VITAL Summer Upgrade – NEW DATE – Monday 18th July 2011

Please note, there is now a more recent blog posting regarding the upgrade (here).

Full  upgrade information website is now available.

This summer VITAL will be upgraded in two ways. Firstly, VITAL will be moved to new hardware which will greatly improve the capacity and reliability of the service. Secondly, the software will be upgraded so that a large number of current bugs and issues in VITAL are fixed. The date proposed for both the hardware switchover and software upgrade is Monday 18th July 2011.

How will it affect staff?

The course copy process, to populate new modules with previous years’ content, will not be available to use this year. Modules should still be rolled-over in TULIP. To copy content from current modules to 2011-12 modules CSD will copy over whole module content on your behalf by request via this online form. This form is available all year to use whenever you need to make a course copy, but please note that this may take up to five working days. When VITAL is switched to the new hardware, 2011-12 modules and the requested content will be available. If you would prefer to carry out content copying yourself so that you can specify which items are to be copied across, this will be possible using the “course export/import” facility. If you want to edit 2011-12 modules before the switchover date then this will be possible in the VITAL preview system. Full details of all of these processes are available on the upgrade information site.

When the switch to the new hardware is made you will login in the same way and VITAL will look as it did before. However, you will see that only 2011-12 modules will be available. All other modules from 2010-11 back will be available through an easily-accessible VITAL archive web link. This is because the new machines have a different background architecture requiring a fresh start for VITAL.

Finally, on the switchover and upgrade date there will be a very short period of downtime when VITAL will not be available. This is envisaged as being no more than two hours (at most) and is planned to take place before the start of the working day to minimise any potential disruption. However, as a precaution, VITAL users should consider the service ‘at risk’ on this date and avoid running online assessments or setting VITAL-based due dates for assignments and deadlines for this day and the rest of the week.

Further Support

An upgrade  information site is now available here. This will detail key dates and advice on this year’s module course copy process as well as a link to the copy request form. There will also be background information on the technical changes to the hardware infrastructure and list of the problems and bugs that the upgrade is projected to fix. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this upgrade, including the date, contact information is on this site.

Future Plans – annual upgrade dates

The Blackboard software behind VITAL is increasingly complex, with new features, updates and fixes regularly made available over the year. To prevent the delay of these important updates by only upgrading once a year (as we currently do) the e-learning teams in CSD and CLL will be scheduling twice-yearly VITAL maintenance dates for the first Monday after the end of term in July and December every year. Because these upgrades require VITAL to be offline, and some testing of the live installation made, these dates need to be flagged as when the VITAL service should be considered ‘at risk’. By having fixed dates for these upgrades it is hoped that this will help staff and students in planning their use of VITAL. Again, contact information to discuss the VITAL maintenance dates proposal will be found on the summer upgrade mini-site.

CLL eLearning Unit and CSD e-learning team

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