VCU Technology Services rolled out a number of new services this fall that provide their own unique set of benefits but in the aggregate they promote ease of use, better access to information, more ways to access resources, and creates a safe online environment for the VCU community. Let’s take a look at each of these services.
The myVCUmail service debuted this past summer for all new incoming students. Returning students are now being migrated to the new service. This new service, powered by Google Apps for Education, provides students with an easy to understand, web-based interface with more than 7 GB’s of storage. The former service provided students with just 100 MB’s of storage. myVCUmail also gives students access to Google’s easy to use collaborative tools such as Docs, Talk, and Calendar. Besides better service, VCU will enjoy cost savings on hardware, software, and staff effort to support student e-mail. We expect the future to be bright for this service as Google continues to develop for the Google Apps platform.
In April 2009 there were over 1 million logins to the myVCU Portal. We knew people liked the portal but we wanted to make it a better experience for everyone. This August VCU Technology Services debuted the new myVCU Portal which features a vastly superior user experience. The new portal is faster, easer to use, and much more customizable so you get the information you want, the way you want it. The new portal system will take less time to maintain so VCU Technology Services can work on rolling out new features rather than just keeping it running. All this for about half the cost of the former portal system. Not a bad deal, eh?
Many in the VCU community use the wireless network every day for checking e-mail, logging into the myVCU Portal and just about anything else that can be done on the web. And they are not just using computers. People may be using a laptop but they could also be using a mobile device such as a Blackberry, iPhone, PSP, or iPod touch. Given that the VCU community has so much data flowing over the air we felt that using the VCU wireless network should be just as secure as plugging in with a network cable (Who does that?). SafeNet Wireless came online in August to provide a safe, encrypted method for using Wi-Fi. Once set up on your computer or device you should not have to log into the service again unless your eID password changes. For Apple computers and devices the set up is especially easy. Microsoft Windows based computers take a little more work to set up but we have instructions available online. The old VCU Wi-Fi network will remain online for the foreseeable future but be sure not to use it for sites that require sensitive information such as passwords and account numbers.
You’ve Got Questions. We’ve Got Answers.
VCU Technology Services has been in the process of rolling out a new website since last spring. The site is centered around the fact that people generally visit our site to accomplish a specific task. So the underlying design of the new VCUTS site is essentially a knowledge base. We have created a knowledge base of services, programs, and products that VCUTS provides the VCU community each day. We have many ways to get at this information from using the tabs at the top to browse, looking for the most popular pages listings, and a search box that is on each and every page. The underlying system allows VCUTS to update pages in a much faster manner and ensure the freshness of data. Go ahead and try it out today. You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
JumpStart Provides Easy Entry To Blackboard
The VCU Technology Services Learning Systems group has put together a new program called JumpStart to assist first-time faculty users to get their class online. The Learning Systems staff will create your Blackboard site for you and show you how to keep it up to date. This follows the Learning Systems group’s spring deployment of the Blackboard Learn iPhone application which keeps Blackboard at your fingertips. Next spring a new version of Blackboard will become available which adds social learning and Web 2.0 tools to the mix. Stay tuned.
VCU Technology Services will continue to strive to provide the best possible computing environment at VCU for all students, faculty, and students. We can’t do this alone however. If you have programs or services you would like to see at VCU or comments about current services please use the Feedback tab at the top to let us know or drop us a line via e-mail.