In most Universities and large organizations, a student or member of staff requiring account help tend to be bounced from one department to another in order to solve a simple problem. With this tool, staff and students themselves are directed to the correct supporting staff. Furthermore, this tool reduces the number of frustrated students/staff by giving them access to their status/account information instantly, even allowing them to solve some problems themselves.
ORAC is the second generation of the service called WARS (Workstation Availability Resource System) developed by myself while I was working on the university help desk between 2004 and 2007 where I had to check over 10 applications to find problems with students or staff accounts. Finding a solution to a simple problem could take up to 30 minutes (30 minutes does not include the time it takes to even load up some of the administrative tools). I also dealt with reimaging of student PC’s in the LRC and any problems students may face while using a PC (lost data etc.). When a problem is logged to the IT helpdesk, no specific information was asked (e.g. the location of the student or PC) which lead to the increase in time consumption of the team members. The first foundations of WARS came out as a solution to these day to day problems, the time it takes to look for student problems are reduced to average of 1min from 30 mins (96.7% reduction in time). My knowledge and experience allowed me to develop an application which showed the users basic Account information and what PC they are on. WARS was born when I included other application information systems like SITS, Exchange, Home quota, RMS, Blackboard, service desk etc.
Following My change of role, I continued to develop WARS and it is renamed as ORAC when the interfaces was updated with new functions.
Preview of new version
The main aim of the ORAC project is to improve the student experience by bringing the universities resources to a single easy to understand interfaces.
The objectives are:
1) Allows access to support staff and end users that don’t have the ability or knowledge to access a large number of administrative applications
2) Displays a simple web interface in order to give details of the availability of resources and account information.
3) Gives support staff a first port of call for solving users account problems.
4) To become a simple application to manage and use.
5) To allow students to access this information from smart phones.
It is very time consuming to find basic account information and problems by looking at all the following applications and systems: SITS (Student Information and Rooming), Study Space (LMS – Blackboard), GPAS (Printing System), Auth Directory, E-Directory, Active Directory, LANDesk Servicedesk, RMS (Rooming), Open Access Computers, Access Control, FASS Bookings, LRC Bookings, Home Directory (Home Drive Quota) and Exchange 2003 and 2007 (Email Account Quota). “ORAC” extracts the data from those application and systems, and presents it in a user friendly manner.
Outputs & Targets:
A benefit to Students and Staff at the University, ORAC has been welcomed among students and staff already. They have adopted and are affected by the application without even knowing it. All support staff from the academic and commercial sides of the University use the User Lookup function of ORAC allowing them to diagnose problems within seconds, instead of minutes/hours, considering without ORAC, an interested party would have to look at 11 applications to find the same information. Students are using links off SharePoint allowing them to see PC Availability, Room Availability and Access Control (Door Access) information; in summary it’s a one-stop shop for their Kingston University Resources.
- Speeds up support calls.
- Gives a modern and up-to-date view of information.
- Improves student experience.
- Takes feed directly from the source, allowing LIVE view of data.
Current Status of Project and Plans:
1) New improved PC Availability
2)Done iPhone Applications (http://iphone.kingston.ac.uk)
3) Part Done Option to have Student and Staff Course (Tribal SITS/OSIS) Timetables copied to Outlook Calendar.
4) In Testing Option to allow Staff member to chat with other on ORAC.
5) Done Learn objective-c for iPhone Application
6) Done New improved Interface using AJAX
8) Done Displaying SITS Time Tables combined with LRC and FASS Loan system – Displaying Staff and Students loan combined with course time tables
9) Done Internal Group Messages for Staff (Department/School Split)
10) Done Integrated in to RMS for Halls and Network Team support
11) Done Last 5 User lookup History
12) Done User Lookup Hits allowing you to type full or parts of names
13) Done Easy userlookup searching in url/web address USERNAME or Number.userlookup e.g: fred.userlookup
14) Done To see if a user’s password was synced with all trees (AD, Edir) servers.
15) Done The ability to reload each section of Userlookup without having to re-load the page.
16) Done Advanced User lookup Options for all staff members, allowing them to optimization the user lookup speed and how it loads
17) Done Log/updated a call to LANDesk Servicedesk. The email including the Users current Userlookup information
18) Done Directly integrating with Password request allowing Letters and emails to be printed/send and information to check.
19) Done Search a user by Telephone Extension
20) Administration function added allowing following
a. Done Rights to be given to users or groups
b. Part Done Allow account to change configuration settings
c. Done API Interface for User lookup
d. Done API Interface for Room Availability Use for public screens
e. Done Admin Tool to list VPN User list
f. Done Admin Tool – User Crossover (Allowing Admin users to test ORAC as a different user)
g. Done Display who is currently using ORAC and there orac usage history
h. Done Allow ORAC text to be changed by a content editor
1) Learn Java for Android and Blackberry Applications
2) Android and Blackberry Phone Applications (Keep inline with new look being done for iPhone).
3) Options for multiple languages.
4) Have an option to find module timetables for Apps.
5) Part Done Intelligent 404 Error Page.
6) Part Done Integrate new option with HTML5 and CSS3
7) Administration function added allowing following
a. API Interface for Mini Displays (Keep inline with new look being done for iPhone)
For Information about the option in ORAC which was also in WARS please view the WARS Article
- Access Manager
- Active Directory
- Exchange 2010
- HTML 5
- LANDesk Servicedesk
- Ms SQL
- Novell E-Directory
- PHP OOP
- Tribal SITS