Tech Times

Summer 2012

Blackboard Learn Upgrade

The Office of the Provost and IS&T have partnered to implement an upgrade of the Learning Management System from Blackboard 8 to the latest version, Blackboard Learn (9.1). The project comprises an upgrade of the existing functionality (Course Delivery) and will also provide more features, with newly acquired licenses for Content Management and Community Engagement. A third aspect of the project is the consolidation of separate instances of current Blackboard software, used for on-campus and distance learning, into one fully featured, customizable system serving all of BU.

The upgrade will be carried out in phases. The underlying infrastructure is new and leverages virtualization to ensure reliability, availability, and room to grow. This enables a phase of parallel deployment of Bb 8 and Bb Learn to allow for a smooth transition between the two versions; leaving faculty time to get acquainted and comfortable with the new system. IS&T, in conjunction with the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching (CEIT) and school and college leaders, is developing a training plan and strategy that will make training for faculty available beginning in the fall semester 2012.

The overall direction of the Learning Management System offering and the upgrade project is overseen by the Blackboard Learn Upgrade Project Steering Committee, which includes representatives from all campuses (CRC, BUMC, and online), the Schools & Colleges, CEIT, and IS&T. A Pilot Program, featuring a selection of representative uses of the system, is scheduled to begin in September 2012. The system will open for migration of courses for the spring semester 2013.

The project team is working diligently to create plans for training, the Pilot Program, ongoing communication, and the implementation of this major upgrade. The involvement of many academic, administrative, and technology departments and constituents makes this a true OneBU effort.