Following the successful migration of Blackboard to the new data centre in December 2013, we are now looking ahead to the upgrade to the latest version of the Blackboard software which we will carry out this Summer 2014.
Information about the new features coming to Blackboard after we upgrade can be found here: Blackboard 2014.
We are constrained to carrying out this work between two key dates.
- We cannot start until the end of Semester 2.
- We must have completed the work before the arrival of the 1500+ Presessional Students in June.
Blackboard is in use extensively throughout the University by more than 20,000 unique individuals each month and was not upgraded last year 2013. Upgrades that may affect the user interface must not be carried out during the traditional teaching and exam periods (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/undergraduate/how_to_apply/keydates.shtml), meaning that upgrades cannot be carried out until Semester 2 has ended.
The University runs a successful set of Pre-Sessional English Language Programmes which in 2014 is expected to have 1500 students and 200 staff involved who will be using Blackboard each day. The programme begins in June 2014 and ends in September 2014.
To perform an upgrade after September would leave insufficient time for your preparations for the start of the new academic year 2014/15.
Following a consultation between iSolutions, Associate Deans for Education from each faculty, Faculty Education Managers, and the Technology Enhanced Living & Learning (TELL) board, it has been agreed to carry out the work in the following period:
Saturday 14 June 2014
Sunday 15 June 2014
Monday 16 June 2014 (contingency day)
Although this period is the least disruptive to the University overall, we realise that some groups and individuals will still be affected. However, we hope that through illustrating the time constraints and the process we have gone through, together with providing five months’ notice, that sufficient workarounds and mitigations can be put in place.
Further information about the upgrade, the improvements and new features will be posted to our blog, the iSolutions web site, and the Blackboard-users mailing list.