On Friday 5th January Chris Boon, Senior TEL Support Analyst from NES presented a session at the 18th Durham Blackboard User’s Conference. During his session, Chris explained how he successfully managed a project to migrate the City College Norwich’s Blackboard system, a Virtual Learning Environment used by all students, from being hosted internally by NES, to being externally hosted by Blackboard.
Chris Boon writes:
Blackboard is an enterprise Virtual Learning Environment, used by institutions across the UK and the world. Lecturers at City College Norwich use this to share teaching resources and interactive tools with students across all subjects and levels. Rebecca Anderson and I, who are part of the NES Learning Technology team, manage the system, as well as the relationship with the supplier.
For two years we had performance issues and temp database problems throughout the autumn term. There were also problems with the internal college network which caused Blackboard performance issues. Alongside this, we were using a deprecated authentication model and needed to upgrade to a version which would have the added advantage of making mobile access via the Blackboard apps possible. To address the problem, we decided to migrate CCN’s Blackboard system from being hosted internally by NES, to being externally hosted by Blackboard which would improve reliability and free up IT and related staff resources.
Following the success of the migration, I submitted a paper for the opportunity to present at this conference to share the experiences of the project with those who are thinking of implementing this in their institutions. I have attended the conference for the last ten years and, as leader of the Further Education Blackboard User Group, I am a regular contributor to the Blackboard community so was invited to run a session called “The Move to Managed Hosting – One Year On”.
Although it can be daunting presenting at a prestigious university such as Durham, I have built my confidence by doing presentations at many events over the last ten years. I’ve also built a good working relationship with my peers from Blackboard and the other institutions who use the system across the UK, so it was good to see many familiar faces in the audience. I was encouraged by the number of people who chose to attend my presentation (the conference delivers three parallel sessions in each slot), and the interest shown through the questions from delegates after the presentation. Following the presentation, I’ve had a number of conversations with some of the attendees to assist them with their own successful migration to managed hosting.