Sept-Oct 2017 Communicator masthead

September-October 2017 Communicator  

Vol. 25, No. 4 [pdf version]

Professors honored for using tech
in lesson plans and flight plans

Two University professors have been honored by the MTSU Foundation for their work finding the right software to improve lesson plans and flight plans.
Becky Alexander and Tyler Babb
received the University’s Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award for 2016-2017.
Presented annually, it recognizes faculty members who demonstrate excellence in the development of technology-based teaching materials, and in the integration of instructional technology into the classroom.
The Instructional Technologies Development Committee selects the recipients. The award is accompanied by a check for $3,000 from the MTSU Foundation. Honored at the Fall Faculty Meeting on Aug. 24 were:

Becky Alexander» Alexander, associate professor in Elementary and Special Education, for her work with Project Engage and CloudLife, helping schools obtain computers and teachers find tech teaching tools.
 “It’s all about your mindset; it’s how you approach everything in teaching and learning. I’m not teaching you one particular app, this is just one that is effective,” Alexander told the committee.
“I tell them the minute they go out the door it is going to be out of date, so you need to have a flexible, open mind.”

Working with former students, Alexander obtained grants to buy iPads for one rural school and eight Chromebooks for another.
She collaborated with professors in the secondary education department to do research using Google Forms.
“This past semester I implemented a survey using Google Forms, and we asked some of our teacher candidates: ‘How do they access information?’ ‘What are some social media apps they utilize?’ ‘What would they like to see in our department?” she said.
About 44 percent of students say they access material for school on mobile device, she said.
Other projects Alexander worked on included creating an ePortfolio with links to Google Sites, Google Citizenship Lessons, Analyze Media, and the SeeSaw and Osmo teaching apps.
Alexander is author and co-author of publications with a research focus on technology applications in the elementary classroom.
“I really feel like the technology was a big help in our family. We’re all passionate about it.”

Tyler Babb» Babb, Professional Pilot concentration coordinator/assistant professor, for evaluating digital flight plan programs and teaching pilots to use them.
Babb worked for Corporate Flight Management in Smyrna, Tennessee, during 2008-12. The company transitioned from paper flight plan charts to iPads in 2010.
When he joined the MTSU faculty in 2013, he began teaching pilot trainees how to use flight-planning software, and evaluating the best software available.
“My background in flight education has allowed me to evaluate how ‘education-friendly’ the software is. Unfortunately, the chart legends are not always included in default downloads, and the navigation data presented on the software is not comprehensive.”
He wrote a grant to obtain 10 iPads with software and now students are learning that software. But he has learned that not all flight plan programs are created equal.
“Some are not as user-friendly, cannot load routes,” he said. “I want to see how other schools around the country do it—what software do they use…

"That is where I am going with my research. I want to find out differences, and does smart technology make us dumber?”

Babb has been creating training videos and posting them on YouTube.
Babb has experience flying small jets and as an aircraft mechanic apprentice and maintenance administrator. He wants students to not completely reject the old ways.
“All of our students start with conventional paper charts,” he said.

Want to nominate someone?

Nominate someone for the Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology Award using form at:

ITD staff helps with interactive
African-American history exhibit

Bradley Academy photoITD staff members were involved with a project this past spring to bring local African-American history to life at the Bradley Academy Museum with the touch of a finger.
This digital interactive display that opened in May was a collaborative community partnership between the MTSU Public History program, Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center, and the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department.
The goal was to develop an exhibit with interactive digital programs to interpret the history of African-American education in Rutherford County from the 1860s to the 1960s.
It also was designed to provide a hands-on, service-based training opportunity for the graduate students in the Public History Program.

“The most satisfying part of this project was the reaction of the community at the unveiling,” said Alecia Heidt, specialist-web designer, who was heavily involved in the project.

“Working in ITD, it’s not often that I get the chance to create something that has such an emotional tie with people. It was amazing to watch everyone interact with the displays and find pieces of their histories within them. There were so many memories and stories shared and it’s amazing to think that something I created was able to spark those within people.”

The project involved the creation of two touchscreen digital interactives that enhance the public’s understanding of how education helped to empower African-American residents of Rutherford County.

Heidt and Barbara Draude, ITD assistant vice president, Academic and Instructional Technologies, began last spring meeting with Public History program Professor Brenden Martin and students to discuss the project.

“The MTSU Department of Public History gathered all photos and source materials. They also created one of the videos on the video sign.”

Also involved from ITD were Interim Assistant Vice President for Technical Services Chad Mullis and John Stevens, a Systems Administrator 2.

“I think the biggest thing is that it was a great experience to work with the community to create something so great."

"I like to think of Murfreesboro as a big community and MTSU should be a part of that. I really hope MTSU is able to continue its outreach to the community to develop educational tools together,” Heidt said.

PipelineMT Upgrade Complete

PipelineMT underwent a major upgrade and facelift on Sept. 16.
Both the hardware and software behind the system were changed. So, actually the system was more than just upgraded—it’s brand new. The  data on the system still comes from Banner in real-time.

Noteworthy Changes

The RaiderNet identity has gone away. You’ll still have the same menu options that you had on RaiderNet. But you will have one less click by not having to go through a RaiderNet tab to get to them.
Navigation now will mostly occur from the left side of each page. But there are some navigational links at the bottom of some secondary pages.
Some grouping and re-sorting of menu options has been done to show the options in a more logical manner.
A few options were renamed to better reflect their purpose and use. Most of the reordering and renaming of the Faculty Service and Advisors menus was done on the former PipelineMT in prep for the upgrade.
The Advisors menu is now accessible directly from the left-nav. And, as always, the following Faculty Services options allow a faculty member to still email their class:

  • Class List Summary
  • Class List with Photo
  • Class List with Permits/Overrides
  • Class List with Student Detail

Password Changes

Please remember that your PipelineMT password changed on Sept. 16. After the upgrade you must use your MTSU email password to log in to PipelineMT. If you don’t know your MTSU email password, please visit

  • STUDENTS will continue to use their MTSU User ID as their Username. This is the portion of their MTMail account name to the left of “” and should be the same Username they were already using for PipelineMT. Their password for PipelineMT has become the same as their MTMail account password.
  • FACULTY/STAFF will continue to use their MTSU User ID, sometimes referred to as their FSA user account name, as their Username. This should be the same Username they were already using for PipelineMT. Their password for PipelineMT has become the same as their FSA password, also referred to as their Exchange or Outlook password.

My Courses Change

With the major overhaul of PipelineMT, the My Courses component of PipelineMT is no longer available. 
My Courses offered faculty a limited framework for posting syllabi and other course documents and saw very little use. 
The vast majority of faculty already used D2L for posting syllabi and other course materials along with D2L’s many other helpful features. 
If you would like advice or assistance with using D2L, please call the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) at 615-904-8189 or email

SSC Campus System Change

The credentials you use to log into SSC Campus were changed on July 31. Sample credentials are shown below:

Username: Note that this is your MTSU user ID with “”--NOT an email address such as 

Password: (use your MTSU email password)

As part of this change, the SSC Campus button on the PipelineMT login page has changed to Schedule an Advising Appointment.  The button will still take you to the SSC Campus login page and can be used by students and advisors/faculty/staff.​
The MTSU web page Quick Links section also has a link labeled Schedule an Advising Appointment.  And, for a short time, we’ll have a link labeled as SSC Campus on Quick Links as well. 
Both will take you to the SSC Campus login page.    

ITD Staff Profile: Patrick Hefner

Patrick Hefner

ITD systems analyst has received

physical reboot in recent years

Patrick Hefner is ready to respond whenever the campus IT system needs some quick “triage” to diagnose and correct problems.
Likewise, he has had to overcome some systematic challenges of his own in recent years.
Hefner and his wife moved to Murfreesboro in 2002 in order for him to study Recording Industry Management. Fifteen years and three children later he is finishing up a degree at MTSU in Information Technology, with a minor in entrepreneurship that he has already completed.
He has worked as a system administrator for ITD since December 2013. Hefner serves as sort of a first responder when there is a work order submitted for a technical  problem with the virtualized Windows infrastructure servers.
“I work in what is called triage, which is basically the front line for our Footprints queue resolving any issues that come through . . . The stuff that doesn’t require one of the level 2 guys to step out of their projects to come in and fix an issue, that is what triage’s focus is,” Hefner said. “I’ve worked in IT for over 14 years so I feel pretty confident in my breadth of knowledge. I’ve seen a lot of issues.”
Growing up in North Carolina, Hefner began playing guitar at age 10, encouraged by his grandfather who gave him a 1963 Martin acoustic that he still owns today.
“I really learned to play staying summers at my grandparents’ house in North Carolina. He was in a bluegrass band with his brothers—they used to play on the radio,” he said of his grandfather.
Hefner followed in his footsteps, playing in bands and recording demos. That is what led him to the RIM program at MTSU. He later transferred to another university and changed his major but didn’t quite finish.
Now he is completing his degree a semester at a time, as much as being a father of three will allow—mostly night classes or online courses in the University College’s Professional Studies program.
Hefner has been trying to teach his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter to play guitar, but it’s his 1-year-old son who is the biggest fan right now.
“I don’t get to play as much as I’d like to any more, especially with a little one. He likes it when I put him in his crib and play the guitar for him. I’ll sing for him and play for him and he loves it,” he said.
In recent years, he has discovered just how special a place ITD is when he encountered several major health challenges.
This past winter he broke his ankle while playing in the snow with his children. He had missed a lot of opportunities to enjoy snow with his kids the year before while recovering from surgery, so he wanted to make the most of it when the area had a good snow in January.
“We got the notice we could go home early, so I went home . . . I missed all those snow days last year, so I thought ‘this might be the only snow we’re going to get,’” Hefner said. “So we went outside and were chasing each other around and throwing snowballs and I stepped in a hole that the dog had dug and snapped my ankle.”
He missed several months in recovery and is now a huge advocate for MTSU’s sick leave bank.
“That has been a big blessing to me,” he said. “The University was great. I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone was so supportive. I’ve worked in a lot of places and I can tell you I’ve never received that level of support.”

ITD Staff News

Foster is new specialist-desktop/classroom for itd

Justin Foster Justin Foster started at ITD on July 24 as a Specialist Desktop/Classroom.
Foster, of McMinnville, Tennessee, earned his bachelor of science degree from MTSU in 2004.
“I worked as a Library Assistant 2 for five years at Walker Library.  Then I was promoted to an LSP for six years at Walker Library,” Foster said.
His wife, Aurora, teaches violin at MTSU, and has a private studio with around 40 students. 
“We have a 5-month-old puppy that now keeps our hands full,” he said of the long-haired black-and-red German Shepherd.
His interests include golf, guitar, movies, hiking and collecting Nintendo Entertainment System games.
“I am an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego),” he said. 

 Petty joins staff as Systems Analyst 2

Sandy Petty began working for ITD on June 29 as a Systems Analyst 2.Sandy Petty
Originally from Lynchburg, Tennessee, she is now a resident of Tullahoma.
Petty graduated from Motlow State with an associate’s degree in May 1996 and from MTSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology.
Petty earned a master’s in Computer Science and Quantitative Methods from Austin Peay in 2017.
She worked for Motlow State Community College for 15 years in the Business and Financial Aid Departments. She also worked as IT Systems Coordinator for Alliance–Rock Tenn Co.
“When I returned to Motlow I began my work within their IT department as a Programmer Analyst 2 and then moved into the position of Director of Administrative Computing,” Petty said.
In her new role, she supports and maintains systems and upgrades running against Banner and “working to resolve issues and programming requests from users.”
“The best part is learning new areas and systems, as well as the people. The most challenging is the difference in the systems and operations within a community college versus a university,” she said.
She has been married for 22 years and has a 17-year-old daughter who is a senior. Petty said there is a “busy year ahead with our daughter as she prepares to graduate.
“I love spending time with my family and friends. I also love kayaking, hiking, reading, and enjoying activities with our youth and church family,” she said.

Rossman in Systems Analyst 2 role for division

Valerie RossmanValerie Rossman started with ITD on June 22 as a Systems Analyst 2.
Rossman, of Tullahoma, Tennessee, worked at Motlow State Community College for 15 years, including the last 10 years as a programmer.
She previously worked at MTSU as assistant director of Enrollment Technical Services.
Rossman holds an associate degree in Information Systems from Motlow State, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Information Systems from MTSU, and is planning to begin earning a Master of Science in Information Systems this fall.
“I maintain computer information systems running against Banner and assist users with programming requests and issues,” Rossman said. “I really like being able to help the user in a way that makes their jobs easier.
“Technology is always changing, so learning new things all the time is challenging but interesting at the same time.”
Rossman has three children: Dakota 21, Shelby 20, and Dillon 19. She enjoys gardening and canning fruits and vegetables.

 Wilson is web developer for ITD

Sarah Bell Wilson joined ITD on June 1 as a web developer.Sarah Wilson
Wilson grew up in Tracy City on top of Monteagle Mountain about an hour southeast of Murfreesboro.
“I moved to Murfreesboro in 2006 to attend MTSU and never left,” Wilson said.
Wilson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Computer Science from MTSU.
She worked as a lab assistant in Kirksey Old Main as an undergraduate, then was a graduate teaching assistant for the Computer Science Department while she was earning her master’s degree.
“I am thrilled to be not only working in Murfreesboro, but for my alma mater,” she said.
Wilson works on the Web Development Team transferring content from existing websites into a more modern, easily maintained platform. She also trains faculty and staff on how to manage their own content.
 “Learning a new system is always an adjustment, but the web development team (and everyone in ITD) have gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome,” she said.
She and husband Todd have been married seven years and have a son, Wade, who turned 1 in April.
“We also have two dogs and a cat. Todd owns his own tattoo shop/art gallery on the Square: Two-Tone,” she said. “I enjoy reading and am part of several book clubs.”
The family enjoys movies, video games, walking/biking and “we try to go camping at least once a year.”

Access Success By Bill Burgess

Tips for making high-quality, accessible PDFs

PDFs are one of the most ubiquitous file formats across campus and the professional landscape, in general.
You might be viewing this very newsletter in PDF format, depending on how you accessed it. But the important fact is that you CAN access it. The text is readable, the images make sense, and the order flows well.
I would love it if we could put out a version of this newsletter where the text was mostly gibberish, images were replaced with the word "graphic," and columns of text were swapped and/or unreadable. If you received that kind of newsletter, you would wonder what happened in the process of production that caused such a breakdown of information.
Perhaps surprisingly, that type of PDF is created every day when we scan paper documents in as low-quality, inaccessible PDFs. When someone using screen reading and/or text-to-speech technology tries to access the low-quality PDF, that person can hear anything from "blank document" to the range of issues I mentioned prior.
Follow these simple steps to create high-quality, accessible PDFs for students, faculty, staff, and the public.

  • Find a clean, unmarked copy of the print material (maybe the most important step).
  • Press down gently on the papers/book while scanning each page to get a shadow-free image and scan one page at a time (this aids the text recognition later).
  • If you’re using campus printers, raise the DPI to 400, turn off Compact PDF, and enable OCR in the PDF options.
  • If you have Acrobat Pro, use the Enhance Scans button in the Tools menu to Recognize Text In This File and then clean up any misrecognized words with Correct Recognized Text.
  • After that, you can choose Set Alternate Text and Autotag Document in the Accessibility Tools.
  • Be sure to save your changes!

Now that you have some practical steps to create accessible PDFs by scanning paper documents, let’s work together to create documents that everyone CAN access.

PLEASE NOTE: Exporting accessibility from Word to PDF will almost always give you a better product, so avoid scanning when at all possible!

Here is a YouTube video that shows what a screen reader/TTS user would experience with an inaccessible PDF. 

Here is a pdf version of this newsletter.

Bill Burgess

Bill Burgess is ITD’s instructional accessibility specialist.
He can be reached at 

S4B switch nears completion, learn with Lynda

It is anticipated that migration of Avaya telephone users to Skype for Business will be complete early this Fall.
Most recently, the following buildings were migrated:

  • Floyd Stadium
  • Bayer Travis Maintenance
  • Central Utility Plant
  • Student Union Building
  • James Union Building
  • James E. Walker Library
  • Andrew L. Todd Building
  • Wright Music Building
  • Printing Services Building
  • Peck Hall
  • Tennessee Livestock Center
  • Warehouse
  • Women’s Softball Complex
  • Kirksey Old Main
  • Midgett Building
  • Stephen B. Smith Baseball Clubhouse
  • Parking Services Building
  • Internal Audit (Wansley House)
  • Ned McWherter Learning Resources Center

Completing migration, and already in production, are:

  • Saunders Fine Arts Building
  • Public Safety
  • Murphy Center
  • Cope Administration Building

For additional information visit the Skype for Business website at

Skype Spotlight – Learning Skype for Business on

Skype for Business, MTSU’s unified communications platform, is so much more than the telephone that is sitting on your desk.
With Skype for Business, users are able to able to enhance productivity through the use of presence, instant messaging, enterprise voice, and conferencing.
For a complete overview of what the Skype for Business client can do for you, be sure to watch “Learning Skype for Business” with Gini Courter on To get there, follow the instructions below:

  1. Log in to the access portal at:
  2. On the Office 365 sign-in page, under “Work/School Microsoft Account” credentials, enter your FSA, along with your FSA password in the fields provided.
  3. Setup the additional security verification code when prompted
  4. Click on You’ll be automatically signed in and ready to use
  5. Search for “Learning Skype for Business”.
  6. You are ready to learn!

For additional information regarding, visit

Microsoft Imagine Academy offered to faculty, staff

As a Microsoft Imagine Academy member institution, MTSU provides faculty, staff, and students access to a collection of learning resources, self-paced tutorials, and certification exam preparation materials.

The program can be accessed at Users can search a catalog of more than 250 tutorials for self-directed learning.

Tutorials are organized into:

  1. Productivity: Office 2010/2013/2016, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access, OneNote, SharePoint
  2. Computer Science: Software Development, Web Development, Microsoft.NET, Gaming, HTML5, Software Testing
  3. IT Infrastructure: Windows, Windows Server, Networking, Database Fundamentals and Security

Ronda G. Henderson, an associate professor in the Department of Marketing at MTSU, said that nearly 20 percent of her students took the Microsoft certification exam last fall.

Ronda Henderson"The resources offered through Microsoft Imagine Academy are extremely beneficial to those who wish to engage in credentialing, earning certifications to demonstrate mastery of a particular skill," Henderson said. "Credentialing provides students with a competitive edge in this new economy where undergraduate degrees are minimum requirements to meet job qualifications."

Karen Hillman, a secretary in the English Department, said she became certified as an expert in Word last year and highly recommends Imagine Academy.

"I think it’s wonderful. I had used Word for 20 years but learned some things in class I didn’t know," she said, adding that she is planning to continue getting certifications in Excel and other programs.

"It is a great program, there is no downside. It is a tool you can use in your personal and professional development to make yourself more marketable," Hillman said.

There are many ways users can interact with the Academy materials, including:

  1. Staff and student users can explore the catalog of courses and view self-paced tutorials on a variety of topics. Upon completion of a tutorial, users can print a Completion Certificate to document their learning. Click on Learner Access on the left.
  2. Faculty can create a collection of tutorials, send a Learning Plan to their students and follow the progress as students complete the learning, or download materials from the Microsoft Official Academic Curriculum (MOAC) and incorporate those materials into their classes. Click on Faculty Access to submit a request form for faculty access.
Official MS Certifications

Members of the MTSU community may be eligible to take Microsoft Imagine Academy certification exams at no cost:

  1. Microsoft Office Specialist (Word, Excel or PowerPoint 2013 and 2016)—available to students, staff, and faculty
  2. Microsoft Certified Educator—for staff and faculty only

To request to take one of the certification exams, complete one or more of the Imagine Academy tutorials to prepare for taking the exam. Upon complete of a tutorial, print a "completion transcript" that will be used to verify that you are part of the MTSU/ITR Imagine Academy.

Prior to your testing appointment, create a Certiport testing account. Do not progress to the sections scheduling a payment for an exam. Contact the University Testing Center at 615-898-2743 to request the exam.