Faculty Blackboard Managed Hosting Questions

This is an an effort to anticipate some questions faculty may have about the upcoming changes to Palomar’s Blackboard environment; should you have additional questions, feel free to pose them in the comments here, or contact us separately in Palomar Blackboard support.

However, one question I am unable to answer at this time is “when are the Summer 2014 courses going to be available to faculty?” As soon as there is an answer I can share, rest assured I will post about the details.

 

What is this Managed Hosting for Blackboard thing I keep hearing about?

Palomar’s Blackboard system will be undergoing a significant behind-the-scenes change in the very near future. In the past our Blackboard system has lived on the main campus in San Marcos; starting with Summer 2014 we will be using the Blackboard Managed Hosting service to house our system.

Benefits of this change include:

  • Reducing expected upgrade windows from 4 days to 24 hours or less. (Blackboard techs claim 12 hours is typical.)
  • Eliminating the need to run the “pre-Fall” Blackboard upgrades during 8-week classes; any upgrades required in August can be scheduled in the few days between end of Summer and start of Fall.
  • Increasing system monitoring from “Palomar ATRC business hours” to 24/7/365, which should minimize any potential down-time due to technical problems.
  • System up-time of 99.8%, guaranteed on pain of monetary penalties.
  • Improved integration between Palomar’s Blackboard environment and various publisher’s content systems. (i.e. WileyPLUS, McGraw-Hill Connect, Pearson’s MyLab)

How much of my time is this going to waste?

Little to no extra time. The process for transferring materials into your new courses on the Managed Hosting system should not take appreciably longer than the traditional Course Copy tool did.

Will I be able to simply Course Copy from old semesters to this Managed Hosting system?

No. Because the course copy tool only works between courses on the same Blackboard system it will not be possible to copy directly from your older courses into the new course sites on the Managed Hosting system.

Instead you will need to use the Export/Import process, in which you use the Export Course function in the old course, save the export file created onto your computer, then use the Import Package function in the new course. This process will be fully explained as a step-by-step document in a future posting.

Can’t you just do this for me?

As always, ATRC staff are completely willing to work with faculty one-on-one, either in your offices on campus or in the Faculty Technology Center in room LL-111. However there is enough ambiguity about what content each instructor wants transferred that we would not be able to simply move your content without directly involving you in the process.

If you would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of our techs, please file a ticket in our helpdesk at https://www2.palomar.edu/atrc/helpdesk/ and indicate when you would be available to meet. We will try to match our schedules to yours, to make this as painless a process as possible. We will also be offering several “Blackboard migration assistance” sessions in the Faculty Technology Center in room LL-111 on the San Marcos campus. Details on the session dates and times may be found online at http://www2.palomar.edu/pages/atrc/workshops/ .

Help, I need somebody

Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone,
Help!

There really are two types of folks that use our services. The first group is those faculty trying to plan for doing something new, such as beginning to use Blackboard for the first time or introducing something like a polling technology into their classroom environment. The second group is those faculty who are doing something, new or old, and need some “Help!”

How should those seekers after assistance contact us, to get their problems resolved as quickly as possible?  There really are a number of ways, depending on exactly what the situation is.

If you are physically in the classroom, trying to do something with the technology in the room for your students, and something isn’t working correctly (i.e. data projector won’t work, Internet is down) then you likely don’t want to talk to Academic Technology at all.  Your first stop in getting help in that situation is to call up the Information Services Helpdesk (at 760-744-1150 X2140) and speak to someone there.  Although it is also possible to email the I.S. Helpdesk (at helpdesk@palomar.edu), you really want to do a phone call to get the quickest response during class time.

If what you are having trouble with is not a time intensive situation (that is, you don’t have students sitting idle waiting for your problem to be solved), that’s most likely when Academic Technology will be of use to you.  The absolute fastest way to get support from us would be through our newly launched Live Support system; you can see if there are available support techs on that system by looking for the button either on the upper right corner of our ATRC website, or on the lower left corner of our own helpdesk site.  If the button says that Live Support is online, then you should be able to click the button and start a chat session with someone at our end immediately.  If the button indicates that we are away, or some other status than online, you can leave us a message (which will show up in our support ticket system), and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

If you end up leaving us a message, or you decide to open a support ticket instead of trying the Live Support, do make sure you give us as much information as possible.  In particular, leaving screen shots of (or a copy and paste of the text from) error messages you may see will help us immensely.  Otherwise the first thing we end up doing is to write you back and ask for more detail, which isn’t overly helpful for anyone.

If you absolutely must, you may phone for support from Academic Technology at 760-744-1150 X2862.  However, if the support techs are dealing with Live Support sessions, or responding to tickets (or otherwise unavailable), you will end up having to leave a voice message.  The same advice as above about leaving a message applies, so give us as much detail as you can about the problem you are experiencing. Also, do everyone involved a favor and slow down when you say your name and phone number; you may know your name and number very well, but chances are we do not.

Finally, at least for the next several weeks, be aware that Palomar College has changed their hours of operation.  Until just prior to the start of the Fall term, there will be no technical support available from Academic Technology on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. I know it’s not possible to plan your technical problems to occur only Monday through Thursday, but anything that comes into the support system after we leave on Thursday evening will have to wait until next week.