Community College of Rhode Island

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IT News

December 2012

Holiday Greetings!

Happy Holidays!As we approach the end of another year, I want to offer the warm wishes of the Department of Information Technology for a happy holiday season for all our friends at CCRI. We look forward to working with you in 2013 for a prosperous and successful spring semester.

Best wishes to all!

New format

IT News

The CIO E-newsletter, has a new name: "ITNews". It has also undergone a significant change in its format. The new email version, instead of providing full versions of the articles, will be a streamlined version emailed to all faculty and staff. Longer articles will be represented by a brief snippet from the article and a link to its full web version seen here.

I hope you enjoy the new delivery, and will take the time to provide some feedback on the articles and presentation.

IT website has moved

we've moved!The Web Services division of the Information Technology department has completed the months-long process of moving from the old IT site located at "it.ccri.edu" to a new address at http://www.ccri.edu/it/. More than 23,000 files were moved, including 3,600 HTML files, most of which had to be converted to the OmniUpdate content management system.

A few loose ends are being tied up so if you notice any problems, please send an email with the web address of the problem page to webservices@ccri.edu.

Email Clients

Exchange 2010Hopefully everyone knows that CCRI is moving to Microsoft Exchange 2010 after the first of the year. It is a stable and reliable upgrade to the current Exchange 2007 environment in which we currently reside. Approximately 2400 mailboxes will be migrated in a seamless and transparent manner. Testing is being conducted as we speak surrounding the various clients used at the college to read email.

So what is an email client? The software you use to view your email is a client regardless of whether you use Outlook or Outlook Web Access or webmail.ccri.edu or Entourage or your smartphone or tablet computer. Every "smart" device has an email client and based upon statistics gathered through the wireless network, there are a lot of clients employed at CCRI. There are Android devices iOS iPhone devices, iPads, and plenty of other tablets with versions of operating systems that vary considerably.

If using Outlook or Outlook Web Access (webmaik.ccir.edu), the migration to Exchange 2010 will be absolutely invisible. Because both Exchange and Outlook/OWA are Microsoft programs (just lie the new Windows phone), they use the same protocols to talk to each other and thus no interruption in service should occur. However, the various tablet devices which use operating systems not built by Microsoft will have to have account information entered once again in the device before email will work. Though this is not a difficult task (you did it once before to setup your smartphone and tablet when you used Exchange 2007), it does require four specific pieces of information that you already have.

Each client is going to ask for your email address and password you use to login to email. The second thing the setup will need will be a server name and that is webmail.ccri.edu. Finally, depending upon the client, you may be asked to provide a domain name which is campus. You will not be prompted for this information and your client might stop getting email and again that is because your client might not be using the same protocol to talk to the Microsoft product. If you find you are not getting email from your personal smart device, go into your Settings are and reset your email account with the information discussed above.

Using these instructions you can quickly restore your email to your private smart device whether it is an Android, iOS or Apple operating system. Please note that IT will be working on video snippets to help everyone go through this setup and discuss the various clients. The move to Microsoft Exchange 2010 will happen as quickly as possible in 2013. We are working to ensure that it is transparent and seamless.

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Windows 8

Windows 8As I am certain, anyone watching television recently has seen the commercials about Microsoft Windows 8. It was released on October 26th and is currently available for your home system for $39.99 through January 31, 2013. Warning! If you are tempted to download this to your home computer, please run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant before downloading and installing the new operating system. A report will be provided that will indicate whether your existing home system can use Windows 8 without modification.

As I am sure everyone knows, in regard to operating systems on campus, there is always a question of when IT upgrades existing Windows systems to the new operating system and where. Working with faculty members on the four campuses, we try to determine where the Windows 8 system will be required to run, might be nice to run and cannot possibly run. This is based upon the need for the latest, greatest software for our students in the classrooms. We also base these decisions on locations where faculty members don’t care what operating system they are using but might be restricted by the software they are using in the classroom. Finally we never install the new operating systems where they might prohibit use of software utilized for instruction. Every time a new install is done for a Windows or Apple operating system, these factors are researched and considered before moving forward.

IT is working with various department chairs and faculty members to help us evaluate and plan the newest implementation. Typically this occurs at the end or beginning of a semester in order to assist in ordering textbooks in a timely manner and providing time for faculty members to test their existing or new software with the new version. The earliest that Microsoft Windows 8 would be installed anyplace at CCRI would be late May of 2013. We look forward to your feedback as we go through the software list currently in place. With that information we guarantee that we will provide the software where appropriate and requested and not touch those classrooms where we face incompatibility.

EAC Outcomes

EAC OutcomesSince August of this year, several members of the Nursing department have been using Educational Assessment Corporation Outcomes for exam and question analysis through Blackboard. Instructors create tests and tie the questions to higher level learning goals such as core competencies and general course outcomes. Students take the exam and test data is retrieved across several courses where the exam was presented. Several standard reports provide a comprehensive, structured look at exam data detailing each question and the average scores. This pilot has been strongly supported this semester and provides faculty with faculty receiving item, validity and outcomes statistics for each exam.

The CCRI license for this product is limited at this time but based upon the success of this program, it is suggested that IT extend the number of copies of the software to be maintained. One complaint about Blackboard is that it does not have this feature to help faculty members evaluate the exams they are creating and issuing. With this tool, every exam and every question can be evaluated to ensure that it is reaching its goals and help to improve those questions which don’t quite make the grade.

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Mobile; Blackboard Learn

iPhoneIn January of 2013, CCRI will introduce its mobile presence with six initial apps and more to come in the future. One feature that is assured to offer new features to students is Blackboard’s Mobile Learn product. Using any of the family of Android, iOS, Blackberry or webOS smartphones or tablets, Mobile Learn provides a platform where students can be accessible and portable at the same time. All the useful features of Blackboard are offered in a handheld device through the app including tests, grades, discussions, course schedules, blogs, content, journals and rosters. The mobile app can alert students to announcements and provide reminders for tasks they need to accomplish. It is the tool of the generation for texting and communicating and thus integrating this into Blackboard further promotes that accessibility to be online and involved.

Blackboard MobileBlackboard Mobile Learn is being used by a test bed of faculty members now including the Blackboard Advisory Group and to date has been very reliable and stable. All functionality is being offered through a Blackboard test environment and after the first of the year this will be moved into Production to begin the spring semester.

IT will be offering additional mobile apps based upon a committee selection of faculty, students, and staff who have participated in the process for building the new apps. The new apps will be watched closely for usage and feedback to improve or replace those with least use based upon activity. CCRI has collected this initial group from many other colleges throughout the country and this first foray into mobile web development will begin this new feature set for all students, faculty and staff at the college for years to come.

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Written Information Security Policy

WISPCCRI, in conjunction with URI, is producing a written information security policy (WISP) which brings the college into compliance with both State and Federal mandates as well as best practices utilized by colleges and universities throughout the country. When reviewing the policies that are in place, it was evident that CCRI had no written policy on information security. The college community collects and holds securely lots of data about our students, faculty and staff. Clearly informing stakeholders, people who consume the data and those who move the data to state and federal organizations who require pieces of the information about the responsibilities of preservation of the security of the information is a key part of any WISP. Everyone is part of the information security plan at CCRI and data security is everyone’s responsibility.

In order to ensure that everyone understands their responsibility, a WISP clearly defines the various risks, understandings, approaches necessary to maintaining a secure information security program. CCRI has joined the Research and Education Network-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) which promotes cyber security operational protection and response in higher education and research communities. The college also has subscribed to the SysAdmin, Audit, Network, Security (SANS) Institute Securing the Human Program providing an effective security awareness training program of multiple online, video-based modules that faculty and members will be introduced to in the New Year. These "snippets" bring non-computer-speak introductions to a variety of topics (33 modules) all involving security for devices, email, home networks, etc.

This total immersion into information security and security awareness is part of the NEASC accreditation process and meant to address concerns about how CCRI is helping staff to understand the threats constantly attacking the college as well as attempting to reduce the number of phishing incidents being delivered every day. Through effective security training and awareness programs, along with a WISP, the possibility of a data breach and widespread malicious code attacks can be avoided. Like the SANS Institute states, "Information security is everyone’s responsibility".

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Last Updated: 12/13/12