
- A new Course Information tool – combining features of the existing Library Resources and Module Outline tools in one place, and adding the ability to display lists of selected staff and possibly timetable integration. This should make these tools easier to manage and at the same time provide a common place for students (and staff) to find this information.