2013 was an incredibly fast-paced, hectic, yet very productive year for the Technology Solutions department. Higher education is in the midst of an extraordinary opportunity to leverage new technologies that stand to disrupt the “traditional” notion of higher education as we know it. The gaining popularity of flipped classrooms, competency based education, adaptive learning systems, and massive online open courses (MOOCs) to name a few, all heavily leverage technology. While it is imperative in 2014 that Technology Solutions continues to provide enterprise services such as network, library systems, storage, phone, email, intranet, administrative/academic systems, and end user training - we clearly need to identify, embrace, and implement new technologies that directly support the vision of KCTCS as the nation’s premiere community and technical college system. Technologies such as three-dimensional printing, gamification, wearable technology, augmented reality devices, truly adaptive learning systems, and the pervasive use of open education resources will all enable new and innovative if not game-changing opportunities in higher education.
The achievements noted in this report directly reflect the passion for excellence, commitment to service, and spirit of innovation within this department. The dedication and teamwork of technology staff at both the system office and our colleges is truly remarkable. The credit for our success goes to this team. I am very proud of their accomplishments in 2013 and hope you enjoy the new web-based report format. We look forward to meeting 2014 head-on with numerous technology implementations that continue to bring us closer to our vision and truly make a significant difference to the students, faculty, and staff of KCTCS.
Paul B. CzarapataVice President/Chief Information OfficerKentucky Community & Technical College System
KCTCS System Office Technology Solutions strives to be the trusted advisor for and champion of technology-based
solutions for our students, faculty, and staff of 16 Colleges at 70 locations. Technology Solutions is comprised of 42
dedicated team members and an extended network of contracted third-party partners that give us the flexibility
to expertly plan and execute strategic technology. Strategic partnerships with best-of-breed technology providers
such as Cedarcrestone, Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, and Oracle allow us to extend our
reach and provide round-the-clock support to our students, faculty, and staff.
The Services We Provide:
To be the trusted advisor for and the champion of technology-based solutions while first considering the human and functional elements in any proposed solution for KCTCS Colleges, faculty, staff, and students.
The development and definition of the goals for the KCTCS Technology Solutions organization were based on six guiding principles and fourteen goals. These are:
A major infrastructure upgrade of PeopleSoft PeopleTools and the application of fix bundles was completed in October 2013. The infrastructure upgrade and application of fixes provide the groundwork for future enhancements, upgrades and implementations, utilizing updated technologies which will provide improved functionality and user experience. System landing pages (main pages & pagelets when users login) were also reworked to streamline, provide more relevant date, and mesh seamlessly with the new tools infrastructure.
KCTCS was in the cloud before the cloud even had a name. In 2002 KCTCS entered into an agreement for remote managed services and hosting of their PeopleSoft enterprise systems, the first higher education institution to do so. That contract served them well, but with all contracts due diligence is required after a length of time to ensure you are getting the best service/performance for the money. KCTCS issued an RFP over the summer 2013 and awarded a new contract for hosting services to Cedarcrestone that was effective February 2014.
Partnering with Business Services, the Technology Solutions PeopleSoft development and support staff have designed and implemented several enhancements to improve college-level operations and provide additional resource efficiencies. A few of the most significant enhancements are:
As both the Kentucky Employee Retirement System and Kentucky Teachers Retirement System transitioned to new reporting systems, KCTCS was required to create new interfaces to transmit employee data to each system. The data specifications and validations for each system have proved extremely challenging and have required continuous effort in both development and the updating of business practices. Through much hard work and perseverance, ultimately a stable business process for each system has been created.
Additional queries for college use have been added, specifically pertaining to Benefits for use during Open Enrollment. We continue to identify and include Human Resources (HR) queries if there is a common request or necessity. We continue to monitor security to ensure only the specific college can see their data when running a query. We plan to address query access to Payroll data in 2014.
A new PeopleSoft page to allow budget users to “clone” existing Encumbrance data to speed up data entry has been created. Previously, after creating a new position, the delivered method of creating an encumbrance required entering up to 16 account strings in the encumbrance pages. Now, a user can select an existing encumbrance with the same accounting information and copy that data to the new position. This is particularly useful with part-time positions and adjunct faculty.
KCTCS has worked with the various vendors to streamline the interface file transmission process. We transmitted interfaces to vendors using multiple methods – FTP (File Transfer Protocol), email, web - some require encryption while others do not. We worked with our hosting partner, CedarCrestone, to setup a SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) site for the vendors that do not have SFTP. We maintain the current transfer method with those companies that used a website and then worked with other vendors to switch their mode of transmission to our SFTP sites. This provides a more secure, streamline and consistent method of data transmission.
A new methodology of granting Administrator access to the Human Resource and Capital Management (HCM) System that would create an audit trail of when the access was used, why it was used, and requiring approval for use has been created. This eliminates the need for dedicated Administrator accounts and provides richer auditing details.
Partnering with HR, a hierarchical position structure for the organization has been defined and movement of employees into the structure has been implemented. This will facilitate using PeopleSoft workflow for future Self-Service related projects including Manager Self-Service, ePerformance (PPEs) and Time Tracking.
A new “pagelet” which provides a snapshot of Direct and Indirect Manager Reports within PeopleSoft has been implemented. This “proof of concept” project will ensure that our Position Management Structure is correct and will be enhanced to deliver future workflow solutions within PeopleSoft HCM in the coming years.
Partnering with Web Services, a new site to deliver PeopleSoft HR, Payroll and Budget reports to end users at the colleges and Systems Office has been set up. Previously, these reports were uploaded to Docushare, which was a phased out last year. The new structure provides similar functionality to the end-users, but allows a more timely delivery of the reports since the functional staff can now upload the reports without Technology Solutions intervention.
A new software from InFlight which allows the seamless presentation and authentication of PeopleSoft data within Microsoft Sharepoint, the software that powers the KCTCS Intranet, has been set up. Not only is this data displayed, but the employee can interact with the data and make updates to the PeopleSoft system. This allows employee interaction with PeopleSoft without the employee even knowing they are using PeopleSoft, while presenting non-PeopleSoft content in the same browser sessions.
Numerous modifications to our IPEDS (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) dataset to incorporate additional reporting elements and provide easier reporting for the ORPA (Office of Research and Policy Analysis) group has been completed. These included changes to classifying ethnicities, data cleanup issues, incorporating non-credit instructor data, including academic rank data, including non-resident alien data, enhancing the queries that ORPA runs to pull data and simplifying new hire reporting.
Partnering with Employee Benefits and Payroll, modifications necessary to satisfy Health Care Reform reporting for 2013 have been implemented and tested.
The Post Enrollment Requirement Check (PERC) process looks at all the enrollments for the next term, identifies the students that have not met the enrollment requirements, and drops those students from classes. This PERC process is now standardized for all colleges and is run every term.
The GoArmy Ed (GAE) interface which is used by the Fort Knox campus of ECTC (Elizabethtown Community & Technical College) and the Fort Campbell campus of HPC (Hopkinsville Community College) has been automated to allow colleges to transfer their course catalog and schedule of classes from PeopleSoft to GoArmy Ed through a specially designed interface. To quote one of the schools, “Using the schedule of classes feature was as smooth as butter.”
In 2013, Bowling Green Technical College was renamed to Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKY). This name change needed to be reflected in PeopleSoft for every campus of the former Bowling Green Technical College in every instance where that college and campus names existed in order to ensure that demographic, course, and classroom information was correct and updated.
PeopleSoft updates to course requirements are being made to ensure that students who have completed a prerequisite are able to enroll in courses that require that prerequisite when the student enrolls during an overlapping timeframe within the term.
The annual Student Administration security audit took place in May 2013. The audit covers all employee and affiliate user security and is broken down for review by the campus Security Contacts. Roughly 1200 requests for user security are received throughout the calendar year (an average of 100 requests for new security or for modifications to existing user security each month with peak periods at the beginning of the academic terms). The request process requires that the SA-1 security access form be signed by the user and security contact at the college and be submitted through the Technology Solutions Help Desk for system office review. The annual audit allows the security contacts at the college to review overall employee access and to make changes to their users’ roles and secondary security (enrollment, service indicators, and transcripts) based on their employee’s current job assignment.
Legacy System Academic Records (LSAR) is a custom application built within PeopleSoft that allowed colleges to review and update a student’s historical academic records imported from the various student information systems within KCTCS colleges prior to the PeopleSoft implementation in 2000. In addition, records from Bluegrass Community and Technical College (LCC) were added to LSAR in 2005. There was little connection between the LSAR records and the PeopleSoft functionality used by students, staff and faculty. The LSAR records even had a separate transcript. However, the LSAR conversion project completed in June 2013, allows the historical academic records to be recognized and utilized within all delivered PeopleSoft functionality such as requisite checking, academic progress reports, and transcript generation. Students will have one comprehensive transcript that covers their entire academic history with KCTCS. The project began in the fall of 2012 with the development of an initial project plan and specifications and was progressively elaborated with lots of input and direction from college personnel through testing and ongoing communications. The batch conversion itself was massive. There were approximately 2.3 million individual enrollment records converted at a conversion success rate of over 99.5%. The historical records converted date as far back as 1920.
A process was created to assign multiple advisors to multiple students in one step. In the past colleges had to manually load a single advisor to multiple students and if there were multiple advisor/advisee changes that needed to be made, that was a manual process and resulted in a huge allocation of employee hours. This new process reduces the employee hours needed to update these manually. A recent batch process to perform 9027 assignments from Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus took less than 10 minutes using the new batch process.
One of the recommendations from the business process analysis sessions held in 2012 was to reduce the number of service indicators used across the system by making better use of the service indicator reason codes. A review of all existing service indicators occurred to determine which should be combined and what reason codes should be added to streamline the process of applying and removing indicators. To make this transition as seamless as possible, a process was developed that updated all existing student records with the appropriate service indicator and/or reason code. In addition, the process updated the user security for all staff so that access was granted to the appropriate indicators and reasons based upon the employee’s responsibilities and current access. Although service indicator data was updated on individual student records, we were able to retain the information from the original indicators in the process. The service indicator pages still display the original username, term, date and other information.
In preparation for the implementation of the Student Service Center project, there was a review of all checklists or “To do” list items that are assigned to students within PeopleSoft. The checklist items provide the student with information regarding the steps an applicant must take to compete the admissions process or a financial aid seeking student must take to receive aid. After reviewing all checklist items, updates were made to ensure consistency across the system.
After receiving approval from the KCTCS leadership in 2013, the automated enrollment cancellation process to drop students for nonpayment was run successfully early in January 2013 for the regular 16 week sessions. This process drops students from classes who have account balances after the payment deadline and allows other students to enroll in the open seats created by the cancellation process.
Technology Solutions improved the existing student communication (3C) process within PeopleSoft Student Information System (SIS). Students have a checklist in the Student Center that informs them of any items they need to do in order to move through the enrollment process. These items are known as checklist or To Do list items. Active URLs are now embedded in the description of a checklist item so students can access needed forms to complete a To Do list item without additional navigational requirements. Additional communications to the Student Messaging Center were also implemented. These two improvements resulted in more informative and positive user experience to students using the Student Center.
As a result of the Financial Aid BPA (Business Process Analysis) session, Technology Solutions revamped the overall processing of state grants CAP (College Access Program) and KEES (Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship) within PeopleSoft SIS. New processes for file import and export with built in edit checks to reduce user error were developed and reclaimed usage of existing processes for better communication between the system office and college personnel.
A process was developed to purge/archive Financial Aid data which resulted in performance improvements in online and batch processes. Various processes to automate many tasks requiring manual updates were also developed. These automations provide the timely update of student data and help college personnel to spend their time one on one with students who have exceptional circumstances.
Prior to a Census Date, Financial Aid awards are made based on full-time enrollment. This has caused problems in the Class cancellation process. Technology Solutions team developed a process to calculate expected student awards based on the actual enrollment at the time of class cancellation process providing more accurate award amounts to be used in the process. Additionally, student bills have been upgraded using XML (Extensible Markup Language) formatting which provide documents in a user friendly format. Technology Solutions also improved the 1098-T process to identify and to notify students who have not provided SSN which has reduced the number of students without SSN on the 1098-T significantly. A process was also developed to purge/archive Student Financials data resulting in performance improvements in online and batch processes. These improvements provide better service to students and colleges.
Requirements, Academic Plans and Sub Plans are created and changed by the Academic Council. As delivered in PeopleSoft Student Information System (SIS), the most recent row associated with an academic plan and/or sub plan descriptions are used in the generation of academic transcripts and display within the SIS. This has caused issues and confusions especially when students apply for graduation. To addresses this issue, Technology Solution developed a process to honor student’s entry term into an academic plan/sub plan resolving the issue of incorrect credentials being awarded to a student.
In support of the Student Services initiative, Technology Solutions has integrated PeopleSoft SIS (Student Information System) with SIMS (Support Interaction Management System) in order to deploy the Student Accounts and Financial Aid trackers. Additionally, PeopleSoft SIS has been integrated with Intelliworks, a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software). Both of these integrations will enhance the level of service provided to our students.
Technology Solutions has integrated PeopleSoft SIS (Student Information System) with StarFish, a retention and advisement support software. Additionally, student enrollment data within My Labs Plus has been integrated with Peoplesoft to provide earlier and undisrupted student access.
The KCTCS Mobile App continues to bring services and communication to the fingertips of the current generation of KCTCS students. Many enhancements are currently being developed and tested. In 2014, watch for a new look and feel and new features including Enrollment in Classes, Information Requests to KCTCS Colleges, and the support of iPad, Android, and Windows 8 tablets. In addition, Technology Solutions is constantly on the lookout for new mobile apps in the marketplace that can benefit our students, faculty and staff. In 2013, Microsoft delivered OWA for iPhone and iPad for access to Office 365 Email and Calendars. In 2014 expect the SkyDrive Pro app to be renamed to OneDrive for Business as Technology Solutions looks to make online storage available to its customers through Office 365.
KCTCS Technology Solutions analyzed help desk data, researching best practices in technology help desks, listening to end user feedback, and working with functional teams to upgrade and improve the KCTCS Technology Solutions Help Desk. The Help Desk has been redesigned to match the employee intranet branding and style and updated to allow end users to submit tickets or check the status of their tickets using their KCTCS login credentials. Additionally, the ticket categorization structure has been simplified to make it easier for end users. A more comprehensive and updated knowledgebase and FAQs also allow employees to find answers quickly to common questions. Comprehensive user guides and training for ticket workers has created a consistent and efficient way of tracking and solving end user issues. And finally, continuous improvement to the Help Desk is a main focus with surveys that allow end users to provide feedback about how their ticket was handled and the overall Help Desk experience.
Access to PeopleSoft training has been improved by moving all PeopleSoft documentation to a Blackboard eCommunity. In this area, staff and faculty can quickly find step-by-step instructions, updates to procedures, and upcoming training sessions. Also, 24 in-person training classes to 310 staff from colleges were conducted and new functionality was disseminated through six online training classes. Additionally, refresher training was offered to faculty at professional development conferences in Elizabethtown and Jefferson.
The project to enhance 911 functionality across the system was completed on time and under budget. Emergency Responder allows police and fire rescue units to know the location of the phone where the call is originating, even down to the floor of a building. Additionally, the system can track phones when moved from location to location to prevent incorrect locations to be given in a 911 emergency.
In early 2013, the DSS (Decision Support System) team successfully upgraded KCTCS’s Business Intelligence suite of software tools. The Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) environments were upgraded after 4 months of testing and development work. The new features include interactive dashboards; ad-hoc analysis and interactive reporting; better visualization and graphics; and enhanced security settings.
In conjunction with ORPA (Office of Research and Policy Analysis) team, Technology Solutions developed and implemented more than 15 new dashboards, reports and data subject areas.
In 2013 KCTCS purchased the Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) data extraction tool. The DSS Team has successfully implemented this new data extraction tool and has started to convert all database extraction script jobs and legacy RDM (Report Data Mart) data extraction jobs into the new ODI data processing tool. So far over 200 data extraction jobs have been moved and rewritten from the database script jobs and Cognos Data Manager into the new Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) tool. Additionally, the Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE Official) data processing jobs, used for KCTCS official annual statistical reporting, have been converted and rewritten from Cognos Data Manager tool to the new Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) tool. In an effort to decommission the legacy RDM reporting system the DSS Team has started to migrate and convert all RDM data extraction jobs into the new Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) data processing tool. This implementation has allowed KCTCS to move data between systems with ease and speed. In order to assist with adoption and understanding of the new tool, training materials were also created and distributed to colleges.
In 2013, KCTCS upgraded the IBM Ascential Data Stage data extraction tool from version 7.5 to IBM InfoSphere DataStage 8.5 and migrated all ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) jobs to the new software architecture. This project was completed behind the scene with no system downtime as old system was migrated to the new system.
In 2013, Bowling Green Technical College was renamed to Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKY). Several data structural changes were needed to support this change within DSS for student reporting and contributor relations reporting. This name change needed to be reflected in DSS for every campus of the former Bowling Green Technical College in every instance where that college and campus names existed in order to ensure correct data analytics metrics reflected correctly for demographic, course, and classroom information.
Building on the foundations laid last year during the projects related to the Employee Portal, the evolution of a modern digital workplace for KCTCS employees continued with the release of an upgraded KCTCS Employee Intranet with a host of new features. The long standing vision of the one-stop-shop for employees began to come into a broader focus with tangible results and on a functional site. All the while, more and more pieces started to come together and fall into place. Among the highlights and accomplishments realized:
Immediately after launch in October of 2013, several enhancements were planned and delivered to increase the reach of functionality of the ever-evolving digital workplace at KCTCS. Those included:
The KCTCS Technology Solutions webpages were initially designed to provide KCTCS students and employees information regarding the services and function of the System Office Technology Solutions department. In recent years KCTCS has implemented important tools and resources for employees such as the KCTCS Intranet, thePoint, Skydrive, and Technology Solutions Help Desk. At the same time, the KCTCS Student Service Center has become an important service for students, providing them with much needed technical support. As a result of these efforts, it became important to refocus the Technology Solutions web presence and focus on a broader audience. The new web presence heightens visibility and provides external partners and stakeholders a comprehensive look at the mission of Technology Solutions and its services. Real time status of all integral systems is displayed along with maintenance and outage schedules. Paired with technology related policies, recommendations, technology tips, and security information the new web presence provides a holistic view of Technology Solutions and serves to educate employees, students, and the public.
Two additional public web properties were developed within the enterprise web content management system, Sitecore. This brought the total number of managed KCTCS web properties to 26. The new sites were:
Additionally, the search functionality on the public web sites was completely reworked to leverage portions of the broader enterprise search. With this enhancement, the search results are more accurate and presented more clearly. This enhancement also paves the way on the back end for additional fine tuning and automated search help, with “best bets’, synonym management, and prepopulated search results that can help anticipate and drive the web site visitors to the most relative content in the most efficient manner.
Kaltura – KCTCS has entered into a pilot project with Kaltura, a leading video and media hosting and solutions company. The Kaltura solutions can provide deep integrations with Blackboard, the Learning Management System for KCTCS, allowing faculty to easily include video content in their courses. The solution also has players that work seamlessly with Sitecore, the technical web content management platform, and SharePoint, the technical platform for the employee intranet. By leveraging this single video and media solution, the vast majority of KCTCS enterprise technology platforms can be served, while the management of the content can be streamlined and standardized across all integration points.
In 2013, an email migration to Microsoft Office 365 was completed for faculty and staff providing a 5000% increase in mailbox capacity. Students have been utilizing the service since summer 2012, but now faculty and staff are also experiencing the benefits. In addition to the migration another increase in mailbox capacity was applied in late 2013 bumping mailboxes to a maximum size of 50GB. This increase resulted in over 10,000% more email capacity for faculty and staff and 100,000% for Students compared to capacity prior to the migration.
KCTCS Technology Solutions is finalizing deployment of Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP) system-wide to replace Cisco Clean Access, a technology for controlling and securing network access of a computer. While NAP will improve the speed and consistency of the network sign in experience for faculty and staff, it will also provide Technology Solutions staff additional options for increasing the security of our network.
KCTCS Technology Solutions is finalizing deployment of an infrastructure that allows all colleges to take advantage of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCMM). SCCM simplifies the support process for all KCTCS servers and workstations with features such as automated operating system and patch deployment, compliance reporting, and inventory capabilities. This deployment allows technology staff to automate many software related tasks that were manual in the past.
Currently enrolled students are now eligible to download and use the full version of Microsoft Office for free. They can continue to take advantage of this offer the entire time they are enrolled in at least one class at a KCTCS college. Students can get more information on installing Microsoft Office through Student Advantage on the Office 365 help page.
On July 29 2013 the KCTCS Blackboard System data was archived and restored to Blackboard’s Managed Hosting environment. Blackboard Managed Hosting provides a top-tier datacenter and redundant infrastructure, deploying industry best practices to provide scalability and security.
In order to provide users with the most up to date teaching and learning tools, KCTCS Blackboard was upgraded to 9.1 service pack 13. Service pack 13 includes many new and exciting features along with a number of fixes and improvements to help instructors keep students engaged. During the upgrade, KCTCS branding elements were updated to reflect the current KCTCS image. Additionally the Blackboard Knowledge Base (used by Blackboard Student Services) was reviewed and updated to provide students and faculty accurate and consistent information.
xpLor is a cloud-based learning object repository that is designed to work with multiple Learning Management Systems (LMS). It enables users to easily author, copyright, share, and discover rich educational materials. Learning objects can be shared beyond the confines of a single LMS and shared objects will work in any supported system without alteration. Moving existing content from the LMS to xpLor is also supported, making content accessible in multiple courses on multiple platforms.
The Blackboard Language pack was customized for KCTCS by adding additional instructions within Blackboard to assist instructors with course copy, course cartridge import, bulk delete and other internal features and functions. This should help instructors make better course choices by adding additional details to the functions.
KCTCS implemented Blackboard’s Social Cloud which introduced many new features:
The Blackboard Partner Cloud streamlines our inventory of content building blocks/plug-ins into a single registration and activation process. While eliminating the challenges of managing old and new building block versions, the Blackboard Partner Cloud also accelerates the delivery of new partner features and product updates. And at the same time, sensitive student data remains private and secure. Key features include:
After a thorough process to define and describe the requirements for a Discovery System, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued in March 2013. Five proposals representing all the major vendors in the market were received and evaluated by the committee over a period of months. The vendors were invited to present at the System Office and the demonstrations were also offered via Lync in order to broaden participation and gain feedback from library staff outside the committee. In September 2013, a contract was awarded to Ex Libris Group for its Primo Discovery and Delivery system. Used by over 1900 libraries worldwide with a particularly strong presence in the academic library market, Primo is an industry leader. Its clean, simple end-user interface is backed by the Primo Central index containing hundreds of millions of e-resources. For the first time, KCTCS library users will have access to all the content available to them through a single search box, whether that content is part of their local library collection or full-text electronic databases, licensed by the library. The contract also included SFX, Ex Libris’ OpenURL link resolver software for seamless linking out to full-text.
KCTCS libraries have undertaken a coordinated initiative to become trained in the new cataloging code known as RDA (Resource Description and Access) which is replacing the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules, first published in 1967 with the second edition, AACR2, appearing in 1978. Thus it has been more than 30 years since the last major revision in the cataloging code used in the English-speaking world. The new rules have been written to accommodate digital resources as naturally as those in physical formats with a sharpened focus on helping users discover and access the information they seek. Library faculty and staff are using a Blackboard eCommunity and RDA training modules and materials available from the Library of Congress to accomplish this transition.
The Technology Solutions Security Management department has continued to provide timely communications regarding best practices in security as well as information regarding security issues that may affect faculty, staff, and students. Additionally, security management has provided recommendations on security policies and training requirements. Other important security efforts have impacted the system and among the most significant are:
After extensive research, KCTCS purchased vulnerability and penetration testing software in order to adhere to Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and to meet regulations for quarterly assessments. After much consideration, KCTCS contracted with Rapid7 for two security solutions that are regarded as the leading standard in today’s security market.
In an effort to mitigate the risks involved in the storing and transmitting of sensitive information and to promote security awareness, Identity Finder was deployed at the System Office to ensure proper identification of these data types and to assist in the control and removal of this data.
Partnering with the Accelerating Opportunity initiative at the system office, Technology Solutions conducted a penetration test of the Accelerating Opportunities website. The findings report outlined all potential issues that could surface such as: Cross Site Injection, SQL Injection, and secure socket transfer versus plain text transmission. Upon further investigation of these potential vulnerabilities, the Technology Solutions team was able to determine that these threats were false positives and not a cause for concern.
The way in which security credentials are currently handled and passed through the current Student/User Account Center web portal have been revised to be more secure. Additional security adjustments are currently being made to prevent the use of repeat passwords via an Active Directory password history check which will satisfy the needs for increased security in relation to secure transmission of user credentials.
Technology Solutions implemented upgrades and modifications to the State Fire Rescue Training System which supports more than 2,100 users in over 900 fire department type organizations as well as the State Fire Commission and State Fire Rescue Training System staff. This implementation provided users with a friendlier interface, ensured compatibility with upgraded web browsers, and built a platform for extended interfaces to other related devices. Additionally, the new course catalog and class structure is now closely aligned with national and state requirements.
The Technology Plan Ad Hoc Team was formed in January 2012 to champion the 2012 – 2016 Technology Strategic Plan. In December of 2013 the team completed their mission of championing the technology plan, identifying actionable opportunities in support of the plan, recommending and prioritizing projects, and monitoring the progress of these projects to operational status. The work of this ad hoc team is done, but sub-teams will be called upon as needed to address specific technology issues and challenges.
KCTCS has signed a contract with Civitas Learning to develop a predictive analytics platform in order to better understand what factors truly make an impact in areas of student retention and academic outcomes. Phase I of the project implements the Illume product which is a dashboard using historical data from numerous administrative systems to predict future outcomes using proprietary algorithms to surface student segments and data insights. Phase II will be a degree mapping tool which students and advisors can use to improve course outcomes (e.g. reducing excess credits, helping improve on-time graduation, etc.) by making personalized course recommendations.
The libraries began implementing the Primo Discovery and Delivery system in early November 2013. In order to provide for branding, customization, and searching the unique resources of each library, KCTCS will implement 17 instances of Primo and SFX, one for each of the colleges and the System Office. The System Office instance will only have resources available system-wide that can be copied for each of the other libraries and then customized with college branding and each libraries’ additional resources. The first cohort of libraries—Bluegrass, Jefferson, and Maysville—will make Primo available to a large segment of the KCTCS population while also rewarding contributions to the RFP committee. Cohort one libraries are scheduled for a beta launch of Primo in mid-March 2014. All the other libraries will follow in short order at a rate of two per week with a system-wide beta launch projected for mid-May.
Technology Solutions is working closely with representatives from all 16 colleges, the system office, and our consulting partners Cedar Crestone to develop a new online admissions application which will greatly improve the student experience and streamline the admissions processes in support of the Student Service Center project and strategic enrollment management. The goal is to have the new application live in late spring 2014.
After receiving requests for changes to the delivered class search within PeopleSoft from the Distance Learning Peer Team and others across the system, Technology Solutions formed a work group to develop formal recommendations for modifications to the class search. The work group submitted the recommendations in the fall of 2013. Resources will be committed to the implementation of the recommendations in the 2014/2015 budget year.
Direct to Degree is an innovative competency-based online program currently under development. As KCTCS moves toward implementation of this program, Technology Solutions will be responsible for the development of customized processes and functionality to support the identification and tracking of competencies earned while enrolled in courses within the Direct to Degree program. Staff within the department are currently evaluating the new Program Enrollment feature to provide a clear path to enrollment within the program.
The KCTCS Class Search work group recommended the purchase and implementation of the Visual Schedule Builder class search tool. This tool will provide an interactive, visual representation of potential class schedules for our students as the student identifies the courses he/she hopes to enroll. The student can narrow the number of schedule combinations by blocking out days and times the student may be unavailable based upon work schedules or other commitments. Staff within the department are currently working with the Visual Schedule Builder team toward an implementation in late spring 2014.
The 2nd phase of Student Services Transformation is scheduled in 2014 and will focus heavily on student recruitment, admissions, and records. Technology Solutions provides technical requirements for the integration of PeopleSoft SIS (Student Information System) with both SIMS (Support Interaction Management System) and StarFish, a retention and advisement support software. Additional enhancements to academic transcripts and other tools to help students through the admissions process are scheduled to be launched.
Deployment of Student Loan Application and SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) Appeal form are planned for the Financial Aid Transformation in 2014. Deployment of these forms would automate data gathering and improve services to students and colleges.
In 2013, Technology Solutions started work on a Blackboard Learn Analytics implementation. Blackboard Learn Analytics combines extensive data from Blackboard Learn, the KCTCS course management system, with student and course attributes from Peoplesoft Student Information System to create comprehensive reports and dashboards for students, instructors, staff and leadership. Prior to KCTCS purchasing Blackboard Learn Analytics, the Decision Support System (DSS) team developed its own proof of concept Blackboard Analytics model and plans to combine and roll-out the new Blackboard Analytics software in 2014-2015 timeframe.