Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
From January 2008 through July 2008, the ITSS Student Supervision Team::
- Provided supervision for 79 student employees
- Reduced the number of student employees from 98 in Spring 2006 by streamlining processes in student computing laboratories
- Reviewed and revised the ITSS Student Handbook
- Cross-trained 22 students in multiple areas across ITSS
- Nominated student employees for Student of the Year
- Celebrated all ITSS student employees with an ITSS Student Brunch
Ten Years Ago in ITSS - February 1999
Year 2000 Initiative
ITSS is coordinating Year 2000 efforts here at UMD. OIT has developed an excellent web site to assist us in ensuring that our
computer systems are ready for the year 2000. The ITSS desktop team is studying the Year 2000 problems for desktop computers and will be making recommendations to our customers about strategies. Mac users do not have to worry. Apple seemed to have known that the century would come to an end.
The UMD Campus Technology Plan was developed by an ad hoc committee appointed by Chancellor Martin. This plan has been under development for several years. During this time it was reviewed several times by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and the EPC Subcommittee on Information Technology and the Library. Chancellor Martin gave her final approval in October 2008, and the plan is now available at: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/policies/techplan
This plan includes guidelines for technology competencies for students, faculty, and staff. Have a look to see how your competencies match up with what is recommended.
Most people are aware that they need to regularly update their virus software and apply operating system patches to protect their computers against attacks. But recently, we're seeing a high percent of malware infecting University computers that is caused by older versions of these other common software applications:
- Adobe Reader (formerly known as Acrobat Reader)
- Adobe Flash Player
- Sun Java JRE
- Apple Quicktime
- Microsoft Office
- Real Networks RealPlayer
If you don't use these applications, the simplest solution is to remove them. If you do use them, it's very important that you have the most up-to-date version. There are several online tools that will check these and other common applications for you, including:
Secunia Online Software Inspector http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/ (Windows)
FileHippo Update Checker http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/ (Windows)
Check these tools out. If you have problems or questions, contact the ITSS TechCenter Helpdesk at x8847.
ITSS process teams have continually adapted and expanded their various services over time in order to keep up with evolving customer needs. One outcome of this growth has been a variety of ways to track customer requests, problems, and projects. As technologies and services have converged over time, the separation among staff supporting once disparate services is much less clear. What used to be a hardware problem may now be a software problem, an enterprise access problem, etc.
During Spring 2008, the ITSS Customer Service Team, acting on a Transformational Leadership Project (TLP), identified communication with customers as an opportunity for improvement. In an effort to simplify our workflow and also to make the customer experience as simple and transparent as possible, ITSS has adopted a new web-based task management system that can replace all of our existing project / problem / request databases. The new system is an open source product called "RT" which is an acronym for "request tracker."
During Spring 2009, RT has replaced the Help Desk problem database. As staff test and tweak the system, more and more of our services will move into it. Customers who visit the TechCenter and/or call the Help Desk may immediately notice email acknowledgment and updates when they report a problem. Over time, ITSS will implement more of the RT system capabilities, including self-service login for customers, replacement of existing web forms, expanded views for IT professionals within their support units, and shared project management capabilities even with external vendors. Our first steps with this new system, though not without some growing pains, have been very promising. We are very excited to continue toward a more transparent workload and ultimately better customer service. ITSS would like to thank Stephanie Vine, Scott Martens, and Matthew Larson from the Office of Continuous improvement for grant support to get the initial programming and configuration of this software completed.
More information about RT can be found here: http://bestpractical.com/rt/
More information about the Transformational Leadership Program can be found here: http://www1.umn.edu/osci/tlp/index.html
For information about UMD TLP opportunities, please contact Stephanie Vine, Improvement Specialist & TLP Coordinator/Trainer: 726-7130, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re currently putting on the final touches for the Spring 2009 workshops, eClasses, and Technology Tuesdays@Two. Please watch for topics, dates, and the format as we roll out the Spring 2009 offerings. Topics include Moodle, WebVista, UMConnect, Laptop encryption, Microsoft Outlook and more!
University Technology Training Center (UTTC)
In Person Courses | Online Learning | Custom Courses
The University Technology Training Center has launched a new web site with a wide range of training offerings and resources:
note: the UTTC is located on the Twin Cities campus, so if you plan to attend an in-person training, please note the location
eGradebook now has the capability to upload scores from a file on your computer. You may upload scores for one assignment at a time from either the "Reports" page or the "Scores" page. This feature can be handy if you have scores from Student Response Systems, Excel spreadsheets or online testing software.
For more information login to your eGradebook.
Student Response Systems (SRS) are small handheld devices coupled with receiving hardware and presentation software. The system allows an instructor to present questions, usually via a computer projector, and collect student answers immediately during the lecture. The results can generally be manipulated and displayed immediately and can be used to change the course of the lecture. Emerging literature on the use of this technology suggest that students are more engaged in learning in courses utilizing SRS. Turning Technologies "clickers" are the supported SRS technology at UMD. The general page for all TurningPoint documentation is here: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/classroom/srs/index.html
Below are some updates for Spring 2009
1. Minor WebVista Changes
The method of incorporating a TurningPoint Power Link into WebVista changed slightly over break -- basically the menus moved a bit. Documentation has been updated and you can find it, along with all WebVista TurningPoint documentation here: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/classroom/srs/turningpoint_webvista.html
2. TurningPoint ResponseWare Pilot
Responseware is a web-based version of TurningPoint that allows most devices with web browsers to act in the capacity of a "clicker." This means that a student can use a laptop, smart phone, Apple iPhone, etc. instead of the traditional handheld clicker. The software can be licensed directly to the student or as a concurrent-user site license. This Spring 2009 we will be piloting this new software in an accounting course with Professor Rodger Brannan. TurningPoint has made the software available at no charge for the purposes of this pilot. At this point we do not know how the functionality and reliability will compare to the traditional clicker model of instruction, but we are excited to see how it will work. Total Cost of Ownership looks to be about the same as traditional clickers at this point and it is unclear if administration of resources will be easier or more difficult. We will certainly share results as we discover how well this new technology works. For more about the product, see this website: http://www.turningtechnologies.com/interactiveaudienceresponseproducts/responsewareweb.cfm
3. Running Total of Measures
For Spring 2009, 16 faculty will teach 24 classes with clickers. A total of 2,342 students will use clickers this semester. All but 914 of them already had a clicker from a previous semester. Since we set TurningPoint as the standard during the Summer of 2005, 128 faculty have taught 218 courses to 18,749 students using clickers at UMD.
4. Update for Mac Users
The Mac version of TurningPoint is functional but has continued to lack some key features from the PC version, (i.e. Response Tables). During Fall 2008, Paul Bates worked through using a software package called "Parallels" to run the PC version of TurningPoint on his Mac laptop. Early results were not great, but Paul persevered, and arrived at a fairly stable build about a month into the semester. Over break, Stephen Hedman and Jason Davishave been testing a different software package, "VMWare," for the same purpose and we have found it to be very stable right out of the box. We will be testing it under load early this semester and are very hopeful that this will be a better solution for Mac users in the future.
5. eGradeBook Direct uploads Available
The latest build of eGradebook includes the capability to upload files directly (CSV format). Please contact me if you'd like to help test how this new functionality might work with TurningPoint session data.
Please don't hesitate to contact Jason Davis (email@example.com) if you have any questions or concerns.
Interactive Television (ITV) is the sending and receiving of video and audio via IP (internet). UMD has a Quality of Service network (QoS), which means that the bandwidth used for ITV is in the "fast lane," protected from other internet traffic. UMD staff, faculty, and students can schedule ITV meetings or classes. These meetings generally happen in one of our rooms that are fitted with microphones that will pick up your voice nearly anywhere in the room and cameras that can pan tilt and zoom to transmit video of individuals or groups to the other site(s). ITV is very dependable and has excellent audio and video capability. It's one limitation may be that it is room specific. Another shortcoming is that computer video images are generally converted to analog, so that they don't look as good through ITV as camera pictures do.
UMConnect enables you to create on-demand web presentations and to communicate and collaborate over the web through web conferences and webcasts. UMConnect content and web conferences/webcasts are delivered over the web through a supported web browser and the Flash Player. This means that they can happen from desktop to desktop - basically anywhere that there is a broadband connection, a computer, and fairly inexpensive web camera and microphone. The limitations of UMConnect are that the audio and video are fine from one quiet office to another, but can be problematic if you have a group of people at either end. The real strengths of UMConnect are convenience of setting it up and the ease of including a few people from remote locations without them having to have access to ITV or special equipment.
In an effort to respond to how our users have been using UMConnect, ITSS has more closely integrated UMConnect into our existing ITV rooms. This means we can leverage the existing camera and microphone systems into a UMConnect session through a consistent and relatively easy setup. This capability has been added to KPLZ 173, Lib 410, and the ITV room at NRRI. When ITV is not possible, or UMConnect is preferable due to heavy use of digital content, these ITV rooms will be good places to gather a group locally to view, transmit, or interact via UMConnect.
Faculty and Staff:
For 2009, UMD faculty and staff are eligible to obtain SPSS through a University-wide site license. The 2009 site license and software are managed through Academic Computing in the Twin Cities (not through ITSS).
The site License includes SPSS 17 for Windows Vista, XP, 2000, or Mac OSX. The annual cost for a license is $125. Each license is valid for one computer only and must be renewed annually.
For details on how to obtain a new or renewal license, refer to your department or a collegiate contact below:
- CEHSP: Lynn Hegrenes, lhegrene, 726-7132
- CLA: Peter Angelos, pangelos, 726-7350
- LSBE: Nik Hassann, nhassan, 726-7453
- Med: Mark Summers, msummers, 726-7942
- Pharmacy: Adam Moren, amoren, 726-6004
For 2009, all UMD students are eligible for SPSS under the extended UMD Student Site License. The UMD Student Site License includes SPSS 17 for Windows Vista, XP, 2000, or Mac OSX.
Undergraduate or graduate students in CEHSP, CLA, or LSBE are eligible to download one copy of SPSS at no charge. The collegiate unit has paid the license for each of these students. Students in CSE, SFA, MED, PHARM, or CE can purchase a copy of SPSS for $40 per license from the ITSS TechCenter.
For details on how to obtain a new or renewal license, see:
ITSS network staff analyzed, planned, and rolled out several improvements during the semester break:
- Networks were reconfigured to reduce broadcast traffic.
- Outdated network equipment was replaced with new.
- Guest wireless access was rolled out. There are now two modes of wireless access.
- Code upgrades were installed in our routers to increase reliability.
- Failover from one main router to the other router was increased and tested. This involved connecting a number of key buildings to each router. Since key buildings are attached to both, immediate failure of one router would switch traffic to the other router. Testing included powering off each router and ensuring that traffic switched to the working path. Our Internet connection also works through either router. Changes made to the network infrastructure in August and the changes made during January break add up to a substantial step forward in terms of reliability and service.
Changes made to the network infrastructure in August and the changes made during January break add up to a substantial step forward in terms of reliability and service.
For a number of years, ITSS staff have been providing warranty service for Gateway computers purchased through the UMD Computer Corner. As a program partner repair center, ITSS was reimbursed for most costs for parts and labor for all warranty work.
Gateway's Professional Division was purchased by MPC, which has recently gone out of business. Therefore, ITSS will no longer be able to provide free warranty services for Gateway computers. UMD is pursuing legal avenues in hopes of obtaining some funding to support this program. If your department owns any Gateway/MPC computers that are still under warranty, please send a list with the make and model, serial number, and purchase date to Linda Deneen (ldeneen) for inclusion in the legal action.
In the meantime, ITSS, in conjunction with the UMD Computer Corner and several collegiate units, are working together to offer a short-term, limited repair service for our customers who purchased their personal Gateway computers through UMD.
The main change is the cost for parts. Under the new limited repair service, for personally-owned computers, UMD/Campus Stores will pay for parts up to a maximum of $200 and the customer will pay for parts that exceed this amount. ITSS/UMD will provide the labor at no charge to the customer.
For University-owned computers, departments will be billed for both parts and labor. Insurance may cover some of these costs - see Risk Management and Insurance for details. http://www.finsys.umn.edu/riskmgmt/propins.html
For complete details on the Gateway warranty service, please see: http://www.d.umn.edu/itss/desktop/html/gateway.html