Information Systems and Services

Update for December 2005

Posted on by John Lympany

Berea Colleagues & Friends:

Below is an update on our current technology initiatives and how they will impact you and your work at Berea College. These projects include the following:

  1. Transition to the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Network (KPEN)
  2. Implementation of our Blackboard Course Management System
  3. Completion of our Learning Commons Instructional Technology Classroom (in Hutchins Library)
  4. Installation of a new voicemail system
  5. Installation of a major software upgrade to our telephone switch
  6. Expansion of backup and recovery systems
  7. New draft plan for Phase III of our website upgrades

Some service outages will occur during the Christmas break as a result of the above projects. These outages are noted in the table below. Updates on each of the above projects is provided below this table.

Upgrade Service Expected Service Outage
Kentucky Postsecondary Education Network (KPEN) Internet service A short outage will likely occur on December 23 that may last 10-30 minutes.
Software Upgrade to the Telephone Switch Phone Service 8 hour outage will likely occur sometime between December 26 and the 30th.
Recovery and Backup Systems Data Services (including servers running Email, Website, and Banner, as well as Internet access) 8 hour outage is scheduled for December 19 after 6:00.

Kentucky Postsecondary Education Network (KPEN)

Berea College will be joining the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Network over the Christmas break. As a result, our internet service provider will change to Alltel. Network Services staff will be contacting departments that maintain their own servers in order to provide instructions on how to reconfigure their systems to work with the new Internet Service provider.

Benefits of the transition include the following:

  1. Internet bandwidth will increase 40% to support campus instructional needs at no additional cost to the college.
  2. We will have greater flexibility in changing available bandwidth to meet future requirements.
  3. KPEN offers additional services that we could consider down the road including:
    1. Access to the commonwealth higher education VPN
    2. Academic programming and digital streaming
    3. Additional Library resources
    4. Internet II

Blackboard Course Management System

Our new Blackboard server and software will arrive on campus this week. Faculty and students will have access to this new courseware product beginning in spring semester. Please contact Don Hodges (extension 3877) if you have any questions regarding the conversion of your WebCT course modules to Blackboard or the scheduling Blackboard training. WebCT will be offered through the end of spring semester only.

Instructional Technology Classroom – Hutchins Library

The Learning Commons facilities at the Hutchins Library have been recently equipped to include two mobile classrooms with SMART Board units that can be moved to any study/instructional room in the Library. Instructors and students can now access digital technology and sophisticated visual presentation equipment throughout the Library to facilitate group work and instructional activities.

Our new Learning Commons high-tech classroom facility is now fully operational at the Hutchins Library. This classroom can be scheduled by faculty on an ad hoc basis to address special instructional needs. The classroom can seat up to 28 students and features a 66 inch rear projection SMART board for interactive instruction. Various peripheral technologies are also available for use in these facilities including a digital microscope, document cameras, DVD/VHS combo units, and other digital editing equipment.

An open house is planned during the month of January. Training sessions will also be held to introduce new instructional technologies to Berea faculty. Anyone interested in reserving these facilities or equipment should contact Don Hodges (3877) or Yvonne Williams (3807).

Voicemail System

A new voicemail system is on order to replace our current system which is no longer supported by the vendor. The new system will be compatible with both analog, digital, and voice over IP technology. We are looking to spring break to make the transition for all students, faculty, and staff. The current voicemail system will continue to be accessible for a period of time after we convert to the new system. More information will be forthcoming as we plan for this transition. Now would be a good time to clean up your old voice mail!

Telephone Switch Upgrade

A major software upgrade is planned for the telephone switch over the Christmas holiday. This upgrade will provide updated features needed to support newer digital phones, to support a transition to voice over IP, and to implement our new voice mail system. Customers can expect a minimum of 8 hour loss of phone service sometime during the Christmas break. This could be longer as we are upgrading 3 software levels. Some fire alarms will generate a warning tone during this period when dial tone is interrupted.

Network Services will be working with Public Safety and Residence Life to ensure that emergency phone service is available where needed during the outage time.

Recovery and Backup Systems Upgrade

A major upgrade to our battery backup system and electrical circuits in our server room will be completed over the Christmas break. All data services will be down for 8 hours sometime during the Christmas holidays to complete this work. Email, Web Systems, Banner, and Internet access will be affected during this time. The new system will significantly improve the protection of our network systems in the event of a power outage. Equipment has also been ordered to provide us with offsite backup storage capacity for our Banner systems. The new system will provide additional assurance that we can recovery our systems quickly in the event of damage or data corruption and will be in addition to daily tape backups.

Website Phase III Draft Plan

We are now circulating a draft plan for Phase III of our website upgrades. You can view this draft. Phase III is specifically designed to respond to two studies recently conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of our current web site in attracting student applicants uniquely qualified for a Berea education. One study was completed by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions Enrollment and the other by Brainstorm Inc.

We are also inviting one or two department chairs that would like to include a few additional project tasks in Phase III to join us in this effort. We would like to add some project tasks that would directly support department efforts to attract viable students to their particular academic programs. This will help us to round out Phase III.

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