The Daily Gamecock

Hardware causes Blackboard outages

UTS moves site to more stable online system

Blackboard has failed twice in the past month.

On Feb. 8, Blackboard was down because of a hardware failure on one of its servers and on Feb. 25, a power failure occurred on the box that runs the site. In order to fix Blackboard, University Technology Services had a planned outage on Feb. 27, which made the website inaccessible to students for about three and a half hours, according to UTS’s Facebook page.

While these inconvenient outages may appear to be a trend, the university typically tries to avoid doing maintenance when students are most likely to be using Blackboard.

Helen Epting, director of Public Relations and Development for UTS, said that there is an entire calendar for planned outages and the site is not allowed to have outages during exam week.

“We try to do most of our outages either in the middle of the night or very early in the morning,” Epting said.

After the two failures, Epting said that the Blackboard’s system had become unstable and, during the planned outage on Sunday, it was moved to a more stable system.

One USC professor chooses not to deal with the hassle, and instead does not use Blackboard as a teaching tool.

“In essence, I find that what Blackboard does is it physically disconnects the professor from the students,” said David Decker, a professor of History of Islamic Civilizations. “That physical connection is lost.”

Decker acknowledged that the website is environmentally-friendly, but he said that when he hands something out in class he can answer questions immediately and read students reactions.

“Plus, my attendance record is better than Blackboard’s,” Decker said. “I have yet to ... miss a class, but Blackboard fails to show up — and usually at critical moments.”

UTS tries not to inconvenience students and faculty, but attempts to keep the campus updated through their website, Facebook page and Twitter account.

“What you have to do is just prepare for any type of recovery and communicate the best you can, and also plan to have down time if you need it to make any repairs,” Epting said.


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