Hi,

Is anyone out there running Classic and Collaborate Ultra simultaneously at your institution.

If so please can you give me an outline of this is being managed.

Many thanks

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In our interface, it is an either or proposition. We will probably turn ours over to the new version while I am doing an Adobe Captivate trial this month and put the two to a head to head competition. 

Hello Tammy,

I'm insterested to read more about the results of your head-to-head evaluation.

Hello Peter,

months later, after Collab Ultra reached a more stable state, (Ultra SAS, improved user interface), I want to outline my 6 months long collected insights for any institution wondering how to manage both version in parallel.

We are not in a migration process from Classic to Ultra, but have to manage this challenge until Collab Classic will be switched off (hopefully never, due to it's unique feature set, which will not join Ultra in total, I guess)

My institution Innovation Campus Xended Learning Solutions (ICXLS) develops customized Virtual Learning Environments and provides independant Collaborate support for German-speaking areas in the world (Central Europe mostly). As head of German Collab services, I am daily flying between both versions in our SAS administration for Classic customers while guiding any willing to migrate from Classic to Ultra.

The ease of management of both Collab flavours in parallel (say partial  migration for some groups inside your institution) depends on your integration with your particular student management (VLE,LMS).

Unlike most of US institutions, we do not focus on BbLearn builing blocks, because almost any EDU-institution in Germany uses an open source LMS (like Moodle, just to name the market leader).

Within Moodle, there are different integration plugins available for Classic and Ultra, which may coexist and do not interfere. Student enrollment is a Moodle task not to be handled within SAS. Therefore  Moodle course designers and teachers may schedule Collab live lessons, no matter what Collab experience is to be used. Each course might be at it's own migration stage.

In contrast, a major migration challenge arises for institutions managing Collab Classic by SAS  (Enterprise contractors without LMS integration). After several development steps, both Classic and Ultra SAS do integrate somehow, but Ultra SAS is still not independant from Classic SAS.

By August 2016, you still need Classic SAS to generate Ultra SAS users.

In each SAS version, you will find a link to head over to the other SAS (automatic sign-in with same SAS user credentials). However, Ultra's user role model is different "by design" (as Blackboard support claimed in all support cases I opened). Let me explain in detail:

Classic SAS has a hierarchy driven model reflecting the situation of a university campus, where sessions might be persistant to be administered faculty-wise like lecture halls and seminar rooms. Indivuidual professors/assistents organize the enrollment of students for  their particular courses. That's exacly, what Elluminate invented and nothing has changed in Classic SAS (except the bottom link to head over to Ultra SAS logging in automatically with same credentials)

Ultra SAS (at it's current stage of development) is focusing the individual admin (may open arbitrary # of sessions) and organizer (may invite students and manage recordings). It is more or less the same approach like Moodle integration provides.In Ultra SAS, you have a similar link to jump back to Classic SAS with same credentials (remember: all users need to be created on Classic SAS - Ultra credentials are a consistent copy of Classic credentails

However, this lead to major irritations for experienced SAS users, especially, if a decision maker trials Ultra the first time by using a SAS manager account following the (wrong) assumption, this would be the most priviledged Ultra SAS role too.

The user roles are mapped this way:

  • Classic SAS roles  => Ultra SAS roles
  • manager => user (may join into sessions enrolled to - may see recordings)
  • administrator => organizer (may create new sessions, invite people, change session settings)
  • supervisor => organizer
  • moderator => user
  • participant => user

Big institutions having adapted the total hierarchical roleset of Classic SAS are forced to reorganize their Collab management infrastructure completely. There are several nasty Ultra traps (list is probably incomplete, just what I identified) aring from the fact, that Ultra SAS has just two different permission roles.

  1. SAS organizers may create new sessions and no other person is aware of those access links
  2. SAS Managers heading over to Ultra SAS can't impersonate other SAS roles there
  3. SAS organizers may jump back to Classic SAS and do (potentially unwanted) things there depending on their Classic SAS role attached, even if they are intended to manage Ultra sessions only.
  4. There is no supervisor-like role in Ultra SAS enabling for management of student invitation,
    but disallowing creation of new sessions.

My workaround for 1., 2.:
The institution's SAS manager must be invited as moderator into any new Ultra session created.
This enables the manager to become aware of new access links. He/she may  jump in in case of emergency.

My workaround for 3.:
Ultra SAS organizers must not be created as Classic SAS administrators, but that way:
Supervisor permissions and the advanced attribute "may not login into SAS". This enables them to create sessions in Ultra SAS but disables to jump back to Classic SAS (error message).


Unfortunately, these workarounds have severe side-effects generating increased workload for the principal Collab staff.

  • You need to provide the direct Ultra SAS login for anyone dealing with Collab Ultra sessions.
    https://MY.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/scheduler/login    MY to be adapted to: your datacenter
  • Logging into Classic SAS for migration management towards Ultra should be restricted to one new classic SAS administrator account Password knowledge for this new admin account should be limited to the institution's  SAS manager(s), who need this account for: Creating accounts for all SAS-Supervisors 
  • As a SAS manager can't impersonate as this new SAS administrator (this will work for Classic sessions only), the manager needs to login as the Ultra-managing SAS administrator, say: two different credentials to be used.

Unfortunately, I did not find any nice workaround for issue 4. That's boring.

Anybody dealing with student enrollment and participant invitation (professors/assistents) gets the permission to create access links for new secret sessions, which no one else may find, who is not explicitly invited! A big driver for confusion.

As long as Blackboard keeps on driving this oversimplified Ultra SAS design, any big institution is forced to change their responsibilities for Collab management from  centralized hierarchical structure to a flat hierarchy approach, where each professor needs to become a skilled Collab administrator.

My advise is to build a Collab migration team consisting of all classic SAS managers, administrators and supervisors to discuss practical ways how to migrate to flat hierarchy. If that's not feasable, Classic SAS managers - no longer able to delegate things to faculty administrators - do face additional day-to-day workload diving into each faculty's organisational requirements (student management in addition to management of ressources)

Bottom lined, things may turn complicated for big institutions using SAS standalone (without LMS integration), if you do not say farewell to ever-open (persisting) sessions while migrating to Collab Ultra. The new design intends sessions to be opened for each course and closed thereafter, exactly what the LMS integration does automatically.

No support for the lecture-hall type of permanent sessions shared between different courses. The announced upgrade (by 2016.9) introdues persistent content, a feature which  will foreseeable contradicts the ability to let different courses share the same (lecture-hall type) session. 

I pray for Blackboard rethinks their former decision to cancel the single room license models and resurrect the Moderator-Access license at least.

Hope that this detailled outline helps anyone thinking of a migration strategy from Collab Classic to Collab Ultra.

Mero

Hello Peter,

are you fine with running Ultra and Classic in parallel ?

Or did you chosse to run one of it only during the last 12 months ?

In the meantime, there was a little improvement within the Ultra SAS evolution, but no general resolution of the caveats I described last year. Running both Classic and Ultra rooms in parallel requires Classic SAS access, say an "Enterprise type of contract".

Rumours told, that Blackboard might restart selling single rooms with "moderator access" contract for Collaborate Ultra only - I didn't see such offer up to now. Ask your local Blackboard sales.

Technically speaking, such a single Ultra room would be delivered as basic login credentials on the Ultra SAS with an email address, which is invited to join your single room with moderator permissions. The Ultra SAS login gives you access to the recordings produced in this room.

Hope that helps

Thanks for a feedback

Mero

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