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.