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Max’s Minute: Features Coming Fall 2017

Max Davis-Johnson, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer, announces enhancements and new features the Office of Information Technology will release at the end of this summer for fall 2017 including student rosters in myBoiseState, push-button grade transfers from Blackboard to PeopleSoft, and a new look for Blackboard.

Video Transcript: Max's Minute: Features Coming Fall 2017

>> MAX DAVIS-JOHNSON: Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University Office of Information Technology.

Today I want to talk about some of the things we’ve done over the summer and some of the neat things we’re going to be rolling out this summer. We do a lot of things behind the scenes and if we do them right, you don’t even notice, and some of those things:

We’re continuing to expand our infrastructure. What I mean by infrastructure: I mean our storage capacity, our server capacity, and our network capacity.

Another thing that’s going to be rolling out here in between now, and the beginning of the semester, is we’re going to be rolling out a new Blackboard user interface. It’s a much more disability accessible interface. It certainly improves where we’re at.

An important thing too though is that’s going to bring a consistent look and feel and navigation experience to all our students and faculty in Blackboard. And that’s very important.

Another really neat thing that we’re rolling out here at the end of the summer are some improvements to the faculty pages in myBoiseState. These improvements were developed by students. So in this case, it’s students schooling faculty.

We’re having some improvements to the class roster that will allow you to print it directly from myBoiseState including a picture version with the students’ pictures.

And what’s really nice is that we’re now putting in place an interface, integration, between the Blackboard gradebook and PeopleSoft.

Prior to this semester that was a manual operation where faculty literally would take their gradebook in Blackboard and enter it by hand in PeopleSoft. Now we’re going to have automation that will allow faculty to just do that directly when they’re ready to do it.

And another thing we’ve been building on, and will continue to build on, are our adoption of the cloud. We’re starting to do a lot of our web and mobile development in The Cloud, specifically the Amazon Web Services or AWS. When appropriate, we’re moving, looking at moving, infrastructure and other applications into The Cloud.

Oracle Financial Cloud is our first really large scale cloud-based application. We rolled it out a year ago and we’re continuing to invest time and effort improving processes, improving reporting, and the application itself.

We’ve already gone through multiple updates with improved functionality. So we’re certainly not done with that and will continue to improve it and make it a much more viable and usable system for all of campus.

Two additional things I do want to talk about are things that we’ve been working on for more than just this summer.

Currently OIT manages 150 of the classrooms here on campus. And so what that means is, one, over time we try and get a standard level of technology in that classroom. We directly support that classroom. More importantly, we do preventative maintenance, preventative activities in those classrooms so that they’re always available when needed.

And so we’ve done a lot of automation where we check in with those classrooms on a nightly basis. And this has actually allowed us to reduce the number of classroom support calls by 80 percent.

And again, the idea is to get a consistent experience in all our classrooms, not only for students, but also for faculty.

And another area where we’ve been, this has been a work in progress for the last couple of years, we have literally reduced the number data centers here on campus. We’ve consolidated.

We had 11 data centers that we have consolidated down to 2. And we’ve been able to do this through our highly virtualized infrastructure that we have.

We’ve essentially, if you look at the replacement costs of those 9 data centers that we’ve merged into 2 data centers, you know we’re talking saving the University over $500,000 in hardware replacement costs.

Some of the things we do they certainly take time. But we’re always looking how we can improve. We’re always looking how we can do better. And hopefully every semester, not hopefully, but every semester that students come back in the fall that we have made improvements from the prior semester. And, that’s one of our goals.

So, thank you for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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