Campus Communications Strategy


Improvements to the Weekly Events Digest continue to be made based on excellent feedback from our campus community (see below). This week, new sections were added titled “Health and Wellness”, “Performing Arts”, “Faith”, and “Just for Fun”. Readership last week was the highest to date and included 30% of faculty, 31% of staff, and 14% of students. We also added 107 retirees to the distribution list with 28% readership for that group.

The data continues to support the use of email as a way to reach about 30 percent of our campus community and we hope to expand that reach when the Events Calendar is accessible through mobile apps and digital signage. We have successfully navigated through some technical hurdles on our mobile app deployment and expect pilot testing of our suite of 50 mobile apps to begin shortly after the holidays. Thanks for your patience and support as this work continues.


Weekly Event Digest

Campus Community:

Below is a draft version of our weekly digest of upcoming events, reminders, and news. The Technology Resource Center will begin emailing this weekly beginning August 19 with a few initial publications sent by me as we work out the kinks. The digest uses RSS feeds built into our systems architecture to extract current information and display it in the digest, future mobile apps, and eventually digital signage. This work is part of an ongoing collaboration between IS&S, Academic Services and IMC.

(see image in previous post)

Summer Update on Technology Initiatives

Campus Community:

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

image001All 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.

Mobile Apps

MyCampus Mobile

image003In 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.


Banner Functionality

  • Registration Status
  • Add Class
  • Drop Class
  • Holds
  • Account Summary
  • Grades
  • Class Lookup
  • View Class Schedule
  • Academic Transcripts
  • Week-at-a-Glance
  • Classroom Availability
  • Emergency Contact
  • Address Update
  • Billing Address Update

Additional Apps

  • Favorites
  • News
  • Events
  • Courses
  • Directory
  • Maps
  • Video
  • Campus Tour
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Emergency
  • Athletics
  • Radio

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.


Assistive Technology

image007Gina 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

image009On 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.

Password Security

image011In 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

image013IS&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.

Data Replication

image015Our 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.

Other Initiatives

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


CampusEAI: Mobile Apps


As some of you are aware, our community now connects on average 2.5 mobile devices per person to our campus network.  Use of mobile technology is more pervasive than ever before.  To accommodate this growth, we finalized an agreement with CampusEAI this morning to procure their suite of “myCampus” mobile apps.  These apps (listed below) will extend Banner “self-service” functionality to various mobile platforms and will provide a base of configurable “out-of-the-box” apps that will serve other needs on campus.

Our collaboration with CampusEAI will be a unique one as this is a consortium of educational institutions that work together to develop new apps and enhance existing apps which are then made available to all consortium members.  Consortium members also develop “portal channels” consistent with Berea’s architecture and this means that over time, we can ensure that all of our “virtual windows” to Berea’s learning community will have consistent feature sets and functionality.  Membership in this consortium is one way to leverage mutual interests to best serve our individual constituencies.

I just wanted to keep you in the loop as this relationship is built and we begin the process of testing and piloting various mobile features for College use.


I. OBJECTIVECampusEAI will provide Member with myCampus Mobile App that interoperates with the Member’s Banner® application.
II. MYCAMPUS MOBILE myCampus Mobile App provides the following functionalities:

• Registration Status
• View Class Schedule
• Add Class
• Academic Transcripts
• Drop Class
• Week -at- a-Glance
• Holds
• Classroom Availability
• Account Summary
• Emergency Contact Update
• Grades
• Address Update
• Class Lookup
• Billing Address Update

The following mobile apps are also included in the CampusEAI myCampus Mobile Apps :

• Favorites
• Emergency App
• News App
• Athletics app
• Events App
• Radio App
• Courses App
• Donate App
• Directory App
• Shuttles App
• Maps App
• Photos App
• Video App
• Parking App
• Campus Tour App
• Library App
• Facebook App
• Dining App
• Twitter App

myCampus Mobile 2.0 will include the following apps for iPhone/iPad(2X Mode), Android, Blackberry devices (with limited functionalities)

Basic Branding Kit: Custom App Icon, Custom Splash Screen, Custom Information Screen
III. SCOPECampusEAI will provide the following professional services, outlined within the Approach and Tasks mentioned below.
IV. APPROACHES & TASKSThe following table summarizes key tasks and proof points for this engagement.
V. SUPPORTUnder this engagement, CampusEAI will provide myCampus Mobile Support for all P1 issues – 24/7/365 and 9am-5pm ET for Priority 1-4 issues

Good News!


I wanted to alert you, as part of our summer work plan, that a secondary server facility was activated last week.  The primary server facility in Hutchins remains, but is now replicating continuously to servers across campus at the Telecommunications Center 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 quickly from a disaster event.  This work involved a complex orchestration of changes to both our network and server topology with outside engineers working along-side IS&S staff to establish this new configuration affecting over 80 servers managed by three large host computers at each facility.  This new configuration will also allow us to move server applications to different hosts so hardware maintenance can be performed without campus disruption.


We have an ambitious project plan this summer but wanted to take a minute to share this milestone and extend my sincere appreciation to all involved in this work.  I would like to especially thank Perry Ingram and Randy Ellis for their contributions and long hours to achieve this milestone.  Kam Tarkington was instrumental in solving several key technical issues as we drew closer to project deadlines.  Our attention is now turning to our Banner systems where Albert and Bill will work with a new team to establish similar redundancy within our Banner Oracle architecture.  That work is now underway and funded through a grant.  Finally, I am alerting Sara Clements that NSA-4 titled “Vmware Security – Vmware Redundancy” in the Crowe Horwath audit has been addressed.

These are important steps we are taking together as we grow more reliant on a broad range of information and communication systems used across our campus community.

New Collaboration Systems


Our conversion of student email boxes to Office 365 is the first of several waves of upgrades taking place throughout the summer.  Our Technology Resource Center is now assisting students as they reconnect their mobile devices and begin using new system features.  With faculty and staff accounts to be converted in the near future, I need to alert you to the impact this work will have on our campus community.  The features of Office 365 go way beyond traditional email communications and will include integrated collaboration tools (i.e. Microsoft Lync) that will fundamentally change the way we collaboration and communicate online.

A six-minute video has been prepared for you to highlight what is coming your way.  Our TRC and Ed Tech teams are also preparing to assist you in many ways through fall semester as upgrades to these systems and to Moodle are now in full swing.  With the coming availability of Microsoft Lync, we are entering a new phase in the use of technology at Berea.  This is a very short video and one I encourage you to view it at your convenience.

[jwplayer mediaid=”687″]

Office 365 / E-Mail Transition Update


I wanted to alert you that we are in position to move all students to cloud email the week of May 6 (i.e. next week).  Students were notified today via Kevin’s email below.  Some students are already on the new Office 365 system as part of a pilot group.  Nancy Sullivan in the Technology Resource Center will be sending a follow-up email to students in a few days with instructions on how to configure their personal mobile phones and other portable devices to access the new system.

The Office 365 transition also incorporates new online collaborative tools supported through Microsoft Lync.  Students will be transitioning to Lync through the fall semester and we expect to see a gradual increase in voice and video traffic as more students begin using the online collaboration tools and video conferencing features available through Lync.  Upgrades to our core network will be made over the summer to prepare for that.

Our Faculty/Staff transition is around the corner so there is more to come.

Just want to keep all of you in the loop!


From: Kevin Blankenship
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 1:20 PM
To: #Students
Subject: Office 365 email transition


This summer will be an active summer for technology transitions. One very important transition will be moving your email accounts to the cloud based Office 365 platform. Office 365 is in use by many schools and universities. This move will have several benefits.

Office 365 gives users anywhere access to email and calendars, Office Web Apps, video and online meetings, and document sharing. It has your favorite Office features online and allows you to better prepare coursework, create sophisticated reports and presentations, and collaborate over the web. See a short promo video here:

With Microsoft Office 365:

  • No more cleaning out your inbox! You get a web-based email account with a 25GB mailbox.
  • Work and communicate from your phone, PC, or Mac, using email, instant messaging, HD video chat, and online meetings.
  • Create, edit, and share Microsoft Office documents online with Office Web Apps.
  • Collaborate in online meetings; share your desktop, whiteboard items, and record a live video call.

Office 365 is fully interactive with the local email servers, so your professors and support staff will be in the global address list.

Transitions will occur the week of May 6th. Look for more information later in the week. Have a great summer!

Kevin Blankenship

Results of Contract Negotiations with Windstream for Voice and Data Service to Campus

IS&S Planning Team:

It is always nice to share some good news.  Our contract negotiations with Windstream for campus data and voice service went well.  Here is the good news under the terms of a new three-year contract:

  1. Data Bandwidth: Bandwidth to the campus will double from 200 to 400 Mbps in order to address the growth in internet use and associated audio/video traffic.
  2. SIP Voice Services: 3 Mbps of this expanded data connection will be used for phone service to/from campus at a reduced cost over traditional PRI lines.
  3. Data Connection Redundancy: A new backup data connection will be established using a small cellular tower.  This data connection will bypass our primary ISP service and can be used to support critical business functions in the event of a network outage with Windstream.
  4. Voice Circuit Redundancy: In addition to the new SIP connection to campus for voice traffic, a second PRI line will remain in service to address overflow and provide phone service in the event of an outage with our primary connection.

All of this will be accomplished at an annual savings of $8,052.  We plan to finalize this agreement on Friday in order to ensure work is scheduled and completed in June prior to the return of students for fall semester.  The savings can be used to shore up the growth in overall software/hardware licensing costs we are experiencing.

This summer will be a busy one as we also complete our campus transition to Office 365, Microsoft Lync, Bradford access control, and complete upgrades to our network core and our Moodle courseware system.  Contract negotiations with the CampusEAI consortium continues to address mobile apps, portal, and Moodle provisioning services.  We will share updates on these efforts and others when our planning team meets tomorrow.

Technology Planning and Progress Report

  1. Campus Workflow Enhancement
    1. Expand use of Banner Workflow Features: To be scheduled
    2. Dashboard: Upgrades underway (Domo release, Admissions and Financial charts)
    3. RMS Housing System: Installation and end-user training completed week of March 4
    4. Web HelpDesk System: Installed and being deployed
    5. Degree Progression Technology: DegreeWorks from Ellucian (Pending ARCT Funding)
    6. Fundraising CRM: Constituent Relationship Management System (Pending ARCT Funding)
    7. Undergraduate Catalog – SmartCatalog: Installation process underway
    8. Luminis Portal Upgrade: Completed
    9. WordPress CMS Upgrade: Completed
    10. NOLIJ Upgrade: Completed
    11. Bb Transact Upgrade: Completed
    12. Formscape to Transform: Completed
  2. Teaching and Learning
    1. Stabile Active Learning Classrooms: Draper 308/100, Tech Building Classroom and Science 306 to be completed during spring break.
    2. Faculty Innovation Projects: Ongoing
    3. Assessment Lab: 80% completed
    4. Enhanced Assistive Technology Support: Pending ARCT Funding
    5. Georgia Tech Disability Services: Finalized relationship to enhance our capacities in providing alternative media/text books, assistive technology, braille services, and technical support to our students with disabilities.
  3. Blended Collaboration and Communications
    1. Ensemble (VBrick Interface): Installation Completed, Deployment Underway
    2. Digital Signage: Possible start date – Summer 2013
    3. Office 365: Pilot Groups to begin using product week of March 11.
    4. Microsoft Lync Collaboration Platform: In planning stage
    5. Mobile Computing: Finalizing contract with CampusEAI for mobile apps and portal channels
    6. Luminus Portal Replacement: Completed
    7. Website Conversion to WordPress: Completed
  4. IT Infrastructure Upgrades
    1. Internet/SIP (New): Negotiations to begin with Windstream on March 12 to restructure campus PRI connection to SIP with vendor provided voice gateways and restructured long-distance service.
    2. Voice over IP: 570 out of 824 Cisco handsets deployed.
    3. Backup Systems Upgrade: 30% Completed.  New data domain is in use with all servers transferred to the new backup process by early April.
    4. Virtualization Systems Upgrade and Redundancy: 95% Completed.  VMware is fully functional on new hosts with three servers left to migrate.
    5. Operational Storage Replication Upgrades: 75% of servers converted to new operational storage.
    6. Upgrade Core (New): Purchase new core switches and move existing core routers to support replication between Telecom Facility and Computer Center
    7. Bandwidth Upgrade to 300 MB: Postponed due to tighter P2P blocking that freed existing bandwidth
    8. Banner Middle Tier Upgrade: Installed with remaining users to be transitioned by early April
    9. Bradford Access Control (Wireless and Wired): Initial Installation completed to provide endpoint compliance, guest networking, and BYOD.
    10. NCS Wireless Monitoring: Installed
    11. Wireless Upgrades: Ongoing
    12. Exinda (Packetshaper & Proxy): Completed
    13. HP9000 Replacement/Upgrade: Completed
    14. IDS/IPS Intrusion Detection/Prevention Module: Completed
  5. Risk Management
    Progress toward addressing Crowe Horwath recommendations as of 2-11-2013:

    1. High Risk: 3 items remain
    2. Moderate Risk: 5 items remain
    3. Low Risk: 6 items remain
  6. Other
    1. Systems Analyst Vacancy: Initial Skype interviews scheduled this week for three candidates.
    2. Move IS&S Staff to Draper and Hutchins: Completed
  7. Technology Proposals
    Four of the above technology proposals are tracking through grant funding requests.

Campus Communication / Mobile Strategies


Below is a brief update on several projects designed to increase the mix of communication and collaboration tools available to our campus community. I also wanted to send you a gentle reminder of our Group of 30 gathering with faculty from EKU’s Noel Studio to take place on March 22nd in Hutchins RM 106/107. Please let Lisa know if you are attending.

  1. Email/Twitter: A small team led by Scott Steele is working with IS&S staff to rethink how we use email on campus. That team is preparing to pilot the use of Twitter to support certain on-campus communications with these twitter feeds linked to an email digest, our portal, and eventually to digital signage and mobile apps. This strategy will reduce the number of emails students (and others) receive while expanding the choices available for viewing this information.



  2. Mobile Apps: We are engaging CampusEAI to provide a wide range of mobile apps and portal channels for use on campus. You may want to view this short video or browse the examples below that include out-of-the-box Banner integration. We will chat more as this work moves forward.



  3. Voice over IP: Many of you have noticed the new phone sets being installed across campus. Six hundred of these new phones are now in place. They connect directly to our data network, have video features, and support voicemail integration with your email accounts.


  4. Office 365: Student, faculty, and staff pilot groups will begin using Office 365 “in the cloud” the week of March 18. Features including expanded storage and a host of new collaboration tools for web conferencing, team collaboration, and for building public websites will be available along with the ability to edit, share, and coedit Word, OneNote, Excel and PowerPoint docs using a web browser to access these online tools.


  5. Ensemble: Berea On-Demand is getting a face-lift with a new front-end product called Ensemble. This product will provide more functionality and ease of use in uploading, converting, and publishing videos and fair use content as well as live streaming.