Blackboard 9.1 Migration Takes Center Stage
By Jeremiah Woolsey
In September, the Blackboard 9.1 Migration Committee was formed, and Instructional Technology-Academic Technology has played a pivotal role in its activities since then. CSUDH CIO Ron Bergmann tasked me with chairing the committee, comprised of Doug Borcoman and Reza Boroon from Academic Technology; Steve Williams and Warren Ashley from College of Extended and International Education (CEIE); and Edgar Lazarian and Danny Lujan from Network, Telecommunications and Help Desk Services (NTHDS)--with Yuki DeSoto of Administrative Information Systems participating as needed.
Working in concert with the CSUDH Technology Advisory Council (TAC) and Blackboard system architects and engineers, the committee conducted detailed analysis and planning exercises to assess the CSUDH environment and situation--the risks and opportunities. The committee then provided data to the TAC and moved to execute its decision to migrate to 9.1 during one of the two windows of opportunity available in the academic calendar and having the least impact. Note: Blackboard customers who have not migrated from version 7.3 by October 2011 will no longer be able to move to a newer version and will be stuck at 7.3 permanently without recourse to upgrade.
The CSUDH Blackboard system and data were migrated to 9.1 successfully on December 25, 2010. Academic Technology helped drive the creation of Testing, Training, and Communications Plans for the migration. Doug Borcoman and Steve Williams had been conducting weekly faculty training on Blackboard 9.1 via Elluminate since early November and through December. Since November, Warren Ashley and I have alternated sending out messages to DH Email and the All Faculty and student mailing lists, announcing Blackboard is coming and keeping the campus up to date on developments.
Reza Boroon has been conducting training for faculty and has received a lot of kudos for the depth, focus, and overall quality of his training sessions. The custom curriculum he put together was based on the patterns of FAQ and support requests received since the December migration and the interim Winter Session activity. He is also providing continual Blackboard support, fielding a number of calls daily---most of which are ‘how-to’ requests. Blackboard engineer Liam Ferris was brought in to supplement training in the week preceding the start of classes, freeing Reza up to focus on support calls.
Version 9.1 is running well to date. Some issues centered around courses that have been copied over from past semesters have been reported. The committee is aggressively monitoring issues and is documenting and testing reported anomalies. The call types and frequencies are forming a new Frequently Asked Questions database, and we are sending out tips and workarounds via e-mail based on those FAQ.
Doug Borcoman retired in late December after 10 years of service to Dominguez Hills. His technical support, enthusiasm, and responsiveness to faculty needs were exceptional and will be missed.
Reza Boroon continues to train faculty and support students on Blackboard. We are also revising the process of assigning, tracking, and resolving Blackboard issues.
Instructional Technology is working with Adele Vanarsdale and Dean Sandra Parham to convert 2nd floor library space into a Faculty Digital Media Training Lab where Reza Boroon will train faculty on Camtasia, Elluminate, Blackboard, ATI, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and other learning applications.
Reza Boroon and Ken Leyba have implemented a student-to-student Blackboard Support Chat Room. Student assistants in our computing and media labs have undergone training on Blackboard and the chat room software/process. CSUDH students will be given the option of chatting online, submitting a help desk ticket, or calling x2500 for their technical issues with Blackboard.
Aside from some of the outstanding technical issues currently being addressed, the feedback from faculty and students has mostly been positive, especially from those users who have quickly got up to speed with the new interface. A lot of items and features have been streamlined, and a number of new Web 2.0 functionalities like wikis and blogs allow opportunity for collaborative and project-based learning.