Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A tour of MySCSU

Stan Walonoski of Academic Computing was instrumental in designing the new MySCSU interface. He gave the SummerTech faculty a brief demonstration of MySCSU.

The program is called Luminis, by Sungard, the same company that makes the Banner software. They bought the Pipeline company that made the previous MySCSU software. This means that Banner and MySCSU will be able to be more heavily linked.

The key service in Luminis is the Channel concept. If you've ever used MyYahoo, you have seen this sort of thing. Each box in MySCSU is a channel, and you can add, move, and delete channels. Right now everything is locked, but soon these will be modifiable. Eventually each department will have it's own channel, so you will be able to get special news/files/etc. from the Physics Department, Faculty Senate, and/or the Library, for example.

The main MySCSU page is the same for everyone. Information for specific statuses (faculty, staff, students) is accessible from the tabs at the top. Faculty and students have access to their course resources from the MyCourses link. All courses automatically get a Group, with calendar, messages, announcements, files, etc. (Eventually, WebCT will replace the MyCourses, but not until after the WebCT Vista upgrade in the 2006-2007 academic year.) Students can upload files to the Groups folders, which can be released to the rest of the class on the discretion of the instructor. Faculty who are not using WebCT may find the MyCourses to be a good substitute for the communications functions of WebCT (message boards, class email, file delivery, chat, calendars). The course access is controlled by Banner registration, so adds and drops should be reflected in MyCourses very quickly.

Speaking of calendars, students (and everyone else) can now combine all of their course calendars (and any other calendars that you create), and see all their appointments and due dates at once. Calendars can also be shared. Students could create calendars for study groups, and use the chat and/or email functions to communications. Calendars are supposed to be synchronizable with PDA's, at least on campus.

(Don't forget that if you don't use your Southern email, you can forward your Southern mail to your other email account. With the new features in MySCSU, professors may be using Southern email more, so if you haven't you should forward it right away. In MySCSU, click the Email link in the upper right--above the Inbox display in the center. Go to Options, then Autoforward. Fill in your other email address and click OK. That's it.
**We've were also informed that some email filters will block all southernct.edu emails if you block a single southernct.edu address. So be sure to check you're blocking settings if you aren't getting mail regularly forwarded from Southern. The campus announcement list sends messages at least once a week.)
After lunch, Dan showed us some examples of how to load files into MyCourses. It's really easy. This would make a great transitional application between a totally on-ground course, and really getting into WebCT.


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