Below is a quick update on our summer technology initiatives. These projects include significant upgrades to our campus technology architecture as well as some important network security improvements. I tried to focus on how this work will impact you as we near Fall semester.
Enhanced Email and Collaboration Software
Microsoft Office and Lync
All students were converted to Office 365 “in the cloud” earlier this summer. Along with email enhancements and a larger inbox, students will have access to new online collaboration tools through Microsoft Lync. We are on schedule for a mid-August rollout of Exchange 2013 to faculty and staff. These systems will be hosted on campus but provide the same features now available to students. Windows users are encouraged to upgrade Office 2013 using the “add/remove” feature when your computer is connected to a campus network port. You may also want to view the brief video on Lync available here.
In July, Berea College finalized an agreement with CampusEAI to procure their suite of “myCampus” mobile apps. This will provide a base of configurable “out-of-the-box” apps for use by our academic community. A number of these apps will extend Banner “self-service” functionality to smart phones and tablets. CampusEAI is a consortium of educational institutions that collaborate on the development and deployment of mobile apps designed to work across platforms to better serve the common interests of the consortium. More to come on that front.
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Event Calendar and Email Digest
A new weekly Email Digest of Campus Events is coming your way in fall. This work is part of a collaboration with Academic Services to inform the campus of upcoming activities while reducing the number of emails needed to do that. Although the final format of the digest is still evolving, the draft below is the most recent design. This digest should help to reduce the number of emails heading to your inbox while reinforcing the use of a central web-based campus calendar system which drives the digest.
Gina Fugate has joined Berea as our new Assistive Technologist in our Educational Technology department. Gina is originally from Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Berea College in 2002. She earned her Master degrees from Yale and Vanderbilt while finding her way to serve as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Gina is also a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist and will be working closely with faculty and students as they use assistive technology to promote learning. “I am honored and excited to return to my Alma Mater as an Assistive Technology Specialist and look forward to working with everyone!”
New Network Security Measures
Wireless Access Control
On Wednesday July 31, all wireless devices connecting to our secured wireless environment “Berea Secure” will be remediated through our new network access control system. This system will register smartphones, gaming devices, and laptops connected to our network and will remediate to ensure devices like laptops have up-to-date virus protection and security patches before allowing full network access. Instructions for accessing our secured wireless network can be found here. Android users should review instructions found here.
In a recent security audit, we identified numerous easily guessable passwords in use by campus employees and students. As of July 26, commonly used terms like “Berea”, common keyboard patterns like “abcde” and repeating characters strings like “aaaa” will not be allowed when resetting expired passwords. In addition to increasing password security, the new password filter system has a feature that will send you a reminder 14, 7, and 2 days prior to password expiration. Some of you with passwords expiring have already begun to receive these email notifications.
Encryption of Mobile Devices
IS&S is piloting the use of FileVault2 and BitLocker encryption to be used on laptop computers issued to personnel that handle sensitive information and email communications. We are also working with the AC to finalize a mobile security policy that will identify positions that will be required to use encryption on their laptops and mobile devices to secure sensitive college data.
Our primary server facility in Hutchins is now replicating continuously to servers at a new secondary site in Bruce Trades. This creates a new level of redundancy in our technology architecture designed to protect our information assets, minimize system downtime, and assure the college can recover within hours from most disaster events. Over 80 servers managed by three large host computers are now replicating between facilities. Under this new configuration, system maintenance is streamlined since we can move server applications to different server hosts at either location to perform work with little, if any, service disruption.
- Curriculum Management and Academic Planning: Degree Works implementation is underway and on schedule. The new system will provide additional functionality needed for curriculum/academic planning and advising. As part of this implementation, we will be upgrading all hardware used by our Banner systems. In addition to this work, Smart Catalog implementation is also underway to integrate our catalog with our Banner system and to prepare print, web, and mobile formats of our catalog using a separate content management system.
- Telecommunications: We are working with Windstream to upgrade to a SIP data connection for our phone traffic. This approach will allow us to redirect some underutilized existing capacity to double our data bandwidth to the campus while providing adequate phone service at a lower cost.
- Network Core: Plans are in place to upgrade our network core in October during fall break. The last upgrade of our network core was about seven years ago. This upgrade will enhance throughput and provide new features needed to manage today’s devices on a modern network.
- Moodle: Educational Technology has upgraded our Moodle Learning Management System to provide faculty with the most up to date platform to support blended learning as we enter fall 2013. The newest version has many new features including an easier process to embed and stream videos along with other enhanced tools. The next Moodle 2 orientation will take place on August 14-15 in ISS RM 230. Interested faculty can contact Educational Technology for more information and training opportunities.