University of Tennessee at Martin seeing changes due to technology
The Messenger 10.25.07
Technology has changed at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The Office of Information Technology Services is an early user of the Microsoft Vista operating system and Microsoft Office 2007 software. The software brings many benefits in the area of security and effectiveness, and there are new fun and informative desktop gadgets and search features to make finding items more efficient.
The Information Technology Services systems administration unit personnel have tested and configured 246 computers with Vista and Office 2007 in the labs for general student access. They also configured the appropriate services and servers to work with the new systems. Many functions in this area had changed because of the enhanced security. Student accounts, directories and software had to be migrated before Vista could be installed in the labs.
The process for building a Vista image was significantly different from building an XP image. The process began by testing current lab software for Vista compatibility. Some programs had released a Vista-compatible version, others had not. The lab images grew from approximately eight GB for XP to more than 20 GB for Vista, because, in part, to the larger operating system. They did work on folder redirection and profiles. Student profiles were pushed out by group policy to only lab computers. With XP, profiles were pushed to each student user. This change allows students and faculty to log in to computers outside of the lab and receive the correct local profile, which was not the case with XP.
The ITS technical services field support unit installed 210 new Dell Optiplex 745 Small Form Factor computers in classrooms and labs and 81 new Gateway E-155C Tablet computers for faculty. All of the new machines are running Vista and Office 2007. Also, they spent the first two days of class in the academic buildings ready to assist faculty and students and ease the transition.
The 24-hour Helpdesk provided answers to questions and tracked common problems for quick communication and resolution. The Instructional Technology Center provided training for faculty on the new tablets and on the classroom technology.
“Change always causes some stress and anxiety,” said Shannon Burgin, assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs and chief information officer. “Information Technology Services worked very hard to provide excellent service to the campus and to limit the anxiety and stress of this change.”
Some of the steps in preparation that eased the transition to the new software included:
• Testing and more testing. In the spring, a simulated student lab environment was created and used to test network access, printing, security, software installations and other aspects that would affect students and faculty. Administrative systems were tested. All systems will not be compatible with Vista until later in the year or early 2008.
• Training. ITS staff received training and did a significant amount of research on the Web and through the Microsoft site. Faculty received training through the Instructional Technology Center and other Web resources.
• Participation. Every area of ITS was involved in some form of the conversion.
• Identification of differences and problems collected through the 24-hour Helpdesk.
“Continued changes in technology provide an infrastructure and tools to support excellence in teaching and learning,” said Burgin. “UT Martin students are given the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art technology prior to moving into the work place when they graduate.
“Technology change never stops. The next major UT Martin Information Technology Services project on the horizon is the conversion of the SungardHE Banner student information system to a new hardware and operating system platform that was provided through a Title III Grant and in cooperation with the Student Success Center and the Office of Research, Grants and Contracts.”