In Brief March 2015

latest news

  • Did you know the OIT Web site has a comment feature?  Click on “Site Feedback” to help us improve our on-line information.
  • Researchers are invited to join OIT’s new Research IT forum, available as a blog on UCI Sites and as a mailing list.
  • The Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) allows UCI students, faculty, and staff to access university-licensed computer applications via the Internet.

Canvas Pilot Update

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) developed by Instructure.  OIT is piloting Canvas as a complement to the EEE LMS.  More information about Canvas and EEE can be found on the Canvas Pilot web site.

UCI’s year-long Canvas Pilot kicked off March 30th with the start of Spring instruction. The Canvas Pilot is an opportunity for instructors, teaching assistants, and students to use Canvas in their courses and participate in a formal assessment of the value and usability of Canvas as a potential addition to the instructional technology ecosystem at UCI.

Canvas was implemented for UCI during Winter quarter. During that time, the EEE team completed infrastructural development work including MyEEE integration, EEE assistants integration, UCI branding, WebAuth (UCInetID login) integration, and a data management utility to synchronize our campus Canvas instance with appropriate instructor, teaching assistant, student, course, and enrollment data for participating pilot courses.

We identified an initial group of early adopter instructors, created their Canvas course spaces, and (optionally) provided: EEE content migration, three-hour hands-on training workshops, as-needed support and consultation, and an informal pilot participant meet-up (this will be an ongoing, recurring event).

Participating instructors, TAs, and students were invited to complete their first pilot assessment activity: short, pre-quarter surveys designed to gather information on expectations and prior experiences in Canvas before the quarter is in full swing. Those surveys conclude Friday, April 3rd (end of the first week of classes).

The Canvas Pilot website (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/) was launched shortly before Winter Recess and has been updated throughout the quarter with new information, including a feature comparison page (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/comparison/), info for students (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/students/), a list of participating courses (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/participants/) and an assessment timeline (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/about-canvas-pilot/). The EEE team also developed and launched a new EEE Help Center (http://help.eee.uci.edu/) with a dedicated Canvas Pilot section (http://help.eee.uci.edu/canvas/) that will be expanded as-needed based on campus feedback and support interactions.

We coordinated a new component of the formal assessment in collaboration with Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences Professor Alfred Kobsa, who has tasked several groups in his undergraduate project class on user interface design and evaluation with conducting a usability evaluation of Canvas. Professor Kobsa’s students have previously reviewed the EEE website and worked with campus groups including the UCI Libraries and Distance Learning Center. They bring a fresh perspective and valuable skill set to this process.

As of March 26th, the pilot participants in Spring courses include: 6,083 students, 136 instructors, and 67 teaching assistants.

Next steps for the Canvas Pilot in the upcoming Spring 2015 quarter include mid- and post-quarter assessment surveys, student focus groups, info sessions (For instructors: https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/sg / TAs: https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/yg / Students: (https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/tg), and coordination with University Extension, the Distance Leanring Center, and Summer Session around participating Summer courses (both online and on-the-ground).

UCI’s Internet Connections Upgraded

connectivityOIT recently improved UCI’s connection to the Internet, increasing bandwidth from 6 Gbps (billion bits per second) to 20 Gbps. This upgrade enhances connections from the main campus, UCI Medical Center, and the residential network. The upgrade provides faster network access both to the research Internet and the general commodity Internet.

UCI connects to the Internet via CENIC, a regional network service provider providing Internet connections to California research and education organizations. CENIC provides two connections for the campus: CalREN-HPR and CalREN. CalREN-HPR supplies researchers with high-speed connectivity to other research networks, such as Internet2 and the Energy Science Network (ESnet). CalREN provides general Internet commodity services.

Last July, when OIT began work on the UCI Lightpath project, our CalREN-HPR network connection was upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps with a 1Gbps diversified backup link. (Lightpath is a dedicated science network funded by the National Science Foundation). This February, our CalREN general Internet connection was upgraded from five 1Gbps connections to a 10Gbps connection.

OIT is also working with CENIC to establish additional fiber infrastructure between UCI and UCLA which will enable us to upgrade our diversified backup paths from 1Gbps to higher bandwidth. Our goal is to upgrade both backup links of CalREN-HPR and CalREN to 10Gbps in the near future.

Group Email – Hints and Tips

mailinglistEmail has become an integral tool for business communications.  However, using email to communicate among a group can be challenging.  Here are some ideas for more effective communication and collaboration within a team or other UCI community.

For small groups and short-term issues, a simple cc: list and “reply all” can get the job done, but when the number of recipients grows, communication becomes disjointed as people reply to different messages in a chain, respond to different drafts of a document, accidentally share comments intended for one recipient to the whole list, and other inefficiencies.

Mailing lists (provided at UCI by the Mailman software) are a convenient method for communication among a large group or interest community.  Lists can be configured to be for announcements only (list members see official postings but cannot reply), moderated (anyone can reply but the list administrator has to approve a reply before it is distributed), or open discussion.  You can request a new mailman list on the OIT Web site.  Administrators can build a list of recipients, or potential subscribers can add and remove themselves from a list as interests change.  Recipients are spared a chain of “Please remove me from this list” email messages which can result from using cc: addressing.

Beyond simple group communications, there are collaboration tools such as UCI Google Groups.  With collaboration software, you don’t have to send email attachments around – teams can work on a single on-line copy of a document together, discussing ideas in email, or attaching comments directly to the document.  Access to the document is tied to membership in the group, so as people join and leave the team, the ability to participate in discussions or change team documents follows in parallel.

If you have questions or wish assistance in using group communication tools, please contact the OIT Help Desk.

 

Instructional Spotlights on EEE

EEE Instructional Spotlights

Are there innovative examples of teaching with technology that you would like to share? Perhaps an instructor created a unique assignment that helped students learn the concepts. Maybe you saw an interesting use of technology in the classroom or on a course webpage.

The new ‘Instructional Spotlights’ on the EEE homepage have so far featured the Schools of Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences and Social Science, and we are always looking for more examples to share! Learn more

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