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New Building Block Request Procedure

Purpose: To ensure requests for new instructional and institutional Blackboard Building Blocks or other Bb-integrated tools are completed in a consistent and timely fashion.

Background: In the past Learning Systems has been contacted directly by building block vendors and/or individual faculty about installing building blocks on the VCU Blackboard system. A policy is needed to help structure the management of the increased amount of building block requests. In order to meet the most critical needs of the university, Learning Systems has developed a policy about the process. The policy will provide a consistent and timely response to all requests.

Procedure:

1. A new Blackboard Building Block or other Bb-integrated tool request must be requested by a VCU Dean (or equivalent) by emailing blackboard@vcu.edu.

The request must include each of the following:

  • A reason or need for the building block.
  • Background and institutional benefits of the building block.
  • Any costs for the building block, vendor fees, etc.
  • An estimate of how many faculty and/or staff would be using the building block.
  • The preferred timeframe (urgency) of implementation of the building block.

2. Upon receipt of the request, a confirmation email will be sent to requester within 24 hours (M-Th).

3. Learning Systems will determine if the new building block is compatible with the VCU Blackboard System. Once determined, the requester will be provided with details about proceeding with testing and implementation.

4. Learning Systems will provide a plan to the requester for the following actions and will implement them as per the timeline in the plan:

  • Research, document a plan, and schedule the installation with Blackboard Managed Hosting
  • Note: Due to building block dependency requirements, the installation process could take longer than anticipated. Some building blocks are now dependent on others being updated first, which requires additional planning and testing by the Blackboard Administrator.
  • Acquire and install the building block on a test system
  • Configure and verify basic functionality
  • Learning Systems will keep the requester informed of any changes to the estimated timeframe

5. Once the building block is acquired, installed, configured, and basic functionality tested (on the test system), the requester will be notified and asked to proceed with testing. If any issues are encountered, the requester must contact the vendor for assistance. 

Testing must be completed within 3 weeks. Once testing is complete, the requester is responsible for following-up with Learning Systems as to whether or not the building block meets their needs, if their testing was successful, and if any issues were encountered.

If testing and/or a decision to proceed is not made within 3 weeks, and no further communication is received, then the request will be considered complete and the building block no longer an option for production implementation.  Due to frequent system, browser, and other technology-related changes, if the requester decides later to have it installed for testing or production, this request procedure must be followed and submitted as a new request.

6. Depending on successfulness and completion time of testing, Learning Systems will schedule the building block for installation on production, and the requester will be notified of this schedule. Note: If the installation requires a Blackboard system downtime then it will be scheduled with Blackboard Managed Hosting for an appropriate maintenance time.

7. Once installed on production, a confirmation email will be sent to the requester.

Addendums:

1. Any building block developers and/or vendors contacting VCU Technology Services about new instructional building blocks should be instructed to contact the Dean of the department or school targeted for use.

2. Learning Systems support will be limited to working with the vendor on any building block functionality or configuration issues. End-user support will be limited to and provided by the vendor/developer.

3. Updates to all building blocks are periodically reviewed and a plan for testing and implementation is compiled by Learning Systems. Updates to building blocks will not be handled individually, and will follow documented procedures for preparation and scheduling with Blackboard Managed Hosting.

This article was updated: 08/29/2017