Category: Announcements

RESOLVED – Known Issue: Respondus 4.0 Test Manager Users Unable to Connect to Server

Update, Friday, October 8 at 9:00 AM:

CIT has applied a settings change recommended by Respondus Support. Instructors should follow the revised “How to Publish your Test to Blackboard via Respondus 4” and “How to Export a Blackboard Test to a Word Document” how-to guides in the Respondus Blackboard course.


NOTE: This issue does not affect Respondus Lockdown Browser or Monitor. The issue only affects the use of the Respondus 4.0 test management tool.

Users may receive an error message when trying to upload a test to Blackboard, or when retrieving test questions from Blackboard, via Respondus 4.0. The error message may say one or both of the following:

  • “Error accessing course list; either the login failed or it has no access to any courses.”
  • “Authentication failed. Please select [Edit Settings] to double-check your server settings.”

We have contacted Respondus Support to troubleshoot this issue and will update this Known Issue when it is resolved.

Workaround: Upload Questions to Blackboard using a formatted Excel spreadsheet.

For more information, email cit@ua.edu or call 205-348-3532.

Pearson Scheduled Maintenance – October 23

Pearson will perform scheduled maintenance on Saturday, October 23, 12:00 – 8:00 a.m.. Students will be unable to access Blackboard Learn-integrated Pearson content during the entire maintenance window, including MyLab, Learning Catalytics, Enhanced Revel, MyEnglishLab, and Pearson English Portal content.

Additional information is available via the Pearson System Status webpage.

RESOLVED – Known Issue: Turnitin Service Disruption

Turnitin has advised that service has been restored. Instructors or students experiencing issues should contact cit@ua.edu.
The incident occurred between the following times: September 28th, 12:54 – 1:36 PM.

RESOLVED – As of 12:55 PM Central on Tuesday, Sept 28, Turnitin is currently experiencing a service disruption. Users accessing Turnitin through Blackboard Learn may be unable to submit, view submissions, or create assignments. For updates, visit Turnitin’s Status Page

We will share any details we receive, including when Turnitin returns to service.

Continue Learning While Blackboard is Down

Looking for ways to prep for the fall semester while Blackboard is unavailable for scheduled upgrades? Check out the following resources to connect with other instructors and get inspired!

Flipgrid Intro Workshop

Thu. Aug. 5, 10am – 11am

UA is transitioning from VoiceThread to Flipgrid during the Blackboard Learn upgrade. Flipgrid offers a modern, fun and accessible video discussion option for UA instructors and students, ideal for engaging students asynchronously. Learn more about it in this CIT-led webinar.

Webinar information and access

Zoom Basics Webinar

Tues. Aug. 10, 10am – 11am

Learn the basic features for conducting a Zoom meeting in this CIT-led webinar.

Webinar information and access

Panopto Webinar:  Discover the Future of Learning, 31 Million Recordings Later

Tues. Aug. 10, 1:15pm – 1:45pm

The pandemic challenged our understanding of how and when learning takes place and because of that, we can’t simply go back to the way things were. Panopto has gathered millions of data points from over 31 million recordings over the last 18 months and analyzed them to uncover what students and faculty foresee as the future of learning.

Register Now

Outlook + One Drive Workshop

Tues. Aug. 10, 12pm or 4pm

Make plans to join a live webinar for an overview and best practices of both OneDrive and Outlook. UA’s Microsoft partner, Kristi Collins, will be offering two sessions (12pm and 4pm) on Tuesday, August 10.

Learn more and register for the webinar through the UA Events Calendar.

Adobe Digital Literacy Café: Low-lift, High-impact Digital Teaching and Learning

Wed. Aug. 11, 10am – 11:30am

Adobe pros share their insights on easy-to-implement strategies for potentially high-impact digital teaching and learning. They will discuss successes with digital storytelling platforms such as Adobe Spark that have flat learning curves and wide accessibility.

Register Now

Zoom Advanced Webinar

Wed. Aug. 11, 10am – 11am

This CIT-led webinar will cover cloud recording, recurring meetings, breakout rooms, polls, and reports.

Webinar information and access

People.ua.edu Workshop

Thu. Aug. 12, 10am – 11:30am

Create a professional faculty or graduate student website. Pre-registration required at http://people.ua.edu.

Register Now

Blackboard Instructor Webinar Series: Teaching with Blackboard from Basics to Advanced

Various dates and times, August – September

Join or register to receive a recording of one or more sessions in this series of free webinars and “ask the expert” open office hours presented by Blackboard Academy. Note: UA users have the Ultra experience with the Original Course View.

Register Now

LinkedIn Learning Courses via UA LMS

UA LMS provides access to LinkedIn Learning, an online content provider with thousands of courses in software, creative, and business skills, including Lynda.com content. Search for topics of interest or browse categories across the Full LinkedIn Learning Catalog.

UA LMS LinkedIn Learning Catalogs

Our team is hard at work upgrading Blackboard and moving it to the cloud, we’ll be in touch on August 13 when Blackboard Learn service resumes.

Blackboard Learn SaaS upgrade information – and a new way to navigate Blackboard Learn

Blackboard is moving to the cloud!

August 5 – 13, Blackboard Learn will be unavailable while UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn moves from being hosted in Blackboard’s data centers to being hosted in the cloud, also known as software as a service (SaaS). Moving UA’s Blackboard Learn instance to SaaS allows for flexibility, scalability, resilience and innovation. Moving to SaaS also allows us to deploy Blackboard Ultra Base navigation, a new way to navigate and access your Blackboard Learn course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s most important. Although the look is new, the course features and workflows remain the same. You can learn more about the move on the CIT website: Blackboard Learn SaaS.

Here is some additional information about the move to Blackboard Learn SaaS and Blackboard Ultra Base navigation.

Why is Blackboard Learn SaaS being integrated so close to the start of the semester? Was an earlier time not doable for CIT?

The Blackboard Learn upgrade is occurring August 5 – 13. Because courses are offered throughout the summer, there are very few time windows that allow for system downtime, maintenance and upgrades.

If you take a look at the Academic Calendar, you’ll see that spring 2021 courses ended May 4 with the final grade entry deadline at 11:59pm. Also, the Interim session began on May 3. There was no available time in the month of May where students and instructors were not using the Blackboard Learn system for active courses. Courses run through the summer, then the final grade entry for summer courses is August 3 at 11:59pm.

We certainly understand that there is no good time to bring down a critical system like Blackboard Learn, and we only plan for such downtime when the system is not in use for active courses.

Our teams will begin the upgrade on August 5 and work as efficiently as possible to bring the system back up by August 13 at the latest. The good news is that with this move to SaaS, the Blackboard Learn system will feature less long-term downtimes for maintenance and upgrades thanks to it being hosted in the cloud.

It looks like Blackboard will have a new UI with the update. Will this require professors/admin/users to be retrained with the new system?

Ultra navigation > click into a course
Ultra Base Navigation—navigation outside of courses

Moving to Blackboard SaaS allows for our team to implement Blackboard’s Ultra Base Navigation. This offers a modern look that is more accessible and fully responsive. If you’ve used Blackboard Collaborate or the Blackboard Learn mobile app before, you’ve seen the Ultra look. Although the look is new, the course features and workflows remain the same, so there is little learning curve for instructors. There are, however, some new ways to navigate the Blackboard Learn environment that benefit both students and instructors.

Was UA involved in any of the new features? Is there anything being added that users have been asking for?

By surfacing information from all your courses in one place, Ultra provides a new way to navigate course content that will save you time and help you stay on top of what’s important. The personalized interface enables quick access to relevant information. It highlights what’s new, what’s due and offers insights into performance. Base Navigation works on your desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone, so your learning experience will be consistent across devices. The ability to access information across courses and a fully responsive, more accessible design are much-anticipated features that UA and other colleges and universities have been requesting for some time.

One of the new features is the ability to balance load. Were there ever any Blackboard outages last year due to overload?

We did not have load-related outages in the past year, largely because Blackboard doubled the number of servers allocated for UA’s use when we moved to remote operations in March 2020. The move to SaaS hosting means that the vendor can manage server resources more dynamically without additional ongoing cost to UA.

What kind of new tutorials and guides will be released? When should we expect them?

Guides and tutorials are already available on the CIT website. We think these are especially helpful for instructors and students:

Base Navigation for Instructors
Base Navigation Video for Instructors
Base Navigation Guide for Instructors (PDF)

Base Navigation for Students
Base Navigation Video for Students
Base Navigation Guide for Students (PDF)

As we approach the August upgrade, we’ll share additional information here and via our Blackboard Instructors and other mailing lists. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our news updates and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where we regularly share updates and resources.

Panopto Mandatory Recorder Update – July 15

Thursday, July 15 Panopto will require Panopto for Windows and Mac to be upgraded. When prompted, please update your software. Step-by-step guidance and instructions for upgrading on both Mac and PC are available on Panopto’s website.

Panopto Scheduled Maintenance – June 26

On Saturday, June 26, the Panopto Cloud will be updated with the latest features and improvements. These updates will require downtime. We expect up to 4 hours of downtime starting at 8pm Central.

Flipgrid to Replace VoiceThread

Flipgrid is available to UA students, faculty and staff. Flipgrid offers a modern, fun and accessible video discussion option for UA instructors and students, ideal for engaging students asynchronously.

By using Flipgrid, instructors can increase feelings of social connections and community among students while providing students with the opportunity to develop their voices. All UA students, faculty and staff have access to Flipgrid through UA’s Microsoft license agreement.

Flipgrid can be embedded in a Blackboard Learn course or viewed from a browser or the Flipgrid app, which is available on mobile devices. Instructors can create welcome videos with the tool, and students can use it for presentations. Instructors can create Flipgrid assignments and allow students to…

  • Verbalize their thinking process
  • Create and deliver short how-to videos
  • Create or participate in a digital video scavenger hunt
  • Verbalize goals or reflect
  • Provide digital or oral reading responses
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Provide feedback through peer reviews
  • Summarize and highlight student work or discussions
  • Plus, so much more!

Get started with Flipgrid at flipgrid.com. Click the Educator Sign up button and choose to login with a Microsoft O365 account. Enter your myBamausername@ua.edu email address, or Crimson email address, and password to sign in. More information and guides for using Flipgrid is available on the CIT website.

UA is transitioning to Flipgrid as our video discussion and collaboration tool. Effective for the Fall 2021 semester, VoiceThread will no longer be available to UA students, faculty and staff. If you previously used VoiceThread for recorded lectures, you can export that content and upload into Panopto, then share it as a link in Flipgrid. We have step-by-step instructions on how to export VoiceThread content on our website.

Have questions?