ifs email to asma

a guest Feb 16th, 2020 204 Never
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  1. Hey Asma,
  3. Sorry for the delayed response – I’ve been swamped catching up from my absence due to the weather. We also had a crazy amount of deliverables due last week. I’m sorry in advance for the wall of text below.
  5. I don’t think that my concerns are really catered towards the practical test contents or format – I agree that it’s a valuable skill to be able to perform tasks quickly and under pressure, and while I do personally support more project-based work than timed evaluations, I recognize their need in a program like ours. Instead, I’m more concerned that the course contents and the tasks outlined by our graded evaluations are not matched with the course’s stated learning objectives. I appreciate your quick response to the issue and I apologize for any frustration directed your way via this e-mail, it’s not at you or our professor – it’s more at how this course is designed and the frustration I feel at the disconnect between what I want to take away from this course and what we are learning, and how I fear that gap may manifest a detrimental effect on my prospects in later years of the IFS program. I’ve included a summary of some major issues that I, and other students have had with OPS300 from a design, conceptual, content, and structuring standpoint.
  7. Taken from the course’s outline page on the Seneca website, the course’s learning outcomes are stated as follows:
  9. 1.            Identify current best practices in the deployment of IT infrastructure for specific business requirements
  10. 2.            Justify the use of appropriate technology for a specific business case by examining different IT infrastructures
  11. 3.            Summarize/Describe the capabilities of new technology through examination of the migration process from existing IT infrastructure to infrastructure based on emerging technology
  12. 4.            Describe methodologies for securing IT infrastructure  in an enterprise environment with specific business needs
  13. 5.            Apply the best industrial practices for automation of IT processes in order to more efficiently manage common tasks in a large scale deployment
  15. Even in successful completion of our course materials, namely our labs, research assignment, and course project, I fail to see how we are completing these learning objectives for a variety of reasons. To be brief, I’ll elaborate on a few of my most serious concerns here and we can discuss more in depth later. I am sure that some of these concerns have already made their way to you, as I heard that we had an evaluator in our lecture period today.
  17. RE: Learning Objective 1:
  18. Frankly, we’re not identifying best practices in current IT infrastructure because we’re being forced to use open source/free tools that have severely lacking or no vendor documentation at all. This feels pervasive in both labs and the course project. To illustrate this, several prominent examples that come to mind are how we’re not using ESXI or VMware, we’re usingproxmox. We’re not using Cisco switches or enterprise solutions, we’re usingOpenVswitch. We aren’t using enterprise VPN solutions or encryption, we’re using OpenVPN community edition. We’re not using cloud or hybrid-cloud based technologies for deployments, etc.
  20. Much of this course feels like it’s more of an introduction on how to teach yourself to read vendor documentation and implement open source solutions. While these are worthwhile skills to develop, this is definitely not best-practice, and even in our course project, I fail to see how being tasked with the implementation and integration of 7-8 different, unique, and not clearly compatible open source solutions is more effective than us learning how to administrate g-suite or office365 when we are far more likely to work with the latter in the real world. Further compounding this issue is that much of the vendor documentation that we have been expected to look at is old, outdated, or completely absent in some cases – we had broken/dead links in some of our slides leading to vendor materials for projects that had been discontinued or shut down years prior.
  22. I work 3 jobs, and one of them happens to be as an IT professional for ~40 businesses withLunarStorm Technologies in Guelph, ON. I can safely say that for the variety of businesses, across verticals, from small to large, and with highly varied compute and workload requirements, we have never had cause to implementjanky, cobbled together solutions such as is expected for this course for any of our client needs. Instead, we’ve guided our clients to and successfully implemented best in class solutions after conducting research, assessing suitability based on tech specs and our client needs, and providing fleshed out research reports and recommendations to them. I would love to get more experience with that process from a course like this, where the stated learning objectives match up almost exactly 1:1 with the process and order followed by common best practices.
  24. RE: Learning Objective 2:
  25. None of the course material has covered this learning objective aside from our final project. The final project, being composed of a hybrid research paper submission and functional demonstration by our group, is a bit of an amalgamation of the things we probably should have received lectures on, such as this content, but that we didn’t. No materials have been posted with a hierarchical or standardized method for technology assessment based on a business use case, common best practices, or otherwise. It has not been explicitly stated that we are expected to explore and identify this material ourselves anywhere that I have seen in the course. If anything, our critical thinking and writing course was more effectively designed to prepare us to create a proposal and teach us how to write persuasively, assume a position on an issue, or conduct literature review and draw conclusions from that material. There has been no IT-specific or industry related methodology proposed or standardized by the course materials we have had access to, and I feel that is a major shortcoming of this course and a major contributor to our inability to achieve LO2.
  27. RE: Learning Objective 3:  
  28. This is another major mismatch between what we are doing and what we could/should be doing to be learning this skill and preparing for our work terms. We have not covered hybrid cloud, we haven’t worked with AWS or Azure, we haven’t looked at upgrading legacy servers or migrations, and most of all, we have not had any focus on emerging technology or technical writing on the subject. Even our assignment, being a research paper, is focused on a comparative analysis between hardware level and os-level virtualization – while this is a good exercise and certainly worth covering in this course, these technologies are not new or emergent, and they are extremely widely used in capacities that are VERY different from our deployments inproxmox and a localized version of VMware. I think it’s fair to call it a reach that anything covered in this course, when almost all of it is older/open source platforms, could be described as cutting edge or emergent technology.
  30. While I understand that licensing and operational costs are a major concern for a program like ours, I think that it is obvious that we need to find a way to get access to these solutions to tinker with and learn before we’re applying for coop jobs or leaving the program as graduates. Related to both LO1 and LO2, I fail to see how this course helps us to accomplish these parallel and related learning objectives when we’re not getting the hands on that we need with these technologies.  We literally have ESXI available to us in the onthehub store – there is 0 reason to be using a freeware likeproxmox in a course that intends to expose students to real world scenarios for this technology.
  32. RE: Learning Objective 4:
  33. Although stated clearly as a learning objective, there is a severe lack of documentation concerning this subject matter in our course materials. We didn’t receive lectures or contextualized information on infrastructure security beyond that of a 10 year old set of instructions on VM hardening in one of our lab documents. Further, the content that is relevant to security, such as protocol specific structure/function, or processes like an SSL/TLS handshake are relevant, but perhaps understated in our materials and certainly have not been emphasized in our section. In fact, our lecture slides as presented are often specifically tied to the set of lab instructions required for submission each week, not high level information overviews or introductions to content beyond that of the lab applications. As a result, this makes me feel like I’ve learned a lot about how to interact with proxmox and our various other open source tools that we’ve been interacting with, but not a lot about why it’s applicable to my future in industry when I’m not likely to be working with these tools in a professional capacity. Further, the lack of understanding of the source material that the lab is demonstrating leaves me feeling like I will be unprepared for later courses in IFS where this content is most applicable. Expectations of secure implementations are rampant throughout evaluated activities in this course without proper or sufficient explanation or instruction to complete them. Many students have not, in fact implemented security measures as intended, and instead have presented demonstrations using cobbled together solutions, such as impromptu iptables rules, or temporary setup and deployment of VMs.
  35. Other high-level issues:
  36. • Lab instructions are lacking compared to other courses with similar material
  37. • Lecture materials are sparse and dated, with some non-functional links and poorly contextualized content (ie unexplained commands, links to vendor documentation that is outdated), a lack of notes, or related readings/chapter materials
  38. • Different lecture sections received extremely inconsistent instructional time between professors
  39. • Evaluations were prepared by a single professor and delivered to other sections without clear understanding of their structure, expectations, or marking scheme of the other professor
  40. • Project/practical requirements are sometimes not stated in their source material
  41. • Grading has been horrifically inconsistent with stated requirements for some items
  42. • Scheduling has been in constant conflict with other courses in the semester
  43. • Scheduling has been heavily modified because students were unable to keep up or struggling, but not communicated on blackboard, even as of today being only notified of an extension on assignment 1 without a statement for when it was extended, why it was extended, or if there have been any revised expectations
  44. • Practical demonstrations are entirely unreasonable based on the expectations surrounding lab activities and the time allotted for the practical (~4 hours of lab activities expected to be demo’d in 1h45?)
  45. • Group work on individually submitted projects is confusing and results in communication issues, problems with practicing demos, or otherwise
  46. • Grading has been slow an inconsistent at best throughout the course, and even now I am waiting on marks for my 3rd/4th labs and the practical mid-term now several days post drop-date
  48. I know that this is quite a lot of ground to cover to take your time on a response – I also don’t have immediate solutions for some of these issues, but I think that there are some really obvious and simple things that could be done to help both better align the course’s contents with the stated learning objectives and purpose of the course, and alleviate a lot of stress from confused or concerned IFS students, particularly in our section where so many seem to be struggling. I’m free for a phone call/teams meeting or something tomorrow if you still have availability!
  50. Todd
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