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Research Computing Days Coming March 15 & 16

2018 Research Computing Days

Boise State’s Research Computing Support department is pleased to announce 2018 Research Computing Days, scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday, March 15 – 16 in the Student Union Building.

Featured Events

  • Software Carpentry courses in Unix Shell, Git, Python, MATLAB, and R (more details coming soon!)
  • Special guest speaker talks
  • HPC Labs for learning how to get access to and run jobs on Boise State’s R2 Cluster
  • Lightning talks presented by Boise State researchers
  • Poster session to share and explore coding tools used to conduct computational and/or data-intensive research being done by students at Boise State

For more information, including registration for the poster session, visit the Research Computing website.

 

Blackboard, iClicker and Digication Help and Resources

Blackboard, Digication and i clicker

Boise State’s Learning Technology Solutions department offers extensive support for Blackboard, iClicker (Faculty and Students), Digication, TechSmith Relay and other systems used by students and instructors in the classroom.

Self-support and reference information is available through the Office of Information Technology’s website.

One-on-one consultations are available for faculty, and group training may be requested.

Of course, the Help Desk is available to answer questions about Boise State’s learning technologies, as well as escalate your requests for assistance to the Learning Technology Solutions team.

Contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357, email helpdesk@boisestate.edu, or chat with an analyst during business hours.

Support for macOS High Sierra Now Available

mac OS High Sierra

The Office of Information Technology now provides support for macOS 10.13 (“High Sierra”) for University-owned computers.

Due to significant file system changes with the new Mac operating system, faculty and staff should contact the Help Desk for assistance before updating. At a minimum, the Help Desk will facilitate a backup of system data prior to updating the operating system.

Additional information about the High Sierra operating system is available on Apple’s website.

To schedule an upgrade, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or email helpdesk@boisestate.edu.

 

Assistive Technology Presentations for Faculty and Staff

Accessible Technology Demonstrations

Mike Gibson with the Educational Access Center will present a series of access technology sessions this semester on topics of screen readers and magnifiers, accessible forms, navigating data tables, and universal design and usability.

Introduction to Screen Readers and Magnification

This presentation will introduce participants to access technology applications of screen readers and screen magnifiers used by blind and visually impaired computer users. Overview and evolution of the technology will be presented. Basic terminology, keyboard commands, and user strategies will be discussed. Examples of inaccessible and accessible webpage design will be demonstrated. There will be time for questions at the end.

  • Tuesday, February 20, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Thursday, February 22, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Wednesday, February 28, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Accessible Forms and Data Table Navigation

This intermediate presentation will introduce participants to web-based forms and tables using keyboard navigation alternatives provided by operating systems and screen readers. Accessible and inaccessible examples from a variety of sources will be explored. Participants will see common barriers and frustrations experienced by blind and visually impaired access technology users. There will be time available where participants may have their own forms and tables evaluated.

  • Tuesday, March 13, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Thursday, March 15, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Wednesday, March 21, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

Moving Beyond Accessibility

This advanced presentation will discuss the concept of universal design and usability . Examples of accessible but difficult web-based applications will be presented. Participants will experience the difference between accessibility and the more inclusive access level of universal design enhancing product usability. Benefits of creating webpages and applications with universal design as part of the development workflow will be discussed.

  • Wednesday, April 11, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Tuesday, April 17, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
  • Thursday, April 19, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm

How to Register

Visit the Office of Information Technology’s training website to register for these sessions. Note there is a limit of 12 attendees per session.

AWS, Boomi and Letter of Appointments: Nursing App Goes Live this Spring

As Boise State CIO Max Davis-Johnson says in his latest video update, “Innovation is not only technology, it’s also people and processes.” An app we’re developing for the School of Nursing is a great example of how OIT is innovating across campus to improve process and relationship through novel and innovative uses of technology.

The OIT web development team took on this project as their first opportunity to leverage Amazon Web Services. Much of the development work, as well as the app itself, is securely hosted in the AWS Cloud. Also, the “dev” team is converting a legacy MS Access database to MS SQL Server and leveraging Boomi, Dell’s enterprise integration platform as a service (PAAS), to handle integrations with PeopleSoft.

When it launches this spring, the Nursing app will manage adjunct faculty teaching, licensing, on-time pay, demographics, Letter of Appointments, scheduling preferences, as well as credits produced, revenue earned and teaching expenses all based on PeopleSoft data. There will also be reporting features to assist in reconciling pay with appointments as well as scheduling reports to assist proofing semester schedules.

“The faculty module is only the first component of this project,” states Adam Apperson, project manager in the OIT Project Management Office. “Once the faculty module is up and running, we’ll dive into the student module which will help School of Nursing track students from admission through graduation.” He continues, “The development is going very well. Everyone involved is very pleased and very excited to see this app go live.”

The Blackboard-to-Peoplesoft Grade Transfer App Saves Time Across Boise State

Blackboard and PeopleSoft logos

“I just used the ‘simple method to transfer grades from Blackboard to PeopleSoft’ and I love, love, love it!! It was so simple even I could do it. Thank you for this feature,” was one of the first responses the Office of Information Technology (OIT) Learning Technology Solutions (LTS) team received from an instructor when we launched the “Blackboard-to-Peoplesoft Grade Transfer App (BB-2-PS)” last semester.

At the end of the fall 2017 semester, 161 instructors used the BB-2-PS app to easily transfer grades for 337 courses! The BB-2-PS app appears in the instructor view of myBoiseState for most faculty three days prior to the last date of instruction. Once available, the tool allows instructors to transfer letter grades from Blackboard into PeopleSoft with just a few clicks.

The app not only saves instructors time, but also significantly impacted end-of-semester grade processing in the Registrar’s Office. “The Registrar’s Office is accustomed to burning up the phone lines on the grades deadline date trying to get all the grades in but this fall was different in that there were significantly less faculty to remind,” said Mike Amai, Associate Director Registrar Systems. “Our team even highlighted the ease of use of this function in our interactions with the faculty. Instead of having to have multiple windows open transferring grades from one window to the next for each student–and some classes have 200+ students–being able to transfer the grades immediately with the click of a few buttons was much appreciated by the faculty.”

For more information, visit the BB-2-PS App page on the LTS website. If you need assistance using the app, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 (HELP), helpdesk@boisestate.edu or via chat.

TAWKs Application Developed to Assist Faculty Productivity

Improving Faculty Productivity

We recently worked with Dr. John Ziker of the Department of Anthropology to develop an application to gather data from faculty about their daily work in order to identify patterns of activity over time. The software, TAWKs (Time Allocation Workload Knowledge study), will provide information to faculty about their work activities, and allow them to reflect on their time allocation to be more productive.

According to Dr. Ziker, “OIT was instrumental in taking the TAWKs app from working prototype to a reliable and useful program. The TAWKs app uses ‘instantaneous scan sampling’ to develop an accurate snapshot of faculty time allocation without documentation of activity across intervals throughout the day. A lot of faculty activity is hidden from the public and done on the weekends, in the evenings, or off campus.”

Office of Information Technology web developers Phil Merrell and Colin Smith worked closely with Dr. Ziker and his team members, Katie Demps and Matt Genuchi, to design software to meet the requirements for study. “Working with John and the TAWKS team was a very fulfilling endeavor,” Merrell says. “It allowed us to be a part of an interesting and innovative project and pushed us to learn and use new technology to help fulfill their vision.”

Adds Ziker, “The TAWKs app will help us document our work and to help promote a more accurate understanding of what faculty do. It’s important to the sustainability of higher education that voters better understand our overall impact both within and beyond the classroom. We hope to further develop the TAWKs app beyond Boise State to develop a national dataset.”

A report on phase 1 of the initial TAWKS study is available on the Department of Anthropology’s website.

For additional information about the TAWKS application contact John Ziker at jziker@boisestate.edu.

Migration of Boise State’s Websites to Amazon Web Services Coming this Spring

WordPress and Amazon Web Services

Boise State’s WordPress websites hosted by the Office of Information Technology will migrate to the Amazon Web Services cloud platform this spring.

Boise State has been a leader in higher education by moving key enterprise systems to the cloud over the past decade, and utilizing Amazon Web Services for web hosting to improve Boise State’s web page and media load times, make it easier for OIT to support and manage university websites, and simplify our web infrastructure continues the our efforts to increase efficiencies and lower costs for these critical systems over time.

Moving to Amazon Web Services will provide Boise State website owners and administrators with better website analytics, test environments to develop new pages and sites before moving to production, improved site security, quick recovery of incidents, enhanced monitoring, better performance, and redundant data centers and power feeds.

Changes to Website Addresses

Along with the migration, we are collapsing our web directory structure to mirror that of most other universities. All sites will move under boisestate.edu.

So, vpsa.boisestate.edu will become boisestate.edu/vpsa, and cobe.boisestate.edu will become boisestate.edu/cobe, etc.

We’re working to ensure redirects are in place at the time of the migration to direct requests from the legacy site addresses to the new addresses. We’ll keep those redirects active for a couple of years.

Migration Testing Sessions

The Office of Communications and Marketing and OIT are offering site owners and administrators an opportunity to test and review how their sites will appear on the new Amazon Web Services platform. If interested, please sign up for a Migration Testing Session.

Additional Information

For more information about these upcoming changes, or questions about the project, visit https://webguide.boisestate.edu/web-projects/.

Automated Classroom Technology Monitoring Results in Significantly Reduced Support Issues

Classroom Technology

A new automated monitoring system for technology in 150 classrooms supported by the Office of Information Technology has resulted in a 90% reduction in classroom support calls.

“We have been highly successful with our cross discipline approach to managing classrooms,” says Mark Fitzgerald, Director of Customer Care. Fitzgerald worked with experts in pedagogy from our Learning Technology Solutions department, along with specialists in computer automation and audio visual programming in Customer Care, to implement the new monitoring system.

Fitzgerald adds, “In addition to adding technology that allows classroom equipment to ‘self-heal’ and regularly report status, we proactively check each room for quality and organization.”

For more information about classroom technology, contact the Help Desk at (208) 426-4357 or helpdesk@boisestate.edu.

Max’s Minute: Innovation is Not Only Technology

Max's Minute - Innovation is Not Only Technology

Boise State University CIO, Max Davis-Johnson, talks about how the Office of Information Technology leverages technology, process and people in innovative ways at Boise State.

Video Transcript of Max's Minute: Innovation is Not Only Technology

[inspirational music]

Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University Office of Information Technology.

Today I want to talk a little bit about innovation.

Some of the innovation that we do within Office of Information Technology. Certainly because of the ways technology changes, the new things that come out all the time, we have opportunities to innovate.

But, I think the important thing here is that we have to remember innovation is not only technology, it’s the process and the people involved with the technology that really drives the innovation that we’re trying to do.

So one of the areas we’re doing a lot of innovation in is in our web and mobile development areas using AWS or Amazon Web Services.

So one of the things we’re doing is the Anthropology department where we’ve delivered a mobile app called TAWKS. It tracks activity certain times during the day and essentially it’s collecting data that will be analyzed in the future.

We’re developing the new orientation system–it’s the registration system, it tracks them, it registers them, it collects money, it’s a very unique application to Boise State.

For the nursing program, the online nursing program here at Boise State, which is one of our largest online programs, we’ve delivered an online faculty database that has the potential to scale to the rest of the university over time.

Another application that we’re in the process of developing is in support of all the camps here, that happen in the summer here at Boise State. We need to be able to register potential campers, facilitate their experience here.

We’re also using the Amazon Cloud to move some of our, hosting of some of our core systems.

So, we’re doing a lot in the Amazon Cloud and will continue to do that.

Another area that we’ve done some innovative things in is in our classroom support model. Currently, OIT supports 150, directly supports, 150 classrooms here on campus. And of those classrooms, you know, we’re responsible for making sure all the technology works and there’s a large amount of technology in every classroom.

And so on a nightly basis, we will poll every classroom to make sure all the equipment is working. And this is all automated.

And basically what this has done, this has literally reduced the number of classroom support calls by 90 percent–the fact that we are proactively, through automation, resetting classrooms basically every night.

There’s any number of innovations that we do, some of it’s visible, some of it’s not. We’re going to continue to try new things, we’re going to continue to try new technology. Some of it’s going to work, some of it we will scale. Some of it, once we try it, we’ll go, hum, not so good. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to stop trying new things.

So again I appreciate you taking the time to listen and, until next time, thank you.