Tech tools expanded to make faculty, staff work easier
Once reserved exclusively for students, the elite tech-savvy team known as the Genius Squad will be expanding its services to faculty and staff soon, and that is not all. Unlimited web storage and free video conferencing options are on the way to members of the DePaul community.
It's all part of Information Services' Vision 2018 strategic efforts to leverage technology to enhance learning and increase efficiency for students, faculty and staff, according to Bob McCormick, the division's vice president. "We're focusing on high-value tools without a big price tag that can help people be more productive."
In January, The Theatre School's web site was the last of the 10 college sites to become mobile responsive in SharePoint, which means that the website detects the size of the screen a visitor is using and adapts automatically to give the visitor the best user experience. Most individual office sites have been updated to benefit from this new technology, and IS and Web Communications are working to complete the remaining sites as soon as possible. Site managers can consult a best practice guide and other resources Web Communications has made available online to support the move.
Meanwhile, high-definition projectors replaced old liquid crystal display versions in about 90 classrooms across campus, vastly improving the clarity of visual material shared on the big screen. Over the next few fiscal years, all classrooms will be upgraded to the new high-definition projectors.
Virtual Computer Lab Environment
McCormick says more students are bringing Mac computers to campus, but Microsoft Access - a database management system - does not work on a Mac. IS launched a pilot with CDM faculty in the fall quarter that made Access available virtually so students with Macs did not have to visit campus physically to do their homework. It proved popular, so the service will continue.
High-density wireless access points were installed around campus that can service 150 devices, nearly three times as many devices as a standard access point. Wireless service also was expanded to the sitting area outside Arts & Letters Hall, and improved for the Schmitt Academic Center pit area and the second floor of the Lincoln Park Student Center. Guest Wi-Fi service is now easier to access for campus visitors and conference attendees.
McCormick says DePaul's wireless network needs to be refreshed and approximately double in size to reach 100 percent campus coverage. Proposals to expand existing coverage are forthcoming and will include outdoor spaces used by the university community.
Use of Video in D2L
Panopto is a new video streaming and video content management software platform that enables faculty to upload and manage video content. It became operational in September 2016 and is fully integrated into the Desire2Learn system so faculty can record and share audio and video files.
This distinguished group of whiz kids are student employees who will soon expand their services to help faculty and staff address problems they otherwise might have to pay a retailer to fix. With offices in the Loop and Lincoln Park, squad members can remove viruses or malware, repair hardware, add Outlook email and contact details to a personal phone and much more. This service will become available later this academic year.
Unlimited Web Storage
The university will introduce Box, a cloud storage provider, in the spring quarter to provide unlimited web storage for faculty, staff and students. Similar to Dropbox, Box will allow faculty or staff working at home to access content saved there from anywhere on any device. A faculty member can save class material to Box, head to class and then access the content inside the classroom. It offers a variety of methods to collaborate and share content with others, both within and outside the university community.
Skype for Business
Microsoft's Skype for Business enables web collaboration, desktop audio/video conferencing, and chat functionality. Beginning in March, faculty and staff will be able to host web-based meetings on demand, saving a trip across campus, the city or the world.
McCormick expects these tools will prove popular and help students, faculty and staff accomplish their goals more efficiently.