Adventures in Ethics and Science

Monday brainteaser.

This is our third teaching day of the semester (which started last Thursday), so of course, WebCT’s servers decided that it would be a good time to freak out. (The official description:

… experiencing network latency within our VA2 data center that may be affecting your Blackboard environment. This may result in increased latency and/or packet loss when trying to access your hosted Blackboard system.

But you can’t tell me that this doesn’t amount to the servers freaking out, especially as they are still “working with our Infrastructure team to determine the cause and to work towards a resolution.”)

So here’s the brainteaser:

How do I communicate to the numerous students in my online course that WebCT is choking whenever you try to load a page? I’d email them all, but I’m only set up to do that … within WebCT, which is choking.

It’s not like there’s an assignment or discussion due in the next 24 hours. But I’d be very sad if some of those who are new to online courses gave up on account of one bad day for the server being scheduled so inconveniently early in the term.


  1. #1 Anne-Marie
    August 27, 2007

    Possible argument for professors joining Facebook?

    Actually there is a new “Courses” application available that lets students see who is in their classes, with options to organize study groups, trade books, etc, I could see how it would be an even better resource if the instructor was involved to provide uploads/assignment postings….just a though.

  2. #2 Janet D. Stemwedel
    August 27, 2007

    Excellent! I added the Courses application (since I’m already on Facebook) and put up a post about the technical difficulties.

    Now, I just have to hope my students find it!

  3. #3 WiseWoman
    August 28, 2007

    This is why I hate depending on just one such application. Using things like facebook to find one student is usually pretty good, as they quickly find each other.

    I think Blackboard is a really bad learning management system, I like to TEACH and not just have a bunch of files and some difficult means of communicating with my students. I like Moodle – it’s a lot cheaper, too! And much better for communicating. But I do realize that that will not help your problems now.

    I sometimes take all the emails on a piece of paper (gasp!) first day of school, so that I have them!

  4. #4 ez
    August 28, 2007

    A point of clarification: network latency describes the bits of information moving between computers not moving as fast as they should. Because your WebCT system is one of those computers, the experience is unfortunately poor. Its unlikely though that its WebCT’s fault. Its even less unlikely the data center would schedule network latency.

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