We interrupt this program to bring you this disturbing story that is still unfolding…
So I teach some online courses in addition to my administrative duties at PTC. They are actually “hybrid” science courses, with the lecture part online and lab still meeting in person. Last year, I developed, wrote, and led new sections of chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology I. The system PTC uses is called Blackboard. It’s okay. Some of it is not very intuitive, especially when it comes to making exams. In fact, it takes me hours to half-a-day to write a science exam. Over the Christmas break, I started writing my third course, A&P II. But before I got far, they announced that Blackboard would be down for scheduled upgrades.
When it came back in early January, I resumed working. But then one day last week, I couldn’t log on. I emailed the guys and a short time later an announcement was issued about a database error. Another instructor called me and was like “last time this happened, we lost data”. I got a little worried. I back up my files as much as I can. But like I said, the program is not entirely intuitive. Some files–and exams–have to be made in Blackboard and can’t be pulled out. Those also happen to be the ones that take the longest to create.
A couple of days rolled by with no update and still no access. I didn’t want to be “that guy” that emailed and bothered them, but I did…and asked how bad it was and should I start re-writing things. The response was “when was the last time you created new content?” I know just enough about computing and servers for that to be a dangerous question. Clearly the question is saying: we are trying to restore directly from when it went down but cannot, so we are having to go to a backup point. Normal procedure is to backup server data nightly at an off-site location. I eventually found out, the last good backup was from Dec. 29. So pretty much everything I did over the break would be wiped out. Well then the date went further back to Dec. 17, wiping out more work I had done. Thankfully, you can role over courses from a previous semester, so two of my three would be saved. Oh wait…
Saturday comes and an email is sent out. Blackboard is back up but all attempts to restore data failed. You have your course shells but they are blank. We won’t turn Blackboard on for students until noon Tuesday, rather than midnight to give you a chance to get some content up.
Sunday evening and all day Monday I feverishly worked until my shoulders ached, my wrists and fingers were numb, and my eyes were cross to get some beginning material up for my three classes that had been wiped away. At 11:00 am on Tuesday, I got that much done. I need to do more work…a lot more, obviously, but I’m so burned out, I haven’t done a lick since. And as far as those items I couldn’t back up…creating them in Word this time and c&p’ing them. Exams…using an external exam-maker so that the files are on my computer.
Last I heard, from the instructor forums, teachers were jumping from the tallest building on PTC and stoic, unemotional types are feverishly working through blurry, tear-filled eyes. Unfortunately, my building is only one story. Would only break a limb at best and I need it to keep typing… /sarcasm