Blackboard downtime, 7 am – 2 pm, Friday 24 February 2017

Please note that Blackboard will be unavailable from 7 am on Friday 24 February for essential maintenance work; it should be available again by 2 pm that afternoon. Following the recent incidents affecting the availability of Blackboard and other University services, IT Services have identified essential work which will improve the resilience of these services, reducing both the likelihood and the impact of any incidents in the future.

We are, of course, aware that any significant period of Blackboard downtime will be disruptive, and are doing our best to minimise the impact. If you have any concerns or questions about this work, please get in touch with us at tel-help@bristol.ac.uk, and please accept our apologies for the inevitable inconvenience it will cause.

Blackboard “hub” courses for Teaching Block 2, 2016-17

Blackboard is based around taught units, with a single Blackboard course being created for every taught unit that is running in the current year. Occasionally, staff may require a Blackboard course that has students from more than one taught unit on it (in addition to the normal courses). If you had a course like this – called a “hub” course – in the previous academic year (2015-16), and you will need it again this year, please fill in a hub course roll over request form. If you have a definite need for a new course like this, please fill in a new hub course creation request form.

Setup

Once the form is completed, your new hub course will be created in 3-5 working days. You will be sent an email when it is ready.

Students: Those who are registered for any of the units identified on the form will be automatically enrolled into the hub course. Students that register for those units later will also be enrolled onto the hub course, 3-5 working days after their registration in SITS.

Staff: As the hub course requester, you are automatically added to the hub course as an Instructor, along with any other staff that you list on the form.

Content

The hub course will be a copy of the “main” unit course in the list you submitted via the form (unless you specify otherwise). In future years, the hub course will be a copy of the previous year’s hub course.

Single-unit courses

Your normal single-unit courses will still be on Blackboard, and you may make them available to your students in addition to your hub course. There are a number of University tools that only work (or work best) in the single-unit courses, which include:

  • eReserves
  • Mediasite
  • Library reading lists
  • Online submission of essays (particularly when this is part of a school-wide process)

Tidying up your single-unit courses

If you make the single-unit courses available, and if they contain content, then you need to hide that from your students to avoid confusing them with duplicate materials. The easiest way is to hide whole menu items is:

  • Move your mouse over the menu item and click on the drop-down arrow
  • Click “Hide link”

It is also good practice to add an announcement to the single-unit courses, telling students that the materials are held in the hub course and letting them know what you will be using the single-unit courses for (eg accessing eReserves).

Switching on the courses

Finally, you will want to make the courses available for your students. Use Qwickly to do this.

Blackboard and 24-hour IT helpline over the holidays

Recently there have been some issues with the performance and availability of Blackboard. We understand the importance of Blackboard, particularly for revision during the holiday period, and IT Services are working to improve the reliability of the service.

Should there be any issues over the Christmas and New Year period, IT Services will act to fix them as quickly as possible. If you notice a problem with Blackboard being unavailable, please contact the 24-hour IT helpline on 0117 928 7870.

“At risk” period 7 am – 9 am Wednesday 23 November, due to network maintenance work

IT Services have announced that planned maintenance of the University network will be taking place between 7 am and 9 am on Wednesday 23 November. There should be no effect on the service, but as Blackboard and Questionmark Perception depend on the network, this time should be considered an “at risk” period. The announcement can be found on the IT Services status page here.