The Enterprise Project and the Banner systems development plans are moving forward on schedule. The university community has responded with cooperation, patience, and a great work ethic. As one who has been involved with two other such projects, I can say without equivocation that the response at UST to date is the finest I’ve experienced. Special thanks go to the project director Randy Sauter and his project management team, Rich Carlson and the applications team, and the Enterprise Steering Committee’s Working Group. Many others in IRT and in the support areas across the institution are responsible for keeping us on schedule as well.
Banner’s Alumni/Development came online March 3. Jim Bennetts and his colleagues in Institutional Advancement have done a terrific job moving this first Banner module forward. Human Resources and Finance teams are well under way, with module rollouts projected for this summer. Teams have begun planning for Banner Student, which is scheduled to roll out for fall 2004.
Training is moving ahead with an extensive schedule of sessions. Banner application training has been going on for some time, and general orientation has begun for our user community. Work has also begun on the use of UST’s chosen business intelligence software, Cognos, which will replace Focus for analysis of IA Plus reports. For a detailed view of Banner activities and plans, please visit the Web site.
UST’s Web Initiative is another component of the Enterprise Project. That work began when UST, University of Loyola-Chicago, Holy Cross and Seton Hall joined Gartner Group consultants in a pilot project, the Gartner Web Diagnostic. Results of that study were presented widely on campus in November and the executive summary is available at IRT’s Web site . Based on the recommendations of that study, we have entered into an agreement with Liquid Matrix for its ActiveCampus software, including ActiveAdmissions and ActiveAlumni.
As outlined in a future article by Kim Kleinkauf, the software suite provides content management resources and proactive Web tools for personalized interaction with prospective students and alumni. With Lisa Burke-Marose coordinating for UST, Liquid Matrix’s team visited with UST teams for kickoff meetings February 10-12 and again the first week in April. We have reached agreement on a schedule for re-design of UST’s Web site and implementation of ActiveCampus, ActiveAlumni, and ActiveAdmissions features. Please watch for future Bulletin articles as this project progresses.
We have enjoyed a very successful first year with Blackboard at UST. Rosann Cahill and the Web and Media Services team have done a great job launching Blackboard, and planning for Blackboard’s second year at UST. The response from students and faculty has been extremely positive. Most comments from faculty relate to Blackboard’s ease of use, the convenience it offers for distributing materials, and the ability to communicate with students in a variety of ways. Most students comment on how they appreciate the conveniences Blackboard provides and some students wish it were used in more courses.
Integrating enterprise level software is always an adjustment to an institution’s culture. Below are some relevant statistics:
While the community is very pleased with Blackboard we work to continually improve Blackboard’s performance and supporting services. We have held feedback sessions and advisory meetings to ensure we hear your concerns and respond appropriately.
We hear from faculty about some of the improvements they would like to see. The most common wish is for more flexibility in ways to organize content and easier copying of course material for re-use. Others would like to see improvement in the interface and functionality of the discussion board, quiz tool and grade book and the Virtual Classroom (Chat). From students we receive suggestions for improvements to such things as access to more services and information via the portal, reducing the number of logins to access different resources and improvements to network speed.
In response to requests for improvements, Blackboard released a new version (Blackboard 6) in October of last year. We have been reviewing Blackboard 6 and find it has many new features and improvements—many of which address the requests we have received. Faculty advisory groups have been meeting to discuss how and when we can upgrade to this new version. Among the improvements in Blackboard 6 are:
In addition, the Virtual Classroom has been c
ompletely overhauled and there are many improvements in the assignment manager quiz tool and grade book. The discussion tool is unchanged.
Blackboard Certified Education Center
We are proud to announce that the University of St. Thomas has been selected as one of eight Blackboard Certified Education Centers nationwide. This program is designed to create a network of Blackboard client institutions providing training and instruction on Blackboard products, online education, and instructional design.
Our colleagues across the university are participating in these demanding projects, even as they continue to complete their daily tasks. I know we all acknowledge and support their efforts and performance in this important work for UST. There is much here to appreciate, and much in which we should take pride.
Please watch for future week’s Bulletin articles and more details on library and video projects, e-mail and network upgrades, and IRT Client Services efforts to sustain and improve our technology service and support.