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Baruch Computing and Technology Center (BCTC)

Blackboard 8.0 Status Update

Dear Colleagues:

We have endeavored over the past several weeks to keep the University community informed of the status of the Blackboard 8.0 outages and now that the end of the semester is approaching, we thought it would be timely to provide an end-of-semester update on Blackboard 8.0 and CIS’ plans going forward.  We know that this has been a frustrating and challenging spring semester as we transitioned to Blackboard 8.0.  The availability and operation of the Blackboard system is a top priority and we are devoting resources to identify the root cause(s) of the CUNY/Blackboard 8.0 problems, working with Blackboard, Inc to support the system while it runs at its hosted environment, and developing plans to ensure continuity of service.  

Last weekend CIS moved the Blackboard 8.0 system from CUNY to Blackboard Inc’s hosted environment in Virginia.  The Blackboard Inc. data center provides 24x7x365 enhanced support mechanisms, redundant hardware and network environments, and maintains DR plans to counter virtually every imaginable problem.  Approximately half of Blackboard Inc.’s clients use this hosted environment. So far, the move seems to have been successful—CUNY’s Blackboard 8.0 users are able to access courses and complete assignments, and we are optimistic that Blackboard Inc. will be able to provide a stable operating environment.  

CIS is also working on a long-term disaster recovery (DR) plan that will ensure that critical applications, such as Blackboard 8.0, will continue to run in the event of hardware or software failures, power failures or other emergency situations.  This DR site will be outside New York City, operating on an independent power grid.  

As you know from my previous emails, the Blackboard 8.0 problems were not caused at the campus level, however these outages do emphasize the need for comprehensive business continuity plans.  A newly formed Business Continuity Committee will help begin the planning for potential outages in the future and support the campuses as they create documents that will allow the work of faculty, students and administrative staff to continue without interruption.  

At this time, the University remains committed to using the Blackboard software, which is currently one of the leading on-line course management systems.  Having one, centralized platform benefits our students so they can use the same system across courses.  Additionally, switching to another software system makes little sense as Blackboard contains features unavailable in comparable systems and a switch-over to another system would take significant time.  That said, our University-wide Committee for Academic Technology will continue to review on-line learning systems to determine the validity of CUNY’s sustained Blackboard investment.

We continue to welcome your feedback and thoughts on the Blackboard software or other course management systems.  We appreciate your patience, support and perseverance over this past semester.  We are applying the knowledge we have gained from this past semester to improving services and providing the best learning environment possible at CUNY.

Brian Cohen
Associate Vice Chancellor and University CIO
City University of New York