The university will discontinue use of its Xythos software system beginning Dec. 20.
Xythos is a file repository that has served a decade in conjunction with myACU, allowing students and faculty to interact through assignment submissions and grading.
The program also serves as a place for individual or departmental file storage. In a limited context, it’s been used for the basic creation and posting of simple websites as used by different departments, such as the College of Business Administration and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The Xythos system has been on campus for almost 10 years and has established a broad usage during that time. However, Jon Bruner, executive director of information technology, said in recent years the system provided by Blackboard has failed to provide any significant feature updates.
“It’s become dilapidated as a product,” Bruner said. “With no feature updates, it needed to be retired in the near future.”
Bruner said Information Technology has identified other systems already used on campus to maintain and replace Xythos.
“We are a Google campus,” Bruner said. “Google Drive has unlimited storage and serves a lot of the same purposes that Xythos has filled in that capacity. We also use Canvas as our learning management system and it has, built into it, the file submission interaction between faculty and students. So, to be able to provide a more consistent use for students, just having them use Canvas and the adopted elements, was a more desirable outcome.”
Bruner said through consultation with others on campus, IT has discovered there is a feature overlap where Xythos utilization for specific use cases has declined in recent years.
“This kind of provided an opportunity, with Google having released some of their new product sets and our adoption of Canvas a few years ago, for a natural move, not monetarily driven, to replace this tool or retire it,” Bruner said. “So, I think we can replace it with tools that we already have.”
Faculty who previously used Xythos to set up a course through Dropbox this semester were alerted of future termination of the program in December. Bruner said IT has worked with the Adams Center and Education Technology to ensure professors can be taught and exposed to overlapping features and training in Canvas, if needed.
“As with any systems going away, there’s going to be some disruption,” Bruner said. “It’s the ‘Hey, I have files out there, what do I do with them?’ We’ve been very intentional about our communication with various groups of ACU constituents to say, ‘This is how this impacts you.'”
Dr. Jonathan Stewart, professor of finance, has been using the system for about ten years to host a website and podcasts for a Financial Management class. Stewart said that he appreciates the way IT has been proactive to let him know of the changes and when they will be implemented.
“They are also helping me evaluate options for moving my website and podcasts to a different server,” Stewart said. “I think the migration should be relatively easy and seamless.”