Issues From The SP11 Upgrade

We’ve spent months and months at the university building up our users to the new features in Service Pack 11.  Especially the new content editor, however over the past few weeks we’ve found issues within SP11 that cause myself and some of the support staff to ask all local hardware stores to stop selling tar and pitchforks. The worst part is that some of the responses from Blackboard concern me.

 

Issue #1 – The inability to change points possible for assessments within Grade Center.

 

Synopsis – In Service Pack 8, instructors could go into an assessment’s grade column within the grade center and change the points possible.  In Service Pack 10 and later, this option has been removed (by graying out the points possible option).

 

Issue – Multiple instructors on our campus use random blocks to pull test questions for assessments. Here’s an example. An instructor pulls 32 questions using a random block with each question being one point. However the instructor wants the assessment to only count for 30 points instead of 32 points. The instructor uses this option because they want to allow the students to have two “mulligans” in case they have issues with displaying or understanding two of the questions within the assessment. This issue has affected multiple courses and programs within our campus and has also been recognized as a major issue for other colleges within our system.

 

Blackboard’s Response – After creating a ticket, the issue was defined that the problem was “functioning as designed” which is very frustrating for our users. We plan to ask this as an enhancement request and request it be addressed immediately.

 

Issue #2 – Extra line breaks appear within emails using the Blackboard Learn email tool and new VTBE.

 

Synopsis – When an instructor uses the Blackboard Email tool, extra line breaks <br> appear within the email when the user gets the email.  These don’t appear in the source code that the user put into the course.  Here’s an example of the original HTML code:

<p>Hello Botanists!</p>

<p>Bless the students who start on things early.&nbsp; Mitchell and I had planned to meet on Collaborate earlier this week, but had technical problems.&nbsp; So this is a warning that there have been some recent changes in Java this spring and Collaborate (the software

you’ll use to connect with me this morning from 9-10 for office hours) depends on Java.&nbsp; So, I recommend the following things:</p>

<ol>

<li>Give yourself PLENTY of time (20&#43; minutes) to try getting on Collaborate to make sure it is working for you.</li>

<li>If it is not working for you, then update your Java for free at: <a href=”http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp”>

http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp</a> and try again.</li>

<li>Try another web browser.&nbsp; I have better luck with Firefox than with Safari.<br>

</li></ol>

<p>This software is worth the trouble!&nbsp; You’ll probably use it in other classes in the near future.&nbsp; This semester it is a great way to meet online with your group members when you want to talk about your semester-long project.&nbsp; The &quot;Coffee Shop&quot; Collaborate session is always open for your use!&nbsp; Of course, it is also how/where I hold my office hours in online classes.&nbsp; To meet me for office hours, click on the &quot;Office Hours&quot; session.</p>

<p>Best wishes,</p>

<p>Bethany</p>

 

The email HTML looks like this:

<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″>

<p>Hello Botanists!</p>

<br>

<p>Bless the students who start on things early.&nbsp; Mitchell and I had planned to meet on Collaborate earlier this week, but had technical problems.&nbsp; So this is a warning that there have been some recent changes in Java this spring and Collaborate (the software you’ll use to connect with me this morning from 9-10 for office hours) depends on Java.&nbsp; So, I recommend the following things:</p>

<br>

<ol>

<br>

<li>Give yourself PLENTY of time (20&#43; minutes) to try getting on Collaborate to make sure it is working for you.</li><br><li>If it is not working for you, then update your Java for free at: <a href=”http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp”> <a href=”http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp”>http://java.com/en/download/index.jsp</a></a> and try again.</li>

<br>

<li>Try another web browser.&nbsp; I have better luck with Firefox than with Safari.</li>

<br>

</ol>

<br>

<p>This software is worth the trouble!&nbsp; You’ll probably use it in other classes in the near future.&nbsp; This semester it is a great way to meet online with your group members when you want to talk about your semester-long project.&nbsp; The &quot;Coffee Shop&quot; Collaborate session is always open for your use!&nbsp; Of course, it is also how/where I hold my office hours in online classes.&nbsp; To meet me for office hours, click on the &quot;Office Hours&quot; session.</p>

<br>

<p>Best wishes,</p>

<br>

<p>Bethany</p>

 

Issue – Adding extra white space can create issues for users who have low screen resolutions on their computers. The white space can indicate the end of an email to a reader, however the user has much more information. Further it is disturbing to the sender that the Blackboard application is injecting additional HTML code without displaying the change. Also while the Shift-Enter option might be a workaround, we were told that this content editor would fix many of the issue with the old VTBE editor. Instead it is causing the same issues or creating new ones.

 

Blackboard’s Response – “The patch request for the issue with the email spacing has been denied because the extra spacing does not interfere with critical functionality. You can use the Shift Enter keys for line breaks to avoid the extra spacing. This is scheduled to be corrected in 9.1 service pack 15.”

 

There still remain two issues that I still can’t replicate fully or haven’t opened a support ticket.  The first is the disappearance of replies to discussion board posts with special characters within them. The second is the SIS Framework ignoring data source keys for enrollments. We have a student who was accidentally enrolled in a course and then was disabled when he dropped it. He still was taking the course to finish an incomplete from the previous semester. We changed his disabled enrollment from one data source key to the system data source key and when the SIS store was ran, it changed the data source key and row status back. Snapshot would ignore any enrollments that weren’t assigned to its data source key.

 

These are just a few of the issues we have found so far.  I welcome any comments or suggestions about them.

 

 

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