Blackboard’s response speed slowed noticeably again yesterday, the third consecutive Monday that the website has had slow or interrupted service.
Internet Technology Services (ITS) reported the reduced speeds at 1:28 p.m. on the ITS system status website where ITS regularly reports on the status of various technology services such as Blackboard, BU Brain and BMail. The University also sent out a supplemental B-Line email to all students at 3:30 p.m. alerting them that the system was experiencing problems.
During the next three hours, ITS reported that they had contacted Blackboard Inc. to try to identify and resolve the issue. At 4:46 p.m., the time of the last update to the ITS website yesterday, ITS said it was still monitoring the situation in attempt to identify the cause.
Blackboard’s slowed response times yesterday were not nearly as severe as the issues Blackboard has experienced intermittently during the past few weeks, according to Mark Reed, associate vice president of ITS.
“While response is sporadic, it’s nothing like it was at its worst last week,” Reed said. ”My last few tests yielded about two to five-second response time, though it has been as long as 30 seconds.”
During the past two weeks, Blackboard has experienced fluctuations in its response time, rendering it unusable for extended periods of time.
The problem first arose on Monday, Oct. 3. Though the site was never technically offline, the reduced response speeds of the site had students waiting upwards of 10 minutes for one page to fully load, Reed said.
ITS said the problem should have improved when programmers at Blackboard provided them with a patch to correct a bug that was not allowing students’ sessions to close properly.
After applying the patch on Tuesday morning, Blackboard was functional for the full day on Tuesday, Oct. 5 before response times dropped again on Wednesday, Oct. 6.
An increase in memory on Wednesday afternoon provided another temporary fix to the site until Monday, Oct. 10, when speeds dropped to five to 10 minutes of load time for a page to open completely.
Reed said ITS believed that it and Blackboard Inc. had successfully identified a new indexing feature, which the company applied to its website in a recent software update, as the overarching issue last Tuesday. After applying a patch to correct the indexing problem, Blackboard was operational for six full days before response speeds dropped again yesterday.
Students have taken notice of the reduced speeds during the past weeks and have voiced their complaints that a crucial tool is so frequently unreliable.
Raymond Li, a senior majoring in biology, said he was unprepared for class last week due to the slow response times.
“I couldn’t get my notes from class or print things I needed for class,” Li said. “[Blackboard's] always slow for me.”
Amarnath Kuppannan, a junior majoring in industrial and systems engineering, said that he expects more effective services from the University.
“We’re paying so much money,” Kuppannan said. “I’d like to know that I’m getting good services for it. Especially Internet. It’s so slow on campus.”
ITS reports all updates on Blackboard issues at http://vertigo.cc.binghamton.edu/its_status/.