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Upgrading to Blackboard 9

March 16, 2010

Back in December my post Blackboard Release 9: Stories so far suggested that we should be looking to upgrade our Blackboard VLE to version 9 this summer. I’m pleased to report that, shortly after this a Blackboard upgrade project was initiated, and we’re now in a position to publish our proposed timescales.

Preparatory and planning work has in fact been going on since the start of the year, but the first major milestone will come around Easter, when a test environment is set up, as an exact copy of our live Blackboard system. This test environment will then be upgraded to version 9 by mid-May (actually this involves the application of several intermediate Blackboard service packs, as well as an Oracle upgrade, and testing by Blackboard administrators at each stage). Once this upgrade is complete, we’ll be testing and customising the settings we need to apply, before making the test environment available to TVU staff at large.

The key dates for TVU Blackboard users are these

  • early June – staff invited to log onto the test v9 system
    • to test that courses have been upgraded successfully, and report any problems or concerns
    • to begin to familiarise themselves with the new functionality of v9
  • from Wednesday 30th June – live Blackboard system closed to all users while upgrade takes place
  • by Monday 12th July – staff invited to log onto the upgraded system
    • to test that courses have been upgraded successfully, and report any problems or concerns
  • by Monday 19th July – upgrade complete – Blackboard 9 made available to all TVU users

These timescales take into account the technical demands of the task, as well as views gathered from the Faculties on the most appropriate timing of the upgrade.  The period of Blackboard unavailability from 30th June coincides with the end of FE teaching, and a period when the majority of HE students do not require access to the VLE; even allowing for some slippage, the system should be back up in time to support undergraduate students who are required to resit their Semester 2 examinations.

It should be stressed that all dates are subject to change. It is impossible at this stage accurately to predict how long the actual upgrade process will take. Unexpected technical difficulties could cause delays. Alternatively it is possible that if everything goes smoothly the process could be completed more quickly – in particular, if there are no major issues with the migration of courses, we may not need a full week from 12th July to confirm that the upgrade has been successful.

Further updates will of course be posted here, on the Staff Intranet and on Open Door, and sent out via all-staff emails.

LIS will provide training on version 9 during the test period in June, following the upgrade in July, and again in September prior to the start of the new academic year.

If you want to start exploring what Blackboard 9 has to offer, check out http://www.blackboard.com/release9/ or the quick guides at http://ondemand.blackboard.com/

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