This topic covers some issues that may need to be addressed while planning and preparing for Blackboard Learn. Each school or institution that uses Blackboard Learn is unique and will require specific and detailed planning to implement Blackboard Learn. The information in this topic should not be viewed as standard and comprehensive but rather as a set of items that should be considered and adapted to each institution.
Develop a Learning Model
Before installing Blackboard Learn or making it available to users, it is important to define how it will be used at the school. Having a sound plan for how Blackboard Learn will be used helps ensure that configuration and security decisions are aligned with the goals of your school. Some items to consider include:
- Define a naming convention for courses and users on the system.
- Determine what information and areas of the system are accessible to each set of users (instructors, students, guests, and so forth). If your school licenses community engagement, administrators have the flexibility to present different brands and content to users depending on their assigned Institution Roles. Institution Roles are defined by schools to match their organization.
- Identify the other information systems will interact with Blackboard Learn. Define which system owns the data.
- Build a team to manage the system, support users, and develop tools and content.
These are just a few examples of the decisions that go into developing a learning model. Each school will have a unique approach appropriate for its users.
Create a Test Environment
Creating a test environment is a critical step in the process. A test environment allows system and database administrators to tune the software for maximum performance based on the needs of the institution. Developers use the test environment to build System Extensions prior to rollout as well as developing tools for integrating with other information systems at the institution.
Finally, a test environment helps resolve potential issues with hardware or software before rolling out Blackboard Learn to users.
Establish a Support Infrastructure
Having qualified, trained staff to support users is important to operating smoothly with little interruptions to users. Define what level of support is required and when it should be available to users. Some institutions may require 24/7 support while others can operate with less. After training staff and defining support availability and expectations be sure to communicate this information to users.
Run a Pilot Program
After the software is installed, configured, and tested and the support staff is trained, it is a good idea to launch a pilot program. A pilot program lets a few users on the system to work with the software in the context of the learning model. This is a good time to spot roadblocks or issues that may impact users when the software is rolled out. Also, the pilot program participants (especially the Instructors) can take a leadership role among their peers when the software is rolled out. These users can train other users on the software and help them successfully adopt the learning model.
When Blackboard Learn is ready for users, it is important to communicate key information to users. Make sure that the user base has access to training sessions, support, and other resources to help them begin using the system.