Managing blackboard
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Managing Blackboard. [ A System Administrator Discussion ]. Blackboard Academic Suite™, Blackboard Learning System™, Blackboard Community System™, Blackboard Content System™ This session will focus on best practices from a technology point of view Best Practices for System Administration

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Managing blackboard

Managing Blackboard

[ A System Administrator Discussion ]

Blackboard Academic Suite™, Blackboard Learning System™, Blackboard Community System™, Blackboard Content System™

This session will focus on best practices from a technology point of view

Best Practices for System Administration

New System Administrators

System architecture

Building blocks management

Problem solving and strategy


Summary to avoid this

Summary: To AVOID This…


Consider this

Consider This…


Panel members

Panel Members

  • Larry LambertOnline Instructional Support SpecialistSouthwestern College * Chula Vista, CA

  • Dave Dean, Ph.D.Information Technology System Specialist VEastern Washington University * Cheney, WA


About southwestern

About Southwestern

  • Community System: Enterprise Level for two-years

    • 7-servers: Load Balance, 2-Web Apps, NAS, SQL Database, Collaboration, Testing

    • Version 6.3.1.5

    • 20K students and 1,500 faculty

    • Snapshot, IIS integration

    • Windows 2000 platform

    • Portal used on Learning System only but campus wide in fall-2006


About southwestern1

About Southwestern

  • Physical space for employees and students to get technical support

    • Dedicated to Online Learning

    • 2-part time tech support people

    • 1-FT faculty Instructional Designer

    • 1-FT back and front-end System Administrator

    • 1-FT Multimedia Specialist

    • 1 FT Clerical Support

    • 1-FT Academic Administrator


Managing blackboard

About Southwestern - Challenges

  • Finding money!

    • (Title V had deep pockets)

  • Inadequate skills to be a system administrator

  • Inadequate support (no people)

  • An anonymous project (nobody knew what online was)


About ewu

About EWU

  • Self-hosted BASIC since 1999

  • Learning System Enterprise (1 year)

    • Version 6.3.1.424

  • 1,000 Courses / Term

  • 700 Instructors / Leaders

  • 8,000 Students active each week

  • ONE FTE TOTAL for server, systems, & application administration

    • Primary sysadm (.80) and backup (.15) and third backup (.05)

  • No snapshot, LDAP, SIS integration


Discussion bullets

Discussion Bullets

  • Best Practices that we have found for:

    • System Administration

      • Server platform

      • Data protection

      • Problem tracking

      • Communicating

      • Planning / Upgrading

    • New System Administrators

    • System architecture

    • Building blocks management

    • Problem solving and strategy


Server platform ewu

Server Platform - EWU

  • Production

    • Dual Dell PowerEdge 6650s

    • Hot spare 6650

  • Production and Test servers

  • Windows 2003, IIS, MS SQL Enterprise


Server platform ewu1

Server Platform - EWU

“Don’t mess with the server during the school year.”

  • No optional patches, building blocks, tweaks, etc.

  • If you do have to mess with the server, GHOST it first.


Scheduled downtimes ewu

Scheduled Downtimes - EWU

  • ½ day, 3rd, 6th, 9th Friday afternoons of each term from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

  • Thursday of break week

  • Entire last week of August


Data protection ewu

Data Protection - EWU

  • Service level: If catastrophic server failure, won’t loose more than 2 hours of data

    • SQL backup every two hours

    • File replication at two hour intervals (courses subdirectories)

    • Full Ghost every three weeks

    • Nightly backups (incremental)

    • Weekly backups (full)


Tools ewu

Tools - EWU

  • Sentry/Go monitor

    • (internal) monitors events and restarts services

  • SiteScope

    • (external) service monitoring and alerting

    • Accumulates history (hits, cpu, disk, etc.) used for forecasting of necessary upgrades

  • PeerSync

    • File replication service

  • BlackICE

    • Software firewall

  • Ghost and Veritas

    • Server imaging and backups


Problem tracking ewu

Problem Tracking - EWU

  • Capture, then fix error

    • Need to capture via screen shots, log files, monitoring reports, etc.

    • Organize in way you understand

  • Monitoring BBADMIN-L

    • I have a “bbadmin-keepers” folder.

    • Also keep copies of bbadmin emails.

  • Do the basics, read release notes, etc.


New system administrators

New System Administrators

  • Develop key relationships with faculty and computer support areas

  • Become an expert in systems and online education

    • Create your Operations Manual

  • Set goals for support

    • 2-hour replies to support requests

    • Conduct periodic user surveys

    • Round-the-clock attention to make sure the system satys up and running


New system administrators1

New System Administrators

  • Develop a working relationship with administrators

  • Ensure your salary matches your responsibility level

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! . . . But not too much!

    • Begin messages via Blackboard with “BB”

    • Be conservative

    • Don’t tell everyone everything!

  • Place yourself on working committees

  • Grow thicker skin

  • Drink heavily……. And often


Building blocks management

Building blocks management

  • Test drive first

  • Understand what they are: Third party software for PROFIT!

  • Define support for faculty

  • Make contact list for tech support

  • Include course cartridges

  • Some good ones:

    • Discussion grader

    • Seneca Who’s online?

    • Advanced Group Management

    • MAPQuest


Problem solving and strategy

Problem solving and strategy

  • Duplicate the problem

  • Create support webpage with request forms

  • Get complete information, including course ID and location

  • Follow through and resolve all problems

  • Care calls to faculty

  • Statistics will promote and protect your existence


Summary to avoid this1

Summary: To AVOID This…


Consider this1

Consider This…

Packing Their Chute

Reliability

Communication

Monitor Service & Support


Thank you

Thank You!

Larry Lambert - Southwestern College [email protected] Chula Vista, CA

Dave Dean, Ph.D. - Eastern Washington [email protected]

Cheney, WA


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