In Part II of my blog series highlighting our clients’ successful upgrade to Release 9.1, we take a look at the University of Richmond.

Home to NCAA basketball’s Richmond Spiders and one of the highest ranked liberal arts schools in the U.S., University of Richmond supports a growing population of 4,045 students and 379 faculty members. Of the university’s 60+ majors and thousands of courses, zero (yes, that’s none, folks) are taught by teaching assistants. That means Richmond’s faculty is highly involved in the hands-on education of its student body. It’s Fred Hagemeister’s job to ensure they have the best tools to do so. Fred is the Academic Technology Services Coordinator at the university’s Center for Teaching + Learning +Technology and Richmond’s leading Blackboard expert.

Richmond decided to upgrade to Blackboard Learn™ Release 9.1 in 2009. “We were on Blackboard Classic 8.0 but wanted to be on the latest and greatest version. We had professors on the edge of their seats for certain features, like private blogging. They wanted to host their own blogs, but had concerns about confidentiality. Release 9.1 was a natural decision for us.”

“We put together a team during the fall of 2009 to start planning for a summer 2010 upgrade. We knew planning early was important to our having a successful and smooth transition.” Part of that planning included joining Blackboard’s Release 9.1 Upgrade Cohort Program. “The Cohort Program was awesome! I highly recommend it for institutions planning an upgrade. It takes you through the entire upgrade process, from start to finish. Plus, we got the opportunity to hear about (and learn from) other institutions’ upgrade experiences and share our own.”

“We launched a training server the following March to give select faculty plenty of time to get familiar with the new system and provide feedback before we went live. Since more than 90% of our academic community uses Blackboard technology, making our faculty aware of the upcoming changes was critical. We held training workshops- one on Blackboard Learn fundamentals and one on the new capabilities available in Release 9.1. We also used SpiderByte, our daily newsfeed to promote our workshops and updated our Blackboard blog to link to the free resources found on the On Demand Learning Center.”

“Our faculty has been very supportive of our upgrade to Release 9.1. They’ve expressed how much easier it is to find student submissions and the grade center, and they really like the bulk upload feature. In fact, we have more faculty creating courses now than ever before- a 10% increase above the semester that previously had the highest number of courses.”

University of Richmond successfully completed its upgrade from Blackboard Learn, Release 8.0 to Release 9.1 in the summer of 2010.

The next Release 9.1 Cohort starts in May. Click here to register.

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