Blackboard, UTSA’s online learning system, received an update over the winter break in preparation for the Spring 2021 semester. The need for an innovative, comprehensive and accessible web-based schooling platform is inexorably important when most of UTSA’s classes remain online due to the nature of COVID-19. Working from the needs and complaints of the immediate community, the University claims that the updates are essential to support UTSA’s growth and support faculty and students.
The new version, known as “the cloud” mitigates the need for service interruptions while also offering a modern and more free-flowing design. The new homepage only provides helpful resources, such as events, and a support chat, for students having difficulty navigating the site.
One of the top complaints for Junior Lauren Bemis was the constant crashing of Blackboard she experienced during the fall semester. “I remember during midterms week Blackboard, at times, was unreasonably slow,” Bemis said. “It was like whenever students needed to access their courses the most was when it was the slowest.” Thanks to the new update, students experiencing delayed response on their Blackboard actions can expect more reliability since the “zero-downtime” maintenance feature ensures Blackboard will remain stable. Still Bemis expressed uncertainty. “The first day of the semester my Blackboard was slow and I wasn’t always able to click on my courses,” Bemis remembered. “It wasn’t until I walked away for an hour or two that it began to work again.”
Another update that proves to be especially helpful to students is the improved compatibility with mobile devices. The new updates allow for students to uniquely customize their notification settings and syncs the navigation on both the browser and app since they both will now use the Ultra Base Navigation. “I am not sure how much I plan to use Blackboard on my phone, “freshman Makenna Suckow said. “Everything I do with school is pretty much on my laptop, but I suppose having the option is nice and convenient.”
For an introduction to the new Blackboard home page, a tutorial on how to set up a profile and customize notification settings, students can view the Student Experience video for more information.