ITS Newsletter Spring 2012

ITS Spring 2012 Newsletter

Internet Safety

ITS has seen more and more phishing and hacking attacks targeted toward Augustana faculty and staff.  The phishing is more frequent and often harder to spot.  We continue to tighten our technology security including things like a new spam firewall, stricter server user policies and intrusion detection alerts, but we need your help too.

Network security is very much like the security at your home.  At home we lock our doors and feel safe, maybe we even have a security system, but how safe would you feel it you could hear someone outside jiggling your doorknobs and trying your windows just to see if they can get in? That is what it is like for our servers.  Hackers are repeatedly trying to find the unlocked door or window (security hole or simple password) to gain access to the campus servers.  At your home, sometimes they just walk up to your door and your automatic light scares them away.  Sometimes they get as far as turning the knob to see if the door is locked, sometimes they jiggle and bang.  If you don’t have a deadbolt, they just get out the bobby pin and pick the lock.  How often would someone really try to hack into Augustana’s system?  Well, last month there were 750,000 attempts to enter our servers.  550, 000 times we stopped them before they were able to knock. (our “security light scared them away”) 200,000 times they were able to knock and some of them pounded and jiggled until our security system “turned on the alarm”. Were they ever successful?  Yes, a couple of times they were able to guess someone’s password and take over an email account. Did they ever gain access to confidential information on our servers….not yet.

What do we need from you?  There are several easy things that we need you to do, but the first and most important thing is Strong passwords.  We need you to have deadbolt passwords and not push button passwords.  We will be tightening up the requirements to help you choose passwords that are not easily hacked.  In the next couple of weeks you will get notice that your password is about to expire and needs to change.  You will need to follow some tighter requirements.  (At least 8 characters, at least 2 numbers or symbols,  at least 2 capital letters, no common words).  We will send some hints for creating a password along with the notice.

Please see this ITS webpage for more details and a list of things that each of you should be doing here and at home to keep your system safe.

Archive your email or lose it.

Did you know that your email is deleted from the server once it is 6 months old?  Did you know that moving it into a folder doesn’t change that?  If you want to save your messages or calendars longer than 6 months, you need to set up email archiving.  It is just a few clicks to get it started.  Instructions can be found here  scroll down to the “Archiving Your Mail” section.

Video Conferencing Room

Thanks to a grant Augustana is getting a full video conferencing room.  The room will be located in ITS, but can be scheduled by any department.  The room will be equipped with a front and rear camera and LCD monitors, and also microphones for the speaker and audience.  The room will be equipped to participate in Polycom conferencing as well as WebX and other computer based conferencing programs.  Look for our open house sometime in May.


Here are our printing numbers for fall semester.

75 Students printed over 1000 pages during first semester

238 documents were over 50 pages long

110,605 individual print jobs

555,845 pages printed.

Buzz Book

Have you noticed that you now see a “Former Student” tab?  You can look up alumni back to 1997.  You might get luck and find an occasional student from an earlier year, but only an occasional student.  The page shows you their alumni year, current city and current email (if they have updated the college) and their last Buzz Book picture

New This Summer!

Summer Brown Bag Sessions

We are in the process of planning our summer Brown Bag sessions.  Sessions are planned for :

            Internet Security

            Apple iPads and iPhones

            What’s New and What’s Neat 

Do you have suggestions for other sessions?  Let us know and we will try to put something together.      

Smart Classrooms to get an update:

All of the Smart Classrooms on campus will be getting a software update this summer.  All computers will be updated to run Window 7.  The other software like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint will not change.  Many of the rooms will also be getting new computers and projectors.  Remember that over the summer all files on the classroom computers are deleted.

Moodle 2.x Upgrade in August

We will be migrating to Moodle 2.1 in August. This upgrade will result in some significant improvements to the user interface, as well the addition of number of beneficial features. In order to smooth the transition from our existing version to the new version, we will create podcasts demonstrating how to perform typical tasks (adding resources and activities, creating quizzes, working with discussion forums, working with the gradebook) using the new interface.

Navigation in the new version of Moodle is based upon blocks. In the past, your course flowed through the center of the screen and any blocks which you chose to make available were along the left and right side of the screen. With Moodle 2.1, you can still choose which blocks are available, but they are arranged vertically. To reduce the area they take upon the screen, you can now dock them in a narrow ribbon along the left portion of the screen.

Some other differences you'll notice:

  • Adding questions to quizzes is much more straight-forward. You can still upload test question banks and draw questions from them, but it's now easier to create individual questions as you create a quiz.
  • You can add boxes to items for tracking student progress. There are options for allowing students to mark an activity as complete (when, say, they've read a resource you've provided) and options for you to show an activity as complete when specific conditions have been met.
  • You can choose to have your resource descriptions appear below the link to a resource. (In the past, students had to click the resource to see the resource description.)
  • Blog entries can be linked to a specific course. (In the past they were linked to a user, forcing them to be site-wide rather than course-specific.)
  • There are more options for setting up conditional activities. 
  • You can easily duplicate labels and activities.
  • There are more types of discussion forums:
    •  single simple discussion forum, in which the instructor posts a single topic to which everyone replies;
    • each person posts one discussion forum, in which each student can post exactly one new discussion topic, to which other students reply;
    • Q an A forum,  in which students must first post their reply before viewing other students' posts;
    • Standard forum displayed in blog-like format, in which topics are displayed on one page with "Discuss this topic" links; and
    • Standard forum for general use, in which anyone can start a new discussion

If you would like an opportunity to experience the new Moodle interface before we migrate in August, I encourage you to sign up for one of the Sloan workshops as those are now being offered in Moodle 2.1. Contact Sharon Gray for a list of upcoming workshops.