Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Perfect Storm

Monday we had a perfect storm converge on our Blackboard system. Three things went wrong in one day, which caused things to go a bit haywire on us.

The first thing that went wrong was an update to the Discussion Board. Unfortunately, this update shouldn't have been installed without installing a different update first, but that information was in the fine print and not as clear as it could have been. The bottom line is that the Discussion Board problems we had yesterday were caused by an honest mistake on our part, not by something Blackboard did to cause us problems. We sincerely apologize for this and will take extra steps in the future to prevent this kind of mistake from happening again.

The second thing to go wrong yesterday was that one of our 5 or 6 Blackboard servers wasn't working correctly. When this happens, things start behaving strangely. One person would have problems submitting an assignment, yet that same assignment would work fine for someone else. When this happens, we often suggest trying another browser because sometimes switching browsers will get you onto a better server, or it may be a browser issue. Assignments were not the only symptom of this rogue server problem. Some instructors had problems accessing the Grade Center, and a number of other strange, non-reproducible things were happening.

The third thing to go wrong was the cloud service that runs the new inline grading feature went down for a short period of time on Monday. Fortunately, since this is a cloud service, it was able to be fixed more quickly than the other two problems.

So that's the trio of storms that hit us Monday to create the perfect storm. Fortunately, following every storm is a clear sunny day and that is where we were on Tuesday with Blackboard. Blackboard performed some magic between midnight and 2am Tuesday morning that fixed the first and second problems, and by all accounts, everything is running smoothly now.

Please remember to take a look at the system announcements in Blackboard when you experience problems. There might be information there that can help you and your students stay informed in situations like this.

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