After more than 3 weeks of testing, our Blackboard upgrade will go ahead this Sunday, 22nd July. Our Blackboard system will be brought offline on Sunday morning at 3am, and should be brought up again by the following (Monday) morning. Staff and students will be able to log on to the environment from Monday morning, but our testing of the system will continue for a few days and we can’t guarantee continued access until Thursday, 26th July.
Once we’ve verified that the upgrade is successful (hopefully by Monday lunchtime) our work continues as we upgrade and test various building blocks: Learning Objects wikis and blogs; Turnitin; Echo 360; Kaltura; WileyPLUS; StudySkills4Camps; Sign up lists; Blackboard Mobile. These are all the extra pieces that extend the functionality of Blackboard, making it a more interactive and useful system to support teaching and learning. For more on extending the VLE, see the post on our Learning Technologies blog.
While testing the new functionality of Blackboard, we’ve found a number of features that are going to be very popular. The first of these is the possibility to email to students a copy of an announcement. This was possible in a previous version of Blackboard, but we lost the functionality when we upgraded to Blackboard 9.1 in the summer of 2011. With the upgrade to Service Pack 8, the functionality is returned.
Check back for more features and updates next week. We’ll also be announcing a training schedule for Blackboard and related workshops.