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ITS develops system for creating course-based Office 365 groups

Identity Management worked with Teaching & Learning on the new user interface that enables instructors, teaching assistants and others to create Office 365 groups based on students in a particular course and section. ITS Middleware assisted, meanwhile, with supporting CloudApps, where the user interface is hosted.






Celeste Copeland

Initial design for the project finished in October 2017. Development ran from November 2017 through January 2018. After testing, ITS released the first version of the user interface for faculty and staff on CloudApps in March 2018.

The Course Groups for Office 365 web application makes it easy for instructors to create an Office 365 group out of their class enrollment. The instructor chooses which course sections to make a group from, whether to sync enrollment continuously or just at group creation, and optionally whether to make teaching assistants and co-instructors as group admins or members. After completing the form, the group can be created in Office 365 within one minute, said Chad Redman, Systems Programmer/Specialist within Identity Management.

Chad Redman

Behind the scenes, the application data is collected in Grouper, ITS’s access-management system. Three times a day it queries and synchronizes the faculty and student enrollment from the PeopleSoft database. This includes around 300,000 student assignments and 35,000 faculty assignments, in a one-year rolling window of course terms.

This is the first time this data has been loaded into Grouper, and this is the first implementation making use of it. This was a massive increase in data coming into Grouper, but the system has been able to handle it.

“We hope the Grouper data may become useful for other implementations as well, such as iTunes U, etc.,” said Celeste Copeland, Identity Management Manager.

Key Partner(s): Middleware Services, Teaching & Learning
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