Thursday, 11 August 2011

Blackboard 9.1 is coming

The upgrade of our Blackboard system to release 9.1 is progressing according to schedule. In the last few weeks, we’re received many enquiries about when the new system will be available and what changes staff can expect.

When will I have access to my courses?
It is intended that the new Blackboard system will be available for use during the week of 22nd August.

There will be a new URL to access the upgraded system, but otherwise you will log on using your username and password as before.

You will have access to all your courses for the academic year 2011-12. So, if you are an instructor on a Blackboard course currently, or if you requested access to a course within the last few weeks, you will have access to that new course on the new system.

In keeping with existing policy, the new courses will be created as empty shells, ready for you to develop as you wish.

What about the teaching materials in my current course? How can I get it into my new course?
To facilitate the re-use of teaching materials, the new Blackboard system will also have courses for the academic year 2010-11, to which you will have access. These are not full courses, and will not include student enrolments, so cannot be used for teaching purposes. However, much of your content from the current Blackboard system is being migrated into this area, so that you can import it, or copy components of it, into your new Blackboard course for 2011-12.

Can I still access the old site?
The old Blackboard site will continue to be available until October 2011. This is to facilitate any courses that are active over the summer period, and to facilitate access to 2010-2011 materials and student work.

What benefits are there to the upgrade?
There are many benefits that you will experience with the new Blackboard, many of which will become clear as you use the system. Just some immediate advantages are:

Improved Interface
  • There is a new drag-and-drop interface making it easier to navigate the system and complete tasks with less clicks.
  • The OK confirmation button (which displayed when creating content in Blackboard 8) has been removed.
  • The course control panel is located on the main page of the course for easier editing.
  • A new “edit mode” makes editing your course easier and gives you a (95%) student view of your course.
Course Statistics
  • The course statistics function will be fully operational.

Improved Group features
  • The new group features allow instructors to create any number of groups at once.
  • Students can be randomly assigned to groups, manually assigned to groups, or asked to sign-up for groups themselves.

User Information Sessions: What’s New in Blackboard 9.1?
In preparation for the new release, CELT is facilitating User Information Sessions. During the session we’ll go through the main changes in BB 9.1 (working on the test server) and we’ll provide you with your own sandpit Blackboard test module which you’ll be able to access during and beyond the drop-in session.

A list of upcoming CELT events, including these Information Sessions, can be found on our CELT events site.

CELT will announce a full programme of training sessions. These will be a combination of short “What’s new in 9.1” for experienced Blackboard users as well as a new version of our popular “Introduction to Blackboard” workshops for new users.

We will also arrange a number of drop-in sessions to coincide with the start of teaching, for hands-on support and advice.

We are currently working on some on-line resources and will update our own Blackboard Support site in time for the new system.

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