We are pleased to announce that this summer we will be moving our Blackboard system to a new hosting platform: Blackboard SaaS.
SaaS stands for ‘Software as a Service’, and the switch means that our Blackboard system will be hosted in the Cloud. Many other UK universities have moved to SaaS over the last few years, and it is now a tried and trusted platform.
Advantages of Blackboard SaaS
- Monthly Blackboard updates – bug fixes and enhancements are delivered quickly (currently we only upgrade once or twice a year so might have to wait months to implement improvements).
- Some new Blackboard features – for instance a bank of reusable comments for Blackboard assignments – are only available to institutions using the SaaS version.
- No more downtime for upgrades.
- Greater system reliability.
- A first step towards adopting Blackboard’s new interface, Blackboard Ultra – a more intuitive, responsive, user-friendly product which we would hope to move to within the next 2 years.
Moving to SaaS – timescale
The migration to SaaS will take place over the first weekend of August, and Blackboard will be unavailable while this takes place.
We will be able to provide more details about exactly how long the VLE will be unavailable in a few weeks’ time, once Blackboard have carried out a test migration of our system.
But you can expect the system to be taken offline the evening of Friday 31st July, and to be unavailable for the whole of 1st and 2nd August. We should then have completed the migration, and all post-migration checks, at some point on Monday 3rd August.
What will the move mean for me?
Obviously speedier access to enhancements, and a more reliable system, will benefit everyone. But in many ways, you won’t notice any difference: your courses will look exactly the same after the migration.
We’re not sure yet whether we will move to ‘Ultra Base Navigation’ this coming summer. That provides a better navigation around the system as a whole, and would replace the existing ‘My Blackboard’ and School-based tabs. We’ll be exploring that in more detail once we have access to a test system. But again, even if we do switch to the new navigation style, your courses will remain completely unchanged.
Look out for further updates here, and via the bb-users staff email list, over the coming months.