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Sunday, August 30, 2015

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By Darcie Moran          Posted: 09/25/12 11:02pm         

One of the reasons Spartans love MSU so much is because of the tradition. There’s just something special about being able to unite with thousands of members in the MSU community to celebrate who we are.

It’s nice to know there are all those other people that understand the things only a Spartan could know.

From our cheers at football games to the midnight scream, there always seems to be something the MSU community can bring our voices together on.

And there’s one topic the community has been fairly vocal on for about 10 years — our dislike of the course management system ANGEL.

It constantly stops working, teachers have trouble using it and it quite simply does not seem to be the best system for MSU students, which appears to have been students’ sentiments for several years now.

With the coming switch from ANGEL to another course management system, I couldn’t help but find it particularly amusing to see the program had issues from the very start.

In the Sept. 3, 2003 edition of The State News, ANGEL was reported to have been causing issues, and just not working, for students off-campus.

The then-new system, only a week old at the time, had been tested during the summer to assure it was running properly, but as ANGEL often does, it stopped working for reasons university officials could not determine.

So although I hope this isn’t jinxing MSU’s current move toward a new system, I have to say fare thee well ANGEL. You tried.

Here’s the 2003 edition of The State News, which shows us that although time flies, some things never change.

“ANGEL poses problems off campus”
By Evan Rondeau
The State News

“MSU’s new course management system has been online since August, but some off-campus users are having troubles connecting.

ANGEL, also known as A New Global Environment for Learning, was tested this summer and first used last week. The program was designed to more efficiently handle the number of students using the interface. The new program would replace Blackboard, a common system used by MSU professors and students.

David Gift, vice provost for libraries, computing and technology, said his department has experienced some problems and they are still working to diagnose the issues.

‘We’re very concerned about it because we know that’s the way a lot of students and faculty connect from home,’ Gift said. ‘This particular problem needs a lot of attention from network operation specialists.’

So far, the problem has been isolated to off-campus users, he said, specifically those connecting to the ANGEL server using dial-up connections.

Gift said ANGEL worked flawlessly on the test this summer.

‘It’s been difficult to diagnose the problem for us, especially with the virus an worm problems we’ve encountered in the past few weeks,’ he said.

Aside from the dial-up problem, ANGEL has worked just as expected, Gift said.

ANGEL is running, but finding the cause has been compounded with the virus infections, Gift said.

ANGEL was tested over the summer by about 30 faculty members to ensure it was running properly. The system was put into regular use in August just before the start of school, and Blackboard will continue to run for fall 2003 and spring 2004. It will give faculty a year to work toward migrating their practices and phasing out the system. The Blackboard licenses expire in May 2004.

‘We looked very hard at Blackboard 6.0 and ANGEL, and made a decision to go with ANGEL for many reasons, licensing fees being just one of the reasons,’ Gift said.

He said officials in the libraries, computing and technology department also felt ANGEL had better features than Blackboard 6.0 for MSU classes. The program has better accessibility features and has been determined to be easier to use, Gift said.

‘We’re making our best efforts to diagnose and fix problems as quickly as we can, but it’s a very complicated problem, so there’s no way to be able to put a time frame on it,’ Gift said. ‘We thought we had come across a potential solution near the end of last week, but I’ve since found out those may have just been temporary.’

Gift said dial-up problems can happen anywhere along the line between the person’s computer and the network, so it’s difficult to discern where the problem lies.

Jim Green, academic systems coordinator for the computer laboratory at the Computer Center said officials from the center have been working with members from the ANGEL team to remedy the problem.

‘We’ve made good progress in the past couple of days and I’m optimistic the problem will be fixed in the next few days,” Green said, adding that he didn’t know of anyone on campus experiencing the problems.

‘I wish we could discern a pattern to it, because t would make it easier to diagnose. It affects a certain number of people, but seemingly at random.’”

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