Blackboard version 9.1 is now available. How do Fishersnet users view a transition - yes/no, when, etc.?

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John, thanks for getting this conversation rolling. Here is what I'd like input on which I will then take to my contact person at Blackboard as we negotiate our contract for next year.
1. Your feelings about our experience last year with 9.0 and how it colors your desire to risk 9.1.
2. If you would like to upgrade, I'd like your first and second choices for a time window. For example, is our normal slot of the last week of July appropriate for your academic calendar? When is your break between the first and second semesters? Would that be appropriate for an upgrade?
3. Is it important that you retain the option to move back to 9.0, if 9.1 proves to be more of a beta test than advertised by Blackboard?
I'm sure there are more issues, this should get the conversation rolling.
Greg
I'm not sure everyone is receiving announcements from Blackboard about webinars to better understand 9.1. Here is a copy of one I just received from Matt at Blackboard that offers two different webinars that might help you and your faculty make a decision about whether or not to vote to have FN upgrade to Blackboard 9.1.
Greg

Here is Matt's note to me:

We are having two webinars in the near future to give you a good look at what life will be like in Blackboard Learn 9.1 for Professional Education.

Just click the link and follow the instructions to register for the one you’d like to attend.

-Matt

May 7, 2010 1:00 pm Life in Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 – ProEd

May 21, 2010 3:00 pm Life in Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 – ProEd



Matthew Abel | Blackboard, Inc.

Professional Education Solutions

Regional Sales Manager
703-969-2913 (mobile)
My hope was that this would be just a "bug fix" release and that maybe the on-line documentation would now match what we see on the screen. However, from my brief look at the "New fetures" it appears they have added quite a lot again. The lecture capture looks interesting, I am wondering if there is any additional cost associated with that for us considering the storage implications of lecture capture. However, the experience with the move to 9 makes me hesistant.

Greg, could you paste the actual links for the webinars into a note as they didn't make it from your email from Matt. I think I would like to see what they have to say before placing my vote.

Don
LTSG
Hi all,
More information from the president of Blackboard Learn, relating to 9.1.
After only 90 days since the release of Blackboard 9.1, the first Service Pak has been released to fix bugs in 9.1 (some of you posted below that you didn't want to be the one to find the bugs this time around!). It also adds more features. Obviously 9.1 had some issues and now these are repaired in Service Pak 1. By waiting, we haven't played the role of Beta testers for 9.1.

It is now too late to easily fit an upgrade window with Blackboard into our institution's calendars this summer. It would appear that will afford Blackboard time to continue fixing bugs!
I'll copy the email Ray sent me, and hundreds of others besides me I'm sure, this morning, and post it below this short email.
Let me know what your institution is thinking, concerning upgrading Blackboard to 9.1 ( and of course Service Pak 1) or continuing to work with 9.0.
I'd like to start working on the window slot for an upgrade next year, so I'd also appreciate your suggestions for the time window for that.
peace and joy,
Greg

Today I write with news about the release of our first service pack for Blackboard LearnTM, Release 9.1. It's unusual for me to personally introduce our service packs, but then, it represents some important changes in how we're approaching our work to deliver a uniquely positive client experience.

First, the news in its simplest terms. I'm pleased to announce the general availability of Service Pack 1 for Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 available today. For those of you planning your upgrade to Release 9.1, we've updated the Upgrade Center to reflect the availability of SP1. You'll find new items in the Client Communications Toolkit that are designed to assist you in building your local communications, especially for instructors. We will also be updating our Preview Accounts next week, so you can experience the changes in SP1.

Second, let me share some perspective on what's different about this service pack. I'll begin by noting that it's appearing only 90 days after the GA of Release 9.1. Our commitment to improving client experience and the quality of our new releases in the field require this of us. We've brought not only more investment to this area but also greater creativity in how we're listening and incorporating your feedback. We've been especially active in addressing WebCT client conversion issues that have surfaced. We understand the priority of this in a year where we are witnessing the largest migration to the NG platform ever. We're also sharing more of the information that's valuable to you at greater depth than ever before in our new Maintenance Experience team blog. I'm confident we're building good momentum towards a strong first year with our latest release in the field.

And third, our work in SP1 goes beyond the traditional boundaries of service packs as a collection of mainly bug fixes.And it's more comprehensive than just the Course Delivery module of our product.We've consistently heard from our clients that we must find approaches other than major version releases to make enhancements across all of our products, especially those that promise to immediately improve end user experience and efficiency. There's a delicate balance between introducing positive changes for the user and minimizing the work necessary to educate and train a user community. We've endeavored to find this balance by including some of the enhancements most requested from our user community. Our aim was to include those enhancements where end-user benefits clearly outweigh the negative of introducing change. Examples include:

Discussion Board grading improvements in Course Delivery: We've received very strong positives about the improved grading workflow for wikis and blogs in Release 9.1. We've applied this more integrated model to Discussion Boards in SP1. Instructors can enter grades, comments and feedback directly into the Discussion.
Module enhancements in Community Engagement: Blackboard now provides Module date availability so that time- and date-sensitive information can be set up for publishing ahead of time. Also, administrators can now fix, or ‘pin,' modules to the top row to ensure high-priority modules always appear to their community.
WebDAV and Email improvements in Content Management: We have focused on improving the overall WebDAV experience. Where possible, we have restored the automatic opening of a Web Folder for Internet Explorer®, and improved the instructions to be more accurate and OS-specific. Also, the email feature now allows users to select and automatically set permissions for specific users, courses or organizations to share content instead of having to do it manually.
I hope this helps you understand why I'm personally excited about the new Service Pack. I hope also that it reinforces the growing awareness of our increased focus on incorporating community input and client needs more quickly into our product development process. As always, I invite your comments and questions about today's news, or other areas where you think I need to hear it.

Cheers,



Ray Henderson
President, Blackboard Learn
Greg and John,

We can't upgrade this summer. We have to upgrade next summer! I just can't go through a summer from hell again. My institution, Aquinas, really suffered tremendously from the upgrade last summer. We have programs that run all year long and we almost lost a major partner because of Blackboard being down.

I keep saying this, we almost lost a major partner because of Blackboard being down last summer, but no one seems to listen to me. We went through hell!!!!

I suggest not being an earlier adopter, but what for the first service pack to come out. We can't go to one system and then revert back to the old system. My faculty even said today that they regret moving forward with last summer's upgrade.

Michael
From the Fisher's Net point of view, what works best for the whole consortium is what we will try to do.
The critical piece of the conversation is to find out if there is a service pak upgrade that merely addresses many of the ongoing bugs in 9.0, but which doesn't add brand new functionality like 9.1 is trying to do - with the attendant problems of possible new issues.
We could then schedule our upgrade the following year - whenever it works best for all concerned - and avoid being beta-testers and paying for the privilege!
Greg
Michael, I'm pleased that Derek was able to get your IPad set up to work with Blackboard 9.0. Glad to know that we don't have to upgrade to 9.1 in order to be able to do this. Just one more piece to add to the conversation about whether or not to upgrade this summer.
The Fisher's Net has been informed by Blackboard that they will be assigned a new set of IP addresses due to their size. Here is a copy of the announcement:

On Wednesday , June 9, from 2:00 AM EST to 6:00 AM EST - the Managed Hosting team will be reconfiguring all US datacenter clients with new Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Our datacenter environment has become sufficiently large that the American Registry for
Internet Numbers (ARIN) will assign us our own block of IP addresses.

Over the course of the next couple of months, we will be scheduling time to reassign the
IP addresses. This will be done during several Friday Maintenance Windows and is not
expected to cause any downtime. We will also wait a full week before moving off of the
old addressing to ensure that all traffic to your environment is being directed to the
new address.

End of Blackboard Announcement!

Back to Greg Speaking...:)

Several of you have already emailed me requesting to know the IP address so you can enter it into your SPAM filters so that Blackboard emails aren't caught in the SPAM filters.

Once Blackboard informs the Fisher's Net of the IP address we'll be assigned, I'll pass that on to all of you.

Peace and Joy,
Greg

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