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Blackboard issues welcome students back to campus

Submitted by Jack A. Webb on January 25, 2017 – 12:00 pmNo Comment

A necessity in today’s higher education learning environment, technology has bridged the gap between many challenges that the modern student today face. From giving freedoms to students to work and learn in the comfort of their own home and work around their daily schedule to opening a new way for students to connect with their professors and peers.

That metaphorical bridge is not without obstacles of its own–as many new and returning UALR students found out during their first week back this semester.

Blackboard, an essential online tool for students and instructors to manage and engage in their web courses and lecture classes alike, saw a breakdown in normal activity as students were returning to class after the winter break.

The first official contact regarding these issues came on Tuesday morning of Jan. 10. A day after students began the spring 2017 semester.

David Montague, Director of eLearning, and John Rathje, Chief Information Officer, sent a joint email to all UALR students explaining that a scheduled migration of Blackboard services set for Dec. 18-25 of last year had not ended on time.

Students eager to begin the semester off strong would have to wait a little while longer as courses they were enrolled in became visible and active for them on the site.

One such student, Alex Vandiver, whose classes are primarily online was particularly frustrated. “I’m an organized person so not being able to efficiently work on assignments that require reading or posting makes me anxious and has me worried about grades,” Vandiver said.

In total, students received a total of four emails regarding the updates of Blackboard over the four days that it took to work with Blackboard and correct the critical issues.

By Friday of that week, Chancellor Andrew Rogerson was apologetic.

“Providing an environment that promotes learning, fosters engagement, and enables collaboration is a priority for this university,” he said in an email. “I deeply regret that we were not able to provide that kind of experience in your first week of classes.”

Rogerson continued stating that the “confusion and disruption” was unacceptable.

“I find it to be really inconvenient, especially at the start of the semester,” Vandiver added. “I just hope they fix it sooner rather than later because with the slower system solution they have, it’s taking me longer to complete things from home.”

Outages and interruptions continued to the following week with issues affecting other universities that partner with Blackboard. By Jan. 20, things seemed to have subdued with the bulk of the problems resolved.

Montague and Rathje did say that students may still see courses for which they no longer belong in appear as active in which they advise to simply ignore. They suggest to check in with BOSS for the official account of registered classes.

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