Category Archives: Succeed

Item Analysis and View All Attempts – Time Taken not shown problem

There is a problem with the ‘Item Analysis’ and ‘View All Attempts’ features in the Grade Centre in Succeed. If you run an Item Analysis or View All Attempts for an assessment, the average time taken by the users is not displayed.

Item Analyses are supposed to show you lots of useful stats about your assessment, such as how many people took it, average score, the ‘difficulty’ of each question etc. It’s also supposed to show you how long, on average, students took to do the assessment. This is the bit that’s not working, however. The average time is displayed as a very low number, often 00 hours and 00 minutes. Also, if you try to ‘View All Attempts’ for an assessment from the relevant column in the Grade Centre the duration is not shown through that method either. A report is produced with columns for Last Name, First Name, Username, Grade, Attempt Number, Date, Status and also a column for ‘Duration’. But whereas all the other columns are populated with data, the Duration column is empty. So you cannot find out how long students took via this method either.

The only way you can find out how long students took to complete an assessment is currently to view each student’s submission individually and look at their ‘Test Information’. This will tell you how long they took, but if you have a lot of students this will be time consuming.

This issue has been reported to Blackboard and they have acknowledged it as a ‘Known Issue. there is currently no patch we can install to fix this and it will be targeted for being mended in the April 2015 Release (which we may not upgrade to until some time after April 2015).

Teaching Bites

The next series of Teaching Bites starts on Thursday 6th Nov (all are in S10). The sessions running are:

6th Nov: 13.00-14.00: Mobile
The new wireless service at the University opens up some exciting possibilities for student engagement in teaching and learning – laptops, tablets and smart phones can now quickly and easily connect to Eduroam and get Internet access. Students amongst other things can then participate in polls (rather similar to clicker technology) or tweet questions/comments.

13th Nov: 13.00-14.00: Module Design — Make Your Succeed a Better Place
Building a module in Succeed where the content is easy for the students to navigate is not as straight-forward as it might first appear. This session looks at some easy wins:

  • Using Content Areas affectively
  • Naming Content and the Description area
  • Use of the Table of Content (left-hand menu/navigation)
  • Consistency

20th Nov: 13.00-14.00: Quizzes/Surveys
The session will look at the Tests, Surveys and Pools area of Succeed. Users will be shown how to set up a test or a survey and how to add questions to it. An explanation of the available question types will be given. The session will also cover how to edit the settings for a test or survey so it is made available to the relevant users at the relevant time, including how to set up exceptions for AAA students who require more time to complete their assessments. An explanation will also be given of the question pool, and how to add questions to this pool, and how to select questions from the pool to add to tests and surveys.

27th Nov: 13.00-14.00: Discussion Tool, Blogs, and Wikis
This session will look at some of the collaboration tools within blackboard, these tools can be used to help build a sense of community in modules, can be used for group working, social interaction and the exchange of ideas.  The session will look at the discussion tool, blogs and wikis and give examples of where these might be used successfully within your succeed module.

To sign-up go into Succeed and then to Learning & Development – My Learning, IT & Information Skills, Succeed Training. Also don’t forget to bring along your sandwiches!

These sessions can be available to remote campuses. To register for remote access please email Simon Booth.

Succeed Performance III

Further performance problems have been evident with one of the two Succeed servers on Wednesday morning, 8th October, Sunday afternoon, 12th October, and Monday morning, 13th October. The issue on the 8th & 13th is highly technical in nature but the upshot is that the server suffering from the problem (always the same one — learnapp2) is very slow. The other server is running fine and delivering perfectly acceptable performance. Whether you suffer the problem is entirely random but if your sessions are connecting to the slow server, performance is poor.

On Sunday, Learnapp2 for reasons that we don’t understand suddenly jumped from 20% processor utilisation to 80% in a 3 minute period between 16.05-16.08. After 16.08, performance would have been poor. The server was restarted on Monday morning to fix the utilisation problem and immediately the second issue occurred (the same one as the previous Wednesday). This server was restarted again at 14.00 which cleared the problem. The delay was made in the hope that we could find a solution to the problem before doing the restart. Unfortunately, no solution has yet been found but after 14.30 on the Monday 13th both servers are running properly and providing a good service.

The problem on Learnapp2 has been under investigation with Blackboard since the 8th.

Succeed Performance II

Having increased the hardware available to run Succeed last Wednesday morning (1st October) due to the slow performance it has been interesting to look at the usage figures for the previous week (29th September – 3rd October) and compare them with the same week in 2013 (30th September – 4th October). To measure usage we will take logins per hour from the Portal (the main access route to Succeed). This excludes mobile and direct logins but should provide a reasonable basis for comparison. Also note that the figures quoted below are for one of the two applications servers (learnapp1).

Perhaps the most interesting figure that the peak number of logins per hour for 2013 was 591 and in 2014 – 1027, an increase of 73% – the 1027 logins occurred between 9.00-10.00am on Monday 29th September. Unsurprisingly such a huge increase in demand caused major problems with the servers. Over the week in 2013, there were 26,384 logins whereas in 2014 this increased by 16% to 30493. This increase was not evenly spread across the day but was concentrated in the 09-18 period. Logins across the week in the 09-18 window increased from 17749 to 21899 (23%).

The graphic below shows the daily 09-18 logins for each day


As noted in the previous posting on performance, the additional processing power on the servers (8 processor cores to 12) should help Succeed handle the increased workloads that we experienced last week and fully expect to experience in the coming week!

Succeed Performance

Succeed’s performance in the mornings this week has been slow. On Tuesday we did some diagnostic work to identify where the bottlenecks were amongst the servers that form Succeed (load-balancers, application servers and database server). We identified the application servers as the part of the system that were struggling most — they both had very high processor utilisation figures. This morning (Wednesday, October 1st) we increased the CPU cores on both application servers from 8 to 12 and hopefully this will improve the performance of Succeed. This in itself generated an issue on Wednesday as one server grabbed all the traffic and then couldn’t handle that level of traffic and started behaving very strangely. This was resolved late in the morning and the service should be a quicker in the mornings and for the rest of the day from now on.

The reason that Succeed has been struggling is because of a big increase in the usage of the system during the day. The peak usage has increased by over 40% from last year — a considerable and unexpected increase. We suspect this is related to the new wireless infrastructure and the ease of connection that it offers.

Internet Explorer and Succeed

Staff should be aware that Internet Explorer 9 performs very poorly when used with Succeed and eLD recommend that an upgrade to IE11 (as the student computer labs have already been done) is performed on University equipment unless you are keeping to IE9 for specific reasons. To check your version of IE:

Help -> About Internet Explorer

To upgrade to IE11, use Run Advertised Programmes:

Control Panel -> Run Advertised Programmes -> Microsoft Internet Explorer -> Run

Ensure that you have closed any running IE9s before you start. IE11 isn’t perfect when used with Succeed but no browser is!

Succeed Tuesday 16th Sept

There were some performance issues on one the of the Succeed servers today, staring around 1.40pm. The affect of this can be odd in that a person in the next door office or the student sitting next to you experiences perfectly acceptable performance whereas for you Succeed is slow — it all depends on which of the two servers your session is allocated too. The server we call learnapp2 started to struggle around 1.40pm. At the moment we don’t know why is was the case although it is possible that simply too many users were accessing the system. We are investigating the cause(s) with Blackboard. At the time of writing 6.40pm learnapp2 is still struggling.

Course Representatives

Most Succeed spaces will have a link to the Course Representatives tool (usually in Module Administration). As a student you can use this link to put yourself forward as a course representative and your fellow students can contact you via the same link. In some courses there may be elections if many students put themselves forward.

Course Representatives

Succeed Upgrade

The latest release of Succeed has been successfully installed and a number of new features are now evident. The most obvious is the Resources tab containing information from the Library and Careers (with more to come). The Library section contains information that used to be housed in individual modules but the new tab method means that updating the information is considerably easier as only one tab needs updating whereas previously each module needed editing which meant we could only really make changes between semesters when the new modules for that semester were built.

There is also a new panel on the ‘My Succeed’ page ‘My Organisations’ which is very similar to ‘My Modules’. This new feature of Succeed will be used for non-module spaces, e.g. the information spaces that many schools and divisions make available to their students. Thus ‘My Modules’ will eventually contain just academic modules and all other content will be available via ‘My Organisations’ (or possibly the new tabs). Note that we have also changed the wording to have ‘My Modules’ instead of ‘My Courses’

For staff, the new student view is the most significant additional feature. This is a proper student view that allows taking of quizzes etc. not just the ability to see what a content area looks like to students (which switching off edit mode does). See this post for further details.