Summer 2012 WebCT Data

The spring 2012 term closed on Monday afternoon.  Summer term opens today.  In preparation for summer classes, Friday was the final batch load of summer data from Banner to WebCT — summer term is now on live update with student enrollments included.  Fall data will be updated in batches until around August 10th.

I’ve been quiet…

and I will remain mostly quiet.  Over the past several months, I have been more exposed to Illinois Procurement and Ethics laws than I ever expected to be.  And that’s all there is to say about that for now.

On to other things…  our WebCT (CE8) installation is currently hanging in there.  This semester there have been more issues relating to browser versions and java.

For anyone who may run into the issue…  if you are a designer/instructor and go to your Grade Book and get a plain white screen, your data is not gone, it is a java caching issue.  Most of the time (all but 1 so far), putting your mouse pointer over the white space and right-clicking then choosing reload {or refresh} frame {or page} will bring things back to normal.

Commencement

As in a beginning, finally.  For anyone out there who may be interested, the RFP for the next EIU Learning Management System has been posted here (https://www.procure.stateuniv.state.il.us/dsp_notice.cfm?Uni=EIU&PN=CD2012LMS).  Responses are due in by October 18th.  Check it out for the details.  There are, of course, way too many to list here.

Happy Monday everyone, from cloudy, dreary east central Illinois.

Things on my mind

As I’m waiting for the official RFP for a new LMS to be posted for EIU, I keep an eye out for what’s going on around me.  In part, this is self preservation.  I could live in blind oblivion and just wait for the moment when everything hits either the wall or the fan on the way to the end of life for our beloved CE8.  Instead, I’m compelled to keep an eye on what others are going through, watch the improvements in Bb9, take in the excitement over Canvas or the enthusiasm over D2L, and still occasionally come across a new {to me} offering.

Anyway, today, I took note of @lgekeler’s tweet “Since June, Auburn College has been amazingly quiet abt their pick of #Instructure Canvas to replace #Blackboard” with a link to http://bit.ly/n2OWsJ.  Of course, I checked it out, for a couple of reasons:  1. to check out what caught Laura’s eye and 2. to see if there’s anything I should learn for our process here.

As I explored their site, I found some interesting pieces.  They have maintained the information from their decision process.  And they have added a help section/clearinghouse with tutorials for different aspects of using Canvas.  I jumped to the conclusion that there would be more information coming as their plans unfold.  Then I left the site.

A little while later another tweet caught my eye, this time @georgekroner “@lgekeler many clients go silent after announcing a switch, my personal perspective is it ends up being more difficult than they think.”  Ah, things to think about and consider.  🙂  I went back to the site, in my mind and literally, wondering if that is their message, or whether there is any intended message, and what is my part here @ EIU to help have an accurate message about our process.

Last time we upgraded (sure, it was “just” CE4.1 to CE8), we had a migration process and attempted to be open about it with a migration website to try to communicate about it.  And that was the scope of that website.  Once the migration was done, the website had no more value, no more updates.  And I find myself wondering.  Is that their situation?  Is that how we should communicate through this LMS migration process (it will be migration, whatever vendor is chosen)?

We are just approaching the part where things are becoming something real.  We need a communication plan.  That communication plan for the process to choose apparently needs to either encompass or dovetail into the upcoming migration plan that will follow.  And, of course, we need to consider not only what we say, but what we don’t say.  And what what we don’t say says.

Oh the things to think about!  Thanks Laura and George for giving me a different look at something I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

Progress?

It’s Thursday now, and the last “Friday” of my summer hours.  Next week will be the end of summer hours for everyone else, but I scheduled upgrades those days.  It’s worth it to get everything as updated as it will go.

Still working on upgrading testwebct cluster.  The OS upgrades are done and so are the java floating point updater and July2011 Critical Patch Update for Oracle database.  Those were smooth and straightforward.  Now I’m getting things in line for the service pack and hotfix and additional XSS patch.  Doing all of the prep work for those right now.  It’s fun to multitask and let a machine run the job you’ve asked it to while you take care of something else.

WebCT downtime over

We scheduled downtime from 12:15am until 2:15am, but finished by 1:15am.  The restart seems to have worked — cluster seems to be working properly and even took the time to enable and test the Export to SIS feature.  It all seems to be in order.  I’m exhausted.  Night-Night.

Exploring with Oracle

Someone finally asked.  For as long as we have been using Blackboard Learning System CE8, I have been aware of the wealth of information/data available within and about our installation.  I have just never tried to summarize.  Well, I have tried a couple of times, but came up against some logic issues and put it aside.  Now, since someone has asked, I have been attempting to clarify using SQL what it takes to provide the numbers in question.

For instance, “active” accounts — seems reasonable enough.  I can get those figures pretty easily (active, not denied access, not webct_demo_* users, exclude a few other specialized logins), but what do they mean in our system?  We create accounts for all admitted students and I believe our banner connection will allow creation within CE8 of any account sent over for an enrolled member.  And we create sections for every section marked in banner (with encouragement to mark them all).  So, “active” numbers are just the numbers of accounts that could access CE8 any given semester.

Next comes the part I have puzzled over, off and on, for years.  And I have come to a simple conclusion that I can hardly believe I overlooked for all that time.  We need numbers regarding how many actually use our system.  There are log files galore and the reporting tables.  Finally, it became clear to me that anything in rpt_tracking involved someone who was logged in to the system.  While their role is UNKN, they are not in a section.  When they are in a section, the role is clear.  So, with a little bit of joining, I can get reasonable, readable, countable info about the numbers actually logging in and clicking into sections.

Of course, that doesn’t help with the age-old question of whether clicking on a discussion means you read it or not, but I’ll just put that question aside for another day.

Happy Friday!