Adapt new teaching methods or become irrelevant?

PSU is writing a strategic plan for information technology. In particular, we're exploring how information technology will shape the classroom in the years ahead. We hear a lot about social networking and this generation's use of tools in extraordinarily new ways. Very few, however, have truly explained what social networking technologies, a world rich with information and collaboration, mean to transforming the classroom.

This is something every college and university instructor should listen to. Grab your coffee or a glass or wine and sit back for a spell. I guarantee you will be left thinking. Also, stick around for the questions. They'll be asking some of what you might be thinking, too.

Sarah B. Robbins-Bell, issued a warning to professors that unless they adapt to new teaching methods with technology, they could become irrelevant because students can find places other than traditional universities to learn. Ms. Robbins-Bell is a doctoral student in rhetoric and composition at Ball State University.    From the Chronicle. Nov. 3, 2008 at the Educause Conference in Orlando.

Managing your technology career; it's not an entitlement

What are you doing to manage your career?

What are your professional goals and what are you doing to make them become a reality?

How will you avoid career obsolescence?

Sometimes these questions provoke a defensive response among IT professionals. What do I mean? Are there plans to outsource us? Is this a veiled 'Dear John' message?

No, but given the rising costs of technology in an ever-changing field, I strongly suggest that you have an ongoing career plan. Just because you currently have a job, benefits and a fair amount of job security does not mean things can't happen down the road. Higher education is entering a period of much greater accountability. The cost of college is too great not to. Constituents will challenge us to prove our value, to cut our costs, to look at outsourcing and other possibilities. Computing is becoming commoditized and more and more there will be options for outsourcing. We cannot rest on laurels or succumb to a sense of entitlement. We must continually reinvent ourselves and be ready for what's coming.

Don't panic. Be realistic. There are many career strategies you can implement to keep yourself current. First, start reading the writing on the walls. Professional trade journals are ripe with trends emerging in our technology. Engage in discussions and career listservs. Become aware of and look for new opportunities to add value in your organization.

Make a plan. Set goals and start taking steps in that direction.

Consider what type of training you need. Often times technology workers tend to focus on, well, technology training. That's important. So, too, are developing some of the 'softer' skills, like writing and communication, project management and team development. We will also need leaders for tomorrow. How many of you would be willing to take a management role? MBA?

Never assume that your career plan is your employer's responsibility. While we have an interest and will do what we can, it would be a grave mistake to assume that the organization will carry you through to age 65. Leadership and management are more transient, hence you can never depend on anything over a period of time.

It's YOUR career. If you don't take charge of it, you'll end up where it takes you, for better or worse.


A book you might find useful is JobShift. It'll help you think of yourself as your own business.

Student Workers at the Help Desk

Every September, ITS hires and trains a new fleet of students to work at our Help Desk. We look for students who demonstrate good technology AND communication skills. Working with our core of professional staff in the Lamson Learning Commons, these students become familiar with our technology support call log system, the phones and the various technologies at PSU.

We throw a lot at them in the week before school starts. Give them a call if you have questions or computer issues. If they don't know the answer right away, the call will be logged and picked up by someone who does know.

Stop in and see them sometime. We're preparing the workers of tomorrow.

Dagnabbit, that Dial 5!

As a veteran of dialing 4 digit campus extensions, this new 5-digit requirement for internal calls at PSU is a bit of a pain. Every time I go to dial those well-memorized 4-digit extensions, I get the phone-tone telling me I forgot...once add a 5.


Once again, new technologies remind us all that we need to learn, re-learn and change old habits. Nothing stays the same.

Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Technology and PSU

  1. The Help Desk is always your first and best line of support if you have a computer problem or question. If they can't answer your question right away, they will find who can. Call 5-2929, email or walk on in to the Lamson Library.
  2. Increasing security measures are going to force you to change a few habits. Starting this year, you will need to change your primary PSU network password every six months.
  3. NEVER store personal, sensitive student data on your laptop or other portable media, like USB keys, CDs or whatever. If you do and it's lost, PSU (and you) will make headlines. We have a responsibility to protect our students' data and we take it seriously.
  4. PSU email is and will continue to be our primary means of communicating with students. Even the new student voicemail system, which you can call and leave a message for students, is tied to their PSU email accounts.
  5. If you want the most immediate notification of University closings, delays or emergencies, you need to sign up for PSU alerts in myPlymouth (see left side panel)
  6. Sunday mornings between 6-10 are maintenance time for network and information systems. Watch myPlymouth announcements for any that are expected to be more than a few minutes. Every effort will be made to minimize the downtime.
  7. You do not need to cancel classes on snow days or inclement weather. If you prepare in advance, and have some materials and exercises ready, when PSU closes you can go into online mode. It's a good idea to make that clear in your syllabus, too. Contact the ITS academic technology team for ideas and support.
  8. For on-campus phone calls, you need to 'dial 5' first. Every campus extension starts with 5 and is 5 digits long. And, for the most current directory information, see myPlymouth.
  9. Hundreds of thousands of spam emails are blocked from the PSU network each week. Some, particularly new and innovative ploys, get through. You have the ability to tighten your spam filters to a higher degree. Learn how by typing in ’spam filter’ in the Search box of myPlymouth
  10. The most common form of identity theft is gullibility. Phishing schemes, emails that request us to update our accounts or respond in some way with sensitive information, exist because they work. Don't bite! If in doubt, ask!

Dial 5!

As of August 15th, all internal PSU phone numbers have been converted to 5 digits in length. Simply "Dial 5" followed by the same last four digits you have always dialed to reach a PSU phone number.

For instance, to call the Helpdesk now, you dial 52929.

External callers will dial the same phone number as before the upgrade. All of the phone numbers on your PSU phone will be automatically changed during the upgrade process.

All PSU voice mailboxes have also be converted to 5 digits. Now you need to enter all 5 digits when logging into your voice mailbox.

Please visit the Telecommunications' Web page for more information about this upgrade:

"Dial 5" is the second phase of a larger project to improve the means by which the University communicates with students:

Phase One: Transition from provision of land-line to residence halls except by request. Install emergency phones on each floor. Completed July 31, 2008

Phase Two: Transition from 4-digit extension to 5-digits. Completed August 15, 2008

Phase Three: Implement a Student Unified Messaging solution: To be completed August 29, 2008

Maintaining communication with students is critical to Plymouth State.  However, maintaining accurate phone numbers for students has become problematic with the increased use of cell phones.  Students may choose not to share their cellular number, calling student cellular numbers may incur long distance charges for the institution, and cellular numbers often change.

Unified messaging is a tool that will improve communications to students.  Each student will be assigned a PSU telephone number that will stay with them for their time as matriculated undergraduate students. This virtual number will ring directly into a voice mailbox where a caller will leave a voice message.  This voice message is then forwarded to the student's PSU e-mail account with an attached sound file.  The student can listen to the message through his/her computer speaker or headphones.  Student virtual numbers will be listed in the PSU on-line and printed directories.  Students will be able to list a secondary email address (via myPlymouth) to receive a notification of new voice messages.  This secondary email address could be a cellular text messaging address which would give them an immediate text message that a new voice mail message is waiting in their email.

PSU rolls out unified messaging to students

Telecom Services, a unit of ITS, rolled out a new unified messaging service to matriculated undergrads this year. In place of landline phones in the residence halls, this system assigns a virtual 5-digit number to students that will stay with them for their time at PSU. Here's how it works.

Look up a student in myPlymouth or in the Print Directory (due out in November). Or dial 5-3333 and speak their name. You will be connected to that student's voice mailbox. Leave a message. A voice file will be forwarded to the student's email address. Additionally, if they sign up for it, a message will be texted to their cell phone indicating a message is waiting for them in email.

This is part of a larger effort to improve communications to students using the tools they are most familiar with.

More weathuh, less class time

If classes are delayed or canceled, do you have contingency plans using Blackboard or any online tools? Do you compensate ‘seat time’ with online engagement? My guess is that a few of you are, but most of us aren’t.

What have we learned about our preparedness and our response to environmental extremes? How would we hold classes if there was, say, an avian flu outbreak? How would you conduct your courses? Could you?

I ask not to provoke but to think. Many of us in administrative roles spend a lot of time preparing for a wide range of emergencies. We do many ‘what if’ scenarios. Emergency and disaster planning are now core to what we do.

What is your classroom 'what if?'.

This year, I’m afraid all we did was cancel classes. If I was a PSU student or parent, I might be asking for more. They’re paying for it and we have the tools.

Technology Update, January 2008

Technology Update
January 2008

Happy Winterim all, this is the semesterly update from ITS. Some of these items are repeats from the fall update, but they’re worth a second look.

Computers, information and accountability:

Where can I get computer help? Walk, run, call or e- yourself to the Learning Commons in Lamson Library. If they can’t help you right away, they know who in ITS to call.

535-2929 ?

What are my rights to privacy using PSU email? The email system, PSU-issued computers and the network all belong to the University. Within that framework you have a high degree of academic and personal freedom. No one tracks your surfing or email. You do, however, leave tracks everywhere you go. And since 9/11, there have been numerous changes in laws that have reduced the degree of privacy. Still, privacy and personal responsibility remain core PSU values. Please read the PSU Acceptable Use Policy. We are all accountable to it.

Where do I go for help using technology in the classroom? Multimedia support is available through the Learning Commons and/or by seeking Equipment Reservations in myPlymouth (left column, see Services). The Learning Commons is available 7 days a week for your support in any number of ways. Stop in, call 2929 or email them at John Martin leads the support team for the classroom, so feel free to drop him a line directly, too.

What do I need to know about computer security? Be skeptical, be cautious, be smart. There are new schemes, alluring pitches and deals too-good-to-be-true every week. Amy Berg, our new Director of IT Operations and Chief Security Officer, has some tips.

Are there times during the week when systems may be unavailable? We plan most of our major upgrades during semester breaks. However, many of the systems need minor updates and tweaks throughout of the year. We strive to minimize those times. Most planned work occurs early on Sunday mornings between 6-10am when traffic and system usage is at a low ebb. If it’s just a few minutes, we hope you’ll understand. If systems are going to be down for extended time (more than a half an hour) we’ll send word out via and myPlymouth. We don’t use every Sunday morning, but when we do, that’s our maintenance window. Thanks for understanding.

What is the best way to look up students, faculty and staff? PSU publishes a student and faculty/staff directory each year in October. You should all have one by now. You can also dial 3333 on any campus extension (or 535-3333 from a cell or other phone) and speak an employee’s name. And, if you want the best directory for PSU students, get yourself a FaceBook account and look them up there. In addition to finding out how to locate them, you can find all sorts of interesting factoids and pictures about them. 😉

Where do I get information? For a complete listing of news, campus announcements, Plymouth Week, events, Plymouth Magazine and more, see the myNews tab in myPlymouth.

What if I want campus updates delivered to my email? Public Relations launched a new listserv called This is an OPT IN service, meaning it will only be delivered to your email if you request it. To receive PSU FYI emails, sign up at

How does PSU communicate in case of emergencies? PSU has partnered with e2Campus, an online service that students and employees opt into. Those who register will receive urgent or emergency communications as text messages to their cell phones and/or their preferred email address. There is also an option to receive text message alerts in case of school closings and river flooding. PSU encourages everyone who uses a cell phone to register now. Visit the e2Campus site and follow instructions. This service will be used judiciously and for an occasional test, but in the event of an emergency, this is the quickest way to receive broadcast alerts. Emergency information will continue to be posted to email and the PSU web pages.

Which Windows operating system is supported? PSU rolled out Windows Vista on computer labs and many new computers. Students are bringing new computers with Vista to campus. We will continue to support Windows XP, too, for quite a while yet. Support for the Commodore 64, however, has been retired.

May I bring my own laptop to the PSU network? Yes. Like students, PSU employees may log on to the PSU wireless network with an appropriate username and password. They may also plug in to network ports in the library. Your computer needs to be current with Windows security updates and have MacAfee Anti-virus software installed. Personal computers cannot, however, plug in to office ports unless their computers have loaded several more PSU network and security components. This is designed for security and network protection.

How do I get my new iTouch (or Smartphone, or iPhone, or whateverPhone) connected to the PSU network? Take the unit to the Learning Commons in Lamson and smile nicely. They’ll take care of you.

How do I get software loaded onto the computer clusters? Faculty and instructors receive notice every April and December alerting them to submit requests for software to be installed on our network and in computer labs. Because there are so many software applications already loaded, new requests have to be tested for compatibility. If it passes muster, the new software is loaded and made available the following semester.

What technologies should we be paying attention to? Think about trends more than specific technologies. More and more software is made available as web applications. Email is a good example. Microsoft Outlook, an application that resides on your computer, used to reign. Now our email, calendar and documents can all be on the web. This practice is far more prevalent with students arriving at our doors. There is, however, a trade-off in your control and local storage. You're good as long as you’re connected. (Good if you live around Internet connections, not so good if you live in the sticks.) Google Mail is a good example. With Google Mail (a.k.a. Gmail) you do not need your own computer to access your email, only an Internet connection and web browser. Of course, this means change in how we work and organize our files. More of our vendors are going in this direction (see, Banner self service). You can check it out with our new myMail system. If you're already configured to get your email in Outlook, it will work the same. You can also work on the web with the web version of our mail called myMail. This allows your work to follow you wherever you have an Internet browser.

What’s the latest on PSU students and music file sharing? ITS and Res Life have been pressing the issue all semester…do not share copyrighted materials on the PSU network. We’ve warned students of the dangers and let them know if they’re fingered, it’s between to them and the RIAA. PSU received more than 300 notices of copyright infringement associated with specific computers on our network. Those notices are forwarded to the students associated with the computer. First violations result in their need to complete an online tutorial within two days. Failure to do so will result in loss of network privileges for their computer. Subsequent offenses result in longer periods. If students come complaining to you that they can’t get their work done because ITS shut their computer off from the network, help them understand that it is a direct result of their own risky behavior. And it is no excuse, only an inconvenience to them. They can use any other computers to get their work done. It might also be a good opportunity to discuss copyright and ethics, too.

How are decisions about technology made at PSU? The Technology Advisory Committee (TAG, see myPlymouth Groups for documents and agendas the past several years) meets monthly during the academic year. Made up of faculty and staff (and occasionally students), TAG tackles a variety of technology issues that impact students and faculty. It also creates ad hoc groups and reviews policy recommendations. TAG is led by the senior technology officers: The CIO, Dwight Fischer, and the Director of the Library, David Beronä. TAG recommendations on major PSU decisions flow up to the President's Cabinet. In addition to TAG, there is an Executive Steering Committee for Information Systems (ESC). The ESC includes vice presidents, TAG leaders, Graduate Studies and others as needed. ESC has purview over all aspects of information systems, project priorities, data and network security, major system upgrades or replacements, and regulatory compliance.

Where can I ask other questions about computing and technology? Here, drop me a note. If I can answer, I will. If not, I'll find you someone who can.

Best of luck in the new semester. We're here to help.

Dwight Fischer, CIO
Information Technology Services

ext. 2443


Other topics

· Changes in Communications, Changes in Habits

· Green Technology

· Music galore, and Legit!

· How do people respond to an increasingly rapid pace of technology change?

· Top Ten Things You Should Know About Technology at PSU

· myPlymouth Sings

· More…

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E-Books in Higher Education: Nearing the End of the Era of Hype?

Google Earth User Guide

Thanks to YouTube, Professors are Finding New Audiences

Changes in Communications, Changes in Habits

Change often means changing habits. So it is with how you get your University news and information.


Over the past year, we've been reviewing our overall communication strategy for the campus and in particular, internal communications. The question: How do we communicate effectively with so many people with so many diverse needs and via so many communication tools?

Things used to be simple. We had allemp and allstudent email lists. Those tried and true communication means got the news to everyone. But things have changed. Last year allemp was retired. As the University has grown and our employees have expanded statewide, and as email has become a firehose of information and services (and digital crud) blasting all the news to all employees at will outgrew its effectiveness. Also, emergency notifications were intertwined with pottery sales and surplus equipment. We needed to step up our game.

So allemp went away and PSU-Announce was initiated. Public Relations sent out daily update compilations. For most, this system worked, but something was lost. Internal, combustible conversation. Healthy campus dialogue. The ability of one to send out thoughts to many.

Meanwhile, students are evolving right past us. They use email, but they communicate much more immediately and integrally with cell phones and FaceBook. They are on those communication tools all day long. They might check their email once or twice a day, but it is not their preferred mode.

Concurrent to our growth as a University, communication tools have evolved significantly. We now have a full-fledged campus web portal. We can post news and all sorts of information there. We have blogs, which are simply interactive web pages, technology that is now used to list campus events. We still have email listservs for faculty, OS and PAT groups.

Our problem wasn't that we didn't communicate. Rather, we weren't communicating effectively. We began disseminating news in multiple formats, yet it was flying by many people. Many employees bemoaned the loss of allemp (any employee with the ability send any email to all employees!). Students complained of the University spamming them. We had a bona fide communication gap.

We needed to simplify. We needed to get smarter and more consistent with our communications.

OPR just launched a new myNews tab in myPlymouth. One tab, all news and information for the University. Announcements, Plymouth Week, PSU Athletics, This Week@PSU, the Plymouth Magazine and more.

They also created an 'opt-in' email distribution list called (subscribe to PSU FYI at: for those that want the daily announcements in their email.

For important and urgent news, all employees and students will still see information pushed to them in email.


Here is where a change of habit might be beneficial. If you want complete news and information of everything going on at PSU, look to the myPlymouth myNews tab. It's all right there. If you want this news delivered to your email, ask for it.

It's no longer the case that the news and information is not there. It's up to you to decide on how you want to get it.