INFO 5306 HR + Finance @UNT

From time to time I take courses. It seems that University Graduate-level courses on HR issues are rare to come by. However, I have opinions on how courses ought to be structured and graded.

This course at UNT has the following issues:

  1. Due dates (times): When an asynchronous course is offered online, and it has assignments which are due before the end of the course, these dates and times should be end of day anywhere on earth.
  2. Ideological commitment to APA citations: It is gobsmacking that the MS-LS program at UNT is committed to APA citation formats in every assignment. First, Chicago (author-date) as a citation and referencing within a document is so much clearer when one needs to cite a diverse set of material types. One would think that librarians would be able to distinguish these diverse types from each other. Second, the way APA gets integrated into the curriculum is amazing. Points get deducted if they are not present (that has never been my problem, thanks to Zotero). But the point is that this should not be the emphasis of a writing assignment. If the level of composition and academic rigor on the part of students requires this then I don't know where the bottom of the barrel is.
  3. Instructions are outdated: That is, as far as courses go they often get recycled though Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, etc. Multiple times. That is, they get re-used, sometimes from a shell course. The re-use in this case is obvious in the instructions as some things stated in the instructions to be in the assignments tab do not appear in the assignments tab, but elsewhere. Additionally, links are broken and assignment parameters are simply un-reasonable. For example, one assignment asked the student to use budget materials from 10-12 years of history at the library they work at... well some students don't work at a library, and the very library used as an illustration for the assignment only lists the last seven years which is more inline with best practices for non-profit management.
  4. Instructions are marginally relevant: In another assignment on budgeting, there is no training in the course on cost centers.. Budgeting is simple, there is revenue, and expenses, each have their categories for classification of expense/revenue and organizational unit. Then each also has a method of funds transfer. Then reports are run by any factor: revenue, classification, organizational unit, method of transfer, or combination thereof, etc. There is no attempt in the course work to show the student what a section (small organizational unit) budget might look like, what a special project budget (for a grant) might look like, what department budget might look like. One would think that a bottom-up approach to teaching financial management would make sense... I guess that is too far beyond the minimum viable product offered.
  5. Content is outdated: That is, there are a ton of links in the course. The content at one of those links was taken off-line 6 years ago. From an accessibility standpoint this should be illegal. From a consumer protections perspective the University is offering a sub-par product which discriminates against individuals with certain educational support needs.
  6. Objective and subjective grading: In this course the rubrics used are funky. The grading scale is something that categorically provides points in the allocation of 3,2, and .5. Such a scale doesn't allow for equatable qualitative gradiance. In a way the rubric forces the bell curve., which is ind of the ideological antithesis of a rubric.
  7. Hidden assignments: The final project is hidden till after over half of the term has passed. This is unacceptable. As a student I have already paid for the project (the course) and am responsible for my best performance. If I feel I need more time to perform the tasks required in the assignment then it should be available for me to review.
  8. Technology use in assignment delivery: some assignments required submission of a .doc file whereas a .pdf should be equally optional. The technology use is not in focus, rather the subjectcality and intellectual merits of the content should be what is in focus and being graded.
  9. Material accessibility: I have difficulty reading and writing. People, including professors who teach reading and literacy, have told me this. This course has no oral lectures. The content must be read in Canvas. This may be good for screen readers, but is not good for humans who have trouble reading. Canvas makes the content flow according to screen width. Some students need static written materials as is seen on paper or PDFs. I am one of these students. I find material access in this course challenging. The fact that the administration of this school doesn't understand this about pedagogy is discouraging.

UNT IT help desk and Virtualization Service

Initial Request on 16 OCT 2022

Initial Request on 16 OCT 2022

Reply the Next Day with my follow-up response.

Second Response of the same confusion.

Four rounds of this nonsense... please just read my message.

Then they sent me the questionnaire for the satisfaction survey.

Well, are you happy?

Umm, NO. Not happy. Please read my messages when I send them.

Then they marked it resolved... without any resolution!

Finally two days later, someone replies...

Two days later: "Oh we have a different virtualization service through the business school!

Can your service do what I need it to do?

With all the gusto of "Let's go down the rabbit hole again and contact a new IT department", I reached out to the Citrix service manager. However, contrary to initial expectations, I found that I was corresponding with a responsive and well informed person who could make things happen if all the boxes on his checklist were filled... only they the boxes still are not filled.

Let's get all the stakeholders involved...

And so there it is... UNT, the school which is not in want of defined process. It is a well managed school.

University of North Texas Collects Social Security Numbers for Multi-Factor Authentication

As part of its security framework, the University of North Texas (UNT) is rolling out DUO. DUO is a personal device approval system for accessing university leased software-as-service offerings. From a business point of view, if the University needs to verify or limit the use of leased licenses to only registered (qualified) individuals (at the behest of the software leasing agency, or in consequence to possible greater financial liability) then the approach makes sense. Duo falls under a broad category of multi-factor authentication (MFA) tools. Some user must use two communication tools to access some knowledge or digital service. MFA is seen as a "best current practice" in the security field. However, it is, from a user's perspective, perhaps the most annoying addition to our lives. It presumes that one has not only the computer that is trying to access the service but also that the person has a cell-based mobile device, and that that device is currently connected to a larger network. It is not clear to me that DUO is not actively recording and reporting other neighboring bluetooth devices as facebook's apps have been reported to do. That is, the security leak that DUO has the potential to be is perhaps just as much as the risk to networks with single factor authentication. The exact technical nature of DUO's "verification" process are not transparent. I have been using DUO at the University of Oregon for over a year.

The UNT process of rolling out DUO requires that potential users enter their US social security number (SSN) into the website during the verification process. This bit of personally identifying information seems to be over-reach or poor information architecture. The UNT web-application collecting the information does not explain to the user:

  • how the SSN is processed (why it is needed), or
  • how it is stored, or
  • when they will dispose of the information submitted on the form.

A student's SSN is part of the federally protected student information and is in general a valuable piece of information to have. Requesting the SSN via a website after a student has already been admitted to the University seems like it opens the University up for a targeted attack on that particular web application. This process put the SSN in the realm of data-in-transit where previously the SSN was only data-at-rest. The clever attacker would not try to spoof DUO or access the UNT network, but rather sniff the data in transit as it is communicated for the purposes of creating an authentication system. Reporting my SSN for the process of creating a DUO account was not necessary when I made my DUO account at the University of Oregon.

When I called the UNT IT office to ask about this I was put in a hold que by an automated answering service and then the automated service terminated the call without a response from me.