Higher Ed Twitter List

Karlyn Morissette posted her Master Higher Ed Twitter List. Other than @eironae and @barbaranixon, I didn’t know anyone on the list. So I thought to post a list of higher education professionals I follow categorized by primary expertise.

Blackboard twitterers might be another post.

Those in bold are coworkers.

College / University / Departments

@atsu_its – A.T. Still University – IT Help Desk & Support
@BC_Bb – Butte College Blackboard System
@CTLT – Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology @ Goucher College
@GeorgiaSouthern – Georgia Southern University
@ucblackboard – University of Cincinnati Blackboard Support

CE/Vista

@amylyne – Amy Edwards – CE/Vista DBA
@corinnalo – Corrina Lo – CE/Vista Admin
@elrond25 – Carlos Araya – CE/Vista Admin, Dr. C
@jdmoore90 – Janel Moore – CE/Vista Admin
@jlongland – Jeff Longland – CE/Vista Programmer
@lgekeler – Laura Gekeler – CE/Vista Admin
@ronvs – Ron Santos – CE/Vista Analyst
@sazma – Sam Rowe – YaketyStats
@skodai – Scott Kodai – former Vista Admin now manager
@tehmot – George Hernandez – CE/Vista DBA
@ucblackboard – UC Blackboard Admins

Faculty

@academicdave – David Parry – Emerging Media and Communications
@amberhutchins – Amber Hutchins – PR and Persuasion
@barbaranixon – Barbara Nixon – Public Relations
@captain_primate – Ethan Watrall – Cultural Heritage Informatics
@doctorandree – Andree Rose – English
@KarenRussell – KarenRussell – Public Relations
@mwesch – Mike Wesch – Anthropology
@prof_chuck – Chuck Robertson – Psychology

Information Technologist / Support

@aaronleonard – Aaron Leonard
@Autumm – Autumm Caines
@bwatwood – Britt Watwood
@cscribner – Craig Scribner
@dontodd – Todd Slater
@ECU_Bb_Info – Matt Long
@ekunnen – Eric Kunnen
@heza – Heather Dowd
@hgeorge – Heather George
@masim – ???
@mattlingard – Matt Lingard
@meeganlillis – Meegan Lillis
@soul4real – Coop

Assessment / Library / Research

@alwright1 – Andrea Wright – Librarian
@amylibrarian – Amy Springer – Librarian
@amywatts – Amy Watts – Librarian
@elwhite – Elizabeth White – Librarian
@kimberlyarnold – Kimberly Arnold – Educational Assessment Specialist
@mbogle – Mike Bogle – Research

Web Design / UI

@eironae – Shelley Keith

Director

@aduckworth – Andy Duckworth
@garay – Ed Garay
@grantpotter Grant Potter
@IDLAgravette – Ryan Gravette
@Intellagirl – Sarah B. Robbins
@tomgrissom – Tom Grissom

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Resolutions For 2009

  1. Read 10,000 pages of science, economics, health, history, or policy books. For 2008, it was read 25 books. This year, I thought to change it page-based as the previous one shied me away from larger books. Two 350 page books vs one 700 page book shouldn’t be a concern. See Reading for last and this years’ progress.
  2. Be more social. A lot of will power is required to force myself to attend social events. Over the years it has only gotten worse. Before it reaches the point of requiring professional help, I probably ought to change my habits.

Useful resolutions to me are things I realistically can and will accomplish applying moderate effort. Making too hard of a challenge will result in giving up too quickly. Making too easy of a challenge will result in doing something I would do anyway. Last year was the first time in a really long time I even bothered other than using 43things to make some goals I rarely have met more by accident than any real intent.

Some resolutions I would pick I already do to the extent I realistically would….

  • Take the stairs and walk more. I already do these as far down the exercise more resolution as I realistically will go.
  • Eat better. I already mostly avoid red meat and eat lots of green vegetables.
  • Spend more time with family.

There are resolutions I would never actually keep without support from family and friends I don’t really have to keep me honest and stick to the narrow path….

  • Less fat, less sugar, no soda, no sweet tea.
  • Exercise more.
  • Finances.
  • Organization.
  • Less time spent in front of the TV or computer.
  • More blogging.
  • I already do not smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Get a Master’s Degree.

Hmmmmmm… Resolutions are bad for your health?

I haven’t checked my blog in a long while.


Followup on resolution #1. Apparently I did not followup on the 2nd?

Open Source Is Not Broken

Cohen says:

Open-source code is generally great code, not requiring much support. So open-source companies that rely on support and service alone are not long for this world. The traditional open-source business model that relies solely on support and service revenue streams is failing to meet the expectations of investors.

The whole point is to have a model producing great code. As these open source companies try to be everything to everyone, they eventually hit the same issue as proprietary companies: Bloatware. The software starts to suck and the users abandon the ship for another product which seems to do the same job better.

Forcing Weblogic’s Config.xml

Let’s nevermind why I am working on this in the first place. Namely…

  1. the Blackboard Learning Environment Connector introduced using the hostname and port for applet URLs in Vista 8 Blackboard,
  2. Blackboard dropped WebCT’s support for using a different port for an application when behind a load balancer.
So we found out we could use port 443 as the SSL listen port because we terminate SSL on the load balancer, Weblogic would not bind to port 443, but the Vista application would be tricked into displaying to the end user what we wish.
In the past week, we have put the correct config.xml in place multiple times and found it reverts back to an older version with the port we don’t want. The first time, I was lazy and did not shut down the Weblogic admin server because… well… that was the lazy practice I had used in Weblogic 8.1 and had not had a problem. My shell record shows it was correct then. Within hours it wasn’t correct anymore.
So, we found a few things…
  1. a copy of the config.xml is stored WEBCTDOMAIN/servers/domain_bak/config_prev/,
  2. all files in WEBCTDOMAIN/config/ are pushed to the nodes,
  3. to change this value in the Weblogic console requires turning on a feature to bind to the SSL listen port.
Additionally, we think research into this would show Weblogic stores this information in memory. It will then write changes it makes to the file back to disk on the admin node (destroying our change). Managed nodes will then pick up the change.
The latest shot at this is to purge the #1 and #2 on both the admin server and managed nodes, put the right file in place on the admin nodes, and see if it reverts again.
So now I’ve got to write a script to periodically check if the nodes have the wrong listen port and email us should it change.

webctbackup

John made a good point… While telling Blackboard about this is pointless, the community at large ought to be aware of another undocumented workspace issue. I found an 8GB .bak in the /u01/app/nodeA/weblogic81/webctbackup on the active JMS node. Taking out user accessible nodes is okay in my book as with 18-20 of them in our clusters, we can lose one and no client would ever know. Mail, chat, learning context administration and other services in CE/Vista fail without a functional JMS node.

An administrator did a template reassignment with “Force archive before template reassignment” set to true. For some reason the file was placed on the JMS node. It should have been deleted. However, it was not. I caught it in time as another large file was dropped within 10 minutes of me deleting the first. I only caught it time because I was at my desk working (not in meetings, at home, or asleep).

This came within one GB of completely filling up the file system. We do not have huge hard drives on these nodes, just 3 times the size we need except for this. Nor do we allow the nodes accrue a ton of logs or junk.

Maybe this is something Blackboard has resolved this for future versions like Vista 4 or 8. Maybe one day we will have official or unofficial documentation about this kind of stuff.

The answers I anticipate from Blackboard:

  1. This is functioning as designed. I bet composing the archive requires something from the JMS node, so it must reside there. The JVM is too small as is /var/tmp, so the file system is the best place.
  2. Use a bigger hard drive.
  3. Set “Force archive before template reassignment” to false.

Even if Blackboard agrees this is bad, then it might get fixed on Vista 8. Certainly it will not get fixed in the officially supported  Vista 3.
🙁

If you want to confirm if you have the potential for this problem, then you should have a $NODENAME/weblogic81/webctbackup or a $NODENAME/weblogic92/webctbackup directory. We only have them on all four JMS nodes, but have have seen them on four (out of 76) other nodes. The other 72 nodes lack this directory. While you are at it, make sure you know about the other undocumented work spaces I have mentioned.
🙂

Pointless

So I wanted to open a support ticket. However, in thinking about what I can ask for the company to do arrayed against what they are willing to offer for support, I realized… I am not going to get a resoultion for the ticket.

  1. It is functioning as designed.
  2. They are just going to tell us the workarounds we have already implemented.

So, what is the point? Other than distracting employees of the company with something they are never going to solve, I get no benefit. I just get to be the passive-aggressive, CYAer, paper pusher who gets to point at the fact I opened a pointless support ticket to justify my employment.

Yes, the problem could trigger a cascade of events which would result in the failure of services for about 3,000 active users. We stood at the brink twice yesterday and the day before. Because we DBAs are responsive, we saved it. The next time we will do the same.

The company is not going to release another patch for the product unless forced to do so (aka glaring security hole). So even if we could convince them of a bug, then no resolution would be provided in this version. I’ll have to replicate to see if the same problem exists in a newer version they do adequately support. If so, then I would have justification in opening a ticket.

Now… how to I identify an 8GB section archive…

Off the Twitter Timeline: Icons

I laughed at reading this one.

Dear Blackboard: If you include icons in your interface, they should f’ing well be clickable. Everyone but you knows this. jazzmodeus

I thought this might refer to the new item icons. Jason works for Emory (doing instructional design) and taking classes at Florida State. Both use Academic Suite. So its probably not what I thought….

In Blackboard CE/Vista, the “course list” [1] can show icons to alert about new things to do. These can be about waiting assessments, discussion, mail, etc. If users click on the icon, then they can see the items causing the notice. At least, when left at the defaults.

One of the schools we host discovered when students entered a tool by clicking on these icon, the subsequent activity would not be tracked. The work around was to turn off the link rather than the icons entirely.

We agreed with the school and labored to convince Blackboard this was a major security problem. Unfortunately, the people who post the support bulletins have yet to post something about this problem. Its not a major item unless you are the student being accused of cheating because your activity doesn’t show appropriately.

[1] course list – This name bugs me….

  • The name is a hold over from when instruction took place in courses. In this system they take place in sections. So why not section list?
  • MyWebCT is dumb. MyBlackboard is dumber. “My” is 2004-ish portal cutesy, personalization name buzzword. Similarly, “e” and “i” are similarly dumb.

What does a CIO do?

I guess it depends on who you ask.

Well, the CIO’s thought they were most effective as classic IT-support providers. That’s basically putting PC’s on desktops. But their managers thought that CIO’s were most effective in explaining and determining the college’s technology course into the future. Managers really want their CIO’s to be “informaticists.” Wayne A. Brown, Johnson County Community College Are College CIOs Thinking What Their Bosses Are Thinking?

Self-reporting is a notoriously bad means of measuring behavior. So I take these sorts of things with a grain of salt.

I have read many times the view CIOs need to educate higher education administrators about technology to help shape the vision of where higher education is headed. When Joe Newton at Valdosta State took over as CIO, he found Ronald Zaccari, expected more than just “putting PCs on desks”. Ron also expected seamless services, a data warehouse, IT to work with every facet of the university, and even to help the cabinet shape its direction by providing how technology can help. The previous president didn’t even check his own email. So to have one who better understood technology meant having to step up to a higher standard.

Another aspect I found interesting was about degrees. Wayne suggested a positive direction was CIOs having degrees in technology management. A commenter preferred CIOs having a Ph.D. in an academic discipline and secondarily “technology qualifications” so they would understand teaching and learning. I find this hilarious because all too often I hear complaints Ph.D. programs teach people how to do research and present… not teach.

Also, the comments make a distinction between presidents and provosts versus deans and department heads. The latter are the “academic administrators”.

All that said, I just want a CIO to figure out what management wants done, prevent them from having too high expectations, and provide the resources for me to do it.

We Need a 4th Vista DBA / Technical Support

Work for OIIT!

Become our 4th DBA / technical support person for our team.

  • Located in Athens, GA (college town, UGA football)
  • $, benefits, generous leave, rare snow
  • we love open source
PDF of GeorgiaVIEW DBA position

Check out the PDF (right) for more information.

Sorry for the convoluted route to the application…

  • Click this link to go to our HR site.
  • Click the “View Job Postings / Apply for Job” link.
  • Check the “Information Instructional Tech” box.
  • Enter “learning” for the keyword and click search.
  • Systems Support Specialist 3” is our DBA position. We also have a Business Systems Analyst position for a less technical position.

We’d love to have you.

Less Is More

Mashable has an interesting article about why Twitter persists despite frequent performance issues: “Less is more. Simplicity is power.” By providing little more than an API, upon which numerous others have built tools, it doesn’t so directly compete with other services.

I wonder if perhaps this is the right approach for a learning system? One size no longer fits all. Blackboard Vista is chock full of dozenss of tools and hundreds of settings. This made their products a behemoth to administrate. A lighter system where only the tools people wish to use could help.

On the flip side, a project like GeorgiaVIEW serves thousands of faculty members. All the tools in Blackboard Vista are not enough to satisfy all of the faculty. They want us to integrate with dozens of third party tools, namely the one which will make their class work. An easy API to write against would ultimately mean we would have more tools than we struggle to administrate today.

I guess this is my rejection of the Personal Learning Environment. As great as it is for students and the faculty, the IT who have to support them will fail to support them.