Prior to moving forward with any implementation we
first determined how we perceived the overall system functioning. Some
questions that we asked ourselves follow.
Who Would Receive a Pipeline Account?
The initial use of Pipeline with the Banner
Web for Student product was to provide inquiry access for credit students
for the Summer, 2000 semester. These students would be able to access
schedule, transcripts, student billing status, hold information, and financial
aid status. This was an issue for us on the initial load of the system
and to determine how we wanted the SCT Banner events to trigger account
creation. We decided to implement Pipeline for only students that were
taking a credit course, due to the more stable nature of that student
population. (Eventually, we will add non-credit students, but only after
implementing the WEB payment module.) Thus, we only initially loaded/created
Pipeline accounts for all registered students taking a credit course.
In addition we went back only one year in the Banner system and created
accounts for those students that had previously taken a credit course.
Future account creations would be triggered by entry into the Banner system.
How would students activate their accounts?
We decided that we did not want to distribute mailings with a username
and password. To overcome this we built a front-end account activation
form. This form asks the students four pieces of information, which are
then checked against the Banner system. If these pieces of information
match the account is then activated. We also ask the students to answer
one of three questions; this provides the ability to authenticate users
over the phone to provide remote support. Lastly this form asks the students
to set their own Pipeline password, which then updates their Pipeline
After clicking on the Finish button another
form displays listing their username. Once the username is obtained you
can login. If information doesn't match on the main account activation
form information displays the fields that may contain the possible errors.
How would we integrate the Campus Pipeline Email system?
North Shore is a GroupWise shop, recently converted
from an older ineffective POP mail system. The GroupWise email offers
full client capabilities including email, shared calendar, shared distribution
lists, shared folders and documents, etc. In addition, an excellent WEB
interface is available that provides many of the features of the full
client. Campus Pipeline on the other hand, is solely a Web based email
that does not provide all of the enhanced features that GroupWise has.
Based on these facts it was determined that we would continue to use GroupWise
for all full-time faculty and staff. The Campus Pipeline email system
would serve as the core email system for our students and adjunct faculty.
The IMAP configuration ability within Campus Pipeline
allowed us to fully integrate the GroupWise email system, thus providing
a consistent email base for full time faculty and staff. Communications
and training sessions were provided on how to integrate GroupWise into
Campus Pipeline. Full-time faculty and staff when accessing Pipeline email
actually access their GroupWise email via the IMAP configuration. Full
time faculty and staff now have four ways that they can access their email:
- GroupWise Client
- GroupWise Web interface
- Campus Pipeline
- Pop based mail system
To further complicate matters we wanted the domain
name to be the same for each mail system (nscc.mass.edu). Our first attempt
at this integration was to have incoming mail be directed to the Novell
GroupWise server. If an account existed on that system it would accept
it, otherwise it would then forward it to the Pipeline server. This strategy
initially didn't work even after contacting Novell technical support.
We then focused our efforts on having incoming mail
be accepted by the Pipeline server. This scenario would be more difficult
because all NSCC members had Pipeline accounts and those that had GroupWise
accounts had the same email address. The plan called for all mail to be
accepted by the Pipeline server and to enable the auto forward feature
that would automatically forward email to the GroupWise server. We enabled
this feature for all Full time employees who had identical account names
on both the Pipeline and GroupWise systems. Unfortunately this was extremely
unreliable and worked for only short periods of time before it stopped
forwarding the mail appropriately. This strategy should have worked, however
we believe this problems lies within the Campus Pipeline email system.
By the way we were the first Pipeline account to try this.
After a week of grappling with this issue we again
called Novell and spoke to someone with more experience in these matters.
This time we were told that our original plan could in fact work. After
spending two hours on the phone with a technician and after editing Novell
startup configuration files we had the mail properly forwarding to the
correct systems. Novell reimbursed us for the first phone call in which
they provided incorrect information. Note: This same process can be emulated
if you use Microsoft Exchange.
The diagram below denotes how we implemented email:
What is the Account Naming Convention?
Out of the box SCT simply doesn't provide
the ability to setup your own naming convention, which was unacceptable
to us. We decided to develop our own logic for account creation to use
a similar naming convention that we had in place for faculty and staff.
Our faculty and staff naming convention is the first initial of the first
name, followed by up to seven characters of the last name. We used this
same convention, however two digits were added to the username to differentiate
possible duplicate accounts.
Patrick Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Thomas email@example.com
What 24x7 Services Would be Required?
With this pending implementation students
and faculty would have access to these services anytime/anywhere via the
WEB. All of the administrative services (registration, inquiry to grades
and schedule, financial aid status) are dependent on the Banner database
being available. Six month's prior to the start of this implementation
we knew that the access to Banner would have to be drastically improved.
The prior backup scheme kept the Banner production system unavailable
from 7:30pm to 7:30am five days per week. To provide the necessary access
to these services our backup scheme was automated and system unavailability
is now only one night per week.
How Would Account Activation
Errors be Identified and Supported?
From past experience with on-line course development and administration,
and with the potential huge numbers of activations expected, we knew that
providing easily accessible Help for Account Activation/Maintenance would
be critical to expand the number of NSCC staff who could assist students
with account issues .To address the problem of providing phone support
and to quickly identify any account problems, a new Banner form was developed.
This form came into being after discussing possible solutions, all of
which were cumbersome and would not easily allow non-IS college support
personnel to assist students. Below is the newly developed form "GXICPMN".
This form allows our department and more recently the
non-IS support departments (registrar, etc) to quickly identify and correct
any account activation issues. Note: Without this form the support departments
would have treated every account issue as an IT problem. The forms functionality
and its intended uses are:
- Identify a student over the phone (it contains the answer to the question
they answered when activating their Pipeline account).
- Quickly identify any inaccuracies on the required four fields of information
that must be filled out on the Pipeline account activation form. (First
name, last name, date of birth, social security number)
- It displays whether the Pipeline account has already been activated.
If the account is already activated the form displays the users username.
If the user has forgotten their password it can be reset with this form.
- Event synchronization - If any events are out of sync, for example,
a course registration that didn't update Pipeline, which would cause
the main Pipeline screen not to show that particular course resource
area. Full synchronization between Pipeline and Banner can be accomplished
by clicking on the synchronize button.
- If we have a student that has not attended NSCC in over a year and
a half they would have a Banner record but no Pipeline account. The
Pipeline account can be generated by simply clicking the generate account
- Lastly, if for some reason a student cannot activate their account,
only as a last resort, the Pipeline account can be deleted and then
What SCT Web Services would be enabled?
This was an area that required input from
various departments. See the Implementation plan for team setups.