for The University of Mississippi Faculty and Staff
Math Lab Key to Course Redesign
or Tristan Denley, doing is better than seeing when it comes to efforts has been very favorable.
F learning mathematics.
“The traditional way of learning, where you sit and watch an
“This has changed their workloads,” he comments.
“Instructors don’t have to grade assignments now, because the
instructor do problems on the board, is not very satisfactory,” software does it for them. Instead they spend the vast majority
asserts Denley, who is Chair and Professor of Mathematics. “If of time working with students and teaching in the classroom,
you ask any mathematician how they learned mathematics, which is really what most teachers enjoy doing.”
they’ll tell you they learned by actually doing it.” In early 2007, Denley was among 20 scholars chosen by the
This is the philosophy behind the course redesign efforts
Denley has led since becoming department chair in 2003.
“I really wanted to see if there was something we could
do to enhance student learning in our introductory classes,”
Denley explains. “About 2000 students take these courses
every semester. I knew we could impact the experience of an
enormous number of students very quickly by improving the
way these classes are taught.”
The department’s first step was to test two different
course software products against each other.
“The first didn’t seem to have much impact on learning,”
Denley reports. “But we found in using the Hawkes Learning
System that students averaged about half a letter grade higher
on their final exams. Those results motivated me to ask the
Provost’s Office for money to open a math teaching lab.”
Due to space limitations in Hume Hall where the depart-
ment resides, the math lab opened in Fall 2003 in Kinard Hall.
“Having the lab allowed us to change the way we teach,”
Tristan Denley in the Math Department’s Computer Lab
says Denley. “It has taken some tweaking to figure out the right
balance, but we think the optimum is two 50 minute lectures in the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) for its
classroom with students required to work a minimum of 50 min- Redesign Scholars Program in mathematics, statistics, and com-
utes in the lab each week, so that’s what we’ve implemented in our puter science. As part of this three-year national project, Denley
elementary statistics, college algebra, and pre-calculus courses.” visits other universities to share his department’s experiences
The lab has 80 computers and roaming instructors and staff with course redesign.
who can assist students. “Part of the reasoning behind redesign is to use resources in
“Very often in the classroom, the students who need to be a more effective way,” states Denley. “If you can teach basic level
asking questions aren’t the ones doing so,” Denley observes. “In courses more effectively and efficiently, then you can really trans-
this setting it’s literally one on one, and the students who really form everything about the department. Our course redesign efforts
need help are getting it.” have not only helped students but have actually strengthened our
According to Denley, instructor response to course redesign whole program as well.”
Mark Your Calendars
U pcoming conferences at opposite ends of the state offer opportunities
to learn, share, and network.
The 2008 Creating Futures Through Technology Conference and Trade
http://sbcjcweb.sbcjc.cc.ms.us/conf/ for details.
This year’s annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences
will be held February 20-22 in Olive Branch. For more information, visit
Show will take place February 6-8 at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi. See www.msacad.org.
O f f i c e o f I n f o r m a t i o n Te c h n o l o g y
A December to Remember
t 6:00 PM on Thursday, December 13, Telecommunications The e-mail and WebMail upgrades, which required the
A Center staff and Avaya representatives began a long night of
work to migrate 3500 campus phone lines to the Center’s new
migration of some 25,000 accounts and 90 to 100 million
messages, also ran into issues that impacted availability to users.
switch. “Months of planning go into these
By the next morning, it upgrades but unforeseen problems can
was clear the scheduled win- arise,” notes Chief Information Officer
dow for the upgrade would Kathy Gates. “Upgrades can be painful, but
have to be extended due to they are necessary for security reasons and
equipment issues and the allow us to provide the levels of hardware
nature of the work involved. and software performance required by the
“To make the conversion, university community.”
we had to cut the old cable The challenges of the e-mail upgrade did
connections out and reconnect have an unexpected upside. The developers
new cables to the new equip- of the e-mail software were able to identify
ment,” explains Telecommuni- and resolve an issue that had plagued them
cations Director David Drewrey. for some time.
“This required physically “This bug has been lurking just under
reaching inside a very tight the surface for years,” wrote NetWin’s Chris
frame filled with wires, some
of which shocked the techni-
cians as they touched them.
It was really difficult work, and in the process some
connections were broken inadvertently.”
Drewrey regrets the
disruption to campus serv-
ice but says replacing the
Just Gotta 16-year-old phone switch
was definitely the right
Have an thing to do.
“The upgrade greatly
iPod? extends the amount of time
we can stay functional with-
out power and gives us full
T he Helpdesk Store offers
Apple products such as
iPods and Macbooks as
between our two campus
well as computer services switch facilities,” Drewrey
and accessories. Visit the
store in Weir 102 from 9:00
notes. “We also now have
to 4:00 Monday through the ability to divide off
Friday, or shop online at campus lines between the
hdstore.olemiss.edu. two facilities which reduces
Mike Tatum, Michele Mize, and Ronnie Ellis were among the Telecom staff who
the risk that a failure could worked long hours to migrate campus phone lines to the new switch.
take down all those lines.”
The migration to the new Pugmire in an e-mail to IT. “Until I saw it on your machine, it
phone switch was one of several never happened frequently enough to track down or even be sure
upgrades conducted by the Office it existed. I’m really delighted to have found it.”
of Information Technology in It is common for university IT offices to schedule upgrades
December. Various hardware and during the month of December.
software upgrades were also sched- “We have to pick a time of year when there will be the least
uled for e-mail, WebMail, Financial impact to users, certainly when classes are not in session,” states
Aid, Blackboard, TouchNet, and Gates. “But it is also necessary to have some users hitting an
the server called sunset which upgraded system when it goes back online in order to identify
houses individual Web pages. and resolve any issues before everyone is back on campus.”
IT Helpdesk Consultant
Union Offers New Computer Kiosks
S tudents and others stopping by the Student Union to grab lunch or
shop for books can also check their e-mail thanks to the recent
installation of two computer kiosks in the lobby. Each kiosk has eight
terminals with Internet access.
“These kiosks are a big step for the Student Union,” states
Associated Student Body Senator Andrew Edwards. “They provide a
quick, easy way for students to keep up with academic work and per-
sonal interests on the Internet.”
“Every other university I have visited has these types of kiosks in
their student centers,” notes ASB Vice President Erika Berry. “I am
very grateful to see Ole Miss also providing this added service to stu-
dents. Andrew Edwards did a phenomenal job of lobbying for this on
behalf of his peers.”
“The students brought forward the idea of computer kiosks, and
we were able to work with IT to make it a reality,” comments Dean of
Students Sparky Reardon. “We did this for a minimal amount of
money, and students have been using the kiosks constantly since they
The Office of Information Technology provided re-purposed Students E.J. Edney and Daniel Groisman in the Union lobby
computers formerly used in the Weir Hall student lab for the kiosks.
Telecom’s Circuits Help Stadium Come Alive
ver wonder how the sights and sounds of game day in Vaught- field,” Smith notes. “We haven’t had that kind of coverage as
E Hemingway Stadium end up on your television screen? How
replays appear on the Jumbotron and flashing ads on the ribbon
much lately as we did when Eli was here.”
Other types of stadium activities require Telecom’s circuits
boards in the stadium? How the referee can speak into a wireless as well.
microphone and be heard throughout the stadium? “We provide a dedicated line for the Sports Information Direc-
None of this would be possi- tor to communicate with the production truck and ring-down
ble without some critical behind- circuits from the press box to the field,” explains Drewrey. “We
the-scenes work performed by the also support the circuits for the Jumbotron and fiber connec-
UM Telecommunications Center. tions to the ribbon boards that were installed last season.”
“We install and maintain Telecom staff usually spend one to two days before each
the circuits used to transmit the home game setting up the required
official statistics, game clock, circuits.
ref ’s mic, and instant replay “A couple of us spend most
from the stadium control room of game day at the stadium, too,
to the television production but there isn’t much to do if
trucks,” explains Gary Smith, everything is set up right,” says
Telecom’s Mary Robinson and Gary Smith
Telecom’s Inside Plant work to connect the circuits required by Smith. “If those guys in the
Supervisor. “We also provide CBS Sports for broadcast of the Ole Miss production trucks have any
circuits requested by radio and vs. LSU game on November 17. problems, though, we’ll sure
television broadcasters for things hear about it.”
such as field cameras and locker room audio.” Gary Smith takes the excite-
The workload involved in meeting media requests for circuits ment of game day in stride.
depends on who covers each game. “I’ve been doing this so
“Lincoln Financial is pretty laid back, ESPN gets a little more long the newness has pretty
complicated, and then it gets really busy when ABC or CBS is in much worn off,” he observes.
town,” says Telecommunications Director David Drewrey. “Even “Still, it’s a good feeling, I
when there is no TV coverage, though, instant replay still guess, to know that, win or
requires connections to a production truck.” lose, we play a role in mak-
Telecom’s work can get especially interesting when the ing the game a successful
scheduled game is a big one. event for Ole Miss.”
“Sometimes a network will need us to run circuits for things
like cameras on the goalposts or a Cablecam that hovers over the
Smith and Robinson enjoy the view on game day
from the top of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
he deployment of wireless networking in the university’s
T residence halls is providing students with some newfound
freedom these days.
“The addition of wireless to Guess Hall is wonderful from a
student's perspective because now you can go anywhere in the
building and access the Internet,” reports Resident Assistant (RA)
Elizabeth Ann Trayal. “It’s really nice for group projects and
study sessions since multiple laptops can be involved, and every-
one in the group can use the Internet at the same time.”
“Having the ability to quickly and easily go from my room Heath Walters (standing left) and Bob Milner (sitting) of Business
to a friend's down the hall without losing the network connec- Communications, Inc., worked with IT’s Mike Hall, David Baumbaugh,
tion means we can more easily share ideas, help each other with and John Supple to configure the switch in the Data Center for the new
homework, and just have unfettered fun,” says Kevin Dodez, an wireless networks in the university’s residence halls.
RA in Kincannon Hall. “The Internet has become an integral part of the higher
The installations in Guess and Kincannon were the first com- education experience,” states Larry Sparks, Vice Chancellor for
pleted in this major deployment that involves a total of twelve res- Administration and Finance, “Admissions, registration, class
idence halls and the Northgate apartment complex. The project is assignments, and even classes are conducted online. Our resi-
expected to be completed by the end of the spring semester. dence halls were among the first in the country to be fully
wired for Internet access, and this
installation offers additional mobil-
ity and flexibility to residents.”
Welcome to my “Wireless access is something
students have requested for a num-
O nline Services will be
replaced in early February
by a new portal environment
ber of years,” notes Lorinda Krhut,
Director of Student Housing and
called myOleMiss that features Residence Life. “I am very excited
updated navigation and a fresh about this installation and see great
look and feel. opportunities for educational pro-
“Online Services has served the university well since it was implemented five years ago,” notes Al Ling, gramming in the residence halls as a
Director of Enterprise Applications. “Moving to myOleMiss, which is being developed using SAP Enterprise result.”
Portal, is a natural progression and necessary for the implementation of degree audit later this year.”
The rollout of myOleMiss involves the migration of the university’s secure applications to four For now, Kristen Beal, who is
new Sun Fire T2000 servers. The T2000 features an UltraSPARC T1 processor with CoolThreads tech- also an RA in Guess Hall, appreciates
nology which Sun bills as “the highest-throughput and most eco-responsible processor ever created” even the simplest benefits of going
since it consumes just slightly more wattage than a regular incandescent light bulb. wireless.
Through a partnership with SAP and Sun, the university serves as a Sun Center of Excellence focus- “I am very excited to have wire-
ing on innovation in enterprise computing.
“Only a few institutions around the world receive this recognition,” says Robin Miller, Director of less in my room, since now I can do
Technical Services. “It puts us in a unique position with these companies and gives us the opportunity homework without sitting at my
to utilize cutting edge technologies to improve university services and operations.” desk,” Beal says. “I’ve wanted this the
As the go-live date for myOleMiss approaches, the Office of Information Technology will dissemi- whole time I’ve lived in a residence
nate further information to the university community. hall, and now I have it.”
w w w.olemiss.edu/technews 10385
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University, MS 38677-1848
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