IT systems being prepared for increased use during finals week

April 21, 2008

University Park, Pa. — To ensure that students will be able to use ANGEL, Penn State’s course management system, during finals week without a systems overload, Information Technology Services (ITS) is taking a number of early precautions.

Last December, ITS workers noticed that the volume of users and the use of certain tools in the system created an unprecedented load on the server that resulted in slow response times and an inability to access the system, which disrupted the normal workflow for faculty and students.

ITS identified the Import and Export Wizard tools as part of the problem. These features of ANGEL will be disabled from 5 a.m. Saturday, May 3, until 7 a.m. Saturday, May 10. The Import and Export Wizard tools are used by instructors to create content for their courses on ANGEL, allowing the instructor to copy the entire course from one semester over to another.

A contributing factor to the extra “load” was caused by instructors trying to prepare their courses for spring semester before winter break, which started immediately after finals week.

“The number of instructors who use ANGEL has grown significantly since 2002,” said Terry O’Heron, program manager for the ANGEL Course Management System. “Some professors just post the syllabi, while others -- our ‘power users,’ -- use a lot of the features like discussion forums, gradebook, quizzes and surveys.”

All sections for all classes are available in ANGEL; an instructor only need activate the course to use it in ANGEL.

“This is not a permanent solution that will be implemented every finals week,” said O’Heron. “We want to see how our new hardware performs, and assess it, but we think we’ll be just fine after this finals week.”

ITS upgraded servers in January, which increased capacity by 50 percent. They hope to upgrade again to an IBM server before finals week, which will triple the processing capacity that was in place in December.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009