The Daily Gamecock

Blackboard blackout hinders education

Hardware failure on database server shuts system down

Blackboard Academic Suite experienced a hardware failure on one of its servers Tuesday evening that brought the system down through Wednesday night.

According to Helen Epting, director of Public Relations and Development for University Technology Services, a disc went bad on the server that held part of Blackboard’s database. She said Wednesday afternoon that several teams — including the server team, application team and Blackboard team — were working on the issue.

English instructor Wendy Ralph said the Blackboard blackout was highly problematic for her class.

“My students were unable to access one of their assignments that was due,” Ralph said. “Because our department urges us to go green, I did not print a copy of the assignment.”

She also put her lecture notes on Blackboard and could not access them.

“Class discussion was greatly hindered because we didn’t have anything prepared to discuss, which means we’re going to be pushing today’s discussion to Friday,” Ralph said Wednesday.

Dominick Donaldson, a second-year political science student, regularly uses Blackboard to view assignments, readings and grades. Donaldson said the website being down has hurt his academic performance.

“For one, I wasn’t able to do my lab for my environmental science class this morning. I looked bad in front of the entire class and the TA,” Donaldson said Wednesday. “I have a reading assignment I need to do for tomorrow for my Southern studies class, and the assignment is on Blackboard, so no poetry by Nikki Giovanni for me.”

Aside from this situation, Donaldson usually finds Blackboard a useful tool.

“Typically I haven’t had a bad experience with Blackboard. It’s not the prettiest thing I’ve ever used, but it’s been reliable. This is the first problem I’ve had with it,” Donaldson said.

Ralph, on the other hand, has run into issues with Blackboard before.

“I’ve had problems with it in the past,” Ralph said. “This has been the most problematic because it’s been several days. It hasn’t been as reliable as we would have liked, that’s for sure.”

Updates were provided on throughout Wednesday, and at the time of publication Blackboard had not been fixed.