Nov, 2012

Online Graduate Application Initiative Update

Timelines are very tight in terms of a January 2013 release date, but optimism has increased due to the clarity of the initial requirements document provided to CollegeNET by the UofL design team.  It has been noted that this might save some time in developing the initial prototype of the hosted platform for the UofL to review.  This will be the first of three planned prototype development/review iterations before the application is ready to be launched.

Portal & BI Initiative Update

The Luminis Portal work is proceeding as scheduled, with a minor delay in setting up a test environment due to Hurricane Sandy preventing Ellucian consultants from conducting their sessions.  The Advizor analytics installation and training is also proceeding as scheduled in Advancement, and early feedback is quite positive in terms of allowing staff to visualize their data in ways not previously possible.  The Operational Data Store and Enterprise Data Warehouse (ODS/EDW) planning details are still being worked through, but the project team is targeting January 2013 to begin this phase of the project once Ellucian resources are confirmed.

New Campus Map

Unlike the previous facility-driven campus map, the new map contains expanded content, focusing on both services and students. Visitors to the map can browse campus buildings, services, directions, and contextual information (example: parking lots are labeled, but also the times parking is enforced). But it expands on parking and buildings by providing information like food outlets, operating hours, prices, counseling services, and even the location of the campus defibrillators. It is searchable by keyword and can also provide driving directions from campus to anywhere in the city. In addition to being a way-finding tool, future and new students can use it as a basic online campus tour. The technology also uses wifi signals to shows the user’s device location right on the map itself.

Try out the new Campus Map.

Cybera adds bandwidth capacity

Thanks to Cybera, the University now has a redundant load-sharing internet path providing up to 600MBs of internet bandwidth as of October. This doubles the University’s previous bandwidth and provides critical backup for the main Telus service.

Wireless enhancements

Wireless accesses on campus are now at more than 53,000 per day, as compared with 38,500 at the same time last year. Work done during the summer by the Infrastructure team has dramatically improved the capacity of the University’s wireless network access.

Email station “renos”

The University’s nine email stations have been renovated.  The addition of high-backed stools and more power bars have improved the comfort, use and functionality of the 50 workstations for students.

IT Services Twitter account – @uofl_it_helps

The Solutions Centre has set up a Twitter account to tweet communications relating to news, updates and issues that affect the University community. It will allow IT Services to be more closely linked to its customers, particularly students, providing quick response times.

CIO appointed to Cybera Board

Clark Ferguson has recently been appointed to represent the universities of Lethbridge and Athabasca on Cybera’s Board of Directors. Cybera is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the development of the advanced system of networks and computers created by and for university research. Clark replaces Seamus O’Shea, the U of L’s former VP Academic and Vice Provost, who steps down effective December 1st.

Database Team

IT Services has created a Database team by moving three database administrators from its Systems team into a new unit. This creates two separate management roles and provides greater focus and back-up capabilities. Our database competency is becoming increasingly critical with our recent investments in database-backed systems, such as the Luminis and business intelligence tools.

Student Email Survey Results

As part of the student email revitialization project, ITS along with the email project team, created and distributed a survey to determine what the students wanted in a new email system.  We received a very large response of almost 1500 students with approximately 30% of the surveys submitted with written comments.  It was a confirmation that this topic really matters to  students and we are are in the throes of conducting focus groups before making a solution recommendation.

The survey results revealed some interesting wants of the students, as well as areas that didn’t really matter as much as we thought they would.  For example:

1.  Storage capacity increases are considered a must.  Our current system does not meet the needs of our current population.

2.  Mobile device access to email is becoming a necessity.  The current platform does not support it sufficiently.

3.  Online productivity tools are a desired feature of any new email system.

4.  We need to consider privacy aspects of email, especially for students working in counselling or other sensitive areas of study.

5.  Video chat doesn’t really matter when considering an email solution.

This and other data will begin to shape our recommendations which we hope to have approved by the end of the calendar year.  Pilot projects will then be spun up during the spring semester, with full implementation being completed before the end of summer.

We would like to express our appreciation for all the feedback provided by the students, their participation in the focus groups and want to assure them that we are listening and paying attention to what they want in a new system.