Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smart Classroom Training

Six more classrooms were renovated this summer. We took this opportunity to upgrade the control units which includes a new user interface.
We will be hosting training in August to show you how the new interface works.  During this training we will also offer refreshers on use of the old Smart Classroom technology as well as refreshers on use of technology in Classrooms that have not yet been renovated.  These sessions are by appointment only.  If you are interested in taking advantage of these sessions, please sign up here.

This is the list of classrooms that were renovated this summer:
DLS 307
DLS 312
MGL 307
MGL 312
HAY 201
HAY 202

Monday, July 29, 2013

Manhattan College "Moodles" Getting a Facelift for Fall 2013

New Responsive Theme and Variations + Upgrade from 2.3 to 2.5


Folks returning from the summer break in mid-August will notice some refreshing changes to the look of the various Moodles.  Besides upgrading to a newer version of the software, we will be implementing a new look, or Moodle theme.

We have engaged a theme development firm to create a custom Moodle theme for Manhattan College. The theme (base theme + variations) is meant to complement the college's website.  The theme variations will also help users better distinguish between the various Moodle implementations at Manhattan College, e.g., course server (lms), community server (mcs), and development server).

Most notably, however, the new theme will be "responsive" to cater to the amazing growth of mobile and tablet users.  A responsive web design (RWD) and layout approach allows a site to adapt to every user's screen size needs, from the traditional desktop and laptop to the smallest mobile phones.  Our new Moodle theme is expected to deliver an optimal viewing experience - easy reading and navigation, with a minimum of resizing and scrolling - regardless of the device used to access any of our Moodle servers.

Below is a mockup of the new theme:

Users will also find numerous features and productivity improvements as part of the our Fall 2013 Moodle rollout. releases new versions of the software every 6 months; Manhattan College, like most other colleges, typically upgrades only over the summer break.  We have concluded our investigations and preliminary testing, and have decided to upgrade our Moodle versions from 2.3 to 2.5.

We will be implementing and deploying our new custom theme and software upgrades over the next few weeks.  We will be looking for faculty to perform user testing in our test environment to insure a good user experience this Fall.

Moodle - a widely distributed open-source learning management system -  is Manhattan College's current LMS.  Manhattan College uses the CLAMP edition;  CLAMP is a membership-driven collaborative effort to extend Moodle for use at liberal arts colleges through various tools, etc.

Interested users can view:

Manhattan College Moodle Course Server: 

We are excited about all the new features and the new theme.  Stay tuned for more to come!

How do I know if a site is responsive?  Well, if you shrink your browser, the content resizes to fit the available screen space.  Try this with some sites on your desktop or laptop to see if they are responsive - or  check out the following site to perform the responsive resize mambo.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Successful transition to new database hardware.

It is with great pleasure that I inform you of the success of our transition to new database hardware this past weekend. We went to a different change in architecture, from Solaris SPARC chipset, to the X86-64 chipset. That may be hard to conceptualize, but one that will be easy to relate to is RAM. We went from 16GB of RAM on our old hardware, to 256GB of RAM. Along with numerous other improvements, our database hardware is now top of the line.

What does this mean to you? Well, this should mean a significant increase in the speed of your reports. In our testing, we have noticed tremendous increases in the speed at which the reports run.

We have also been working with Oracle and Ellucian to make sure that performance is at it’s maximum capabilities to ensure the most optimal registration ever. In our testing, we have registered 1100 students into self-service all at the same time, and no one was denied entry into a class. We were able to produce consistent results with this time and time again.

In the past we have taken the database down between the hours of 3am and 6am every night for backups. Due to our new technologies this will not happen anymore, so any late owls can work whenever they need, and students will have 24 / 7 access to Self-Service.

We have also set up a disaster recovery site at our colocation facility located in New Jersey. At this facility, we have an identical copy of our Production Database sitting there in case anything happens to the database hardware in RLC (e.g., we lose power, the machine fails for some reason, etc.). This is what is known as Oracle Active Data Guard. This will help ensure our 24/7 hour uptime.

We hope that the work we have completed will have a significant positive performance impact on your daily tasks.

We are currently investigating one known issue with our JasperNet Password change utility, and the email initialization page.  We are confident that this issue will be resolved shortly.

Thank you very much for your time.

Melvin Lasky

Senior Database Administrator

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Consolidation of Client Services North Offices

In order to better serve the community, the De La Salle and Jasper Client Services Offices have been consolidated into the Jasper Client Services Office.  The De La Salle Office will no longer be a walk in service location.  Accessing service via email and phone remain the same.  You can reach us at or extension 7973(718-862-7973).
Effective today the walk in locations are:
Jasper Hall Basement
Library 410
RLC 103