Summer 2007

The Communicator :: Summer 2007

Conference Stimulates Ideas

Higher education professionals from across the country attended the 12th annual Instructional Technology Conference on the MTSU campus this past April.

The theme of the conference was "Engaging the Learner."; The event was organized and sponsored by ITD.

Featured speakers at the conference were Dr. George Strawn, CIO for the National Science Foundation, Dr. Richard Van Eck, an associate professor in Instructional Design and Technology at the University of North Dakota, and Ron Bleed, vice chancellor emeritus at Maricopa Community Colleges.

The conference included two pre-conference workshops, more than 35 presentations, six hands-on workshops, and five poster session presentations.

Windows Vista: Coming Soon

ITD has gotten a lot of inquiries about when we're going to roll out Windows Vista. Well the short answer is tentatively around spring 2008.

Why the wait you ask? First, IT has to have training on Vista so the staff can know how Vista works and be able to support it. Also, there are some compatibility issues like printer or other devices whose manufacturers haven't made Vista compatible drivers. ITD is working to resolve these issues before we release Vista as a campus standard.

Users should know that Vista has a drastic new look from XP or Windows 2000.There are quite a few items/files or options that are not in the same place as before. So there will be a learning curve for users when it comes to Vista, as well as with the less-mentioned Office 2007,

There is a good chance that Office 2007 will hit MTSU this upcoming fall semester. The change in appearance from Office 2003 to Office 2007 is less drastic than Vista, but the layout is noticeably different and may take some adjustment. Currently, ITD is looking at different training options for faculty and staff in regards to Office 2007 and Vista.

ITD Philosophy

In fulfilling its mission, the Information Technology Division endeavors to

  • build relationships within the division, the University, and the community conducive to communication, mutual respect, and trust;
  • promote teamwork through personal integrity, a spirit of fairness, respect for each other, and mutual appreciation with encouragement of everyone to contribute every day to the success of the team;
  • encourage and support personal growth and creativity;
  • engage in open and honest communication;
  • value an atmosphere of shared responsibilities where we learn from our successes and our failures; and
  • respect the diversity of each other and the constituents we support.

Desire2Learn

The conversion to Desire2Learn (D2L) is underway.

The TBR contract for the D2L course management system/learning environment was finalized in January, so the campus transition team and ITD's Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) staff have hit the ground running. D2L has setup the necessary hardware and software and ITD staff has attended training. ITD hosted a Desire2Learn (D2L) kickoff day March 14 to show off the new system, and a Faculty Senate forum was held to continue the discussion.

After the initial kickoff presentations, hands-on workshops began and will continue throughout the rest of the year as we near the final days for WebCT on our campus (scheduled for mid-December 2007). Visit the ITD Workshop Online registration page (www.mtsu.edu/~itd/faculty/train.html) to see the schedule of upcoming workshops.

It is essential to understand that any unconverted course, including previous course backups, will be unusable after December 2007.

Here are some steps faculty can take to prepare their course(s) for the upcoming conversion:

  1. Reduce the number of links in your course to the same file and delete items in the Course menu that are linked elsewhere in your course.
  2. Copy Organizer Page Text Box information you wish to keep into a file(s) and link to these new pages from a Content Module.
  3. Delete links to course files from Organizer pages and create links to those files in Content Modules (modules transfer much cleaner that organizer pages do) and leave links created using the WebCT URL tool (those will transfer).
  4. Delete any unused files from the manage files area, especially zip files that were used to move files into the File Manager.
  5. Determine the most appropriate method for converting your course:
    1. Full Course export using the WebCT Export Content Tool (works well for small courses using a variety of WebCT tools).
    2. Export Content Modules and Quizzes using the WebCT Export Content Tool (works well for courses already organized into content modules).
    3. Export Files from the Manage Files area (works well for courses with a minimal number of files).
    4. Request a system administrator to create a Command Line Course Backup (works for a large course that contains a wide variety of text, graphic, and multimedia files).

A full description of the conversion choices is available on the D2L support site.

For more information about MTSU D2L transition, contact ITD's FITC at 904-8189 or visit the TBR eLearning Wiki website http://tbr-elearning.editme.com/

Summer Technological Fellowships

  • Rejesh Barnwel - Math
  • Aleka Blackwell - English
  • Chong Chen - Engineer Tech & Industrial Services
  • Maria Clayton - English
  • Tom Hutchinson - Recording Industry
  • Don Roy - Marketing & Management

Network Convergence

Network convergence is the process by which two different types of applications, historically delivered via different networks and technologies, merge to a shared transport. MTSU recently entered the converged communications arena with its first truly combined voice and data networks, serving the new offices of the Tennessee Center for Child Welfare and the Sam H. Ingram Building.

History

Ironically, data networks started out as a converged model. Originally, connectivity to data networks was via a phone line and a modem. By converting digital signals to analog (recognized by the odd sounds modems would make), data could be successfully transported between two computers.

The problem with this method was that voice networks were not designed to carry data. Physical limitations of the phone circuits meant a theoretical maximum throughput. While methods of massaging the data (compression, for example) helped to push data throughput to the limit, increasing bandwidth needs meant the development of new technologies.

In the early 1990s, Ethernet emerged as the primary method for transporting data, replacing serial connections with then blinding speeds of 10 Megabits Per Second (Mbps). From that point, voice and data began a period of divergence within the Local Area Network (LAN).

Voice over IP

Whereas deployment of Voice over IP (VoIP) has expanded dramatically with the maturation of the technology, it can trace its roots back to the Network Voice Protocol developed in 1973. VoIP utilizes data networking connections and technology for transmitting telephone calls, a reversal of previous times where data was transported over voice circuits.

Voice over IP is not new at MTSU. When the Fairview Building came on line several years ago, the decision was made to use VoIP methods to provide dial tone. While Fairview also had a direct data connection to MTSU, the voice and data networks were completely separate.

The reasons for implementing the first VoIP network at MTSU as a separate network were varied. First, it was a new technology. Second, VoIP has special network requirements to ensure a constant voice connection, requirements not built into the MTSU data network at the time. Finally, data and voice networking needs were handled by two separate areas within the Information Technology Division.

Addressing the issues

The Fairview VoIP network provided invaluable experience for the MTSU Telecommunication Services (TS) department. In short order, TS technicians became experts at providing and maintaining this critical service via the different technology. Behind the scenes, this required a significant learning curve.

Voice over IP requires that the data network transporting the telephone calls employ Quality of Service (QoS) methods to eliminate broken and dropped connections. Recognizing the future need, Network Services (NS) began a focused network upgrade initiative to provide QoS capability across the backbone and to the end user. With the underlying network infrastructure in place, extensive QoS pilot tests were undertaken last year by TS and NS personnel.

Finally, while voice and data personnel were already accustomed to working closely on campus communication infrastructure projects, a new methodology to support the upcoming converged networks had to be adopted. Cross training, defining standards, and creating procedures for design and support have led to a truly converged support team.

True convergence

It is important to note that a converged solution is not necessarily correct in every case. MTSU has a complex traditional phone switch and extensive installed copper cable plant that provides the opportunity to provide excellent voice services to the campus. However, in cases of new building construction on campus and off campus new facilities, convergence becomes the preferred solution.

Such was the case when ITD was presented in 2005 with the task of providing service solutions for the Ingram Building. As a former church, no MTSU communication facilities existed to the building. It was recognized that a fully converged solution would be the best choice.

When it was announced that TCCW would be moving from facilities with direct MTSU connectivity to an off campus site on the Murfreesboro square, convergence was considered as well. While the Ingram Building would be physically connected to MTSU with high-speed capable fiber optic lines, the geographic distance to the new TCCW offices negated this option. Only the emergence of high-speed Wide Area Network (WAN) availability, dubbed Metro Ethernet, allowed for a converged connection to MTSU for TCCW.

TCCW's converged network came online in March 2007, and the Ingram Building came online in May. Their phones plug into a data jack, and the computers then plug into the phones. Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology provides the extra power needs of the phones, eliminating the need for a second wired phone connection to an electrical outlet.

So why convergence?

Convergence, in addition to being the future of voice transport, provides several benefits over traditional connectivity methods. Physically, the network is more robust. By eliminating copper building connectivity and replacing it with fiber optics, corrosion due to moisture and damage from local power surges and lightning strikes is reduced. Furthermore, while traditionally each phone required a separate copper wire pair to a phone switch, all voice calls are now handled via a single fiber optic cable pair.

Moves, adds, and changes from one VoIP network to another are also simplified. Whereas moving a phone on a traditional network entails physically moving several "cross connect"; wires along the circuit between the phone switch and the phone, moving an extension from one VoIP network to another is as simple as changing a configuration on the phone server.

Telecommunication Services and Network Services are committed to providing the most robust, feature rich voice communication possible. As new technologies are investigated and tested, expansion of converged solution offerings will continue.

Voice Mail Reminder

Don't Lose your important voice mail messages! Manage your voice mail while you are away. Go to www.mtsu.edu/vm

Profile - Dr. Rebecca Seipelt

The Advanced Classroom Technology (ACT) Laboratory in the Paul W. Martin, Sr. Honors College wields an impressive array of technological tools. Dr. Rebecca Seipelt is excited about the opportunities this classroom presents.

Dr. Seipelt, a faculty member in the Biology department at MTSU, teaches two classes in the newly opened classroom.

While she concedes it's a rush to judgment to say her students are retaining knowledge because of the classroom, the impressive technology is opening new doors

"[The ACT Laboratory] has a lot of different tools for getting things up and visible to the students,"; she said.

One such tool Dr. Seipelt employs is the Thunder system. This system behaves much like an electronic flip chart. Users can draw on the screen with Thunder's electronic pen or a finger. Pages created on the screen can then be posted on the walls of the classroom.

She also credits the 16 tablet PCs in the ACT Laboratory for enhancing her students' classroom experience.

"Having access to the laptops and being able to get the information there instead of having the students do that outside of class and bring it with them lets you do different things,"; she said.

Dr. Seipelt, who has been at MTSU since 1999 after receiving her doctorate from the University of Kentucky, is no stranger to instructional technology. As a recipient of the 2004-2005 Outstanding Achievement in Instructional Technology award, she has demonstrated her willingness to facilitate high-tech classes.

With classrooms like the ACT Laboratory, Dr. Seipelt believes it is key to help students grasp the technological tools at their fingertips.

"Just to try to help [students] understand how to use the resources that we have,"; she said.

ECAR Study

The EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology is an annual investigation into the technology activities and attitudes of freshmen and seniors from 96 two-year and four-year colleges and universities across the nation. Middle Tennessee State University, for the third year in a row, was one of those institutions. A random sample of freshmen and seniors were asked to participate in the survey.

A survey of more than 100 questions was used to help determine these findings. Survey items include issues such as ownership of technology devices (e.g. computer, PDA, iPod), preferred communication between peers and professors, how much technology is valued in the classroom, and proficiency of certain software skills.

In results from the 2006 data, MTSU had 148 students respond to the survey (87 freshmen, 61 seniors) with approximately an equal numbers of male and female respondents (71 male, 77 female). MTSU students appear to be ahead of the technological curve in some areas. For example, about 73% of MTSU students have their own personal desktop computer compared to about 69% of other college students. MTSU students also reported higher rates of owning PDAs (19% vs. 15%) and smart-phones (11% vs. 8%) than other students. MTSU students participate in online social networks (e.g. Facebook.com, MySpace.com) at a slightly higher rate than other students (78% vs. 74%).

In areas where MTSU students lagged far behind in prior years, the gap appears to be closing. In 2005, only 40% of MTSU students owned a laptop computer. In 2006, 63% of MTSU students surveyed own a laptop computer, compared to 68% of other students. About 50% of the laptops owned by MTSU students are less than one year old. In other areas, MTSU students are similar to other students surveyed, in such areas as the rate of ownership of iPods (~59%) and wireless hubs (~35%).

Students were asked to rate their ability on certain core software used in many classes. MTSU students rated themselves significantly lower than their counterparts. For instance, when asked to rate their skill-level using Excel, a greater percentage of MTSU students rated their skill-level minimal (8% vs. 4%). Moreover, a significantly higher percentage of the MTSU students surveyed have no experience with Excel (23%) when compared to other students (15%). Similar finds hold true for MTSU students' skill-level with PowerPoint, Photoshop, Director, Dreamweaver, and FrontPage.

Faculty might find the following data to be useful for their classroom instruction. MTSU students use broadband connections more frequently than dial-up. Fewer than 10% depend on dial-up internet access with most MTSU students using cable modem (47%) or the campus network (38%). Email is still the overwhelmingly preferred method of communication (81%) for receiving information from the university, being preferred over instant messaging (3%), text messaging (5%) and paper mail (5%). Seventy-two percent of seniors reported sending email daily, while 55% of freshman reported the same.

Over one-half of MTSU students surveyed, equal between seniors and freshmen, prefer a moderate amount of technology used in their courses. Nearly half indicated that technology helped them communicate better. When asked if technology improved their learning, nearly 60% indicated that it did. An overwhelming 71% agreed or strongly agreed that the use of technology helped them do better research for their courses than in courses that do not use technology.

Data collection was repeated again this spring, and MTSU will continue to track the ever-changing trends in technology use among our students.

ITD Staff News

* Cassie Leyhew has joined ITD as an administrative assistant to Lucinda Lea, vice president for Information Technology and CIO.

As an administrative assistant, Cassie coordinates and schedules all activities for the vice president.

In addition to her other duties, Cassie gathers, investigates, researches, analyzes, and/or studies information affecting University-wide, interdepartmental, or intradepartmental issues and makes recommendations to the vice president as appropriate.

Cassie comes to ITD from the Office of Professional Laboratory Experiences at MTSU where she served as an executive aide.

Cassie lives in Milton with husband Brian and daughter Angela.

In her position as administrative assistant, Cassie seeks to be an outstanding employee by working hard and efficiently. She believes this will set standards for others and improving the university as a whole.

* Dr. Sidney McPhee, president of Middle Tennessee State University, John Cothern, senior vice president, Lucinda Lea, vice president for Information Technology and CIO, and Lisa Rogers, director of Administrative Information System Services, wrote a paper for the SunGard Summit 2007 Conference held March 19-22. The paper "Roll Out ERP and Stay Sane"; was presented by Lea and Rogers at the conference.

ITD Mission

The Information Technology (IT) Division, through strategic planning, innovation, technical leadership, and direction, supports the University's mission of instruction, research, and outreach. In supporting the goals of the University, the IT division will

  • provide an effective, accessible communication structure that supports appropriate information and learning technologies to meet the needs of a dynamic academic environment;
  • evaluate the division's activities to maintain the highest level of services possible to assure that the technologies provided are current and contribute to the efficient operation of the University; and
  • provide direction for future growth and expanded capabilities.

ITD Staff - Mike Wolf

For Mike Wolf, students, faculty, and staff members on this campus all have one unifying characteristic: They are his customers.

As a LAN administrator in the Information Technology Department, Wolf prides himself in the client-server aspect of his job.

"I like to be a miracle worker in that I like to figure out how things works and I like to solve problems,"; he said.

As a member of the Operations Group under Rick Cruse, Wolf also works closely with desktop support to provide them with the infrastructure they need to support campus desktops.

Wolf has been with ITD since 1998. In that period of time, he has seen the campus undergo radical technological changes.

"ITD has always tried to stay on the forefront of changing technologies. … and they do a very good job at it,"; he said.

The wireless network that nearly encompasses the entire campus was non-existent when he arrived. Also, Wolf noted, the network is segmented in a more efficient manner.

"It has helped increase the manageability of the network and it has also helped create a more secure network,"; he said.

As the campus evolves, ITD and Wolf must evolve with it.

"ITD has kept up to pace with the increasing demands of the growing number of students and their needs for the latest technology,"; he said.

Individually, Wolf is energetic about keeping tabs on the latest developments in group policy, remote installation services, and distributed file services, among other things.

A Tennessee resident for nearly 18 years, Wolf lives on a self-described "mini-farm"; in Woodbury with his wife and their five cats and three dogs.

ERP Update - New Password Profile for Banner

Banner System Password

The new Password Profile has been implemented across ALL Banner instances. The password policies will now cover all end user accounts, training accounts, and generic shared or process accounts for Internet Native Banner (INB) or database access. Password changes will be required every sixty days and your new password will be edited for characteristics of a strong password. At MTSU, a strong password has the following characteristics:

  1. MUST be at least eight characters in length;
  2. MUST contain at least two alphabetic characters and one numeric digit;
  3. MUST NOT contain a recognizable word;
  4. MUST NOT be a palindrome, such as ABC11CBA;
  5. MUST NOT contain certain illegal special characters, for example @, #, \, quotes;
  6. MAY contain special characters that are not illegal special characters;
  7. MUST NOT be your last password; and
  8. MUST NOT be your user name.

Finance

The Finance team is working on Access reports for the upcoming second year end processing on Banner. Progress is being made in getting these produced so many of the supplemental schedules are automated. Almost all of the supplemental schedules for July 2007 will be produced automatically.

Human Resources

MTSU hosted Banner HR Salary Planner training in May 2007.

Advancement

  • The Banner Advancement system is being set up for memo credit processing.
  • Banner Advancement version 7.4 is currently being tested by the Advancement Team.

Student

  • Student Team conducted Banner Navigation and topic specific training sessions in preparation for Banner Student system registration go live.
  • Banner Student system training materials are posted at: www.mtsu.edu/resources
  • Over 19 million student records were converted and migrated to Banner.
  • MTSU is hosting Banner Student CAPP (Curriculum Advising and Program Planning) training sessions in May and June.
  • Banner Accounts Receivable Mods and Regression Testing is being hosted by MTSU in April, May and June.
  • Summer 2007 registrations, permits, and authorizations will be processed in SIS PLUS.
  • All application data for Fall 2007 will be processed in Banner
  • All Fall 2007 registration activity, permits, and overrides will be in Banner.

Financial Aid

  • The Financial Aid Office conducted weekly Banner training sessions through May 2007. Most staff members received a general administrative level training session with more specific topic training sessions planned for the future.
  • Banner Finance

New RaiderNet Option

Students and employees can look up their MTSU Banner ID number with a new option that has been added to RaiderNet. The new link is "What's my MTSU ID number?"; When selected, this feature will display the user's Banner ID number, which is also sometimes referred to as your 'M number.' Both students and employees can find the new option under RaiderNet's Personal Information tab. In addition, students can also find the same link on RaiderNet's Student and Financial Aid tab within its Registration section.