Blackboard system needs additional resources

If you haven’t noticed the problems with Blackboard lately, chances are that the student sitting next to you has. In the last three weeks, troubles of installing a new system, along with the overflow of students, has put Academic Computing between a rock and a hard place with frustrated students, even though it was not their fault.

Academic Computing has been hard at work since the end of the summer semester trying to upgrade a new version. They also have been trying to fix the bugs that have plagued its new system running the university’s online teaching system Blackboard.

It was given a short deadline just before the beginning of the fall semester to upgrade Blackboard Version 5 to Version 6. This short time frame forced the implementation of the system without completing all of the tests and preparations it probably should have been submitted to. Budget cuts also left Academic Computing with only two people to run and maintain the entire system. Since then, the already faulty system has been bombarded with a higher number of students than ever before, as the amount of online classes offered this year has nearly doubled.

The numerous crashes of the system and its courses led to problems for approximately 69 percent of USF students that are required to use Blackboard for their classes. All these conditions have put a very high stress on the system, nearly causing the loss of data.

The new upgraded Blackboard system will have several new features for the benefit of faculty and students and has added safety features that allow problems to be easily fixed, in addition to a backup system, which the old system was without.

Many students have voiced their concerns, stating that they had been in the middle of taking their online quizzes when the system crashed, causing their information to be lost and forcing them to retake the quiz. Luckily for them, a majority of teachers across campus have been quite understanding and granted extensions for student deadlines or waived the requirements altogether.

Associate director of Academic Computing Alicia Balsera has since then spend her time assuring faculty and students that they “believe that the current problems will soon be resolved.”

The question remains how a two-person crew could start using a widely untested system that 27,299 students’ grades depend on. It seems though that the blame should not be cast on Academic Computing but on the administration for not allotting enough money and people to ensure the system migration went over without a hitch.