Category: Announcements

Gradescope User Summit 2021

University of Alabama has a Gradescope license available for all faculty to use and is integrated with Blackboard Learn. If you aren’t yet using Gradescope to collect and grade assessments, we invite you to try it out in your courses.

Gradescope recently hosted its Gradescope User Summit. Instructors presented on a variety of topics including:

To learn more about how you can use Gradescope with your existing assignments, sign up for a Get Started with Gradescope Workshop.

Blackboard Learn SaaS

Blackboard Learn is moving to the cloud!

In August, UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn will move from being hosted in Blackboard’s data centers to being hosted in the cloud, a hosting strategy otherwise known as software as a service (SaaS). Moving to SaaS allows for flexibility, scalability, resilience and innovation.

  • Flexibility – system updates without downtime
  • Scalability – ability to balance based on load and demand
  • Resilience – comprehensive monitoring to ensure quality and consistency
  • Innovation – small, frequent updates with new features and enhancements

Moving UA’s Blackboard Learn instance to SaaS allows us to deploy Blackboard Ultra navigation. If you’ve used Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, you’ve already gotten a taste of the Ultra look. Ultra offers a modern, intuitive and personalized look characterized by simple workflows and an accessible, fully responsive design.

As we approach the SaaS migration in August, we will post additional tutorials, guides and information. Several awesome new features are coming your way, and we’re excited to share them with you.

Collaborate Ultra Maintenance: 4/8 1-5 AM CDT

Blackboard will be deploying Collaborate Ultra v21.06 release to US (AWS Virginia). Collaborate Ultra customers will experience intermittent availability during the maintenance window, Thursday, April 8, 2021 1:00 AM CDT-Thursday, April 8, 2021 5:00 AM CDT.

See release notes for new Collaborate Ultra features and upgrades, such as:

  • See more students with Gallery view
  • Whiteboard editing tools are easier to see
  • Update to the “Clear whiteboard” tool. Clear is now a trash can to better represent that the tool clears the entire whiteboard and not just a selected element. To delete just one thing off the whiteboard, select the item and press Delete on your keyboard.
  • Moved the Remove attendee option so it is now the last option in the Attendee controls menu. The option is now also red to make it easier to see. We made these changes so that moderators don’t accidentally remove people from a session when trying to mute them.

Important Respondus Monitor Announcement

Dear colleagues,
Due to concerns with Respondus Monitor’s facial detection functions, Respondus has disabled those functions for all UA users. While instructors will continue to see the face detection options in settings, they are turned off by default and cannot be enabled. Students will still be prompted to ensure proper camera positioning before starting the test, and will then be allowed to proceed into the exam. All other exam security features of Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor remain unchanged. Please remember that exam session videos are flagged for further review for various reasons, many of which may not have anything to do with academic misconduct. Please contact with questions or concerns about these changes or Monitor results.
Dr. Rachel Thompson

Possible Collaborate Ultra Downtime – Early AM 2/19, 2/25, 2/26, 3/5

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will be performing scheduled infrastructure maintenance during the times listed below.

  • February 19, 2021 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM CST
  • February 25, 2021 1:00 AM-  5:00 AM CST **expect intermittent availability**
  • February 26, 2021 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM CST
  • March 5, 2021 1:00 AM – 5:00 AM CST

While we anticipate no interruption in service as a result of the work, we cannot entirely rule out short periods of intermittent connectivity during this maintenance window.

Scheduled Maintenance 2/13: Video Feedback in Blackboard Assignment Grading

Scheduled Maintenance, February 13, 2021: Video Recording Feedback in Blackboard Learn Assignment Grading

Instructors can record video feedback to students as they are grading assignments in Learn courses. This recording feature is provided by some subcomponents of Blackboard Collaborate. Those components require maintenance over a window of a maximum of 3 hours on Saturday, February 13, 2021. Video Feedback recording may be unavailable during this time.

Learn more about recording video feedback

New Box User Interface

Today, Jan. 7, OIT will be enabling the new Box user interface for all UA users. The new interface features a sleek design and provides users with the ability to better organize content. Learn more on the Box Website.

Dec. 25 Blackboard Data Center Maintenance

Blackboard Operations will be performing data center maintenance Friday, Dec. 25 from 1am – 5am. A 30-minute outage is expected for UA’s instance of Blackboard Learn at some point during the maintenance window.

VoiceThread Maintenance 12/22 – No Impact Expected

On December 22, 2020 at 8:00am CST, VoiceThread will be making a low-risk change to the Content Delivery Network configuration. This should not have any impact on VoiceThread availability or service speed, but we are letting you know in the unlikely event that you do experience some slowness of media loading at that time.

Date: December 22, 2020
Time: 8:00am CST
Impact: No impact expected