TAG feedback on draft BYOD Strategy

21 05 2014

At our May TAG meeting, Calvin Krzywiec (Assistant Director of Network Security & Engineering) presented a draft version of a BYOD Strategy (Bring Your Own Device).  We promised Cal a written compilation of feedback to inform the next draft of the report.  Since the TAG meeting, I’ve also been discussing the draft Strategy with several other interested faculty members, and I’ve done my best to compile all of these conversations in an annotated copy of the draft. These notes represent a sampling of individual faculty members’ reactions and should not be considered an authoritative response from the faculty as a whole.

I believe the draft Strategy bears significant implications for teaching, learning, research, and the faculty work environment, and I’ve recommended that the document undergo careful review by the full Faculty Senate. (As the current Senate Liaison, Dave will share our feedback in a report to the Senate Executive Committee.)

I’d also like to invite additional comments and concerns from all faculty. If your exam week/senior week schedule permits, please take a look at TAG’s written response (annotated PDF) and let us know your thoughts.

[Update: Here’s a summarized comments view of the same annotated PDF.]

TAG Meeting Notes 2014-05-07

7 05 2014

TAG Meeting May 7, 2014 12:00pm-1:00pm

Jeremy Brees, Tim Cannon, Teresa Conte, Kim Daniloski, Dave Dzurec, Tara Fay, Jim Franceschelli, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Calvin Krzywiec (guest), Andrew LaZella, Kristen Yarmey

TAG thanks Library Dean Charles Kratz for sponsoring lunch for our meeting today.

1. BYOD Strategy Draft

Calvin Krzywiec joined us as a guest to present and discuss a draft version of IR’s strategy for accommodating the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend. Cal is Assistant Director of Network Security & Engineering and served as chair for the IR Strategy Group tasked with studying BYOD. The group is currently seeking feedback from campus stakeholders to incorporate into a final strategy.

Cal explained that the group’s objectives were driven by increasing demand among students and faculty for access to institutional services from personal mobile devices. The group’s top priority is supporting BYOD for teaching and learning, while a secondary priority is protecting the security of institutional data.

For teaching and learning (see p. 2-4 in the draft), IR’s BYOD objectives include:

  • Investigate and implement untethered teaching/learning solutions
  • Focus classroom upgrades on providing collaborative, flexible workspaces
  • Leverage virtual desktop/application technologies and client devices to reduce reliance on physical lab infrastructure
  • Leverage virtual desktop/application technologies to provide ubiquitous access to lab software resources
  • Investigate and implement secure electronic assessment solutions
  • Expand lecture capture to additional locations

The draft identifies several barriers to BYOD implementation that were also raised by faculty members in TAG’s informal survey on specialized software and computer labs.  These include:

  • Expensive licensing fees for specialized software
  • Potential disparities in student computer ownership
  • Inaccessible and/or limited power sources
  • Security for electronic assessment/computerized testing
  • High demand on wireless network

The draft strategy recommends partnership with CTLE to support faculty needs as well as engagement with faculty during the implementation of BYOD-related strategies. Jim said that IR will work with TAG to recruit faculty volunteers to test out tools and services. While the precise timeline for rolling out these changes isn’t yet determined, there are some pilot projects already in motion. Faculty members in KSOM are piloting software for securing a browser (for computerized testing) using lab computers running thin clients. Teresa noted that the Nursing department would be very interested in piloting computerized testing tools in McGurrin. IR also plans to pilot test untethered teaching/learning options in the fall – TAG will get more information on this in the summer. Tim volunteered to participate in this pilot. IR has already been piloting Panopto lecture capture and will be looking to add this capability to additional classrooms for Fall 2014. Mobile printing is also in process.

Regarding network and authentication issues: Cal said that IR will be replacing the Cisco NAC client with encrypted SSID authentication, so that users will be able to log in to the University network from their device without downloading and installing CNAC. Once a device has been logged in,  it will stay logged in – users won’t have to reauthenticate multiple times during the day to stay on the network.

The second half of the draft (p. 4-9) addresses faculty and staff devices. One issue addressed is primary computing devices (for most faculty, our desktop computer). While currently primary devices are purchased and provided by the University, alternative models such as reimbursement or stipends for equipment and software purchases could be discussed.

Secondly, in order to protect institutional data, the draft proposes a three-tiered mobile device management (MDM) system:

  • Mandatory: This tier applies to all University issued devices and requires an enrollment in a MDM system that enforces the implementation of technical controls on the device, such as lock code, lock when idle, remote wipe capabilities, device encryption, and potentially even location tracking for locating a lost device.
  • Optional: This tier applies to all non-­‐corporate owned staff, faculty, and affiliate devices connecting to University systems, including email. Enrollment in the MDM solution is optional but the expectations of minimal technical controls and the requirement to notify PIR of a lost/stolen device are defined in institutional policy. Employees must agree to allow the University to wipe the device when it is lost/stolen or the employee separates from the institution.
  • Exempt: This tier applies to student devices. This tier has no requirements but offers guidance to students on how to secure their devices.

The draft proposes that a remote wipe could be partial rather than complete, “removing only corporate data.”

Kristen raised concerns about the Optional tier, which would apply to many faculty-owned mobile devices. Firstly, the exact definition of “corporate data” may need to be clarified. According to Appendix VIII (“Copyright”) of the Faculty Handbook, in most (but not all) circumstances, faculty retain copyright over works created as part of their normal teaching, research, and service duties – including research data, lecture notes, videos of lectures, syllabi, etc.  Kristen will look into existing University policies and documents to better understand what types of records (email?) would fall under this policy. Kristen also raised concerns about references to wiping data (including email) upon “employee separation,” which for faculty may take different forms (emeritus, phased retirement, terminal sabbatical, etc).

The BYOD Strategy Group will be compiling feedback into the next draft of the report. Kristen will write up summarized feedback from TAG’s discussion as a formal response to the draft document.

2. Brief Updates 

(The BYOD discussion took up most of the meeting, so updates were rushed.)

Identity Finder automated scans (Kristen)

Kristen has been working with Adam Edwards and Scott Finlon in Information Security to answer faculty questions about Identity Finder automated scans. Kristen has updated the Identity Finder FAQ with clarifications from Information Security.  There are still some faculty concerns about the scanning and reporting process (which was approved by the President’s cabinet back in June 2013); however, we have addressed as many as possible.

Information Security would like to begin the automated scans. TAG members present at the meeting felt ready to move forward with scanning faculty machines. Dave will report at this Friday’s Senate meetings that scans will begin. Kristen will work with Adam to coordinate a schedule and an all-faculty email notification.

Test Scanning Services (Jim)

Jim reported that IR will be changing the hours of Test Scanning Services effective Monday, May 12, 2014.  The service will continue to be provided from Alumni Memorial Hall, Room 001. Tests may be dropped off and results picked up Monday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.  Based upon demand and operational requirements, immediate service while you wait may not be available.  IR will continue to strive to meet the needs of our customers and will provide a 24 hour turnaround of test scanning results.  Jim asked that faculty please plan accordingly as we approach the end of the Spring term.  Jim will contact regular users of the test scanning service with more details.

Desire2Learn (Eugeniu)

Additional Desire2Learn workshops are being planned for the summer – see CTLE’s workshop calendar for the updated schedule. Eugeniu also reminded TAG members that faculty should back up any student data (including grades, discussion forms, and dropbox submissions) in Angel that they wish to keep. Step by step instructions have been emailed out, but CTLE staff will also hold workshops on this during Senior Week for anyone who needs assistance (see ). Student access to Angel will be turned off as of May 30, but faculty will have access until July 31. After that, data stored in Angel will no longer be available.

PR Department/Program Website Initiative (Dave/Teresa)

We ran out of time for in-person updates on this project. Lori had sent Kristen updates via email. Kristen will post these notes to the TAG site in a separate update.

4. Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 1:05pm. TAG will not meet again as a full group until Fall 2014, but projects and communication (via email) will continue during the summer.

[Updated immediately after posting with correction to Cal’s title]

TAG Meeting Notes 2014-02-12

14 02 2014

TAG Meeting February 12, 2014 12:00pm-1:00pm

Jeremy Brees, Tim Cannon, Paul Cutrufello, Kim Daniloski, Dave Dzurec, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Katie Iacocca, Andrew LaZella, Lori Nidoh, Kristen Yarmey

1. Brief Reports

Acceptable Use Policy

CIO Jerry DeSanto announced on February 6 that the new Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy had been approved by the President’s Cabinet. The new policy is an update to the old Code of Responsible Computing. Many thanks to Jim Franceschelli and Dave Dzurec for co-chairing the committee charged with revision.

PR Department/Program Website initiative

Back in late November, Dave, Kim, and Kristen (along with Hal Baillie, Darla Germeroth, and Ray Schwenk) met with Gerry Zaboski and Lori Nidoh in PR to discuss department and program websites. Also in on the meeting (phoning in from Cedar Rapids) were representatives from Converge, a vendor that PR has hired to help us with initial planning and updates for departmental websites and academic program pages (note: *not* course catalog content/program descriptions, which require formal review).

The main goal from a faculty perspective is to develop content for department/program pages that is consistent across the University website and does a better job of communicating what it is that we do — reflecting the quality of our programs/departments, “telling the story” of the student educational experience, etc. (In 2012-2013 TAG had prepared a proposal for improving and maintaining department/program websites that advocated for additional support for this task.)

Briefly, Converge plans to 1) outline/inventory needed content, 2) do some search engine optimization research (e.g., what terms do users type in to Google when they’re looking for nursing programs?), 3) develop a draft template for page content, 4) get faculty feedback via a campus visit and questionnaire, 5) draft some copy, and 6) help us prepare a long term strategy. Their main output would be a consistent template for department/program pages, and they will create content for up to 50 department/program pages (though the institution has the final say on content). Gerry explained that this way we can get a lot of updates done quickly.

PR and Academic Affairs would like to bring together a steering committee or task force to coordinate this project, with work beginning in March. Gerry has broached this topic with the Committee on University Image and Promotion (CUIP), which includes faculty representatives.  After the November meeting, Kristen and Dave had asked TAG members to identify faculty who might be interested in serving on such a steering committee. Teresa, Sandy, and Dave then volunteered.  However, Lori noted that it has not yet been decided which program/department pages will be selected as the focus of the project, and she was not sure who will make that decision. We agreed that once these programs/departments have been selected, TAG will support the faculty representatives on CUIP in trying to recruit faculty volunteers to participate.


Desire2Learn went live in January, and so far the transition seems to be going smoothly (see the LMS transition page for details). About 30 faculty members opted to begin teaching in Desire2Learn in Spring 2014. Courses that are being taught in Desire2Learn have been disabled in ANGEL so that students don’t see them in both places.  Workshops and video tutorials are available for faculty.

Eugeniu reported that there was an issue with merging courses that CTLE wasn’t able to resolve in time for this semester, but it will be resolved in time for summer and fall courses. Another issue has been reported with links – Firefox and Chrome are problematic when trying to display unsecure pages within secure frames.

Mobile Apps

IR’s Mobile Apps feedback group met in December (pptx). Sandy attended as a faculty representative. The group reviewed the University’s current apps — ANGEL Mobile, eAccounts (for RoyalCard), the Straxis app, Student Services app, RoyalSync, and Desire2Learn (which also has two special purpose apps – Binder and Grader) — and discussed what additional features should be mobile accessible.  The Straxis app will be retired at the end of the year and replaced by a locally developed web app for the fall 2014 semester.

Royal Card

Faculty are reminded to visit the TSC to get a new RoyalCard. Take your old RoyalCard or a driver’s license, and you will be photographed.

Windows XP to 7 Conversions

(Jim was unable to attend the meeting but sent an update on this via email.) IT Services is continuing to work on converting all remaining Windows XP machines to Windows 7. Faculty machines are the current priority, with a goal of finishing all faculty conversions by the end of May.  IT Services will contact users to schedule a time and date for conversion — the process takes about two hours.  Dave noted that the history department was almost entirely converted and had no issues.

II. Items for Discussion

Specialized Software/Computer Lab Survey Results

Kristen is still working on putting together the survey results and apologized to TAG members for the delay.

WordPress Network

Kristen reported that at least one additional faculty request for a site on the campus WordPress network (sites.scranton.edu) had been turned down. There seems to be a continuing need among faculty and students for academic web space, particularly since the academic server (academic.scranton.edu) was decommissioned.

At our September 2013 meeting, TAG had requested that IR draft language on service levels for WordPress. Kristen asked Jim for an update on this issue. Jim was unable to attend this meeting but sent an update via email, excerpted here:

We met this past fall and have consulted with the CTLE on various support issues.  Unfortunately at this time, we cannot extend the wordpress offerings.  Looking at the current issues at hand – especially with the CTLE and the conversion to D2L – extending support won’t happen until January 2015 at the earliest. I know there is growing demand and many faculty want to use wordpress as an alternative web site.  Unfortunately the supported options are within the CMS.  D2L does have options for blogging and discussion boards.  I think TAG had offered to look at it from a faculty perspective – any news back on that?

Eugeniu explained that CTLE was unable to provide assistance to IR on support for WordPress at the same time as they are supporting faculty and students during the transition to Desire2Learn.

Kristen asked TAG members for their reactions. The majority agreed that we would like to keep advocating for WordPress but acknowledge that Desire2Learn should take priority at this time. Dave suggested that we revisit the question again in January 2015 as Jim indicated.

III. New Business

Vice President for Planning/CIO

Fr. Quinn announced in December 2013 that Jerry DeSanto would be stepping down as Vice President for Planning/CIO. Associate Vice President Robyn Dickinson will serve as Interim. While the search for a new Provost is taking priority, Dave and Kristen noted that they planned to volunteer TAG’s input (either formal or informal) in any upcoming search for the CIO position.

TAG Leadership for 2014-2015

Kristen will be rotating off as TAG co-chair at the end of Spring 2014. Dave will continue as co-chair for 2014-2015, but will be on sabbatical in Spring 2015.  They asked for one or two volunteers (preferably but not necessarily including a Senator) to serve a two-year term as co-chair. Andrew volunteered to serve in Spring 2015 while Dave is away. We are still in need of another volunteer to serve the full year.

IV. Demonstrations

Adam Edwards and Scott Finlon from Information Security came to the second half of the TAG meeting for two demonstrations.

Firstly, they demonstrated the administrative side of Identity Finder. TAG members have been piloting automated Identity Finder scans, which are running each Friday at noon. Identify Finder scans the user’s computer for any personally identifiable information (PII) in unprotected files. The Information Security Office receives reports that indicate the level of risk for that machine. Anticipating concerns about privacy and confidentiality, Adam and Scott showed a sample report. The report shows the number of hits and the location of each file with hits, but the actual information is obscured. Based off of these reports, Adam then works one-on-one with users to either delete the files or move them to a more secure location. Adam said that he is working with staff with the most risk first (e.g., people with 1,000 hits or more).

Secondly, Adam and Scott demonstrated using TrueCrypt (free open-source disk encryption software) to encrypt files or folders that contain confidential information (such as human subject research data). They have already shown this tool (along with another encryption tool in Identity Finder) to the IRB and would like to make it a recommended standard for campus use. [Update 2014-07-02: Support for TrueCrypt has been discontinued, so Information Security now recommends using 7Zip for encrypting sensitive or confidential data.] TAG members did not bring up any concerns, so we will move forward on this. Adam will share brief written instructions, and we will share them with the faculty as a recommended practice for confidential data.

Adam and Scott would like to start automated Identity Finder scans on faculty computers beginning with departments that would *not* have any confidential subject data stored no faculty desktops. We were not sure that such a distinction could be easily made, but TAG will try to work with department chairs to determine which departments might be willing to begin scans. Scott will send Kristen a list of departments as they appear in Identity Finder (based on Active Directory groups) as a starting point.


The meeting adjourned at 1:10pm. TAG’s next meeting will be Wednesday, March 12 from 12pm-1pm in WML305.

ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology

11 11 2013

Last spring, the Office of Institutional Research administered the national  ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology on campus in order to gather information about students’ perceptions and desires relating to technology at the University. Of the 3,889 undergraduate students who received the survey, 619 (15.9%) responded.

This morning, several members of TAG met with administrators from Academic Affairs and Planning and Information Resources (PIR) to discuss the survey results. (See PIR’s website for the summary report as well as presentation slides on key findings. The survey instrument and national results are available from EDUCAUSE.)

A few discussion points of particular relevance for TAG and other faculty:

  • 95% of students reported owning laptops (up from 89% in 2010). 84% of students reported having a smartphone.
  • When asked how many of their instructors effectively use technology, students responded: “All” – 9%, “Most” – 45%, “Some” – 45%, “None” – 1%.
  • 63% of students would like their professors to use more lecture capture.
  • 53% of student respondents would like their professors to use the LMS (learning management system – e.g., Angel or Desire2Learn) more.
  • 61% would prefer courses with some online components.
  • 86% of students felt that they were either banned or discouraged from using smartphones in class.
  • Some students reported that they wanted their instructors to increase the integrated use of laptops (52%), tablets (30%), and smartphones (30%) in the classroom.
  • 11% of students agreed and 2% of students strongly agreed with the statement, “I skip classes when materials from course lectures are available online.”

Mobile site (m.scranton.edu)

28 08 2013

Just found out that the mobile site (m.scranton.edu) has been replaced by responsive design on the main website (www.scranton.edu). This change caught the Library by surprise over the weekend – was anyone else affected?

Mobile Apps Group update

13 11 2012

Updated 2012-11-26: Meeting minutes are available.

The University-wide Mobile Apps Group (chaired by Connie Wisdo from IR, with Ben Bishop and me as faculty participants) met yesterday. A few updates:

Blackboard Learn Mobile App for Angel

  • Now available for students and faculty.
  • Available for iOS, Android, and Blackberry devices in their respective app stores.
  • Once you install the app, search for University of Scranton and log in with your my.scranton credentials.

Student Services Mobile Page

  • A mobile web page for student services (m.scranton.edu/studentservices) went up in September.
  • Feedback from students seems to be positive, although we did not have any analytics to review.
  • One of the student representatives in the work group mentioned that the tools currently available on the web page (grades, schedule, channel guide, Library, Aquinas) aren’t compelling at this time of the semester. Grades will be more important as the semester ends.

University App (Straxis)

  • Straxis has scaled back/slowed down their plans to include a Dining Services module in the University app.
  • The next modules Straxis plans to release are Faith & Service module, Enhanced Twitter, and GPA Calculator.
  • Straxis will soon be sending out an update with iPhone 5 graphics and iOS6 enhancements.

Luminis Upgrade

  • We will be upgrading to Luminis 5 over spring break 2013, which will be a major update to the my.scranton portal.
  • Mobile access to my.scranton will likely be improved – testing will begin in January.

Next Steps for Mobile

  • We reviewed the results of last spring’s mobile survey to consider what other mobile functionality should be developed.
  • Ben suggested that mobile access to a list of faculty office hours or faculty schedules would be useful — it doesn’t seem like this data is available via an API, though.
  • Student suggestions (via CTLE) included a GPA calculator and easy access to financial aid information.
  • Students also asked if campus event feeds on mobile web pages could be iCal feeds (i.e., so you could easily add an event to your calendar on your phone.
  • Students were interested in mobile access to course registration, but this is not supported at this time.
  • Computer lab availability is a possibility due to the switch to thin clients in the Library and in Brennan.
  • When the Royal Card system is upgraded, students will be able to use a free (to them) app from Blackboard Transact to add funds and check their balance. There is a university subscription fee, so ITDA has requested funding to support that feature. Transact would interact with Royal Card funds, not Flex or meals.
  • No progress has been made on a LaundryView app.
  • A graduate student in Computing Sciences is doing a project to track usage of the Pilarz Hall gym — so that students could check their phone to see approximately how crowded the gym would be.
  • ITDA staff members met with Aramark to discuss mobile access to dining hall menus. Information from CampusDish (the web service Aramark uses) is not accessible to us via API. Aramark may be working on their own mobile app.
  • The Library is experimenting with a mobile study room reservation system. There will likely be a pilot in January and February using two group study rooms on the 2nd floor. The Student Services mobile page could simply link to this system.

I’ll post full meeting minutes when they come out. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

iTunes U Live Webcasts

9 11 2012


Apple is doing a few free webcasts for educators over the next few weeks to demonstrate how iPads and iTunes U are being used in teaching and learning.  Just passing the info along for anyone interested:

Webcast 1: Getting to Know iTunes U (Register)
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. PST
Find out how iTunes U is inspiring new ways to teach with iPad. You’ll learn how iTunes U brings a vast library of content — textbooks, videos, web links, and more — into a single app for students. You’ll also get to see an iTunes U course from a student’s perspective, and ask teachers live during the webcast how they’re educating with iPad.

Webcast 2: Creating Courses with iTunes U Course Manager (Register)
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. PST
Get step-by-step instructions on how to build a course for iPad using dynamic content. Educators will share their experience, creating courses, and you’ll hear how their students are learning with iPad in surprising new ways.

Webcast 3: Creating Learning Materials for Your Course (Register)
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
10:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. PST
Learn how to find, select, and add rich content to your courses and develop your own educational materials. Get tips and tricks for editing, capturing, and adding video. Plus, see demos on creating original content with iBooks Author and illustrating your ideas with widgets. It won’t be long before you’re building your own exciting courses for iPad.

Student Services – Mobile

12 09 2012

A mobile web page for student services is now up at m.scranton.edu/studentservices. It includes grades, student schedule, the Library, the Aquinas, and a TV channel guide.

This project came out of the Mobile Apps work group, which includes Ben Bishop and me as faculty representatives. Here’s the announcement from work group leader Connie Wisdo:

I wanted to let you all know that the student services mobile web app has been launched in our production environment.  You can access it using m.scranton.edu/studentservices.

You’ll be seeing posters going up around campus in the next week or so to announce both this app, and also Blackboard Mobile Learn for ANGEL.

The Student Services Mobile web app will be incorporated in the Scranton app very soon (hopefully this week), and it will also appear as a menu item on the m.scranton.edu main menu.

Thanks again for all your help in getting this first version developed and launched!

I believe we will meet again as a group in November, to gather feedback and consider options for the next version of the app.  We lost both our student reps from last year, so if you have students you’d like to nominate to the group (either undergrad or grad), please let me know.

Angel it is, through 2014

9 05 2012

The Learning Management System (LMS) Work Group made its recommendation this morning – we’ll be sticking with ANGEL through Spring 2014.

A full report is on the way, but in the meantime, here’s the announcement from Work Group leader Connie Wisdo:

Hello all,

The LMS Evaluation Working group had its final two meetings over the last three weeks and concluded its work.  Below is a synopsis of the meeting minutes and the final recommendation made by the group.  (A full report will be compiled and made available in the coming weeks.)

Group members discussed their findings and observations from testing the three LMS products chosen as finalists – Blackboard Learn, Desire2Learn and Moodlerooms.  It was recommended unanimously by group members that Moodlerooms should be dropped from consideration due primarily to its lack of internal email.  We concluded that the messaging features of Moodlerooms did not adequately substitute for an internal email system.  Of the remaining two finalists, Desire2Learn was deemed a slightly better choice for us than Blackboard, overall.  Many factors were taken into consideration in the analysis, but it really came down to (1) course conversion capabilities in Desire2Learn were better than those in Blackboard; and (2) the students who evaluated the products overwhelmingly chose Desire2Learn over Blackboard.  Overall there were many issues with converting courses from ANGEL to each of the LMS products evaluated.

Since we are now not being forced to move away from ANGEL, the group considered the possibility of the University staying with ANGEL, for at least two more years. CTLE and ITDA did some background research for the group, by conducting a conference call with Blackboard reps.  They gave us assurances that ANGEL development will continue, but the majority of Blackboard’s resources will be put towards the Blackboard Learn product. Blackboard said it will be putting more development into ANGEL mobile than ANGEL desktop.  Therefore, the group concluded that any changes to ANGEL desktop will be minor over the next several years.  The group was asked to identify any shortcomings in ANGEL which, if not addressed in the next two years, would significantly hamper our institution’s teaching and learning practices.  None were identified, except for the lack of a good mobile interface.  Otherwise, ANGEL seems to be adequately meeting faculty and students’ needs.

Due primarily to the experiences encountered in the LMS sandboxes with course conversion, and the significant cost, time and energy associated with transitioning to Desire2Learn at this time, the group members unanimously recommended that we stay with ANGEL for two more years (through Spring, 2014), and re-look the LMS market in Spring 2013.  Doing so will allow us (1) to see if LMS products’ course conversion capabilities improve to the point of being acceptable to our faculty; and (2) to determine if any of the newer LMS products (such as Canvas by Instructure) evolve to a point where they could be considered as possible replacements to ANGEL at that time.

The group also unanimously recommended that if we stay with ANGEL we purchase Blackboard Mobile Learn for ANGEL.  Respondents to a recent mobile app survey conducted by Public Relations and ITDA overwhelmingly named mobile access to the LMS as their top priority for mobile functionality on our campus.  We have had the free version of Blackboard Mobile Learn for ANGEL for approximately 18 months, usable only on iOS devices (iPad / IPhone), with connectivity available only via Wi-Fi, or via the Sprint network.  However, the full version of Blackboard Mobile Learn can be used on both iOS and Android devices, and with any cellular network.  A significant portion of our students have Android smartphones and/or tablets, and are therefore incapable of using the free version of Mobile Learn for ANGEL.  I negotiated with Blackboard to get a free trial of the full version of Mobile Learn for ANGEL, from mid-April, through the end of the Spring semester.  The app was demonstrated at the working group’s April meeting and members of the group were encouraged to download the app.  Several CTLE TechCons downloaded and evaluated the app, and concluded it was quite adequate for students’ needs.

As I said earlier, a detailed summary of the group’s overall evaluation process, conclusions and recommendations is forthcoming.  I expect to have it finalized and made available to the campus community by May 18th.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to call or email me.

Thank you,

Connie Wisdo
Director, IT Development & Applications


Many thanks from TAG to the faculty representatives who served on the Work Group:  Maureen Carroll (math), TAG member Teresa Conte (nursing), Tara Fay (biology),  Julie Nastasi (OT), Wesley Wang (economics/finance), and Keith Yurgosky (communications, part time).

Mobile Apps Group update

24 04 2012

Updated 5/10/12: Minutes from this meeting


The University-wide Mobile Apps Group met last week for the first time since February 8.  A few updates that are relevant to faculty:

Blackboard Learn Mobile App for ANGEL

  • Since the Learning Management System (LMS) Work Group is now considering staying with Angel as an option, the University is doing a full-blown trial of Blackboard Mobile Learn for Angel to see if it can meet student/faculty mobile needs.
  • The mobile version does not have all of the features that the standard Angel interface does – most notably, the gradebook and assignment dropbox are not fully accessible from the mobile app.
  • Faculty can try it out by downloading the app (the “New” version with the red ribbon on the icon) to their mobile device.

Review of Mobile App Survey Results

  • Lori Nidoh shared results from the Spring 2012 Mobile App and Services Survey that they ran on campus. Lori’s presentation (pptx) is here: 2012 Mobile Survey Findings
  • Most of the survey respondents were current undergraduate students – only about 3% were faculty.
  • Survey respondents were very interested in getting mobile access to Angel. Mobile access to Angel was ranked most highly (average of 3.9 out of 5) of a list of suggested future features, and more than 60% of respondents ranked it as the University resource they’re most interested in accessing from their phone.

Android access to the my.scranton portal