UWG Online Steering Committee - Compiled Discussions (Nov 7, 1997 - Dec 16, 1997)

Article No 1: posted by Instructor on Fri, Nov. 7, 1997, 16:43
Subject: How often does Banner registration need to be uploaded?

In the first meeting it was brought to our attention by Laura
Lamb that registration can change daily even as late as the day
before grades are due (drops & adds). This creates a question of
how often WebCT must be updated so that only currently
registered students have access to library resources. One
suggestion was that registration information be updated each
Friday. However, this may create an access barrier for students
who are added or moved midweek from one class roster to another.
It was suggested that in these cases, additions may have to be
made manually by the receiving professor in order for the
student to have acces to section specific information. Will this

Article No 3: posted by Instructor on Fri, Nov. 7, 1997, 17:00
Subject: What will be the minimum Internet access requirements for students & faculty?

What are the overall minimum requirements to perform WebCT
functions without problem (hardware, software, browser, etc.)?
How will we inform students of these requirements before
registration? How soon can we get all faculty computer resources
up to speed? Who will be responsible for doing so?

Article No 4: posted by Instructor on Fri, Nov. 7, 1997, 17:24
Subject: Who will publicize the changes we propose?

So far, we have agreed that since it is the library's proposal
to use WebCT as the vehicle through which all online databases
may be delivered securely (and thereby meet the criteria
demanded by certain licensing agreements) it will be the
library's responsibility to publicize this change.<p> The
distinction between classes on campus being supplemented by this
online resource, and classes which actually conduct themselves
one or more times online, must be made clear. Professors who
wish to take part in the latter must be made aware of the proper
procedures for doing so (filling out course proposal) and why
these procedures are so crucial (monitoring of success for grant
$, faculty & teacher support, etc.). We agreed there must be a
concerted effort by all parties to stress the distinction and
need for collaboration. <p> The Distance Learning Department and
the Computer Center have agreed to collaborate in the
coordination, support, and publicity of these "truly" online
courses.<p> Will the department chairs and deans help
disseminate information, in order to avoid any confusion or
misunderstanding concerning this proposal? Will the registrar's
office, Graduate School, and Admissions help disseminate correct
information as well?

Article No 5: posted by Instructor on Fri, Nov. 7, 1997, 17:33
Subject: Who will provide training & support?

It was agreed that the library would provide training and
support to their staff, as well as faculty and students
requesting help accessing library resources (just as they do
with GALILEO, etc. now). The Distance Learning department will
provide training and support for faculty wishing to use WebCT to
conduct one or more class meetings online or utilize additional
supplemental tools. The Computer Center has agreed to help in
all respects. <p> Should staff members in the Registrar's
office, the Graduate Office, and Admissions be trained?

Article No 6: posted by Instructor on Sat, Nov. 8, 1997, 10:52
Subject: How is the computer "script" for our proposal progressing?

In the first meeting, Kathy & Nawaf explained that they have
been working closely with WebCT representatives on developing
the necessary computer "script" for our proposal. What are the
details? How far has this progressed? What are some of the
questions, concerns, or barriers that must be addressed?

Article No 7: [Branch from no. 3]
posted by Nawaf Muallem on Sun, Nov. 9, 1997, 17:45
Subject: re: What will be the minimum Internet access requirements for students & faculty?
The minimum requirements for WebCT:

1) computer (minimum --> 486 with 16MB ram)

2) modem (minimum --> 14.4kb)

3) internet connection: this can be obtained form MCI, mindspring, AT&T, BellSouth, etc. etc.

4) netscape 3.0 or higher. webct does NOT work very well with internet explorer, or the AOL browser.

There needs to be some kind of a mass advertising (flyers??), announcements in classes by faculty, word of mouth ....

Each tech area in every college should be responsible in upgrading their faculty to an acceptble PC/Mac/browser.

How soon? Good question! Whenever each tech person grows TWO extra pairs of hands and feet!

Article No 8: [Branch from no. 1]
posted by Carol Goodson on Sun, Nov. 9, 1997, 17:53
Subject: re: How often does Banner registration need to be uploaded?

I think it depends on how hard it would be for the instructor to
do it... if they teach off-campus (for example), but have to
wait to make the change until they can access BANNER in their
on-campus office--to which they may not return for a day or two
anyway--I think this procedure would not work very well. I am
clinging to the hope that daily updating of information will be
a possibility. /cfg

Article No 9: [Branch from no. 5]
posted by Nawaf Muallem on Sun, Nov. 9, 1997, 17:53
Subject: re: Who will provide training & support?

We, Computer Center, will help but we should be the secondary
point of contact and not first. The library needs to train ALL
of its staff on WebCT and they will turn around and "help"
students. Once we know that this is going to work, we (distance
learning/computer cetner/library) can schedule 45 minute
training seminars to faculty in a lab somewhere on campus on how
to use webct. Its going to be tough for one person or dept. to
do this so all of us have to pitch in.

Article No 10: [Branch from no. 6]
posted by Nawaf Muallem on Sun, Nov. 9, 1997, 17:59
Subject: re: How is the computer &quot;script&quot; for our proposal progressing?

Kathy is communicating with the webct people so please correct
me if I am wrong. There are going to be TWO scripts. The FIRST
one will be run ONCE at the beginning of the quarter which will
create all the courses down to every section. The SECOND script
will be run DAILY (we think because the class roster is so
dynamic; we will have to experiment here) and this will populate
the students and faculty member into the correct section of the
course. The user id is the social security number and the
password is whatever the students pin number is on banner.

Article No 11: [Branch from no. 10]
posted by Kathy Kral on Mon, Nov. 10, 1997, 08:16
Subject: re: How is the computer "script" for our proposal progressing?

Nawaf is correct, there will be 2 scripts. We have a test file
of student data to send to webct so they can create the script
that loads students into the courses, now all I need is a test
file of courses. I should have that today.

One problem with a daily re-load will be if a faculty member has
started to add grades and then we re-load the data. What will
happen to the grades s/he has already entered? Can webct just
add a new student and drop those that are no longer enrolled,
rather than wiping everything out and starting fresh? I have
asked Salari at webct about this.

What about those students that don't really enroll until the day
before grades are run? Will they just not have access?

Article No 12: posted by Kathy Kral on Wed, Nov. 12, 1997, 11:47
Subject: webct scripts

Salari from webct emailed me yesterday with a potential problem
- if we use a student's social security number as their login,
on the email screen there is a list of logins and names. This
means we would have a list of SSN asscociated with a name - a
potential security problem. He suggested we switch to using
first letter of first name plus first letter of middle name plus
last name as the login. I told him that was OK. If there is a
duplicate login within one class he will make a separate file
and we will have to deal with these exceptions manually. The
password would remain the students PIN in Banner.

Salari now has both of the files he needs to write the scripts.

Article No 13: [Branch from no. 9]
posted by Instructor on Wed, Nov. 12, 1997, 20:19
Subject: re: Who will provide training & support?

At this time, the distance learning office is in the process of
trying to train faculty who will be using WebCT for Distance
courses (at least one meeting off-campus). We are usually
spending about 2 hours training 2 faculty at a time. Some catch
on right away; others will need more guidance. As Nawaf said,
training EVERYONE if the library proposal works out will indeed
require a collaborative and structured effort.

Article No 14: [Branch from no. 8]
posted by Laura Lamb on Thu, Nov. 13, 1997, 09:16
Subject: re: How often does Banner registration need to be uploaded?

Faculty do not have access to be able to make changes to a
student's schedule throughout the quarter. That is done in the
Registrar's Office based on the information we receive from the
rolls. Another factor that I did not mention in the meeting is
withdrawals. Students may withdraw from a course or from school
beginning the day after drop/add. We do numerous withdrawals
each day, working up to several hundred course withdrawals per
day the last few days before the midpoint of the quarter. Many
students withdraw after the midpoint, even knowing that they
will receive "WF" grades. I assume that a student who has
withdrawn would not be given access to the course information.
I would recommend that the upload be done at least once a week,
but preferably on a daily basis if that proves to be

Article No 15: [Branch from no. 11]
posted by Laura Lamb on Thu, Nov. 13, 1997, 09:42
Subject: re: How is the computer &quot;script&quot; for our proposal progressing?

Faculty do not enter grades. Those are turned in to the
Registrar's Office at the end of the quarter and we enter those.
Occasionally, we get grades early, particularly in the summer
when there are several sessions and for the few courses that
meet at odd times,i.e., all day for a week before the quarter
officially starts. We would not want to enter those early
grades, however, and then have them wiped out.

Another potential problem is uploading one course file at the
beginning of the quarter. If I understand what you are saying,
there will be a file created of all sections at the beginning of
the quarter. Unfortunately, many courses are divided into
several sections several weeks into the quarter (again based on
class rosters). The original section may have 60 students, but
then be divided into two different sections with different
professors. One student teaching section may be divided into
five or six sections based on who is supervising which students.
It is also not unusual for us to be told about a contract course
that we knew nothing about four or five weeks into the quarter.
This file will probably need to be updated periodically as well.

Article No 16: [Branch from no. 6]
posted by Melanie Hill on Mon, Nov. 17, 1997, 08:47
Subject: re: How is the computer &quot;script&quot; for our proposal progressing?

Well, our two weeks are almost up (can you believe?) Do we know
whether or not this will work yet? Or do we need more time for
Salari? If so, are we still looking toward getting this going
for Winter, or later?

Article No 17: posted by Chris Huff on Thu, Nov. 20, 1997, 15:30
Subject: WebCT Caching Login/Password

I have logged-in to our Lib101 course as designer from my office
and our refdesk comptuters. My login and password remain
effective all day (at least) and even clearing the Netscape
cache (memory/disk) and history does not remove them.

In short, if students login to a course on WebCT from any public
computer, anyone else will be able to use the history, back
buttons, or just traverse the WebCT directory, and WebCT doesn't
ask for a password.

This could be a slight problem:-) chris

Article No 18: posted by Chris Huff on Thu, Nov. 20, 1997, 17:06
Subject: Authenticated Resources

I have started playing with techniques for accessing resource
that require authentication by using WebCT login as the
authentication. Here's what I got so far:

-Created a cgi on pebbles called libaccess.cgi that uses the
HTTP_REFERER environment variable to test whether the user is
accessing from a student or designer subdirectory of our web ct
server. Here's the important part of the perl code that does
that: --START OF CODE--

$servertxt = "http://www.westga.edu:8900/SCRIPT/"; $studenttxt =
"/scripts/student/"; $designertxt = "/scripts/designer/";

if (($ENV{'HTTP_REFERER'} =~ /$servertxt.*$studenttxt/) ||
($ENV{'HTTP_REFERER'} =~ /$servertxt.*$designertxt/)) {

print "Location: /library/test/resourceaccess.html", "\n\n";

} else { --END OF CODE--

If the user IS accessing this cgi from a webct directory, they
are given a web page that discloses passwords for library
research resources and, where possible, provides automated

If the user IS NOT accessing this cgi from a webct directory,
they get a handy little message that points back to the root of
the webct server (so they can try again). I'll replace this
with instructions for how to login to your webct class.

Some possible problems: In an attempt to make the library
research resources page secure from prying eyes, I put it in a
directory under //pebbles/www/library that has permissions set
to 711 so that only execute is set for all users. That way,
hopefully, only I can actually get at the file by name, while
other users cannot. (actually, other users CAN get at it by
name IF they know the name). I don't know how secure this is.

I did test by trying to use our campus web search engine to get
the file. It did not get retrieved.

The other problem is that of WebCT/Browsers caching
login/passwords so that multiuser computers may not be all that
darn secure.

comments appreciated -- try to hack this if you can:

later, chris

Article No 19: posted by Kathy Kral on Tue, Nov. 25, 1997, 08:13
Subject: scripts

Salari from webct emailed me late yesterday and said he would
have the scripts ready for us to test by the end of today.

Article No 20: posted by Kathy Kral on Sat, Nov. 29, 1997, 09:07
Subject: scripts are here!

Salari emailed me the scripts on Wed. I will be out of town all
this week, but Nawaf is going to try to start a separate webct
server and set up separate directories and test these scripts.

Salari also provided me with the new license code, and I
installed that, so we are using our new unlimited license.

Article No 21: posted by Kathy Kral on Sat, Nov. 29, 1997, 10:15
Subject: loggin logging out

After much searching of the webct-users listserv archive, I
found this post from Salari concerning the logging in/logging
out problem that Chris mentioned:

From the June 1997 webct-users listserv archive:

The problem is that it's not possible for us at the server end
to force the browser to forget the username and password that
you entered. If that becomes an option, we will gladly consider
a "Logout" button. In the meantime, the only way to force the
browser to forget a password is to either: a) quit netscape b)
access a protected area (such as a different course) to which
you don't have access. When you are prompted for a new password,
and enter a bogus password, your original password is forgotten
by the browser.

Article No 22: [Branch from no. 18]
posted by Chris Huff on Wed, Dec. 3, 1997, 12:37
Subject: re: Authenticated Resources

I had a problem with netscape caching the cgi results that
usually caused it to err on the side of failure, even if the
user accessed from the proper http_referrer. So, I found that
the pragma tag prevents some browsers from caching the page.

Here's the added tag:

<HTML> <HEAD> <TITLE>Library Access - DENIED</TITLE> <meta
http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache"> </HEAD>

I wonder if this wouldn't help with the login/logout problem.

Article No 23: [Branch from no. 22]
posted by Chris Huff on Wed, Dec. 3, 1997, 12:41
Subject: re: Authenticated Resources

Shoot, WebCT won't display html tags in these messages. Here's
that pragma tag (maybe):

<meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache">

And it goes in the HEAD.

Article No 24: [Branch from no. 23]
posted by Chris Huff on Wed, Dec. 3, 1997, 12:43
Subject: re: Authenticated Resources

Ok, how about this:

&lt;meta http-equiv="pragma" content="no-cache"&gt;

in the HEAD. I had to use the ampersand lt; and gt; to get this
to display.

Article No 25: [Branch from no. 17]
posted by Instructor on Tue, Dec. 16, 1997, 17:20
Subject: re: WebCT Caching Login/Password

That is a good point! Hopefully this concern may be eliminated
through a change in scripting??