Blog from August, 2013

Desire2Learn's Network Operation Center (NOC) has just released a service advisory. According to the NOC, "Some clients are having experiencing slow performance or difficulty accessing the Learning Environment." As one of the NOC's clients, Millersville University may be affected.

The NOC staff are working on the issue.

Due to new, security-focused changes, version 23 of the Firefox web browser will not open some links contained within Desire2Learn.

EDIT: The newest versions of Chrome and Internet Explorer (IE) will not open the same links.

Update - 28 August 2013

This issue affects more than just Firefox. For updated, and more complete information, please see "Understanding mixed content".

Background

Firefox 23 blocks mixed active content, that is, web pages that include both encrypted and non-encrypted sections. Mozilla made the change with Firefox 23 in an effort to protect users from thieves who use non-encrypted sections within otherwise encrypted web pages as a way of stealing information. For instance, credit card information entered into an apparently secure web page on a shopping site might be copied elsewhere by a non-encrypted section within the store's shopping cart page.

How Desire2Learn Is Affected

Desire2Learn, a secure, encrypted website, offers several ways of linking out to web pages on other sites. Some links to outside, non-encrypted websites fit Firefox 23's strict definition of mixed active content, so even though the links aren't malicious, Firefox blocks them.

Specifically, Firefox 23 blocks any link to an external web page where:

  1. the external web page isn't encrypted
  2. the link is set to open in the same frame or the whole window

What to Do

As a Course Instructor

Please review the materials within your course and check all your links to external web pages.

Links to non-encrypted web pages begin with "http://". Links to encrypted web pages begin with "https://". The "s" indicates the web page is secure.

For each non-encrypted (http) web link you find, make certain the link is set to open in a new window. Do not choose either the "Same Frame" or the "Whole Window" option for non-encrypted links.

As a Student

Instead of Firefox, you may try a different supported web browser; however, the latest versions of Chrome and Internet Explorer (IE) also block mixed active content. Only Safari does not yet do so.

If you continue to use Firefox 23, you may run across links your web browser refuses to open. When this happens, Firefox will not display an obvious message. Instead, Firefox quietly adds a small icon of a shield ( ) to the left end of the address bar. Click the shield icon to open a pop-up, and within the pop-up click the down arrow to reveal the option, "Disable Protection on This Page". You will need to click the "Disable Protection on This Page" option for every Desire2Learn course page that contains one or more blocked links.

Due to scheduled maintenance, Blackboard Collaborate (Online Rooms) will be unavailable from 10 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, August 17, until 2 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, August 18.

Only Blackboard Collaborate, available through the Online Rooms tool in Desire2Learn, will be affected by this maintenance period. Desire2Learn will remain online throughout and all tools but Online Rooms will function normally.

Due to scheduled maintenance, the Binder and Assignment Grader mobile apps will not be usable from 10 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, 8 August, to 1 a.m. Eastern on Friday, 9 August. During this time, Desire2Learn technicians will take the EduDentity servers, used by Binder and Assignment Grader for authentication, off-line for scheduled maintenance.

The Desire2Learn system itself will remain on-line and available. The EduDentity servers only provide authentication services to the Binder and Assignment Grader mobile apps, so only the Binder and Assignment Grader mobile apps will be affected by this maintenance period.

Due to scheduled maintenance, Blackboard Collaborate (Online Rooms) will be unavailable from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, August 8. No patches or upgrades to Blackboard Collaborate are planned for this maintenance period. Instead, this scheduled downtime will allow Blackboard to perform necessary computer and network hardware upgrades at the Collaborate hosting center.

Only Blackboard Collaborate, available through the Online Rooms tool in Desire2Learn, will be affected by this maintenance period. Desire2Learn will remain online throughout and all tools but Online Rooms will function normally.

Due to scheduled, monthly maintenance, Desire2Learn will be unavailable from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Eastern on Sunday, August 11. No patches or upgrades to Desire2Learn are planned for this maintenance period. Instead, this monthly, scheduled downtime allows Desire2Learn's data center to perform necessary computer and network hardware upgrades.

There will not be a scheduled, monthly maintenance period during September 2013.

Before the start of the fall 2013 semester, Blackboard will turn off access to the Wimba servers. Wimba will be unavailable thereafter, during the fall 2013 semester and beyond.

Collaborate is the tool Blackboard built as a replacement for Wimba. Collaborate provides functionality similar to that Wimba, improved audio & video quality, an updated look-and-feel, and modern features such as support for mobile devices.

Existing session archives stored in Wimba will not be copied over to, or be available from within, Collaborate. If you wish to preserve any sessions you have archived in Wimba, please export them before the start of the fall semester.

For Collaborate training, please see the training registration page.

If you have other needs or questions, please contact the IT Help Center.