Blackboard Courses

Learning Management System - Campus Edition 8 Incident Reports

Student Walking on the Fairfax Campus

This site is to provide interested members of the Mason community information about previous incident reports with the Campus Edition 8 Learning Management System.

Where can we go for assistance with Blackboard?

In addition to calling the support center at 3-8870, questions may be addressed to courses@gmu.edu or 3-3141. Many Learning Support Services staff review and respond to the courses email address, so timely response is not impaired by the unavailability of an individual staff member.

Blackboard Outage Information: December 2008

The following paragraphs provide interested members of the Mason community information about the hardware failure that disrupted use of Blackboard on George Mason University's campus from Monday, December 1, through Sunday, December 7. This site addresses questions raised during the Town Hall meetings that took place on the Fairfax campus on Wednesday, December 10 and on the Arlington campus on Friday, December 12.

At the meetings and thereafter, Blackboard expressed its apology for the occurrence, and shared its internal incident report for distribution to the Mason community. Members of Mason's technical team have met with members of the Blackboard team to discuss lessons learned and to plan more effectively should similar incidents occur at Mason or elsewhere.

Why did GMU transition from WebCT 4.1?

Support for WebCT 4.1 was scheduled to expire in January 2009, and any license to access it for learning would expire then as well. GMU needed to migrate its content to a standards-based platform, such as the Blackboard platform we're now using, to provide greater accessibility as well as options to migrate to other standards-based platforms in the future.

When did Mason first learn of the technical problems that resulted in the outage?

The outage resulted from a hardware problem that Blackboard traced back to November 24. It was a problem that impacted initially the upload of large files to Blackboard's database. LSS staff received its first report of a problem on Monday, December 1. Staff immediately reported the problem to Blackboard at the highest severity level. The attached timeline describes the actions undertaken to identify and ultimately resolve the problem.

Is GMU planning to "move off" Blackboard?

A transition to a different learning management system would be a university-wide decision. Such a decision would consider the best possible solution for the community in light of the budget contraints we may be facing in the coming years.

Java versions seem to generate issues with using Blackboard. Should we continue to expect incompatability with Java?

Blackboard is working to minimize the amount of functions that rely on any particular configuration of Java on a user's computer. Rather, Blackboard is working to incorporate that functionality within the system on the server-side.

What can be done to assure 99.9% uptime?

Mason's current contract contemplates 99.7% uptime. Mason requested a service credit for the disruption of service during the first week of December. The expense associated with a greater percentage of guaranteed uptime has been cost-prohibitive in our budget. Discussions associated with our learning management system can include discussions about uptime, expense, and choice of system, as well as whether the learning management system should be considered as a mission critical system.