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Sandbox Pilot Process

As the name implies, a sandbox is a place to play. It is a dedicated application space set up to allow institutions to test out new applications, independent of other technology systems.

To be considered for a BCcampus sandbox project, the application being considered should meet some basic criteria:

  1. Web-based (not desktop or other client/server applications)
  2. Open source
  3. Have the potential to support teaching & learning practice
  4. Have system-wide potential. That is, many institutions have the potential to use and benefit from the application.

Process

There is no set time of the year when a project happens. A sandbox project can start any time of the year providing there is sufficient interest from institutions and there is capacity within BCcampus.

Each sandbox project has a 6-9 month time frame, divided into 4 phases.

  1. Initiation (1 -2 months). During phase 1, the project scope is determined and institutional partners are found.
  2. Setup (1-2 months) During phase 2, the environment is setup for the participating institutions based on the requirements of the participating institutions.
  3. Play (3-6 months) During phase 3, institutions will test the application
  4. Report (1 month) During phase 4, institutions will prepare a short report on their experiences with the application. This report will be publicly hosted on this website for others in the system to learn from.

Other criteria

  • There needs to be multiple institutions taking part (a minimum of 2 & a maximum of 5). Multiple institutional involvement shows there is system wide interest in an application. Additionally, multiple institutional involvement helps promote collaboration between institutions who have similar needs.
  • Participating institutions will provide an internal champion who will ensure that the software is tested and piloted.
  • Participating institutions will commit to providing a written report at the end of the sandbox project that would be useful for another institution who might be interested in testing the same software package.

Institutionally resourcing a sandbox project

The primary institutional resource a sandbox project needs is people. Specifically, an institutional champion who BCcampus can work with and coordinate application testing with.

While each sandbox project is different depending on the scope of the project and type of application, in general, we estimate a sandbox project will require 20-40 hours of time from an institutional champion over the course of the 6-month sandbox project, depending on the complexity of the application.

Some typical tasks for an institutional champion would include:

  • identify & recruit internal faculty & staff to participate as testers
  • create & administer internal user accounts
  • provide internal support for testing staff & faculty
  • work closely with the assigned BCcampus client service manager to troubleshoot issues
  • coordinate internal application testing
  • author a final report on the application.

Depending on the technical complexity of the application, there may be other institutional resources required, such as IT support.

Sandbox limitations

  • The sandbox application is provided without support or backups. This is a testing environment.
  • Sandbox applications do not go through a formal Privacy Impact Assessment. Therefore, student use in classroom settings where there is the potential that student private inforamtion could be explosed is discouraged. Testing should be done internally by staff and faculty only.
  • The application will be shut down at the end of the project.

What happens at the end of a sandbox project?

At the end of the sandbox there will be an analysis done by participating institutions with BCcampus to determine the next steps for the application. If there is sufficient interest after the sandbox evaluation, a pilot Shared Services project could be initiated by BCcampus which would then include a more robust system and allow use of student information for a deeper examination of the application.

The following diagram shows the process of how a sandbox project evolves and where it fits within the larger BCcampus shared services framework.

sandbox_lifecycle_diagram

 

How to participate?

If there is a software package your institution is interested in that meets the sandbox criteria, contact Clint Lalonde at BCcampus to discuss the possibilities of a sandbox project.