Blackboard 9 at city college norwich

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Presented by Chris Boon, City College Norwich at the RSC Eastern VLE forum, 12th Nov 2010.

http://info.rsc-eastern.ac.uk/events/event_details.asp?eid=796

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Blackboard 9 at city college norwich

  1. 1. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich Chris Boon
  2. 2. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  3. 3. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  4. 4. Blackboard NG • Multi-release project • Improved interface • Extra functionality – Mash-ups – Context menus – Improved Group functions – Ajax drag-and-drop of modules
  5. 5. Blackboard 9.0 • First release of Blackboard NG • Deployed by some ‘early adopters’ • Bugs and reliability issues
  6. 6. Blackboard 9.1 • Much improved QA • More features • Installed at CCN
  7. 7. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  8. 8. Hardware configuration Application Server Database Server Content Server Share on SAN
  9. 9. Content - maintenance • Two days maintenance at Whitsun half term • Stopped services • Data copied from old content server to SAN • Set permissions on new share • Started services • Completed successfully although took 12 hours to copy • No difference from users’ perspective
  10. 10. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  11. 11. Sandbox • Installed copy of Blackboard 9.1 – Learn about product – Plan the design – Staff training
  12. 12. Consultation • Student focus group from Level 1 to HE • Staff focus groups and informal conversations • Regular meetings with Head of Communications
  13. 13. Suggestions from Focus Groups • Link to library catalogue from Home tab • Add more images on the Home tab • Add more dynamic content such as updates from Twitter accounts • Increase line spacing on the Useful Links panel • Changes to colour and design for accessibility • Improve resources for HE students • Make ILP more prominent
  14. 14. Managing the suggestions • Balancing the needs and suggestions from everyone: – Students from all Schools – Students from all levels – Teachers – Support staff • Required change of mind set – users’ perspective instead of technical
  15. 15. End result
  16. 16. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  17. 17. Testing the upgrade • Clone of live system using VMWare Application Server Database Server Share on SAN Application Server Database Server Share on SAN Physical Virtual
  18. 18. Upgrade process • Blackboard Release Notes – Upgrade Route: – Blackboard 8.0 SP4 – Blackboard 8.0 SP5 – Upgrade Java to 1.6 – Blackboard 8.0 SP6 – Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP1
  19. 19. Testing the upgrade Blackboard 8 SP4 Take Snapshot Blackboard 8 SP5 Upgrade Java to 1.6 Blackboard 8 SP6 Blackboard 9.1 SP1 Take Snapshot Blackboard 9.1 SP1 Scripts from Bb support
  20. 20. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  21. 21. Project Meetings • Fortnightly meetings • Management support • Guests invited where appropriate e.g. hardware team • Clear actions from meetings
  22. 22. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  23. 23. Upgrade Plans • Everything was planned for upgrade week – NO decisions should be needed during week • List of tasks ready for technical upgrade • Design prototype for layout and user interface • Took pressure off during upgrade week
  24. 24. Upgrade Plans • Monday Move to new virtual application server • Tuesday Perform upgrade • Wednesday-Friday Make live system look like Sandbox and fix bugs
  25. 25. Hardware configuration Application Server Database Server Share on SAN Virtual Application Server
  26. 26. Actual Upgrade Week • Monday Move to new virtual application server and Perform upgrade • Tuesday-Friday Make live system look like Sandbox and fix bugs • Why? • Excellent help from Blackboard Support • Upgrade process very well planned
  27. 27. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  28. 28. Hardware configuration Database Server Share on SAN Virtual Application Server Virtual Application Server Node 2 Virtual Application Server Node 1 Load Balancer
  29. 29. Load Balancing • Using Microsoft ISA Server • Not officially supported but does work • Successfully used by other institutions • Some scheduled tasks only run on one node • Node identification labels added
  30. 30. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  31. 31. BCC – The Problem • There are too many courses on Blackboard • This causes confusion for staff and students • Only about 10% of courses are used • The course names are often confusing • Courses are not linked to Schools
  32. 32. BCC – Previous Configuration • Direct connection between EBS and Blackboard • Every course (Q, U, M) in EBS creates a course in Blackboard MIS EBS VLE Blackboard
  33. 33. BCC – Previous Configuration • Produces numerous courses in Blackboard for each course taught e.g. • Q NVQ BasketWeaving • Q NVQ BasketWeaving Group A • Q NVQ BasketWeaving Group B • Q NVQ BasketWeaving P/T • Q NVQ BasketWeaving F/T
  34. 34. BCC – The Vision • Middleware between MIS and VLE MIS EBS VLE Blackboard Middleware
  35. 35. BCC – The Requirements • Ability to design course structures from timetables or course codes • Must be flexible for all scenarios • Must be very simple to use
  36. 36. BCC – The Solution
  37. 37. Summer Blackboard Projects at City College Norwich • What is Blackboard 9? • Moving the content • Preparing for the upgrade – users and design • Preparing for the upgrade – technical • Preparing for the upgrade – project management • Upgrade week • Load balancing • Blackboard Course Creator • User feedback and lessons learnt
  38. 38. User Feedback – User Interface • Positive reaction to new colours and interface • Users liked ability to customise Home tab • No major problems finding resources • Slower than hoped, particularly in IE7
  39. 39. User Feedback – BCC • Very simple to use • Most staff use it without the need for face-to-face training • Increased the use of Blackboard • Much clearer to see where Blackboard is and isn’t used
  40. 40. Lessons Learnt • Planning, planning, planning • Test system is essential • Engaging with users vital • Some unexpected issues will always arise – New application server wouldn’t start – External access problem with SSL • Safety net needed for these issues • Business Continuity – users still need resources during maintenance windows • Can never do too much testing!
  41. 41. Chris Boon c1boon@ccn.ac.uk

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