April 2009

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April 23, 2009

Class evaluations bring down CTools during exam week

Found in my inbox on Thursday April 23, 2009 6:13:28 PM:

Unfortunately, technical problems make it impossible for us to resume collecting Teaching Questionnaire responses via CTools for this term. We recognize this is an immense disappointment to our students who may not have had the opportunity to submit their feedback.

All evaluations that were submitted before Monday at 9:00 p.m. have been successfully received. This feedback will be included in the reports that your instructor receives after the term ends.

We apologize for this inconvenience.

This email follows a series (1, 2) of CTools outages caused by the Teaching Questionnaire, colloquially and ubiquitously known as the class evaluation. Today's outages were so severe that all CTools servers needed to be restarted.

That an added module can destabilize the entire CTools system highlights the twisted nature of the system. Instead of modules being based off a safe, tested API that can be controlled, there seems to be some mess of hackery going on in the background. And it's not clear that Sakai 3, coming long after I've left, will make any significant changes. (however, in typical open source fashion, developers have already added some half-baked web2.0 "features")

This is a serious academic problem, too. Student feedback from the Questionnaire is used to assess faculty performance in tenure and promotion decisions.

The Residential College has stuck with its carbon-copy paper form. At least they'll know what happened in their classes this year.

Posted by hampelm at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

Vignette reference of the [week,month,semester]

Certain LS&A staff will recognize the following reference to the much-loved Vignette content management system:

Mickey Mouse

Posted by hampelm at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)