I’ve had access to my new Managed Hosting Blackboard environment for almost two weeks now; it’s a bit amazing how many niggling details needed to be dealt with, before the system is ready to unleash.
Among these issues:
- Decide on the internal appearance of the system, consistent with the college brand. (Let me tell you, silver and red aren’t as easy to work with as some might expect.)
- Install the extensive components (building blocks) on the old system.
- Configure these building blocks; this is extra tricky as many blocks actually connect to external data stores, such as publisher tools.
- Set up the listing of… everything. Modules, tool listings, default course menu entries, user privileges… if I get these right BEFORE launch, things will go far better than retroactive changes.
- Establish data integration frameworks; to my surprise this ended up being nearly the most straightforward piece of the puzzle.
Not everything is done already (for example, I’m still waiting to hear back about some of the building block issues relating to switching systems), but by and large the environment is ready for launch. Of course THAT process will require some finesse all of its own.
More on the launch process later. So far, so good.
Last month, February 11, 2014, the Palomar Governing Board approved our moving the Palomar Blackboard environment from a self-hosted model (which we had been doing since 1998) to the Blackboard Managed Hosting service. The contract was actually signed on February 28, 2014, and I’m now awaiting the delivery of our new off-site-hosted system. The contract specified 7-10 days to deliver after initial contact, so I ought to “get the keys” to the new system some time this week.
Naturally there will be a whole host of changes made to the “back end” technical aspects of how our Bb environment is controlled, but from the user’s point of view things should be relatively unchanged. The same tools will be available, although in the new environment I actually expect most tools, such as the ones that integrate with publisher systems, should work more quickly and reliably. Of course there will be detailed documents on exactly how to move old content into the new courses on the new system; educating on how to move in will be a major support effort, both in the next few months as well as again in August.
Although official documentation will be available once all the details are hammered out, I wanted to briefly document the many steps in this momentous process. At this stage I’m optimistic, and for anyone who knows me and the depths of my pessimism that’s actually a significant point.