OIT upgrades Blackboard software


For the Spring 2021 semester, Central Michigan University decided to change its Blackboard shell from a self-hosted system to a cloud-based software service. 

 Kole Taylor, representative of the Office of Information Technology (OIT), said the difference between the two is “instead of having a server here on campus that runs Blackboard for CMU, we now have Blackboard Inc. running and delivering the service for us on their own servers.” 

 Essentially, Blackboard can run more system upgrades more frequently with less downtime for maintenance. 

Since Blackboard Inc. has a 99.9% uptime Service Level Agreement, the new system only has a .1 percent chance of crashing.

The “stale request” login issue also got worked on for the Blackboard app. 

“We did make a change to CMU's login system to allow the app to stay logged in in for the whole semester, so in most cases, students shouldn't encounter this issue more than once per semester,” said Taylor. 

The major changes that happened before Spring 2021 semester started mostly affected. 

“The new tools are mostly quality-of-life enhancements that improve on the functionality that existed before,” Taylor said. 

One of the improvements was that there are more options for the annotate features to leave feedback on assignments. 

The key difference in Blackboard this semester is that there is a shorter maintenance window for system updates.

 “This also allows us to take advantage of new features and focus on user experience without the added overhead of maintaining the servers and application,” Taylor said.

OIT is hoping to pilot some brand-new features with faculty as early as this summer.

The OIT has an article with information for anyone who is still needs help with the Blackboard changes.