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Ohio University's Blackboard support site

2014-15 Blackboard Upgrade

Blackboard will be down from 5:00 pm on May 6 through 5:00 pm on May 8 while we upgrade to the October 2014 release for the start of the 2015 Summer semester. This version will not include any significant interface changes from the current version, though it includes a few improvements on the features.  Log into https://bb-preview.ohio.edu/ to preview the changes.

Interface | New Features | Annual Maintenance | Why Upgrade?

Upgrade Schedule

Spring 2015: Preview available to all faculty/staff at https://bb-preview.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.

5:00 pm May 6 - 5:00 pm May 8: 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 6.

Summer 2015: 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 made very few changes to its interface for this version.  

New Features

Blackboard introduces a few improvements, including:

  • Student Preview - instructors can view a course exactly as a student does by using a student account the system generates (guest account not necessary); includes the ability to view My Grades tool containing graded attempts
  • Integration of SafeAssign - the SafeAssign plagiarism detection tool will no longer be a separate type of assignment, but rather an option in the creation of a regular Bb assignment; also updated originality reports
  • Delegated Grading - assign specific submissions or groups of submissions to proxy graders
  • Calendar - additional formatting options for the improved calendar tool, including a course list filter

Annual Maintenance Window

Starting last year, the days between the close of Spring grade submission and the opening of Summer semester are reserved as an annual maintenance window.  This is when version upgrades are 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.

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Blackboard Tips

Instructors:  Remember to make your course available for student viewing.  Here are the steps:

  • Open the course within Blackboard
  • Go to the Control Panel
  • Select Customization
  • Select Properties
  • Change the Available marker to Yes
  • Click Submit
     

Students:  If you do not see your course in Blackboard, it is because your instructor has not yet made it available to you.  Please note:  your instructors have the option to use Blackboard, it is not required, so some of your courses may never appear within Blackboard.