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Blackboard Help

Social Learning Tools Release Notes: Apr 2013

Release Information

Launch Date: April 24, 2013

Requirements: Service Pack (SP) 10 and later

Supported Platforms

The new features will appear  on the following platforms that have Cloud Profiles or Social Profiles and Tools enabled:

Release Highlights

With this release, the Blackboard Cloud will be updating the management and configuration process for connecting a Bb Learn installation to the Blackboard Cloud for Bb Learn 9.1 Service Pack 10 (9.1.100401.0) or higher.  This process has been redesigned to make connecting to the Blackboard Cloud easier to both understand and manage. This change includes

  • Creation of a separate, parallel Staging instance of the Blackboard cloud services to accompany the existing Production instances. Both the Production Cloud and Staging Cloud will run the same version of the cloud services, however separate data will be maintained for each instance.
  • Enhanced Clone Support (a duplicate copy of a Bb Learn instance typically created by taking a snapshot of the database and file system and starting a separate Bb Learn installation).
  • Enhanced Security controls for administrators.
  • Control for administrators to install new Software Updates versions.

A functioning cloud connection affects several Bb Learn features, including the Social Learning tools and initial Inline Assignment Grading registration, as well as new features to be released in the near future. 

Important Notes for Administrators

It is important that administrators who use Blackboard Cloud features, or who intend to use them in the near future, understand the below notes and the impact it has on their deployment of Blackboard Cloud tools to prevent a loss of functionality.

Stage/Test/Development Instances

When version 3.0 of the Software Updates Building Block is installed, existing Stage/Test/Development instances of the Bb Learn application will be automatically moved to the new Staging environment.  The Blackboard Cloud data (Profiles, Spaces, Messages, Following, etc.) associated with these Bb Learn instances will be lost and eventually deleted from the Production Cloud. It is important to schedule the installation of these Building Blocks around any ongoing Social Learning testing for non-production Bb Learn instances.

Valid Cloud Connection on Production Instances of Blackboard Learn

In your Production instance of Bb Learn 9.1 Service Pack 10 or higher, navigate to the System Admin tab > Cloud Connector (Cloud Management module) and check that the Cloud Connector is set up correctly. If the cloud connection is not valid on a Production instance, the Social Learning tools will be automatically turned off until the connection is fixed.

  • Verify that the External URL is a publicly accessible URL for this Bb Learn instance.
  • Verify that the page displays the following success message:  “This instance of Blackboard Learn has been successfully connected to the cloud.” If you see a warning or error message instead, contact Blackboard Client Support to have this problem corrected.
  • Verify that your Production instance of Bb Learn has the “Instance Type” properly set to “Production”.

Building Block Installation

The Building Blocks were released through Software Updates on Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 12PM US Eastern (GMT -5). A new version of Software Updates, Cloud Profiles, and Social Profiles and Tools will appear as Building Block updates in the Software Updates module within 24 hours. 

It is important that when the Software Updates version 3.0 Building Block is installed, the Cloud Profiles, and Social Profiles and Tools Building Blocks (if installed) are also updated to the 3.0 versions in that order. The Social Learning tools will not function properly unless all Building Blocks are updated. We recommend scheduling the installation during a maintenance window. After installing Software Updates 3.0 but before installing Cloud Profiles and Social Profiles and Tools (if installed), you may see an error in the Cloud Management module on the System Admin tab, and the Social Cloud tools will not be available.

Steps from System Admin tab – Navigate to:

  1. Software Updates module > Building Block Updates Available > Software Updates > New Update Available > Install
    1. An error will display on the Cloud Management module. Continue installing other Building Blocks from the Installed Tools page.
  2. Building Blocks > Installed Tools > Cloud Profiles > New Update Available > Install
  3. Building Blocks > Installed Tools > Social Profiles and Tools > New Update Available > Install
  4. Building Blocks > Installed Tools > Cloud Profiles > Set Available (Context Menu)
  5. Building Blocks > Installed Tools > Social Profiles and Tools > Set Available (Context Menu)
  6. Check that the Cloud Connection is successful in the Cloud Connector page.

Important Pre-Installation Activity for the Building Blocks

Clients Running Bb Learn 9.1 SP 10

  • Prior to installing these Building Blocks, ensure that 9.1 SP 10 Cumulative Patch 8 is installed. If this Cumulative Patch is not installed, it is suggested to schedule the installation of these Building Blocks during a maintenance window while the Learn server is stopped.
  • In Bb Learn 9.1 SP 10 an issue exists with the Bb Learn application where the classes are not properly unloaded from the PermGen memory, causing out of memory errors with multiple Building Block installations or restarts. This issue has been fixed in 9.1 SP 10 Cumulative Patch 4. The Social Cloud Building Blocks are more likely to trigger this condition due to the framework used internally.
  • In Bb Learn 9.1 SP 10 an issue exists with the Bb Learn application where the Software Updates Building Block becomes corrupt in Bb Learn Windows systems. This issue has been fixed in 9.1 SP 10 Cumulative Patch 8.  

Clients Running Bb Learn 9.1 SP 11

  • Prior to installing these Building Blocks,  ensure that 9.1 SP 11 Cumulative Patch 5 is installed. If this Cumulative Patch is not installed, it is suggested to schedule the installation of these Building Blocks during a maintenance window while the Learn server is stopped.
  • In Bb Learn 9.1 SP 11 an issue exists with the Bb Learn application where the Software Updates Building Block becomes corrupt in Bb Learn Windows systems. This issue has been fixed in 9.1 SP 11 Cumulative Patch 5.

Connecting to the Cloud

Bidirectional communication to the Cloud Services is required. If you are running Blackboard from behind a firewall as a test server or for security reasons, you will need to open the firewall to use these features. To open bidirectional communication to Cloud Services, you must configure your firewall to allow responses from https://nat.cloud.bb, and allow requests to https://softwareupdates.cloud.bb, https://api.cloud.bb, and https://ui.cloud.bb Port 443.

Resolved Issues

  • Blackboard sessions do not expire if cloud profiles and tools are enabled.
  • Duplicate institution names displaying under People Tool. This issue will no longer occur going forward. However, existing cases of this problem will need to be fixed individually through Blackboard Client Support.
  • Cloud Social Message Send Message button is disabled and recipient is not recognized.
  • Cloud UI always falls back to English for custom language packs.  The fix now falls back to the known language based on the custom language pack's locale.  For example, fr_custom will now fall back to French, based on the "fr_" name in the locale.

Known Issues

  • Font for "Learn Updates Available" from the Software Updates Administrator module is inconsistent in Internet Explorer.
  • When Learn Gateway Options are set to "Tab page (Direct Access)", user is logged into Cloud tools as guest user, causing profile data to appear incorrect.

To Learn More

To learn more, see Cloud Management and Social Learning Tools Building Block.