Over the coming months we are carrying out a complete refresh of the MyBlog infrastructure (i.e. the servers and associated hardware that the platform sits on). This is the first major refresh since the blogging service was introduced over 5 years ago. In that time blogging at UAL has increased rapidly and is now widely used to support student learning across the University.
Why is this work needed?
This refresh is not only needed to maintain the performance and reliability of the MyBlog platform but to meet the needs of new and innovative approaches to teaching large student cohorts. As a result of this refresh we can expect to see a faster, more stable platform with fewer outages and down time, and improved capacity to manage demand during peak usage periods. MyBlog is now fully incorporated into IT’s Systems Refresh and Patching Programme so that the platform’s infrastructure will be maintained as part of a planned and managed life-cycle.
What changes can I expect to see?
As part of the refresh we will be improving the security of the platform to ensure that user log-ins and other data sent between your browser and the MyBlog platform are encrypted and secure. You will notice that the url changes from http to https – indicating a secure connection. Users should be aware that any media embedded from a non-https third-party website will no longer display on a blog page. Many sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, have already moved to supporting https and will not present any issues.
We have also included real-time Antivirus scanning of file uploads to help protect against malicious viruses and other malware.
A new look and feel
We have refreshed the look and feel for the MyBlog platform to unify and simplify the look and feel of our DL platforms and improve the student experience in this area. We will not be adding or changing the functionality of the platform.
Removing obsolete accounts
Myblog contains some content which has not been updated for a long time and which belongs to students who are no longer at UAL. To free up much needed storage capacity and to comply with GDPR requirements we are going to remove student blogs and accounts which meet *all* the following criteria:
The student left UAL in any year prior to and including 17/18
The blog has not been updated since the academic year 15/16
Staff accounts and content will not be affected.
When is this work being carried out?
We have already started the work as there are many stages to this project. During the final phase we will need to take MyBlog out of service for a short period of time. The dates to be aware of are:
05th February 2019 – final sync of user accounts and blog content from the old to the new infrastructure. We will need to take MyBlogs out of service, but will aim to keep this to an absolute minimum.
06th February 2019 – DNS updated – MyBlog will be available, but may take up to 24 hours before it is fully accessible globally. MyBlog will be available almost immediately to those accessing it from the UAL network however, the service should be considered ‘at risk’. Users may lose their work if they make changes during this period and we have to roll-back
07th February 2019 – final testing and sign off / roll back decision
I have questions, who can I contact?
If you want to know more about this work, or have any concerns about how it will impact your students please either contact Ruth Powell or email@example.com.
If you are working within the UAL network it is quick and easy to use! *It is not yet available outside of UAL network
Using Self Service will enable the team to process the requests more efficiently than by email. It automatically generates and sends you a support ticket that confirms your request for support.
Using Self service helps capture all the required information up front and saves time spent by the team contacting the sender for additional information before work can start on resolving the requests
Using Self service will ensure requests are automatically directed to the correct team, for example, login issues will be automatically directed to IT Services rather than Digital Learning Support
Through Self Service you can track the the progress of your request, or update your request with further information. This helps keep all communication about your request in one place, rather than dispersed across various emails.
Please do bookmark the link and consider using Self Service next time you need to contact DL Support. We look forward to supporting you!
UAL Digital Learning Platforms – Workflow, MyBlog and Moodle form the core of our digital provision for supporting student learning facilitating reflection, exchange of knowledge and ideas, and documentation of creative practices between students, staff and wider communities. The Digital Learning team understand, however, that before you can use these with your students, you need to have some familiarity and confidence in navigating the platform and understanding in how to use some of the core features. We run regular workshops that will help get you started and give you the opportunity to chat through any issues to build both your understanding and your confidence.
The workshops are delivered online using a virtual classroom called Blackboard Collaborate where you can chat in real time with the tutor and other participants from a location convenient to you. The workshops are usually structured in 3 steps. Firstly, the tutor will deliver a short presentation giving examples of how the platform is being used in different teaching contexts and highlighting use of various tools and features. You will then engage with a number of short tasks that guide you through the core features of the platform. During this time you can stay online and speak directly to the tutor if you require further help or support. The session will conclude with a discussion where you can share with the tutor and the other participants your thoughts on the platforms, something you created with them or any other ideas you have.
The workshops last an hour and a half and are scheduled on a weekly rolling basis. You don’t require any special equipment or software – just a quiet space, a laptop connected to the internet, and a set of headphones. Using a microphone would be a plus, but it is not essential.
After many months of quite complex logistics, MyBlogs, Workflow, OAT and connections to Moodle have now been migrated to the new Data Centre in Slough. This was a really important piece of work carried out by IT Services and whilst the benefits of the migration may not be immediately apparent, IT Services have already reported an increase in performance with MyBlogs and Workflow with pages now loading more quickly.Other benefits include a more resilient, and robust service due to more reliable power supplies and enhanced server security which will greatly reduce the risk of server failure and unplanned service outages.
To migrate each platform required us to take each out of service for a period of time. Whilst we tried to schedule the work when there was minimal use of that platform, we know that some colleagues, and students, were inconvenienced by this. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for everyone’s patience and co-operation in working flexibly with us to accommodate the scheduled maintenance times and help IT Services carry out the work necessary.