Bb Learn SaaS Migration

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Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

WHAT: This August, NAU’s Blackboard Learn will be moved to a cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environment. This will allow for updates, bug fixes, and new features to be added “on the fly” with little or no downtime. It will also lay the groundwork for upgrading to future versions of Bb Learn, but that is not happening yet -- faculty and students should see little difference in Bb Learn once the migration to SaaS is complete, other than perhaps better performance and a few new features. 

WHEN: August 16 - 20, 2018. The migration itself will require significant downtime, which is being planned for the window after Summer grades are due, but before the Fall term begins. 

WHY: See the Why Saas? section below.

How Can I Be Involved?

Throughout the summer we had a Test Migration environment available for faculty, with data from our Production environment that was migrated in mid-May. Faculty who participated were given a User Acceptance Testing spreadsheet to complete with the results of specific testing. That testing has now been completed.

Why SaaS?

Click to read more about the advantages of a SaaS environment.

Zero-Downtime Updates

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With SaaS deployment, Blackboard Learn updates seamlessly so students and educators don't have to be inconvenienced by downtime. No more 4-hour downtimes while the system is upgraded.

Quicker Deployment of Fixes

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Fixes can be applied much more quickly -- we won't have to wait weeks or months for an update package; instead, fixes can be applied "on the fly."

Continuous Delivery of Innovations

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We can take advantage of new features, tools, and enhancements without waiting for a major update.

Room to Grow

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With SaaS, we can start to explore the new Ultra experience for Learn (Blackboard's next-generation LMS); a SaaS environment is required in order to eventually move to the new environment, should we choose to.

New Features

Because the SaaS environment is updated much more frequently than our traditional Managed Hosting environment, there are some new features and tools you will see in the SaaS environment after the migration in August. NOTE: Some of these features may be made unavailable in NAU's environment if testing proves them unreliable or immature.

Track Attendance

For each class meeting, instructors can mark whether a student is present, late, absent, or excused. The attendance records for each student appear in a single column next to other grades.

 SaaS Attendance 

Blackboard Attendance Help Page 

Change Availability and Due Date from Action Menu

You can now make course content items Available (or Unavailable) from the item's menu, instead of going into the full Edit screen. You can also change the due date of a quiz, assignment, discussion forum, etc. directly from the menu. This should be a big time-saver!

 SaaS Availability
 

Create Recording for Feedback

An instructor or grader can create personalized feedback recordings for individual gradable item attempts (tests, assignments, graded discussions, etc.) or for manual grade center items. Each recording can be up to 5 minutes long and can be just audio or full video. The media is stored in the cloud and does not utilize hosting storage allocation or local storage. To add audio or video feedback, click the "Insert recording" button in the content editor toolbar in the Feedback to Learner window, then follow the prompts to record your feedback:

Record Feedback
 

NOTE: If you do not see the full content editor, you may need to click the button below the feedback window that opens the full content editor:

 Open Full Content Editor 

More Efficient Grade Center Cleanup
Instructors can now more easily clean up their grade books by deleting multiple columns at once. Selected manual and calculated columns are removed completely. Selected columns associated with gradable items are cleared of attempt and grade data but remain in the Grade Center.