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Message from the CIO

This fall, ITS is focusing on improving technology support, especially for instruction. The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) has rolled out a new faculty consulting service.  Faculty are invited to contact CIT to schedule a personal one-on-one consultation in the faculty member’s office.  The purpose of the initiative is to have an instructional technology staff member meet with a faculty member and work with them on their own computer to answer any questions they may have.  Many times faculty have a few questions that could really improve their productivity or classroom teaching but are not worth their time to attend an entire workshop on the topic.  These meetings are available for scheduling on Wednesdays or Thursdays between 9am and 5pm. Other days can be worked in as well.  See the article in this newsletter for more details.  Another initiative is the new Blackboard Help Desk that augments the Eastern Help Desk by providing 24×7 support for password resets.

Other improvements this fall include the completion of the voice and data campus network. Due to the improved reliability of this fully redundant high-speed network and a more featured (and less expensive) telephone system, the Fall 2017 semester began with fewer technical outages than last fall and a generally faster network. In addition, over 1,000 wireless access points are now available across campus.

Finally, the Banner team is busy moving the Eastern instance of Banner to an upgraded version wholly in the cloud. Once completed, Eastern users of Banner will have increased functionality along with improved availability and reliability of a cloud-based system that Eastern could not afford to create in the previous environment.

As is the case with the rest of the campus and the State System, ITS is coping with staff positions frozen by the Board of Regents System Office due to the State budget impasse. Fortunately, with the president’s strong support, three of six frozen ITS positions were granted exceptions to the freeze and are in the process of being filled.  Despite the staffing challenges, ITS has been working to refocus its services to better serve the core instructional mission of the university.

Garrett Bozylinsky
Chief Information Officer

Updated Computer Classrooms

All the computer classrooms were upgraded this past year with brand new, high performing Dell computers. These computers represent a significant increase in disk drive performance, storage, CPU speed, and memory.

CECE 170 has been equipped with a 65” Interactive Smartboard display. This display provides faculty with many new options for presenting and illustrating content.

Three classrooms have been upgraded with dual display projection systems as part of the 21st Century Classroom initiative. The rooms are Science 115, Science 238 and Webb 407. Science 238 and Webb 407 have been equipped with 80” touch displays.

Both students and faculty are benefiting from these investments.

CIT is Making Office Calls

The Center for Instructional Technologies (CIT) has been searching for ways to better support faculty, staff, and students.  In addition to its formal schedule of training classes, CIT is now scheduling individual office sessions for faculty to provide custom one-on-one consulting on any CIT related topics or questions of interest. These sessions are intended to be held in the faculty member’s office using their own computer.

Continue reading

EMS has replaced eReserve (AdAstra)

A new online system,  eSchedule/EMS, replaces ereserve/Astra for making reservations for campus space.  This new web app will allow faculty and staff to more efficiently request space as well as provide a more real time and user friendly application process.  Ultimately, this new app will also result in a more timely approval response.

Media Services Has Moved

Media Services has relocated to Winthrop Hall while the Communication building is being renovated. The service desk and equipment area is located in Winthrop 100a. The phone number x55304 and the email address (mediaservices@easternct.edu) remain the same.

Banner Moving to the Cloud

During the weekend of February 9-11, 2018, the Applications Development team will be moving Banner to the Cloud. All functional offices in conjunction with the IT staff will be involved in the testing of this environment prior to the move. Please note that eWeb, Banner, and eReports will be unavailable during the actual timeframe of the move. More details will be provided closer to the move date.

Wireless Access and Network Upgrade

Over the past eighteen months Eastern has installed several hundred new Wireless Access points around the university, increasing the total to over 1,000.  Offices, classrooms, and congregation areas received the majority of these new access points.  Residence halls received a smaller number of new access points to improve performance monitoring and known gaps in coverage.  Continue reading

ITS and History Department Collaboration

ITS has worked closely with Jamel Ostwald, Associate Professor of History, to create a research laboratory for the History Department from funds donated to the department for that purpose. Located in Webb 408 just outside the Webb 410 general purpose computer lab, a grand opening is being planned for this semester before the Thanksgiving break.  The lab contains scanners and special software for conducting modern historical research.

Teaching with Video Conferencing

Jeff Trawick-Smith, the Phyllis Waite Endowed Chair and professor in Education, is currently utilizing the classroom-based videoconference system in CECE 167 to deliver his course, “Families, Culture, Childhood Development” to 11 Norwalk-based students in addition to his Eastern Students. The system includes auto tracking cameras, far site cameras, large screen displays, room microphones and content sharing. It is the first use of this technology at Eastern.

Hyperion and e-Reports Changing

The hyperion application that runs eReports is being transitioned to IBI’s WebFOCUS.  Currently, three departments are using the new report tool.  Within the next few weeks, anyone who has a budget to manage will be receiving an email containing their latest budget reports that will begin occurring monthly.  No training is necessary for this new tool that provides greater functionality and ease of use.   Other reports will continue to be deployed over the course of the next year until all existing eReports will be replaced by the end of 2018.

Information Technology Advisory Committee

The Information Technology Advisory Committee met October 16, 2017 and elected Brendon Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Economics, as chair. Please contact members of the committee if you have input you’d like to share or wish additional information:

Garry Bozylinsky
Alex Citurs
Brendan Cunningham
Denise Matthews
Scott Moore
Patricia Szczys
Janice Wilson

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ITS Newsletter BannerMessage from the CIO

ITS has lost some key staff in the past few months.  Brenda Whalen has moved permanently to the BOR system office in Hartford to head up the system-wide implementation of the Banner move to the cloud for the universities.  In her place I have promoted Deb Hunt to Director of Enterprise Applications to head up the ITS information Systems Application group.

I have created two new positions from the Whalen vacancy.  One will be in the Center for Instructional Technology to improve our support of faculty use of technology for student learning.  The other will support wireless and Voice Over IP (VOIP) in Network Services.  Both these positions will be filled as soon as the hiring freeze ends.

Another position that will be filled after the hiring freeze is a replacement for the departure of Ryan Allard who provided desktop computer support.

Finally, a search is underway to replace Tim Sime who supported both wireless and VOIP in Network Services.  Now that the VOIP telephone system is being turned over to Eastern from the vendor, we need this position and the one above to support both telephones and the expansion of campus wireless.

In addition to these changes, Kevin Gill will focus on desktop computing support and provide additional counsel to the CIO with Brenda’s departure as well take the lead on thin client computing, and the ITS role in the new system-wide inventory system.

In order to free up some of Kevin’s time for these new duties, Steve Nelson will head up the ITS Help Desk, Center for Instructional Technology (CIT), and the Webb Hall support group.

I have made these changes to make the best use of remaining ITS personnel resources, and position ITS to improve support to faculty and students.

Garry Bozylinsky

Chief Information Officer

Remaining Telephone Issues

In response to an email requesting the campus community to report any outstanding telephone issues, over 50 emails generated over 100 work request tickets.  ITS is happy to report that all but about half a dozen have been addressed and those remaining are expected to be completed by the end of March.

Information Technology Advisory Committee

The committee continues to meet and provide input and recommendations to the CIO.  The committee took the following actions:

  • Unanimously recommended having the default university home page for faculty and staff point to the “Faculty and Staff” page, and for all students to the “current students” page.
  • Unanimously recommended that implementation of the new network and associated campus-wide wireless rollout be postponed until after the Spring semester to avoid any potential disruption of service during Spring classes.
  • Unanimously recommended that the final disposition of 21st Century Classroom funding decisions be shared in this newsletter

21st Century Classroom Allocations  

In 2016 Eastern was allocated $232,592 of 21st Century classroom funds. With those funds ITS made upgrades to general purpose classrooms by installing 8 new podiums and acquiring new servers to improve the performance of online Eastern resources. The remaining funds were used to fund faculty proposed submissions. Continue reading

WebEx

The university now has its own WebEx site,  https://easternct.webex.com. Rather than contacting ITS to arrange a conference call or bridge number, selected faculty and staff may now create their own.  Further, the WebEx tool integrates with the Outlook client.  Contact Dave Bachand in ITS at x55376 to get started.