Monday, December 24, 2007

Notes on Bb Upgrade Conference Call -12/18/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments
Blue Ridge, Central, Danville, Germanna, J.Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, Northern, Piedmont, Rappahannock, Southside, System Office, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Highlands, Virginia Western, Wytheville
Did not attend:
Dabney, Eastern Shore, Lord Fairfax, Mountain Empire, New River, Patrick Henry, Paul D. Camp, Southwest, Tidewater

General Notes:

We are not yet precisely where we want to be in terms of Blackboard 7 performance. We are continuing to work with Blackboard consulting.

Related to this we have made a change in the way domains are populated. See note in VCCS Discuss:

We are looking at other domain changes, but right now we are keeping it as it is. We will need to test out the implications of the change made so far.

Blackboard 6 availability
Current plan is to disable Blackboard 6 on January 4. Our priority is to make sure hardware resources are available for Blackboard 7. Blackboard 6 may be temporarily revived at a later date after we are over the beginning of semester traffic peak.
  • Question: We can no longer see roles in bb7, so how do we check domain membership?
    Answer: Right now users roles are not checked when it comes to domain membership so backup administrators will have access to all users (same as with My VCCS)
  • Question: How is the move going with colleges that are going early.
    Answer: We haven’t started move yet due to other more pressing issues.
  • Question: What do you need for Organizations?
    Answer: If you tell us nothing, we’ll move all your organizations. Feel free to identify organizations that should not be moved.
  • Question: Are there training “holes” that need filling?
    Answer: Looking pretty good, but we’ll know for sure when faculty and students start paying attention. New sub-topic created on VCCS discuss for this.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blackboard Upgrade Conference Call -12/11/07

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments

Blue Ridge, Central, Danville, J.Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, Northern, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Thomas Nelson, Southside, System Office, Virginia Highlands, Virginia Western, Wytheville
Did not attend:

Dabney, Eastern Shore. Germanna, Mountain Empire, New River, Paul D. Camp, Rappahannock, Southwest, Tidewater


We are still working with Blackboard on fine-tuning the database and this is necessitating some short and not so short outages. We recognize the inconvenience, but this is critical work that must be done before students are on the system. Keep an eye on the outages distribution list for notices of outages:

Outage on - bb6

We have scheduled an outage on Thursday, 13th December for, from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. Notices have been placed on and

Pirate language?

There were no objections to putting pirate language on blackboard 7. We’ll do this when it’s convenient. Obviously not a high priority.
Data Migration

ITS will generate a list of organizations and make a spreadsheet available to colleges for their review. This will include a “migrate now?” column.

All organization from TNCC will be migrated beginning Dec. 20, 2007. They should migrate with the students and faculty members. Be sure to check when you see it appear in your Bb 7 Organization Module. You may have to turn the module on by clicking on Modify Contents and then selecting My Organizations.
Single sign-on

We indicated that this might not work at Go Live. However, we think we have resolved this issue. There is a link on the test instance of My VCCS to test – https://dstst/
CVCC is migrating early. Will their courses be ready by Dec 20?
We hope so. We would think so, but we can’t guarantee it.
What are Building block priorities?

Inez Farrell will coordinate. Not till first quarter of 2008.
What is the Bb6 lifetime?

Again, not 100% sure on this. Our priority as we begin the Spring semester will be Blackboard 7 performance. If it requires the resources that’s where we will put resources.

Do not count on having any access to Bb 6 after Dec. 20, 2007.

How will Bb6 archives be done?

The final archives will be made available in the usual fashion.

Although we “grab” archives periodically throughout the term and at the end of the term it is important that faculty download and safely store their own archives. If you need help with this process please contact Jan or me as soon as possible.

How will the data migration work for students and faculty?

Students: On December 20, when they log in to (bb7), their Fall courses will not initially be there. Colleges may place a module on Blackboard 7 indicating that their courses may be on When a course is migrated, it will disappear from Blackboard 6, and subsequently re-appear on Blackboard 7.

Faculty: As with students, except that they will see their courses on Blackboard 6 as unavailable. They should not make them available again. Courses will also have “moving to Blackboard 7” and “moved to Blackboard 7” tagged onto them as appropriate.
URLs will continue to work, so as not to break anything.

What’s new and report card modules

What’s new and report card modules have been made available to college roles. If a college wishes to disable them for their college, they should contact ITS to do so.
TNCC sees no reason to “disable” these new features. Jan will be doing training on them or you learn more about them by going to Atomic Learning. Let us know what you think about the features after you’ve used them.

Has anyone had any reports of Vista or IE7 issues?

No reports.

File size limits

There appears to be a limit on course imports of 250 MB. We have a ticket filed with Blackboard on this.

Please contact me (Ruth) if you get any error messages concerning size limits.

Bb7 quick enroll – bookmarklet

As previously noted, there is now no Quick Enroll feature. I’ve created a bookmarklet to go some of the way towards meeting this need.

NOTE: This bookmarklet is for administrators.

Wimba issue

Wimba migration continues to prove problematic. Migrated content will play but may not be editable.
Subscribe to forum

Email subscribe in discussion forums doesn’t appear to be working for some. It is working for most. This is quite probably a spam issue.
Is there an easy way to clear posts without deleting the actual forum?

Within a forum, you can display all items per page, then Select All, then Remove. Aside from that, it’s not clear.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bb Conference Call - 12/4/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments


Blue Ridge, Central, Dabney, Danville, Germanna, J.Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, Northern, Piedmont, Rappahannock, Southside, System Office, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Highlands, Virginia Western, Wytheville

Did not attend:

Eastern Shore. Mountain Empire, New River, Patrick Henry, Paul D. Camp, Southwest, Tidewater
General notes and observations:

Colleges will need to identify the primary administrator for their college. This user will have access to system-wide data. Other administrators will only have access to data within their (college) domain.

There are already two support roles created that can be assigned to users within a (college) domain. Permissions associated with each are attached.

Course Migrations

From December 20, we will begin the migration of Fall 2007, .DEVL, .WRKS, .TMPL courses and organizations. Prior to this, college administrators are strongly encouraged to look at the archive logs on the archive server ( to see if there are any errors that need addressing.

If there are courses or sets of courses that can be migrated prior to December 20, please let us know. Students are already in the system, so it is not a problem from that perspective.


Question: What is the status of Wimba Podcasting and Classtop? What about Blackboard Scholar?
Answer: Wimba Podcasting is working. Classtop is a priority for first quarter of Spring 2008. In general building block evaluations are coordinated through Inez Farrell in AS & R. Joan Osborne is working on evaluating Scholar for the DDLC.

Question: Changing a course name doesn’t work through the System Admin panel
Answer: It can be done through the course control panel

Question: When bringing a course into bb7, not everything was visible
Answer: College Admins need to self-enroll as instructors (this is a high priority to fix – see earlier call notes)
Question: How can colleges do evaluations anonymously if dummy accounts aren’t feasible?
Answer: Surveys in Blackboard are anonymous
Question: Some assignments are broken.
Answer: When copying assignments, you must also copy gradebook settings.
Question: In adaptive release, the group invert button doesn’t seem to work
Answer: Will need to check. I think it does. Invert simply reverses the selections in the current box, it doesn’t move anything from one side to the other.
Jan will be doing training on Adaptive Release in January. Watch for her workshop schedules.
Question: What is the status of dummy accounts?
Answer: Will try to get some more clarification, but the rule of thumb is that accounts should not be shared, especially if they are privileged in any way. Any VCCS user should use only their account and no other.
Question: How can a college make a Blackboard course available to non-vccs students?
Answer: Use generic xxstudent account or make the course available to guests.
Login: TNStudent; Call Jan or me for the Password.
Question: Observed that courses imported had tools defaulting to off
Answer: Not sure why this is happening. Doesn’t appear to be systematic.
Question: It appears that discussion board posting is slow if there are thread subscriptions and users are subscribed to receive the body of posts rather than links.
Answer: Will investigate and report to Blackboard.

Question: Are email notifications working?
Answer: Some, at least, seem to be. We need more data. Please identify emails that you expected to receive but did not, and if possible provide the server you were on (

Friday, November 30, 2007

Notes on Blackboard Upgrade Conference Call - 11/28/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments


Blue Ridge, Central, Dabney, Danville, Germanna, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, Northern, Piedmont, Rappahannock, Southside, System Office - Kathy,Thomas Nelson, Virginia Western, Wytheville

Question: Getting intermittent ‘Page not displayed’ error. Errors occur in IE, not Firefox.
Answer: Could be caused by the random, luck of the draw, choosing of a malfunctioning App Server. Please report when error occurs and we’ll check each App Server.

Question: Will migrating selected organizations, cause problems during mass migration?
Answer: Please give us a list of organizations previously migrated, and we’ll remove them from the mass migration.

Question: Problem with faculty, courses not going to default page.
Answer: This sounds like it might be specific to a course. Please post a ticket. However, generally speaking default pages are cached and users may need to log out, close their browser and then log in again before seeing changes.

If you have this problem you must email me (Ruth) your course id (TN293.XXX.XXX.XXX.SP08) you can see this code at the top of the page in the Control Panel. Please also include your Bb login in the email.

Question: Scripts not working as they did in Bb6. i.e. Course info. Colleges are particularly interested in tracking course size.
Answer: These are not currently working in Bb7, and the course size is no longer part of the properties screen. You could get an idea of the course size by looking at the archives, once they are turned on. We will investigate generating a report for colleges.

Question: Course ID script also not working in Bb7.
Answer: Right. This could be resolved either with a report or fixing the script. We will investigate both options.

Question: When will we be copying over the content system?
Answer: At Go live. Were we to do it before, then we would risk versions becoming out of sync.

December 20, 2007

Question: Will there be a link to Bb7 on my.vccs?
Answer: This has been discussed, but no decision has been made.

Question: We have a problem with the columns not being the proper width for the college tab.
Answer: Could be caused by content in a particular module, e.g. current weather conditions.

Question: Any update on Issue Trak #90344. When I try to modify items in Bb 7 that I previously created using Wimba in Bb 6, I receive the following error message:
We are sorry, but the system is experiencing technical difficulties : 437-1176726126143 does not start with prefix=_cvvs_
I am also unable to create a new podcast. When I try to setup a podcast, I receive the following error:
Please check your URL
/pvcc/pc not found

Answer: We’ll look into this. Update: Podcasting is fixed.

Question: When will we know which building blocks we’ll have access to?
Answer: There will be no more until 2008.

Question: We are having trouble un-enrolling a faculty member. Need to change role to student and then delete.
Answer: This can be accomplished through the course properties button at the system admin panel level.

Question: Will we have access to the Plagiarism tool?
Answer: This has not been evaluated yet.

Question: Will we have access to the Scholar building block?
Answer: This has not been evaluated yet.

Question: When will we begin archiving Bb7 courses?
Answer: Can’t yet say. At least by Dec. 20 go live.

Please Archive/Export things you are working on in Bb 7 ( ) on a regular basis until Bb7 goes into production for students and the system office begins archiving again. They are still archiving Bb6 and we are grabbing them on a regular basis.

Question: How long will Bb admins have access to Bb6? This is helpful for comparing between instances.
Answer: We’ll look into this.

Question: Which modules will be placed on college tabs?
Answer: Colleges should not be adding modules to shared tabs.

Question: How will we move modules after go live?
Answer: They will need to be developed in test or another non-prod instance and then be moved.

Question: We are having trouble creating a training course.
Answer: Course creation can take a long time. Need to be patient.

Question: Will the Course tab stay or go away?
Answer: It will probably go away, based on input from DDLC.

Question: When ICA files are created, it grabs both primary and secondary instructors as primary.
Answer: Bb doesn’t recognize instructors as secondary. You need to edit the file before uploading.

Question: While training on Test Manager, notice that the save button opens up a popup window. This can be confusing to students.
Answer: Good catch. This is a training issue.

Jan will be addressing this in training - watch for her sessions on Testing or contact her if you have questions.

Question: Could there be a problem while creating a test and uploading a file from the content system, but the student doesn’t have access to the content system?
Answer: This is an interface problem. We will investigate to see if there is a solution.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bb 7 Upgrade Conference Call - 11/13/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments
Jan, David and I were out of town for this call.
Attended, or spoke with:
Central, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, Northern, Southside, System Office – carol, Tidewater, Wytheville
Question: Still having trouble signing on while off campus.
Answer: Deleting cookies and cache helps. Not always. Could be App Server issue. Please report when the issue occurs to see if an App Server needs to be restarted.
Question: Will Bb7 have unlimited course size as does Bb6. Explore is limited.
Answer: Bb7 is currently set to unlimited. Will find out if this setting will remain.
Not to worry, the proposed size limit should not impact TNCC users. If they do impose size limits you would get a warning first. We (Jan, David, and I) cannot see this warning. If you were to get one, you would let me know (Ruth) ASAP so I can work to "expand" your quota.
Question: Would like to be introduced to staff supporting Blackboard.
Answer: While David is away, Applications and Client Services staff will step in and use resources to resolve issues. Will also be interviewing to fill vacant Applications staff position.
Question: We have trouble when using a template with the course creation wizard. End up with two course templates.
Answer: This may be a known issue. Will find out. Also suggested to use course copy instead of the wizard.
Question: Have there been any resolution to the tickets submitted with Blackboard?
Answer: Will find out.
Question: Categorizing courses doesn’t work when 5800 courses are set up. Could only process 200 at a time.
Answer: Will look into this.
Question: Being able to create dummy accounts, as raised in Issue #90006, is important to us.
Answer: I let it be known that this is an issue.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Notes on Blackboard Upgrade Conference Call - 11/6/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments


Blue Ridge, Central, Danville, Germanna, J.Sargeant Reynolds, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, Northern, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Rappahannock, Southwest, System Office - carol
Thomas Nelson, Tidewater, Virginia Highlands, Virginia Western, Wytheville

Did not attend:

Eastern Shore. Dabney, Mountain Empire, New River, Paul D. Camp, Southside
The call began by reviewing known issues from the VCCS Discuss thread, then moved to college questions:

Question: It is taking several attempts to log in.
Answer: Noticed this too. Should now be fixed.

Question: Will the generic faculty and student accounts remain?
Answer: Yes.

TNstudent is available for you to enroll in your classes to "practice" with. If you need the password please contace me or Jan.

Question: We liked Pirate and Pig Latin. Can we have them back?
Answer: We’ll see how much of a sense of humo(u)r AS & R has.

Question: Is it safe to add a module assigned to the GCC role to the Research tab?
Answer: Yes.

Question: Color scheme on shared tabs has been changed again
Answer: Don’t do this.

Question: Can the course level Change Password link be a redirect instead of being disabled?
Answer: If it’s technically possible, yes, that is desirable.

Question: Where are the Modify Content and Modify Layout options on tabs?
Answer: Tab personalization was defaulted to Off, but colleges are welcome to turn it on on their college tab.
Question: We have some courses from Summer 2007 that will need archiving/restoring.
Answer: Please send us a list.

Question: When can we put in spring 08 courses?
Answer: Now.

Question: What about the current pilots – classtop, studymate, respondus – these are mentioned in the Faculty Instructional Software module.
Answer: Good point. We will review and adjust the module as appropriate. The latter two should continue to work with Blackboard 7, but Classtop is still in pilot on Explore. We don’t have the Respondus Lockdown Browser, but that is not mentioned on Bb7.

Question: How do we link to Spring 2008 courses for guest access?
Answer: Please get with us. However, assuming you know the internal ID for each course, the format of a course link is:

Our custom linker on My VCCS:

Will not link to Blackboard 7 until Go Live.
Question: Please get Quick Enroll ASAP
Answer: It’s a high priority.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Welcome to Blackboard 7

Go Live Plans

· November 1 – available to college networks

· November 5 – available universally to Faculty and Staff

· December 20 – switchover for

It’s here!

Blackboard 7.3 is the latest version of the Blackboard Academic Suite. Faculty and Staff should now be able to access our new Blackboard from their campus networks. It is available at , the temporary URL until the December 20 switchover when it will become

What to do first…

Check the Courses that were migrated

Spring 2007 and Summer 2007 courses were brought over from Blackboard 6. They should all be unavailable. There are no student enrollments in these courses. There are no grades or work. Please review imported courses for any issues. There are some known problems with migrated Wimba content. Links you had to the Content System will not work.

What’s Left to Do?

  • The TNCC tab has a bare set of minimal modules placed on them. David and I are working to configure the modules, as blackboard administrators did not have advanced access to you will see changes in the tabs as we move forward.

  • Organizations will not be brought over until Go Live (December 20, 2007).

  • Create SU08 course shells

  • Re-create sandboxes

  • Load students into course shells

  • Import data from the Bb 6 content system

The Future

  • Building blocks – The system office (AS & R ) is working on piloting and testing building blocks for Blackboard 7 including: Learning Objects, Classtop and SafeAssign. These will not be available at Go Live, but we intend to deploy after testing in the first quarter of 2008.

  • TNCC tab has a bare set of minimal modules placed on them. David and I are working to configure the modules, as blackboard administrators did not have advanced access to

  • Organizations will not be brought over until Go Live (December 20, 2007).


  • When can I request Spring 2008 course shells?
    I am currently working on uploading Distance and Hybrid course shells first. If you are teaching DL or Hybrid you will not need to use the request form. For Distributed shells (supplement to F2F) please wait until I email you that I am ready to create these shells. I need to clear out the request database. If you request too soon you will have to do it again.

  • Where is my Sandbox?
    Everyone will need a new sandbox. If you had a sandbox in (the training Bb 7 instance) you will see a new blank sandbox in shortly. I will be re-creating them after I do DL and Hybrid shells. If you did not have a sandbox in you will need to request one when I open up the request form for Distributed shells.

  • Do you move the data in my sandbox in (Bb 6) and (Bb 7 training)?
    No, if you want any of the data in either of those sandboxes you will need to export and import the data you wish to retain.

  • What’s up with the Content System?
    The data in the content system will be the last thing the system office will move. If you are a content system user, all of your links will appear to be broken in This should correct itself when the URL changes from to on December 20, 2007. There may be issues with permission but if so we will address this issue in a separate mailing. If you are not currently using the content system, I recommend you WAIT and not start using it until Jan does the content system training or after Dec. 20, 2007. If you can not wait until Dec. 20, 2007 to use the content system be sure to make folders with names you did not use in Bb 6 or when the system office migrates the content system to Bb 7 your data may be over-written.

  • When can I install a course cartridge
    If it is a .zip package you can use it now. If it a code – wait until December 20, 2007 when the URL changes from back to

  • How do I report problems?
    Email me. The subject line should begin with Bb7: followed by the problem. I have an outlook rule, flagging Bb7: so I can respond as quickly as possible.

  • How do I get help with Bb 7?

  • I have students still making up work from Spring and/or Summer 2007; what do I need to do?
    They will continue to work in Bb 6 ( until the end of the FA07 term, but you will have to archive your own course for record keeping. If for some reason they are not finished by Dec. 20, 2007 follow the procedures for make-ups for the FA07 term.

  • What happens if I have make-ups for the FA07 term after December 20, 2007?
    I will be sending special instructions closer to the end of the term for makes-up that pass the Dec. 20, 2007 date. I am still unclear about that procedure and need to get more clarification from the system office. But, try very hard to encourage your students to complete by Dec. 20, 2007 if at all possible!

  • When will my students be loaded into my Spring 2008 courses?
    At the go live date: December 20 – when we the switchover from to occurs. From the student’s perspective they will never know the juggling you had to do to prepare for the Spring term.

  • When will students have access to my Spring 2008 courses?
    December 20, 2007 – provided you switch your course to “available”.

  • What happened to my students grades and submitted work from SP07 and SU07?
    If you “forgot” to create your own archive – David Morales grabbed the files prior to the export/import to Bb7 ( These are the normal “emergency” back-ups. I STRONGLY recommend you archive each of your current courses in Bb6 ( and keep the archived zip file in a safe place in case we need to restore. Only an administrator can do a restore but David’s “grab” is a blind backup and is 99.9% reliable. I also recommend you export any modules you may want to reuse. Jan will be doing workshops in November on archive, export and import.

  • What happens to "stuff" I created in
    Since Bb7 ( was a training environment. You will have to export/import anything you want to bring over to Again, Jan will be doing workshops in November on archive, export and import.

  • Should I continue to use
    Only to test things (play around). See the above bullet.

  • I am getting confused; which URL should I be working in? is the current Bb 6 production environment is the current Bb 7 training environment is the temporary Bb 7 environment where you will be preparing your Spring 2008 courses

On December 20, 2008 will disappear and “magically” become !

  • What happens to Bb6 (the current after December 20, 2007?
    You will no longer have any access to that environment. Be sure you’ve backup (Archive and Exported) what you think you may need, as “insurance”.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Notes on Blackboard Upgrade Conference Call - 10/30/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - 4:23 pm by
David Carter-Tod
Virginia Community College System

Attended: Blue Ridge, Danville, Germanna, John Tyler, New River, Northern, Patrick Henry, Piedmont, Rappahannock, Tidewater, Southside, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Western, Wytheville, System Office.

Did not attend: Central, Dabney, Eastern Shore, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Lord Fairfax, Mountain Empire, Paul D. Camp, Southwest, Virginia Highlands

The call started by reviewing the Welcome to Blackboard 7 document, going over dates and issues. Blackboard administrators are strongly encouraged to review this document if they have not already.

Question: After Nov 1, after getting courses created using for example, a course creation file, do categories need to be done?
Answer: Yes, but it’s really easy to do. Availability is easy to do in the interface the same way.

Question: How can Dec 20 be both Go Live and a Blackout day?
Answer: It appears that there has been some kind of miscommunication. There will be no blackout period.

Question: Whoa! That’s a whole lotta tabs!?
Answer: You’re right. We will try to reduce them. We can investigate the feasibility of combining tabs at the college level, e.g. College Connect and Teach, but we are not sure how this might be done yet. We are open to ideas and would want to work through AS & R on this issue.

Question: What is the timing of course archives and statistics for fall 2007?
All Fall 2007 courses that are brought to Blackboard 7 will also be archived on the server where Blackboard administrators can get to them. Going forward, courses active after December 20 will be archived in the Spring 2008 section, regardless of the term identifier.

**If you find you will have make-ups for the FA07 term you will need to let me (Ruth Smith) know.

Question: When will content system files get moved?
Current plan is to move content system files later at the December Go Live, so that files on (bb6) do not get out of synch with files on (bb7). If a faculty member needs to create files on the content system or move them, they can simply access both systems via WebDAV and copy content from one to the other (via their desktop).

When we do move content system content, please check permissions. It is unlikely that we will be able to reproduce permissions on Blackboard 7 precisely.

Question: When will “other” courses get migrated, e.g. organizations, .devl, .wrks, .tmpl?
Answer: If any of these courses can be moved before Go Live that would be preferable. Otherwise these will take a back seat to the migration of Fall 2007 courses. Colleges should communicate to if they would like these courses migrated earlier than Go Live.

Question: Who places modules on college tabs?
Answer: Blackboard administrators may do this themselves.

Question: What exactly are the end user requirements and recommendations, e.g. with regard to Vista, XP, IE, CPU, RAM, etc.?
We will get the official Blackboard documentation on this. On review, this is on page 24 and 25 of the “Blackboard_Academic_Suite_New_Features_for_Release_7.3.pdf” document posted on VCCS Discuss (

Question: After Dec 20, will system administrators have access to BB6?
Answer: Good question. We think so. There are some ongoing discussions about this internally about the most appropriate kind of access to provide after Dec 20, but yes, we think so.

Question: Can there be an FAQ tab for students?
Answer: We will work with AS & R on something like this. Perhaps on the Help tab?

Question: How will batch loading of courses work?
Answer: Same as ever. Joshua Seigler at PVCC wrote a nice guide to how to do this -

Question: Can we get a copy of the Administrator Manual?
Answer: We will post it to Discuss

Question: Can we get sample (dummy accounts) students – for instructors to use to evaluate their courses?
Answer: Please file an IssueTrak ticket requesting any manual accounts you need.

**I've already taken care of this you will use the same login: TNstudent and pw: (call for pw) as we did in Bb 6.

Note: Messaging is turned off in Blackboard 7.

What is the Podcasting capability in Blackboard 7
Wimba Voice Tools at Go Live. Other building blocks, e.g. iTunesU may also enable this. Other building blocks are under active consideration, e.g. Classtop and Learning Objects.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Blackboard Upgrade Conference Call - 10/2/2007

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments

Attended: Central (could not speak), Danville, Germanna, John Tyler, Lord Fairfax, New River, Northern, Patrick Henry, Rappahannock, Southwest, Thomas Nelson, Virginia Highlands, System Office.

Did not attend: Blue Ridge, Dabney, Eastern Shore, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Mountain Empire, Paul D. Camp, Piedmont, Southside, Tidewater, Virginia Western, Wytheville

Question: Is it too late to get some Spring and Summer courses archived / restored ?
No. Please send us a list.

All of our Spring and Summer Courses are being exported. If you needed a specific course archived / restored you must call me ASAP.

Question: What about organizations?
Organizations will be archived/restored after Dec 20

Question: What is the status of Is it like production bb7?
Answer: It's not our official Test instance, and needs to be brought more in line with final production settings.

Question: Will students have the content system? What about messages?
Answer: Will check with AS & R on messages, but no content system for students.

Question: How will domains be configured?
Answer: One primary College Administrator will have access to data system-wide. Backups and other support functions will only have access to data within their college domain. This new College Administrator function will be restricted using privileges for access to elements that were previously restricted by documented procedures (e.g. Building Blocks management).

Question: Can colleges keep more than the current four semesters of data.
No. Old courses represent a drag on the performance of current courses.

Question: Will the various administrator utilities continue to work?
Answer: We cannot definitively answer this at this time. Joshua Siegler at PVCC rewrote some for Blackboard 6. Perhaps if you are nice to him? We urge administrators to review the Blackboard 7 interface since some things may now be possible in the GUI that were not previously possible, e.g. the GUI has a method for making multiple courses available or unavailable.

Question: What about TMPL, DEVL and WRKS courses?
Good point. We will include these in our post-Dec 20 migration.

Question: What about other kinds of courses, e.g. NVCC has some hybrid repositories which are still coded as NS99
Answer: ITS will attempt to facilitate all kinds of migrations. Typically all colleges need to do is to provide a list of course IDs. These custom migrations will take a lower priority unless there are good reasons why not.

Question: Will there be a web site for the Blackboard migration, aside from posts to VCCS Discuss? It would be useful to have something staff could be pointed to.
Answer: We will continue to post to VCCS Discuss and talk to Client Services about a web presence. Helpnet is currently in transition and we hope to create a significant Blackboard presence on a newly designed Helpnet site. We do not have a date for this however.

Question: We have previously had issues with accent marks in foreign languages during migrations - can we review and make sure there are no issues in 7?
Answer: We will test, but Bb7 is explicitly designed for multiple languages so we are hopeful that there will be no issues.

Question: Will colleges need to insert instructors into exported courses.
Answer: No. ITS will take care of this.

Question: What about course cartridges and building blocks from publishers?
Answer: Building blocks will generally be deferred until after the beginning of the Spring semester. An advantage in Blackboard 7 is the ability to install building blocks but have them off by default in courses. This appears to be a good solution for publisher building blocks.

Question: How will the content system migration be done?
Answer: Best advice at this point is to wait to copy content over until after student Go Live. ITS will facilitate this. Faculty and staff can add brand new content prior to that as long as use they use folder names unique to the Blackboard 7 system (i.e. so that they don’t get overwritten in any migration process). Note that we may face similar issues with Wimba content.

Question: What about the day of the switchover?
On the day of the switchover, will simply point to the new system, not the old one (which will still be available at Fall 2007 courses will not be immediately available on the new system, but will be migrated over as quickly as possible, starting with those courses that have incompletes. A guesstimate is that the migration of courses with incompletes might take half a day. ITS will make a good faith effort to identify those courses in SIS and correlate them to courses in Blackboard, but given that there are not always a one-to-one match between the systems, colleges are encouraged to identify such courses themselves and send the information to ITS. After incompletes, Fall 2007 courses will be migrated college by college.

Question: Can Blackboard administrators get access prior to faculty and staff seeing it?
Answer: ITS has fairly widely publicized the November 1 Go Live for Faculty and Staff. This date is probably not negotiable, but Blackboard administrators have discretion at their own college in terms of how they publicize the availability of the new system.

Question: Blackboard Community/Portal system: who will move tabs and modules, and will they continue to work the same way?
Answer: General idea (barring better ones) is to reproduce the same structure and procedures as in version 6. However, tab and module administration can be delegated to some extent in the domain context. There is no ideal solution to moving modules from 6 to 7. Current plan is to leave this in the hands of college staff to do during the November/December time frame.

Question: What about portal pages that rely on the content system (e.g. for images)
Answer: Should not be a problem. Just reproduce on Blackboard 7. Copying Content System content is fairly straightforward. Simply drag and drop the webdav folder to desktop and from desktop to the new system. Then check permissions.

Question: Is the menu ordering problem when copying courses fixed?

Question: Will all the mime types be on Blackboard 7?

Question: What is the compatibility with Vista and IE7?
This is part of the reason we chose 7.3, which claims to resolve most if not all such issues.

Question: Does CD / offline content work?
This has been inherently problematic ever since browsers like IE and Firefox become more security conscious. Not entirely sure, but wouldn’t raise expectations.

Question: Manual accounts for adjuncts and students?
Answer: For adjuncts in defined training purposes, this is allowed with appropriate tracking and documentation, using e.g. LFCCTrain01 as an account name. However, such accounts should not be used long term, and the correct way to get into Blackboard is via SIS. Students should never have manual accounts and should be driven by SIS data.

Question: Does iframe content work okay?
Answer: Yes, it should. We are still planning on implementing SSL and this might impact references to external sites. Please test.

Question: Can a college administrator change their role in a course?
Answer: Because the new College Administrator role is not a System Administrator, they will not have access to the Quick Enroll feature in the standard course menu. However, the interface for accessing and enrolling users into courses on the System Admin control panel has been streamlined so that enrollment and the role assignment can be done on the same screen.

Question: Given that many people will be on the road to the October 9 training, will it still go ahead?
Answer: Yes, and we will try and record next week's call. It may well be a short call.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Migration Update

Sent: Monday, September 24, 2007 9:48 AM

We (TNCC) are currently training folk in Bb 7. I want to make sure I am giving out as accurate information as possible. Could you please confim or correct:

  1. is a training environment (no "real" work for SP08 should take place there unless the individual instructor exports their work themselves)
  2. SP07 and SU07 courses are being migrated to a non-public instance of Bb 7( which will later become the production server). The migration began on Sept. 15th; if an instructor does any work or make-ups in these terms they must export/archive their changes themselves. If its an export they can import when the Bb 7 server goes into production.
  3. The non-public instance of Bb 7 will be available for faculty (no students) on Nov. 1, 2007. (Will this then become
  4. SP08 Bb shells can not be created until after Nov. 1, 2007.

    Thank you,
    Ruth K. Smith
    Senior Instructional Designer
    Learning System Administrator

Sent: Monday, September 24, 2007 2:37 PM
From: David Carter-Tod


1. Correct

2. That's correct, although for Faculty bb7 will be available after Nov 1 so that's when they could bring data over themselves.

3. Correct, but no, it will not be The interim url for Blackboard 7 production before students get on it will be

4. They can't be created in bb7 until after then (unless created on explore). If they were created on Bb6, faculty or the bbadmin could export and import to bb7 if they so desired, but at this point in time, we have not undertaken to do that for colleges.



  • If you make or have made any changes in SP07 or SU07 courses after Sept. 15th (had students doing make up for example) you will have to do your own Export/Archive to have the updated content appear in Bb 7.
  • I cannot make any SP08 course shells until after November 1, 2007.
    The pre-production URL (listed in David C-T's resoponse) is active yet.
  • I am still trying to find out how they will be handling .DEVL shells. There is a Bb admin. meeting on Oct. 9, 2007; I hope to have more information for you after the meeting. Right now everything is "lovely, lovely".

If you have questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Archival Migration information available at: (searchable)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Blackboard 7 Upgrade Update

Bb Migration Timeline - Additional Dates for time line:

  • 11/01/07–batch upload students into Bb 7.2 for SP08 unavailable to faculty until after 12/20/07. (Faculty won’t be able to email their SP08 students until after 12/20/07.
  • 11/01/07–DO NOT load course cartridges until after 11/01/07 for SP08 courses
  • 12/20/07–content system won’t be linked up (all links to content system will appear to fail –but will correct itself at GoLivedate
  • 12/07/07–end of incompletes for FA07 (all FA07 incompletes must be made up
  • 12/20/07 –faculty and students will no longer see FA07 courses in Bb 6 (
  • 12/20/07–there will be a short blackout period (1 to 5 days) for incompletes (exclusion FA07 courses –these will already be gone) and MedLab(non-traditionally scheduled courses).
  • 01/04/08–Bb 6.2 retired (no longer available to faculty, students or Bb administrators.)
    –Normal backup archives still available to Bb administrators.

Training focus for faculty (recommendation):

  • Discussion board
  • Announcements -immediate email notification
  • What’s New Module
  • Adaptive Release, review status, and performance dashboard
  • Early Warning system

Things faculty need to know:

  • Java
    Java 6 must be loaded prior to a student taking a test or the browser locks the 1st time
    -Java 6 can take up to 1 hour to download on a dial up modem.
  • Content System
    12/20/07 –content system won’t be linked up (all links to content system will appear to fail –but will correct itself at GoLivedate
    -Don’t use content system for NEW classes SP08 until after 12/20/07.
  • E-Mail
    -Messages sent to students from instructor now include course ID in the subject line.
  • Course Cartridges
    11/01/07 –DO NOT load course cartridges until after 11/01/07 for SP08 courses

News from the System Office:

From: Inez Farrell ,Director of Instructional Technology, VCCS
Sent: Fri 8/17/2007

ITS has agreed to upgrade Blackboard to7.3 instead of 7.2 using the same timeline.

Benefits of 7.3 over 7.2

  • Full Microsoft Vista support: while 7.2 is generally compatible withVista, 7.3 is Blackboard-certified for Vista. For college computers and anystudents buying computers this is a critical issue.
  • Revised Discussion Board: a major client complaint about the 7.xreleases has been the rewritten discussion board. End users (faculty andstudents) have found it difficult to use. 7.3 includes a revised UI thatresolves these difficulties and is more similar to the historical discussionboard that users are used to.
  • Integrated Content System archiving: For 6.2 in order to ensure theintegrity of archived courses, ITS had to write a custom archive process forlinked content system content. In 7.3 this functionality is shipped withBlackboard in such a way that respects content system meta-data.
  • Performance Enhancements and fixes

There should be no negative impact on training. The discussion board changegives instructors the option of using the more historic version over thenewer version.

ITS will now plan to upgrade Explore ( so you will all be familiar with the changes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

DDLC Meeting Minutes - May 24, 2007

Distance and Distributed Learning ASAC Workgroup

Meeting Minutes

May 24, 2007 10am – 3pm

I. Call to order

Kim Blosser called to order the regular meeting of the DDLC at 10:00 am on May 24, 2007 in Featherstone.

II. Roll call

Kim Blosser conducted a roll call. The following persons were present:

Kim Blosser (BRCC), Charles Boling (VHCC), CJ Bracken (GCC), Joan Trabandt (NVCC), George Hoffman (LFCC), Kristen Kelly (JTCC), Leslie Smith (RCC), Ramona Coveny (VWCC), Ruth Smith (TNCC), Jaime Shetrone (WCC), Inez Farrell (VCCS - AS&R), Shelia Hobbs (PDCCC), Colleen Kehoe (JSRCC), Jeff Burleson (MECC), Linda Claussen (NRCC), Ken Fairbanks (SwVCC), Scott Case (ITS), Susan Wood (VCCS - AS&R)

Members absent: Susan Beasley (CVCC), Bill Dey (DCC), Mark Nelson (PHCC), Lori Ledford (PVCC), Reo McBride (DLCC), Richard Wilt (ESCC), John Ambrose (JSRCC)-(Colleen subs for him) John Zwick (TCC), Joan Tuck (SVCC), Joan Osborne (LFCC)

III. Approval of minutes from last meeting

Kim Blosser read the minutes from the last meeting (2/07). The minutes were approved as read.

IV. Open issues

a) Inez Farrell presented a sample of a published DL survival kit for faculty. This can be enhanced with best practices and published on the DDLC web site.

b) Inez Farrell announced that college presidents will select the DDLC representative for their college as a yearly appointment. There is a job description for the DL representatives. The description for the DDLC chairperson was also provided.

c) A tentative calendar was created for DDLC meetings in 2007-2008:
September 6, 2007 Piedmont Community College

November 8, 2007 (backup date of November 15)

February 7, 2008 (Joan Trabandt will setup Centra meeting so travel is not necessary)

May 14, 2008

d) Several attendees shared effective communication strategies with the group.

e) Inez Farrell reported that the DDLC Peer Group meeting would be October 17,19 and would include Library Services and Blackboard Administrators. Wimba training may be available at the meeting.

f) Inez Farrell reported on status of Backpack and Atomic Learning and will investigate CampusPack and SurveyTool. The system will be previewing LockDown Browser for one year. The Respondus contract includes StudyMate. SoftChalk will remain available.

g) The GIS announcement was sent to each designated college contact on May 23, 2007. DL staff may contact that person to get software if they wish.

h) The VCCS is pursuing a state-wide agreement for

i) The group was encouraged to use surveys to determine which software is being used to assist in system decision for purchasing and continuing software contracts. Impatica, Auto Desk, and SoftChalk are three such software products that will need to be reviewed this year as the contract expires.

j) Scott Case from ITS proposed that (Blackboard 7.1) be upgraded to Blackboard 7.2 on May 25. He explained that the technicians would need a short time frame that would not be available. The proposal was accepted by the group so was upgraded on that date.

k) Inez Farrell presented the timeline for the upgrade of Blackboard 7.2 for the entire system for the implementation and upgrade of Blackboard in Spring 2008.

l) The approval of the revised, renamed, and rewritten document of guidelines for distance and distributed learning (previously VDEN) brought a lively discussion. The result of the discussion was that a survey should be created that included a different structure than the previous survey instrument. The survey should have categories (i.e. heard of this or do you use). Each item should have some means of displaying a short description of each software item. Another item to be included could be “What do you want to be able to do that you currently cannot do?” Main category items were:
SoftTalk Impatica Respondus
Wimba StudyMate LockDown Browser
GIS AutoDesk Merlot
Web Conferencing (Breeze, Elluminate, Centra)
Flash Paper Articulate BackPack
Atomic Learning SurveySoftware Captivate/Camtasia

m) VDEN Work Distribution and Suggested Formats – There should be an intro page with the named target audience and purpose. An agreement between providers and receivers and responsibilities of each which will also include contact information. There should be links to current “Best Practices” from individual faculty and colleges. The three main areas are procedures, compensation and MOU.

n) Guidelines for Quality Assurance (Best Practices) would include:
1. Evaluations (faculty and courses)
Include what should be included in each course as basic structure
Suggested additions to syllabus, etc
2. Accessibility information
3. Listing of system-wide instructional software
4. Assessment strategies (include example proctored activities)
5. Key terms
6. Contact information (w/person links)
7. Student Services (tutoring, admissions, orientation modules, etc)
8. Advising (faculty modules)

o) A motion was passed that stated that each college would send a table of contents for their current faculty DL manual to Inez by the following week. All the members of the group agreed to volunteer for a section and provide tentative material for the September 6 meeting.

V. New business

p) There were no new business items.

VI. Adjournment

Kim Blosser adjourned the meeting at 2:45 pm.

Minutes submitted by: Ramona Coveny

Minutes approved by:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Distance and Distributed Learning ASAC Workgroup

Distance and Distributed Learning ASAC Workgroup
February 15, 2007, 10am – 3pm

Meeting called to order at 10:00 am

Members present: Susan Beasley (CVCC), Kim Blosser (BRCC), Charles Boling (VHCC), Joan Trabandt (NVCC), Kristen Kelly (JTCC), Leslie Smith (RCC), Ramona Coveny (VWCC), Ruth Smith (TNCC), Stacy Harris (SWCC), Joan Tuck (SVCC), Jaime Shetrone (WCC), Bill Dey (DCC), Inez Farrell (AS&R), Shelia Hobbs (PDCCC), David Carter-Tod (ITS)

Members absent: Mark Nelson (PHCC), Lori Ledford (PVCC), George Hoffman (LFCC), Reo McBride (DLCC), Jeff Burleson (MECC), Ron Wilt (ESCC), Linda Claussen (NRCC), John Ambrose (JSRCC), John Zwick (TCC),

Action Item 1.

Recommendation to Educational Technology Committee of ASAC for elimination of outdated VDEN procedures.

Background: The policies and procedures developed by VCCS and college administrators for distance learning were created to ensure the quality of this course delivery method. The method most in use during the creation of this document was compressed video. Other methods of delivery are now primary. The DDLC has been charge by the Education Technology Committee of ASAC to determine the following:

  1. Recommend what sections of the VDEN procedures should be considered by ASAC to be added to policy.

  2. Determine what sections are already in policy and recommend for deletion.

  3. Ascertain what remains in the VDEN that is valuable and should be incorporated into either:

    1. MOU

    2. Best Practices

    3. Other

Action Recommended: Review Section IV of VDEN and determine whether any parts that are already covered in the Policy Manual should be eliminated and if any parts should remain and be incorporated into the Policy Manual.

Rationale: Changes in distance learning delivery methods and the increased awareness that all delivery methods of content should follow the same quality criteria necessitate the updating of this procedural document.

At the meeting, much time was spent discussing what the VDEN document is and what it’s purpose should be within the VCCS. Several members indicated that it was used as a procedures guide and was still very helpful to many. Others still noted that the information was outdated and certainly needed to be updated.

During the previous DDLC meeting, small groups worked to recommend which parts of the document needed to be eliminated or revised. This information had not been captured in a format that could be sent out to the entire DDLC membership, so some time was spent re-creating those recommendations. Google docs were used to collaborate on the specific parts of the VDEN document. For the next meeting in May, the revisions that were proposed in this meeting will be distributed for further review.

The main charge for this committee was to determine whether or not any of the language in the VDEN document needed to be moved to the policy manual (recommended that it be moved) or how in fact it would best be modified to make it current and effective. The committee agreed that the document was valuable and needed to be considered a Procedures Manual. As a result, the committee agreed on the following motion:

The Distance and Distributed Learning Committee (DDLC) recommends that the VDEN document as it stands contains no reference to policy that is not already covered in the VCCS policy manual, but is an outdated reference guide for procedures and best practices. The DDLC requests it be allowed to rework the VDEN into a current set of E-learning procedures and best practices for Virginia’s Community Colleges.

This motion will be sent to the next ASAC meeting for response by the Educational Technology subcommittee. The hope of the DDLC is that we will be asked to revise this document so that it can remain an effective procedures document for those working with distance education.

Discussion Item 1.

Develop a calendar of dates for ITS to add and delete student email account or Blackboard account to the system for each semester. (When do the courses come on and when do they come off. When does the email account get activated, when does it get deleted).

Background: ITS needs help in determining the best time to add or delete student email accounts and Blackboard accounts to the system.

Action Recommended: Formulate a system-wide calendar to present toTech Council in March.

ITS indicated that they needed firm dates for when to delete email accounts from the system, as well as a process by which students are notified that their account will be terminated. Although this was initially a discussion item, this led to discussions about coming up with dates and was therefore moved to an Action Item.

After much discussion, the motion was as follows:

Email accounts to be de-authorized:

3rd Thursday after August 16, January 2, and May 16.

Email authorization:

July 1, November 1, and April 1.

Course de-activation:

December 15, August 15, and May 1.

Dates to flag:

December 1, July 15, and April 15.

There was an email later asking that ITS ‘flag’ accounts at least 4 weeks in advance, which David indicated was not a problem. ITS was more concerned with the deactivation process than when the accounts are flagged and sent a notice.

Information Item 1.

WIMBA update

Inez updated the group regarding the feedback she’s received on the WIMBA pilot project. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. ASAC is expected to approve the inclusion of WIMBA as an add-on to Blackboard system-wide.

Information Item 2.

Backpack pilot status from Leslie Smith

Leslie Smith reported that Ruth Greene (RCC) has been piloting another Blackboard building block called Backpack. They currently have a 30-day free trial version. The add-on allows students to download all the course material, with the exception of those items that are interactive such as quizzes, discussion boards, and assignments (etc). Anything not interactive gets downloaded and students can then review documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc without having to connect to BB. For students with a dial-up connection, this is very helpful.

Leslie and Ruth are looking for funding to continue the pilot so that they can share their results. Inez encouraged them to contact the rep for Backpack to see if they would be willing to allow RCC to pilot this for possible inclusion by more VCCS schools.

Information Item 3.

Blackboard 7 Update

As of this meeting, ITS is still planning for a fall 07 go live date. Further details will be forthcoming in regards to training and specific timelines.