On Monday 18 December between 17:00 and 21:00 Blackboard will be unavailable in order to install a critical update.
Why is this necessary?
The Blackboard Assignment Feature has an online document viewer and online marking interface that uses a third party technology licensed by Blackboard. This document viewer and online marking interface will stop working on 15 January 2018 as the technology has been deprecated by the third party supplier. A replacement document viewer and online marking interface will be made available as part of an update supplied by Blackboard.
We will install this update to Blackboard on Monday 18 December between 18:00 and 21:00. During this time Blackboard will be unavailable to users.
The following further information is only relevant for those who use the Blackboard Assignment Feature on their course. Turnitin is not affected.
What will happen after the update?
Once the update has been installed nothing will change immediately. We can choose when to change over to the new document viewer and online marking interface from the moment we install the update until 15 January.
We plan to move over to the new document viewer and online marking interface on Wednesday 10 January at 08:00.
What happens when we move to the new document viewer and online marking interface on 10 January?
When we move to the new document viewer and online marking interface all existing assignment that use the Blackboard Assignments will be transitioned to the new interface. This is currently estimated to take about two hours. During that time it will not be possible to view Blackboard Assignment Submissions using the marking interface, but the submissions can be downloaded direct to your computer.
Once the transition to the new document viewer and online marking interface is complete assignments that were marked with the old interface will have any annotations that had been made during marking “burned in” and those existing annotations will no longer be editable. Additional annotations can be made over the top of these old assignments if required.
New and existing assignments will then use the new document viewer and online marking interface.
TurnItIn assignments are unaffected.
What changes will I notice with the new document viewer and online marking interface for Blackboard Assignments?
The new document viewer and online marking interface for Blackboard Assignments will have much better support for file types and fonts and will a resolve a known issue with rendering of some documents.
The new document viewer and online marking interface will not immediately support “free hand drawing” over a submission – only comments and highlighting.
The image below shows the old and new interfaces side by side.
Does the update bring any other benefits?
The update provides more than 60 additional bug fixes and will resolve a number of known issues on our known issues list. We will also be applying the latest set of security patches for the Oracle database underlying the Blackboard application.
What do I need to do?
If you use the Blackboard assignment feature and in particular the online marking screen, you should not use it from Wednesday 10 January at 08:00 when the transition begins. We will email the blackboard-users mailing list to confirm when the transition is complete and that its usage can continue and include a link to our updated web pages on usage.
Summary of key dates
Monday 18 December, 18:00 to 21:00 – Blackboard unavailable for patching.
Wednesday 10 January 08:00 – Transition to new marking interface begins.