Blackboard update

The Blackboard service disruption on May 24 had a major impact on many staff and students at the university. This post outlines some of the ongoing activity in response to that incident.

Blackboard has a range of ways to continuously monitor our system. Since the incident, they have been providing us with twice-daily performance updates. These have shown that our Blackboard system has been performing extremely well, with very high responsiveness and no notable issues. This matches with our ongoing monitoring, and indicates that the additional capacity we added to our Blackboard system before the assessment period began has been effective. An investigation by Blackboard has identified the root cause of the incident as a flaw in the underlying database, which has been reported to the database supplier, Oracle. Blackboard and the Digital Education Office have put measures in place to ensure that the issue cannot recur, and Blackboard’s monitoring reports have shown that these have been successful.

All scheduled exams since last Monday morning have run successfully. The DEO is collating data on exam activity daily to check that exams are being completed and is working closely with IT Services and the Exams Office to provide timely and consistent support to students.

Once again, please accept our apologies for the distress that this incident caused.

Questionmark scheduled maintenance 19 June 09:00-15:00

Dear colleagues,

Questionmark Scheduled Maintenance: 19 June 2021 09:00-15:00

The purpose of the maintenance is to deploy system updates to ensure the ongoing reliability, security and up time of the platform.

During this time all users may experience service disruptions. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

If you have any questions, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

Scheduled Maintenance – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra 10th June

Blackboard Collaborate has advised us that there will be scheduled maintenance taking place on Thursday, June 10th, between midnight and 4 am. During this time, users will experience intermittent availability. The purpose of the maintenance is to bring improvements to mobile use of Collaborate.

During the maintenance, you can check Blackboard’s service status page.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have any questions, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Please check the IT service status page to see how the University’s systems and services are working and for planned maintenance information.

Recommended settings and backup plans for Blackboard test exams

In the light of the technical issues experienced on Monday, we would recommend that Blackboard tests in the 2021 Summer Exam period do not use ‘force completion’ and have ‘auto-submit’ turned off. Schools should also carefully consider whether the use of restricted time windows in which students are allowed to start an exam is necessary and should contact the Digital Education Office for further advice if they are planning to use these.  

Following this advice this will help ensure that students have time to complete an exam in the event of a technical failure.  

This is in addition to our existing advice that all assessments should have a backup plan for use in the event of a technical problem (for example, wait for the issue to resolve and proceed with the exam, reschedule the assessment, use an alternative format such as a downloadable copy of the exam). Students should always be advised in advance what the backup plan for their assessment will be. 

Blackboard notifications turned off

As a precautionary measure, while Blackboard are investigating the root cause of the incident yesterday morning, we have turned off notifications in Blackboard. These are alerts that normally appear on the Notifications Dashboard tab on the Blackboard Home page, or in optional modules in individual courses, reminding you about items (such as assignments, tests or marks) that are newly available.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this causes.

Update for students re the Blackboard technical issues impacting exams

Shortly before 10 am this morning Blackboard had a technical problem. While some students could access Blackboard, for many it was either slow or unavailable for up to 45 minutes. We apologise for the inconvenience and upset caused by this and would like to reassure all students that no student will be disadvantaged by this morning’s events.

This morning’s issue has been resolved. You should expect all your remaining assessments to run to their scheduled dates and times

Tansy Jessop

PVC Education

[This message has also been emailed to UG and PGT, added to MyBristol Portal, internal comms screens and social media]

Re/Play links in Blackboard

Following on from the work completed last week to restore the Re/Play service we are currently seeing links in the left hand menu and the tools in content areas being unavailable. We will be working to restore these across all courses but this will not be completed until later today.

If you or your students need access before this these can be switched on a course by course basis –

  • Navigate to the course and open the course management menu
  • Select Customisation and tool availability
  • Scroll down until you see the Mediasite settings and tick boxes as shown in the image below
  • Submit

NB if you have a link in the left hand menu you will need to select hide link from the contextual menu and then show link for this to become visible to students.

 

Mediasite Blackboard settings