Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


Blackboard glitch

Last night (9/7/2016) at approximately 6:50pm all students enrolled in Fall semester courses were ‘disabled’ by Blackboard. By 9:50pm we were back in business.

What happened?  Every day a number of feed files are created by pulling data from our registration, student information and HR systems. These files contain information about active students, staff and faculty, as well as the affiliations of these users to courses and organizations. This information in multiple files is used to create user accounts, populate courses with instructors and students,  and populate organizations with  faculty and staff.

These files are recreated at 7:04 am and 5:35pm every day.  They are copied to Blackboard servers where they are processed by Blackboard and adjustments are made to users, course enrollment and organization enrollments. It takes approximately 1 hour to process all the files and info.

Given this process, the problem could have been at 1 of many junctures.  The file that was created could have been corrupted or not created properly, the process for sending the files to Blackboard could have failed, the installer on Blackboard’s end could have had a problem …

After looking at all of our feed files, calling Blackboard and trying a few adjustments on our end, we were able to figure out that a temp file used by the Blackboard process involved in processing these files was corrupted. This caused the processing of the enrollment file,  that contains the student-course enrollment information, to fail and ‘disable’ all students in all courses for this semester. Why it didn’t cause a problem with any of the other files is still a mystery.  We have since reactivated the students but we are still looking for the cause. There was no loss of data since the students were never technically removed from the course, only ‘disabled.’


Bottom-line is that students were unable to access their course sites in Blackboard between 7pm and 10pm.  Please adjust due dates accordingly.