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Blackboard Learn received a makeover over the summer to halt increasingly common glitches in the system.

“In staying with the current theme, it is more likely to ensure that the functional capabilities of the theme will be in line with how they designed their most up-to-date theme,” said Chris Moore, course management & instructional technology developer.

Technical issues with the system have been reported more frequently by ITS since 2012. As a result of not updating the theme, students and faculty have often reported glitches with tests and quizzes, according to Information Technology System.

Over the last four years, ITS had regularly customized the theme to keep up the glitches. Over time, occasional updates would reset the theme back to the 2008 version. One system update typically occurs every month.

“We would kind of put a bandaid on it to try and fix it all of the while know that, ‘Gee, if we update the theme, we won’t have this problem and other potential problems,” Moore said.

Changes to the system were discussed between student workers at the ITS help desk and faculty over the summer. Taking suggestions for the system over six months, ITS made changes to Blackboard on Aug. 22.

“Faculty felt that it was cleaner, newer, updated-looking,” said Julie Slichko, instruction developer about faculty reactions to the new system in a focus group.

The updated theme was also designed to bring the university’s colors into the system, according to Slichko. Over the summer, ITS worked with the Department of Communications to bring the UAlbany branding into the system.

The old theme featured a dark purple, inconsistent with university branding, and gray. The update includes colors used by the Department of Communications and Marketing, and customizable backgrounds aimed for help instructors to differentiate between courses.

“It looked like you were in a tunnel,” said Slichko of Blackboard appearance prior to the update.


Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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