Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clarification on test deletion/removal

To clarify for faculty Blackboard users, the ability to remove a test/quiz from the test manager has been disabled.  This is one of the processes that causes poor system performance.

What instructors CAN do is:

  1. Remove (un-deploy) the test from a content area and the gradebook.  This would be accomplished by going into the content area where the test link exists.  Click “Remove” button on the right portion of the screen, and a dialog box will open, telling you “This action is final and cannot be undone.  Remove this item?”  Click “OK”, and a new screen will appear with the following options:
 Warning: Removing this content item will also remove all attempts for this Test. Retain the Gradebook item and scores for this Test by choosing Preserve scores below. These scores will no longer link to the Test attempts that produced the scores. This action cannot be undone. If the Test attempts should not be removed, hit Cancel below and make this content item unavailable rather than removing it.

1 - Preserve scores in the Gradebook for this Test, but all attempts for this Test will be removed.
2 - Remove this content item, the Gradebook item for this Test, all grades for this Test, and all attempts for this Test.

Selecting the second option will remove the test link from the content area AND remove the test column from the gradebook, along with any scores that may have been recorded.  This is generally the best option for most situations.  

CAUTION:  The test will NOT be removed from the test manager, though it has been un-deployed (students cannot access it and it does not show up in the gradebook).  To ease confusion over different test versions in the Test Manager, it is recommended that instructors modify the test name in a descriptive manner for tests that will no longer be used (from the Test Manager, click Modify, then Modify again in the grey test header box).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Information for students

The following information has been posted on the Blackboard Welcome page:
The Blackboard system had serious problems on Tuesday June 19 and we were forced to shut down the system at 2 pm.  We then restored the system completely from the previous night's backup.  Blackboard was made available again at 5 pm but all work done on the system before 2 pm on that day MAY be lost.  Students should contact their instructors about whether they should resubmit assignments or retake tests.  We may be able to retrieve some of the missing data but it may take several days before we are sure whether this will be possible.

We regret this inconvenience.

Blackboard system restored to 6/19 Midnight backup

Access to the Blackboard system has been restored.  Modifications or submissions made after Midnight (12:00am Tuesday 6/19) have been lost.  Students have been provided with the following information:

    This is to inform you that the Blackboard system experienced a problem today between the hours of 6 AM and 2 PM.  If you submitted class work during that time, you will need to resubmit your work.  The Blackboard System is now back online and we regret any inconvenience this might have caused you.


Communication with Students

Students will be notified of today’s issues and the rollback to Monday night’s data via a global announcement in Blackboard.  As of now, it appears the system may come up earlier than expected.

Blackboard Emergency Maintenance and Restore

We have identified the source of today’s problem with the Blackboard system.  This bug was caused by a problematic update to the Blackboard code (provided by Blackboard) and has affected all Blackboard/Los Rios e-Learning classes.  Los Rios IT has established an emergency maintenance window, and Blackboard will be unavailable until approximately 7:00pm tonight.  They will be restoring the archive from Monday night (exact time TBA) before the bad code was installed on the system.  Please watch for a global message shortly which will provide more information.  

"Announcements" as the Course Entry Point / Re-ordering menu content

It’s come to our attention that although Announcements can be added back to the course menu, (CONTROL PANEL > MANAGE COURSE MENU > +TOOLS) they are not returning as the default entry point when logging into courses.  Even when resetting Announcements to be the Course Entry Point (CONTROL PANEL > SETTINGS > COURSE ENTRY POINT), there is no change.  This issue is also now being researched.

We are also seeing that the ordering function within Manage Course Menu is not working properly.  For example, it is possible to have more than one item listed as number “1” and the items don’t display in the proper sequence.  This is affecting the main navigation buttons.  We’re also researching this, which appears to also be tied to the table of contents.

More information regarding missing buttons and content

Apparently the content is NOT gone. The Table of Contents is not working

To manually fix a course try:

then add the discussion board, announcements and anything else missing.

So far this is working for other folks. We are trying to find a global
fix as well. If your matter is not urgent, you may want to wait for the
global fix.

New issue: Missing content - overnight disappearance

This morning I have had calls from several faculty reporting that course content, tools, announcements, discussion boards, grades, and other portions of their classes are missing.  In each case, the content was present yesterday.  I have also received e-mails from other campuses where this is impacting instruction.  SCC is working with District IT (who is in direct contact with Blackboard) to determine the cause of the problem.  We understand this is an issue of the utmost importance and will let you know as soon as we have more information.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Important Blackboard Information for SCC Faculty

SCC Faculty – This message covers Recent Maintenance Efforts, Current Status and How to Report Problems.

Recent Maintenance Efforts:
As the summer sessions have gotten underway, we have again encountered stability issues with the Los Rios Blackboard system.  The district-wide Blackboard cleanup project from May 2007 did not meet our improved performance expectations.  The result is that some courses were not copied to the new Blackboard installation at all, and others were copied but are incomplete.  This is a district-wide problem, and it affects Summer, Fall and Spring courses.

As our Blackboard team has been working to restore missing courses and course materials, both faculty and students have experienced operational errors within Blackboard.  Some students have had difficulty accessing or have been locked out of assessments, received database error messages, or experienced other glitches within the system.  We realize that responding to student concerns about this instability, resetting assessment attempts, and so forth, have created extra demands on faculty.  We realize you had expected improved Blackboard performance since the June 4 cut-over to the new system, and we appreciate your continued patience.

Current Status:
Upon the recommendation of Blackboard Technical Support to Los Rios District IT staff, the following measures have been taken to mitigate the performance problems as much as possible:

  • All campuses have limited the restoration of missing courses and content to non-peak usage hours.  We have been told that attempting to restore courses while the system is in use is a major contributing factor to the problems we are encountering.

  • District IT has established a daily maintenance window to allow for restoration of missing courses and content.  As a result, until further notice, Blackboard will be unavailable to faculty and students from 2:00am until 6:00am daily.  This maintenance window will continue through the summer until we have successfully restored missing courses and course content.

  • An SCC Blackboard Blog has been established to provide timely information and status reports regarding the Blackboard system.  This Blog is accessible from the newly created Blackboard Status page, located at http://scc.losrios.edu/~bbsite/status.html, along with other helpful information.  The SCC Blackboard Blog will continue to be updated with new information as needed.

We are asking all faculty with Blackboard courses to log in and review courses for:

  • Course(s) are missing from your list

  • Course(s) are missing content or content areas.  (Courses missing content typically retain the file structure of the course, but the folders are actually empty.  The best way to review the contents of your course is to either activate and use the Course Map or to go to the Control Panel and review the contents of each content area.)

How to Report This Problem:  
If you are missing a course or missing content from a course, please visit the SCC Blackboard Status page, and select the “Blackboard Trouble Reporting” form.  This is a web-based form that will enter your class information into our database.  Please enter missing course information on this form instead of sending an e-mail message so that we can better track and resolve your issue.  The Blackboard Status page can be found at http://scc.losrios.edu/~bbsite/status.html.

How to Get Immediate Assistance with Other Problems:  
All faculty are encouraged to contact the 24/7 Los Rios help line for immediate Blackboard support issues.  The toll-free number is 1-866-353-9451.  Please note the  help desk can only assist you with problems inside of Blackboard, as they do not have access to Peoplesoft information or OGS rosters.  In the event the help desk cannot resolve your particular issue, it will be automatically escalated to a Los Rios Blackboard administrator.

Once again, thank you for your patience and additional effort as this situation continues to progress.  As a reminder, we also encourage you to participate in the effort, beginning this fall, to evaluate Blackboard and other learning management systems as we continue to strive toward a system that provides a reliable, stable learning platform for our students.

-Your SCC Blackboard Administrators
  Jory Hadsell, Distance Education Coordinator
  Melissa Green, Instructional Development Coordinator

Welcome to the new Blackboard status blog.

Welcome to the new SCC blog for updates on the status of the Los Rios e-Learning (Blackboard) system.