Dear PSU Faculty...

In addition to a recent update to the campus, I wanted to provide you, faculty and instructors, with a few more updates.

First, if you are new to the PSU community, a warm welcome from ITS. Information Technology Services is comprised of telephones, network, central information systems (Banner, myPlymouth, email, web, etc.), WebCT, and classroom and academic technology support. You can always reach any of us through or 535-2929.

WebCT has evolved and we have a new support team. John Martin, formerly the manager of the Help Desk and the Learning Center, is now leading up the academic technology support team in the Learning Commons (Lamson Library). John's expanded role in this area reflects the growing need for more support for instructors using WebCT and looking at new methods of instruction using the latest technologies. If you have any questions about WebCT, contact John at

Dan Bramer, who managed the WebCT support last year, is shifting his role to help more with back room tasks. WebCT has a significant amount of integration points with myPlymouth, Banner, Library systems and more. He'll be working closely with the Systems folks in Hyde Hall.

Did you hear that the Help Desk is now located in the Library's new Information Desk? Seven days a week, call, write or stop in. Jo-Ann Guilmett, who headed multimedia support to the classroom the past few years, is managing the new Learning Commons Information Desk. In addition to multimedia (now managed by Brad Hachez), Jo-Ann oversees the Help Desk staff cross-trained in library and IT services. Stop in and see.

I've been hacking away at some campus technology issues online. If so inclined, take a click. Comments welcome, but no obligation.

Dwight Fischer, CIO


>>> Back to Campus Update, Fall 2006 (

Living in an online world.1 (

Living in an online world.2

Security is Everyone's Business (

File Sharing, Cut it out!

Allemp (Changes to email list to all employees) (


Back to Campus, Fall 2007

As we prepare for fall 2007, here’s what you need to know about computing and technology.

Acceptable Use Policy: All PSU computer users are responsible for knowing and operating within the guidelines of the Acceptable Use Policy. If you’ve never seen it, or not in a while, take a look. It was updated by TAG (Technical Advisory Group) this past year. See for this and other computing policies. Also, Security is everyone's business!

File Sharing on the network: If you’re sharing files for legitimate reasons, carry on. That’s what our network is for. If you are sharing or downloading copyrighted music or movie files, cut it out! The network police are watching… more

Voice Directory: We now have a voice activated directory that will allow anyone to call 535-3333 anytime and speak the name of the person you wish to reach. Try it. The more we use the system, the better the response rate. This works for all employees and students.

There will also be changes to the Print Directory. Because of the timing of the directory publication, employee listings are less-than-accurate when it goes to print. Consequently, and because of the new Voice Directory, employee listings will not be in the PSU directory. Instead, users will be directed to the Web directory in myPlymouth and For those that still feel the need for a print copy, one will be available for download in the Staff Resources tab of myPlymouth .

ITS Annual Report: Want to know the priorities of ITS in the upcoming year? Are you familiar with the ITS governance structure? Want to see some interesting facts and statistics on technology use and the challenges we face in the upcoming year? See the ITS Annual online at (see Computing Resources Channel).

Changes to Allemp: The allemp (all employee) email list has undergone some changes this summer. Individuals may continue to send allemp messages updating the campus on events and programs. However, it will be collected and disseminated in a daily digest at 10 a.m.. The guidelines of use will not change: no selling, no proselytizing and no politicking. Also, messages to allemp must be embedded in the message itself—no attachments, please. Allemp is a good way to share information with your colleagues, but remember, overuse will lessen the impact. More…

PSU-Announce: A new employee email list has been created for official and emergency notices. Emails to PSU-Announce may only be sent by senior administrative offices.

Web Redux: The PSU Web team is engaged in a project to renovate the look and design of our campus Web pages. The emphasis of the PSU web has shifted to be our primary means of communication to external viewers and, more specifically, prospective students. Grad Studies has also revamped their Web pages. Expect to hear more about this as the semester progresses. As part of this project, more and more Web pages for internal PSU business have been shifted to\Groups\. There you will find many areas for storage and dissemination of committee and meeting minutes. Check it out. Log on to myPlymouth and click on the Groups icon in the upper right.

Technical Advisory Group (TAG): This group of representatives from various campus constituents meets monthly during the academic year. The role of the group is advisory to the CIO as we grapple with the fast changing technology environment. The TAG also is responsible for allocation of the funding from the student technology fee. Each month we discuss critical issues facing the campus and form recommendations for either implementation by ITS or the President's Cabinet. To get a sense of where we've been and what has been discussed, please see the Technical Advisory Group in myPlymouth groups . Feedback is always welcome.

The IT professionals who add value today and tomorrow

Tim Goral, the editor of University Business, attended a Campus of the Future conference recently held in Hawaii. There was a lot written about themes. Goral was inspired by Thomas Friedman, author of the book 'The World is Flat.' Here's what he took away. It builds on the concept of the versatilist...

"Key to that strategy is the emergence of new "middle jobs," or jobs that can't be outsourced. But how do we prepare today's students for those jobs? "We don't just need more education, we need the right education," he said.

That education must satisfy the unique needs of the future job market. It will encourage and build upon skills that define the types of jobs that will encompass the global economy. It will involve new ways of teaching. It will also likely involve combining two or more disciplines to create a new area of study specifically geared to accommodate "flat world" economy.

Friedman outlined eight new middle jobs for which educators must prepare their students. The new middle jobs will be held by people who are:

Great collaborators. Those who have learned to work effectively with others whether in the same office or on other continents via internet technology.

Great "leveragers." People who have learned to do the job of 20 people using technology will always be in demand.

Great synthesizers. This is a person who can take two different products or ideas to create something new that enhances the value of both.

Great explainers. Friedman's "flat world" is so complex it will need new "guides" to lead the way for the rest of us.

Great localizers. The internet has made every small business a potential global player.

Green adapters. "Deriving alternatives to fossil fuels and sustainable societies will always be in demand," he said.

Passionate people. Those who have the ability to bring a unique personal touch to "vanilla" jobs will keep them safe from the threat of outsourcing.

Great adapters. Friedman said the winners in the future job market will be those who make quick changes. He said it's like training for the Olympics without knowing what sport you'll compete in.

Once the unquestioned leader in technology, he said, America won't win this race by default, only by understanding the new flat world and becoming part of it.”

Security is everyone's business

Security is everyone’s business.

In this era of online information, every one of us who has a responsibility to work student, employee, alumni and donor information has an ethical standard to meet. We must protect that data from those who might want to steal it. We need to establish good software security to ensure that only those who have a legitimate need to see that information can. We need to train people on the latest schemes of digital pick-pocketing.

Here’s the rub. Those of us in the technology field can establish pretty strong security around data and information. The weak link tends to be with individuals. Cases in point.

A student registers for class on a public cluster computer. They forget to log out. Their academic and personal record is there for the next person to see.

A faculty member posts grades to the wall with SSNs matched with grades. The paper is stolen.

A staff person in a student service office travels to a conference. Their laptop computer is stolen. It turns out that laptop has hundreds of reports in Excel pertaining to student financial aid and family incomes.

I don’t need to go on, there are headlines every week about new types of security and information breaches.

But now that you know, it is incumbent upon you to heed the warning. Be smart, do not travel or store private data on anything mobile. You have our peoples’ trust in your hands.

RIAA Means Business: Stop File Sharing

Every semester we provide a warning about sharing music and movie files over the PSU network. This activity is illegal and is being closely scrutinized by the Recording Industry of American (RIAA). They've filed legal action against students in the past and they plan to continue. That aside, file sharing of copyrighted material is wrong and we expect better from PSU students.

For many of you living on campus, the broadband connection for every student is quite a luxury. You have a world of information at your fingertips. But with that broadband comes responsibility.

PSU is an ISP (Internet service provider). You are a user on our network. We do not monitor your network use or where you go. However, if we see a network slowdown, and it points to your computer IP address, and it looks like a lot of file sharing activity, we’ll cut off that port until you stop. We do that because those network traffic jams tie up everyone around you.

You also make yourself vulnerable to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They look for their copyrighted material getting slung around the Internet. If they see it coming and going from your computer, they can file civil or criminal charges. First they would contact PSU and notify us that someone at a specific IP address is sharing their copyrighted material. We, in turn, must notify you to cease and desist the alleged behavior. If they want to bring charges, and they have, they will go right to you. At that point, you’re on your own.

PSU has an Acceptable Use Policy for computing on our network. It’s worth a read…you’re accountable to it. Please do not use our network to share files illegally or against copyright. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

For more information, see

Balancing Security, Access & Services

The laws pertaining to networks and data—and those who provide them—are changing rapidly. Graham Leach Blighly. FERPA. HIPPA. BIPPA. (I made that last one up). But you get the point. There are the most common regulatory requirements for establishing security standards. They require PSU to act in a secure and responsible way with our data, the computers and devices that carry data, and the network upon which data travel.

Picture PSU as a virtual place. It's called the domain. We own that territory, that space in the Internet. Think of it like a castle within which there is a community of groups and individuals. Some areas of our community are very secure; only those who have a legitimate reason to go there are allowed to pass.

We're also an open environment, where academic freedom and access to information is valued. We bring people to our domain. We make an attractive web and help outsiders find information about us. We splay ourselves and our ideas for all to see.

We have data that is used for a variety of online services, some for external viewers, some for internal viewing only through myPlymouth. Register for classes, pay bills, access syllabi and course materials, converse with classmates in discussion groups. Access a wealth of online research and reference materials. Email. Surf. And, if you’re inclined, give online.

PSU is a private ISP, or internet service provider. It is a closed network, opened only with a valid login from a PSU student, faculty, staff or recognized friend. We provide guest accounts for short-time use. Otherwise, our internal network is closed. That's good…you want us to do that. To protect the data that is transmitted for all those above services.

Last year, in a big step toward cleaning up our network, we started a new program where all students connecting on the network had to have computers that had current security and antivirus software (that we provided). That was also true of wireless users. Not only do you have to have a valid account to get on the PSU network, you have to have a clean machine.

It's like living in a community and having to show proof of inoculations. Sad but true. But once you come in, you get more than your money's worth.

That's because there's some serious talent under the PSU technology hood.

Grace under pressure

You learn a lot about people when they have to perform under pressure. I see this periodically in IT. We recently had a power outage in our main data center and workspace. When power is lost, we have only so much time to make a determination as to whether or not to bring our systems down slowly. Backup power comes on immediately, but it is only good for an hour.

Our people know the drill. They work under pressure often, mostly helping with small disasters, like lost files, a bad disk drive or corrupted data. This is good training for when the big events occur. Those who shine keep their wits about them, gathering information, contributing information and knowing what to do without asking.

Our people did very well in this recent event. Three electricians were flash burned in the basement as they were attempting to assess the problem. Our guys were first on the scene and were very helpful. Everyone seemed to know what to do.

And then the Plymouth Fire & Rescue arrived. We watched them take over the scene and followed their lead.

No one likes to have to work under duress, but knowing that we, and our precious information systems, are surrounded by capable experts should be a comfort to us all.

Living in an Online World.2

I’m following up a post from last week. The more I see and hear about this generation’s use of technology for online networking, the more ideas I get about how to translate them to the classroom.

There are some new and popular trends occurring through internet sites. Anyone with a digital camera can post video to For many, that capability comes within their cell phone. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of average-to-sophomoric material, but some of the good ones are most intriguing, entertaining and provocative. Applicability in the classroom: talk about how communication changes in an online world. Look at how this new social engineering is impacting business and economics. Think about challenging students to submit well-conceived, well-presented videos as semester projects.

Another trend we see emerging is the use of online applications. is a site where several people can write and collaborate on a document. Go there, try it. You need to sign on for an account, but it’s quick and painless. Working collaboratively on a document with colleagues? This is the place. On the heels of Writely is Google’s Spreadsheet. It won’t be long before we may see an end to Microsoft’s lock on applications we place on the desktop. Applicability in the classroom: Talk about writing across the curriculum. Write across classes. Partner with another class and develop small teams to write something together. Computer Science and Business. Writing and the sciences. Composition to composition class. (apologies in advance if I’ve stepped in any sacred cowpies)

Have you seen Google Earth? If you watch the ABC Evening News, you will see they use Google Earth for all maps. To run Google Earth on your computer, you need to go to the site and download a small application. Once on your computer, you can go anywhere you want on the globe and drill down to towns and, sometimes, building structures. I went to the home I grew up in and zoomed down to see my father’s Buick. It wasn’t well defined at that level of magnification, but jeezum, it was his car! Applicability in the classroom: I’m sure our friends in Geography are already there. But if you are talking about anything in the world, or climate, or international business…or, sadly, war, taking your class to the precise place on the world behind you on the big screen, well that might be impressive.

The whole idea is to start spending time in the world they navigate more freely. While this is clearly a developmental environment, those who learn to navigate it can keep pace with the changes. And, the skills that are developed by engaging in these online environments will be essential in many careers.

I’d love to hear what some of you are doing? And what would you like to do? We’ve got some talented people in ITS who know and breath this stuff. Ask us, we love to help.