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How IT Prepares: Upcoming Blackboard Upgrade on Sunday, May 19

29 April 2013 No Comment

by UNH IT Staff

Ever wonder how UNH IT prepares for upgrades to major systems like Blackboard? Testing is a big part of the overall effort. In a recent forum, several staff from UNH IT Academic Technology highlighted their use of SharePoint for testing in preparation for Blackboard upgrades. The group uses SharePoint as a collaborative space to develop testable scripts, break out new functionality introduced in the latest Blackboard Service Pack release, and track progress as testing is completed in a tiered approach across various areas within the department.

Karen Tan is the Portal Administration and Development Manager for UNH IT Academic Technology. “There was a real push from our Chief Information Officer (CIO) to automate testing and to allocate more resources to these efforts,” Tan said. “In response, we created test scripts that outlined step-by-step instructions to assess new functionality. For those with limited familiarity with the application, this makes testing much easier. In addition, by developing these step-by-step instructions, we are able to easily repurpose those scripts into end-user documentation and training materials.”

Dan Blickensderfer, Documentation & Training Manager for Academic Technology explains how this methodology has helped inform the upgrade process.

“This agile approach has allowed us to broaden our audience of testers beyond our IT teams, and has expanded testing to the student and faculty populations as well,” Blickensderfer said. “The tiered approach is concise in that it identifies who is testing (What Tier? Assigned Tester?), the status of testing (Assigned?  In-Progress? Completed?), and how the testing is conducted by providing details for each step.”

Developing SharePoint sites that not only house the testable scripts, but also serve as a repository for vendor release notes and all other relevant documentation, provides flexibility to reuse and repurpose sites for each new service pack being tested.  Academic Technology’s current roadmap delivers as many as four new service packs each year, which makes testing a continual process that must be iterative and incremental.  The next upgrade is scheduled for May 19 and testing is almost complete.

If you would like more information on what’s new in Blackboard, go to it.unh.edu/bbupgrade.

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