Blackboard help for students is here

Students will get 24/7 help with Blackboard issues. And instructors, who've been providing much of that support, thus far, will get some relief. That's the idea behind a pilot service for enhanced support of Blackboard, the online learning management system used for most ISU courses. The service began this week.

Previously,  students' only source of Blackboard support was the course instructor. Now they have three options to access Blackboard support at any time:

The new service involves a partnership between Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT), and will utilize vendor-based support from Blackboard. The CELT Online Learning Innovation Hub, which has long provided faculty with Blackboard support, is helping ITS Solution Center staff develop Blackboard expertise.

“This support plan makes good sense, effectively combining the knowledge base of the vendor, the service structure of the ITS Solution Center and the Blackboard expertise within CELT,” said Ralph Napolitano, CELT associate director for online learning.

The ITS Solution Center will field basic support questions related to issues such as browser configuration, access to course content and assignment submissions. Additional support quickly will be routed to second-level Blackboard support.

More advanced Blackboard support issues -- like grading questions, assignments and other course-specific questions -- still may need to be routed back to individual faculty, but this pilot should significantly reduce faculty involvement in Blackboard support. Over the summer, another pilot will expand faculty support to a 24/7 format.

In addition to this enhanced support, ITS is meeting the ever-growing demand for Blackboard on campus by adding additional, more advanced disk space that increases capacity while operating more efficiently.

“We continue to set new records for Blackboard usage each semester,” said Jim Twetten, director of academic technologies. “As Iowa State grows, so must our ability to meet demand. This enhanced support and extra storage capacity will help us do that.”