Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Notes on Bb Conference Call - 1/8/2008

Red - Greater interest to Faculty
Blue - My additional comments


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

Blue Ridge, Central, Dabney, Eastern Shore, Mountain Empire, New River, Paul D. Camp, Rappahannock, Southside, Southwest


Our focus during the first few weeks of the semester is on performance. We had some fairly significant slowness on Monday, but things have generally improved through the week as we have implemented additional tuning. As of this writing, Monday 14th, which is the first day for NVCC is passing off smoothly aside from some problems specific to MECC, with as many as 1.9 million hits/hour.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we had over 22 million hits each day. This represents 10 million more hits per day than our Fall peak and is over double our peak from the same time last year. This is obviously an extremely significant increase in traffic.

We identified the ‘What’s new” module as a source of database issues and we have disabled it.

Blackboard has release a service pack for 7.3, which has performance improvements and we intend to implement as soon as possible after testing. They have also released 8.0, but we have no plans currently to go to that version.

The course migration completed in about two weeks despite some problems over the break. Generally this has been smooth, but there have been some courses with issues that needed resolving.

Blackboard 6 is still up at http://bb6.vccs.edu/. There are 4 CPUs assigned to this at the database level. However, we plan to turn Blackboard 6 off on January 25.
An issue was identified with the Chat Server. This was resolved later on Tuesday.

Question: Is the Home page tool turned off?
Answer: No, but make sure the Roster is turned on in the class.

Question: Any sign of a Quick enroll feature?
Answer: No, but check out: http://learn.vccs.edu/bbcswebdav/users/wccartd/pub/quickEnroll.html -- we could probably do some more sophisticated things with GreaseMonkey given time, but this helps. If you add &userName=yourusername to the end of the quick enroll script, it will default to your username.

Question: Are the utility tools e.g. batch availability available in bb7?
Answer: Batch availability can be done in the web UI.

Question: What about Bb6 classes with final incompletes?
Answer: Blackboard 7 is our production system now. Students should not be using Blackboard 6.

Question: Quotas? Those emails are a real pain.
Answer: Ain’t they just? There are two quotas in Blackboard – a soft quota simply generates a warning. We have increased this to just over 1 GB. The hard quota is currently 2GB. Strategies to manage significant file content include:

1. Identify ways to reduce file size, e.g post PDF rather than Powerpoint, reduce image sizes, and generally use compressed formats. This benefits students as well.

2. Use the Content System. We can increase quotas to meet needs on the content system and content can be shared across courses.

3. Store files on college servers, linking to them from Blackboard

We will discuss further with AS & R. If, despite the above measures being taken, a quota needs to be increased, that may be possible.

Question: It appears that .mht files on content system became corrupted during the migration
Answer: We can look at this. Please file a ticket.

Question: Getting outage page sometimes. Slowness, etc.
Answer: Please add to Ticket #91486 for any performance issues with Blackboard 7. The outage page may appear when an application server is bounced, but we are still investigating.

Question: Can we have the eportfolio functionality on Blackboard?
Answer: There’s a major bug with the permissions on ePortfolios, but that aside we do not have a great deal of faith in Blackboard’s implementation of ePortfolios and feel that alternatives may well be more viable.
Question: What about faculty being able to combine enrollments from multiple classes into one.
Answer: Will investigate. Might not be technically possible.

I am currently able to do these combinations for faculty. If you need assistance please call me (2807).
Question: is there a way to alter batch individual availability within courses?
Answer: Not at the moment
Additional Notes:
We plan on implementing Domain-related administrative changes after Tuesday, 1/15. Make sure all courses are appropriately categorized.

We plan on turning off of Blackboard 6 on January 25.
We have been alerted to a security issue with WebDAV for the content system and will be turning off this functionality until we can implement SSL. A longer separate communication will be forthcoming.

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