Upgrades, the good and the UGLY!

In spite of testing before upgrading, it seems we always find something that wasn’t quite identical between the test and production systems that comes to light AFTER the upgrade. And while the upgrade itself went smoothly and initial testing indicated no major problems we did encounter some ugly problems caused by a custom theme used across all of our courses.

The custom theme was based on an old version of the default Bb Learn theme. What we didn’t know was there were updates in the theme that we did not see (or maybe ignored) on the test system. As a result, the old custom theme did not contain all the updates AND caused some courses to have invisible menu items. Not a good way to start the term.

After some exchanges with Blackboard Technical support, we were able to identify the cause of the problem and replace the custom theme with the stock theme that comes with Blackboard (and which will be updated with new releases). In future, we will no longer customize the theme, the benefits of highlighting that is more consistent with our color scheme are not worth the work tracking down the source of new problems during the very brief windows we have for our upgrades.

Other changes: If you use the Qwickly attendance tool, you may have noticed a new attendance tool in the course tools section of your course control panel. This is Blackboard’s new tool which LIT has evaluated as less useful than the Qwickly tool. We have turned this tool off for that reason. (So if you saw it and now it’s gone, you weren’t hallucinating).

Other changes that came with this upgrade:

  • Students now can clear selections from multiple choice questions to avoid a penalty if there are negative points associated with an incorrect answer choice.
  • Instructors can now allow additional attempts when a prior attempt can’t be cleared due to an anonymous grading state.
  • Students and instructors can now copy files from cloud storage solutions to Blackboard.
  • Instructors can now create audio/video recordings for the feedback in assignments, tests, graded discussions, wikis, blogs, and journals and also as feedback to manually graded grade center columns.
  • Instructors can now delete multiple grade center columns at once.

The work towards reviewing and selecting the next LMS for Wentworth continues. Watch for additional information sessions as the process continues.