Monday, November 5, 2012

November 2012 Update

The November update includes Information Resources accomplishments and news for the previous two months. If you have any questions regarding this organizational update, please feel free to contact Brooke Banks at or x6212.


New iPad Lab

The College of Humanities and Fine Arts used their computer refresh funds to purchase a set of classroom iPads (thirty for students and one for faculty) for the English Computer Lab rather than purchasing new desktop or laptop computers. The iPads have a number of advantages over traditional computers or laptops, including the ability to easily move the ‘computer lab’ to any room.

While these iPads are primarily used in one classroom, they can be used in other classrooms or buildings as needed. Although many students continue to bring their own laptop or tablet devices to class, the iPads are now available so everyone can gather and compile video and audio data, sync field notes, share annotations, create digital stories, compose essays, and give feedback.

As iPads are typically personal computing devices rather than shared devices, the implementation of the iPad lab does bring with it some technical challenges. However, the feedback from faculty and students has been very positive. English 130 faculty member, Kelly Candelaria said, “The iPad lab is a hit with my students. They absolutely love using them. In fact, most of my students talk to one another about how lucky they are to be in a class that uses them… and a benefit I didn’t think of is that I haven’t had to make one copy this semester due to the iPad lab.”

10-Gigabit Network Upgrade

The campus is in the process of upgrading its connection to the Internet and should complete the upgrade by mid-November. Currently, we have two 1-gigabit connections to the Internet. The campus will be upgrading one of the 1-gigabit connections to a 10-gigabit connection. Not only will this increase the campus’s bandwidth capacity to the Internet by a magnitude of 10, but it will also provide a completely redundant connection to the Internet. The increase in availability and reliability of the campus’s Internet connection is a major benefit of the upgrade.

In addition to the upgrade in Internet connectivity, the campus will be provisioning a new connection to the High Performance Research Network (HPRN). The HPRN backbone has 10-gigabits of bandwidth and will provide resources to academic departments with enhanced Internet access requirements for their grants. HPRN connects to the Internet2 Abilene network and will provide leading-edge services for large-application users on campus.

New Library Database: BizMiner

Beginning in October, the Library has licensed access to the BizMiner Library. BizMiner is a professional online business database that provides access to a wide range of business reports, including industry financial reports, profit and loss benchmarks, industry market analysis reports, and other business-oriented statistical reports. Reports can be generated by market (e.g., Agriculture, Utilities, Manufacturing, etc.) at the national, regional, or local level, down to individual zip codes. BizMiner covers 5,000 lines of business.

BIT9 Application Whitelisting Tool Upgrade

BIT9, the campus application whitelisting service, was recently upgraded. Application whitelisting allows the campus to manage which applications are safe for faculty and staff to install and provides a tool for applications to be added to the ‘whitelist’ of safe programs. With this upgrade, IT Support Services is now able to allow after hours staff to quickly and safely approve whitelisting requests. This upgrade was important in order to minimize the disruption to our faculty and staff who work outside of traditional hours. For information on application whitelisting, please visit our Knowledge Base article.

Blackboard Learn

Since the start of the fall semester, Blackboard Learn has delivered over 20 million pages of content to faculty and students, with an average page load time of 1.8 seconds. The graph below displays the number of page views per hour over the course of a typical day. While the system experiences peak loads during the middle of the day, there continues to be high levels of access in the late evening.

As Blackboard Learn continues to be improved and updated, we've established a new weekly maintenance window to allow us time to apply patches and performance tuning changes on a regular basis. The new maintenance window is Thursday mornings from 5:00 am to 8:00 am, although most often maintenance will be completed before 7:00 am to minimize impact on faculty and students. We have completed six weekly maintenances, tuning our performance and applying nearly a dozen patches. Details of past and future maintenance windows can be found on the Learning Technologies blog.

Migrating from Wimba to Blackboard Collaborate

Since 1999, CSU, Chico’s distance learning program has used Wimba to allow students to attend class from a distance and to review archived lectures. During summer 2012, Information Resources worked to complete testing of Blackboard Collaborate and integration with Blackboard Learn as a replacement for Wimba.

Collaborate provides the functionality needed to support a 21st century teaching and learning environment, including two-way audio, multi-point video, interactive whiteboards, application and desktop sharing, rich media, text chatting, breakout rooms, and session recording. Faculty and students can engage real-time as if they were in a traditional classroom.

Over the summer, Technology and Learning Program staff consulted with faculty and held workshops to facilitate the migration from Wimba to Collaborate. Faculty began using Collaborate in the fall 2012 semester.

Information Security Assessments

Information Security has completed an RFP process for the selection of two Northern California firms, Pacific Computer Forensics and Matson & Isom Technology Consulting, to conduct information security assessments of technology supporting the core campus, the Student Health Center and several other areas on campus. These independent assessments will provide a current state baseline upon which to base strategic security efforts and risk mitigation for the campus. The assessments will also address any unremediated findings from the Chancellors Office audit from 2008.

Web Conferencing

Academic Technologies has completed an upgrade to the Meriam Library 027A Web Conferencing room. The room includes a video camera, computer, tabletop microphones, and seating for up to 20. With the addition of a new video camera and software, the number of web conferencing solutions available now includes:
  • Blackboard Collaborate – a full-featured web conferencing tool, connecting multiple conference attendees
  • Skype – one of the industry leading point-to-point conference tools supporting video and voice calls, instant messaging and file sharing
  • Polycom system – standard point-to-point teleconferencing
 MLIB 027A can be reserved by contacting Nancy Park at x5671.

Ongoing IRES Projects

Information Resources is working on a large number of other projects with completion dates in 2012/2013. The links, below, list the projects that Information Resources is currently working on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

August 2012 Update

The Information Resources monthly update focuses on Information Resources' accomplishments during the prior month. As this is the first update, we have included accomplishments for June and July, 2012. Information Resources plans to implement an on-line version of this monthly update sometime this fall. If you have any questions regarding this update, please feel free to contact Brooke Banks at or x6212.


Meriam Library 4th Floor Improvements

Improvements to the 4th floor of the Meriam Library were recently completed. Four collaborative study areas (with media boxes that allow four laptops to share up to two LCD monitors), forty powered tables, lounge seating, soft seating, and whiteboards were added.

Virtual Software Library (VSL)

The Chico State Virtual Software Library (VSL) provides anytime and anywhere access to Windows applications while reducing the need for end-users to install and store those applications on their local devices. With VSL, students and faculty are currently able to access seven applications from home that have traditionally only been available in select campus computer labs.

As of the end of August, 2012, approximately 20 instructors with more than 20 sections and 1200 potential students are set up to use the VSL service this semester. Applications being used in the VSL environment include SPSS, Matlab, Mathmatica, ArcGIS, SAP, Solid Works, and RISA 2D. For more information, please refer to this ITSS Knowledge Base article.

Satellite Dish

The satellite dish project was completed in early July after two years of planning. This was a collaborative effort involving FMS, Procurement, the University Foundation, and multiple external contractors. The project resulted in the installation of a new communications satellite dish on the roof of the Meriam Library, the removal of the satellite dishes from the ground based compound near Siskiyou Hall, and the installation of 100 new bike racks. 

Satellite Dish Outside Siskiyou Hall Before Move
New Bike Racks Outside Siskiyou Hall

Portal Upgrade

On August 20th the campus Portal was upgraded from uPortal version 2.6 to 4.0, providing significant architectural and infrastructure related benefits. For example, downtime was previously required when changes were made to the content of portal channels (also called "portlets"). The upgraded version of the Portal allows IRES to make changes without bringing the system down and impacting users. There were also minor content and design changes. Some problems, however, surfaced when the upgraded Portal encountered high traffic on the first two days of the semester. By Wednesday afternoon these challenges had been resolved. Although the problems encountered were very disruptive to students and faculty, we are now able to provide improved services as a result of the upgrade.

Public Safety Project Phase II

This project is the second phase of the campus' ongoing Public Safety project. Over the summer, six emergency phone towers and fourteen safety cameras were installed.

New Library Reference Service

In July, the Meriam Library implemented LibAnswers, a Q&A reference system and knowledge base, providing text message and Twitter integration. The knowledge base is populated and maintained by Meriam Library faculty. The system grows more robust as more questions and answers are added. Patrons use natural language to ask questions. For common questions and answers already in the knowledge base, patrons receive an answer instantly. When a patron asks a question not in the knowledge base, a librarian answers it once and it then becomes part of the searchable knowledge base for all patrons. 

Project Management Enhancements

Over the past several months, the Information Resources Project Management Office (PMO) has implemented a number of project management standards in order to streamline and standardize Information Resources' project management processes. The standard project definition supports managers in determining what is a project for the purposes of reporting, tracking, and leveraging formal project management processes. The PMO also implemented a standard set of project milestones that define specific measureable accomplishments for each project. These milestones will facilitate tracking and reporting of project progress. These milestones were implemented in a SharePoint Project Tracking tool, as well as in other reporting tools. Below is a screenshot of a portion of our top priority project list. IRES has four project lists: Top Priority Projects, Medium Priority Projects, Information Security Projects, and Facilities Projects.

Blackboard Learn

Nearly 670 faculty have now been trained in the new Learning Management System, Blackboard Learn. As of the beginning of the fall semester, courses are being taught in Blackboard Learn, with no courses being provided from the old Learning Management System, Vista. Preliminary statistics indicate that 78% of faculty and 92% of students are using Blackboard Learn. For more information regarding how faculty are using Learn, see the informative faculty "Spotlight" YouTube videos created by Academic Technologies.

Service Desk Update

Each semester Information Technology Support Services prepares for the return of faculty and students to campus. The chart to the right illustrates the number of calls received and entered into our trouble ticketing system. On Monday, August 27th, due to challenges with Portal/authentication over 375 calls were placed to the service desk. The chart illustrates how these challenges impacted the service desk's ability to answer calls. 

Academy eLearning

Academic Technologies, in cooperation with Deans, Faculty, and Academic Affairs, provided administrative, technical, and instructional support to the Academy e-Learning faculty cohort in successfully launching their re-designed courses. More than 2000 hours were spent by the Academy eLearning team to support faculty during the three-week intensive program in June. 

The chart below summarizes the four year impact of this program. The majority of the redesigned courses in Cohort IV were for new GE Pathways courses. 

Cohort I
Cohort II
Cohort III
Cohort IV

4 Year Total
36 Teams
86 Faculty