A Year in Review: How DELTA Implements and Supports NC State’s Learning Technologies

DELTA’s Educational Technology Services (ETS) team is the powerhouse behind NC State’s academic learning technologies. 

From keeping WolfWare up and running to creating new tools, the ETS team ensures NC State faculty, staff and students always have secure, reliable and updated learning technologies. 

This past fiscal year, the team has been busy working on a variety of projects with internal teams as well as other campus partners. 

Senior Associate Director of Applications Development Jeff Webster says, “There are very few, if any, projects that ETS does by ourselves. We’re almost always working with another team in DELTA or outside of DELTA.”

This article will highlight how we Think And Do to support NC State learning technologies. 

Collaborations and Connections

ETS collaborates with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) almost daily. This year, the two groups worked on the implementation of several projects involving G Suite.

After several requests from faculty members to be able to manage Google Groups, DELTA collaborated with OIT to implement the WolfWare Google Groups. The tool makes it easier for instructors to manage permissions, share documents with their students and even invite the entire group to Google Calendar events. 

Another new tool, Google Course Kit, was implemented in collaboration with OIT and support from other teams in DELTA. Google Course Kit integrates the power of Google Drive with Moodle making collecting assignments and giving feedback simpler. Instructors can grade assignments within Google (Docs, Slides, etc.) and sync the grades directly to Moodle.

Other campus partners include work with the NC State Libraries on implementation and documentation for Lynda.com, which is now LinkedIn Learning, and work with the Graduate School on implementation for Turnitin. 

ETS’s collaborations within DELTA touch a variety of teams and projects from DELTA Grants to instructional consultations. Any WolfWare technical questions from both the Instructional Support Services and Instructional Training Technology teams usually make their way through ETS for resolution. 

This year, ETS has also been working with Media Production Support Services on the Moodle Mediasite integration which allows instructors to easily create, manage and share presentations directly through Moodle. 

“The nice piece for users with the Mediasite plug-in for Moodle is if instructors link content from their Moodle course, the permissions management is handled automatically,” Webster says. “If students have access to the course, they get access to the Mediasite recordings. That lets the instructors have more control over their content easily.” 

Modern Technology Updates

Not only does the team perform regular maintenance and annual technology upgrades, but they also have one foot in the future of what’s coming next in academic learning technologies. 

“We don’t want the technology to fall behind. It’s not doing the faculty the best set of services if it falls behind, and there are also potential security issues,” Webster says. 

For example, the team helped with technical configuration for the enterprise-level implementation of the web conferencing software, Zoom. When the previous software, Blackboard Collaborate, license was expiring, the team and other members at DELTA took a strategic look at what other options were out there. After careful evaluation, Zoom was chosen as the new web conferencing software that would best serve the needs of NC State instructors and students. 

“Our big goal is to keep existing services working reliably and to keep them updated,” Webster says. Which is why the team monitors services daily and works quickly to resolve any issues in a timely manner. 

Another tool that was replaced this year is the WolfWare Email List tool that was replaced by the WolfWare Google Groups. “We had developed the email tool as a transition from WolfWare Classic and it met the requirements, but we can replace it with Google Groups and get additional benefits,” Webster adds. 

New Projects, Upgrades and More

Learning Analytics Project 

One piece of the learning analytics project that ETS is working on is a predictive model that calculates a student’s success prediction in a given course. On the back end, the instructors see a dashboard that displays student activity and predictive score. 

This past spring, DELTA facilitated a pilot group of eight faculty members who were granted access to the dashboard. Initial feedback from instructors was positive. 

“The goal is to be able to get some actionable prediction early enough in the course that the student can actually do something to help themselves succeed,” says Webster. 

Mediasite and Moodle Annual Upgrades 

In addition to the Mediasite plug-in for Moodle, the entire Mediasite transitioned to one single instance and upgraded from Mediasite 7.0 to 7.2. Part of the work for ETS with the move to a single instance was making sure permissions were set correctly. “We had to make sure that our various college administrators understand how things are going to work,” Webster says. 

The annual Moodle upgrade was also completed this year, moving to Moodle 3.6. This upgrade included a variety of integrations and additions including Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning), Mediasite plug-in, Google Course Kit, and dashboard updates. 

“One thing that was nice is visually, there was not a whole lot of change,” Webster says. “For instructors, it should feel mostly familiar.” 

Syllabus Tool

With an external vendor, the ETS team is working on specifications for a new version of the syllabus tool, which serves a variety of purposes. The tool makes it easier for instructors to develop regulation-compliant syllabi as well as creates a semi-standard format so students can understand them better. 

After that, NC State can create an archive of syllabi so the history of what is taught in each course is captured and can easily be located. The archive can also help with accreditation. 

This year’s work has resulted in testing by internal staff members for feedback. Next year, the ETS team will be finalizing the tool to make it available for instructors. 

WolfWare Road Map

The WolfWare Road Map is a new document that houses a year’s worth of known updates to WolfWare. “We are trying to make pending changes to WolfWare more visible for users. The biggest piece was trying to document the changes and add explanations,” Webster says. 

“The goal is to give instructors a relative idea of when things are going to happen over the next year and things that are going to happen in the future,” Webster adds. 

The WolfWare Road Map is easily available in the WolfWare governance and procedures section so it is easy for instructors to locate when needed. 

REPORTER Integrations with WolfWare

New this year was a project to help the REPORTER team with integrations with WolfWare. This includes the WolfWare Internal Training and Development team who help instructors produce online, no-fee, trainings and professional development opportunities. 

“Since many of the departments don’t usually use instructional tools and technology in an academic setting, our work deals with helping them understand the tools and the best way to set up the courses,” Webster says. 

Documentation

One of ETS’s internal pushes this year was to work on documentation to help with the onboarding of new employees, aid in disaster recovery planning and help with compliance. 

“It’s great to have procedures, but from a client side, they want to see that you’ve written down your procedures so they are consistently followed,” Webster says. Some of the documentation that was completed included standardizing the Moodle upgrade materials, and Zoom and basic Google Groups documentation. 

Looking Toward the Future

By continuing collaborations with partners across campus and within DELTA, the ETS team works around the clock to maintain and support scalable and reliable learning technologies. Aligning with DELTA strategic goal 2, the team also leads much of the research and implementation of the tools that keep NC State updated with innovative learning technologies. 

With their constant look ahead, the ETS team makes sure NC State doesn’t fall behind and ensure faculty and students have the learning tools they need to succeed.