Technology is increasingly becoming the essential backbone for new strategic organizational capabilities. It is my belief that adopting the right technology at the right time will accelerate KCTCS toward meeting and exceeding its strategic goals. While some technology advancements have been born in higher education, most have come from private industry. It is our job to identify which of these advancements can truly move the needle of success for our students, faculty, and staff.
2016 was a very notable year for the System Office Technology Solutions department as well as local college Information Technology teams. Facing significant budget cuts, staff reductions, and an ever-increasing demand for technology, we were still able to complete some very significant projects, which are highlighted in this report. In addition to numerous projects, 2016 was a year of soliciting feedback, analyzing data, researching latest trends, and planning. The culmination of this effort was the 2016-2022 strategic technology plan. I am very proud of the work that went into this plan, especially the values adopted by the department, which can be seen on the Vision, Mission, and Values tab of this report.
While I was named one of Computerworld’s Top 100 IT Leaders in November of 2016, the recognition should be given to our team and the honor reflects the excellence in technology all of KCTCS has demonstrated. I am very pleased to present you the 2016 KCTCS Technology Solutions Accomplishments Report.
Paul B. CzarapataVice President/Chief Information OfficerKentucky Community & Technical College System
KCTCS System Office Technology Solutions is a modern service provider that strives to be the trusted advisor for and champion of technology-based solutions for our students, faculty, and staff of 16 Colleges at more than 70 locations. We are comprised of a dedicated team of employees and an extended network of contracted third-party partners that give us the flexibility and agility to expertly plan and execute strategic technology. Technology based solutions extend well beyond the traditional boundaries of classic Information Technology (IT) departments and require deeper understanding of and integration with core the business processes and operations. Our strategic partnerships with best-of-breed technology providers allow us to provide round-the-clock technology solutions and services to our students, faculty, and staff, while simultaneously extending our reach to provide cutting edge technology leadership in the fast paced digital age.
To be the trusted advisor for and the champion of solutions that make the best use of available and emerging technologies for the world-class system of community colleges educating Kentucky's globally competitive workforce.
Technology Solutions provides secure, reliable, and integrated technology solutions in alignment with academic and administrative goals, while delivering excellence in customer service.
In support of this mission, we will:
Goal 1.1 - Technology Solutions will develop and refine unit strategic goals that are consistent with the KCTCS Strategic Plan.
Goal 2.1 - Promote technology awareness, utilization, and communications.
Goal 2.2 - Increase technology training offerings and opportunities.
Goal 2.3 - Ensure appropriate IT competencies via well-designed workforce and comprehensive professional development plans
Goal 3.1 - Provide compatible, universally accessible, and responsive applications, platforms, and resources
Goal 3.2 - Assist in developing and/or reestablishing sustainable technology refresh plans.
Goal 4.1 - Deliver ubiquitous technological connectivity for the entire college system with equitable and accessible standards.
Goal 4.2 -Provide demonstrable backup and recovery of mission-critical technology systems
Goal 4.3 - Mitigate threats to the KCTCS technical/physical infrastructure.
Goal 5.1 - Inventory, research, and prioritize existing analytical tools within KCTCS and provide adequate training and education accordingly.
Goal 5.2 - Cultivate a culture that supports the use of data to leverage information as an asset, improve efficiency, and student outcomes while developing an understanding of the benefits of data driven decision making across the system.
In order to increase adoption of two important technology tools available to faculty and staff, Technology Solutions teamed with Marketing to increase awareness and publicize the Training and Learning Center (TLC) and the Technology Communication Center (TCC). The TLC is a one-stop source for all technology related training needs. It includes information, resources, guides, and tutorials for the systems staff and faculty use every day such as PeopleSoft, Skype, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and others. The TCC is a one-stop source for technology related news about system-wide solutions and systems. It includes information about service interruptions, new functionality and updates, training opportunities, and best practices/policy changes from the System Office Technology Solutions. These tools were put in place to address training and communication needs identified by colleges and the adoption of these tools continues to grow.
Technology Solutions teamed up with the KCTCS Office for Professional Development and Innovation to offer regional training summits on technology tools and systems designed to improve the way we work, to increase services to our students, and to keep our employees in step with innovative technology development. The KCTCS Technology Summits provide hands on training and education with over 30 sessions covering tools such as SharePoint Online, DSS, OneDrive, PeopleSoft, Starfish, Visual Schedule Builder, Radius, Skype for Business, Office 365, OneNote, Windows 10, Outlook, and more. Representatives from Microsoft and Dell are also onsite highlighting the latest IT gadgets and devices. In spring 2016, 4 regional summit were held and eight more are scheduled for the spring and fall of 2017.
Technology Solutions staff from the System Office continue to visit college faculty and staff to discuss any local concerns or requests for enhancements to improve the way the colleges serve students. System Office staff routinely come back with valuable feedback and suggestions. Much work has taken place to implement many of these suggestions and efforts are underway to continue visits in 2017 to share these modifications and get additional feedback.
In March, 2017, Technology Solutions developed and launched a survey to gauge how employees and students use technology and to determine what technology gaps they see that need to be addressed. More than 1127 KCTCS employees and 2996 students responded. This information was very useful not only on a college by college basis, but also to determine system-wide needs. The data and analytics from this survey helped develop the 2016-2022 Technology Strategic Plan.
The Technology Strategic plan was completed in mid-2016 with input from Technology Solutions staff and college Information Technology leadership. The plan aligns with the KCTCS System Office strategic plan and was based on feedback from thousands of students, faculty, and staff as well as a deep bed of research. The plan will be implemented over the next 7 years.
Technology Solutions completed a project to archive, backup and remove Learn by Term courses from 2011-2015 from KCTCS Blackboard Learn. The KCTCS Learning Systems Administrator worked with Blackboard engineers to resolve a software bug that prevented past course archive and removal. As a result, 119,625 courses were archived and removed from the system to free up storage on our production instance of Blackboard Learn.
Technology Solutions integrated Goal Performance Dashboard. Using the Goal Performance Dashboard, students and instructors track progress toward learning objectives as specified within a degree, certificate, or program. The Goal Performance Dashboard provides a personalized learning opportunity for students to progress through content at their own pace and as they master concepts or skills.
In July, 2016, Technology Solutions implemented a key update to Blackboard to resolve 27 issues with the system. These updates allow students and faculty utilize more functionality within Blackboard, allowing for better course experiences.
Due to Oracle Database, version 11g end-of-life support, the Blackboard Learn database was updated to the new version (12C) on 07/22/16. Oracle's Database 12C advanced capabilities promote better performance, increased scalability, and easier data management.
The Learning Management System (LMS) training and resource center was developed so that both new and existing faculty can get up to speed with Blackboard Learn quickly, even if they have never used Blackboard Learn before. More than 8 comprehensive topics provide learners with self-paced training and resources that cover topics such as building online courses and designing engaging content.
announced that the Blackboard Voice Tools would no longer be supported after
August 31, 2016 and they would be supporting a different tool called
VoiceThread. On 07/22/2017 the tool was installed on Blackboard Learn and made
available to faculty. VoiceThread is a collaborative online tool that allows
people to post media such as images, documents, and video and comment on them
by webcam, microphone, telephone, text, and uploaded audio (MP3/WAV). This
allows for a group discussion, analysis, or presentation around the shared
KCTCS has updated Blackboard Partner Cloud in August and December 2016. The Blackboard Partner Cloud streamlines our inventory of content integrations 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. Sensitive student data remains private and secure.
Blackboard released a new integration method for Collaborate Ultra, Blackboard's web conferencing tool. This integration gives faculty additional features for the tool within Blackboard Learn Courses. The additional features include the ability to schedule a Collaborate session in advance, breakout rooms and polling. The web conferencing integration was installed on production Blackboard Learn 07/31/16.
On 07/22/16, an integration to Pearson's new tool REVEL was completed with KCTCS Blackboard Learn. REVEL is Pearson's newest, fully digital way to deliver content. Pearson provides Blackboard Learn integration, giving institutions, instructors, and students easy access to Revel. Pearson's Revel integration delivers streamlined single sign-on access to REVEL content from within the Blackboard Learn course shell.
On 07/22/16, a Blackboard Learn integration to Elsevier's new tool Sherpath was completed for KCTCS. Sherpath is the personalized, mobile optimized learning technology that takes primary, relevant course content to give students what they need to know, in the time they have available.
Technology Solutions worked with Hawkes Learning to build an integration with Blackboard Learn to allow grade synchronization and single sign on from Hawkes Learning to KCTCS Blackboard. The integration was completed on 08/07/2016 and saves instructors time while ensuring accurate transfer of grades into the Student Information System.
The latest version of the Blackboard Mobile Web Services Building Block was installed on Blackboard Learn 08/28/2016. The Mobile Web Services building block enables users to use Blackboard mobile apps to access their courses and grades through their smart phone.
The KCTCS Learning Management Administrator worked with ExamSoft to setup a single sign-on integration with Blackboard Learn. The integration was completed on 09/22/16. ExamSoft simplifies assessment management with a one-stop platform for exam creation, delivery, and reporting.
The KCTCS Learning Management Administrator worked with Toolwire to setup a single sign-on integration with Blackboard Learn. The integration was completed on 10/02/16. Toolwire's Platform connects learners to the right content at the right time. Applying instructional design to game mechanics transforms ordinary assignments into challenging missions that motivate learners to progress towards their goal: course completion and skill development.
The KCTCS Learning Management Administrator worked with NetTutor to setup a single sign-on integration with Blackboard Learn. The integration was completed on 10/13/16. NetTutor is an online tutoring service that provides students support, whenever they need it, for any subject, and on any device.
The KCTCS Learning Management Administrator worked with Smart Sparrow to setup a single sign-on integration with Blackboard Learn. The integration was completed on 12/16/16. Smart Sparrow is a course-building platform for adaptive courseware. The courseware includes student and course analytics and allows for the integration of virtual labs and simulations.
PeopleTools has been upgraded to 8.55 in the Student Information System (SIS) in preparation for an application upgrade from Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 to 9.2. Campus Solutions 9.2 addresses the key imperatives of the modern campus: a modern user experience, flexible functionality and a product lifecycle platform that enables institutions to better manage system maintenance costs and provides more options for how users interact with our system.
In September 2016, ACT (American College Testing) delivered changes in the file they provide to KCTCS. Some of the changes in the national test data include changes in the writing score ranges, addition of reporting categories to replace subscores, inclusion of ACT STEM College Readiness scores, as well changes in ACT Readiness Ranges which allow students to more easily see their performance on each reporting category. Technology Solutions created a new file mapping to accommodate these changes so student test scores will be loaded correctly into PeopleSoft.
Technology Solutions automated the update of External Education data in SIS (Student Information System) with data from scanned documents in OnBase using EIS (Enterprise Integration Serve) utilizing web services. With students changing home colleges often, it is difficult for colleges to identify previous attended institution information within SIS during the Admission process. Technology Solutions developed a method to associate home college to external education information to be used in admission process.
Each semester KCTCS runs the process to cancel students who have a positive balance, insufficient financial aid on their account, and an indicator that they are not to be excluded from any cancellation process. The System Wide Batch Cancellation process is completed for the fall and spring terms.
This implementation provides Payment Card Industry (PCI) Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA-DSS) to students who use credit card and ACH payments in Student Information System. It is hosted by TouchNet's PCI Data Security Standard (DSS) Certified Datacenter. This provides students with an advanced secure payment method for paying tuition.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has altered Form 1098-T for 2016 to implement the recent statutory change allowing colleges and universities to certify that they have met the regulatory requirements for soliciting student taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) at least once during the year. These technical changes were implemented in compliance with these new statutes.
Technology Solutions developed a process to support Regent Review
implementation in KCTCS’ effort to improve and streamline Financial Aid
processing. Data from SIS is sent to
Regent for processing the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in identification of students who have been
selected for verification and ready to package. Data from Regent is imported
into SIS to be used in the Financial Aid awarding process.
A process was created to assign an Active Learner role to all faculty in data extractions for the Learning Management System (LMS) from the Student Information System (SIS). This function will enroll faculty in the LMS Training and Resource Center.
An additional process sends enrolled student data from the SIS to LMS courses using student group assignment within SIS. This feature is used by the Learn OnDemand program and various grants to provide services specific to students in these programs.
Due to a change in the Blackboard Student Services (BbSS) policy for agentless outbound campaigns, the outbound campaign interface files were adjusted. Additional data elements were added to the user file, to enable a scrub of all client provided files against a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) list to verify the contacts.
Technology Solutions adjusted the current course interface being provided to the Kentucky Virtual University to enable a search on courses based on a Dual Credit designated course. The appropriate designation was added to the course interface file for courses that applies to the Dual Credit program.
Technology Solutions implemented PeopleSoft Time and Attendance system-wide to provide a solution that allows employees to enter time worked for non-exempt employees and absence data (sick, vacation, jury duty, military leave, FML, etc.) for all employees through Employee Self-Service. The solution eliminated a manual paper process that was used for years. The implementation also allowed us to examine our business processes and procedures, many of which were revised and standardized, providing consistency across the colleges. In our evaluation of the PeopleSoft solution, we decided to use the Time and Labor Module delivered by PeopleSoft and build our own Absence Tracking module using Time and Labor. This functionality provided a much simpler and more integrated user-experience for employees. We added several customizations to the process including a supervisor view of employee leave balances, and automated process to assign security based on Position data, and multiple audits to provide checks and balances to ensure correct data is sent to Payroll.
Technology Solutions completed an upgrade to the latest version of PeopleTools (8.55.05) in the HCM (Human Capital Management) environment. The latest version delivers a new "fluid" interface, which provides a richer user experience for mobile devices. PeopleSoft has committed to developing more and more fluid pages and enhancing this technology moving forward and KCTCS is now better positioned to leverage this technology in our systems.
Technology Solutions began using the delivered FLSA Module in PeopleSoft. The "Fair Labor Standards Act" establishes minimum wage and overtime pay standards for employees. The primary benefit of this module is the automated calculation of a Weighted Average Overtime rate of pay. This eliminates manually calculating this rate for affected employees each pay period.
The Technology Solutions HCM Support team assumed responsibility for federally mandated IPEDS (Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System) reporting, taking over this duty formerly performed by the Office of Research and Policy Analysis (ORPA) group. All 2016 deadlines were met.
Technology Solutions created a new report for Employee Benefits to complete the annual federally mandated nondiscrimination test report. This process allows our System Office Benefits staff to complete a report that used to take weeks to pull together in just a few hours.
KCTCS collaborated with ADP to implement their Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting interface, which facilitates Health Care reporting in compliance with federal guidelines. This complex interface required multiple updates and significant testing due to changes within the 2016 reporting cycle.
Technology Solutions developed an interface to send employee data to Lawroom, a vendor that provides "It's On Us" employee training for KCTCS. "It's On Us" training is a mandatory training required in response to the Violence Against Women Act.
Technology Solutions created a process to create Employee Salary data to be used both on the KCTCS website and for the State mandated Open-door initiative.
Technology Solutions completed mandatory updates to the Chard-Snyder interface. Chard-Snyder administers our Flexible Spending plans at KCTCS. Updates included the inclusion of tracking dependent information.
Technology Solutions created a cross-reference to assist our Employee Benefits area in reconciling State Department of Employee Insurance (DEI) data with PeopleSoft enrollment.
A major PeopleSoft Financials infrastructure upgrade of PeopleSoft PeopleTools to version 8.54 and application of fix and enhancement bundles was completed in May 2016. This upgrade also required a complete rework for branding in order to meet KCTCS guidelines. The application and infrastructure upgrades provide enhancements, utilizing updated business processing and technologies which provide improved functionality and user experience.
A minor PeopleSoft Financials application update and PeopleTools minor upgrade was completed in November 2016. The application update and infrastructure upgrade consist of fix bundles, functional enhancements, and security updates to the system which provide additional functionality and security fixes and enhancements across all modules.
In support of the PeopleSoft Financials/Supply Chain system, the following projects were completed:
Completed the following enhancement, modifications, and refinements to the Travel & Expense module:
In December 2016, Technology Solutions completed a full database reorganization which provided a fine-tuned system structure and smaller database footprint. This reorganization has increased system performance and stability.
Technology Solutions (TS) in conjunction with Business Services (BS) and Facilities Management completed the following:
Visual Schedule Builder is a tool that provides an interactive, visual representation of potential class schedules for students as they identify the courses they hope to enroll in. 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. The tool was originally rolled out in Spring 2015 for advisors to use in helping students develop their schedule. Since then, Visual Schedule Builder continued to be enhanced and customized to give students the best scheduling experience available. In 2016, the full Visual Schedule Builder experience became available, allowing them to enroll directly from the tool, save classes to their cart, and save favorite schedules to be reviewed later, as well as give administrators a dynamic reporting and analytics tool to determine the classes most searched for and timeframes most requested by students.
In late January of 2016, a new training director came on board and has been busy providing training in various formats. In addition to PeopleSoft sessions held at Technology Summits, there were 10 in-person training sessions held by Technology Solutions personnel on-site at KCTCS colleges across the state and at the system office. In addition to the in-person sessions, there were 15 online training sessions held. To ensure that the training being delivered is always up-to-date, the department made several updates to training manuals ranging anywhere from 1-4 updates per month and 3 new video tutorials were created for faculty, staff and students.
Many colleges are moving to the concept of advising students through an advising committee instead of a single advisor. This process allows students to get assistance from multiple sources at the college with varying areas of expertise. To support this concept, Technology Solutions modified an existing process that allows the college to run a process that will assign multiple students to an advising committee at one time. This batch process takes only a few minutes to run and allows the local college to make better use of employee resources.
Governor Bevin's executive order for the new Dual Credit Scholarship Program provided dramatic changes to dual credit for all KCTCS colleges. To support our colleges and to administer the program as outlined in the executive order, Technology Solutions developed custom pages within PeopleSoft for the collection of student, course, enrollment, and grading data for dual credit. In addition, processes were developed to exchange data between KCTCS and KHEAA and to reconcile any errors between the data submitted by the Kentucky high schools and the KCTCS colleges. Technology Solutions also provided training materials and training sessions for the dual credit coordinators and others at the college level responsible for reconciling the dual credit data. This project was particularly difficult due to the very short turn-around time from the signing of the executive order to implementation for fall 2016.
Several colleges requested the creation of additional related content on the program plan and admission pages. This feature allows the user to navigate to multiple related pages without opening different windows within a browser. The addition of these shortcuts allow the users to work more efficiently and effectively when processing a student's application during the admission process.
Technology Solutions implemented a process to run academic advisement reports for all students enrolled in the term after end of term processing. This additional process keeps the academic advisement reports up to date for students and advisors, but also provides up to date information for several projects that utilize this information. Technology Solutions also modified and released a PDF version of the academic advisement report. The PDF (portable document format) option allows students and advisors to print the academic advising report.
Yearly, an audit of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, OnBase, and Afficilate access security is sent to each college's security contact for review to ensure faculty and staff have the necessary access to do their job duties. Based on feedback, changes are made to improve user access.
Changes to the Assessment/Placement policy required updates to KCTCS courses to include GED scores (where applicable). Over 265 courses that use the policy data were affected, requiring updates to over 300 requirement groups as some courses use multiple requirements (regular and KCTCS Online (VLI). Additionally, this required updating Requisite Conditions used within requisites that contain the various score levels from the policy. The requisite setup for the affected courses now looks for GED scores in addition to the existing placement policy setup, ensuring proper placement of students.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international educational foundation. A request was received to update PeopleSoft with IB courses and scores along with identifying which KCTCS courses were equivalents and what credit should be received. 18 IB courses and corresponding scores were set up in PeopleSoft, along with their equivalent courses and credits. Schools may now record International Baccalaureate credit into PeopleSoft.
Technology Solutions deployed a delivered batch transcript process within PeopleSoft. This process allows the user to create transcripts by loading a file of students or manually entering the student id numbers. It creates a PDF document that is sorted by the student's last name. This process allows the user to more efficiently create and print transcripts.
At times, two or three organization identification numbers (ID) become associated with the same college or high school in PeopleSoft. These duplicates cause confusion for campus personnel and need to be corrected. To reduce the number of duplicates students and employees, a process was created that inactivates duplicate ids and replaces the invalid org id on the education pages of a student record with the single valid org id. This process was added, tested, and made available to select system office personnel. System office personnel can now use this functionality to correct duplicates which improves data quality.
Technology Solutions as an effort to help colleges keep within their capital budgets for new buildings and renovations worked with our venders and started using refurbished Cisco equipment rather than new, giving KCTCS the same performance and peace of mind as when we bought new Cisco equipment. This change in direction for purchasing network infrastructure equipment provides KCTCS discounts at 80%, 35% over current University contracted rates keeping KCTCS colleges at a high level of technology for its students. This resulted in a total savings of $106,706 for 2016 for 5 KCTCS colleges.
As part of a cost savings measure, KCTCS moved over 8,000 telephone handsets across 16 colleges from the existing traditional Analog Telephony service to an Internet based digital telephony service called (SIP) Session Initiated Protocol. This migration allowed the KCTCS college system to add additional redundancy to its existing telephony infrastructure as well as reduce operational cost by approximately 33%.
Single Sign On was implemented for various systems across KCTCS allowing faculty/staff/students to access systems securely without multiple prompts for username/password. Many systems were integrated with SSO in 2016, such as Blackboard, Regent, and OnTheHub. Many others are in progress for 2017, such as PeopleSoft and the KCTCS mobile app.
Technology Solutions worked with network engineers to provide a highly available radius authentication solution for the regional wireless local area network (LAN) controller project. This project gave all colleges equal access to enterprise grade wireless technology while reducing the overall cost of providing wireless access to all colleges.
System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) provides KCTCS Technology Solutions staff with an automated way to install software, configure settings, and provide security options for computers across the state. The infrastructure was upgraded to enhance the existing services, add support for future computer systems, and ease future upgrades.
KCTCS uses Enterprise Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for many purposes, but the primary function of this service is to secure access to our network. It provides certificates to every domain computer on our network that identifies the device via 802.1x radius authentication for all wired and wireless network access. This allows KCTCS to authenticate clients on the wired and wireless network without prompting users for credentials. The added value is that it is what allows us to secure our network by placing unknown clients in a restricted virtual local area network. This is also a key component that allows Direct Access to work. Direct Access is an always on virtual private network solution that doesn't require the user to login.
Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) allows authentication into services such as email, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online. The infrastructure was upgraded to provide additional features and availability. Additionally, the infrastructure was moved from an on-premises location to Microsoft's cloud platform, Azure. Moving to virtual infrastructure in the cloud allowed us to provide higher availability by strategically placing these services in multiple datacenters across the country.
Dirsync was upgraded to Azure AD Connect. Dirsync was a legacy software used to synchronize active directory data with Azure Active Directory and Office 365. The underlying hardware was also out dated, so we move application from on-premises hardware to Azure Infrastructure as a Service virtual machines.
Additional infrastructure was added to our cloud environment to provide redundancy for signing into cloud services such as email, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online when there are KCTCS network issues so employees and students do not lose access.
Azure AD (Active Directory) Connect was upgraded to provide new features, bug fixes and security enhancements from a previous version. Azure Active Directory is our cloud based authentication platform. Active Directory is our on-premises authentication platform. The Azure Active Directory Connect components keep the two directories in sync.
This is a statewide effort lead by the Kentucky Communication Network Authority (KCNA) that will provide fiber optic connectivity to all KCTCS sites. This will improve network performance at all KCTCS locations throughout the state.
In 2015, Technology Solutions, on behalf of Facilities Management, began hosting server and networking infrastructure to support a centralized administrative and reporting system for building automation, energy management and HVAC systems within KCTCS. In 2016, this system was expanded to accommodate servers for districts nearing implementation phase of the project. As well, implemented a method by which external vendors and contractors are able to remotely connect, monitor and service these systems in a secure manner. Additional industry standard security/encryption protocols were also implemented across the system. This system allows KCTCS to exchange data with and participate in the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System (CEMCS) and is used as a decision support system for energy conservation and cost savings measures. See it in action at kyenergydashboard.ky.gov.
The existing network connection infrastructure at the Windstream colocation/datacenter facility in downtown Lexington was upgraded to accommodate additional bandwidth needs. Also, an additional high-speed network connection was provisioned and installed to serve as a failover should the primary connection be interrupted.
In 2015, several UPS's serving critical communication closets for the System Office were replaced and/or upgraded to allow remote management. A network-based reporting and alerting system was implemented to monitor the UPS's and alert upon conditions such as power outages, surges, battery failures, etc. This visibility affords additional triage capabilities and helps maintain high-level network and systems availability by reducing unexpected UPS outages.
in 2012, Technology Solutions began the practice of encrypting data on hard
drives of computers/laptops used by System Office employees, in an effort to
protect against unauthorized data loss. In conjunction with the refresh of all
System Office computers in 2016, a mandatory overhaul of Microsoft Bitlocker
Administration and Monitoring (MBAM) system used to manage drive encryption and
escrow decryption keys was completed
KCTCS Technology Solutions employs a sophisticated unified network security management system called AlienVault, which analyzes and correlates live network traffic to uncover active or potential threats. A major upgrade to the AlienVault software was performed this year, along with various improvements to the system. As well, a public dashboard was designed and displayed on the TS monitors for at-a-glance network threat levels, threat risks, Top10's, etc.
Technology Solutions teamed up with Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) to help Lexington Community Radio 95.7 FM. Since 2013, BCTC has been helping Lexington Community Radio get off the ground and in 2015, the station became live with the intent to "give voices to people in our community that aren't always heard." Since that time, they have run into some technical difficulties with sound quality. Technology Solutions was able to assist this non-profit community partner to resolve their "chirping" noise and make the broadcast clear as a bell once again.
The evolution of the employee intranet into a more holistic Digital Workplace continued this past year, taking advantage of changes going on in other areas of KCTCS operations such as Marketing, Finance, Student Services, and senior leadership. On the more technical side, a broad and concerted effort to build a robust Single-Sign-On platform to connect employees more seamlessly and securely to the more than two dozen enterprise system across KCTCS has helped solidify and strengthen the vision for a premier "one-stop-shop" for employees. Additionally, we were able to help individuals and departments expand their digital offering within the intranet by establishing or expanding service description pages and content areas. A few highlights from this past year include:
The digital workplace matured in a number of areas during 2016 as we worked with several groups to help streamline their business processes. As Technology Solutions engaged with teams and departments, we looked at both the technical and non-technical pieces and parts of their processes and used our experience to identify opportunities for improvements in efficiency. We continue to build helpful tools to capture, track, and analyze business information and content, but we are also helping the business owners think more innovatively and natively digital when it comes to their processes. A few highlights include:
Another core component of the intranet is to provide a platform for communications, as well as to help employees get the most out of the available tools. To this end, we worked to elevate communications more naturally and directly out of the work already being performed. We also made efforts to personally demonstrate how to extract the maximum value from these tools. A few highlights include:
Office 365 is termed an "Evergreen" service, meaning that the features and capabilities of it are designed to constantly improve and evolve. This allows us stay up to date more easily and at a lower cost and, as a bonus, we get new tools and capabilities at a rapid pace. Some of the key improvements and additions in Office 365 last year include:
AMTEC has a Moodle LMS hosted by the Center for Rural Development. Technology Solutions is now loading a weekly backup copy of their MySQL database to our server at Sierra Cedar. This process moves select tables to the Decision Support System (DSS) supporting reports and a dashboard for analytics on grades, user interaction, and third party assessment data.
Solutions is working with Blackboard CRM to bring in a pre-defined
monthly extract of Blackboard CRM data from both the “Call Center”
and “Technology Solutions” datasets.
This data supports analysis of service tickets logged by students in the
call center, and technology solutions tickets filed by faculty and staff.
The Blackboard student and instructor activity measures are popular with our users, which prompted needed data manipulation, aggregating the data so it would perform reasonably. Technology Solutions developed a Dashboard to help with the Strategic Enrollment Management "SEMs" project. This dashboard is in production. Our work with the Blackboard LMS and the Moodle LMS has inspired the Learn on Demand team to start a project investigating the development of a Learn on Demand dashboard using multiple sources of information.
Solutions is working with the budget and finance group to re-construct
processes and reporting. Reports and processes executed through Microsoft
Access & SQL (Structured Query Language) Server are the initial targets.
This year we replaced two processes that create transactions to load to
PeopleSoft Financials and have a new process built for creating the system
office position control reporting. A new
budget dashboard for colleges is under construction with the first report in
Civitas is developing their Illume student retention predictive analytics product incrementally. This year Technology Solutions added a number of new data sources to the Civitas nightly extract from the data warehouse. The Illume product is undergoing a top to bottom data validation and re-mapping process. From this effort, Civitas has provided a user's guide to the Illume users group. The Illume system was successfully migrated to single sign-on and all existing accounts converted to support the common authentication process. Our team audited Civitas user accounts and conducted a security cleanup.
Civitas is developing their Degree Map product using our PeopleSoft (PS) data extracted nightly from the data warehouse. Degree Map's general purpose is to be a student/advisor facing tool that uses academic data to help students choose the fastest or most effect path to a degree/certification.
Solutions has successfully connected with the new Regent System SQL (Structured
Query Language) Server database and have access to a number of prescribed
"views". These views are the building blocks for reports in the
Decision Support System (DSS). Technology Solutions has completed the
Early Intervention file creation process
supporting 13 college contracts with KHEAA for loan default
mitigation. Additionally, we created a loan default dashboard and set up a
security group for the default data allowing college personnel to download
their default data.
Pre-selected Starfish data is available to designated users in DSS. A vendor-provided web service is being utilized daily to load incremental data. Technology Solutions worked with Student Services personnel developing an OBIEE (Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition) dashboard measuring Starfish metrics.
The vendor recently moved their application to Amazon Web Services cloud and we re-pointed our communications to the new set up successfully.
Technology Solutions in conjunction with Sierra Cedar personnel upgraded the OBIEE software to a more current version and activated the BI (Business Intelligence) Publisher component of the OBIEE software for test report creation. We also so setup the latest version of the OBIEE software in a test environment for review.
Solutions in conjunction with Sierra Cedar personnel installed additional ODI
scheduling agents on multiple servers.
We also installed the web based Interface for latest version of ODI to
test the web-based ETL Job Initiation.
This would allow our users to initiate jobs without staff interaction.
Technology Solutions transitioned the KCTCS Council on Post-Secondary Education (CPE) data submission process from Microsoft Access to Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) processes. Colleges use the OBIEE dashboard reports to validate the data before submitting them to CPE.
Additionally, Technology Solutions added tables and dashboards for admissions applications, dual credit enrollment, financial waivers, headcount, and enrollment. We also transitioned the Board Book Process from a Microsoft Access process to an ODI process for periodic Board Book generation as well as created a dashboard and reports for Board members.
All KCTCS students now have access to Skype for Business. Skype for Business allows them to quickly collaborate with other KCTCS students, faculty, and staff as well as other universities around the country who use Skype. Collaboration methods available with this service include instant messaging, screen sharing, and audio/video chats. Some examples of how this service has helped students are remote advising/tutoring for students who are unable to physically come on campus, one-on-one instruction when a student is struggling with a class or process, and student collaboration for class projects.
Technology solutions designed an analytical dashboard based on data from our Azure cloud infrastructure to allow better monitoring of enterprise services. With system health monitoring we can take proactive measures to potential issues before they happen. We are now able to monitor for critical events and quickly respond.
The Center for Rural Development (CRD) in Somerset, KY houses multiple core KCTCS server solutions such as Skype for Business, servers for authentication, and mail servers that work hand-in-hand with Office 365. The network infrastructure was upgraded to provide redundancy and higher availability for these services. This project also gave us the opportunity to decrease costs.
Fire Instructors are now required to meet both training and teaching goals in specific time periods. The program is designed to assist auditors, departments and individual instructors track and evaluate both required and completed training and teaching hours. Instructors, departments and system auditors have reports which determine completed and uncompleted goals.
The Fire Rescue Training System must provide reporting data for various internal and external agencies. This data is provided in both raw and reconciled formats based on the request. The reconcile process is a program written by Technology Solutions which addresses each of these requests. Within the training system itself, the usual method of accessing this data is via reports which are written to present the data in a predetermined manner; however, the data is also available ad hoc and may be exported for external analysis/statistical programs. The reconcile process is written is a modular format permitting additions, changes and modifications as needs change within the State Fire Commission.
Voyager is the back-office enterprise library system for managing the libraries' physical collections and e-books. Staff use its suite of tools to maintain the database that allows students to discover and use the physical collections and ebooks of the KCTCS libraries. Technology Solutions coordinated the upgrade process with Ex Libris (the vendor) for the upgrade of the Voyager application, Oracle database, Apache Web server, and Java. As part of the upgrade, 130,000 ebook records were loaded into Voyager.
Primo is KCTCS's main discovery portal for everything – books, DVDs, ebooks, and full-text journal articles – all in one easy-to-use search box. Primo is a search tool for finding content within Voyager. The Primo vendor, Ex Libris, released a new user interface (UI). The new look is mobile-friendly, touch-screen friendly, and easier to use on all platforms. KCTCS applied the customizations to all 16 Primo views and ensured that the new user interface was accessible through all college websites. Additionally, Technology Solutions created custom code to put the Primo Search Box in any Web page and an easy-to-use web application so librarians can automatically generate their customized search box code on demand.
Technology Solutions explored a better way to integrate the online Films on Demand videos into Blackboard courses. The old method is cumbersome for faculty to use. The new method is easy for faculty to embed these subscription videos into their Blackboard coursed. The new method will also be easier for students because it authenticates the student directly without having them log into another system. In addition, Technology Solutions worked to integrate the new Primo User Interface Search box into Blackboard so that students have a seamless experience. This project began in 2016 and is slated to finish next year when all colleges have integrated Films on Demand.
Technology Solutions worked with Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College to integrate their EZproxy server with LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) in order to make it easier for students and staff to log in to library systems.
In February, 2016, the KCTCS Office of Research and Policy Analysis (ORPA) worked with the Library Systems and KCTCS libraries to collect, collate, and enter data into the IPEDS system and extract metrics from the Voyager database. This is an efficient process, providing more accurate data for reporting purposes.
EBSCO (Elton B. Stephens Co.) is a leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, ebooks and discovery service for the academic, medical, and government industries. KCTCS colleges manage their RBSCO e-book subscriptions using online tools. In order to increase efficiency for the librarians and improve discoverability for ebooks in Primo, KCTCS migrated to a new e-resource management platform, WorldShare Collection Manager.
Malware, short for malicious software, is any software used to disrupt computer or mobile operations, gather sensitive information, gain access to private computer systems, or display unwanted advertising. Malwarebytes is a highly acclaimed anti-malware/anti-ransomware solution.
Malware and ransomware have proven to be a serious adversary in the information security arena. Preventing malware threats can be an arduous task and having a solution such a Malwarebytes has offered an increased level of protection for KCTCS. Malwarebytes can help contain ransomware/malware before it downloads itself to a device. Implementation of this product has proven to be effective and adds great value to KCTCS' security solutions.
A presentation was given by Information Security and Technology Solutions personnel to the nursing program. Representatives throughout the system attended the session. This raised awareness and focus on the importance of maintaining confidential medical information with an emphasis on compliance.
The Information Security Summit was a program presented to KCTCS System Office personnel and college representatives as part of an ongoing awareness campaign. This program was very well attended and received by the attendees. This increased information security awareness in many service areas throughout the enterprise.
There is an ongoing annual KCTCS policy review that is conducted in conjunction with the Human Resources and Legal teams to maintain an increased focus on Information Security (Policy Review 4.2.5).
Shadow System is a term used in information services for any application relied upon for business processes that is not under the jurisdiction of a centralized information systems department. That is, the information systems department did not create it, was not aware of it, and does not support it.
There were continuing instances of web shadow systems that were developed for several applications, departmentally and at the college level. Sensitive/confidential information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, etc., were collected on web forms which were not as secure as the current content management system (CMS). The Information Security team worked in conjunction with the Legal and the Marketing team to issue a position statement on web shadow systems. This supported the need to migrate from any existing shadow system to the more robust system which is currently being implemented. This new system will allow KCTCS as a whole to achieve compliance in many policy and legal areas.
The KCTCS Senior Information Security Analyst performed an information security audit review with Crowe-Horwath auditors. This audit revealed "no" flags in the information security area. This was a major accomplishment for KCTCS as a whole.
Data Loss Prevention is part of the Microsoft Office 365 business agreement to further secure and protect information within KCTCS. When an email client attempts to send sensitive information to a third party email service this security feature notifies the KCTCS sender, prior to releasing the email, that the message they are about to send contains sensitive information. This service suggests to the sender that they make a conscious decision to share the information in a more secure manner.
Over the years there were legacy (old/outdated) devices placed on the KCTCS network infrastructure that exposed security vulnerabilities in our system. The Information Security Team worked with System Office departmental and KCTCS college personnel to eliminate identified devices and services that could pose a security threat.
The Information Security team is working with various departments to develop a standard procedure for enabling and revoking access to KCTCS information systems for employees, vendors, and affiliates.
There was a comprehensive vulnerability scan of all KCTCS network endpoints conducted by the KCTCS Senior Information Security Analyst. This was a very complex task to mitigate all potential risks from outside and internal entities. Reports were finalized and delivered to KCTCS Information Technology directors at each college toward the end of January 2017 and the beginning of February 2017.
As a part of a statewide mandate for energy management, the KCTCS Senior Network Engineer and Senior Security Analyst put together reports of all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units that will be upgraded to a new, enhanced security standard for KCTCS. This initiative was performed in January 2017.
In conjunction with Bluegrass Community and Technical College, 64 Woodford County high school students visited the System Office to complete Compass testing in the computer lab. Technology Solutions configured the computers for the testing and returned them to normal state after completion.
Technology Solutions secured a new lease for 400 machines to replace our previous computers which were at end of lease. As part of that project new Windows 10 and Office 16 images were created and testing was done to ensure all other software was compatible and supported. All legacy, end of life software, still in use was updated for compatibility. Ensured a smooth implementation by communicating the change to staff, ordering new machines, collecting and wiping old hardware, and packaging and shipping back old hardware to the leasing agent.
In order to decrease our carbon footprint and to provide helpful tools to Board of Regent members, Technology Solutions configured iPads for each member. iPads were loaded with productivity software, apps, and management tools to provide members with the ability to review and annotate board materials. Training was provided to the members and the Board of Regents meetings are now paperless.
Technology Solutions worked closely with Student Services to establish a production scanning solution for OnBase. Standardizing on a centralized production solution reduces cost by minimizing not only replacement frequency (desktop scanners aren't designed for the rigors of production scanning), but also support hours (both local Information Technology Staff and Vebridge) by only having a single scanner model to test and troubleshoot instead of a wide variety of desktop models.
After researching different options, cost was the deciding factor between Fujitsu and Xerox. Lease agreements for Xerox were established and put into effect. This has become the standard for System Office and is also recommended to our colleges.
Technology in the President's Board Room was upgraded and fitted with a new 98" wall mounted display. The tabletop pop-ups were upgraded to replace VGA (video graphics array) technology with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) connectivity as well as USB (Universal Serial Bus) charging ports for iPhones, iPads, etc. Other enhancements include additional presentation sources, new touch screen panels, and improved audio conferencing hardware.
Upgraded all existing APs (Access Points) with Cisco's new, high availability model. With all of the technology that has become commonplace we were limited on the number of concurrent connections our old APs would allow. The new APs provide not only faster speed but also increased capacity especially in our more densely populated spaces like the President's Board room, Conference Center and other meeting rooms.
Technology Solutions worked with AT&T to identify and consolidate both Individual Responsibility Users and Corporate Responsibility Users accounts throughout their State Fire Rescue Training areas into a single Corporate Responsibility User account that they monitor and manage. This ensures no KCTCS-subsidized AT&T account is set up under an individual's SSN (which we do not have access to) and that all accounts are receiving the proper rates and discounts. This allows for closer monitoring from a budgetary standpoint.
Technology Solutions implemented new widescreen monitors to support dashboards that display potential issues and threats as part of our goal to be more pro-active than re-active to issues throughout the KCTCS college network. These new dashboards somewhat resemble an automobile's dashboard, organizing and presenting information in real-time in a way that is easy to read and analyze potential issues. The dashboards cover every area of information technology operations from KCTCS's 70 plus network connections at our colleges to KCTCS's Learning management system (Blackboard).
Students now have a one-stop shop to see all new assignments, grades, discussions, announcements, notifications, news, events and videos. This engaging productivity tool is the focal point for a redesigned KCTCS app released early in 2016. As part of redesigned app, the following functionality is now available:
Technology Solutions accepted the timely offer of the KCTCS app vendor to host KCTCS app services at their expense. This implementation resulted in cost savings that enabled the PeopleSoft Single Sign On project to move forward.
User Account Services processes were streamlined to reduce the turnaround in creating and updating student user accounts which improved the student experience.
Spirion (formerly Identity Finder) is a software tool used by many businesses and higher education institutions to locate sensitive information. Not only does it locate data elements such as Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, bank account data, and passwords, but it also gives the user the ability to securely delete the discovered file(s), encrypt the file(s), or redact the particular fields within the file(s) discovered. It searches the data in files, emails, browser data, and system areas.
Monthly reports are produced that help users understand how much sensitive information has been discovered on their machines. This has proven to be very helpful and offers users a chance to learn interactively and become more familiar with the use this product.
The necessary computer control equipment (the server) has been installed at each college location as of February 2017. Client software will be installed on all college computers to scan for sensitive information. Personnel at each college will be educated how to maintain and secure discovered sensitive data.
As enhancements become available, Technology Solutions will be rolling out more and more PeopleSoft features using their new "Fluid" interface, which provides a richer user experience for mobile devices.
Technology Solutions completed setup and testing of the eDevelopment Module in PeopleSoft, which tracks employee training and certifications. In 2017, Technology Solutions plans to load historical data into the module and begin using it to track this information for employees.
Technology Solutions plan to develop an automated process to send garnishment information related to Child Support payments by employees directly to the institution collecting the funds through ACH, thus eliminating a manual process.
Technology Solutions plans to build enhancements and streamline our IPEDS reporting processing for 2017.
By the end of June, 2017, Technology Solutions will have consolidated 16 servers into one single server. This server will be managed by KCTCS and will allow for faster turnaround on configuration changes and problem resolution. This will also allow students who are off-campus to seamlessly access all library systems. Additionally, the system will have improved up-time in the case of an outage as a result of built-in redundancy for network access and hardware. This change results in an annual cost savings for all colleges.
In 2017, Library Services will be collecting and analyzing data to reveal opportunities for improving access for students, eliminating redundancy across subscriptions, and delivering better value to all stakeholders.
In order to improve back-office workflow efficiency and e-resource management tools, with downstream improvements on students' ability to discover and use our growing number of e-resources, Technology Solutions will begin the process of evaluating a replacement for the Legacy Voyager System.
In 2017, the Library Services and Resources Peer Team will develop a proposal and pilot a project for providing centralized library services through the existing Blackboard eLibrary tab. Opportunities include online reference services, information/digital literacy content, and a suite of tools for resource discovery and delivery.
PeopleTools will be upgraded to 8.55 in the Financial Systems in summer/fall 2017. This infrastructure provides flexible functionality and a product lifecycle platform that enables institutions to better manage system maintenance costs and provides more options for how users interact with our system.
To ensure that faculty and students will have the most up to date teaching and learning tools, KCTCS Blackboard Learn will be updated in May of 2017.
Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment for Blackboard Learn is the same Blackboard Learn, delivered on a modern cloud computing technology stack. With SaaS deployment, KCTCS will receive the benefits of a cloud architecture combined with the power of the original Blackboard experience that is already familiar to faculty and students plus a simplified workflow, a modern look and feel, and a fully responsive interface on all devices. This upgrade will provide faster service and no down-time for maintenance.
In this increasingly inter-connected world, effective collaboration is essential. We need to operate without friction or barriers, be able to openly exchange ideas, and be supported by the best technology. Collaboration, communication, and content management will take a big leap forward with the introduction and adoption of Office 365 groups. This functionality provides the foundation for new capabilities that are free and open, yet structured and manageable. Using Office 365 Groups, the team site concept will evolve to be more nimble and responsive to any given team's needs. Groups will have a new application called Planner that will allow teams to intuitively define and track project based work. The group construct will be extended for students into the Office 365 service called Classroom, which can serve as the digital home for any given class and that will allow that class to operate as openly or as securely as they need. In the road ahead, demands from savvy users with high expectations will be met with increasing ability to provide the solutions they need, while operating within the frameworks defined by the technology we as an institution define. The tools and services available in Office 365 will play a big part in that.
Campus Solutions 9.2 is a low impact, high return upgrade that addresses the key imperatives of the modern campus: a modern user experience, flexible functionality and a product lifecycle platform that enables institutions to better manage system maintenance costs and provides more options for how users interact with our system. Campus Solutions 9.2 delivers transformative user experiences that provide greater efficiency to our students and applicants on any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.).
In 2017, watch for continued improvement in the integration of all services as Single Sign On (SSO) is rolled out in the KCTCS app. Single Sign On allows students to log in once to the KCTCS app and automatically sign in to external services linked in the KCTCS app so they don't have to spend extra time logging into other KCTCS systems. Work also continues to include new sources of alerts and notifications. While new features are being evaluated and tested, the upgrade of Campus Solutions in July opens exciting opportunities for further integration with new mobile-ready features in Campus Solutions.
In 2017, the User Account Center will become more mobile friendly for all users. A User Service Center will be rolled out to colleges improving service to students, faculty and staff.