Application Development for DUE

DUE logo

The mission of the DUE-IT Application and Database Development Team within NACS is to build and support applications and databases for the Division of Undergraduate Education. One such program is Student Academic Advancement Services (SAAS). SAAS works to increase the academic success of key student populations and receives funding from the US Department of Education (USED).  Accordingly, it has considerable data collection and reporting requirements.

NACS has helped SAAS staff to consolidate nearly a decade’s worth of program data by building a new Microsoft ASP.NET application to collect and track how students utilize SAAS services, by recruiting a student reporting specialist, and by providing extensive support in its annual reporting efforts. The Director of SAAS, Joe Maestas, had this to say about NACS’s assistance with last year’s federal reporting efforts:

I was extemely pleased with the ease and professionalism that the folks at NACS handled a very difficult and complex task.  Our reporting requirement to the USED is a monstrous task which has always caused us problems due to the size and complexity of the database and report requirements.  After John and Kenny’s help I no longer worry about getting it done.  We now get this baby put to bed early, and we are notified that there is no need for corrections. Makes us look good with the USED folks.

The new ASP.NET-based Student Tracking system supplanted a less cohesive array of Microsoft Access, Excel, and paper-based data-collection tools, eliminated duplication of effort in data collection, and improved the quality of collected data by adding a layer of data validation that did not exist beforehand.

NACS and DUE Team Up

In summer 2007, the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) and NACS agreed to partner in providing information technology (IT) support services to DUE departments and programs. Under the new partnership, DUE’s IT support team members joined NACS and became a part of the Web Technologies Group under the direction of Shohreh Bozorgmehri.

DUE has extensive IT needs in the areas of file and web server management, desktop support, database administration, and application development.

Its nearly one hundred staff members administer a wide range of support programs that serve the undergraduate population at UCI, including but not limited to tutorial services, academic advising, and study abroad programs. These needs are currently met by a DUE-IT team consisting of the Director, seven staff, and one student programmer.

The DUE-IT team members in turn have access to a range of technical knowledge and expertise within the NACS organization. Sharon Salinger, Dean of Undergraduate Education who proposed the partnership, praised the success of the venture. “By moving DUE-IT to NACS we capitalized on the depth and breadth of knowledge and support within NACS,” she said.  “Our IT staff joined a more productive environment and the Division benefited from superb leadership and project management.”

In the past year, the NACS DUE-IT team provided a range of services to DUE and through DUE to the campus undergraduate community. Student tracking, previously managed on paper and in Microsoft Office products, is now handled through a web-based system for Student Academic Advancement Services and Transfer Student Services. DUE-IT staff worked with the Office of Admissions to consolidate numerous separate data exchanges into one central and secure feed. Internal code, database, and file permissions audits were conducted and extensive searches were conducted for unsecured sensitive information, greatly enhancing DUE’s IT security.

Currently, the DUE-IT team is working on a range of projects, including the overhaul of the Undecided/Undeclared Office’s workshop systems, the consolidation and streamlining of central DUE data systems, and implementation of a central student ID card reader system to allow DUE offices to more efficiently serve students. Additional information about the DUE-IT partnership can be found online.

More SmartClassrooms for Fall

UCI has for some years been engaged in a process of upgrading classrooms to make better (and easier) use of technology in instruction. Dubbed “Smart Classrooms,” these facilities include a PC, audio/video connections for faculty laptops, Internet access, video and overhead projectors, VHS and DVD players, and a touch-screen control system.

Smart Classrooms are a project of the Division of Undergraduate Education’s Classrooms and Computer Support, with assistance from NACS. UCI enjoys over 60 Smart Classrooms, and 13 new ones, many in ICS, were completed last summer. UCI’s goal is to have all general assignment classrooms upgraded by 2008.

To use the Smart Classroom, faculty must authenticate with their UCInetID and password. Faculty who activated their UCInetIDs many years ago are encouraged to call NACS to verify that their UCInetIDs can be used with the current version of the authentication system.

Once a faculty member has used one Smart Classroom, she or he will find the same interface in every other classroom. From the lectern, instructors can control the computer, the VCR and DVD players, the projectors, and even the room lights. Smart Classrooms can even be controlled by an associate by remote control over the Web.

More information on Smart Classrooms, including a current list of upgraded rooms can be found at the DUE-CCS web site:

http://www.classrooms.uci.edu/

Scrap the Scantrons — Course Evaluations Go Online

When it comes to course evaluations, a growing number of schools and departments will be canceling their Scantron orders this coming academic year, opting for pixels instead of paper. They are making the switch thanks to EEE‘s new online course evaluation tool.

Previously a means for instructors and teaching assistants to assess the progress of learning in a class, EEE’s online evaluation tool can now be used for the formal course evaluation process, when authorized by the Dean or Associate Dean.

“This project has saved the School of Physical Sciences staff many hours,” asserts Cindy Fern, Academic Counselor, Physical Sciences.

One advantage of online course evaluations is that results are available immediately after final grade submission. Dr. Rudi Berkelhamer, Associate Dean, Division of Undergraduate Education used the online evaluation system in her University Studies class. She appreciates not only that the data was available much more quickly than in the previous paper-format, but also in a concise form easily imported into a database program for analysis.

Online evaluations conserve resources and reduce expenses. “This project has saved the School of Physical Sciences staff many hours,” asserts Cindy Fern, Academic Counselor, Physical Sciences. “Each of our departments had staff members who spent anywhere from 10 to 40 hours per quarter managing the paper process. With the on-line forms, the time spent each quarter has dropped to about one hour or less for each of the five staff members involved in the process.”

The online form also allows students more time to fill out the form, and in many cases they are more responsive. Bob Cassidy, School of Engineering observed: “This quarter we had 5,600 evaluations completed, so that’s almost twice the volume of what we did on paper.”

Dr. Robert Doedens, Chemistry Professor and Associate Dean, Physical Sciences recognizes that “the proportion of students providing free form comments is larger, the comments tend to be longer, and their overall quality is notably higher.” Dr. Doedens believes that “these changes are largely a result of the absence of time constraints during the completion of the evaluations.”

As of spring, 2005, 21 departments have migrated to the online tool. These include all departments in the schools of Engineering, Biological Sciences, Social Ecology, and Physical Sciences. The EEE Web development team works directly with faculty and staff to ensure that all evaluation needs are met. To find out more about EEE’s new department evaluations process, contact eee@uci.edu.

Faculty Instructional Web Site Award

NACS’s Instructional Web Technologies (IWT) congratulates Professor Ann Van Sant for receiving the Web Site of the Year award!

Professor Van Sant, from English & Comparative Literature, was awarded the 2003 Web Site of the Year award on May 29, 2003 at the annual “Celebration of Teaching” awards ceremony conducted by the Division of Undergraduate Education.

The award was presented to Professor Van Sant by Shohreh Bozorgmehri, Manager of IWT.

Professor Van Sant has carefully created extraordinarily rich Web sites for her students. Her English 102B, Restoration and Revolution, which is a requirement for English majors, covers the forty-year period from 1660, the restoration of the British monarchy, to 1700, the decade after the “Glorious Revolution.”

The Web site offers visual images of gorgeous paintings to illustrate the subject matter. It brings wealth of electronic information, resources, links and materials to her students at the click of a mouse for those who need a little more.

NACS awarded her $1000 toward the purchase of computer hardware, equipment, and software products in support of teaching with technology.

You may see Professor Van Sant’s award-winning Web Site at: http://eee.uci.edu/02f/21444/