OAK retired; Blackboard now 21 times faster

(John Russell/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt IT migrated OAK, the university’s course management system, to Blackboard-managed hosting in December. The OAK name has been retired; the tool is now named Blackboard. At 21 times faster, the system boasts a more modern environment and will allow for easier functional changes.

“While you never want to have to change systems mid-year, it went so much better than we had feared. I’m so very gratified at how hard the migration team worked, how quickly the staff were able to get course materials back up and usable again, and, most of all, how much better the system is now that we’ve finished the migration,” said Cynthia Cyrus, vice provost for learning and residential affairs. “Our colleagues were eloquent in their unhappiness with the on-campus installation last semester–and for good reason!–but they’ve been downright complimentary about the system’s nimbleness in the new environment.”

One such professor was Shaul Kelner, associate professor of sociology and Jewish studies. “I’m glad to see how quickly the pages load now. A marked improvement,” Kelner said.

The Center for Teaching, Enrollment Management and VUIT collaborated to reconfigure Blackboard’s support system and lay the foundation for future improvements.

The CFT is taking on a significant new role in the educational technology landscape at Vanderbilt. Starting this spring, the CFT will coordinate and provide technical and pedagogical support for Blackboard. Also, in conjunction with Cyrus and the Blackboard Faculty Advisory Committee, the CFT will lead strategic planning for Blackboard and other potential platforms for supporting teaching and learning at Vanderbilt.

Thus far, a total of 1,287 GB of data (equivalent to 322 HD Blu-ray movies) spanning 12,221 courses has been successfully archived, transferred and restored into the Blackboard-managed hosting environment. At the same time, a total of 82,198 enrollments in particular courses and 49,981 individual users were successfully integrated into the new environment.

Since going live, the average response time is about 200 milliseconds, and 95 percent of user requests have completed in less than two seconds. Prior to this move to Blackboard-managed hosting, VUIT was seeing an average user response time of four to five seconds.

For more information about Blackboard, please email the Blackboard team at