Frequent Blackboard outages demand conscious use

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor

It is difficult to graduate from Carnegie Mellon without taking classes that require Blackboard. Carnegie Mellon students can access a customized version of the website through their Andrew accounts.

However, as of late this website has been more of a curse than a blessing. Frequent outages and planned downtimes that last longer than anticipated have plagued the system and frustrated users for weeks. This semester alone, there have been approximately eight downtimes. The latest outage occurred on Feb. 26, according to Blackboard’s downtime log, which can be found at

While these problems are being addressed and hopefuly remedied, students and teachers alike should still be conscious of how and when they use the website.

Professors and students should take into account that Blackboard already reminds users to have backups of every necessary file and to plan alternative ways to collect work.

Instructors should provide some degree of leniency to students who are faced with Blackboard issues outside of their control, especially if they use Blackboard to collect work. Alternatively, professors could email students necessary documents or links they would normally put on Blackboard until the outages and downtimes have ended.

By relying less on Blackboard, professors ensure that their proposed class schedules are not interrupted.Likewise, students should take the current unreliability of Blackboard into account and do as much of their work offline as possible, uploading and downloading their documents at the earliest possible opportunity.

Students should download instructions or save links for assignments the day the professor announces that the materials are on Blackboard. By ensuring that they have the necessary items to complete assignments on their computers, students do not risk their ability to access the material the night before assignments are due.

While the reliability of Blackboard over the past few weeks has been troubling, we can only hope that lack of access to the website does not get in the way of students’ educations.