Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What do Faculty Need and Expect from IT?

Image from Mark One Communications 
On August 18th, EDUCAUSE published a recent study done by ECAR (EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research), who partnered with 151 college/university sites and received responses from 17,451 faculty respondents across 13 countries to assess the needs of Faculty in regards to Information Technology.

Here are the Key Findings from the survey:

  • Faculty recognize that online learning opportunities can promote access to higher education but are more reserved in their expectations for online courses to improve outcomes.
  • Faculty interest in early-alert systems and intervention notifications is strong.
  • The majority of faculty are using basic features and functions of LMSs but recognize that these systems have much more potential to enhance teaching and learning.
  • Faculty think they could be more effective instructors if they were better skilled at integrating various kinds of technology into their courses.
  • Faculty recognize that mobile devices have the potential to enhance learning.

Those who have a subscription with ECAR will have access to the Report itself and the Infographic that goes along with it. A Slide Presentation will soon be available for subscribers as well, and all documentation can be found here.

ECAR will also be releasing a student survey in regards to IT in October.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Staying Safe on Public Wi-Fi

Image taken from Bing Images

An add from CNET released on August 20, 2014, gives some pointers about how to stay secure in public or free Wi-Fi zones when using a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. 

You can find the original article herehttp://www.cnet.com/how-to/tips-to-stay-safe-on-public-wi-fi/

Here is a quick summary of what the author (Lexy Savvides) covers:

Choose your network wisely
In the first section, she emphasizes making sure you are using the actual advertised free Wi-Fi, how to turn off public sharing, and to make sure your window's firewall is on.

Use a VPN
Here she covers using a Virtual Private Network (VPN); how it works, how to create them on your device(s), and how to use them with some links to step-by-step instructions.

Check for HTTPS
How to force your browser to use HTTPS through an extension. Software called HTTPS Everywhere is recommended for use to help keep your browsing secure. There are limitations however, and she highlights them at the end of the section.

Patch it up, check your apps
Making sure you keep your apps up-to-date with the latest versions, but also making sure you install the upgrades on secure servers.

Enable two-factor authentification
Having a back up to your login password helps ensure security when logging in to an online account. She also recommends not using the same password across multiple accounts.

Forget the network
This section is about making sure you immediately delete the free network from your device after using it, so your device doesn't automatically sign in to it later. This is the largest section as well, as she explains how to forget the network on Windows, Mac, and Android devices.

If you have questions or comments, please post them below.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E-Textbooks at the Heart of WSU Goals




June 11th, 2014
Written by: Legend Dastrup, Technical Writer/Communication Assistant
Weber State University, IT Department.

E-Textbooks have been finding their place in classrooms for over 20 years now, and two studies done by EDUCAUSE in 2013 highlight the importance and needs of E-Textbooks in higher education, which are broken into 5 major categories: Cost, Availability, Portability, Functionality, and Innovation.

Following the goals and aims of Weber State University, we want to make sure both students and faculty have easy access to content needed, for the importance of learning from the courses taught here on campus. The EDUCAUSE article The Current State and Potential Future of E-Textbooks, talks about the increase of exposure to e-textbooks in the K-12 grades, and how more students of this digital age are graduating high school with the expectation of colleges having e-textbooks.

The access students have to e-textbooks is directly related to the availability talked about in both articles. While cost is number one on the list, availability is a close second. In the article Understanding What Higher Education Needs from E-Textbooks, they provide a summary figure of the major importance and needs of e-textbooks. As shown in the figure, the access of e-textbooks consists of three central categories: Functionality, Portability, and Availability. The versatility of e-textbooks caters to all types of students and in all areas of study. Not only are the e-textbooks easily portable, but accessed through any wi-fi point connected by the tablets, smartphones, and computers students carry with them almost constantly. The wi-fi is readily available nearly one hundred percent of the time here on campus, which means students have very few excuses to not read and be prepared for class. The e-textbooks themselves aren’t always good for every type of studying students do, but the versatility they offer allows students the option to read the e-textbook however they choose.


The second figure here from The Current State and Potential Future article, shows how students use e-textbooks, and their preferences to digital text opposed to hard copies. The nice thing about e-textbooks however, is the ability to print and have hard copies on hand to appease the greater number of students who learn better by having notes and highlights on material they can hold, read, and flip through. While it isn’t a flawless process, all types of learning are still catered to, and it is cheaper than buying a textbook. A percentage of students are also benefitting the community by staying green and saving paper.
The overall versatility of e-textbooks is hard to ignore, and while they aren’t always flawless in their format compatibility across digital devices, they are almost always readily available on one device or another. Weber State University has many ways for students to access what they need all across campus, and letting students know how to use what is offered, is of paramount importance.

Aside from the primary bonus of offering a great price for renting or buying the e-textbooks; the combination of easy access, versatility by catering to different learning styles, and the efficiency of saving paper for the community, are all excellent reasons for WSU classrooms to consider using e-textbooks as often as possible.


References:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Following EDUCAUSE


EDUCAUSE on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/educause

Following EDUCAUSE on Twitter will give the latest on Events, Ideas, and Information for IT and Higher Education to help information technology stay on top of the complications and issues IT often has to work around. 

Check out EDUCAUSE on Twitter and check back to WSU's IT's News blog for weekly information relevant to WSU and it's employees. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

TEDx at Weber State University





Ideas Worth Spreading

When: February 28th, 2014

Morning Session: 10-11:30 AM
Afternoon Session: 1-2:30 PM

Where: Eccles Theater, Browning Center

Tickets are required for live event, get them here:
http://www.weber.edu/tlf/TEDx.html

Places where tickets are not required:

WSU Davis - D2 Room 110, 111

Ogden Campus - Wildcat Theater

Weber State Downtown - 2341 Washington Blvd.

If you'd like more info about TEDx and what it is, you can find information here:http://www.weber.edu/tlf/TEDx.html, then click About TEDx


Thursday, February 6, 2014

ELI Conference

Recently, between February 3rd through the 5th, EDUCAUSE held an online ELI (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) conference detailing new research to help higher education workforces stay up to date with new trends.

The three-day conference covered:

  • The Learning Brain: Modern Neuroscience continually discovers how to integrate the science of learning with the practice of learning.
  • The LMS Evaluation 2.0: The number of LMSs (learning management systems) available has shrunk. The evaluation focuses on evaluation criteria and the principles an institution should consider when choosing a new LMS.
  • Collaboration for Change: Learn how you and your institution can join a growing collaboration to move education toward an open, scalable architecture to support instructional innovation.
  • Higher Education Innovation: The talk explored the role of higher education, and particularly higher ed innovation, in providing global access to the American Dream.
  • Into the Great Wide Open: Leading and Managing IT in the age of BYOD and cloud services, and how to face the difficulties these new technologies present.
  • Diving Deep into Data: Extensive research from 2013 concerning the motivations, perceptions, and learning in Minnesota MOOCs.
  • Building a Strategic Plan for Online Course Accessibility: This presentation discussed the resulting template, which consists of accessibility issues to consider, a means of prioritizing the work, and checklists to assist in the process of planning.
  • Sustaining Educational Innovation: Learn how we implemented an institutional change effort and created a campus culture that values educational innovation, supports efforts to scale and sustain this innovation, uses institutional change strategies to encourage alliances and partnerships, and defines outcomes, implements pilots, and analyzes metrics for sustaining innovation.
  • A Summer Experiment with MOOC Design by Educators: Weekly, MOOC topics were studied for support with synchronous and asynchronous Internet LMS connections, two-way IP video, a 3D-world, and mobile app support. Immersive, 3D-world, and problem-based learning (PBL) simulations. 
  • Incubating Strategic Innovation: Three participants from the Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI) will discuss their institutions' latest innovations and cross-institutional collaboration to improve student learning outcomes and college success.
  • Launching a Campus-Wide Video Platform: This session focused on the implementation of ShareStream for institution-wide media management and its use for instructional technology, online learning, the library, and campus communications.
  • Leveraging Collaborative Technologies and Pedagogies in Large Active Learning Classrooms: This presentation explored an active learning classroom's development, and the results of studies on its impact on both faculty and students.
If any of these topics interest you, and you would like to get more details, please contact Ty Naylor at ext: 6266 for information regarding access to the recordings of these conferences.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Top 10 Issues Review

by EDUCAUSE

This week we would like to review the top 10 issues of IT as outlined by EDUCAUSE, to help us see how far we've come this year as a department, and realize what we have fixed regarding these issues.

The Top 10 Issues of 2013 are:
  1. Leveraging the wireless explosion.
  2. Improving student outcomes with wireless technology.
  3. Implementing an Institutional strategy for cloud technology.
  4. Developing a staffing and organizational model.
  5. Facilitating better information security.
  6. Funding information technology strategically.
  7. Determining the role of online learning.
  8. Supporting IT for consumer products and Byod.
  9. Transforming the Institution's business with consumer's products.
  10. Using analytics to support critical Institutional outcomes.

The four major solutions for addressing these issues are:
  1. Reducing cost. (By fixing Issues: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10)
  2. Improve Student Outcomes. (2, 10)
  3. Advancements in learning. (2, 7, 10)
  4. Meet the demands of consumer and products. (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10)
If you've had a hand in solving any of these issues, you know you have benefited IT(and therefore the campus) through one of these solutions. Thank you for all you've done to help this year in solving these issues.

By March of this year, EDUCAUSE will have created another list of issues we can look forward to solving, in order to better the entire IT Department.