Westside Blackboard 2.0 - Status Updates

Westside Blackboard 2.0 – Status Updates

Status Updates


I’m happy to write that Blackboard should be back up and accessible for your students.

A few details for you about the issue

In working with Blackboard, it was determined that there was an error in their software that disabled student access when the enrollment sync was run. At this time they don’t have a fix for this bug. However, we suggested and they applied, a temporary fix that re-enabled student access. We have turned off the syncing process in the short term until they can verify with us that the problem will not come back.

What that means for you

With the enrollment sync disabled for the short term, we are asking two things of you.

1) If you have new students in your class, please submit a help ticket to blackboard@westside66.net requesting their enrollment. Please include in that ticket the student’s name, course to be enrolled into, and if known, the section their are in (i.e., 201 etc.).

2) Please DO NOT manually enroll students into your classes. Students need to be enrolled in the proper child sections and teachers do not have access to those. Please submit a help ticket for all enrollments.


Hello. Again,
We are aware that Blackboard is experiencing enrollment issues with a subset of student accounts and are working with Blackboard on a fix. We don’t yet have a time table for getting a fix in place, but are pushing them as hard as we can.
As a general reminder, please DO NOT attempt to manually enroll students into blackboard classes. The class that you are enrolled in as a teacher are not the same class the student is enrolled in. Teachers are enrolled in a Master class that contains the content. Students are enrolled in child sections, which are empty shells.
I will let you know once we have more information from Blackboard and get the problem fixed for you.

1/14/16 – First Semester Sync Issues

We are aware on some ongoing issues with course enrollments for students into their second semester classes. After the initial issues during the week of 1/4, we thought we had identified the bug. Unfortunately it has come back again. We will work to figure out what’s going on and then report back.

8/31 – Growing Pains

As we finish shaking out the bugs in the new automation system between Blackboard and Powerschool there are some new procedures that we need to ask everyone to follow.

1) Please do not enroll students manually. Let me explain why. The class that you are enrolled in as a teacher is not the same class the student is enrolled in. Teachers are enrolled in a Master class that contains the content. Students are enrolled in child sections, which are empty shells. A teacher cannot see these child sections directly, and when they manually enroll a student they are adding them to the master class.  The smartviews in the gradebook are based on the child sections.

You will know if you have students enrolled in your master class by going into the list of users for that class and their “Child Class ID” is blank. Please submit a helpdesk ticket with the course name and number if you want that fixed so the students appear in the correct smartview in the gradebook.

2) When we run the sync it looks at who is in Powerschool for the course, and anyone who has been added to the course with either the Teacher or Student role–but is not listed in Powerschool–will be deactivated in that class. Which we discovered this weekend when some bugs were fixed and we were able to run the full sync for the first time.

To work around this, we have created the additional roles of Team Teacher, SPED Teacher and Class Observer. Team Teacher and SPED Teacher have the exact same permissions as a normal teacher. Class Observer is permissions like a student.

There is no way for a teacher to reactivate (or even delete) a deactivated user in their class. Please submit a helpdesk ticket with the course name and number, staff member name, and the role they need to be assigned if a staff member has been deactivated.

Adding a new user with these roles is easy. Select Users from the Left-hand menu.

Go to the “Find Users to Enroll” area.
And when you get to the part where you enter their username, use the drop-down menu to change the role that they will be assigned in the class.

If you already have someone enrolled in a class, but need to change the role assigned to them, go into your list of users again, and click on the little chevron that appears to the right of their username, then select “Edit”.

This will bring up a page with a list of roles at the bottom. Select the new role and click Submit.
Thank you for your patience as we work through this integration process,
Erik Clark

8/13- Update on Courses


I want to give you a quick update on a couple of items we’ve received feedback from many of you about.
First, we discovered that during our sync of Power School courses, both first and second semester classes were being created. At WHS, these classes often had different names, but at WMS they did not. It understandably confusing seeing two courses with the exact same name. Erik and I have taken a look and have implemented a fix. Second semester courses will be listed as ‘Unavailable’ until the start of the spring academic term. While students will still be able to see them, they will not be able to click on them and enter the course. Teachers will also see a notice that the course is unavailable, but WILL be able to access that class throughout the year.
Screenshot of what it looks like for a student:
And a screenshot from a teacher’s account:
Second, a few staff members have been experiencing issues while trying to copy entire courses from their legacy classes to their new classes. They received an error message stating that the process failed to complete. After speaking with Blackboard and looking through the courses, the copy actually was successful. Blackboard isn’t sure why this error screen is being displayed, but the process works most of the time. If you see this message while trying to copy your course, please don’t try and re-copy the content until you have gone into your new course and looked to see if the content is there. Most of the time it will be.
Lastly, if you experience any problems/bugs/weird things or have requests related to Blackboard, please utilize the Blackboard Help Desk by sending a message to: blackboard@westside66.net. If you are unfamilliar with the Blackboard Help Desk/Web Help Desk, directions can be found at: https://area66.westside66.org/creating-a-blackboard-request-using-web-help-desk/
Thanks, and I hope your year is off to a great start!

8/7 – Presentation of Blackboard Changes

Click below to access a PDF of the presentation Matt Lee gave to the middle school and high school highlighting the changes that teachers need to be aware of.

Blackboard Back to School Update

8/4 – Completion

I’m happy to announce that we have completed the migration and setup of all teacher and student facing aspects of Blackboard. You may use the system as normal now! Thank you for your patience as we worked through the process.

7/30- Update

Working with Blackboard, we have made progress on transitioning courses from the old Blackboard server to the new system. Course content has been copied over to the new server and we are now working on migrating user accounts.Even though you may be able to log into blackboard.westside66.org, we are asking that at this time you DO NOT log in or make any changes to your classes. We are still working on the migration and any changes you make may not be saved.
Our goal is to have everything up and running by the time you report back on 8/6. You can check our progress by checking out our Blackboard Upgrade Status Page at (https://area66.westside66.org/westside-blackboard-2-0-status-updates/).
Lastly, at this time, please do not submit any blackboard help desk requests. I will be making an announcement at each building about some exciting changes that will be coming!

7/20 – July Update

Working with Blackboard, we have made progress on transitioning courses from the old Blackboard server to the new system. Even though you may be able to log into blackboard.westside66.org, we are asking that at this time you DO NOT log in or make any changes to your classes. We are still working on the migration and any changes you make may not be saved.

6/1 – List of Courses Scheduled for Permanent Deletion

Thank you to everyone who took time to look through the list of Blackboard courses and let us know which courses are currently in use. Based on that feedback, we have identified 197 courses that have either been abandoned or no longer needed.
In order to ensure that no course gets deleted by accident, please take a movement to review the list. If you see one of your courses listed for deletion and you would like to save it, please indicate so on the spreadsheet BY FRIDAY, JUNE 5TH AT 4PM.
List of Blackboard Courses Scheduled to be Permanently Deleted:

5/15 – Critical Action Needed – Blackboard Class Survey

As part of our updating and upgrading of Blackboard, we need to do a little spring cleaning. This involves finding classes that have been abandoned or are no longer in use. To do that we need your help. I know the last week of school is busy, but it is critical that you take a look at the required steps below.

  1. ALL staff who have ever used Blackboard as an instructor need to go to the following URL. There, you will find a spreadsheet listing out all of the courses that are currently on our Blackboard server. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ocM-Jx4_nGu-KZ9SL1itneXNeZ5N2Qxg4pO4WFzD2Mk/edit#gid=0
  2. Please look through the list (address located above) and find any course that you have created or are listed as a teacher in. You can use Command+F to bring up the search box which will allow you to search for your name.
  3. For each course that you are associated with, please place an “X” in one of the left three columns (Green, Yellow and Red) that best fits with your wishes for the course.
    1. (Green) I Actively Use This Course and Want to Keep It
      1. This indicates to us that the course should be saved and transferred to the new system. All content will be preserved.
    2. (Yellow) I Don’t Actively Use This Course But Want To Keep Access to Its Data
      1. This indicates to us that although you aren’t using the course with students, it contains data that you would like to keep for access in the future. All contents will be preserved
    3. (Red) I No Longer Need This Course and it Can Be Deleted
      1. This indicates to us that you no longer require use of this course. It will be deleted and its contents will NOT be transferred to the new server.
    4. Because of the large numbers of courses and the amount of teachers who may no longer be with the district, COURSES THAT RECEIVE NO MARKINGS WILL BE ASSUMED TO BE ABANDONED. THIS WILL BE THE SAME AS THE OPTION “(RED) I NO LONGER NEED THIS COURSE AND IT CAN BE DELETED”.
    5. The spreadsheet will remain open until 8am on June 1st. 

By completing the above directions, you will help us transition the system quicker and provide for a smoother experience in the fall.

5/11 – Tentative Implementation Timeline

April 30 – Entered into new agreement with Blackboard

June 1 – Blackboard access will be turned off to facilitate the cloud-hosting transition

June 2-20 – Transition and setup of new Blackboard cloud server

Mid July – Resources begin to be posted to Area 66/YouTube

June 21-26 – Setup of SIS integration and content management system

July 27 – Estimated date of PowerSchool integration completion

July 28- Estimated date that Blackbaord services will be restored to staff

Aug 3 – New Certified Staff Blackboard training

Back to School Meetings – WMS & WHS Staff meeting demonstration

Aug 17 – WHS Blackboard training session (3:30pm Room TBD)

Aug 18- WMS Blackboard training session (3:45pm Room TBD)


5/8 – Summer Blackboard Availability

I want to give you a brief update on Blackboard. As many of you know, we have recommitted ourselves to the Blackboard Platform. With that recommitment comes several great new features that will be available to you this fall. Some of these features include: Mobile Access using the Blackboard Mobile app, greater reliability, a quicker roll out of new features and much more.

In order to implement this upgrade, Blackboard will be unavailable to staff and students starting at 8am on Monday, June 1st. During this time you will not be able to access your courses or documents contained within your courses including the grade book.

Your content will be available to you again starting on Tuesday, July 28th.


4/30 – New Blackboard Agreement

On April 30th Westside signed a new, 3 year contract with Blackboard. This new contract will allow us to do the following:

  • Move from running our own Blackboard server to utilizing Blackboard’s Cloud Hosting. This should provide for greater stability and uptime along with quicker access to new features.
  • Access to the Blackboard Learn Mobile App. Now students and staff can use iPads, Cellphones and their computers to access Blackboard.
  • An expansion of our user licence to include grades 4-12
  • Use of Blackboard Content Management
  • SIS integration & auto-enrollment

11/26 – Commitment to Blackboard

BlackBoard Decision: We listened to the feedback…

It was just last week that we announced the “sunsetting” of Blackboard as our primary online learning management system.

We are reversing that decision and are re-affirming our long-term commitment to, and support of BlackBoard as our full-featured online learning management system for our secondary grade levels.

The Vision Statement within the recently-crafted WCS Strategic Plan states:

“Westside Community Schools will relentlessly pursue innovative educational ideals and promise to personalize learning for every student. We invite the challenge of developing a community of learners who embrace a broader, richer definition of success.”

We have concluded that several BlackBoard features( e.g. timed release, adaptive release, secure assessment) can be essential tools in the realization of this vision; particularly the “…promise to personalize learning for every student…”. Blackboard can be an essential springboard toward realizing a wide variety of “…innovative educational ideals…”.

Wiki’s, Google Sites, and Google classroom will still be supported as the “quick-start” and more easily accessible components on our spectrum of online learning resources. These will be available to all district teachers and will be the recommended systems for elementary instructional use.

Please note that the licensing and support of the BlackBoard system involves a significant financial commitment on the part of the district. We would hope that secondary teachers will renew THEIR commitment to exploring and utilizing the toolset provided by the BlackBoard platform. We also hope that seasoned BlackBoard users will commit themselves to encouraging, guiding, and challenging colleagues to make use of what the system offers.

Paul Lindgren and Matt Lee