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Heartbeat: Growing the Team & Isidore Improvements

By David Bauer

Sept. 16 - Oct. 31

Hello everyone! This is the first post of its kind intended to give everyone a small glimpse behind the scenes of eLearning and some of the things we’ve been working on in the past 6-weeks. This post is not intended to be exhaustive but will hopefully give anyone interested a sense of eLearning’s current focus and where we are headed.

It’s been a busy but rewarding Fall in eLearning. We’ve continued to have a record number of interactions with faculty through support, projects, outreach, etc. It’s wonderful to see such a high level of engagement around teaching even though we know how busy everyone is.

Growing Our Support Team

In order to handle the increased workload, we are so lucky to have a new person join our team, Will McClure. Will started mid-September as an eLearning Support Specialist. You may have interacted with him in the past during his stint in the IT Service Center.

Remote Proctoring

For the first time, Isidore has an integrated remote proctoring solution called ProctorTrack available to all faculty. If you are interested in providing remote proctoring for one or more of your exams in Isidore, please complete and submit this form to help us get you started. 

New Features & Lots of Fixes!

Isidore is a living application that we are always improving based on faculty and student feedback. Since mid-September, we’ve completed 8 releases with a variety of updates to make Isidore the best it can be. You can check in on the latest fixes and improvements in eWiki at https://ewiki.udayton.edu/isidore/2020_Releases.

Unplanned Outage

This six-week period didn’t come without its low points. For the first time in a long time, we experienced a technical issue that caused an unplanned Isidore outage. eLearning and others in UDit worked quickly to restore service and put additional measures in place to prevent future outages. Isidore reliability is our top priority and we continue to find ways to make Isidore even more robust.

Working with the greater Sakai (Isidore) community

Something you may not know is that Isidore is UD’s local instance of the open source learning management system, Sakai. We often partner with others in the Sakai community to improve the core of the product and share our custom work with other institutions. Recently, some of the work we’ve done in the community has included Oracle database fixes for the next major release (Sakai 21), a grade scheme average GPA fix for Notre Dame (and everyone else who wants to use it), as well as Attendance tool event page performance improvements.

So, what’s next?

You may feel that Fall just got started, but we are already looking to the Spring and even August 2021. Recently, we discussed site creation and made a plan to get ready for Spring which we will be revealing soon. This includes Spring 2021 rosters which will be available in Isidore soon along with a few improvements to the course site creation process in Isidore.

From the technical side of Isidore, we began planning for an Oracle 19c (our database) upgrade which will involve a short downtime this Christmas break, we finished a Tomcat (web server) upgrade with no downtime, and we are exploring a possible HTTP/2 implementation to improve reliability and performance for students in other countries.

Lastly, we are continuing to refine and improve our support processes by creating defined levels that will add transparency and efficiency to the way we help faculty, staff, and students use educational technology. More about this coming soon.



If you’d like to know more about any of these topics or have other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!