Recently George Mason University has upgraded its Blackboard learning management system. This system allows faculty to organize and post class-related data for student access.

As of Aug. 15 the older program, Blackboard 8, was no longer in use. The switch to Blackboard 9.1 was decided by the campus administrators. This project has been underway for over a year and became a major concern for administrators when Blackboard crashed at an inopportune time.

“The biggest reason for the change was that the old Blackboard started to become unstable, Director of Learning Support Services Joy Taylor said. “The university wanted to have a system that would be more stable.”

With the new system came a completely different interface that professors were not accustomed to using.

“It has taken some time getting used to,” social psychology Professor John H. Riskind said. “At fist I didn’t like it because it kept saying ‘unavailable’ and I could not post my syllabus, but now I think it’s okay.”

Among the advantages of the new system are that it has greater functionality and is more convenient for professors. They now have more options with the grade book and can pull content from websites such as YouTube by slide sharing directly into their Blackboards with a simple search of the video in Blackboard.

The main issues thus far are that professors must turn on their Blackboards in order to use the system and its navigation may take some time to get used to. As of Sept. 14, about 3,500 class sections are now connected.

The university has a standing relationship with Blackboard and is in constant collaboration with the company. With the new Blackboard up and running Mason will be looking into more innovative systems, possibly including a mobile application.