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Ohio University's Blackboard support site

2013-14 Blackboard Upgrade

Blackboard will be down from 1:00 pm on May 7 through 11:59 pm on May 11 while we upgrade to Service Pack 13 for the start of the 2014 summer semester. This will be a fairly significant change from the current version.  Log into https://bbtest.ohio.edu/ to preview the changes.

New Interface | New Features | Annual Maintenance | Why Upgrade?

Upgrade Schedule

Spring 2014: Preview available to all faculty/staff at https://bbtest.ohio.edu/

  • The preview is meant for experimentation and exploration.  Do not use it to teach or to create materials that you wish to keep.
  • Feature availability may change from day to day.
  • System availability/uptime is not guaranteed.
  • Student enrollments will not be available.

1:00 pm May 7 - 11:59 pm May 11: Blackboard will be down to apply the upgrade.

  • Courses and materials in the production version of Blackboard will be migrated automatically to the new version.
  • If you wish to use Blackboard in your courses for the first day of summer classes, make sure to create those courses and upload the appropriate content before May 7.

Summer 2014: New version in production for all courses

  • Production servers will be upgraded after spring grades are due but before summer semester starts.

Interface Changes

Blackboard makes some fundamental changes to several aspects of its interface for this version.  A few are highlighted below:

  • Logout link has been replaced with an icon that resembles a computer's power switch.
  • Many of Blackboard's basic features now are accessed through a single drop down menu that resembles a Facebook or Google+ notification bar.
  • Buttons for accessing context-sensitive drop down menus are round with a single chevron instead of being rectangular with two chevrons.
  • Those same buttons are hidden by default.  Mouse over an object to reveal its menu buttons.
  • Some objects allow inline grading.

New Features

Blackboard introduces a number of improvements, including:

  • Interactive Calendar - color coordinated display of milestones & due dates for all courses.  Instructors can reschedule items for all students by dragging and dropping from one date to another
  • Themes - easily customize the way a course is laid out
  • Retention Center - key student risk and performance indicators at a glance
  • My Blackboard - drop down menu that includes a comprehensive communication center
  • Support for LaTeX - Allows use of the LaTeX markup language to display mathematical symbols inside Blackboard

Annual Maintenance Window

Starting this year, the days between the close of spring grade submission and the opening of summer semester will be reserved as an annual maintenance window.  This will be when version upgrades will be applied.  Some years, those changes may be fairly minor.  Other years, the changes may be more substantial.  In all cases, we will follow this pattern:

  • Fall: announce the changes
  • Spring: pilot the changes, with preview login available to all
  • Summer: put the changes into production

Why Upgrade?

IT systems are constantly evolving, and Blackboard is no exception.  Upgrading is not only a question of new features but also one of security and reliability.  As a company, Blackboard only provides bug fixes and security patches for supported versions.  Every time a new version comes out, a corresponding older version stops being supported. 

OIT's goal is to remain in the center of Blackboard's support window. Brand new releases tend to have a lot of bugs, while older versions nearing the end of the support window often have known issues that can only be fixed by an upgrade. Given the current pace of change at blackboard.com, staying in the center means one upgrade every year. Some of those upgrades will have little noticeable impact. Others will include more significant interface changes. 

While we cannot control Blackboard's rate of change, we can make sure that its implementation is predictable. Annual updates always will be announced in fall, previewed/piloted in spring, and implemented in the days between when spring grades are due and when summer opens.

Acess Blackboard button

System Status

The SafeAssign service will be unavailable between 10 AM and 12 PM on Saturday, April 26, 2014 while the vendor performs maintenance.  Please plan your grade related work accordingly.

The system is currently functioning as expected.

To report an issue, call (740)593-1222 or submit a request at www.ohio.edu/oitech
 

Review Sessions Available for Service Pack 13

Multiple sessions are available to review the new features in Blackboard Service Pack 13.  You can find more information here:  https://ohio.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_1GqgG5WnAVUAUrb .