By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
As ACU continues to evolve technologically with the times, the changes affect the uses of student computing.
MyACU and Webmail received large makeovers during the summer that will give students more options and will eventually include new features.
New features allow users to choose which announcements they want to receive, to collapse windows with information they don’t need and to post classifieds themselves, just to name a few that are already available, said James Langford, director of the Web Integration and Programming Team, who was responsible for the upgrade.
While the current version of myACU is considered production, or a finished product, the upgrade is far from finished; many features will become available in the following semesters, said George Saltsman, director of educational technology.
“In fact, what you see now is basically a replication of the features that were available in the old myACU,” Saltsman said. “Many of the new features have yet to be implemented. Langford and the Web Integration and Programming Team have been working on the upgrade full time for six months.
A beta version of the upgrade was made available over the summer to allow them to work out problems observed by students and faculty.
“We tried to minimize problems, but we replaced so many systems that there were a few glitches along the way,” Langford said.
Saltsman said the beta period allowed them to get closer to where they wanted to be for the final product.
“During the beta testing period, a lot of feedback was given by faculty and students,” Saltsman said. “That feedback was used to create several major changes in myACU functionality. That initial testing period helped gather feedback that made the final rollout go quite smoothly.”
Both Saltsman and Langford encouraged students to continue making suggestions in the special feedback section on myACU.
The hardware required for the upgrade, which included six new servers, was $80,000, but ACU was able to get $70,000 for that in grant money. Software for the upgrade cost $7,000. Total out-of-pocket expenses for ACU were $17,000.
Langford said they are currently transitioning from the old versions of myACU and Webmail to the new ones.
“We’ll leave the old Webmail up for a couple more weeks so that we can be sure everybody has checked their address books and transferred mailing lists to the new system,” Langford said. “We transferred the addresses for everyone but didn’t have a way to transfer the lists.”