We’re currently upgrading our Blackboard test system from Service Pack 8 to Service Pack 10. We’ll be doing the same thing to the live system just before the start of term 2. If everything goes to plan, the important dates are below. Past experience suggests we will be able to complete the upgrade in this time window, but Brunel as an institution is still relatively new to these Blackboard Service Pack upgrades. As such, we want to take the time to complete this upgrade properly. Doing so, carefully, on the test system first is a vital step in preparing for the live upgrade. We also have a thorough testing plan.
- from Wednesday January 2nd through to Friday January 4th, Blackboard will be unavailable as we complete the upgrade
- on the weekend, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January, we intend to label the service ‘at risk’ in case we need to continue any technical or testing work
- Blackboard should be operating as normal from the start of business on Monday 7th January. We are aware of assignment deadlines on this date so understand that assignments will be submitted into the VLE as soon as we’re up and running again
Some of the new features that come in Service Pack 10 won’t be available until the Windows 7 rollout across the University (which, crucially, includes a more up-to-date version of Internet Explorer). More information will be provided nearer the time, but once Service Pack 10 is fully installed and initiated, here are some of the new features and tools you can expect to see:
- more options to integrate your existing social networking site accounts
- a social networking-like experience in the VLE. You can create a profile, set up a study group with friends to share resources and enter into discussions; academics will be able to collaborate and share research; in general, the sense of Brunel as a community will be enhanced within the VLE
- better access to notifications, updates and tasks across your set of modules; you’ll find all of these in one place, rather than having to go to each module individually
- better reporting on how a cohort has performed in tests and quizzes over time
- more opportunities to run University-wide surveys and evaluation; we can also set up surveys and share them
- an updated text and equation editor
- some improvements to test questions and other minor changes
When all this is activated, some of the layout of the VLE will look a little different, though the fundamentals remain the same. We will of course provide training and resources to make sure everyone is comfortable with the upgraded system, so watch this space!
As usual, get in touch if you have any questions. Additionally, I am quite aware that I’ve overused the word ‘upgrade’ in this post. And I’m choosing to be ok with that.