Thursday, 29 November 2012

Key Information Set (KIS)

As one of a range of measures to help students reach an informed decision on where to study for their degree, the Government (through HEFCE) requires that all HEIs publish a Key Information Set (KIS) for each full and part-time UG course offered from September 2012.
This KIS initiative was never a CiCS formal project but did have a huge impact across the University. The project has formally closed and the University has submitted its KIS return to HESA, which covers Learning, Teaching and Assessment Methods (e.g. the number of contact hours and types of assessments), fees, accommodation costs, and information about the accreditation of programmes. 

The first release of data was published via the newly launched Unistats web-site on 24 September. The next step will be a review of the procedures for submitting data.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

How Do You Interpret a Silence?

In the past few weeks we have seen a number of issues for people using the Software Centre on the Windows 7 computers. There have been a few different presentations of Software Centre problems:
  • Software taking a long time to appear in the list has been a common issue  
  • In some cases software can take up to 20 minutes to load.
  • On some machines, however, software is not appearing in the list.
Since the impact of these problems has become clear, we have been working on fixing them. Settings have been put in place to help the software centre populate and to do it more quickly, although we have seen instances where it has broken completely and needs reinstalling. Since we have put these settings in place we have seen a drop in the number of people reporting issues.

So, how do you interpret a silence? The decrease in reports could mean that the changes we have made are working, which would be great! However, what we don’t want is the decrease to mean people are ‘used to’ the software centre issues. That is a bad silence. You shouldn’t get used to things not working. So if you do experience any problems with software centre, please let us know. Either inform the staff on the IC Information Desk or use the Feedback link on the left hand side of our CiCS Home Page.  Every report helps us get it fixed!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

New Compose Interface for Google Mail

On Tuesday the new compose interface for Google Mail was made available to opt-in for people on the scheduled release track including the University of Sheffield. An opt-in screen may appear when you click the Compose button.

The new interface presents the Message Compose window as a child-window within the Gmail interface, with the inbox still visible and accessible behind it. It can be minimised and restored and in many ways operates much like the chat windows within the Gmail interface.

The main advantage is that whilst writing an email message you can switch to messages that you have received in case you need to refer back to different conversations.

Here is what the release track says:

The compose and reply features in Gmail have been redesigned. The new compose features appear in a new pop-up window that lets users keep their inbox visible, and the new reply features fit better inline as part of a conversation. For details, see the Gmail blog post

What you need to do
There are no new administrative settings for the new compose and reply features. We recommend you send users the documentation and training resources below.

Impact to Users
Users can opt-in to use redesigned windows and controls when they compose or reply to a message. They can opt-out at any time, until the changes become permanent.

Help Center articles
Google Apps Learning Center, which includes an overview, user guide, video, and FAQ.

Language Availability
  • User interface: All languages that Gmail supports.
  • Help Center: All languages that the Gmail Help Center supports.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Postgraduate Open Day 21st November

An Open Day for prospective Postgraduate Taught and Research Students will take place on Wednesday 21st November. Full details and a link to the programme can be found below.

CiCS will have a stand in the Main Exhibition in Firth Hall where information will be available on the support we offer postgraduate students. The Exhibition is open from 11.00am to 2.00pm.

Postgraduate Open Day

BBC iPlayer and Internet Explorer 8

Chrome Frame allows you to use Google Apps in IE 8, but unfortunately stops BBC iPlayer from working. It’s quite a strange issue, which there are numerous accounts of online (once you know what you are looking for) but no real fix. Having done a fair bit of investigation, it seems that it is a problem is specific to iPlayer rather than flash content, with similar content on all other websites. This includes video content on all other BBC websites (sport, news etc) which works. That is not to say that other websites will not experience similar issues. If you do experience some problems all we can suggest at this moment is using an alternative browser.

The reason for implementing Chrome Frame is that on November 15th Google ended their support for Internet Explorer 8. In usual cases this means endless warning and error messages, reduced functionality in email and Google Docs, and Calendars becoming read only. This is bad news for many Windows XP users who have Internet Explorer as their preferred browser as version 8 is the highest available to them.

To prevent those on XP from being affected by the symptoms I mentioned, we made an application called Chrome Frame available from the Application Menu on managed XP and suggested that it was installed (called “Internet Explorer 8 Google Drive Fix”)

For many XP managed desktop users, I appreciate that this may be of little consolation. However, we hope that the new Windows 7 Managed desktop will be available to you shortly, solving these issues (and a number of others I imagine).