ACES problems hurt online course delivery

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By Michael Peters

mpeters28@student.alamo.edu

When ACES is down it affects everyone who regularly uses the system, especially those involved with online courses.

On Aug. 26, high traffic volume on Banner caused the system to be unusable and on Aug. 29 cyber attacks forced the system into a manual shutdown.

“There have definitely been problems with ACES as well as Banner once the semester started,” English Professor Lennie Irvin said. “Banner is important because it was down the first few days of the semester and faculty were not able to login to check their classes to see who was enrolled and who was not.”

Professors of online courses could not check on their classes or reply to students’ email when the system is down.

“It also prevented students who were interested in adding classes, or had to switch a class because of cancellations, from being able to do so,” Irvin said.

Paul Sanchez, secretary in the English, reading and education department, has had to work his way around system failure to help students.

“When computers are down, we can rely on paperwork,” Sanchez said.

When the system is down Sanchez writes down students’ information.

“I couldn’t look up courses in ACES, and I couldn’t register students in Banner,” Sanchez said.

Once the system is running again, he goes through his list of students and calls each one after their problems are taken care of.

“ACES being up and down has been inconvenient but not catastrophic,” Irvin said. “In the IT department there are a lot of hard-working people who do an overall good job to keep our systems going.”

Roger Castro, district director of information technology services, helps keep the system up and running.

“The problem with ACES and Banner originated with a denial of service attack that was severe enough to cause an emergency shutdown of the database server,” Castro said. “We are working with consultants to operate on our emergency system.”

Math Professor Steven Cunningham has had problems accessing ACES.

“I have asked my students to be patient as these things happen on occasion.”

Cunningham hasn’t let the issue affect his classes.

“At times, I haven’t had the instant access that we as a society have become accustomed to, but it is not something that will detract from teaching and learning,” he said.

The only option for professors is to get in touch with students once the system is up.

Irvin said, so far, the system has not been down long enough to prevent his students from turning their work in on time.

Castro said although IT services has vacancies to fill, staff shortage was not a cause of the issues with ACES, Banner and email.

“The Alamo information network is complex with different systems that must work together to provide maximum utility,” Castro said. “An issue in one area can cascade and affect multiple systems.”

For more information, call the ACES help desk 210-485-0555.

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