“I tried to do my homework but the Board of Regents ate it,” Community College student Parke Stearns wants his professor to know.

It’s an excuse that just might work.

Blackboard — the computer management system used by the state’s largest college system to post and turn in homework assignments, launch online discussions about class assignments, among other things  — has been working sporadically since classes returned this semester.

“Please Note: At the start of the semester BbLearn usage is at its peak. Please be patient should you encounter any slowness,” a welcome message on Southern’s login page last week read.

Frustrated with his inability to turn in his homework, Stearns decided to write an email to the Board of Regents, the governing board of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities.

“I have not been able to get on for the past 2 hours. This is the second time. So this will be my homework instead,” he wrote them last week. “As a student, I have a good idea of what I need; a good instructor, a class room with utilities, and supplies. What I don’t need is a fancy new blackboard that… does not work.”

Faculty are also having problems.

“The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. Please contact the server administrator, root@localhost and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error,” Andrew Smyth, a faculty member at Southern Connecticut State University, shared on Facebook of his latest problem with Blackboard.

“What might I have done? — clicked on the course I wanted to open,” he wrote.

Trouble with the college system’s information technology (IT) infrastructure has been a problem in recent months. Recognizing that something needed be done, the regents earlier this year created a new committee to handle all things IT.

A spokeswoman for the system said Friday that officials are working to resolve the problem.

“There have been problems identifeid with Blackboard in several schools, so [the system’s president] and the [campus] presidents are meeting on Monday to fix it,” said Juliet Manalan.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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