2005 Report

Academic Affairs and Department Chairs Conference (8.12.05) – session concerning IT infrastructure with David Ferro (chair, ARCC), Gail Niklason (Director, CE), Luke Fernandez (CE).


There have been a number of efforts to discover how faculty, students, and staff are engaged with IT in WSU.   Our primary finding is that faculty have asked for a means to convey their thoughts/concerns.   We want to provide the means through several vehicles; focus groups, surveys, ARCC - as well as address specific issues.   This report summarizes the findings of various efforts, positive steps taken as a result of the findings, directions for the future.   This session also aims to solicit the advice of the present chairs and representatives as well.   This handout will be available at http://faculty.weber.edu/arcc/

1. Findings (ARCC faculty survey, focus groups, IT survey, etc.)

2. Ongoing and future Solutions

3. Opening a Dialog (or what wasn’t found and wasn’t thought of as solution)


1.0 Findings

    • Findings from ARCC survey (January/February 2005)

1.11 General use of IT questions

  • The responses indicate that technology is more critical than ever.   No surprise.  
  • ChiTester is far more popular with the respondents than other online testing approaches – and vocally so.  
  • Respondents also commented on the failures of Vista and email, and possibly insecure testing online.

1.12 Student use of technology

  • There is a great deal of concern about student preparation.   Many other faculty don’t believe this to be a problem at all.  
  • There is generally a call for increased training here.

1.13 Funding for IT

  • Funding for multimedia classrooms top the list;
  • …followed by updating faculty computers.
  • …followed by assorted, including discipline specific technology needs.

1.14Issues of support for faculty using technology (includes faculty responsibility and access for network issues.

  • The responses indicate that email and network outages top the list in importance for repair.  
  • Second on the list appears to be updating faculty computers.   This historically has been an interesting issue with many faculty not wanting to be forced to upgrade while many others (more than anticipated honestly) would like upgrades.  
  • Many comments where faculty indicated that IT needs to remember that they serve faculty and student needs.   Some problems with arbitrary network and email decisions (no .zip attachments, planned outages or upgrades at “inappropriate” times.  
  • While lower on the list there was also some commentary on support needing to be “professionals, not part time students” and responding faster/better.  
  • Also, volunteered comments about creating more wireless access.
  • Respondents overwhelming believed that faculty play a role in network security and would attend a class addressing user issues in network security.   A distinct minority rejected both.
  • By more than 4 to 1, faculty would like real-time information about what online services are available.

1.15 Improving the ARCC

  • The most obvious repeated comment here was increased funding for ARCC.   Some comments on improving process (link to rspg, fund earlier in year, link better to IT, communicate what will be funded better).  
  • A couple comments that don’t like the process at all.  
  • Some interesting suggestions that are out of category like making students pay for their print outs and copies.

1.16 Respondents’ college

  • College of health had the highest respondents.  
  • Education the lowest.



Ferro’s summary:

- ARCC should continually improve its process.   It also needs to make faculty aware of its process.

- We should push ahead with yearly training on networks for faculty (and others) to improve security.

- Networks and email reliability must be improved.   Some support issues exist as well.

- Calls for improving other software (like Vista) must also be taken seriously.

- Funding for multimedia classrooms, faculty upgrades top the list.   We need to coordinate with IT, and administration to think strategically about these issues.

- Continue to increase communication of user needs to IT (and Cont. Ed. also)    

- The online testing group should look at these responses to guide its approach.




1.2 WebCT Focus Group Summary (July 12, 14, 26 2005) [from December, 2004 focus groups]


Main Concerns:


- Browser Tune Up –hard to understand what you need to do.   Students can't figure it out.

- Notification when Vista is down

- Want live help – all the time

- Course list is too long.   They want past semester sections off!

    If not, can they at least be lumped together by semester?   Can we lock students out

- Help button in Vista is not helpful.


Student Training:

            - Student training (most faculty didn't know we do this already)

            - Make student training mandatory! (Add Vista component in computer literacy             class.)

            - "Start Here" student tutorial needs to be updated



Grade Book:

            - Student names don't drop off grade book list when student drops class

            - Want to be able to organize grade book columns in the template

            - Don't like having to release grades every semester

            - Complicated formulas.   Have to delete the formula all the way back to the error.

            - Some want running percentage / grade (some don't)

            - Overriding scores is frustrating (if a score is already in the grade book and a    student turns an assignment in, the instructor gets a screen that says "accept or       override existing score.

            - No reports can be run in the grade book.  

            - Column headings change order (between grade tab and view all tab).   Students                        don't see it in the same order as instructor.

            - There are too many steps to save grades into an Excel spreadsheet.

            - When inputting scores, it flips you back to the top of the list instead of going to            he next student.

            - Don't like the mandatory midterm and final columns.

            - Want the default for a column to be zero

            - WebCT – please make the grade book better!



            - Want Vista email to connect to GroupWise (some do, some don't)

            - Would like email icon to show up under course list in each section (like           discussions and assignments)



            - Students have problems adding attachments to assignments

            - It's hard to find the assignments that you have already graded.

            - Can't run reports on assignments

            - Want to be able to edit within the assignment and not download, then upload   back into Vista.   Grading assignments is a complex   process.



            - Don't use the assessment tool because it isn't secure and difficult to set them up.

            - Quizzes and assignments are hard to move from Chi Tester to Vista

            - Instructor can't make comments within the body of an essay question.   Must    copy and paste parts into the box and then make corrections. Takes too many      steps.   Very frustrated with this problem!

            - Wants a "are you sure" prompt before resetting an assessment.



Discussion Board:

            - Students names don't show up in the grading list if they don't go into the                       discussion topics.

Chat Room:

            - Chat room fails too much



            - Training needs to be more "hands on."

            - Help sessions (one on one) are more valuable than training sessions.

            - Support people in the colleges need to have training – not just faculty

            - Training was more like an introduction, not the meat of it.

            - Presenting everything at once was overloading.

            - Want to know what kind of problems the students are going to run into.


Positive Items:


-WSU Online provides good support

- TBE had student tech (Jen Morgan) go into their classes on the first day and show       students how to navigate in Vista.

-Likes the way grades are input in the discussion tool.   Wish all tools had this type of     grading.

- Vista is great for enhanced courses

- Some like WebCT Vista better than the old system

- Good training options (group or individual)

- Glad training was cut down to the nuts and bolts

- Like being able to refer problems to technical support people.

- The getting started CD's are helpful.


2.0 Ongoing and Future Solutions


2.1 What has been done:

- OTSC (online testing steering committee) created with representation from faculty, admin, programming.

- Instituted single project manager (Jim Cox) for all ARCC funded multimedia classroom upgrades.

- Vista steering committee visited idea of becoming Academic Computing Committee and now includes representation from ARCC.

- Survey results put onto ARCC web page (http://faculty.weber.edu/arcc/)

- Inclusion of IT issues in this Chair’s meeting.

- Open meeting between IT, CE, and ARCC in May 2005 with results below.

- IT, CE, and Faculty “town meeting” being organized.

- Subcommittee formed to look into Vista gradebook issue.

- Effort underway to address system down time.


2.2 Further Discussions and results of open meeting between IT, CE, and ARCC in May 2005:


- Need to address vista access and banner problem - jean fruth and tech people (banner-bruce bowen).

- Need policy for international/domestic access to WSU network.   Arbitrary IP shutdown must be addressed.

- Too often Training looked to as solution.   Need more discussion upfront on technology issues.

- Training should include more online/self learning options.

- Clayton Anderson needs to be at ARCC meetings.

- More QA on systems before going live.

- Need service that indicates when services up - live and historical.   Possibly POPUP for stuff being down.  

>> This is being organized to go up this Fall.

- While gradebook is main stated problem with Vista, other parts like email and assignment submission have problems as well.   These will need examination.

- What about Vista problem?   Call 7777?   Can faculty get a list of who to call?

- System status on phone should be current and have best guess for when problem is solved.

- email should allow.zip file attachments.

- Communication: Fall college retreats - IT shows up at different retreats.

- Get a weber.edu homepage link for computer information.

- log in screen to vista is also unhelpful.  

>> effort underway to simplify login.

- IT has an attitudinal issue with how faculty are helped or told what to do.   Like the shutting down systems arbitrarily and deleting mp3 files.   One example (John Sohl) where he potentially could be fired for being a server for files and it turns out it was a worm/virus that caused a problem that he was blamed for.

- We need an easy way to report problem to whomever is keeping an eye on this

stuff – general problems and specific problems - in Groupwise perhaps or ARCC web page

>> actually there is a location on arcc page but probably not well known.

- Create a FAP (frequently asked pages) page.

- Create a 7777.weber.edu

>> Thereis a page already but needs to be augmented with help.weber.edu and /whiteboard.

- Comcast problems must be addressed.   Far too many faculty and students were not able to access network because of ISP issue that IT deemed unacceptable.   Unfortunately, Comcast is the only broadband solution for a large percentage of users.

- Bulletins must be subscribed to (or go through portal).

- Representative group for making decisions on blocking ports, etc. would

be good.  It would be difficult to set up but helpful -- Ted.   Would be a lot of work but perhaps department chairs can recommend participants?

- Literacy in computers should be forced earlier?   Lobby fac senate for making it?   (mid-course correction kinda thing maybe).   Should contents be improved?

- Should technology be more integrated into college level (lower level) like  writing across curriculum (tech across curriculum)?

- Should wireless be coming out of student fees if they are really hot on it?


2.3 Further efforts a ddressing concerns from Vista Faculty Focus Groups


  • All concerns raised have been shared with WebCT Vista. They are going to review the issues raised and schedule a time to come to Weber to address them.
  • Improved Communication
    • Monthly newsletter to faculty via a listserve to be shared with the Teaching/Learning Forum
    • Pre-semester communication to students; additional as needed
    • http://help.weber.edu, being developed by IT’s Technology Services – will provide current status of systems, projected outages, and the ability for faculty to pull from archive any previous outages.
  • Improve the Browser Tuneup
  • Long Course List
    • We are devising a plan to at least move previous semester courses to the bottom of the list.
    • Courses more than 2 semesters previous will be archived.
  • Better student training
    • 8 face to face, drop in trainings have been scheduled for students
    • Advertising via Signpost – will also encourage faculty to remind their students to go.
    • If you want to require attendance by students, let us know and we’ll keep track of your students
  • Gradebook issues          
    • Some of the issues were really training issues – Online staff are addressing those.
    • Working to develop a formal collaborative process with the Chitester programmers. This will allow us to work on development of a better interface.
    • Forward WebCT other concerns and follow up on a continual basis.


We will continue to look for opportunities to make this tool as easy to use as possible. We invite suggestions for improvement (both WebCT specific and WSU Online in general) and will acknowledge those as best we can.


3.0 Open brainstorming

Opening a Dialog (or what wasn’t found and wasn’t thought of as solution)