March 2015

0 Commentsby   |  04.10.15  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for March 2015 as well as our ongoing work:

  • 92 development issues and 128 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.92%.
  • Fast fact – Computing Services worked closely with the Office of the Registrar to implement Ellucian Degree Works, which replaces another degree evaluation system called CAPP.  Degree Works was brought online in the last year to empower students to see their remaining degree requirements and encourage them to finish on time.  It also allows academic advisors to see what substitution and waiver forms have been applied to the student’s degree plan and how they are progressing toward completing their degree.  Use of Degree Works has been critical in the last two months in preparation for the fall class registration cycle, which was successfully completed earlier this week.
  • ACU Dallas projects – We are creating a specialized site and content in myACU for the new ACU Dallas students, which will go live on April 24th.  Planning is in progress for a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution to support recruiting and admissions.
  • Net revenue project – Computing Services in conjunction with Finance, Financial Aid, and Admissions is beginning a project to gather, analyze, and project data related to revenue as it comes from tuition. This project will help decision makers analyze net revenue and discount amounts/rates for future growth.
  • New Student Orientation – We worked with folks from Admissions, the First-Year Program and Student Life to prepare for the start of NSO registration, which kicked off earlier this week.  Much of the work revolved around changing the name from Passport to New Student Orientation and supporting the increased number of orientation sessions.
  • Sophomore housing registration – We are working with Residence Life Education and Housing to manage sophomore housing registration completely online through functionality in RMS.  This is a significant improvement compared to the process used previously that required manual work.  Sophomores can select roommates, halls and rooms directly in RMS with functionality that is similar to what some major hotel brands offer in their checkin process.  Additionally, sophomores will digitally sign contracts during the sign-up process, which will streamline checkin when they arrive in August.

See March 2015 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

 

February 2015

0 Commentsby   |  03.10.15  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for February 2015 as well as our ongoing work:

  • 49 development issues and 133 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.98%.
  • Fast fact – Xythos, also known as ACU Files or simply Files, is an enterprise file service that allows you to place files in a central location so they can be accessed online.  You can upload, access, and share files from with anyone at ACU or outside of the university. Last year there were 225,792 files totaling 1.1 terabytes uploaded and/or modified through home, course and departmental folders in Xythos.
  • Graduate School program buildout – We continue to work with the Graduate School to prepare for the launch of new programs later this year.  Discussions are on-going for the use of new applications for the recruiting and admissions process as well as specialized content in myACU.
  • InTouch update – We are updating the InTouch mobile application due to technology changes in the Apple development environment.  Our development work will have the added benefit of making InTouch available to Android devices.
  • Financial Aid projects – We have been working with Student Financial Services and Enrollment Services to help them various projects, including Banner updates to support 2015-2015 financial aid awards, cloning the Banner production database to a test environment for continued testing, and work on the Hardwick Day data set for financial aid analysis.
  • Talisma CRM update – We are working with our vendor, Campus Management, as well as Enrollment Management to plan for a major update of our CRM for recruiting and admissions. We have tentatively scheduled this work for late May.
  • Business Intelligence – We continue to make small steps in transitioning to Cognos as our enterprise reporting tool.  We are working to provide better coverage of Banner data in the Ellucian-delivered operational data store (ODS) so that data currently accessible in Discoverer will be available for reporting in Cognos.  Several report authors are creating Cognos reports that will be used for production reporting.  We are still in the very early stages of an extensive process to migrate all of our reporting from Discoverer to Cognos that will likely stretch through the next two years.

See February 2015 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

 

January 2015

0 Commentsby   |  02.06.15  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for January 2015 as well as ongoing work:

  • 74 development issues and 193 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.75%.
  • Fast fact – In 2014, there were 2,510,326 successful single sign-on logins, which resulted in 3,569,256 user sessions with services such as myACU, Gmail and Self-Service Banner (SSB).  Our single sign-on service is powered by an open source product called Central Authentication Service or CAS for short, which we have used for the last decade.
  • myACU look and feel updates –  Last week we deployed a new directory search application that uses the new myACU look and is compatible with mobile web browsers.  This morning we deployed an updated look to Self-Service Banner (SSB).  We will continue to work on refreshing applications that use the old myACU look and feel.
  • Class attendance monitoring job – We have created a job that will automatically notify the SOAR program staff whenever a student has been absent for more than 1/3 of class meetings.  The job will send an email report to the SOAR staff on a weekly basis so that they can proactively help students get back on track before it is too late.  We are hopeful that this will have a positive impact on our ability to retain students since class attendance is a major indicator of student success.
  • Canvas LMS – The Spring 2015 pilot is well under way with 79 faculty, 196 courses,  and 2,544 students.  The courses appear to be well used according to the following statistics gathered this morning: 2,339 assignments, 485 discussion topics, 2,538 files uploaded, and 118 media recordings.  We continue to prepare to automate data integration so that courses and enrollments can be managed automatically as with our other course tools (Blogs, Classfolders and Dropboxes, and iTunes U).
  • CampusQuad – We are assisting Student Life with a pilot of CampusQuad for the Spring 2015 term that launched this week.  CampusQuad is a mobile app intended to improve campus communication, especially among the student body.
  • Graduate School program buildout – Project planning is underway as the Graduate School prepares to launch new programs later this year.  We are working with Jay Goin, Executive Director for the Graduate School, to plan the use of new applications for the recruiting and admissions process as well as a portal for enrolled students.
  • Business Intelligence – For the first time, an additional set of Banner data that is not included in the Ellucian-delivered operational data store (ODS) was migrated and made available to Cognos for reporting.  This process will be repeated many times so that the ODS includes a comprehensive set of data for reporting.  Several report authors have written Cognos reports that will be used for production reporting.  This is the start of an extensive process to migrate all of our reporting from Discoverer to Cognos.

See January 2015 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

 

December 2014

0 Commentsby   |  01.09.15  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for December 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 47 development issues and 79 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.97%.
  • Fast fact – For over five years we have provided faculty with a class attendance tool.  During the Fall 2014 term, 549 classes had at least one attendance event recorded that involved a total of 3,790 students.  224 classes had 20 or more attendance events recorded for the term, which involved 3,171 students.  We are working to develop a job that will automatically notify the SOAR program staff whenever a student has been absent for more than 1/3 of class meetings.  This will allow the staff to proactively help students get back on track before it is too late.  We are hopeful that this will have a positive impact on our ability to retain students since class attendance is a major indicator of student success.
  • Canvas LMS – Dr. Robert Rhodes, Provost, announced that Canvas will be our enterprise learning management system (LMS).  Canvas is accessible through single sign-on and planning for data integration has begun.  We have been working closely with a team of folks from the Adams Center and Educational Technology to prepare for a Spring 2015 pilot.
  • myACU theme update – We deployed a minor update to the look and feel of myACU this week, which improved the header navigation on both desktop and mobile clients.  In the coming weeks we will deploy a new directory search application, which uses the new myACU look and is compatible with mobile web browsers.  We will continue to work on refreshing applications that still use the old myACU look and feel.
  • Blogs update –  Earlier this week we deployed a major WordPress update that keeps blogs.acu.edu up-to-date and addresses some known security issues.
  • Employee benefits enrollment site – We are working with folks from HR and Payroll to implement the data integration with Banner for 2015 benefits to go into effect for the first pay periods in 2015.
  • Banner hardware update – We are moving the Banner application tier to a new server.  Users from the functional areas are helping us test so that we have a smooth transition.
  • Business Intelligence – Progress continues to be made on our projects with Data Cookbook, writing reports with Cognos, and expanding the operational data store (ODS) to include data that is not delivered by Ellucian (Banner) as well as custom ACU data.

See December 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

November 2014

0 Commentsby   |  12.10.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for November 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 46 development issues and 108 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.96%.
  • Fast fact – Computing Services maintains a complex set of integrations that allow applications to work seamlessly through a single login and the automated sharing of data between applications.  We maintain numerous data integrations that support applications such as CS Gold (ID cards), RMS (housing system for Residence Life), NueMD (Medical Clinic patient software), and Pharos 360 (student retention intelligence).  We were pioneers in providing users with access to many web-based applications through a single login, including myACU, Self-Serve Banner, Lynda.com, and Google Apps.  We are regularly creating new integrations as we adopt new applications or identify new means of automating communication between systems.
  • Canvas LMS – Dr. Robert Rhodes, Provost, announced that Canvas will be our enterprise learning management system (LMS).  We started preliminary work on the single sign-on and data integration that this implementation will require.  We will work with a team of folks from the Adams Center and Educational Technology to prepare for a pilot during the Spring 2015 term and a full rollout beginning with the Fall 2015 term.
  • myACU theme update – We are testing minor modifications to the look and feel of the myACU theme that will be released between the fall and spring terms.  This will include some refreshing of applications that still use the old myACU look and feel.
  • Blogs update –  We are testing a major WordPress update that we plan to apply between the fall and spring terms.  This will keep blogs.acu.edu up-to-date and address some known security issues.
  • Employee benefits enrollment site – We completed single sign-on and data integration for the new employee benefits site in preparation for benefits enrollement.  Now we are working with folks from HR and Payroll to implement the data integration with Banner for 2015 benefits to go into effect.
  • Banner hardware update – We are moving the Banner application tier to a new server.  Users from the functional areas are helping us test so that we have a smooth transition.
  • Hardwick Day financial aid analysis – ACU hired Hardwick Day to help craft our financial aid strategy, which requires that we provide them with a data set for analysis.  We finished up preliminary work to provide a weekly data set and are awaiting the results of their testing.
  • Business Intelligence – We are moving forward with the implementation of Data Cookbook for managing data governance. Several campus offices are writing production reports with Cognos.  The operational data store (ODS) is being expanded to include data that is not delivered by Ellucian (Banner) as well as custom ACU data.

See November 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

October 2014

0 Commentsby   |  11.05.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for October 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 76 development issues and 133 end-user support requests were resolved.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.87%.
  • Fast fact – Computing Services quickly reacts to various security issues, including newly-discovered vulnerabilities in software, phishing attempts that sometimes result in compromised accounts, and attacks of our applications that cause slow responses and/or downtime.  We work closely with the folks in Enterprise Infrastructure and Technology Support to address these issues and identify best practices to help us be proactive in the future.   We consider the security of users, applications and data to be a core part of our work to provide services to campus.
  • Graduate School ramp-up – We have been working with Jay Goin, Executive Director for the Graduate School, to help plan the use of new applications for the recruiting and admissions process.  Folks in Enterprise Infrastructure and Technology Support are also working with Jay to plan other aspects of the build-out.
  • Hardwick Day financial aid analysis – ACU hired Hardwick Day to help craft our financial aid strategy, which requires that we provide them with a data set for analysis.  We provided them with a large data set a few weeks ago as a starting place.  Now we are finishing up work to provide a weekly data set.
  • Business Intelligence – It has been a busy last few weeks moving forward with implementation of new BI initiatives.  We licensed a tool for managing governance for new reports, Data Cookbook, and will begin the implementation process this week. We are working with campus report writers to convert existing Discoverer reports to Cognos reports.  The operational data store (ODS) is being amended to include Banner data that does not currently exist as well as ACU custom data that is needed for reporting.
  • Activity Insight – Most of our work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight has been completed.  Our focus will start to shift to regular maintenance once faculty pilot testing is completed later this fall.

See October 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

September 2014

0 Commentsby   |  10.08.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for September 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 105 development issues and 207 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.54% for the month of September, which was impacted by a network event that occurred on the evening of September 24th.
  • Fast fact for the month – In April 2007, ACU was one of the first schools to switch all employee and student email accounts to Google Apps for Education.  This allowed us to provide mobile-accessible tools at the start of the mobile learning initiative in 2008.  Google Apps has become an integral toolset for many students and employees, as demonstrated by the six million emails exchanged in the last month and 776,282 total assets stored in Drive.
  • Start of school – We were still in full start-of-school mode during the first half of September.  This included on-going maintenance for card access to campus doors and reporting needs.
  • Hardwick Day financial aid analysis – ACU has hired Hardwick Day to help craft our financial aid strategy, which requires that we provide them with a data set for analysis.  We have provided similar data sets to other vendors in the past, but they have asked us for unique data elements that will require some additional work.
  • Cognos training – An Ellucian consultant provided Cognos training to a select group of ACU folks who will be writing reports.  There will be additional work to help report writers become skilled in this new reporting environment, which will include one-on-one mentoring as well as ongoing time for the group to meet.
  • Activity Insight – We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  We have submitted historical data import requests, which should be completed in the next few weeks.  Our focus will start to shift to regular maintenance once faculty pilot testing is completed.

See September 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

August 2014

0 Commentsby   |  09.05.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for August 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 90 development issues and 237 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.73% for the month of August, which was impacted by the campus power outage that took place on August 8th.
  • Fast fact for the month: Computing Services maintains a service portfolio of over 120 applications, backend services and data integrations.  Our highly-skilled team creates, installs, maintains and supports what spans across many technologies, hosting configurations, clients, programming languages and vendors.
  • Start of school – We are in full start-of-school mode.  This includes providing card access for campus doors and helping teachers with the set up of course tools.  We will continue to dedicate a lot of time to these issues through early September.
  • BI planning and training – We met with key data experts from across campus last month to discuss plans for the creation of a comprehensive, cohesive set of data that can be used for reporting and analytics.  Cognos BI has been adopted as our enterprise reporting tool to support this effort.  We will train key report writers later this month.
  • myACU update – The new myACU theme was deployed on August 5th as mentioned in the previous update.  There were a few residual issues and updates to handle following the go-live.  This update improved the experience of our mobile and tablet users, which accounted for almost 35% of all user sessions during the first week of classes.
  • Single sign-on security update – In the midst of start-of-school preparations, we applied an update to the single sign-on client component of many of our applications to address a known vulnerability.
  • Business Intelligence updates – We are working through upgrades to multiple BI tools, including Tableau, Cognos BI, and Cognos TM1.  The updates insure we remain up-to-date as we prepare to push out wider adoption of Cognos BI in particular.
  • Activity Insight – We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  We are working to push additional historical data into the system before pilot testing begins later this month.

See August 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

July 2014

0 Commentsby   |  08.08.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for July 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 61 development issues and 150 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.91% for the month of July.
  • myACU improvements – We released an updated look to myACU on August 5th.  The update improves the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu, makes myACU more mobile-friendly, and improves the load time of key pages.
  • Web theme development – We have been working on a new web theme that mirrors our work with myACU, which will allow us to push out a common theme to many of our web applications.  This will improve our development process and insure that applications are more mobile-friendly.
  • Infrastructure changes – We worked with Enterprise Infrastructure to complete multiple server moves so that we can provide service with up-to-date hardware.
  • Business Intelligence updates – We are working through upgrades to multiple BI tools, including Tableau, Cognos BI, and Cognos TM1.  The updates insure we remain up-to-date as we prepare to push out wider adoption to Cognos BI in particular.
  • Single sign-on update – A major update to the open source software we use for single sign-on, Central Authentication Server (CAS), was released in late spring. The update includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements, including enhancements to the password management features we introduced last fall.  We are working to implement all of our customizations and plan to release this into production sometime this fall.
  • Activity Insight – We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  We have completed most of the initial work with the last few remaining items to be completed soon. This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.

See July 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.

Fast fact for the month: ACU introduced the first version of myACU at the start of the Fall 2000 semester with the goal of allowing students to access their e-mail accounts, academic and financial records, and file server accounts from one site with a single login.  The original myACU was modeled after web portals provided by companies such as Yahoo! and Netscape.  myACU has evolved some over the years, but still seeks to meet the primary goal of making it easier for people to get to the resources they need.

June 2014

0 Commentsby   |  07.01.14  |  Uncategorized

Here are some of the highlights for June 2014 as well as ongoing work:

  • 60 development issues and 141 end-user support tickets were resolved during the month.
  • We recorded an overall application uptime of 99.89% for the month of June.
  • Banner proxy access –  We opened Banner proxy access for all current students on July 1st.  The  proxy management feature allows students to grant others online access to view certain pieces of information in Self Service Banner.   Students can share information regarding their transcript, financial aid awards, grades, and holds.  Access is granted by e-mail address, so anyone with a valid e-mail address can be added as a Proxy user.  The most common scenario is a student granting a parent or spouse access to personal information.
  • myACU improvements – We will perform final user testing this month and then will release the updated look the week of August 4th.  This update will improve the look and feel to better match the new design of www.acu.edu, make myACU more mobile friendly, and improve the load time of key pages.
  • Single sign-on update – A major update to the open source software we use for single sign-on, Central Authentication Server (CAS), was released in late spring. The update includes a number of bug fixes and enhancements, including enhancements to the password management features we introduced last fall.  We are working to implement all of our customizations and plan to release this into production sometime in early August.
  • Cognos BI and TM1 – We will work with Financial Operations to test and document the automated budgeting project over the course of the next year in preparation for its use with FY16 budgeting.  In addition to this, we are implementing extensive changes to the TM1 Finance and Budget models for the new fiscal year.
  • Activity Insight – We continue to work with the Office of the Provost to provide data integration between Banner and Activity Insight.  Faculty accounts have been created and single sign-on integration has been enabled.  We are now working on additional data integration with Banner, including class information and faculty demographics. This implementation will significantly enhance the ability to collect and report this data for accreditation and other university needs.
  • Mobile printing – We worked with our tech support folks to complete the software update and server moves on June 13th.  Mobile printing is now available, though we will not publicize it until August so that we have time to work out all the quirks.

See June 2014 – Resolved Issues for a more in-depth summary.