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September 2012 Archives

Active Learning Classrooms at UMD

There has been a growing body of research for quite some time that indicates "active learning" is a more effective way to move students up the hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy and thus maximize learning outcomes. More recently, many universities have been working on classroom layout, technology, and user support models to try to make active learning more central to the classroom experience.

Typical Active Learning Classrooms Features

  • As much white board space as possible as a perimeter
  • Multiple flat-panel display projection systems
  • Round tables that accommodate six or nine students each
  • A centered teaching station that allows selection and display of table-specific information
  • Easy to use controls to allow student or faculty display from any of the "pods" in the room

This year ITSS has implemented a "sand box" classroom to test technology that can support and enhance active learning teaching approaches. The campus is also beginning to plan more active learning classrooms for near and mid term implementation.

For an example how this can be implemented and the research findings around effectiveness of these resources consult the Active Learning Classroom (ALC) Twin Cities Web Site.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 | Permalink

Google Groups: Live October 1, 2012

Google Groups, a tool for a team of users to quickly collaborate with one another either via email, or any of Google's various applications, is available with Google Apps for the University of Minnesota.

Google Groups Illustration

Google Groups is all about helping users connect with people, access information, and communicate effectively over email and on the web. With members of your team all in the same group, Google Groups makes it easy for sharing things like Google Calendars and Docs with one another.

Users are assigned roles that determine what he or she can do within a group. Participants subscribe to groups and participate in group discussions, and group managers create new groups and manage group members, discussions, and other settings.

Note, in order to get your group built in to UMD mail routing, you should request a group through the University of Minnesota Web form (and not through the google groups home page) by following this link: Requesting a Group.

For more information, consult Using Google Groups.

For other Google Apps information consult Google Apps for the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 | Permalink

Video and Moodle

Video can take up a lot of space, but you want to use it with your Moodle course. What to do?

Use it with your Moodle course.

If you use the "Video resource" option under the "Add a resource..." drop-down menu, Moodle will automatically store the video on a specialized video server. The link is in Moodle, but the video comes from this specialized server. In addition, the video server can detect if the person viewing the video is on a mobile device, desktop computer, has a fast connection, has a slow connection, etc., and will automatically deliver an appropriate version of the video.

If you want the students to upload video into Moodle, you can create a "Video upload" activity from the "Add an activity..." drop-down menu. The videos will be automatically stored on the specialized video server, but you access them from the Moodle activity "Grade submissions" screen just like any other activity in Moodle.

To use this option when creating or uploading video, please be sure to use the Firefox web browser.

To determine if your video needs to be captioned, please refer to the Policy on Captioning of Video.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 | Permalink

TechCenter Offering New Delivery Service

ITSS is now offering on site delivery and set up service for computers that are routed through the TechCenter for set up or repair. The service is available for a flat rate to on campus sites only.

Select "Delivery Service" as an option with any work done at the TechCenter. When your computer is ready to go, an ITSS staff person will contact you to schedule a delivery time. We'll deliver the workstation to your office and make sure you are ready to go. Service includes:

  • Pick up computer from TechCenter and deliver to customer's office (on-campus sites only)
  • Unpack and set up computer.
  • Attach and configure basic accessories (monitors, docking stations, wireless mouse).
  • Verify computer has network access.
  • If on AD, ensure customer has access to N: and P: network drives.
  • Install and configure local and/or network printers.
  • Verify access to email.
  • If data was backed up, ensure access to all data.
  • Verify that standard software suite is installed and functioning (Office, Symantec).
For complete details, see: On Site Delivery and Set up Service.

Posted on Friday, Sep 28, 2012 | Permalink

Accessibility eClasses

This semester ITSS will be offering three Web Accessibility eClasses: Introduction, Structure, and Images.

Web Accessibility: Introduction

This eClass will answer questions such as:

  • "What does web accessibility really mean?"
  • "What all does that term encompass?"
  • "Why is it that some people are unable to use certain web sites - and whose job is it to provide access?"

In addition the introduction class features the popular "disable your browser" exercise. Introduction eClass will occur between October 29 and November 2, 2012.

Web Accessibility: Structure

In this eClass you will learn how using structured markup and headings makes a document more accessible and inclusive. You will also gain awareness of ARIA landmark roles and HTML5 semantic markup. The Accessibility: Structure eClass will occur between November 5 and November 16, 2012.

Web Accessibility: Images

By examining the most basic of techniques - making images accessible - you will explore methods that enable inclusiveness. In this eClass we discuss the what, when, why, and how of both short and long textual alternatives. Accessibility: Images eClass will occur between November 26 and December 7, 2012.

Further information

Our eClasses utilize Moodle and have no set meeting time, although courses do have definite start and end dates. eClasses typically run two weeks. This allows participants to attend class at a time most convenient to them, yet it still provides logically organized communication between class participants. It is a convenient way to expand your knowledge and skills.

To register and more information please consult:

Posted on Thursday, Sep 27, 2012 | Permalink

NESC Middle Mile Project Connects Remote Sites to UMD Campus

UMD has completed contracts with the Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) to participate in the NESC Middle Mile Fiber Project, funded in 2009 by federal stimulus funds. UMD is an anchor tenant in the project, and we have provided space on campus for NESC equipment. Remote sites that will be connected to the UMD campus through the NESC project are:

  • Cloquet Forestry Center
  • Center for Economic Development at the Duluth Technology Village
  • Natural Resources Research Institute
  • Research Lab Building
  • DECC Campus Stores and Athletics
  • Glensheen Historic Estate

We hope that all sites will be using this new network by Summer 2013. ITSS and Facilities Management are working closely with NESC and remote sites on installation.

The value of this project is to expand the amount of bandwidth available to each site from megabyte speeds to gigabyte speeds for equal cost.

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 | Permalink

Assistive Technology Overview

Assistive technology (AT) is technology that may be used by people with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. It incorporates the principles of universal design in order that each user is able to interact with the technology in ways that work best for him or her. Each individual possesses unique abilities, preferences, and learning styles. Assistive technologies can help to accommodate such unique characteristics. In combination with accessible materials, information delivery, and working/learning environments, assistive technologies, opens doors to education. As the video "Assistive Technology Boogie" created by a team led by Jim Tobias of Inclusive Technologies illuminates AT is a "key to being free".

(Transcript of the Assistive Technology Boogie video is available.
Captions are open and an audio description option is available.)

Examples of Assistive Technologies

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 | Permalink

Policy Update: Video Captioning

Over the past five years, the tools for providing captioning of video have greatly improved and the costs of captioning have decreased greatly. Because of our commitment to Goal 2 of the UMD Strategic Plan, we must provide captioning for most videos that we use in instruction and communications.

UMD has adopted this Policy on Captioning of Video as well as providing a Captioning Service. Funding will be provided to caption videos in courses identified by Disability Services as including a student that needs this accommodation. We encourage everyone who provides video to be aware that your audience might include someone who would benefit from captioning. Captioning is the right thing to do.

For greater awareness, please watch the following video.

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 | Permalink

Ten Years Ago in ITSS: Microsoft Office and New Desktop Available on SunRays

During Ocober 2002 in response to changes requested by students and SunRay users, ITSS offered a new desktop and Microsoft Office products on the SunRay computers in all pubic access areas.

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 | Permalink

ITSS By The Numbers: Student Computing Team

The ITSS Student Computing Team designs, implements, manages and improves ITSS-funded student computing areas, which include Macintosh and Windows full access labs, and Windows and Macintosh general access computing areas. The team also assists in the daily management of and develops policies and procedures for these areas.

From January 1 through June 30, 2012, the team reported:

  • 10,938 students served
  • 174 general-access computers and 416 full-access computers
  • 529,761 pages printed
  • 93 problem tickets resolved

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 25, 2012 | Permalink

AD SCCM: Out-of-band Microsoft security patch released

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) released an out-of-band patch from Microsoft on Saturday to fix a serious issue with Internet Explorer which was already seeing exploits in the wild. (Microsoft patches are generally released on a monthly basis only).

This security patch will be deployed to all UMD AD/SCCM clients/workstations, and does require a reboot. Users will receive the System Restart Required notice and will have four hours to complete the restart before it occurs automatically.

Posted on Monday, Sep 24, 2012 | Permalink

AD SCCM: Symantec scans changed to monthly

Effective September 13, ITSS staff have adjusted the policy for UMD Managed Symantec EndPoint (SEP) 11 clients to require a monthly scan instead of a weekly scan. The change was made as SEP 11 performs more effective live scanning than previous versions, and the monthly scans will be less intrusive.

The change will apply to Managed clients the next time there is a policy update on the computer (generally, when you restart your computer). Users will still have the ability to pause or cancel the scan, but ITSS highly recommends users let it run to completion at least monthly.

If your computer is still running a weekly scan or you are unable to pause/cancel the scan, you are likely running an older client downloaded from the OIT web site. If your computer is on AD and using SCCM, you can upgrade to the UMD Managed client and have the benefits of our customized package. For details on installing software on AD computers, see: Installing software.

Update (10.2.12): The scans are scheduled for 5:00 pm on the 28th of each month. If your computer is off at that time, the scan will start the next time the computer is powered on.

Posted on Thursday, Sep 13, 2012 | Permalink

Technology Fall Update

ITSS hosted a technology fall update on Monday, September 10. Those of you who were unable to attend might want to check the links below for some information you may have missed.

Academic Technology Solutions

Google Apps Overview

Active Directory

  • Policies
  • Mac/Linux Version
  • Power Management

UMD Web Site

Telephone Features

  • Forwarding voice mail to email
  • Replacing your fax machine

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 | Permalink

Payment Changes: Public Printing and Parking

The current cash-to-card payment system used for printing and parking services at UMD has worked well for about 14 years but it is a technology long past its prime and no longer supported by vendors. During Winter Break 2012, we will replace our current "Debitek" cash-to-card system with new technology. We expect it to be easy to use and to have added security and convenience.

If you look carefully at the back of your current UCard, you will see that there are two magnetic strips. The thicker strip near the top of the card is much like any ID or credit card - it contains some identifying information about you. The thin magnetic strip near the bottom of the card is more like a disk drive - it actually stores re-writeable data. It has been used to track cash value for things like Chemistry equipment, parking, and printing. This technology, supported by a company called Debitek, is at the end of life and will no longer be supported.

The new system will rely on the wider strip and cash value will be tracked in a database separate from the UCard, much more like Dining Dollars are currently tracked. We expect the new system to be easy to use and to have added security and convenience. There will be a transition period for customers to use up or transfer existing Debitek funds. Watch for more details soon.

Posted on Monday, Sep 10, 2012 | Permalink

Broadcast Yourself at UMD: YouTube and Google Hangouts On Air

YouTube will join the expanding list of available Google Apps for the University of Minnesota beginning Friday, August 3. The addition of YouTube also enables the Google Hangouts On Air broadcast feature.

When publishing content to YouTube or broadcasting a Hangout On Air, please be mindful that these are public environments where private or protected content, such as Protected Health Information (PHI) should never be shared. For mor information consult Acceptable Use and Data Security on the Google Apps for the University website.


YouTube provides a platform to share and showcase your videos. YouTube's features enable easy and intuitive uploading and viewing. Now that YouTube is integrated with Google Apps, sharing content with individuals and/or distribution lists is made easy with contact list integration. Access to videos can be shared globally, with a limited audience, or kept private. To access YouTube from your Google Apps start page, select "even more" from the menu bar. Learn more about YouTube.

Hangouts On Air

Accessed through Google+, Google Hangouts enable you to videoconference with up to nine other individuals. Hangouts On Air enable you to take that same conference and broadcast it to the world via your YouTube Channel, Google+ page, and/or any website where you've embedded it. Learn more about Hangouts On Air.

Broadcast a hangout:

Invite circles or individual people to join you in a hangout, then click "start broadcast" to go on air. After a five-second countdown, your hangout will start broadcasting to the public on your Google+ profile, your YouTube channel, and/or on any website where you've embedded it. Recording starts when broadcasting starts. A live player of your hangout will be posted to your Google+ homepage and YouTube channel.

Edit and share the recorded hangout:

Your hangout will be recorded as a public video and will be available on your YouTube channel once it has ended. You will be able to edit the recording when the hangout is over. If you edit your video, your post (including the video URL) will be automatically updated to show the edited version.

Google Groups will go "live" by the end of September

A group is an online environment for discussing items related to a specific subject, such as soccer or Gmail. A group can contain multiple topics. Topics are different discussions related to the group's subject. Topics in a group about soccer might be "What are the rules of the game?" or "Soccer game this Saturday." Topics can contain multiple posts. Posts are replies from readers to the topic.

Google Groups is a Google product allowing you to create online and email groups. Google Groups is free of charge and available at There's a lot you can do with Google Groups:

  • Engage in discussions about a specific subject.
  • Create a question and answer customer support group for a product, such as a piece of software your company has written.
  • Organize meetings, conferences, or social events among members of a group.
  • Find people with similar hobbies, interests, or backgrounds.
  • Read group posts through email, the online interface, or both.

New applications and enhancements to existing applications will be released on a continuing basis. Some Apps are vetted by the system-wide Google Steering Committee and turned on by our system administrators. Other features are released into our domain by Google on a schedule you can access on the Google Updates Blog.

Posted on Monday, Sep 10, 2012 | Permalink

AD Policy: Timeout increased from 15 to 30 minutes

On September 7, ITSS increased the time on the Active Directory (AD) policy that forces Windows AD workstations to a password-protected screen saver after a period of inactivity. The inactivity interval was changed from 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

The original policy was implemented June 1 after discussion with the campus Academic Technology group. During the summer months, ITSS continued discussions with faculty and staff. The 30 minute interval should decrease problems seen during lectures, yet is still within the guidelines of the University-wide security policy:

Securing Private Data, Computers, and Other Electronic Devices

Posted on Monday, Sep 10, 2012 | Permalink

Emergency Notification with TXT-U

TXT-U Emergency NotificationUMD uses multiple methods to alert students, faculty, and staff about emergency situation.

Perhaps the most immediate way of receiving alerts is to receive a text message from the TXT-U system, used by all campuses of the University of Minnesota, including UMD. TXT-U can also send email and voice mail messages.

Last spring, we moved from an opt-in system, in which you had to sign up for TXT-U in order to receive alerts, to an opt-out system, in which phone numbers and email addresses are imported directly from the University Personal Information web site. In order to receive emergency text alerts, you must enter your cell phone number into this site. If you signed up previously for TXT-U but your cell phone number is not listed in Personal Information, you will not get text alerts.

Please make sure your contact information is up to date in Personal Information. To do this:

  1. Go to the Personal Information site. You will need to authenticate to see this.
  2. Choose "Telephone Numbers" from the menu at the top of the page.
  3. Enter your telephone numbers into the appropriate boxes.

By entering your cell phone here, you will receive text alerts. Note that TXT-U will only be used for emergency messages and campus closings. You will not receive other messages this way, other than a test message each semester.

Entering your cell phone number into the Personal Information site causes it to be displayed in the UM People Directory. There are two ways to prevent this from happening:

  1. In Personal Information, choose Directory Suppression from the Menu at the top of the page, and select the suppress option for telephone number. This will also suppress your home telephone number from the directory.
  2. Go directly to your TXT-U page and enter your cell number there. Remove your cell phone number from your Personal Information if you prefer not to use the directory suppression option described above.

For detailed information about TXT-U, please visit the TXT-U information page.

Thanks for your concern and your attention to safety.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 8, 2012 | Permalink

ITSS By The Numbers: Faculty Technology Team

The ITSS Faculty Technology Team provides support for faculty, enabling them to use technology to enhance teaching, learning, and research as well as encouraging them to model effective and ethical use of technology for their students.

From January 1 through June 30, 2012, the team reported:

  • 930 attendees and 74 presenters at TechFest 2012
  • 794 class grade books kept in eGradebook
  • 704 course sites kept in Moodle
  • 182 classes using centralized exam scoring

Posted on Saturday, Sep 8, 2012 | Permalink

Policy and Criteria for Mass Email to UMD Students

Please be aware of the new Policy and Criteria for Mass Email to UMD Students from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Life.

The purpose of this policy is to reduce the amount of email that students receive by consolidating most of it in Bulldog Update. This is in response to complaints from students about the great amount of email they received from UMD units. Please help us cut down on the volume by making use of Bulldog Update.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 8, 2012 | Permalink

When Three LMSs Become One

Last academic year, the UMN system had 3 centrally supported Learning Management Systems (LMS):

  1. Moodle 1.9
  2. Moodle 2
  3. WebVista

This academic year, Moodle 2 is the only centrally supported system. Moodle 1.9 courses may be accessed by instructors from the archive server but are no longer available for teaching students directly. If you have a Moodle 1.9 course you would like to copy into Moodle 2, you only need to copy the url of the Moodle 1.9 course from the archive server, and paste the url into the "Course URL" field when you request your Moodle 2 course site.

WebVista is no longer accessible in any form by anyone at UMN. August 31, 2012 was the last date to access the server.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 8, 2012 | Permalink

ITSS Staff Update

This past summer we welcomed four new staff to our department and we said "thank you and best wishes" to four former ITSS employees. We are pleased to introduce the following staff.

Mr. Daniel Filipiak is the newest member of our network and telecommunications support team. Before joining ITSS, Dan most recently provided technology support for both the College of Pharmacy and the UMD Library. He also has had experience working in the private business industry as a network administrator. Dan earned a BS degree in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Computer Science from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN. Dan's work with ITSS will include planning, installation and maintenance support for our campus network architecture and infrastructure.

Mr. Steven Morrissey joined the ITSS application development and systems support teams early in July. Steve has been a member of our campus community for a few years, both as a student and an employee of the University. During the past three years, Steve was employed by the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, as an Information Technology Professional and a Lead Technology Assistant. He provided server administration for the collegiate unit, website development, and database application development and support for various LSBE business processes and functions. During his undergraduate experience, Steve was selected as a "UMD Student Employee of the Year." He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, majoring in Management Information Systems, from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Steve's responsibilities with ITSS include technology consulting, application and web software development, support of in-house developed and vendor-supplied department and campus database applications, and server administration.

Ms. Stacy Schweikert also joined the ITSS application development team in July. During her undergraduate education, Stacy was employed by the Labovitz School of Business and Economics as a Lead Technology Assistant. More recently, Stacy has worked as an Associate Technical Consultant and Programmer Analyst for private financial brokerage companies in the St. Paul/Minneapolis metro area, where she was providing a variety of technology support through business systems design, data management and application development. Stacy earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree, majoring in Management Information Systems, from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Stacy's responsibilities with ITSS include business systems analysis, technology consulting, application and web software development, and support of in-house developed and vendor-supplied department and campus database applications.

The fourth staff member that recently joined ITSS is Mr. Yuanhuo (Kevin) Wu. Kevin is also a member of our application development team. Kevin recently was employed as a Senior Software Engineer with Banker's Toolbox, Inc., headquartered in Austin, Texas, and he also has worked as a researcher and software engineer for technology firms in Beijing, China, where he provided software development, and application and data management support. Kevin earned a Bachelor degree and a Master degree, majoring in Engineering and Computer Aided Design, from the China Agricultural University in Beijing, China, and a Master of Science from Purdue University, majoring in Application Design and Development. Kevin's responsibilities will be similar to both Steve Morrissey's and Stacy Schweikert's, which include business systems analysis, technology consulting, application and web software development, and support of in-house developed and vendor-supplied department and campus database applications.

All four individuals, Dan, Steve, Stacy and Kevin, have rich backgrounds in the technology profession, and their skills will greatly assist ITSS and the campus community.

The former staff members, who left ITSS this past summer, include Alex Jokela, Melissa Jokela, Josh Richard and Julie Viken. Alex Jokela and Julie Viken have transferred to University departments on the Twin Cities campus, and Melissa Jokela and Josh Richard have both accepted technology positions with private businesses. We are grateful for their work and tenure with ITSS, and we wish them well in their future endeavors.

Posted on Saturday, Sep 8, 2012 | Permalink

At Your Service: The Multimedia Hub

The Multimedia Hub offers an array of services.

Photo of Hub students with equipment

Hub Coordinator, Mary Olson-Reed welcomes new and returning faculty to tour the Multimedia Hub. You can discuss what your class can do at the Hub and what the Hub can provide in training that students can use in creating a video presentation. We can demonstrate use of still and video cameras, tripods and different microphones and recording devices for quality audio. For fall class or tour reservations at the Hub call Mary at 726-8544.

The Hub manages UMD's Youtube channel and we can help upload and caption your videos. Other captioning services are available either with software located at the Hub for very short video presentations or the Hub staff can format your video and send it out for captioning services. Prices available by calling Mary 726-8544. The Hub continues to film events and speakers for many departments and upload to UMD's Youtube.

Another service we provide is VHS or DVD conversion for Moodle. This includes any assistance you may need uploading the resulting files.

The UMD community is using the Multimedia Hub more than ever. During Spring semester:

  • 6400 students logged in and over 90 classes used the Hub for class video projects and presentations.
  • Equipment check out totaled 5300 which is over 1000 checkouts from Fall 2011.

Let us help you with your next multimedia project.

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012 | Permalink

10 Years Ago: Classroom Technology

In September 2002 classroom technology changes and upgrades included:

  • All general purpose classrooms were brought onto the authenticated network.
  • Projectors no longer required use a cable wizard; connecting to a laptop was accomplished with one simple cable.
  • The following classroom received upgraded projectors:
    • ABAH 225
    • Cina 224 and 316
    • Engr 290
    • HH 302
    • MonH 70, 80, and 108
    • MWAH 195

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012 | Permalink

Chat with the ITSS Help Desk staff

Chat Bubbles

In addition to phone (218/726-8847), email ( and walk-in (Kplz 165) support, the ITSS Help Desk now has another method of delivering customer service: Chat!

The Help Desk began offering chat assistance during the summer, and after a successful pilot have decided to continue offering it through the academic year.

To chat with ITSS staff at the Help Desk, please visit the ITSS home page and click on the "Chat with the Help Desk" link. A Chat icon is also available on the ITSS TechCenter web pages.

Staff are available to chat during all open TechCenter hours:

Academic Year:
Mon-Thurs: 7:30am-90:00pm
Fri: 7:30am-4:30pm
Sat: Closed
Sun: 5:00pm-9:00pm

Summer & Semester Breaks:
Mon-Fri: 8:00am-4:30 pm
Sat: Closed
Sun: Closed

We look forward to chatting with you!

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012 | Permalink

Using ub? Switch to bulldog!

As previously announced, the system will be decommissioned in September. Most services available on ub (home file storage, MyWeb, MyFiles) have been migrated to a new Debian Linux server: One exception is Mathematica, which is now available on a separate server (

Some packages or software that existed on ub may not be available on bulldog due to technical issues (i.e., the software is not available or buildable on the new platform). If you currently use ub for services, please switch to bulldog and report any problems or missing software to the ITSS Help Desk at

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012 | Permalink