What is happening?

Learn.UQ (Blackboard) will be migrated to Blackboard Learn SaaS between 25 - 31 December 2020 (specific dates to be confirmed). The system will be unavailable during this period. The upgrade will enhance the underlying infrastructure of the Learn.UQ (Blackboard) system and will help it cope with unprecedented system loads created by COVID driven online teaching. There will also be a Blackboard software upgrade to bring UQ up to the latest version. This work was requested by ITS/ITaLI and endorsed by both the Digital Learning Sub-Committee and Teaching and Learning Committee

At the same time as the infrastructure change the Blackboard version will be upgraded from Blackboard Learn 9.1 2018 Q4 (Cumulative Update 6) to the current version of Blackboard Learn 9.1 SaaS (from V 3500.0.6 to at least V 3900.0.0).

When will the environment be available for testing?

A "staging" environment with a copy of UQ courses and content will be made available to teaching and support staff for testing purposes later in the year - currently expected to be around 9 November. Staff will be informed when the environment is ready through Spotlight and the ITaLI Teaching and eLearning eNews. Units responsible for non central tools are responsible for their own testing on SaaS.

Teaching staff using textbook publishing tools, unusual workflows or tools that are not centrally supported in their coursework are encouraged to test these in the staging environment to ensure they will work after the upgrade. Staff will be able to request to have a copy of their current course copied to the staging environment.

Developers and support units can anticipate changes by reading the release notes of the versions between the one currently used by UQ and the one UQ will be on from Christmas. These notes are not recommended reading for end users. End user guides will be written and communicated to teaching teams before the upgrade,

Communications

The Learn.UQ (Blackboard) upgrade will be communicated to staff via a variety of communication channels.

  • 22 April: The migration to Blackboard Learn SaaS was recommended to the Digital Learning Sub Committee.
  • 10 June: The migration to Blackboard Learn SaaS was endorsed by the Teaching & Learning Committee.
  • August: Contract negotiation began
  • September: Instruction to proceed with communications for a Xmas migration1 Sept 2020: 2 
  • 2 September: Announcement added to Blackboard Spotlight visible to all staff and students advising of the Xmas outage Dec 25 - 31
  • 22 September: Regular articles in the ITaLI Teaching and eLearning eNews as a reminder for all coordinators and associated professional staff.
  • 24 September: eLearning Operational Forum (ELOF) with faculty representatives notified.
  • 24 September: Blackboard 2020 Upgrade working page created 
  • 25 September: Personal advices on the upgrade for the SME ADA and UQ College CEO. Both units will have teaching periods impacted.
  • 9 October: Detailed release notes posted detailing expected functionality changes.
  • 19 October: Teaching and eLearning News reminder to full teaching community of the dates with link to details.

Key Feature Changes

For the most part there will be few noticeable changes. Access will be via the same web address learn.uq.edu.au. The data and courses and content will be the same as before the upgrades. When the elearning team gains access to the new system testing will be conducted and any Blackboard software functionality changes will be advised through multiple channels.