Blackboard unavailable Friday 21 July between 1:00 am and 12:00 noon, then read-only until Tuesday 25 July 7:30 am

This is a final reminder that Blackboard will be unavailable on Friday 21 July from 1:00 am up to 12:00 noon. This is to allow a final copy to be made for the new externally-hosted service. A “read-only” version of Blackboard will then be available until Tuesday 25 July at 7:30 am.

Find out more about the changes at our project page.

Blackboard – improvements to design and mobile experience (note: changes to course menus and themes will be restricted)

As part of the move to external hosting project, we will be upgrading Blackboard to version Q4 2016. This brings many improvements and increased functionality as well as a new visual theme. Accessibility and mobile improvements will remove course themes and course menu colour customisation options.

The Learn 2016 Theme is cleaner and has ‘responsive design’ elements, allowing it to resize and reorder content to take best advantage of the screen size. It will give users a more consistent experience across devices and is optimised for delivery over mobile. Many functions that previously did not work well on mobile devices, such as discussion boards and tests, are much improved.

This theme has been created to follow accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 principles [link: https://www.w3.org/2004/10/wcag2-nav/wcag20princ.html]) which results in a clearer design that works for all users. Good practice such as keyboard navigation and suitable colour contrast are built into the theme with no need for users to enable them prior to use. To further improve accessibility, legacy ‘course themes’ and colour customisation features have been removed. Course differentiation can be achieved using banners and images, we will provide guidance on how to create and upload graphical content using free online tools. Contact us at tel-help@bristol.ac.uk to arrange support/training. We can run bespoke sessions for a school or teaching team on request.

The screenshots below show a course with the old theme (top) and new theme (bottom):

Blackboard will be:

  • Unavailable between 1:00 am until 12:00 pm on Friday 21 July
  • Read-only between 12.00 pm on Friday 21 July and 7:30 am on Tuesday 25 July (any changes/uploads made will be lost)
  • Unavailable for an hour between 7:30 am and 8:30 am on Tuesday 25 July. Blackboard will return as a full service at 8:30 am
  • Unavailable between 7:00 pm on Sunday 6 August and 2:00 pm on Monday 7 August for upgrade.

 

 

Blackboard: move to external hosting, software upgrade, Blackboard Collaborate

External Hosting

We are delighted to announce that Blackboard will be moved to an externally-hosted service this summer.  Benefits of external hosting of technical support include:

  • A reliable and resilient infrastructure with less unplanned service unavailability
  • Less planned downtime (eg some essential maintenance will be possible without downtime, upgrades take less time and can be completed overnight or at weekends)
  • A highly scalable technical infrastructure with capacity to respond quickly to new requirements
  • Quicker resolution of technical issues, due to 24x7x365 support, monitoring and problem resolution
  • More rapid deployment of new software versions to resolve issues and respond to new requirements
  • Improved performance, giving a better user experience.

The move to external hosting will take place between 4:30 pm on Friday 21 July and 4:00 pm on Tuesday 25 July. A read-only Blackboard service will be available over that period. All existing data and courses will be migrated to the externally-hosted service.

Software upgrade, course rollover

  • The Blackboard software upgrade will take place between 7:00 pm on Sunday 6 August and 2:00 pm on Monday 7 August.  The upgrade will introduce some new features (including a quicker way to add content to courses). The upgrade will also introduce improvements to the design and layout of Blackboard.
  • Course rollover will take place in early August, after the 2017-18 unit and programme information is available.

New online teaching tool – Blackboard Collaborate

  • From Monday 7 August, all staff will have access a completely new online learning and teaching tool – Blackboard Collaborate. Collaborate is an online classroom environment which can be used for activities such as online classes, office hours and guest lectures (using video, audio, text chat, a shared whiteboard and application sharing). For more information see the Blackboard Collaborate web pages: http://www.blackboard.com/online-collaborative-learning/blackboard-collaborate.aspx  

Please refer to our  external hosting project web page for updated information, where we will add answers to frequently asked questions.

For Blackboard support, training and advice, please contact us: (tel-help@bristol.ac.uk; 0117 33 17605).