July 13, 2006
Impact 2006: Thursday Session 5: Lessons Learned Migrating to CE 6
This was a panel discussion where members of the CE 6 Pilot project discuss their experiences migrating to CE6. Members include Brown University, CSU Chico, Southern Illinois, San Diego University, and Washington State University.
i won't go into the details from each university. Instead I'll discuss common themes:
- Existing WebCT 4.1 instructors initially hate CE 6. They are used to how 4.1 works, and get confused and upset when they cannot find things. This is why taking it slow and emphasizing training and user support is important. Eventually they come around once they become familiar with CE6. TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING.
- Give existing users sandboxes to play in so they can experiment without worrying about screwing up their real courses.
- New faculty who have never used 4.1 appear really like CE6 and have no problems.
- Students appear to have very little problems with CE6 itself. There are the typical help desk problems (popup blockers, java runtime, etc.) but once they get past that it seems easy to use.
- There were some issues with Macs, but those appear to have mostly been resolved with the later service paks.
- Course migration is not as easy as clicking a button. Instructors will require assistance in changing their courses to fit within the new CE6 way of doing things. There will be problems with things like moving 4.1 "organizer pages" which contained only text blocks, no content. Those don't migrate. Need quality control and a procedure in place to make sure faculty check the courses after migration.
- Consider re-branding the system to eliminate "WebCT". For example, call it "My Courses". After all the name is now "Blackboard" and the new version coming down the line will be something different. No sense tying in a specific product name.
- Expect it to take longer than you expect. Remember that schedules are not set in stone. CE 4.1 doesn't leave support until January 2008 so there's lots of time to do it right.
- Take it slow. Have a pilot with a few courses to get support and operational procedures down. Don't try to migrate everyone immediately. Run 4.1 and 6.0 in parallel for a while to provide a fallback if necessary.
- Get oracle training (doesn't apply to us, we have oracle expertise).
- Work with your instructional designers. Give them first crack at the system. They will be the ones assisting people with redesigining their courses to work better in WebCT 6.
- Always do a backup before installing any service paks so you can easily back out of the service pak.
- Washington State put a firewall between their WebCT cluster and the rest of campus. This let them bring up the production cluster and test it before making it available to the rest of campus to use.
- Be patient with WebLogic. It can take a long time to do things. For example, 5 minutes to stop it.
- Keep a change log of ALL changes, configuration settings, etc. which includes the action taken, and the date and time it was taken. Often there are changes which have side-effects elsewhere. Keeping a log will help in tracking down what changed to cause a problem.
- Several institutions used wikis to do their online documentation. Some open just to administrators (to do change log, etc.) Others used public wikis to develop support documentation, letting students, instructors, and builders build on the wiki as problems arise. An interesting way to get better and up-to-date documentation.
- Update your disaster recovery plan for CE6 and TEST IT.
Posted by kvl014 at July 13, 2006 05:31 PM