Our first summer session started on Friday, and as usual, I’m teaching an online course. But this semester is different, because the university decided to take a system that was finally working right most of the time, and thoroughly mess it up.

We were using Blackboard 5.5 and paying Blackboard to host the server in DC–this was expensive, but it meant that it was pretty much never down, always rather zippy and responsive, and we had someone to call when things went wrong.

Well, this year, CUNY decreed that there would be a new system–all Blackboard, for all the 17 campuses, would be hosted by CUNY, at their main CUNY server, and all students, faculty, everyone, would login through the CUNY Portal–and only CUNY would be able to control and modify registrations, users, etc.

They promised this would be a big improvement. We would be able to use Blackboard 6.1, with all its wonderful functionality, we’d save a lot of money, and we’d have a robust, accountable, central server.

Hah! Again, HAH!

Not only did the switch to Bboard 6.1 mess up some of the tricky work I’d done to make my course work better (javascript rollover buttons leading directly to the Discussion Board, etc.)–which I could have dealt with, but starting on Thursday night (the summer session began on Friday morning!), the CUNY Portal, and the “robust” Bboard server were intermittently sluggish–and more often, completely inaccessible!

So my students missed the entire first weekend of a six-week course, and now, on Monday, it’s still not working right.

Thanks for the improvements! 🙁