Update from the CIO November 2017

Picture of a pumpkin which evokes thoughts of FallIt has been quite some time since I managed to get out an update from the CIO.  Now I have a backlog of things to write about.  So here goes…

As usual, the team at CIS worked hard over the summer to prepare for the new academic year and to complete projects.  Every summer we share our top goals with Cabinet and that helps to map out our work for the year.  This year’s full list is in our article on  CIS goals for 2017-2018, but in this update I’d like to highlight:

  • Secure computing
  • Transition of services to TCC IT
  • Accessibility

Secure Computing

It is a cliche, but worth repeating, that secure computing is a constantly evolving journey rather than a fixed state.  The topic seems to grow more important by the year, and once again, security was the number one IT issue in the Educause annual top ten. In CIS we are constantly discussing how to achieve a balance between security and convenience. This year, we have a number of initiatives going that will enhance overall security, without being too much of an imposition on your daily workflow.  For example, we have some user training available through LawRoom and, to guide the roll out of this training, we are using the results of a data mapping project we did a couple of years ago.  That way, we hope to ensure that those who handle sensitive data have access to the training first.  Other security efforts include deploying two factor authentication and ensuring that hard drives are encrypted. You can read in more detail about this in our article here.

 

Transition of services to TCC IT

In January I wrote about the the changing landscape of IT at the Claremont Colleges and talked about a number of initiatives aimed at appropriate centralization.  We have since moved both CINE networking and HMC networking over to CUC under the auspices of TCC IT, which is led by Chuck Thompson, CIO at CUC.   The Computing Committee met with Chuck in October and learned about the governance structure and operations at TCC IT.  The transition was successfully completed in August.  HMC users should still contact the CIS Help Desk as always, and CIS staff will work directly with TCC IT.  This is basically the arrangement we always had internally in CIS.   If you’d like to read more about the transition and some of the achievements of TCC IT, please see our article on the Networking Services transfer to TCC IT.

Accessibility

The College’s accessibility taskforce worked continuously over the summer and into the Fall on many parts of the accessibility initiative.  A team of students at CIS converted many PDFs from the main college website into native WordPress format (WordPress is the software on which the HMC website is built).  CIS is working closely with the Marketing and Communications to implement the provisions in the College’s accessibility policy and to ensure that web content editors have all the training and resources they need.  If you are interested in creating accessible content, CIS provides consulting services to support you.  Details about that are on our service catalog page.

 

There are  some other articles to you may be interested in:

  • There are some new faces in User Services at CIS: Meet our User Services Team
  • And we have just welcomed a new Instructional Designer, Dr. Yi Luo, in our Educational Technology Services unit.  Watch for an article introducing her.
  • If you are interested in getting free access to Autodesk products, you’ll want to read Autodesk and HMC

At this time of year, I’m thankful for the great team at CIS and we at CIS are thankful for the great HMC community.  With that, it only remains for me to wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving!

CIS Goals: Enhancing Security at HMC

CIS has numerous goals we work on throughout the year and security has been a priority. It’s a multi-faceted topic with a number of areas to consider and we’ve addressed it through the following:

  1. Duo Security Two-Factor Authentication: Many of you have already heard about two-factor authentication. Duo Security provides an extra layer of security for users. Rather than relying on a password alone, users can verify their identity through their mobile phone or a hardware token. This greatly enhances security and helps us protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII), both your own and that of others. Duo Security is being rolled out in waves across campus to different departments and will eventually be utilized by the entire HMC campus.
  2. Trend Micro: We’ve been rolling out Trend Micro Antivirus protection to all staff and faculty systems on campus. Trend Micro automatically runs by default every day at 12pm to ensure systems are protected. Currently, we have the software available for both PCs and Macs, with the option to have either a CIS staff member help you install it, or instructions on how you can do this yourself here.
  3. Encryption: We’ve also been working with all faculty and staff on campus to encrypt user systems. By encrypting users’ systems, we are better able to securely protect data and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. If a system is stolen or lost, encryption keeps the data on the machine safe.
  4. User training: Those who have access to sensitive data are often targeted through phishing scams and other methods. We’ve implemented more in-depth user training to minimize the likelihood of a data breach.  This training is offered through LawRoom, the company that provides annual training regarding sexual harassment. If you are interested in early access to the IT security training, please get in touch with the Help Desk.
  5. OpenDNS Umbrella: The rollout of OpenDNS Umbrella has helped us reduce the likelihood of a user visiting a malicious site. If someone were to attempt to visit a known malicious site, they are automatically redirected to a benign webpage. If for any reason a website is improperly listed as malicious through OpenDNS, we are able to work directly with them to address it accordingly. You can learn more about OpenDNS Umbrella in our Services Catalog.

Although we are implementing all of these changes to enhance security at HMC, phishing scams and other malicious attempts at accessing PII will continue to evolve. We are continuing efforts to stay ahead of these changing trends to ensure our students, staff, and faculty are outfitted with the latest security technology and tools to keep their data protected.

Think you can spot the difference between a legitimate site and a phishing scam? You can take the Phishing Quiz from OpenDNS to put your skills to the test. Let us know how you did!

Computing Committee update

This Fall the HMC Computing Committee has been meeting monthly to discuss CIS services and strategy. The Committee’s purpose is to represent the interests of faculty and students, advise college leadership about technology needs and policies, and advise the Chief Information Officer (CIO) on computer policies. The committee membership changes every year, with members appointed by the Faculty Executive Committee. This year, the members include:

  • David Money-Harris (2019), Chair
  • Weiqing Gu (2020)
  • Jessica Wu (2020)
  • Raissa Diamante (staff representative, ex officio)
  • Joseph Vaughan (CIO, ex officio)
  • Nick Draper ‘19 (ASHMC rep, ex officio)

This year so far the Committee has met with Chuck Thompson, CUC CIO to discuss the transition of networking to TCC IT, and also with the three CIS senior directors to discuss CIS accomplishments and challenges to come.   

You can contact the HMC Computing Committee at any time by writing to computing-committee-l@g.hmc.edu or by filling out the form here.

Networking Services transfer to TCC IT

CUC’s TCC IT Infrastructure Services has  been building a strong team and is taking steps toward appropriate centralization of networking services.  On January 17, 2017 HMC officially handed responsibility for the CINE service to CUC.  The CINE service provides connectivity between the colleges and beyond the colleges to our Internet Service Providers.   The hand off in January was successful, as we had been preparing and gradually transferring responsibilities since last summer. There was no direct impact on people at HMC, since the CIS Help Desk is still the first port of call for network related concerns.

Along with Pomona College, Claremont McKenna and Keck Graduate Institute, we are participating in TCC IT’s “to the wall plate” network service.  This became effective July 1, 2017  and the responsibilities were completely transferred by August 31st, when Roger Wiechman retired. This was also a smooth hand off to TCC IT with minimal impact on the people at Harvey Mudd.

The idea behind appropriate centralization was to allow the Consortium to take advantage of economies of scale and at the same time to free the College IT departments to focus on services that are best delivered locally.  While I believe it will take some adjustment time to fully reap the benefits, we have already seen TCC IT deliver many advantages:

  • They negotiated an excellent set of discounts and leasing terms with Cisco, based on the collective purchasing power of the Consortium.
  • They negotiated for a “system” membership of Internet2, saving money overall and removing the need for each college to manage membership in Internet2.
  • They negotiated an excellent license cost for Duo, software that we are using to activate multi-factor authentication on our systems.
  • TCC IT has coordinated security initiatives that have focused on obtaining pricing favorable to Consortium members for IT security audits.
  • They have worked closely with Pomona College on an initiative that will help the Colleges meet new audit requirements in relation to Financial Aid record security.

While there will always be bumps in the road for transitions like this, I am very happy with how well things have gone and with the strong work that our new colleagues at TCC IT have been doing.   

CIS goals 2017-2018

Every summer, the President’s Cabinet discusses goals for the coming year, as well as reviewing progress toward goals identified in the prior year.    Each member of Cabinet presents goals for his or her area.  In summer 2017, I presented the following list of goals for CIS in 2017-2018.  We’ll release updates on these goals during the academic year.

Infrastructure and security

  1. We will complete the hand off of networking services to the TCC IT group.
  2. We will revisit ITIF plans to ensure that they are aligned with construction planning and with fiscal reality.
  3. We will develop a cloud first approach to systems
    1. Outline elements of success for new cloud systems specialist role.
    2. Move charlie and alice content to cloud.
    3. Streamline SaaS assessment steps with college departments.
    4. Develop an agile approach to managing cloud costs.
  4. We will deploy Duo two factor authentication.
  5. We will ensure that people who are handling sensitive data receive appropriate training.
  6. We will do what we can to push the Claremont IAM initiative forward.
  7. We will Improve security measures to support new NIST related policies as they are developed during the year.

 

Governance (IT decision making)

  1. Work with ITSC to develop an agile approach to Workday governance.
  2. Support the IACC engagement with DH and CTL initiatives.
  3. Work with the HMC Computing Committee to develop an annual survey on IT effectiveness.

 

Innovation

  1. Formally launch a college wide Linux support team.
  2. Continue to streamline intake, development and transition to production of educational technology projects.
  3. Launch an initiative to encourage a reduction in the amount of printing the departments do.

 

IT Services

  1. Develop and implement plans for day to day support of College’s efforts to increase accessibility.
  2. Complete service initiatives with OCA and Math.  Initiate two more service initiatives.
  3. Continue to drive toward highly consistent, reliable and technically deep user support
  4. Based on the outcome of SIS deliberations, begin orienting toward that change by documenting business processes and data flow.
  5. Work to ensure a successful deployment of Workday HCM.
  6. Deploy improvements to email and list services.

 

Autodesk and HMC

With the wide range of educational pursuits available on Harvey Mudd’s campus, there is no shortage of potential software needs. Luckily, Autodesk has provided us with the resources to utilize software titles for architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and media industries. Best known for AutoCAD, which encompasses a range of titles for design, engineering, and entertainment, Autodesk makes educational versions of software available at no cost to qualified students and faculty in their Autodesk community.

In addition to making software free, Autodesk sponsored a Harvey Mudd clinic a few years ago. The clinic team focused on the issue of world water issues; specifically, recontamination and the fact that if water is not used directly after being purified, it still has a high chance of becoming recontaminated. Autodesk helped connect Harvey Mudd students to resources around the world to address the issues many face, and allowed them to do so utilizing numerous titles including SketchBook Pro and Fusion 360. With their cloud-based solutions, they could design and interact with people around the world through a single shared project. They were able to manufacture a prototype and submit it to their collaborators for further testing. This is only one of the many projects Autodesk software has been an asset in. You can learn more about the project through this video.

Harvey Mudd has primarily used software provided through Autodesk to support Engineering clinics through designing and building prototypes. However, the list of titles available through Autodesk is extensive, and we are excited to offer you the ability to explore other opportunities. Students and faculty are eligible for free Autodesk software and we strongly encourage you to explore the tools and resources made available through their website.

If you’d like more information regarding Autodesk, you can find it by visiting the Autodesk Education Community Home Page.

Meet Our User Services Team

During the summer and earlier this year,  we’ve welcomed five new people to the User Service & Support (USS) team.  You may have already met them if you’ve visited the Help Desk or requested support for something.  But If you’ve not had the chance to meet them yet, please feel free to visit them on the first floor of Sprague.

photo of Andrew CastroAndrew is a native of Southern California. In his free time, Andrew enjoys eating at Eureka Burger and spends time with his wife and daughter watching Trolls. Andrew is a self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, so let him know when you plan to visit a local brewery! Andrew comes to us from Best Buy. He earned a B.A. in Graphic Design and has experience with web design and interactive media.

photo of Patricia CarpenterPatricia has been a Southern California resident for just over a year having moved from New Jersey where she worked as a Library Assistant. Patricia has obtained a B.S. with a focus in Management Information Systems. In her spare time, she volunteers at a public library and maintains a branch website for the American Association of University Women.

 

photo of Brittany OliverBrittany is an Air Force kid who started out in Germany and has since moved all over the United States. In her free time, she volunteers at animal rescues, plays video games, paints, and is an aerial artist. She has danced on a variety of aerial apparatuses for over 3 years. Brittany is also a writer for two drug rehab facilities, helping people learn about addiction, treatment options, and new studies.

photo of Gilbert GutierrezGilbert is a Southern California native who comes to us from Apple. Gilbert collects records in his spare time and is constantly on the lookout for new and old rarities to add to his current collection, which is almost 400 records strong. He also enjoys traveling with his wife. They’ve been to Japan twice so far, and are planning on revisiting (or relocating!) in the future.

 

photo of Tristen WhaleyTristen is a California native coming from Apple as a technician. He works as a professional musician outside of Harvey Mudd. He spends his spare time with his wife and baby boy (Zephyr). He is an avid outdoors-man and is a fan of combat sports (mma, kickboxing, muay thai, jiu jitsu). He has been grappling for over three years, and is obsessed with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

 

photo of Michael MeltonMichael is a native of California who comes to us from Monoprice technical support. Michael has obtained an A.S. in Business Administration from Chaffey College. In his free time, Michael enjoys spending time with his wife and son, cooking, and playing video games. He’s also a huge music buff, and loves discovering new music, going to shows, and playing ukulele.

 

photo of Chris SabinChris is native to Southern California, recently returning from a short stay in Oregon. Chris has worked at a family-owned ice cream shop and San Bernardino Sheriff HQ. Chris is currently studying computer science at Chaffey College, with the goal to transfer to Cal Poly Pomona for his Bachelors. In his free time, Chris enjoys playing PC games, hanging out with friends and family, and computer programming.

Fall 2017 CIS Service Reminders

Sakai:

Fall 2017 Sakai course sites have been populated with faculty and students. If you’re having trouble finding and organizing your sites in the new Home site, please read our Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Sakai Sites.

As part of the College’s website accessibility initiative, we have added a link to the HMC Accessibility web page on all HMC Fall 2017 Sakai course sites. This is one of the requirements for compliance with accessibility requirements. If you’re using a web site other than Sakai to host course materials, we’d appreciate it if you would add a link to https://www.hmc.edu/website-accessibility/ to your site as well. If you’d like to learn more about how to make your course materials more accessible, please contact us at the  CIS Help Desk (helpdesk@hmc.edu or 909 607 7777).

Mudd Shots:

Course Mudd Shots have been updated and are available both in the HMC Portal and on the HMC web site. The HMC Portal version includes photos of non-HMC students. We plan to retire the HMC web site version at the end of this semester. More information and links are available in the Mudd Shots Service Catalog Page.

Google Groups:

Course mailing lists have been created in Google Groups. You can see them in your My Groups list or get a full list of all course mailing lists at: Fall 2017 Course Mailing Lists on Google Groups.

With appreciation for feedback from the 17-18 Computing Committee, we have made a couple of changes to the default settings for course mailing lists: the members of a course mailing list are only viewable by the group members, the web archive of messages sent to the group is turned off, and prospective members must ask the owner of the list to be able to join. It’s always a good idea for the group owner to check their group settings by clicking the Manage button.

Classroom technology:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, many classrooms have resident document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD or DVD/VHS players. You can find a full list of which rooms have what equipment in this document: AV Equipment in HMC Class/Meeting Rooms.

Other technology available for use in the Shanahan Center and other classroom  includes:

  1. Laptop carts
  2. Lecture capture
  3. iClickers
  4. Smartboard
  5. Video cameras for displaying experiments

More details on these other technologies can be found below:

  1. We have three carts with 15 laptops each, which are stored on the second floor of the Shanahan Center for use throughout the building. Laptops are made available on a first come, first served basis so please let us know as soon as you can if you need laptops for your class. Also, consider carefully how many laptops you need or if at some point you realize that your class is using fewer laptops than you requested, please update your requests so that the systems can be made available for other classes. If you’d like more information about the laptops and how to reserve them, please visit  the Laptop Cart Reservation Service Catalog Page.

    You can find a full list of the software that is included on the laptops and the CIS lab computers in this document: Lab Software in CIS Managed Labs and Carts.
  2. There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. Each of the Galileo Auditoria also now have lecture capture available. You can visit the CIS web site for more information at the Lecture Capture Service Catalog Page.
  3. Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. Faculty can borrow sets of 50 iClickers and a wireless receiver from CIS. We can also help install the iClicker software on your computer and provide training on how to use the system. More information about the iClickers can be found at the iClicker Service Catalog Page.
  4. We have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. While the Smartboard is on a mobile stand, it is too big and heavy to move between classrooms, so we are currently keeping it in one of the technology-rich classrooms (Shanahan 2460). Use of the Smartboard is on a first come, first served basis so please let us know right away if you would like to try it out in your class, as we may need time to work with the Registrar to reschedule classrooms.
  5. Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the lecture capture rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use the CIS AV Request Form or send us an email at helpdesk@hmc.edu.

We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request. If possible, please do not wait until the last minute to submit your requests.

Have a great Fall semester!

CIS Summer Projects

With half of summer already gone,  CIS is knee-deep in projects.  Thankfully, we have an excellent team of interns helping us this summer:

  • Chris Butler ’20
  • Harry Fetsch ’20
  • Andrew Pham ’20
  • Aomsin Pongpiriyakam ’20
  • Kainoa Correa ’20
  • Xingyao Chen ’20
  • Anthony Romm ’18
  • Johan Hoeger ’17

Our team of summer interns is working on multiple projects that scale in size from small updates to improve workflows, to a complete overhaul of the HMC website to improve accessibility.  They are helping us support multiple departments throughout the college.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the projects we are working on currently:

Accessibility Project
Perhaps the biggest task our interns are undertaking is the accessibility project. Students are evaluating HMC’s website to determine whether the documents, forms, and structure are in the most accessible format. Students have met with the Communications department to outline the task and obtain access to the college’s WordPress site. We are already in the process of converting documents to webpage formats, making them easier to use. Over 800 PDFs and pageviews have been collected! The owners of the documents have been identified and the level of access to these forms has been determined as well. While this is a major undertaking, these changes are critical to improving users’ experiences online! You can learn more about this project here.

Electronic Forms Project
Students are putting their coding skills to work by converting the Registrars’ paper forms to Google Forms. Goals in this project include reducing the use of paper forms and adding automation and efficiency for tracking the status of requests and approvals between students, faculty, and the Registrar Office. Many of these forms have both student and faculty versions that are designed to automatically store responses and send reminder emails to advisors for approval. Students are currently testing the Transfer Course Approval form and the Independent Study form. More information about this project is outlined here.

Help Desk Chat Support
CIS is always looking for ways to expand on the service we provide faculty, staff, and students! While you can always call, email, or visit the Help Desk, we wanted to integrate another option for users on the go: chat support! Utilizing Google Hangouts, the chat service is currently being designed to provide automated responses and direct users to information for after-hours support. Faculty, staff, and students can also receive real-time support from CIS staff via the chat option. If a response is not received within a specific amount of time, the chat bot will provide an automatic response. Our interns are using programming to develop and deploy the service. You can learn more about the chat bot project here.

HMC Lecture Capture Migration
Many students on campus have taken at least one class that utilizes the Lecture Capture service. Faculty may request semester-long recordings of their lectures and provide them to students. In addition, the service may be used for special presentations, events, and guest lectures throughout the academic year. All recorded media is migrated from MediaSite to an HMC Google Drive maintained by the CIS department. Our students have already successfully archived the 2016 Fall – 2017 Spring academic year! You can find out more about this project here.

Shanahan Center Audio Visual Equipment Checks and Repairs
You may have seen the CIS staff throughout the course of the semester testing classroom equipment in the Shanahan building. Our interns join alongside us during the summer to ensure all equipment is tested and ready to go for the upcoming fall semester. No task is too small – classroom functionality is critical to the success of our faculty and students!

These projects represent only a handful of the responsibilities our interns are taking on this summer. Several other projects will be starting up later this summer and we’re excited to share our progress with you! If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to stop by Sprague this summer! You can always call or email the Help Desk too!

Summary of LMS Survey Results

Sakai logoThe IACC (Intercollegiate Academic Computing Committee) recently conducted a survey of all faculty, staff, and students at The Claremont Colleges. This survey focused more on users’ satisfaction with Sakai, how they felt about possibly transitioning to a different LMS, how they used Sakai, and what they felt was missing from existing tools.

The results for all colleges showed that a majority of student, faculty, and staff respondents were satisfied/very satisfied with Sakai (66%, 65%, and 60%, respectively). Looking at the HMC-only results, 61% of students, 53% of faculty, and 39% of staff surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied. HMC staff respondents were more neutral about Sakai’s usefulness, ease of use, reliability, and available features than staff at the other campuses. Faculty and student responses did not differ significantly from the combined results of the consortium.

Across The Claremont Colleges, a majority of students, faculty and staff expressed neutral feelings about transitioning to a different LMS (51% students, 50% of faculty, and 71% of the staff). Only 19% of the students, 22% of the faculty, and 12% of the staff respondents were in favor of a transition. The HMC results were similar; the only significant variation is that HMC staff were much more likely to mark an LMS transition as a medium, high, or urgent priority than staff at the other colleges.

Faculty and students who did not favor transitioning to a new LMS expressed that, given Sakai’s adequacy in meeting their needs, switching seemed to pose more challenges than benefits. In particular, they pointed to the challenges of learning to use a new system and of having to use two systems simultaneously during the switch. Several students also shared their desire to see faculty use Sakai more consistently and in more sophisticated ways.

Those who expressed dissatisfaction pointed to frustrations with Sakai’s navigation and described some additional features in existing Sakai tools (Dropbox, Forums, Gradebook) that they would like to see. Constituents will be pleased to know that a number of the requested features will be implemented this summer in the newest version of Sakai, including an updated interface to the Resources tool that requires fewer clicks, a new version of the Gradebook tool that incorporates new features from Gradebook 2, and a revised user interface. Interestingly, there were also a number of requested features that already exist in Sakai, suggesting that respondents either do not know about these features or have not received adequate instructional resources to be able to use them.

As a result of these responses, the Educational Technology Services team will prioritize developing new opportunities and methods for the community to learn to use Sakai’s existing functions and features, as well as those that will be introduced this summer. Hopefully this effort will benefit both faculty and students by making it easier to integrate the LMS into course activities. We look forward to partnering with others on campus in implementing new programs and resources in the 2017-2018 academic year.