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