Monday, November 27, 2006

Student Registration For Spring

Hi Everyone-

Registration for the spring semester has begun and I'd like to ask all of you to encourage your students to register early and register often. This semester it has been particularly easy to concentrate on the challenges we've all had to manage around the various technologies, both Banner and Vista and forget that we are still doing well what we always do well -- helping students meet the learning outcomes for all of their courses and p[repare for their future.

Today after Ateam I sat down and looked at a summary of the semester to help myself put problems into perspective.
  • We began a day late to ensure a more complete student load.
  • The first week had the same problems as usual -- lost UserID's and PIN's -- but twice as many as usual because everyone had a new ID and PIN. It took a week to respond to all student calls as opposed to the usual 2 to 3 days.
  • Stuck threads began causing slowdowns mid-October, shortly after the start of fall 2. Slowdowns were intermittant.
  • Vista was down Oct. 22 for the failed attempt to install App Pack 1 and Service pack 1.
  • BB added 2 nodes to our installation on Nov. 3 to solve the stuck thread problem.
  • Vista was very slow Nov. 13-15 due to runaway query. Active monitoring has "solved" this problem.
  • Vista down Thanksgiving am 12:00-4:00 and the 28th 2:00 to 4:00 am for installs.
While I'd like to be able to say the semester has been trouble free, there has been time for students to complete their coursework. And it's been much less troublesome than the semester we spent with that other hosting company..... remember the fall of 2002? :^)

You the faculty, the design team, and the training and support group have done a wonderful job of moving courses, learning the new software, and making sure the students are able to meet the learning outcomes. I don't think we can give Vista the "A" grade I'd give all of you, but certainly not an "F" either.

At this point in the semester it's important to help our students end on a positive note (most of them anyway) and to encourage them to register for the spring semester, not just for cynical financial reasons, but because you really do do a better job teaching than most other programs. And at a lower overall cost to boot!

I'd like to pass on the note Donna Welschmeyer sent to the accounting faculty, because I thought she said it all better than I can:

Hi everyone. At A-Team this morning, we had a brief discussion about Vista and a tendency for Vista-bashing. While we continue to work through some issues with both the Vista software and the hardware serving it, overall the move to Vista has worked well. Approximately 80 percent of the problems we had early on were related to the same issue we always have: students didn’t know their login information (obviously not related to Vista).

We were reminded this morning that even though we may get frustrated with the system from time to time, it IS, after all, technology. We need to be sure we have backup plans in place for technology that may fail or be slow, just as we always had backup plans for those days in the face-to-face classroom when the VCR didn’t work. Most important, we should be very careful how we discuss the “problem” areas of Vista with students. We had email from a student today (not an accounting student, thankfully), served up as a “petition” and saying that she, her fellow classmates, AND HER INSTRUCTOR all hated Vista and thought that we should not use it at all.

I cringed at the thought that we might have instructors out there who are taking part in Vista-bashing conversations with students instead of providing a positive, supportive, and encouraging environment for students.

I share this with you NOT because I have concerns about how any of you are handling Vista oddities, but more as a thank-you for what I’ve always seen as competent, professional delivery of your courses and interactions with your students. The old saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is so true, and I’m forever grateful that you all are SO easy to work with!

Thanks! Hope the remainder of your semester goes smoothly. In the next few days you will be seeing information about a NEW process for submitting grades, so just be aware that the process will change and we won’t be using Web4Faculty for grade submission.


Thanks Everyone!


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