Tuesday, 29 May 2012

MOLE 2 Upgrade... why, when, what, how and who...

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MOLE 2 (our virtual learning environment -  Blackboard Learn 9.1) is due for its next upgrade this summer and its time to let you all know a little more information about the process ... the why, when, what, how and who.

This is the second half of the upgrade which started in February this year. It completes the behind-the-scenes improvements that February's upgrade began. It will also introduce a new look and feel to the system which doesn't change the functionality of MOLE 2 but will make it look rather more up-to-date. It also has numerous bug fixes which will make the tools we currently have work better.

5pm Wednesday 4th July until 9am Monday 9th July
We consulted with departments giving two dates around this time and this date was chosen as the least disruptive date for most of the University. As ever it won't be perfect for everyone and we apologise for any inconvenience this will cause. Please let us know of if you can see any issues and we will try to resolve them for you.

We will be taking the system from Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 7 Hotfix 1 to Service Pack 8. You would be forgiven for thinking that this sounds like a minor upgrade as it sounds like it is less than one step in the Service Pack ladder, however the size of our systems and the complexity of the application means it is a significant piece of work.

How much do you want to know?  I'll give you the short(ish) version (but if you have any questions do pop them in the comments or get in touch via mole@shef.ac.uk)... and, as you'll see, we have a few different systems to test and work on the system before it gets to staff and students...
  1. CiCS Technical Services research the upgrade and prepare
  2. The 'Dev' System is upgraded (this happened back in March) and Technical Services test it
  3. The Live System is cloned onto the 'QA' System to make sure we are testing actual data
  4. We consult Departmental representatives across the university about possible dates
  5. The 'QA' System is then upgraded and checked by technical services (completed in April)
  6. Access is given to the CiCS Learning Technologies (LT) Team who carry out a testing regime on the courses and tools within MOLE using several different set-ups. We research and try to resolve any issues
  7. We then confirm the upgrade dates
  8. A decision is made as to whether to go with the upgrade on the 'Live' Service
  9. Technical Services prepare the system for limited access during the upgrade period
  10. The Learning Technologies Team prepare documentation to inform users of changes to the interface after the upgrade
  11. The system is taken offline, upgraded, tested and assessed (such small words for an awful lot of work!).
  12. If all is okay it is then released back to users... hooray! If not, we revert to the previous version and Technical Services start looking at what went wrong.
There are many people who belong to CiCS Technical Services and the Learning Technologies Team... but the main ones involved with the MOLE 2 upgrade this time have been Paul Leman and Stephen Broadbridge from Technical Services and Danny Monaghan, Jo Gilham, Ian Mumby, Khalid Rahmatullah, and Petra Devey from the LT Team.

Any queries about the upgrade please get in touch with us at mole@shef.ac.uk

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