OAK Gets New Look and Functionality

OAK (Online Access to Knowledge), Vanderbilt’s course management system, is expanding current functionality to provide additional services and customizations.  Efficiencies in course delivery and management will also be attained.


Several years ago, a proposal was prepared to enhance OAK that included a consolidated list of requests from the schools and student leaders. The collected information was used as a stepping stone in moving the project forward.  Over time, adjustments will be made to ensure the implementation addresses the current needs of the university that fall within the capabilities of the new software.


Powered by Blackboard Learn, Vanderbilt added the “Community Engagement” system to the “Course Delivery” system to achieve these goals.  In part, OAK will gain the ability to separate official courses from supporting content areas (these areas will be called “organizations” in the future), directed communication and information presented to targeted audiences, and increased ability to manage the system behind the scenes.


OAK Support and supporting departments have been working closely together to develop a timeline that is least disruptive to the community.  A slow roll-out is being implemented.  In December 2011, software installation and configuration began, with customizations coming Sunday August 12 and varying pieces of functionality coming on line throughout the academic year.


What has been done already?

–          Increased the number of application servers

–          Moved the database to a more stable environment

–          Upgraded to Blackboard Learn Release 9.1 Service Pack 8 (a list of changes can be found online)

–          Updated system configurations in preparation for the upcoming changes


What will you see effective Sunday, August 12?

–          Updated interface that reflects a softer, more modern design with a new color scheme

–          “Courses” tab renamed “Courses & Organizations”

–           “YES” tab that links directly to YES (Your Enrollment Services) when logged in with a VUnetID

–           “Help” tab to request help for OAK quickly


What can you expect in the coming months?

–          School of Nursing and School of Medicine pilot program (will begin later in August)

–          Tab to library resources and library account when logged in with a VUnetID

–          “Organizations” section for content in OAK not related to official courses (current “courses” will be gradually converted to “organizations”)

–          A new “Training” section for faculty with handouts for common tasks

–          “Main” tab will contain informational modules instead of links to courses

–          Course enrollment updated near real-time

–          A better way to upload and stream media files



The main OAK website contains news, a list of upcoming down times, help contacts for each of the schools, downloadable help sheets, and an FAQ (self-help) section. Many questions can be answered by visiting the site.

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