Additional Customizations for Course & User Loading

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Loading Courses with Multiple Instructors (Ares 4.7)

As of Ares 5.0, it is possible to add multiple instructors to a course. All users listed as Instructors in the imported data will be listed as instructors for the new course and assigned instructor privileges during Course and User Loading. See Multiple Instructors for more information.

Versions of Ares prior to 5.0 do not allow multiple instructors for a course. It is only possible to have one course instructor included in your data. Courses that are being team-taught should include only one instructor in the CourseUserValidation table; any other instructors should use the UserType of ProxyInstructor. If your site does not set up your data this way, the Ares system manager will still enforce this policy. The first instructor for the course will be marked as the instructor and any additional users in the CourseUserValidation table whose UserType is set to Instructor will be labeled as a ProxyInstructor in the CourseUsers table.

There is no way to prevent Ares from modifying the CourseUsers table to correct multiple instructors. If you would like your web pages to display a list of multiple instructors you can modify the text that is displayed on the web forms. See Modifying the Displayed Instructors Field, below, for further information.

Modifying the Displayed Instructors Field (Ares 4.7)

If you want to display multiple instructors for your courses on your Course Details web forms in Ares 4.7, you can edit the Displayed Instructors field in the client Course form. The Courses/CourseValidation table contains an Instructor field which is free-text. Typically if the course is created on the web or in the client, selecting the instructor for the course will pre-populate this free-text field with the instructor's last name and first name. In the client, this field is displayed as "Displayed Instructor(s)". The Displayed Instructor(s) field can be modified to accept any text that a site wants to display for the course on the Ares website, for example, "J. Smith, B.Jones, C. Carter". This information will populate the Instructor field of the Courses table and display on the Course Details form on the web.

The instructor field does not get modified by the management process in system manager, so once a course is created it does not matter what is in the course validation table.  If you are setting the field manually, having either an empty value or no value at all in the table is fine, so long as the Courses.txt validation file is modified to reflect the absence of that column.

An important thing to note about this process is that users and courses are not created. The information is pre-loaded into the respective validation tables and the process of registering for an account is what triggers the data from User validation to be copied in the new user record. Similarly, when an instructor adds the course, data from the CourseUserValidation table is displayed. Note that this can change depending upon how the instructor adds the course. For example, if using the Blackboard plugin, the instructor free-text field is set to the user's LastName of the blackboard user who is creating the course. CourseValidation is not used when creating the course via Blackboard. Contact your Customer Service Agent if you have need of a different scenario than what is allowed here.

Setting Course and User Load keys for LDAP and RemoteAuth Authentication

For LDAP authentication, users who validate against the LDAP server can be cleared automatically by setting the AutoClearPreregisteredUsers customization key to Yes.

For RemoteAuth authentication, users who validate against the RemoteAuth server can be cleared automatically by setting the AutoClearPreregisteredUsers customization key to Yes.

Required Web Page Edits

Add the following table to the bottom of the iHome.html page. This is the table that shows the courses imported from the registrar.

<#TABLE name="CourseValidation" class="instructor-table" AllowRowClick="Yes" headerText="Upcoming Courses" LinkColumn="CourseCode" AllowJavascriptHover="False" Session="Current" Role="Instructor" NoDataAction="ShowMessage" NoDataMessage="No registrar information found.">

PGP Encrypted Data Loads

Ares 4.7 supports data at rest encryption using PGP encryption.

Customization Keys

KeyName: CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted
Category: System
SubCategory: Course & User Loads
KeyType: YesNo
Description: If this key is set to yes, Ares will decrypt the course and user load files. This should only be enabled if you are uploading encrypted files using the public key that Ares created.

KeyName: CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase
Category: System
SubCategory: Course & User Loads
KeyType: StringValue
Description: This key is set automatically when a new key is created for encrypting course and user data loads.

Generation of PGP Key

Upon startup System Manager will first determine if a PGP has already been generated for course & user loads (regardless of the value of the CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted customization key). The check will look to ensure (1) that a value exists for the CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase customization key and (2) that both the AresPublicKey.asc file and the AresKeyRing.gpg file are found in the Course User Validation Datapath, which is determined using the CourseUserValidationDataPath customization key. This check is done at the initial startup of System Manager to ensure that a key is created if it does not already exist, so sites implementing the feature can begin their implementation process before enabling the feature.

The PGP Keys

The private key used for decryption is not provided for any other use so it cannot be exported. The key is protected by an encrypted passphrase in the database. Atlas staff will not be able to export the private key or provide the private key passphrase.

The key pair is only valid for the user account that runs the system manager. This means that if the user account that runs system manager changes or the site is migrating to a new server, the keys cannot be migrated. Attempts to decrypt data with a keypair created from an alternate user account or server will fail. The keys will need to be regenerated once the system manager is configured to run as the new user account or on the new server. The site will need to modify their workflows to use the new public key associated with the newly migrated server or user account running system manager or the data loads will not be processed correctly.

Forcing Regeneration of the key

To force Ares to re-generate a new keypair the site can delete the AresPublicKey.asc file or clear the value of the CourseUserLoadKeyPassphrase customization key. A new key pair will be generated when the Ares system Manager is restarted or the next time the Course User Load process is triggered to execute.

Encryption of Files 

When an institution opts to encrypt their data for Ares Course & User Loads they must use the public key generated by the Ares system manager. This key can be found in the Course User Validation Data Path in the AresPublicKey.asc file. A standard text editor should be capable of viewing the file. Before uploading the files the organization should ensure that the 3 data files are encrypted using the Ares public key. The site can use any tool capable of encrypting files with a PGP key. Ares only expects the data files to be encrypted (i.e. Courses.txt, CourseUsers.txt, & Users.txt). The field definition files should not be encrypted (i.e. CourseFields.txt, CourseUserFields.txt, UserFields.txt). Once an institution is providing encrypted files using the AresPublicKey, the CourseUserLoadDataEncrypted key should be modified to Yes.

At this time, the Ares system manager does not expect that the data files are signed (for validation) using the site's private key, so the data files should only be encrypted using the AresPublicKey.

Support to Remove Course & User Data Load Files after Processing

The System Manager can now remove course & user data files after processing has successfully completed.

To enable this feature, set the CourseUserLoadDataFileCleanup customization key to Yes. Atlas suggests that this key is enabled if using course & user data loads to improve security and remove files containing institutional data after they are no longer necessary for Ares importing.

The cleanup will not remove the associated "Fields" files. i.e. UserFields.txt, CourseFields.txt, or CourseUserFields.txt. Only the data files, Courses.txt, Users.txt, & CourseUsers.txt will be removed.

The files will only be removed if the entire process completed successfully. If any part of the course user loading & management fails the files will not be removed.




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