IT Matters Fall 2013

3 10 2013

The Fall 2013 issue of IT Matters is out. Highlights for faculty members:

  • Plans for the transition from Angel to Desire2Learn (p. 1, 11)
  • Wireless in outdoor spaces (p. 2)
  • CIO Jerry DeSanto on budget concerns and the BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – strategy (p. 3)
  • Thin client computers in computer labs (p. 4)
  • Windows XP end-of-life (p. 4)
  • R Number logins for desktop computers (p. 4)
  • Office 365 (p. 5)
  • IR Project Pipeline (p. 8)
  • Panopto lecture capture pilot (p. 12)
  • Classroom upgrades (p. 12)

TAG Summer Synopsis

29 08 2012

Welcome back, all! In case you didn’t spend your summer break thinking about campus technology, here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on over the past few months and what we’ll be talking about in fall semester.

What Happened:

  • Campus wireless upgrade. We’re seeing huge improvements in connection speed and strength – thank you, Network Infrastructure!
  • Classroom upgrades. Over the summer, IT Services remediated all of Brennan’s teaching spaces. Other classrooms were upgraded as well – including CLP223, 224, 225, JOH 150, 152, MGH 017, 209, 336, 402, and 406.
  • Lecture Capture. Lecture capture capability has been installed in LSC133 and LSC333. TAG members Jeremy Sepinsky and Tara Fay are doing pilot projects this fall to test out the new technology before extending it to other classrooms. Nursing and Counseling departments are next on the list.
  • Mobile access to Angel. We now have a license for Blackboard Mobile Learn for Angel, so you can download the free app for use on your iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry device.
  • R-ID authentication. Instructor stations and computer labs now require your R number as your user name. Your password is the same.
  • Virtual desktops. 203 computers in Brennan and Library computer labs are now thin client machines.  At these terminals, students access virtual desktops and save files to SkyDrive.

What’s Coming:

  • Standard user accounts. As Windows 7 is rolled out for new faculty computers, our roles will change from administrative to standard user accounts. This is a security measure to try to prevent users from downloading and installing malicious software. By default, standard users can’t install or delete applications. This would be a major issue for many faculty members, but IR has been working on a solution for faculty, using Viewfinity privilege management software. The plan so far: when you need to install an application, you’re prompted to enter a brief description/justification, and then your permissions are temporarily elevated so that you can install what you need. Commonly used software is whitelisted to speed things up. I’ve been piloting it this summer from a faculty perspective, with good results. Mac and Linux users will not be affected. More details on this later.
  • Code of Responsible Computing. This policy is up for review. As a representative from TAG and the Faculty Senate, Dave Dzurec has bravely agreed to co-chair the effort. We’ll post updates here.
  • The academic server is scheduled for final retirement this year. Several faculty members still have web content on the server – so CTLE (probably with some help from TAG) will be reaching out to those folks this semester to help them move any content they want to keep.
  • Luminis upgrade. An update to the my.scranton portal is currently scheduled for December 2012. TAG is contributing suggestions for the new faculty tab – let me know if you’re interested in giving ideas or feedback.
  • Software licensing for virtualized environments.  The idea is that faculty, staff, and students could log into their virtual desktop from any computer and access the specialized software they need (SPSS, etc). Unfortunately, this is really expensive. IR is looking into it.
  • Royal Card. The system will get a full upgrade this year. This won’t have much effect on faculty from what we can tell.

What’s Stalled:

  • Academic Technology Plan. Sigh. That said, TAG is still looking for faculty input on future technology needs. What kind of teaching spaces do we want? What technology funding is most important? We’re hoping to get more conversations started on these topics this year.


*Thanks to Jim Franceschelli, Lorraine Mancuso, Jerry DeSanto, and Robyn Dickinson for talking us through this year’s road map.

**IR staff, please let me know if I got anything wrong. Thank you!

IT Matters – Spring 2012

25 05 2012

The Spring 2012 edition of IT Matters is now available. It’s got a lot of good news and progress to share, so it’s worth a read.

Items of particular interest to faculty:

  • Email and calendar migrations are pretty much complete (p. 1).  On the whole the transition went very smoothly, so our hats off to the email team!
  • Summary of the LMS Work Group process and decision (p. 2).
  • Upcoming issues in IT include Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and a new focus on risk management (p. 3).
  • Classroom mediation updates for the Science Center and Brennan (p. 4).
  • Royal Card upgrade to Blackboard Transact (p. 5).
  • VDI (aka thin client computing) is being piloted in the Library (p. 6).
  • ITDA is reworking the Math Placement System (p. 7).

The newsletter really makes it clear how many projects our IR staff members have been juggling.  From a TAG perspective, we’re gratified that IR staff members have worked hard to keep us in the loop and to seek faculty feedback on the projects that affect us and our teaching. We’re looking forward to 2012-2013 as another busy but productive year!

TAG Meeting Notes 4/12/2012

16 04 2012

TAG met on Thursday, April 12 for our final meeting of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Standing Committees:


  • IRAC (the Information Resources Advisory Council) will be meeting this week.

Learning Management System (LMS) Work Group

  • Blackboard recently announced that 1) they are purchasing MoodleRooms and 2) they will be extending support for Angel indefinitely.  (See this post for more information)
  • The LMS Work Group will still be reviewing the three original options (Blackboard, Desire 2 Learn, and MoodleRooms), but will now also consider the option of staying with Angel for the future.
  • Mobile support for the LMS is still a primary concern for faculty and students.

Information Management Advisory Committee (IMAC)

  • The Incidental Use policy has been approved by the Cabinet. The final draft of the policy has been posted on the web.
  • There is still some concern among faculty about the governance process the Incidental Use policy went through. Anne Marie noted that there are some issues (e.g., privacy and confidentiality) for which compliance with federal regulations, rather than consensus from faculty and other campus users, must be the goal.
  • TAG was able to provide feedback on the policy language at an early stage, and we hope to continue to work with IR in that capacity on future policies.
  • A privacy and employee confidentiality policy is still in the works.

Previous Action Items

Incidental Use Policy

  • See IMAC discussion above.

Academic Technology Plan

  • The Academic Technology Plan has been backburnered. Anne Marie said that it’s unlikely any progress will be made on the Plan any time soon, since there are too many other things going on on campus that are a higher priority.
  • At some point, the next step will be for Anne Marie to meet with Jeremy and Kristen to identify a path forward.

Faculty Directory

  • HR and the Provost’s Office are continuing to explore options for storing in Banner such faculty-related information as chair or program director status and departmental affiliation.
  • Currently, Banner identifies a faculty member as a Chair, but does not specify of what department or departments.
  • The Provost’s Office has volunteered to maintain this kind of data once a location in Banner is identified. This information changes from term to term, so frequent maintenance is important.
  • The Provost’s Office would like to know what *other* information about faculty status or affiliation should be recorded that isn’t currently documented somewhere.
  • In a related project, Anne Marie and Maria Landis are working to create web profiles for faculty members – similar to those done in the past few years for new faculty, which are highlighted from the Provost’s web site. This set of data will include faculty photos, and will be compiled and maintained manually in flat HTML rather than in a relational database. We discussed that this seems like a very ineffective way to gather, publish, and maintain information about faculty members. However, this was the only solution presented to the Provost’s Office by PR.  Eugeniu suggested that the web pages could be hosted somewhere else so that information could be pulled from Banner.

Networking Computers Follow-up and Resolution

  • A faculty member contacted TAG with a concern about networking computers. The issue is now resolved, but it served to highlight some ways in which communication between faculty and the Technology Support Center and IT Services staff members could be improved.
  • Jeremy met with Jim and Robyn to discuss the faculty member’s request and the TSC’s service response. On the IR side, the communication issues inspired some changes in the Support Center workflow.
  • On the faculty side, TAG will work on encouraging faculty members to 1) report issues to the TSC either via phone (941-HELP), email (, or Footprints, 2) if reporting by phone or email, to request a ticket number to be able to follow the TSC’s progress, and 3) provide as much information as possible to the TSC staff member (e.g., classroom number, symptoms, any attempted troubleshooting, etc) to speed service response time.
  • Kristen asked if there could be an “other” category in Footprints for requests that don’t seem to fit under any other category. Anne Marie warned that then every request would be submitted as “other.” Jim recommended that faculty who aren’t sure what Footprints category to use should call or email the TSC, who will route the ticket to the proper category.

Leahy Hall and Classroom Technology

  • Teresa C. and Sandy met with Dean Pellegrino to request that a TAG representative be involved in classroom mediation discussions regarding the new PCPS building. Dean Pellegrino agreed with this request.
  • TAG and IT Services will work to keep each other informed on classroom mediation in the new building.

St. Thomas Hall and Classroom Technology

  • The plans for the St. Thomas renovation have changed, so there are no longer plans to remodel classrooms in that part of the building, only faculty offices.

Lecture Capture

  • The lecture capture end point devices are already installed in the Science Center. IT Services is currently working on configuring the back end MediaSite server.
  • Testing will continue through the spring, with a goal of implementation over the summer for use by faculty in Fall 2012.

New Incidents/New Business

Faculty/TSC communication

  • A faculty member contacted TAG about a ticket that she put in to the TSC. The TSC staff member who responded hadn’t read her initial request, so while the issue was eventually resolved, it took a few more emails back and forth than it should have. This seems to have been a one-time mistake on the part of the TSC staff member rather than a systematic error, but it renewed our discussion of how faculty can best communicate with and report problems to the TSC, and how TAG can relay that information out to faculty.
  • We discussed the possibility of tutorials or screenshots on Footprints being made available, though faculty don’t necessarily have time to view tutorials.
  • When Luminis (the my.scranton interface) is upgraded, Kristen will request that the faculty tab have TSC contact information clearly highlighted so that it’s easier to find.
  • Jeremy suggested that TAG work with IR staff to incorporate that information into New Faculty Orientation.
  • Other possibilities included communicating with faculty administrative assistants or emailing faculty at the beginning of the semester to ask if they need help adapting to a new classroom.
  • The best way for the TSC to get information is to have a conversation directly with the faculty member experiencing the problem, whether via phone call to the TSC, email, or Footprints request.

Thin client computing

  • IR is currently experimenting with thin client computers in the Library. The experiment has hit some road blocks, so the original computers were replaced, and the pilot is now continuing.
  • Once the thin client model is proved successful, the next step would be to replace the lab computers in the Library and in Brennan, and then additional computer labs on campus.
  • Faculty and staff computers are farther away on the timeline.
  • One of the major benefits but also difficulties of thin client computing is software licensing – e.g., faculty would be able to log on to a virtualized environment from anywhere and have access to the software they need (SPSS, etc). But this is a very expensive process.

Faculty development specialist in CTLE

  • CTLE is hiring a new staff member to work with faculty on pedagogical techniques. This position is not specifically targeted at teaching with technology, and in the job description, the requirements focus on curriculum development.

TAG Membership for 2012-2013

  • TAG members should let Kristen know if they do not plan to continue serving on TAG in 2012-2013. She will send out an email reminder to all members.
  • We plan to follow the same model of meeting as a group once a month, with different TAG members tasked out to serve as TAG representatives on various related committees or projects.

2011-2012 Recap and 2012-2013 Planning

  • We talked about potential technology-related issues that faculty might face in 2012-2013 that TAG should monitor or be actively involved in.
  • Dave mentioned that there may be some technology issues over the summer as faculty move offices, but to date everything has gone smoothly.
  • One of the major concerns for next year may be the maintenance of departmental web pages in the University’s content management system (CMS). Maria Landis has reached out to each academic department to try to identify a point person for web page development and maintenance. There may be significant faculty concerns about the time commitment involved in departmental pages. Lori said that PR doesn’t feel comfortable creating content for academic pages, but at the same time, the pages need to be up-to-date and complete since they’re such an important factor in recruitment. We ended the meeting without being sure of whether and how TAG should play a role in these discussions, but it will likely be an issue that we will address in 2012-2013.

We adjourned for 2011-2012. TAG’s next full meeting will be scheduled for September 2012.

IT Matters Winter 2010 Issue

30 11 2010

The new issue of IR’s IT Matters newsletter is available in PDF format.

As in the last issue, many of the articles deal with issues we’ve already been discussing here on the TAG site, but there’s a few new items of interest:

  • See p. 1 for a note from VP Jerry DeSanto on the email transition.
  • P. 3 has a quick update from the Mobile Applications team about the upcoming University mobile app.
  • On p. 4, Jim Franceschelli reminds everyone that completed Microcomputer Budget Forms need to be in by December 13 — so faculty members need to get any requests to their department chairs ASAP!
  • Also on p. 4: Some notes about Microsoft Forefront, which will be replacing McAfee Anti-Virus.  IR is beginning deployment this December, and McAfee will be removed from University computers by May 2011 at the latest.
  • P. 6: The Computer Maintenance Center has set a goal of having all four computer technicians Apple Certified by the end of December 2010.  So far, two of the four (Glen and Karl) have passed their certification tests.
  • Standard user accounts are mentioned on p. 7, but no further details on what kinds of software we will and own’t be able to install on our own computers.
  • My.Scranton is being updated – there will be a brand new version out, with an “improved user interface,” around Fall 2011 (p. 9).
  • Vince Merkel explains thin clients on p. 11.
  • Gus Fernandez goes through the steps of how the Computer Security Incident Response Team responds to infected computers (p. 14).
  • Information Security Manager Tony Maszeroski has some pointers for us on phishing scams on p. 15.  This is a must-read for faculty — TAG has heard from IR that faculty members have fallen for phishing scams in the past.
  • On p. 16, Cal Krzywiec reports that the University is planning to increase our wireless coverage from 300 wireless access points to closer to 1000. Wahoo! And the wireless network will be upgraded to accommodate higher demand. Wahoo again!
  • There will be a new Employee Applications tab on my.scranton.