Friday, December 21, 2018

2018-2019 Blackboard Upgrade Status

The annual upgrade period for the university’s Blackboard system has concluded and migrations of all active and available courses from the old system to the new 2019 system have been processed. Blackboard should be fully functional at this time, with the exception of SafeAssign. Blog posts about new features in the new system have been published for both instructors and students.

Final “clean up” work related to the upgrade will be completed on the new server after the university reopens in January. The following tasks will be performed at that time:
  • transfer of Blackboard “workgroups” (non-credit course uses of Blackboard)
  • activation of SafeAssign in the new environment
  • [tentative] application of an upcoming “patch” for the new system
As a result of this work, there may be temporary system outages during January 2019. However, we expect to have everything completed by the time that SP19 classes are made available to students (Saturday, January 19, 2019).

New Blackboard Tools/Feature Enhancements for Students in 2019!

In addition to improvements for instructors, this year's Blackboard upgrade, from Learn 9.1 Q4 2016 to Learn 9.1 Q2 2018, includes several new features/enhancements for students. Feel free to use the hyperlinks below for more information about these enhancements:

Online Student Blackboard Training

There is now an online Blackboard training available to UHCL students. The short, self-paced course will introduce you to our Blackboard system. You'll learn how to use key Blackboard features/tools and you'll learn how to avoid technical issues while learning in Blackboard. Students may self-enroll in the training at any time.

Friday, December 14, 2018

2019 Blackboard Upgrade Summary for UHCL Faculty/Staff

2019 Blackboard Upgrade Summary for UHCL Faculty/Staff

Between December 19 and December 21, 2018, UCT will upgrade the university’s Blackboard Learn system. As part of this upgrade (and as announced several times to the campus during the 2018 calendar year), we are leaving behind 2015 and earlier offerings during the data transfer for this upgrade. This should result in a considerably leaner and cleaner database and application system as we move into 2019.

Changes in Blackboard Environments
During the December 2018 upgrade, faculty will have access to two Blackboard environments:
  • Bb2018: This is what will become of the existing Blackboard environment (which contains courses from 2015 – 2018). It will remain available between 2pm on Wednesday, December 19 and the close of business on Friday, December 21 for REVIEW PURPOSES ONLY. We cannot guarantee that any changes made to FA18 classes on Bb2018 during the upgrade will be transferred when courses are copied to the new environment. After the December upgrade concludes, the Bb2018 server will remain available to UCT personnel until May 31, 2019, when it will be removed from service, cleared of all data, and re-purposed.
  • PROD (Bb2019): This new “live” instance will contain a newer version of Blackboard Learn and all 2019 offerings as they are provisioned. It will also include all of the following items that are being transferred from Bb2018:

o   master courses that are available for provisioning (active masters);
o   all semester offerings from 2016 through 2018;
o   any training courses;
o   new fully online courses that are still in development; and
o   non-credit Blackboard “workgroups.”

NOTE: During the upgrade, the Bb2019 server may be periodically offline as we update and “fine tune” the system for production use. In those cases, you will see a maintenance message when you go to

The login page for each sever will include a hyperlink that will allow you to quickly navigate to the other server, as needed.

Once the upgrade has completed, only the PROD (Bb2019) server will remain available to faculty, staff, and students.

Impact of the Changes on Faculty
  • With the exception of an initial fourteen-hour period (from 12:01AM to 2PM on Wednesday, December 19, 2018), FA18 offerings will be available on the Bb2018 environment for review during the December Blackboard upgrade period. NOTE: Any changes made to FA18 courses during the upgrade period will likely NOT be reflected when those courses are copied into the new Bb2019 environment. The Bb2018 environment will be left up for review ONLY.
  • Although we are bringing over ALL 2016-2018 offerings into the new server, faculty will only be able to see/access offerings that may still be used from which to provision in future. As a reminder, when you provision from one semester offering to create a new offering for the next or later semester, the original offering may not be used again for provisioning. The shell will still exist in the system, but the instructor’s access to it is deactivated. Beginning in January 2019, instructors who need temporary access to any “missing” courses can contact the Support Center and our Learning Technology Administrators (LTAs) can grant you short-term access to those in order for you to extract an archive of the course or extract data for your records.
  • Since we will be migrating all FA18 courses to the new Bb2019 environment, incompletes from FA18 will be completed in the moved copy of your FA18 in the new Bb2019 environment.
  • Everything else (e.g., course requests, provisioning, QA) will continue unchanged.
  • The new version of Blackboard will contain several new tools/feature enhancements. To learn more about those, please see our team’s Blackboard Tips& Updates Blog.

Timeline (As of 12/14/2018 and Subject to Change)

12/18/2018 (Tuesday) – FA18 Regular and 2nd 8 week session grades are due by 5:00PM in e- Services.

12/19/2018 (Wednesday) – Blackboard upgrade period begins at 12:01AM and both the old (Bb2018) and new (Bb2019) environments will be offline until 2pm for initial configuration. Over the course of the next several days, all FA18 offerings will be moved from Bb2018 to Bb2019. During that period, students and faculty will still be able to access FA18 courses in current PROD (Bb2018) for review ONLY. Any changes made to those courses in Bb2018 are likely to NOT be reflected in the copy that is brought over to new PROD (Bb2019).

12/21/2018 (Friday) – New PROD (Bb2019) will be brought online and made available to faculty, staff and students at the URL.

01/02-04/2019 (Wednesday-Friday) – Final “clean up” work will be completed on the Bb2019 server, including the transfer of Blackboard “workgroups” (non-credit course uses of Blackboard) and the activation of SafeAssign in the new environment. Blackboard has also advised us that an additional “patch” for the new system may be released in late December/early January. If so, we may be required to apply that to the new system to avoid scheduling any down time while classes are in session for SP19. As a result, there may be temporary system outages during this period.

Support Contact Information
Instructors who have questions about the pending upgrade are advised to contact either their designated Instructional Designer (ID) or the Support Center (so that their inquiry may be routed to the correct ID). The contact information is provided below.

College of Business
Candace Lehew, Instructional Designer 281.283.2934

College of Education
Alex Nguyen, Instructional Designer 281.283.2922

College of Human Sciences and Humanities
Henry Newkirk, Instructional Designer 281.283.2914

College of Science and Engineering
Amanda Bruce, Instructional Designer 281.283.2933

Support Center

New Blackboard Tools/Feature Enhancements for 2019!

This year's Blackboard upgrade, from Learn 9.1 Q4 2016 to Learn 9.1 Q2 2018, includes several new features/enhancements, including the following. Feel free to use the hyperlinks below for more information about each item.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Course Evaluation Dates

Spring 2019 Online Course Evaluation Dates

Session Begins
Session Ends
Begin Online
End Online
Eight Week - First
Regular Academic Session
Eight Week - Second

Session Dates

Fall 2018 Session Dates

Official closing date of Fall 2018 was December 15, 2018. Fall 2018 courses will be available to students in Blackboard UNTIL 12:01am on February 5, 2019.

Spring 2019 Session Dates

Official closing date of Spring 2019 is May 18, 2019
Semester/Term Dates
Blackboard Courses Available (12:01 AM)
PeopleSoft Grades Due
January 22 – May 13, 2019
January 19, 2019
May 23, 2019
1st 8-Week
January 22 – March 23, 2019
January 19, 2019
March 28, 2019
2nd 8-Week
March 25 – May 18, 2019
March 23, 2019
May 23, 2019
Spring 2019 courses will be available to students in Blackboard UNTIL 12:01am on June 17, 2019.