University system asks for help with virtual classes

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While the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic are still fresh for tech leaders, the nation’s largest four-year higher education system is seeking help from IT vendors to do more in the realm of virtual classrooms.

In a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued Tuesday, the California State University Chancellor’s Office calls for responses to “qualified companies interested in providing (an) online platform with (a) distribution system end-to-end e-manuals, tutorials and training materials.In recent weeks, the office has also requested assistance with tax filing software and risk assessments.Among the takeaways:

  • The university needs the platform to interface with CalState’s “faculty, student, and TEACH department staff,” according to the RFP, which stresses that “data storage and retention must remain at any time within the continental United States”. More specific needs include digital textbook sets from Pearson and access to the five-year system for TEACH candidates working toward preliminary teaching credentials. The tender also calls for a “single point of authentication” for applicants to access digital textbooks from multiple publishers; a browser-based format that will allow 24/7 access; and access to other texts, including the preparation of the reading skills assessment and reading case studies.
  • Responses should describe the “privacy information protection auditing system” and how the respondent will protect against malware, including viruses and worms; reveal which compliance standards are used; and provide evidence that the application used will comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) requirements. If “currently applicable PCI DSS certifications” are not available, Respondents should offer “comparable certifications” on the “environment” in which the CSU data will live. Respondents should indicate which third-party processors, if any, will be used to process transactions or information; and provide evidence that such third parties are PCI-DSS compliant. Responding companies must also provide a finished “Comprehensive Higher Education Cloud Provider Assessment Tool”, to allow a better understanding of their security compliance.
  • Requirements include a completed Accessibility Compliance Report (ACR) with the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, accessible through the RFP. The RCA must “match” the current version of the IT product/service offered by the vendor. Separate RCAs will be needed for each unique product or service (such as a desktop computer, web portal, or video player); and for each user interface, i.e. for students, teachers, administration and the public.
  • The precise value of the contract is not specified. Its initial term will be three years, with two optional renewals of one year each. Questions are due no later than noon on April 22. Proposals are due no later than 12 p.m. on April 29. A Notice of Intent to Award is expected May 10 and a contract is expected to be awarded in June.
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