By Newton Smith, Associate CIO, and Shandon Bates, Director of Systems and Operations
During the fall 2008 semester, Western piloted the Education Briefcase (eBriefcase), a component of the WCU Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), with the help of consultant B2B Technologies. The eBriefcase was developed over the summer by several participating departments and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Studies Carol Burton. The resulting design and examples from students were presented at EDUCAUSE in Orlando and at the UNC CAUSE conference in Greensboro and attracted a lot of attention, including the possibility that the eBriefcase might become a case study for Microsoft.
During the pilot phase with students, IT and the QEP committee discovered a number of areas that needed changing. One of the major issues during the pilot in the fall was the automation of account provisioning. Each student is to have three advisers—one in the advising center, their major adviser, and an adviser in the Career Center. These accounts were assigned manually in the fall because WCU’s identity management project was not complete. Before the eBriefcase can be rolled out to large numbers, provisioning will need to be automated.
The eBriefcase is not designed as a teaching tool; it is for students to document their learning experiences throughout their entire time at WCU. However, faculty wanted to assign projects that should be in the eBriefcase as part of their program requirements, and they could not see these projects unless they were the student’s adviser. IT will be developing a program portfolio within the eBriefcase for students to place program requirements or artifacts related to their academic major. IT will then develop a way to give all faculty in that program the automated ability to see these projects.
Recently, Jeff Kiska was selected as the SharePoint administrator in Systems and Operations. (SharePoint is the Microsoft server environment on which the eBriefcase is housed.) Kiska will be responsible for maintaining the SharePoint servers and the operating system. He is currently undergoing training and will be working with the consultants, the faculty, and Dr. Burton during the summer to make some of the recommended changes.