eLearning Platform Review
What did we decide? The Blackboard Learn Software as a Service (SaaS) is the best overall solution for Framingham State University! Following an exhaustive review of eLearning platforms the recommendation of the Learning Management Task Force is to remain with Blackboard Learn but move our hosting services to a SaaS deployment or in other words “to the cloud.” The team looked closely at five Learning platforms (Blackboard Learn, Canvas, D2L, Moodle, and Schoology). Instructure's Canvas and Blackboard's Blackboard Learn solution were the finalists. Based on all of the due diligence performed over the past several months, Blackboard Learn was selected by the team tasked with the review of alternatives. In the final analysis, the move to the Blackboard Learn SaaS solution will be the least disruptive to faculty and students.
Migration to Microsoft Windows 10 and Office 2016 has begun
All new University purchases of Microsoft Windows desktop and notebook computers now have the Windows 10 operating system and Office 2016 application suite installed. Framingham State’s migration to the new operating system and application suite begins this summer as older computers are upgraded in accordance with the University's replacement schedule. The migration to Windows 10 is necessary for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the Windows 7 operating system will no longer be supported by Microsoft as of January 2020. Many students already use computers with Windows 10 installed as do more than half of the machines in the University's computer labs. Even though the current plan is to only move existing computers to Windows 10 as they are replaced, Faculty and Staff can either be migrated individually or as a department upon request. If you or your department would like to migrate to Windows 10 prior to your replacement cycle, please submit a request through the IT portal at https://www.myit.framingham.edu.
Upgrades to the University’s Technology Enhanced Campus continue
The Information Technology Services (ITS) projects underway this summer include the continued replacement, upgrade and expansion of technology in 26 different classroom or meeting space locations. The scope of work includes adding technology to rooms that previously did not have it available, upgrading the size and type of technology in some rooms and adding video conferencing capabilities to some others.
Technology Refresh in the Residence Halls
The University recently received over $200,000 to fund the upgrade and replacement of network electronics in all of the residence halls. This will compliment other recent improvements to the campus network such as the upgrade and expansion of wireless access points throughout the campus. As a result, the existing network switches will be replaced with the latest state of the art technology with the expectation that WiFi performance will be improved greatly.
Campus WiFi Network Security Enhancements
All institutions need to continually take action to protect their information systems and networks from potential malicious activity. Framingham State is taking an extra step this summer to further increase security on the University’s WiFi network by adding another layer of access control. This will help prevent unauthorized users of the University network from gaining access, improve monitoring of harmful activity and enhance the ability to resolve things that might compromise the integrity of Framingham State’s technological infrastructure. Taking this next step in our ongoing efforts to bolster the security of the University’s network will require everyone to perform a one-time login to the campus WiFi using their existing username and password. Students, Faculty and Staff will be automatically redirected to a webpage, where they will be asked to enter their logon credentials. Guests of the University will be able to access the WiFi through an automated registration process. Limiting access to the campus WiFi network in this way, and encrypting their wireless connection in the process, will also bring the University into compliance with recent audit recommendations as well.
Access to free world-wide WiFi “eduroam” network
The University is now a part of a reciprocal network called “eduroam” that allows members to access free WiFi at more than 5,000 locations worldwide. This is a secure service that allows students, faculty and staff from visiting colleges and universities to access the Framingham State WiFi network using their institution’s login credentials. In addition, members of the Framingham State University community will be able to access WiFi at other participating eduroam institutions using FSU login credentials. Access to eduroam is available at universities across six continents including Europe where there are thousands of participating colleges, universities and research facilities. Membership is growing among Massachusetts public higher education institutions as well (at least 9 will have joined by September).
Planning is underway for an upgrade to Banner 9
Information Technology Services (ITS) is working with Framingham State’s “Administrative and Student Information Management Team”, and the providers of systems the University uses to manage administrative and student information, on a plan for upgrading to version 9 of Banner. This is a significant undertaking that requires the input and involvement of many different people across the University along with our third party providers of technology and services. Our goal is to work with people within the University who use Banner, along with our third party providers, to document a “roadmap” for the migration to Banner 9 that can be shared during the fall 2017 semester.
Read more about the upgrade to Banner.
All new my.Framingham 2.0 will debut in 2018
The University plans to launch a new and improved my.Framingham portal next year. Similar to the upgrade from Banner 8 to 9, the change to my.Framingham 2.0 will involve converting to a different underlying technology and user interface. In fact, Ellucian is the provider of Banner and the portal application software for my.Framingham. As a result, ITS is working closely with Framingham State’s “Administrative and Student Information Management Team” and Ellucian on this project as well along with other third party providers of technology and services. Initially, our goal is to convert the scope of features and functionality available within my.Framingham currently to Ellucian’s new portal application. Additional enhancements to my.Framingham will be introduced subsequent to conversion, some of which will coincide with the move to Banner 9.
Rollout of “single sign-on” begins later this year
ITS is implementing single sign-on as a prerequisite to making Banner 9 and the new my.Framingham portal available. Single sign-on (SSO) will provide authorized users of University information systems and online services with access to different resources without having to re-enter username and password credentials multiple times. Login once and gain access to all SSO enabled systems and services without being prompted to log in again to each one of them.
Cyber Security Awareness at FSU
Every organization today faces significant cyber security threats. The list of organizations that has fallen victim to hackers, or been fined by states or the federal government for losing or mishandling confidential data in their care, is a long one. Yes, it makes for interesting headlines… but what does any of that have to do with you? Most security breaches involve the compromise of unsuspecting users in some fashion as part of the attack, whether by a phishing email, infected web page, or some other means. FSU wants you to be a strong link in our defenses, but that requires knowing what behaviors create risk and which ones help keep our data and IT assets safe. Fortunately, FSU has a defined Information Security Program, a cornerstone of which is cyber security education, training, and awareness for the user community. This October, to coincide with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, ITS will launch a new cyber security awareness campaign. This initiative, under the guidance of our Director of Information Security, will include online cyber security awareness training, knowledge articles, and posters, and other media with reminders on proper user cyber security hygiene. Please look for these announcements, get engaged, and commit to being a strong link in our cyber defenses!