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Technology Update
April 29, 2013

Table of Contents


Time to Upgrade: End-of-Support for Windows XP

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will officially end support for the Windows XP operating system. This means that, after this date, computers running XP will no longer receive security updates or patches for either the operating system or the XP applications they are running. When Microsoft drops support, application vendors are sure to follow suit (if they haven't done so already), leaving any lingering security vulnerabilities wide open. This is a good time to begin planning for hardware changes if needed.

Windows XP has enjoyed long life and numerous service packs and security updates, many of which have plugged vulnerabilities. However, there is always a chance that some vulnerabilities were missed, and after April 8, 2014, any leftover vulnerabilities will no longer be patched. Consequences of being compromised are immediate, and a fix is unlikely to be forthcoming.

This risk is especially great for users who keep intellectual property or personally identifiable information on their Windows XP installation.

Therefore, as soon as possible, users should upgrade out of Windows XP (Windows 7 would be a reasonable choice), but certainly by April 8, 2014. Applications vendors are continually working on any remaining compatibility issues, and for those who absolutely need XP to run an application, Microsoft includes an XP virtual machine option in Windows 7 Professional and higher versions. Using this virtual machine software would help limit risk.

If you have an older machine, and aren't sure if it can run Windows 7, try the Windows Upgrade Advisor first.

In the long run, users will save time and money by planning an upgrade now, instead of waiting until the last minute. The sooner, the safer—for both Drexel and personal computers.

For more information about the risks of sticking with XP, see Technibble's Web site, as well as Tech Republic's article. And, of course, contact your IRT tech support staff for assistance.


Dreamweaver Licensing Changes from Adobe

Adobe software is reorganizing its licensing structure, and thus its pricing, for all of its products. As of June 1, there will be new methods of obtaining some Adobe software, including Dreamweaver.

If Dreamweaver remains your only choice for Web design and HTMLhtml editing software, there are three possible means of obtaining it: use the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription plan, which costs $465.38 per user, annually; purchase the software from Adobe at full price (student/teacher edition at $149, regular edition at $399 or subscription-based); or enter into a departmental Enterprise Licensing Agreement with Adobe at a cost of $200 per year, per seat for the Design and Web HED collection. IRT will no longer be able to distribute Dreamweaver.

Individuals who already have Dreamweaver installed and activated from earlier OLT workshops will be able to continue using the version they have, with the caveat that there will be no further updates coming from Adobe. If you are interested in purchasing an Adobe product before May 31, you can do so through JourneyEd (via DrexelOne) at the current pricing levels (from $69.99 to $599.99. Dreamweaver is currently priced at $124.99 for faculty and students).


Watch Out for Phishing Scams!

Beginning of term means new attempts by scammers to compromise your computer accounts. Don't fall for ANY email telling you to upgrade/verify your account, send money, click a suspicious link (hover over it first to see if it goes somewhere you trust), or provide sensitive information. Even if the message appears to come from Drexel, "Webmail/Tech Support," your bank, or any other legitimate-sounding organization. These messages are invariably SCAMS.

When trying to identify a scam message, look for typos, outrageous sums of money, garbled links (or links that don't look legitimate), ANYTHING to do with logins or passwords or bank accounts, improper capitalization, bad grammar, and bad punctuation in the message body. Report phishing scams to spamreport@drexel.edu.

To see more examples of fraudulent emails, visit the Scam Gallery on IRT's Web site. General phishing and virus prevention tips can also be found on IRT's Web site.

If you are ever unsure whether or not an email is a scam, contact the IRT Help Desk first for advice: consult@drexel.edu or 215-895-2020.


Co-op with IRT: What's it Like?

My name is Allison, and I am currently a Spring/Summer cycle co-op in Drexel's Office of Information Resources and Technology. I am majoring in Communications with a focus on Public Relations. I am trying to decide on a minor, but there are just so many options!

Growing up, I was surrounded by technology. Just like my father, who is one of my biggest inspirations, I am fascinated with new and innovative technology. This fascination is one of the many reasons I chose to develop a career in the technological field.

This is my second of three co-ops, and it is also my second time working in IRT. During my first co-op, I worked at the Korman Help Desk, assisting students and professors with their technical questions and issues. At first, I was nervous about working at the Front Desk, and I often wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. My fellow co-op colleagues were majoring in IT, engineering, and computer science, which left me feeling as if I did not have enough education or experience. After successfully tackling some technological challenges, however, I felt more confident and glad that I had chosen to work in this field.

By the end of my first co-op with IRT, I had gained many skills that will be beneficial in any field of work. I find myself determined to fix my problems, where before I would usually give up on them. Moreover, my communications skills have greatly improved by working with every level of employee and student within Drexel.

When interviews for my second co-op began, I immediately knew I wanted to return to IRT. When I was offered a position, I chose to work in phone support to gain more experience assisting others--a crucial skill for many other jobs. Although phone support presents new challenges, I very much enjoy my position, especially when I solve a difficult issue for a student or faculty member—who can be, on occasion, across the country or elsewhere in the world. Their appreciation of my help makes my day.

Throughout both of my co-ops working for IRT, I have made many life-long friends, and I have gained invaluable skills and experience. In our ever-changing, progressive world, work experience in the field of technology will give me advantages over my peers. If you are looking to enter the field of technology, I highly recommend a co-op with IRT. If you are a student, both Front Desk and phone support in IRT are ready to help you. Stop by (Korman Computing Center), call (215-895-2020), or email (consult@drexel.edu).


Save the Date: September 11, 2013

Like last summer, IRT will co-host a one-day event focused on assessment, in conjunction with the Provost's office, the OLC, the DCAE, and the IRAE. More details to follow. Plan on submitting a proposal, attending the event, or both!


Blackboard Learn and the "Flipped" Classroom

A "flipped" classroom exchanges the traditional model of instructors providing lecture content and homework with instructors using class time for engaged learning activities and non-class time for viewing or interacting with text and multimedia content. The flipped classroom is now possible thanks to the availability of online content such as e-texts, streaming video, and slideshows with audio narration; all of which is coordinated and delivered through Blackboard Learn, Drexel's robust learning management system.

Also, tools for creating this content have advanced in capability and ease of use. Instructors can use these capabilities in Learn for flipping learning activities:

  • Easy posting of content in a variety of formats:
    • Documents (Word, HTML, rtf, pdf)
    • Narrated slideshows (PowerPoints or movies)
      Webcam video storage on free streaming sites (YouTube, Vimeo, and others)
  • Easy review and assessment of student work:
    • Assignment Tool
    • Wikis
    • Blogs
    • Online quizzes
    • GradeMark (in Turnitin)
  • Collaboration tools for student groups:
    • Learn Group tool - allows instructor to assign students to small groups
    • Groups can then share files, tasks, and messages
    • Groups can also use collaboration tools (wikis, blogs, and discussion)
    • Peer review via PeerMark (in Turnitin)

Let's imagine Professor A, who has noticed students nodding off during her lectures on cell structure. Prof. A decides to turn some of her 90-minute lectures into narrated slideshows and discovers that the content fits into three 15-minute segments. She converts the narrated PowerPoints to movies using PowerPoint 2013, Apple Keynote, or a tool such as Impatica, iSpring, or Camtasia, and posts links to them in her Learn course. For each movie, she posts a short quiz that students can retake until they demonstrate mastery. She also posts links to videos and screencasts from other institutions.

In class, Prof. A reviews the quiz questions and uses clickers and cell phone apps to check that the students have understood the concepts. She then breaks the students into groups to work through case study problems that they used to do their homework. One student in each group submits the answers into a group assignment in Learn. The groups report their solutions to the whole class and take part in whole-class discussion.

Most of the students appear fully engaged. Prof. A does not immediately change every lecture, but decides to develop flipped activities for topics that she or the students have found boring or confusing, or for topics that are critical to understanding the subject. Prof. A sees an increase in test scores on the flipped content areas from previous classes and notices a higher level of understanding in the class discussion. Her class moves well beyond rote learning, and the course material really sticks with the students.

For more information and resources regarding flipped classrooms, see Educause's Web site and User Generated Education's blog. As always, check on available departmental resources, or tap into those of the OLT.


Enhancements in Drexel Learn

With the latest update to Drexel Learn, many enhancements were made to various tools across the system. Detailed below are some of the changes you will notice on your next login.

Assignments

The updated Assignments tool allows instructors to perform inline grading. This feature enables users to add markup and comments directly to the paper without re-downloading it. Students can then view this feedback once grading is complete.

Calendar

A new graphic display of the calendar is available and allows users to see, at a glance, all of the important dates across all of their courses. One major enhancement is the inclusion of all due dates in a course. Instructors can also make changes to due dates right from the calendar, and have these changes reflected in the associated assignment or test.

Discussions

The new Discussion tool allows users to view entire threads all at once, and quickly expand or collapse all posts. Replying is now much simpler and can be done inline with the previous post still visible. With the new text editor, users can expand the writing area to full screen, which allows greater ease in composing large posts. Another addition for instructors is the ability to have "Post First" discussion forums, where a student must submit their original post before they can see all of the other conversations that have taken place.

Retention Center

The old Early Warning System has been updated and renamed to the Retention Center. Here, instructors can identify risk factors and take action where appropriate.

If you have any questions about these enhancements, please don't hesitate to 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 May and June:

Learn Basics Workshop

Monday, May 6, 9:00 a.m. - noon

Learn Full Day Workshop

Tuesday, May 14, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Image Editing Basics

Wednesday, May 15, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Recording and Editing with Camtasia Studio

Thursday, May 16, 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

HTML Basics

Thursday, June 6, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 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 coordinate 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).