Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bb Maintenance 11/12/07

To: all Blackboard Faculty
From: - Distictwide Bb Support Team

In the past few weeks there have been repeated incidents of performance problems on Blackboard, including:
short periods when the system has been unavailable altogether, short periods when particular pages would not load correctly (grade book, assessments, discussion boards) or not load at all, general unresponsiveness (with a variety of error messages) as users navigated the system These problems have occurred despite improvements that were made prior to the start of the semester.

We will be putting several patches into the Blackboard software on Monday 11/12/07 to help further improve the performance. These patches were provided by Blackboard specifically for Los Rios, but came with no guarantees, since Blackboard could not thoroughly test with our specific environment or load. We were initially reluctant to implement these patches, but recently undertook many hours of functionality testing and it appears that all functions are intact after the patches were implemented on a test server. However, we have no way of testing the system under the full load of our users.

We are implementing these "fixes" because the recent problems cause renewed concern that without the fixes, the system may not be able to perform adequately during the high volume of activity up to and including finals week. We are taking the following steps to minimize disruption:

1) We will create a back up copy of the system early Monday morning while the system is down
2) We will implement the new patches before the system comes back up at 5 am
3) We will test the functions of the system again, as soon as it is available
4) Throughout Monday, we will closely monitor the system for any signs of problems
5) If major problems develop, we will send an urgent email to all users that the system will be taken down in 30 minutes. Within one hour, we will remove the patches and should be able to bring the system back up with the most recent data. In the unlikely event that the patches corrupt data, we will restore from the Monday morning backup (which means that work done on Monday would be lost)

You can help us by doing the following:
check your course sites to make sure that everything seems to be OK and let us know immediately if you find any problems If at all possible, reschedule or extend due dates for exams, quizzes, and other work
Warn students that their work might be lost if they use the system on Monday and things go badly

It is our hope that the system integrity will not be affected negatively and that these patches will improve performance so we can get through the rest of the semester. We have plans for other actions over the winter break but those steps cannot be taken while the system is in use.

We greatly appreciate your patience.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's all in the patches

Look for an announcement (forthcoming by e-mail) from the district regarding installation of new “patches” (code fixes) that will be installed this week.  Blackboard has provided these fixes to resolve some of our ongoing performance issues, which have increased in the past two weeks.

Mark Your Calendar - Jan 08 Downtime

Important dates for Bb Maintenance
Close Fall 2007 semester and begin Spring 2008 semester:
  • Bb Spring 2008 Course Request Form (PDF)

  • Finals - December 14-20, 2007
  • End of Semester - December 20, 2007
  • Save a back up of your Bb Gradebook as Excel file
    (one last time, afterall, this is a weekly activity, right?)

  • Grades are due January 2, 2008
  • Bb OFFLINE to all users January 4-8, 2008
    (archive of classes, purge assessment data, delete enrolled students)
  • Bb Online for faculty January 8-14, 2008 to delete tests
  • Bb Online for faculty January 15, 2008 (deleting tests is no longer allowed)
  • Flex Workshops January 16, 17-18, 2008
  • Classes begin January 22, 2008