UAS Online/Implementation Notes

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The overall UAS LMS strategy is based on several regional policies recommended by the UAS Teaching Learning & Technology Roundtable and approved by the UAS Faculty Senate in 1999. The UAS Provost’s Council reaffirmed these policies in 2006.

  1. An active course homesite will be created for every UAS course section;
  2. While access to some content and activities may be restricted to class participants, the UAS course sites will be visible to the public.
  3. Course sites are retained indefinitely.
  4. Design of the LMS should maximize student interactivity and program and faculty control.


Contents

Data Synchronization Processes

Main "Backend" Banner Synchronization

The main UAS synchronization process is automated to run each morning beginning at 5:30AM. This synchronization is based on data in the RPTS database. Since these data are refreshed nightly, no benefit is gained by running the process more often.

The main process is intended to update courses and their associated faculty and student records. The process targets all currently active UAS courses along with any non-UAS courses that have a course site in the UAS system.

  1. Site Creation – A course homesite is created for all UAS courses have not yet ended (SSBSECT_PTRM_END_DATE > SYSDATE).
  2. Term Exceptions – The creation process will not create courses for a given term until that term has been "released" by the Registrar’s Office. This release is dependent on the validation of the initial set-up process by records office staff based on data provided by academic units. UAS strives to make this release as early as possible. In practice, the release of a term occurs no later than two weeks prior to early registration.
  3. Site Maintenance – The nightly maintenance process will update any class that is not more than 2 weeks past its end date. This maintenance process updates both "course" and "person" information in the UAS LMS (see attachment: Banner Source Fields). In addition to updating courses, the maintenance process will flag as canceled any course that is no longer active in Banner.
  4. Reconciliation – Certain campus business process may change courses in ways that require manual intervention. The maintenance process will notify technical staff of any course which:
    1. Changed course id (concatenation of CRSE_SUBJ_CODE, CRSE_NUMB, and SEQ_NUMB).
    2. CRN no longer present in Banner.


Banner (RPTS) Source Fields (revised 2/13/2007)

BANNER FIELD COURSE PERSON
GOBTPAC_EXTERNAL_USER X
GOREMAL_COMMENT X
GOREMAL_EMAIL_ADDRESS X
SCBCRSE_TITLE X
SCRTEXT_TEXT X
SPBPERS_CONFID_IND X
SPBPERS_PREF_FIRST_NAME X
SPRIDEN_FIRST_NAME X
SPRIDEN_LAST_NAME X
SSBSECT_CAMP_CODE X
SSBSECT_CRN X
SSBSECT_CRSE_NUMB X X
SSBSECT_CRSE_TITLE X
SSBSECT_PTRM_END_DATE X
SSBSECT_PTRM_START_DATE X
SSBSECT_SCHD_CODE X
SSBSECT_SEQ_NUMB X X
SSBSECT_SSTS_CODE X
SSBSECT_SUBJ_CODE X X
SSRMEET_BEGIN_TIME X
SSRMEET_BLDG_CODE X
SSRMEET_END_DATE X
SSRMEET_END_TIME X
SSRMEET_FRI_DAY X
SSRMEET_MON_DAY X
SSRMEET_ROOM_CODE X
SSRMEET_SAT_DAY X
SSRMEET_START_DATE X
SSRMEET_SUN_DAY X
SSRMEET_THU_DAY X
SSRMEET_TUE_DAY X
SSRMEET_WED_DAY X
SSRTEXT_TEXT X

Note 1: This table does not list Banner data used for query selection or ordering.

Note 2: The SCRTEXT_TEXT and SSRTEXT_TEXT fields contain multiple "meta-fields" tagged (by convention) with two characters followed by "#". The synchronization process depends on the following meta-fields:

T1#, T2#, T3# Full Course Title
PR# Prerequisites
SN# Notes
SD#, CD# Course Description

Secondary Banner Synchronization

The main process will update data for anyone who is currently a Student or Faculty. However, some UAS ONline users may not be UAS students. These include employees not currently teaching classes and students taking classes from another MAU.

The secondary process runs asynchronously each time a user signs into UAS Online, limited to once per day. This synchronization updates the following fields:

UAS Online Field BANNER Field
BANNERID SPRIDEN_ID
UAUSERNAME GOBTPAC_EXTERNAL_USER
CONFID SPBPERS_CONFID_IND

The secondary process is also run in batch mode each evening after the main synchronization process. The batch process will search for anyone enrolled in an active UA course. If this person also has has a UAS Online profile, the secondary process will update the following fields:

UAS Online Field BANNER Field
BANNERID SPRIDEN_ID
UAUSERNAME GOBTPAC_EXTERNAL_USER
CONFID SPBPERS_CONFID_IND
ADMIT_CAMP SGBSTDN_CAMP_CODE
ADMIT_MAJR SGBSTDN_MAJR_CODE_1
ADMIT_DEGC SGBSTDN_DEGC_CODE_1
GRAD_CAMPUS SHRDGMR_CAMP_CODE
GRAD_STATUS SHRDGMR_GRST_CODE
GRAD_DATE SHRDGMR_GRAD_DATE

The secondary process tracks when it was last run by storing a timestamp in the the special UAS Online field: BANNERSYNC.

"My Contacts" synchronization

The special UAS Online "My Contacts" channel requires access to Banner advisor / advisee information. This information is not provided in the other main/secondary synchronization processes.

The contacts.cgi script will query for this information directly. The data are updated asynchronously if the stored data are older than a day, but not older than one week. If the stored data are older than one week, then the data will be refreshed synchronously as the channel is rendered.

"My Courses" synchronization

The normal synchronization processes maintains information for courses hosted in UAS Online. In order to present information regarding courses outside of UAS Online, the "My Courses" channel queries the Banner Data Service to a list of classes taken or taught. The synchronization query is limited to once per day.

UAS LMS APIs

At the request of the other MAUs, UAS provides APIs to allow external system integration. Two examples are included here:

Course site linking

All UAS courses follow a URL convention which is intended to maximize readability by students and faculty. For example:

http://uas.alaska.edu/online/PADM690-JD1?term=Spring-2006

Unfortunately, while this convention provides predictable URLs, it does not lend itself to integration with other systems. To better support MyUA and other projects, UAS provides the following alternate syntax based on Banner term and CRN conventions:

http://uas.alaska.edu/online/jumpto?term=200601&crn=35489

This convention allows MyUA staff to know the correct URL for any UAS course in any term. Thus, it is possible to populate the correct links in MyUA (or any other system) as soon as courses are entered in Banner. If the link is followed before the nightly synchronization, the URL will redirect the user to the UAS LMS welcome page.

Syllabus Links

In 2007, UAS adopted a policy that syllabi must be available online and posted consistently to all course web sites. In support of this policy, an API was developed to provide a consistent URL for all UAS syllabi.

Adding /syllabus to the URL path for any course will cause the browser to redirect to the identified syllabus for that class.

Standard form:

 http://uas.alaska.edu/online/ACCT100-J01/syllabus?term=Spring-2008

Banner Term/CRN form:

 http://uas.alaska.edu/online/jumpto/syllabus?crn=37886&term=200801

Course Content

Like the syllabus example above, nearly all aspects of the course web site can be accessed directly using a standard form URL. These include, but are not limited to the following:

URL path Query
Parameter(s)
Description Access
/homesite section=announcements
Class announcements (static and weblog-structured)
Public
/homesite
section=assignments
Posted assignments and class activities
Public (access to specific items may be restricted)
/homesite
section=resources
Course, disciplinary and institutional resources
Public (access to specific items may be restricted)
/homesite
section=commtools
Communication and collaboration tools (discussion, web meetings, etc)
Public (access to specific items may be restricted)
/classlist
(none)
Class roster, including photos and contact info
Private -- Class participants only
/webliography
(none)
Collaborative annotated webliography
Default Public (may be restricted)
/bibliography
(none)
Collaborative annotated bibliography
Default Public (may be restricted)
/webmeet
(none)
Course webmeeting (elluminate live)
Default Public (may be restricted)
/dlinks
(none)
Subject area (program) disciplinary links
Public
/eval
(none)
End-of-semester student rating form
Private -- class participants only
/eval/show
(none)
End-of-semester student rating results
Default Private (may be made public)
/rss
(none)
RSS newsfeed of course homesite Public

Term Validation

MyUA staff requested an API which would allow them to verify that UAS is achieving the goal of a unique site for every Banner course section. The following URL will dump the list of course sections currently available in a given term (200601 in this example):

http://uas.alaska.edu/online/bterm?term=200601

The results follow the CRN.TERM syntax established by the MyUA team:

 34975.200601
 34976.200601
 34977.200601
 34978.200601
 36603.200601
 Etc.

Authentication

Revised: February 14, 2007

The UAS LMS environment supports three tiers of authentication. In addition, the system is designed to allow unauthenticated access in support of the institutional policies.

Tier 1 Authentication: UAS Identity Management

All computing services at UAS share a single credential store. In addition, most web applications are supported by a web single-sign-on (SSO) solution. The SSO service may be accessed directly from a subscribing application (e.g. UAS Online) or through a remote authentication service (https://uascentral.uas.alaska.edu/auth/CPIP.cgi).

UAS identities are established based on data entered in Banner by human resources and student information staff. Specifically, when one of two conditions are met:

  1. An active employee record appears in PEBEMPL associated to a UAS timekeep:
    (PEBEMPL_EMPL_STATUS = 'A' AND PEBEMPL_ORGN_CODE_DIST LIKE 'T9%')
  2. A student registration appears in SFRSTCR or an instructor assignment appears in SIRASGN associated with an active UAS course:
    (SSBSECT_PTRM_END_DATE > SYSDATE AND SOB2CMP_FIN_AID_INST = 'S')

A tier 1 authentication provides access to all UAS services.

Tier 2 Authentication: External MAU Identity Management

If a user fails to authenticate, the SSO will automatically pass a request to external MAU ID management systems (UAA IDM or OIT AUTHSERV). If the credentials can be externally validated, the user will be provided access. Since the referral process is communicating directly with the external MAU, all account provisioning is managed by that MAU.

A tier 2 authentication provides access to most UAS services, including course web sites and ePortfolios. Exceptions include the UAS Blackboard system and library databases, or other systems which are specifically licensed to UAS users.

Tier 3 Authentication: Internal LMS "guest" accounts

UAS programs and individual users often seek to include participation from individuals and groups outside the UA system. This is particularly important for external review of ePortfolios. The UAS LMS allows users to create guest accounts and user profiles based on an externally provided email address.

A tier 3 authentication provides restricted access to services. Guest accounts do not leverage single-sign-on, nor do they provide access to services licensed to UA users (UAS Blackboard, Smarthinking, Library databases, etc.). In addition, while guest accounts may review portfolios, they may not create portfolios of their own.


UAS LMS Management

The following notes are intended to highlight some of the strategies used at UAS and how they relate to issues raised in the UAF Blackboard Business Rules (1.2) document.

Course Provisioning

  1. Course sections are created for every UAS course section across multiple terms.
  2. Course sites are created as soon as the Registrar’s office releases the term.
  3. Course sites are updated each morning at 5:30am until 2 weeks past their official ending date.
  4. Prior course sites are to be maintained indefinitely for institutional users, accrediting bodies and the general public.
  5. Faculty may choose to link multiple class sections together for ease of management or to create a single larger cohort for student collaboration. Linked courses retain their unique titles and URLs, but share a single pool of resources and activities and can be managed from a single class site.
  6. In addition to Banner courses, a non-Banner course site can be created by Helpdesk staff. Non-banner classes can reside in a Banner term (Spring-2005), or in a non-Banner "term" (e.g. Training, Test, etc.).

Course Access

  1. All course sites are available to the general Internet.
  2. Faculty may restrict course resources and activities. These restrictions are highly granular. Each specific resource may be limited to:
    1. Authenticated users only
    2. The LMS class roster
    3. The LMS roster and "additional participants" (designated guests, TAs, etc.)
  3. Faculty may add individuals to the LMS class roster/gradebook. Any authenticated user (tier 1-3) may be added by the faculty member to any class site.
  4. The official UAS student course rating system is entirely online and is integrated into the LMS. The LMS tracks the Banner class list separate from the LMS roster in order to assure that only registered students may submit course rating forms.
  5. Management access to a course site is provided to individuals who are either listed as "offering" the course (their picture and other information appears on the course site) or "supporting" the course (their role is not displayed on the site).
  6. All faculty designated in Banner as "instructors of record" are automatically added to the "offered by" list. Faculty or academic programs may add additional users to either "offered" or "supported" lists.
  7. UAS does not enforce storage limits on course homesites or ePortfolios.
  8. Faculty may import resources from other course sites and across terms, provided the faculty has management access to the course materials. When this access not already exist, faculty may request access from the original faculty member or from the academic department.

User Profiles

  1. A "profile" is automatically created for every authenticated user. This profile contains a variety of directory information along with other information provided at the discretion of the user (e.g. photograph, biography).
  2. Display of profile information is limited by the privacy indicator in Banner
  3. Users are encourages to supply their "active" email address. For tier 1 users, the LMS will automatically forward their UAS institutional email account to this address.
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