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Technology Update
March 14, 2013

Table of Contents


Data Services with the PSC Supercell

Are you looking for a fast, highly-reliable data storage provider? Do you need more than 10 terabytes of data storage? The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), connected to Internet2 via 3ROX/Drexel, has developed a low cost, low latency, high capacity, and highly-reliable disk-based solution for data management. The Data Supercell service provides academic, corporate, government, and research partners with a convenient and affordable way to store and access their data, including extremely large data sets.

The minimum storage allocation is 10 terabytes (TB), but files of any size can be stored, from small document collections to multi-terabyte data sets. Data Supercell storage is priced at $250/TB/year for a single copy of the data with no redundancy. A second copy, if required, is an additional $175/TB/year. Annual contracts automatically renew.

When storing data on the Data Supercell, please note:

  • The Data Supercell is not intended for data with special privacy or security requirements. It is primarily intended for storage/archival material as well as quick access to basic research data.
  • PSC can assist users with identifying data in “sensitive” categories and determining how to store it. Generally, data that is sensitive in nature (such as HIPAA data) cannot be stored on the Data Supercell.
  • Be sure to thoroughly read PSC’s user agreement before storing data.
  • Questions about billing/fees should be directed to PSC rather than Drexel IRT or 3ROX.

PSC's flagship high-performance computing (HPC) system, Blacklight, is the world's largest shared-memory system. Its extremely large memory, 16 TB, coupled with its familiar Linux operating system and versatile programming models, makes it as easy to use as a PC. Complementing Blacklight are HPC clusters that are ideal for running smaller, loosely-coupled analyses.

Drexel IRT has a master agreement with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. If you are interested in obtaining (or increasing) storage service with the PSC, fill out the Web form at https://grants.psc.edu/dsc. Drexel PIs will be billed individually.

For more information, contact David Moses at dmoses@psc.edu.


Academic Integrity

Student academic integrity is currently a hot topic at Drexel University. As such, several resources—some in beta testing, others just emerging—are available to faculty and other members of the community.

First, you can familiarize yourself with policies regarding Academic Honesty that Student Life publishes and maintains. In your course syllabus, you might consider referring students to this page and explaining the importance of academic honesty and integrity, as well as the consequences of dishonesty. Such information can be impactful, particularly if you emphasize it at the outset of your course(s).

Some of the available resources include:

  • Turnitin – Checks the originality of students' written work (i.e., plagiarism detection). Turnitin is fully integrated into Drexel Learn and can be added to a course as a Turnitin or Turnitin Direct assignment.
  • Respondus Lockdown Browser (RLDB) – Prevents students from accessing resources on their computer or on the Web during online tests. RLDB is also integrated into Drexel Learn, although students using their own computers will need to download the browser prior to the online test.
  • NetSupport – Allows instructors to monitor students’ computers in a lab-based classroom setting (i.e., the Korman Center). You can reserve a Korman classroom if you are interested in using NetSupport in one of your upcoming face-to-face classes.
  • ProctorU – Fee-based service for remotely proctoring students who take tests online.

The Online Learning Team (olt@drexel.edu) can provide information or assist you in the set-up, practice, and use of these technologies.

Some of the emerging resources include:

  • Respondus Monitor – Allows instructors to monitor students' online test-taking activities via their webcam (now available in beta through Drexel Learn).
  • Kryterion Konnect – Also used to monitor online tests, Kryterion Konnect should soon be available for a free trial at Drexel. If your program or department is interested in participating, contact the OLT at olt@drexel.edu.
  • TinEye – TinEye is similar to Turnitin, but it examines images instead of text for originality. Currently, the LeBow College of Business is using it on a trial basis. The OLT can connect you with current users, if you are interested.

Academic honesty is crucial in higher education, and there are myriad ways to address it and ensure it. This issue is currently a focal point of the Online Learning Council, with the attendant training and support provided by the OLT; stay tuned for more information as well as upcoming discussion sessions on this topic.


Java 7 Update

A few weeks have passed since a security hole was discovered in Java 7. In response, we recommended that users roll back to the latest version of Java 6 or disable Java entirely. Oracle has now announced end-of-support for Java 6, leaving any remaining vulnerabilities unpatched. In an attempt to plug Java 7’s security holes, Oracle has released Update 17.

Some users might need to continue using Java 6 for compatibility/technical reasons, and so should ensure they have at least Update 43 installed. We recommend that other users, however, update Java to 7.17, and ensure that Java remains up-to-date.


Internet Explorer 10 and Compatibility

With Windows 8, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 10. This version of IE is now also available to the public, and many users will be able to upgrade, if they so choose, without compatibility problems. Ongoing testing in IRT has indicated that services such as DrexelOne, Webmail, TouchNet, and COEUS function normally.

However, IRT does not recommend that administrative staff update to IE 10, as the new browser is not compatible with key Enterprise services, including Hyperion. Some Learn and Banner users might also experience issues with Java 7 in IE 10.

IRT will continue testing IE 10 for compatibility, and more information will be released as it becomes available.


Drexel University and Caller ID

When you call an external number from a Drexel extension, the recipient’s caller ID might display the University’s general phone number (215-895-2000) rather than your actual office phone number. If the recipient dials your callback number (the one that shows up in his/her caller ID), or dials 215-895-2000, he/she will reach the Drexel University phone operators instead of you. When calling an external number, be sure to leave a detailed voicemail with your name and full extension, so the recipient can call you back directly!

Direct dial extensions for all Drexel employees can be found in the Drexel directory. Make sure yours is up-to-date!


Register Today for the e-Learning Conference!

There are only two weeks left to register for the 11th annual e-Learning 3.0 Conference, so reserve your spot today!

Hosted by IRT in conjunction with the Provost’s Office (the Online Learning Council and the Drexel Center for Academic Excellence), the conference will be held on Thursday, March 28th from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building.

Each year, the conference draws more than 170 participants from over 40 regional institutions to share best practices for learning enrichment and student engagement in an e-learning environment. If you would like to review this year’s list of speakers and topics, see our preliminary conference program.

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. John P. Campbell, Associate Provost for Information Technology and CIO at West Virginia University. Dr. Campbell is a leader in the field of academic analytics, which utilizes data to identify at-risk students in online courses. His keynote address will focus on the areas of student success and the Signals project, an early warning system that combines real-time data on course performance with data from Blackboard. Signals provides an accurate view of student performance at any point in time, and has impacted over 23,000 students in nearly 100 courses. Research indicates that students taking courses that utilize Signals have significantly higher rates of retention than their peers in non-Signals courses.

To register for the conference, click “Register today!” A registration fee of $20 for Drexel faculty, staff, and students includes welcome materials, access to the presentations and keynote speaker session, a continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon refreshments, and a door prize drawing at the conclusion of the event (winners must be present).

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from your colleagues at Drexel and other institutions in the region! Any questions or concerns can be directed to the Online Learning Team at olt@drexel.edu. We look forward to seeing you at the conference!


Remember: Back Up Your Data!

Computer hard drives can fail or become corrupted at the most inopportune times. Therefore, it is a good idea to prepare for the possibility by regularly backing up your data in a secure location—either on an external hard drive, or on an off-site server via a backup service such as Connected Backup.

Depending on your backup software and method, you might even be able to schedule regular backup sessions, much like you can schedule regular anti-virus scans.

By keeping regular back-ups, you can replace corrupted files as necessary and ensure that your most critical information is safe in the event of hardware failure.

Questions or concerns? Contact the IRT Help Desk at consult@drexel.edu or 215-895-2020.


Subscribe to a Discussion in Learn

If you "subscribe" to a discussion forum or thread, you will receive an email whenever someone posts a message. Clearly, for active forums and threads, subscription can be burdensome as scores of emails arrive in your inbox every day. Therefore, we recommend maintaining the default setting, "Do not allow subscriptions," for most forums/threads.

However, for a course Q&A forum, you might consider enabling the subscription option and subscribing to it yourself. Posts in a Q&A forum are much less frequent, but when a post appears, it might be an urgent query from a frustrated or confused student. Your more active forums might keep you from noticing the post in Learn, but an email will call your attention to it.

To allow subscriptions to a forum or thread, follow these instructions, either when creating a discussion forum, or editing a previously created forum:

  1. Under "Forum Settings," change the "Subscribe" setting to “Allow members to subscribe to forum" (or "Allow members to subscribe to threads").
  2. You can also change the setting from "Include link to post" to "Include body of post in the email."
  3. Click "Submit."

New discussion posts are also listed in the "What's New" module of the Notification Dashboard, whether or not you subscribe to a forum or thread.


Tracking with the Early Warning System

Instructors who post course materials to Learn will find it helpful to know how their students are utilizing the system. The Early Warning System makes it easy to create a simple data "rule" that can show you, at a glance, who is late with an assignment, who scored low on a quiz, or who has not logged in recently.

During the first week of a course, it is especially important to track how frequently students are accessing course materials and tools. Depending on the nature of the course, students might visit Learn daily, several times a week, or only once a week. The corresponding Early Warning rule would be: days since last access greater than two days, four days, or eight days (including a one-day cushion). The Early Warning System can then show the status of all students with regard to the rule, and it can send an email notification to those who meet the criterion.

You will find the Early Warning System in the Evaluation menu of the Course Management area. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Create an Early Warning rule based on a Grade, Last Access, or Due Date criterion.
  2. Refresh the rule to pull in data.
  3. In the Options menu next to the rule, select "Review Rule Status" to show all students and whether or not they meet the criterion.
  4. You can email selected or all students who meet the criterion by selecting "Notify > Student Only."

Note: Rule data does not update automatically. To see how the class is doing after time has passed, repeat steps 2 and 3 to refresh the rule and review its status.

To watch a brief movie of these steps, visit the Blackboard On Demand Learning Center.

Since the movie was created in an older version of Learn, the appearance of the course is different, but the tool itself is the same.


Beware of Large Files!

Large files that take more than a few seconds to load can actually hinder learning. If a file is slow to load, students give up and move on, thereby missing out on essential course content. What can you do to minimize file size?

If your file is a PowerPoint presentation that contains many images, you should try to compress the images to reduce the overall size of the file. In PowerPoint 2010:

  1. Select "Save As.
  2. "In the "Tools" dropdown menu at the bottom of the window, select "Compress Pictures."
  3. Ensure that the box to "Delete cropped areas of pictures" is checked.
  4. For most presentations, the Target output of "Screen (150 ppi)" is fine.

If you have a video, consider the following options:

  • Upload the video to DragonDrop, Drexel's Web-based application for storing rich media content. DragonDrop generates a link for each streaming video or playlist that you can load into your Learn course.
  • Check with the library to see if it has the video in its catalog or if the video can be purchased. A library staff member will then send you a link to the video that you can post in your Learn course.

If you have any questions, please contact the Online Learning Team at 215-895-1224 or olt@drexel.edu.


Sign Up for OLT Workshops

The Online Learning Team conducts training sessions on Learn, Camtasia, DragonDrop, Web basics, Mac OS X, Respondus, SharePoint, and more. In addition, several brown bag lunches and workshops on technology products of interest are held each month. These training sessions are open to members of Drexel’s community as well as the general public.

To reserve a spot at any of these workshops, email us at olt@drexel.edu with your name, institution (if other than Drexel), contact information, and the name of the workshop(s) you would like to attend.

Below is a sampling of workshops taking place in March and April:

Learn Full Day Workshop

Tuesday, March 26, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 16, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Blackboard Collaborate Workshop

Wednesday, March 27, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Grade Center Workshop

Wednesday, April 24, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Recording and Editing with Camtasia for Mac 2.0

Monday, April 8, 9:30 a.m. – noon

University Events Calendar Training

Thursday, March 28, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Visit our Web site for our complete training schedule and workshop descriptions. If you need a separate workshop for your department or faculty group on a specific topic, you can email the Online Learning Team to arrange a session.

Unless otherwise noted, all training sessions will be held in room 116 of the Korman Center (off the Quad on Drexel’s University City Campus, 33rd Street between Market and Chestnut Streets).