Technology

NetID

NetID is a combination of letters and numbers (such as margiro) which, together with a password, is necessary to access most computing resources at SU. See the ITS page on NetID.

MySlice

MySlice is the human resources and financial management software used by SU (it is a customized instance of PeopleSoft by Oracle.) All SU employees use it to access and update their tax and benefit information. Students use it to register for classes. Faculty members and teaching assistants use it to access the class roster and to post final grades. MySlice is the system of record: a students is registered for a class if and only if they appear on MySlice roster.

When viewing class roster, you can click Include photos in list and then View All to have the ID photo of each student displayed next to their name.

Orange SUccess

Orange SUccess is an online advising tool designed to facilitate communication with (and advising/support for) your undergraduate students. Faculty can access it by first logging in to either MySlice or Blackboard and then following a link to Orange SUccess (there is no direct way to log in). The classroster in Orange SUccess has more information about students than MySlice, including higher-quality pictures. Other features include attendance tracking, tools for communicating with students and their advisors, and an appointment manager which syncs with Outlook Calendar attached to faculty email account.

For more information on Orange SUccess see orangesuccess.syr.edu.

Blackboard

Blackboard is the course management system used at SU. Every section of every class, lecture or recitation, has a presence on Blackboard. The Blackboard roster is periodically synced with MySlice, which means it is updated when students add or drop, but with a delay of about 1 day.

Blackboard can be used for many instructional purposes.

  • Send email to the class: click Course Tools->Send Email.
  • Post grades: click Grade Center->Full Grade Center. The grades can be uploaded and downloaded. Be sure to have a local copy in case Blackboard misbehaves.
  • Post course materials, announcements, collect assignments in electronic form (e.g., term papers), collect informal mid-semester feedback.

Your students do not have access to your Blackboard course until you make it available to them: click Customization->Properties->Make Course Available. (However, you can send email via Blackboard without making the course available.)

To post your syllabus on Blackboard, follow Information->BuildContent->File->Browse My Computer

When the course is made available, the default settings of Blackboard allow students to send email to the entire class. This feature is prone to misuse, and can be disabled by following Customization->Tool Availability->Email->Email Settings (drop down arrow) and unchecking all boxes there. This does not affect your ability to send email.

The primary instructor of a section can give Blackboard access to teaching assistants by entering their NetID under Course Tools->Add Users by Role. This may be useful for keeping grades in one place.

It may be worthwhile to arrange the main navigation buttons (in the left column) to fit your use of Blackboard. When the Edit Mode is On, existing buttons can be deleted using drop-down arrows and new buttons can be added using the + symbol. For example:

  • +Web Link adds a link to outside content (e.g., syllabus posted on department’s webpage).
  • +Tool Link adds a button for a particular tool such as My Grades or Announcements.
  • +Content Area adds a link to a Blackboard page to which you can attach content items, e.g., exam and quiz solutions.
  • +Blank Page adds a page into which HTML code can be pasted: this allows instructors to replicate the standard HTML class webpages within Blackboard.

For more information on Blackboard, see SU ITS Answers.

Email

Your @syr.edu account can be accessed from a web browser as well as from an email client. For the faculty/staff the address is http://exchange.syr.edu. For students it is http://sumail.syr.edu.

The account can forward messages to another email address. However, some students report that not all their incoming mail is being forwarded. Thus, you should still check your @syr.edu daily. In addition, SU advises all instructors to communicate with their students using the @syr.edu account.

Mailing lists

The list addresses are [list name]@listserv.syr.edu where [list name] is one of the following.

Four disjoint lists for faculty:

  • MATH-TTFACULTY: the tenured and tenure-track faculty
  • MATH-NTTFACULTY: non-tenure-track full-time faculty (Thomas John, Amy Macrina, Moira McDermott, and Jeff Meyer)
  • MATH-POSTDOCS: postdocs
  • MATH-PTFACULTY: part-time faculty

Combined faculty list:

  • MATH-ALLFACULTY: all four of the lists above

Four lists for graduate students:

  • MATH-TAGRADS: All math department teaching assistants (TAs)
  • MATH-MATHGRADS: Graduate students in Mathematics programs only
  • MATH-MATHEDGRADS: Graduate students in Mathematics Education programs only
  • MATH-FELLOWS: Math graduate students on a fellowship

Other:

  • MATH-STAFF: those in 215 Carnegie, except the chairperson
  • MATH-EMERITI: emeriti faculty

Everyone:

  • MATH-EVERYONE: MATH-ALLFACULTY, MATH-STAFF, MATH-TAGRADS, MATH-EMERITI,
    MATH-MATHGRADS, MATH-MATHEDGRADS, MATH-FELLOWS (others by request)

Webpages

Formal profile pages for faculty are hosted by the College Arts and Sciences in its Faculty Directory. Faculty members can edit these pages themselves. Contact Lauri Francis to obtain a Cascade account required to edit your profile.

Formal profile pages for other department members (staff, graduate students, postdocs…) are found on the Mathematics department site. Please check yours for correctness and completeness, and submit any corrections using the Webmaster link in the page footer.

SU provides two options for personal web pages:

  • Expressions, which is a local installation of WordPress, a user-friendly content-management system. This site is based on Expressions.
  • MySite, where you can place your own HTML files (along with CSS, Javascript and ASP scripts as needed)

Printing

Office computers with wired connection are set up with access to a nearby printer. When using your own device with wireless connection, you may be able to access some of the printers in Carnegie using SU Remote Access utility (Windows only). Mac users can print to 304 suite printer using its address 10.230.13.53.

WeBWorK

SU hosts an open-source online homework system WeBWorK. It is not associated with any textbook publisher, however, there are many open-source problems available.

General information about WeBWorK

  1. The system is free to use
  2. The number of attempts is unlimited by default, but can be changed (for True/False questions, for example).
  3. For student questions, there is a button “Email Instructor” which students can use to ask questions about specific problems; it sends the instructor (and/or TA) a link to the student’s view of the problem, with any partial or incorrect input they entered so far.

Please see below for explanation of common tasks involved in using WeBWorK.

Edit open/due/answers dates for homework sets

Click “Hmwk Sets Editor” in the sidebar on the left, and choose “Edit all sets”. This opens a page where all assignments are listed with
their Open, Due, And Answer Dates.

  • Open = students can see the set and work on it at this time.
  • Due = the students’ work will no longer be accepted for credit after this time.
  • Answer = the answers become available to view.

Watch out for the EST / EDT switch, since the time zone is specified in each timestamp.

Import classroster into WeBWorK

  1. Download the roster from Blackboard Grade Center and import it into Excel. The first four columns A,B,C,D will be Last Name, First Name, UserName, Student ID.
  2. Add a column with the function
    =CONCATENATE(D2,",",A2,",",B2,",C,,,,",C2,"@syr.edu,",C2)
    (second row entry shown)
  3. Using WebWork file manager, create a file roster.lst and paste the contents of the new column into it.
  4. Use the Import Users command under Classlist editor.

This adds students to WeBWork roster, and sets up their login name as NetId and their initial password as 9-digit SUID number. Students can change their password after logging in.

This process can be repeated as new students enroll during the first week of semester. Alternatively, one can add students manually using Classlist Editor.

Explanation of the Excel formula shown above: the WeBWorK input format is a comma-separated file with fields student_id,last_name,first_name,status,comment,section,recitation,email_address,user_id.
Of these, status is set to “C” (meaning currently enrolled), while comment, section, and recitation are left empty. If you also have columns for section and recitation (say, E and F), the formula would be =CONCATENATE(D2,",",A2,",",B2,",C,,",E2,",",F2,",",C2,"@syr.edu,",C2)

Add a TA to your course

  1. Go to “Classlist Editor”, and select “Add [1] student(s)”
  2. Enter their information. Whatever you enter as “Student ID” will be used as their initial password. For Login Name, it is convenient to use NetId. The fields Section, Recitation, Comment can be left blank.
  3. After the TA appears on the class list, click the pencil icon next to their name to open Classlist Editor.
  4. Change the permission level from “student” to “ta”

Assign homework sets to students

Click “Instructor Tools” in the left sidebar; this opens the main dashboard with users and sets. Select all users in the list of users. Select all (desired) sets in the list of sets. Click “Assign” [selected users to selected sets].

Configure course options

Most options under “Course configuration” can be left as they are. Exceptions:

  1. Depending on your class, choose whether “log” should mean “base 10”
  2. On the Email page, you can choose who gets student questions by email (default: professor and any TAs). If there will be multiple people handling questions, it may be better to set up a Gmail account for this purpose, and enter it as “Additional address” there; after that, the permission level for email can be set to “nobody”.

Limit the number of attempts

By default, students have unlimited attempts on WeBWorK. To change this, for example, to 5 attempts, do the following using the File Manager:

  1. Click the up carat on the left side of “templates”.
  2. Select the file course.conf and then the edit button.
  3. At the bottom of the file insert: $problemDefaults{max_attempts} = 5;
    Note the ending semicolon.
  4. Save the file

The change applies to problem sets created after this change, not before.

Export grades

Go to “Scoring Tools”, uncheck “Pad Fields”, select the homework sets (probably all of them), and clock “score selected sets”. Then download the file and open it in Excel.

Give an extension to some student

Go to “Instructor Tools”, select the student’s name in the list, click “View/Edit” [all sets for one user(set dates, scores)]. This opens the page where the new “Due” and “Answers” dates can be entered for that student.

Reduced credit period

This is an option to offer extensions with (possibly) reduced credit automatically. It is turned off by default. To set it up, go to “Course Configurations” -> “Problem Display/Answer Checking” and set the Length of reduced credit period (in minutes) and Value of work done in reduced credit period (by default it is 1 which means full credit; 0.5 would mean half credit, etc).

You will also need to enable it for each assignment by going to “Hmwk Sets Editor” -> “edit all sets”, and checking all boxes that say “Enable Reduced Credit”.

Copying problem sets from one course/section to another

Go to Hmwk Sets Editor (under “Instructor Tools”), then to Export tab. Select the sets to be exported (or just export all). This process creates a .def file for each problem set.

The .def files need to be downloaded with File Manager, so they can be uploaded to another section. It is more convenient to make a single archive of .def files (“Make Archive” in File Manager) and download the archive.

Upload the archive created at step 2 to the target section. It’s unpacked automatically, creating a bunch of .def files.

The .def files are imported using Hmwk Sets Editor, Import tab.

Now the homework sets will appear under Homework Sets, with the same begin/end dates as they had in the first section.

It’s important to note that .def files do not contain the problems themselves, only links/references to them. If the references are to the Open Problem Library, they are all that’s needed. But if the sets use locally stored files, those files will need to be copied over too, following the same archive – download – upload process. The problem files have .pg extension.

To have a complete archive of your homework, export homework sets as mentioned above, then use the File Manager to select all .def files and folders with .pg files, and click Make Archive. Download this archive (extension .tgz) and keep in a safe place.

Troubleshooting

When a student reports being unable to log in, make sure they are entering their login name as it was set up by you (normally, in lowercase). Both login and password fields are case sensitive.

Questions about WeBWorK can be addressed to Leonid Kovalev.