May 2012 IT Activity Report
Four days. Thirty faculty presentations. Hands-on working sessions. Free lunches. There's something for everyone who teaches at UD at the 2012 Summer Faculty Institute (SFI), May 29–June 1, in Gore Hall.
- You'll learn proven teaching techniques from invited faculty guests and UD faculty.
- IT staff will help you make the connection between the session topics and your courses.
- You'll leave with a better understanding of what's possible in teaching and the skills to apply the techniques to your next course.
- Many speakers and topics are new this year, including a 1-day iPad Institute.
Register to attend one or more days. If you can't attend the SFI in person, you can register to receive a Web link to the live video stream.
Reporting phishing scams
If you have an email account, you’ve seen phishing scams: email designed to harvest your personal information for fraudulent purposes. Phishing scams try to get you to reveal your credit card and bank account numbers, usernames, and passwords, or even your Social Security Number.
Not sure whether an email message is a phishing scam? Check IT’s phishing blog to compare the message with some of the scams other folks have seen. If you are fooled by a phishing scam—or if you see one that was so convincing that you were almost fooled—you can report it to your department’s IT professional or to the IT Support Center by following these directions. For more information, consult Avoid phishing scams.
Reminder: new UDelNet password rules
In April 2011, UD began requiring longer, stronger passwords for many computing and network applications. (UDaily article.)
Newly created UDelNet passwords must conform to UD’s 2011 password standards for length (10-30 characters) and complexity (a combination of mixed-case letters, numerals, and special characters). If you are still using a six- to eight-character password on your UDelNet account, you should log in to the Network page and create a new, more secure password.
If you are using UD’s central Exchange server or are on a committee, work group, research team, or search committee using UD’s central SharePoint service, you must change your UDelNet password to meet these standards.
Exchange 2010 service rollout
Staff from IT Network & Systems Services (IT-NSS) and IT Client Support & Services (IT-CS&S) have been working closely with departmental and college IT staff to move Exchange 2007 accounts to Exchange 2010. Microsoft Exchange is a server platform used by several parts of the University to manage email, calendars, contacts, and tasks. Exchange 2010 works with Microsoft Outlook, part of the Microsoft Office suite.
About half of faculty and staff Exchange 2007 accounts have been moved to Exchange 2010. The conversion will continue through the summer as we communicate with departmental IT professionals (and Exchange 2007 users in departments without an IT professional) to plan the rest of the conversions.
The Exchange 2010 service is fully integrated into UD's Windows Active Directory and offers several advantages over the existing Exchange 2007 service, including password synchronization with other UD systems, improved Web access via various browsers, automated quota increases, and a higher level of availability and reliability. For more information, contact the IT Support Center.
New training initiatives for UD Mills researchers
In collaboration with professor John Cavazos of Computer and Information Sciences, we are developing a series of modules to train users to better use the Mills cluster and its applications. The modules, to be offered this summer, are as follows:
- Basic UNIX,
- Advanced UNIX,
- Basic parallelism (parallel programming), and
- Advanced parallelism and tuning.
For more information, contact Anita Schwartz.
Call for Research Express webcast topics
We invite UD researchers and graduate students to present future 15-minute webinars as part of our Research Express series (Fridays at 12:30 p.m., archived at the Research Computing Web site). The topic you choose may have broad or narrow appeal. Some potential topics might include software tools, code optimization techniques, or time-saving practices. Contact Anita Schwartz with your ideas.
More faculty find clickers valuable for student engagement
An increasing number of UD faculty are finding clickers to be a valuable tool for enhancing in-class interaction. More than 75 faculty members in over 90 classes (7,580 enrolled seats) have used clickers in spring 2012. Departments whose faculty members are using clickers include Legal Studies, Chemistry, Sociology, Mechanical Engineering, English, and Women’s Studies. (Chart depicting growth in clicker use, 2011-2012; graphic depicting departmental clicker use spring 2012.)
UD’s role as a leader in the use of clickers was recently recognized when UD faculty were invited to make two online presentations:
- How to Lead a Technical Revolution: A Case Study with the University of Delaware showcased innovative applications by Kainoa Harbottle and Allan Carlsen, Theatre, and Phil Duker, Music. Over 200 registrants representing educational and governmental institutions in 21 countries on five continents signed up for the webinar hosted by Campus Technology on March 22. (View highlights.)
- Mary Beth Kramer, Chemistry, was invited to make a presentation about best practices in using clickers to the faculty at Penn State on May 3: Lunch & Learn: Clickers in the Classroom - Pedagogical Best Practices. Kramer covered topics such as writing good clicker questions, using "peer instruction," best practices in implementing clickers, and assigning different kinds of points for answering questions. (View highlights.)
Group work + peer evaluation = engagement
Has the prospect of evaluating student group projects discouraged you from including collaborative assignments in one or more of your courses? Have you abandoned or reduced your use of group work because of the danger of student freeloaders, hitchhikers, and hijackers?
One of the best tools for improving fairness in grading collaborative assignments is peer evaluation. Using a peer evaluation tool can make it easier for faculty to reward students for individual excellence in leadership, participation, and material contributions to a group project. IT Academic Technology Services (IT-ATS) has created an online peer evaluation system to customize, collect, and collate peer evaluations. Check out our peer evaluation tool. It could help you make group work a bigger and more valuable part of your students’ UD experience.
Responsive Web design drives UD mobile enhancements
As more students, faculty, and staff access UD’s secure services from mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and other smartphones and tablets), it’s important that our applications work well on these mobile devices. IT Web Development (IT-WD) has been working with campus units to make academic and business systems display comfortably on many different kinds of devices—available any time and any place.
When we update UD applications, we redesign them, as appropriate, to use a more flexible approach to rendering information on both computer screens and various mobile devices: Responsive Web design. Web sites that use responsive design respond to the visitor’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform, and orientation. As a result, visitors using a broad range of devices and browsers access a single source of content, formatted to be easy to read and navigate with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling.
Some examples of upgrades to UD's mobile site (m.udel.edu) are highlighted below:
- IT-WD and the Registrar's Office added a new mobile-optimized Courses Search service that makes it easier to search and view results on smartphones and tablets.
- We also worked with the Development Office to add Give to UD to m.udel.edu, allowing individuals to support the University by making a gift from their mobile device or iPad. The mobile form is a condensed version of its Web counterpart, using the same processes behind the scenes to collect and process payments and feed data to the general ledger and Development databases.
- This semester, online Course Evaluations have used responsive design, making it easier for students to participate from mobile devices. The new evaluation forms are available within the UD mobile site under the For Students icon.
- We changed the News and Events features in UD’s mobile site. News now points directly to a refreshed, mobile friendly UDaily, and Events now receives its information from @UD, the University’s event hub.
IT Management Information Services (IT-MIS) successfully completed the Financial PeopleSoft upgrade project as planned on April 30. All changes and new features are now available in the production Financials environment. The upgrade was a result of a lengthy team effort involving the IT-MIS database administration group, the IT-MIS application programming group, the PeopleSoft Financials user community, and consultants from Cedar-Crestone. The team made three test moves to resolve all upgrade-related issues before putting the system into production. The PeopleSoft Financials Application was upgraded from version 8.9 to 9.1; the People Tools application was upgraded from 8.48.04 to 8.51.
Oracle database upgrades
The IT-MIS database administration team is preparing to upgrade the base Oracle database software to the latest version. This effort will span the next 6 months as each business systems’ databases are upgraded, first in the test and QA environment, in coordination with the application teams, and gradually moving to the production environment towards the end of 2012.
Financial reporting enhancements
UDataGlance, UD’s financial reporting system, now offers access to historical accounting data by providing departments, colleges, and the STAR campus with a summary and detail view by fiscal year and accounting period. UDataGlance has also added links to all Request for Service Web Forms providing easy reference from the detail in UDataGlance to the Web Form where the charges occurred. The UDataGlance team—consisting of staff members from IT-WD and the Finance, General Accounting, Research, Budget, and Human Resources offices—continually works to improve this important campus system.
Enhanced Procurement Web Forms
In conjunction with the recent PeopleSoft Financials upgrade, Procurement Services and IT-WD implemented several enhancements to the Payment to Vendor, Payment to Individual, and Purchase Order Amendment (formerly Payment to Vendor Amendment) Web Forms to facilitate improvements to departmental accounting. All of the forms now take advantage of PeopleSoft categories—a mechanism to permit a core summary of fine spending detail. By associating categories with each line item, greater detail is available for tracking how funds are spent.
Amendment of Student Funding Account Forms (SFAF)
Units submit the Student Funding Allocation Form (SFAF) to process funding for graduate student tuition, but occasionally the funding associated with a previously processed SFAF needs to be changed. IT-WD and the Office of Graduate and Professional Education continue to test a form that will facilitate funding changes on an existing SFAF and reflect the changes automatically in the General Ledger. We plan to make this form available this summer.
Advising Notes improvements
This spring, IT-WD worked with the Registrar's Office to enhance the online Advising Notes system with new tools for advisors. It’s now easier for an advisor to view a student’s class schedule, ID card photo, and registration “holds.” The class schedule is presented in two ways: a grid providing details of the student's registered courses or a calendar view displaying the student's classes as a weekly schedule.
Enhancements to Courses Search and Course Evaluations
In addition to making Courses Search and Course Evaluations easier for students to use from their mobile devices, we made additional enhancements to these two applications. IT-WD worked with the Registrar’s Office to add a last updated time stamp and an easier-to-read display that shows open seats and a graphic notation if a course is using the UD Capture recording system. We also responded to faculty and department requests to improve the Course Evaluations interface. We added descriptive text and modified the interface to make it easier for administrators and instructors to set up course evaluations and view student responses.
When you clean off your desk and bookshelves and get rid of general clutter, do you also deal with technoclutter?
Unused disks, CDs, and DVDs clutter your space. Do you have floppies on the shelf or in your desk drawers? Do you even have a machine capable of reading them? How about old installation CDs? That 31-floppy-disk set of MS Office95 hidden in the file cabinet—that can most likely go, along with all the CDs for a machine you sent to surplus five years ago. Most of these can be shredded.
Erase old disk drives and send them to surplus; send old desktops, laptops, and monitors to surplus—don’t forget to erase old computers’ disk drives—and that drawer-full of old printer and power cables should go as well. (View the University’s Campus Computer, Electronic Equipment and Office Supplies Recycling Web site.)
Keeping old email puts a strain on our systems. When is the last time you went through your inbox, archiving messages you may need and deleting items you no longer need? Performing these tasks will make it easier to find things that you do need and decrease your techno-footprint. The total data needs of the University are ever-increasing, and keeping old email that you will most likely never read ties up resources that could be used by others. Beyond that, you might just get a chuckle reading all the messages you have kept over the years.
One good technique is to save messages to a file with an expiration date. Perhaps name the file “Delete-May-2013,” so if you don’t look at the messages by then, you can just delete them.
Do your best to minimize technoclutter.
This semester, IT University Media Services’ (IT-UMS) Event Production group provided technical support for 67 events in Mitchell Theater, Pearson Auditorium, the Roselle Center for the Arts, and other campus locations. The events included the iMusic5 multimedia event organized by Xiang Gao, guest lectures by Governor Jack Markell and Senator Chris Coons, and the press conference and groundbreaking for the Bloom Energy manufacturing plant on the new STAR campus.
The IT-UMS Video Production team streamed all men's and women's home lacrosse games from Delaware stadium and completed recruitment videos for Graduate Studies, the Lerner College of Business and Economics, and the College of Engineering.
The IT-UMS Classroom Technology group continues to be actively involved in the A/V designs for the renovation of Alison and Kirkbride Lecture Halls as well as the new ISE Lab building currently under construction.
LearnIT Express update
LearnIT Express sessions feature a different topic each week, and anyone with a computer can view the live sessions anywhere they have Internet access. So far, over 300 students, faculty, and staff have participated, and nearly half of those also participated in the online live chat provided by UDCapture. All LearnIT@UD sessions, including LearnIT Express webcasts, are recorded. You can access all available recordings on the LearnIT@UD Web site under Find Recorded Sessions.
MS Office 30-minute review
We’ve received requests to expand the LearnIT Express webcasts to slightly longer sessions that staff could view remotely or attend in our Smith Hall training facility. We recently ran the first series, Excel 30-minute Review. These sessions are fast but informative overviews of the most popular MS Office applications. They also serve as the first requirement for our new certificate programs. The certificate programs will begin this summer. Employees might consider signing up to meet some of their professional development goals.
Standard vs. custom sessions
So far this semester, we’ve offered 20 different LearnIT@UD classes and almost a dozen custom sessions. If you’re working with an IT tool and find yourself thinking, “there’s got to be a better way,” training might be the answer. If you’d like to learn how to use IT tools more effectively, contact the IT Support Center and request custom training. Our staff will meet with you to talk about what you’re trying to accomplish and then help you find the training that meets your needs.
New ITSC Web site
In February, we released a new version of the IT Support Center (ITSC) Web site.
The new site uses an improved search tool to help you find answers to your technology questions. In fact, compared with this past fall, we’ve seen about 50% more visitors to the ITSC site use the search tool to locate information.
The layout has also been streamlined to make it easier for clients to see status messages about central systems and networks, read news from the @ITatUD twitter feed, see popular topics, submit Help Requests, and review the status of pending Help Requests.
Access phone number forwarded to 831-6000
All questions about accounts and access to UD’s central systems are now going to the ITSC. As a result, we have discontinued use of the phone number 831-6001.