Blackboard Update Friday, April 23, 3:00 p.m.

Since upgrading to the new server early Tuesday morning, the Blackboard (Bb) system has needed to be restarted at least once each day. The most recent restart occurred Thursday evening at 8:30pm and, at that time, new configuration changes were applied to the system as recommended by Blackboard Inc, our software provider. In monitoring the system for the past 16 hours, we have noticed that the system has been running more efficiently than previously observed. While this is a positive sign, it is not proof that the problems have been resolved, so we will continue to actively monitor the Bb system around the clock.

Blackboard Inc. has continued to assist the University in trying to resolve the problem with their software. In fact, Blackboard has assigned three additional technical resources to assist us. In the past week, we have learned that other Universities have encountered issues with Bb in the recent past and their symptoms have been similar to ours. Blackboard assisted these Universities in resolving their problems but the path to resolution took time. The complexity of the Bb system makes it challenging for Blackboard to easily pinpoint the root cause of their software failures.

For the rest of the Spring term, faculty and students will continue to use the current Bb installation. However, a contingency plan is being prepared for the Summer term if problems persist throughout the last two weeks of the Spring term. This contingency plan for the summer calls for Blackboard Inc. to host our Bb system at their hosting facility using their hardware and their technical staff to install and support the system. If we move in this direction, all course content for summer courses will be migrated to the Blackboard hosting facility. IT will work closely with Blackboard to make this transition as transparent as possible so that our faculty and students can easily access their course information. We will keep you apprised of the status of the contingency plan and will provide detailed instruction for our faculty and students so everyone is well prepared for their summer course activities.

Whether the system is hosted here at SJU or at the Blackboard facility for the summer term, our faculty and students will continue to use the 7.3 version (i.e. our current version) of the Bb system. The Bb 9 system just cannot be fully implemented by the time summer classes begin on May 10. But, by June 15, the new version of Bb, 9.1, will be made available to faculty so that they can begin preparing their course sites for the Fall term. Bb 9 will be fully launched for all faculty and students at the start of the Fall term and, at this time, the plan is to host Bb 9 using our campus facilities.

As mentioned earlier, we will continue to monitor the system 24-hours a day and will restart the system as soon as a problem occurs to minimize downtime.

Thank you for your continued patience.