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Policy - Academic Computer Lab Software Maintenance
Preparing and maintaining the computer labs' software
Executive SummaryPreparing and maintaining computer labs is a partnership between the academic departments/schools and Information Technology Services (ITS). The process involves a cycle of preparation, validation, and deployment and ongoing engagement by both parties to create a useful and sustainable learning environment.
Roles and Responsibilities:
- The instructor as the customer defines the need. This includes identifying what resources will be needed and how they will be used.
- ITS will work with the instructor to do a technical review and gather details when needed regarding custom software configurations.
- ITS will mock-up a configuration based on the identified needs, which the instructor will subsequently validate and insure that it meets their expectations.
- Once there is sign-off by both partners, the final deployment will be coordinated by ITS.
- The planning and preparation cycle for the next academic period will then begin anew and overall this process will be an ongoing subject of communication between the customer and ITS.
Waypoints and deadlinesScale and complexity necessitates specific waypoints and deadlines in order to ensure expected outcomes.
While timelines are critical in assuring that resources will be available
- No later than the last day of February (for next Fall term) and the last day of September (for the next Spring term) â ITS liaison will send appointed IT representative from each department, and/or dept chair, list of existing software in each department (or shared) lab (see lab software spreadsheet).
- By the end of March (for next Fall term), and the end of October (for the next Spring term)â Faculty provide liaison software requirements/changes for each lab.
- Instructor provides a checklist of needs and proposed configuration changes for to ITS.
- Before the end of the current semester and for the next term (fall/spring):
- Instructor and ITS will validate proposed configuration and sign-off on the configuration.
- Once validated, ITS will begin deploying the configuration to the designated lab(s).
- Instructor and ITS remain in contact if questions or clarification is needed
Policy and Procedure Details
The purpose of the outline on the following pages is to assist instructors when considering hardware or software changes in computer labs.
To reduce the duplication of effort across campus, the building of the base images will now be more centralized. The base images will include, but is not limited to, Windows, MS Office, web browsers, and the other basic software used across campus. Specific software needs for individual departments will then built upon these base images.
While ITS recognizes that needs arise throughout the semester, it is our goal to review the lab configurations twice a year and image prior to the start of the Fall and Spring semesters. The model that ITS will be using is similar to what the Textbook Center on campus is doing. Months before the start of a new semester the Textbook Center circulates the current textbook lists to all the departments across campus. It is the responsibility of the department chairs to (a) make sure all the instructors review this list, (b) make the appropriate changes, (c) fill the voids due to instructor changes and rollover, and (d) get the updated lists back to the Textbook Center.
Similarly, it is the goal of ITS to develop checklists for every computer lab on campus. This lab checklist will be used like the textbook list to validate current configurations and propose new configurations. ITS liaisons will assist in this process while depending heavily on communication from department chairs and/or faculty involved in using the labs. Also, like the Textbook Center, ITS will accommodate extenuating situations that fall outside of the designated timelines.
Most importantly, as soon as an instructor begins to consider implementing any major software change, they should submit the change via the Help Desk. While some changes are simple and straight forward, many have other dependencies and require significant coordination and work behind the scenes. Involving ITS and the area liaison from the onset will significantly help ensure changes are addressed in a timely manner.
Definition of Terms
changesâThis term in general is an all-inclusive term including hardware, software, and firmware changes. This term also implies all levels of complexity from the very simple (e.g., add a shortcut icon to the desktop for S:\Academic) to the very complex. Some changes which appear simple on the surface can involve very complex network and server setups required in the background. The term âchangesâ in general refers to changes in the checklist for setting up labs before the start of classes and changes or maintenance fixes that need to be address throughout the semester.
computerâAlthough most computers on campus are Windows-based, this term includes Macs and all other computers.
computer labâThis refers to not only a room full computers but even individual computers placed in other labs. Even one computer that is set up for student use is considered a computer lab; e.g., a computer connect to a mass spectrometer or a computer loaded with fingerprint analysis software.
departmentâThis includes the schools and any other academic units.
instructorâAny faculty or staff person who teaches classes or labs that requires students to use computersâregardless of whether the class meets or not in a computer lab. For example, freshman composition classes do not meet in computer labs, but students may be required to use a word processor for writing their papers.
ITSâInformation Technology Services (formerly OIT, Office of Information Technology)
liaisonâ (aka support liaison) - primary responsibilities are consultation, collaboration, coordination, and communication between ITS and their designated departments
major software changesâinclude (a) new software applications, (b) loading additions or new modules to an existing software application, (c) implementing features in existing software that were not used in the past, and (d) major version upgrades.
point-of-contactâThese are designated instructors in a department who ITS can contact when TS has questions that need addressing that impact student computers within the department. It is the department chairâs responsibility to designate the following types of POC. These may or may not be the same instructors.
- point-of-contact for given applicationâ(short form: POC-App)
- point-of-contact for a given computer labâ(short form: POC-Lab)
- point-of-contact for the departmentâ(short form: POC-Dept)