ISIT Report — February 2008

Issues impacting students and teaching

  1. Our campus bookstore website---hosted on the MBS server (3rd-party off-campus) should not ask for the student's campus ID in its account registration process. Since creating an account is not required to browse what books are available at the bookstore and purchasing of books via the website is not possible yet, the whole account registration section has been turned off for now. Unfortunately, if the e-Commerce module (account registration) is re-enabled it will ask for the student's campus ID despite assurances from MBS that we would be able to customize the information asked for.

    Students polled by S.G.A. have found the bookstore website helpful in finding out what textbooks are needed for their classes. Faculty who have students that got the incorrect textbook after using the bookstore website should let the ISIT chairs know.

  2. Student email will be outsourced—to Google sometime in the near future to improve service and reliability. The student email address will have the "" and students won't have the advertisements as long as they are registered students. There is the question of how the 3rd party will be notified of the registration status of the students that needs to be worked out. Every student who registers will be automatically given an account for free. The username will be of the form "firstnamelastnameXXXX", where XXXX is a number that will distinguish one "Juan Lopez" from another "Juan Lopez".
  3. Posting of student-produced educational videos to "iTunes U" for free—will be possible as soon as the LSC (district office) signs the contract. If you have students creating media products for your class, then check out the Apple iTunes U service. It is a great way for students to get exposure (and for the college and your course to get positive publicity if the media products are high quality!).
  4. Grade histograms (distributions) and drop rates for individual faculty are freely available to anyone—on a 3rd-party, commercial website called "Pick a Prof". For some courses, users of the site can get past grading histories as detailed as individual CRNs, while others give a combined histogram for all the sections of a course taught by a faculty member in a given semester. One of the UC's (UC Davis?) lost a lawsuit brought against them when they resisted making the grading histories public, so now all of the schools have been advised by the CCCCO to make their data available to Pick a Prof (and others sites that ask). BC data are coming from our Institutional Research office.

    The concern, of course, is that looking at just grading histories and drop histories will give a misleading impression of what learning is going on in the course and the quality of the course. There is also the concern that the grading histories might be used inappropriately in the faculty evaluation process or to force an instructor to be an easier grader at the expense of quality/academic rigor. Faculty can enter information about themselves and the courses they teach on the site. Faculty are encouraged to investigate the site and give what information they can to provide a more accurate view of what is happening with their courses.

  5. Assistive Workstation stickers—are now on all computer lab workstations that have assistive technology (screen readers, magnifiers, etc.).

Other items of note

  1. Wireless access for students on campus—is now available in the Library and all conference rooms. The wireless access is straight to the internet, NOT to the campus network and campus fileservers (so no network drives or network directories). Once campus I.S. has experience with that, other access points around campus to the internet (NOT to the campus network and fileservers) will be installed. Eventually, we may have wireless access to our campus network. The wireless acceptable use policy will be incorporated into the computer use policy. Employees + students will use their campus network username/password to get access to the wireless service (but not the campus network drives + directories or have I already mentioned that?). Instructions for how to connect to the wireless service will be available on the I.S. website and on the main campus site (probably in the "Student Services" section). Technical problems with the wireless service should be directed to Dean Serabian (X4077) for the time being. Eventually, all of the I.S. techs will be brought up to speed on the wireless network.

    After some experience with the library and conference room wireless service, access points will be added by the S.G.A. to their area. As funding becomes available and after a plan is put into place, we hope to add access points to the computer labs and classrooms (probably Computer Studies ones first). Eventually, the entire campus will have wireless service.

  2. Office 2007 compatibility module—will be automatically downloaded and installed on campus computers starting the week of February 11th. Campus-owned laptops configured to access the campus internal network will get the Office 2007 compatibility module the first time the user of the laptop plugs into the campus network during and after the week of February 11th.

  3. Internet Explorer 7 will not work with our version of Internet Native Banneruntil after June 2008 when Banner is upgraded. There are no known issues with BanWeb—the only problems are with INB.
  4. Microsoft's Vista new operating system—is still several months away at least from being installed on campus computers. Vista does not interact well with our virus checker from Trend Micro. Also, Vista on machines with 2 Gig or less RAM are "sluggish" (and inoperable on machines with 1 Gig or less RAM). Upgrading all computers to sufficient speed and memory to run Vista will take funding and time that we do not have. The earliest we could possibly expect for Vista coming is Fall 2008. [Mac users: the new OS X.5 "Leopard" is snappy on machines with just 1 Gig RAM and rock-solid, secure and is available right now.]

    The LSC will have a server for Vista licensing sometime in Fall 2008. Currently, Vista machines connect to Microsoft to verify that the installed Vista OS is a legitimate copy every time Vista boots up or the user logs in. The Vista licensing server at the LSC will ease the bottleneck from everyone trying to get onto the Microsoft Vista licensing server. The LSC Vista licensing server will work with computers plugged into the campus network; it will not work for using Vista at home (on a campus-owned laptop).

last update: March 4, 2008

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Document author: Nick Strobel
Math-Science 101 (Planetarium), 395-4526