08 March 2005

ePortfolio Server

Rising demand for server space and increasing expectations lead to innovative approach to student storage.

Last year the IT & Infrastructure Committee supported a proposal for the development of the first stage of an ePortfolio system for students enrolled in courses in the Division. The Division has been offering students enrolled in some units additional server storage and display space on request from staff. The space was only made available for the duration of the unit, and any materials left on the server after the end of the unit were erased.

Executive approved the proposal for the first stage of an ePortfolio service in December. The hardware for the system is now on order and is expected to be commissioned over the next few months. By Semester 2 all students enrolled in courses in the Division should have access to 1GB of server space that they will be able to access until they graduate.

The plan has come as a surprise to several people around the campus, so the proposal is included here for information so news of the Division's initiative can be disseminated more widely.

Network storage for students, especially those doing courses in media, journalism and education, is a big issue around the campus: the 20Mbyte limit on student storage imposed by ICT Services makes it impossible for these students to develop their assessable work online, and they are unable to keep their completed work stored for long periods. ICT Services believes that larger storage requirements beyond the 20Mbyte limit are specialist requirements and should be provided by the Divisions in response to individual needs.

Each semester the Division of Communication and Education makes available network storage space, on Divisional servers, for student enrolled in particular units where staff have requested it. In some Media courses, for example, students are provided with private network storage space, a "public" space they can use to publish work on the Internet, and shared directories for group assignments. Typically 1Gbyte of storage is allocated to each student: twenty times the space available to them through their ICT Services-provided Home Drive.

At the end of each semester, the storage is wiped and prepared for the next semester's units.

Recently the concept of an ePortfolio has been developed: "…an online environment loaded with electronic tools that can be used to develop and present a portfolio package." (Ali Jafari, http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm04/erm0442.asp).

In 2005 it is proposed to begin the development of an ePortfolio service to students enrolled in courses in the Division of Communication and Education: such that each student enrolled in a course in the Division, and students enrolled in units requiring server space additional to the 20MB offered by ICT Services, will be given continuing access to up to 1GB of space on a network server while they are enrolled at the University. The space can be used for private storage, public access or presentation, and collaborative work.

In later years, increased capacity, redundancy and backup will be added, as demand for more space and by more students requires additional capacity. It might also be possible to add content management tools: publishing tools to help students display their work in a number of formats, and so on.

The system should be built from the ground up to allow for expanded capacity to handle more students and to give each student more space. It should also allow for expanded capabilities (new electronic tools as they become available) without having to migrate older materials.

Increasing demands for network storage for students doing courses requiring it are driving this proposal: but as well a service of this sort would attract and retain students in these courses.

ICT Services believes that extra storage should be managed by Divisions on the basis of needs: there is a demonstrated need to give media, journalism and education students access to additional storage for their project work, and provide them with space where they can store and provide access to their "portfolios" to their assessors, peers, prospective employers and the wider community.

Future growth
Proposals to expand the system will be prepared as requirements become clear: for example to provide greater security (backup), greater capacity and more sophisticated tools.

Access to new Category B spaces in Building 9

Increased Divisional resources pose some challenges to the Technical Services Unit.

Since the spaces in Building 9 became the responsibility of the Division, there have been numerous requests for the rooms to be unlocked for scheduled classes and for casual use.

Often the doors have been left unlocked after the last occupant has departed.

The TSU does not provide security services, and staff needing access to these rooms should requisition the appropriate keys from their Head of School so they can access the spaces as required. They should also take responsibility for ensuring the spaces are locked when leaving.

The TSU has approached the University of many occasions to develop proposals for the installation of Cardax swipe card systems to access spaces around the Division (especially the Microteaching rooms in Building 5), but to no avail.

Divisional labs

An update on the current status of labs in the Division.

All labs should now be operational, with the CLRC upgraded to new machines and a printing function added to the photocopier; the new Media Lab is operational.

Video editing workstations are scheduled for upgrade from Media 100 to new machines with Final Cut Pro HD software this week.

Students can now log on to Macintosh computers in Divisional labs with their student ID and password.

Updated Helpdesk statistics

More complete February 2005 Helpdesk statistics are provided.

Last month incomplete data for February 2005 was provided: below the figures are updated. While the graph demonstrates the amount of requests dealt with by the TSU in February, we have been more diligent recently in adding requests to the system so that we can better manage the requests.

TSU statistics including final February 2005 figures

We have also added some features to make adding and tracking jobs easier, including a web form where users can add their requests to the database directly without sending an email. The webform is at http://www.ce.canberra.edu.au/tsu/staff_add_request.cfm

New online form to request TSU services: