IT changes leave frustration in their wake


Agathe Fredette

Waiting patiently to log in

Since returning from break, students, staff and faculty have noticed a sharp increase in the number of times they’re asked for their login credentials on the Vermont State Colleges portal. This, along with some other issues, comes as a result of an extensive upgrade done to the identity management system, as well as some upgrades to Moodle.

Though logging in more than you’d like may seem like a trivial issue, it has already led to a host of other problems with the VSC portal. The repeated logins are often accompanied by errors and dropped connections, forcing users to enter their information repeatedly, sometimes preventing users from accessing the portal at all.

Considering that all students, faculty, and staff are required to use the portal and Moodle for assignments, email and grades, to name a few things, the repeated logins have evolved into a larger issue than they first appear.

“I also find it enormously frustrating” Jensen Beach, assistant professor of Writing and Literature said. “In fact, I have students complain that it discourages them from checking email, which obviously is a real problem.”

Students certainly feel that frustration. “There was one morning when I threw my phone at the wall almost as many times as it asked me to log in,” said Sam McDowell, a senior at Johnson State.

Though it may seem like more of an inconvenience than an upgrade, the necessity for data security is at an all-time high.

“The need for enhanced security, data security, is apparent,” said VSC Chancellor Jeb Spaulding. “There are data breaches from some of the largest corporations to the U.S. Government, and the expectations of customers, in this case students and others that use our data systems, are that their information is being protected.”

Associate Professor of Writing and Literature Tyrone Shaw says he understands the need for data security, but still finds the repeated logins “deeply irritating.”

“Why do I need to log in three times just to begin to do business, and all with the same password?” Shaw said. “First, if I’m lucky, I can reach the portal; then it’s another login for Moodle, and a third for email, sometimes. If someone gets my password, this all seems irrelevant anyway.”

The repeated logins are being seen throughout the entire VSC system, and the Chancellor’s office is aware of the issue. Some of the smaller issues appear to be exclusive to the Johnson campus, such as the errors on the login screen that can occur even when entering the correct information.

“Additionally, there have been a number of problems with the login page, from error messages, to the iPhone mail app not working correctly,” Beach said. “I think it’s sort of silly that we should be required to switch browsers or constantly delete cache and history just to be able to log in to the one website we all need most here at Johnson.”

According to Kevin Conroy, the chief information officer in the chancellor’s office, the VSC login page is completely new since Jan. 2. He says that the previous software was homebuilt, and the office was no longer comfortable with it, which brought about the maintenance over break.

Conroy said that many students have been using the “Save My ID” feature, which bypasses or at least streamlines the login process, but he strongly advises against it.

As successful as this option has been for some, frustrations continue for others, when an all-too-familiar error message pops up on the screen.

“Yeah…I’ve tried to do the ‘Save My ID’ thing,” said sophomore, Lindsay Kelsey, “but it just keeps popping up with an error message like the other page does.”

Conroy reported that there were two known interruptions in the VSC network on Jan. 23 and 24, although they were isolated incidents, unrelated to the login page.

“Whenever you do a major upgrade like that, you’re going to have some bugs that need to be worked out,” Spaulding said. “We are committed to doing what we can…to be as secure as we can, and to also make sure that it’s really meeting our customer expectation, in this case students.”

“Sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Shaw said. “This might be one example.”

Both Spaulding and Conroy encourage students and faculty alike to send in any complaints, and to fill out work orders for any issues that they do encounter.