A technical glitch that affected the online learning system Blackboard Ultra worldwide resulted in the CNMI Public System cancelling its online classes yesterday, Feb. 22, with hopes that the issue would be fixed today, Tuesday.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said in a telephone interview that PSS teachers encountered an issue with Blackboard Ultra, which PSS uses for its online classes, at 8am yesterday morning and, within an hour, it was discovered to be a global issue.
That forced PSS to cancel its online classes yesterday—also called synchronous classes—requiring PSS teachers to transition their classes to asynchronous instruction, which means students were given instructions and assignments that they could complete on their own for the day.
According to Ada, the students weren’t penalized for attendance due to the complicated situation, although yesterday was still considered a school day. Teachers were instructed to email each of their students learning packets that they can then complete on their own time.
“We have been using [Blackboard Ultra] as our online learning system platform for 10 years now and this is the first time something like this has happened,” Ada said. “We are now working on a contingency plan to prepare for next time, so that we can prevent any potential delay in our students’ learning.”
Ada stated that the “technical glitch” occurred at 8am and, after a brief call, Blackboard Ultra engineers are already working on fixing the issue and are aiming to resolve it by today, Feb. 23.
“Thank you to all parents for understanding and continuing to support your children’s learning,” said Ada.
One parent who spoke with Saipan Tribune said that she received one automated message early in the morning telling her about the technical issue and then another one informing her about the cancellation of online classes. PSS later issued a letter to all parents informing them of the matter.