Blackboard Upgrade Status July 1/2/3 2017

We're upgrading BlackboardBlackboard Summer upgrade

The Blackboard VLE service will be upgraded this weekend.  Work will start on 01 July 2017 at 09:00 BST. 

The work will involve

  • an upgrade to the Blackboard application
  • upgrades to supporting back end technologies
  • a significant increase to the Blackboard service’s storage capacity

We have once again negotiated within iSolutions for the upgrade work to take place over a weekend in order to minimise disruption to the University.  The following Monday is reserved as a contingency day.

Important materials on Blackboard can be downloaded before the system becomes unavailable during the upgrade window. 

Read below to find out how to download any materials you will need to use whilst Blackboard is unavailable.

Reducing the impact on you

If you were planning on using Blackboard during the upgrade weekend there are a number of steps you can take to mitigate the impact.

For students

dlDownload materials you will need before Saturday 1 July.

If you will need to refer to online materials in your Blackboard course during the upgrade weekend, you can follow these guides and download those materials in advance to your computer, laptop, or mobile device.

recordingDownload Recorded Panopto Lectures and Sessions in advance to watch during the weekend

If your course utilises recorded lectures and sessions you can download those recordings in advance of the weekend upgrade.  You can then watch these recordings on your computer, tv, or mobile device.

youtubeDownload YouTube Videos

If your Blackboard course contains YouTube videos that you wish to watch during the upgrade weekend you can use websites such as http://en.savefrom.net/ to download the video in advance to your computer or mobile device.  This is a third party service.  There are numerous similar services that can be found via a Google search.

For staff

assessmentDownload Blackboard Grade Centre Data

If you will expect you will need to view data from your course’s Blackboard Grade Centre you can download it to an excel file.  This allows you to view the data whilst Blackboard is unavailable.

 

TIIDownload Files Submitted to Turnitin

If, during the upgrade weekend, you will need to refer to student submissions to Turnitin, you may download the files in advance for offline viewing.

TIIExport grades from GradeMark to Excel

If, during the upgrade weekend, you will need to refer to Turnitin GradeMark summaries, you may download the files in advance for offline viewing.

submissionDownload Blackboard Assignment Feature submissions en masse

If you believe you will need to refer to submissions using the Blackboard Assignment Feature you may download them in advance for offline viewing on your computer or mobile device.

New Turnitin GradeMark Interface

During the upgrade window, we will also be moving to a new interface for Turnitin’s GradeMark feature.  You can read more about this updated interface here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • It is necessary to upgrade Blackboard for several reasons:

    1. To maintain support from the application provider.
    2. To benefit from new features and enhancements.
    3. To provide additional storage capacity.
    4. To provide security fixes and enhancements.
    5. To resolve known issues and bugs.
    6. To provide updates to back end technology, such as a new version of Java.
  • The upgrade entails large changes to Blackboard application code and database tables.  These changes cannot be made whilst the application is running.

  • Here is the plan for the two days:

    SATRemove Blackboard from service, take backups, run preliminary tasks
    Oracle security patching
    Optimise application security
    Upgrade Java and Upgrade Blackboard application
    Configuration changes
    Sanity check application
    Finish for day
    SUNGUI-based configuration and testing
    Restart test
    Remove temporary files
    GO LIVE
    Finish for day


    A contingency day is reserved in the event of upgrade failure or unforseen problems.  We hope not to use it but we feel it is better to set your expectations now, rather than to provide an unwelcome extra system unavailability.

  • We have a core upgrade team of

    • two Blackboard application administrators
    • a Linux system administrator
    • an Oracle database administrator
    • a web applications expert

    The three systems roles above each have a back up.  In the event of illness we have someone who will be able to step in to ensure the upgrade proceeds without delay.

  • During the upgrade weekend we will be posting updates to our twitter feed @uos_mle 

    When service is restored the first place where this will be publicised is the above twitter account.

  • A review of new features available after the upgrade is here:

    Blackboard 2017: What’s new