25 July 2006

CLRC Printing

At least at the time of writing the report, it appeared student printing in the CLRC would work. Alas it was not to be...

After two years of issues, the Communication Learning Resource Centre (CLRC) can now reliably offer students enrolled in relevant units access to quota-limited free printing in the CLRC.

It has been a policy of the CLRC for many years that eligible students can print up to 20 pages free every two days. During an upgrade to the computing environment there several years ago, the management of this policy from a technical point of view became troublesome and unreliable. Efforts to fix the problems with the print quota system were complicated by the University’s complex management of student identity management; the requirement for a ‘single sign-on’ in the University (no matter what service you want to access you should be able to use the same id and password, and any password change should immediately follow you to other services you may want to use); and the lack of a single authoritative source of information covering a student’s id, their password, their enrolment status on a daily basis and the units and course in which they are enrolled now.

With another upgrade of the CLRC’s computing environment available, it became critical to fix the problem properly: the authorisation of students enrolled in the Division is also required to support a number of present and future specialist services provided by the TSU, including the existing ePortfolio and video streaming services, and the up-coming networked video editing storage solution now being developed.

The Division’s Services Delivery Manager worked with an outside consultant and with a number of people from ICT Services on and off over a period of several weeks during the mid-year break to rebuild the system to use University-sanctioned data updated daily for authentication, and the University-developed image for the CLRC computers adapted to the Division’s specialised requirements, to manage the CLRC computers.

There are still some issues for some students who are unable to access their quota, but it appears to be the responsibility of ICT Services in the way the centrally-managed student data is being selected to provide us only with the details of eligible students. The TSU continues to work with ICT Services to refine the processes but overall it has been a successful outcome for a nagging problem that also gives the Division a comprehensive and up-to-date solution allowing us to provide better specialised services to students in the Division, and one that fits in with the University’s proposed Enterprise Architecture.