August, 2017 CIO Update
Welcome to the new academic year! After all of our summer preparation, classes have begun and VCU is once again bustling with new and returning students “making it real.” This month I’d like to highlight a couple of improvements we’ve made as well as provide a reminder:
TS Training Rooms Refresh
This summer, the Labs and Classrooms Computing team upgraded two Technology Services training rooms with new computers, monitors, and articulating monitor arm-mounts. In the Technology Administration Building (TAB), room 108 received 18 new student workstations, and in the Sanger building, room B1-020 received new tables and 24 new student workstations.
These new workstations represent a major upgrade from the previous generation sporting fast solid state drives, zero-bezel monitors from Dell’s Ultrasharp line, and Humanscale arm-mounts which have USB ports for devices, including a 2A USB port specifically for charging phones and tablets, as well as 3.5mm headphone jack in the base of the arm-mount for easy accessibility.
While the primary focus was hardware upgrades, all computers received a new Windows 10 image built on Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 release, the Creators Update, which add new features compared to earlier Windows operating systems such as improved text-scaling, native annotation capabilities in Microsoft Edge, and improved overall performance.
For questions, suggestions, or if you need assistance in any space supported by Academic Technologies, please contact us at 828-1098 on the Monroe Park campus or at 828-3400 on the MCV campus. You can also reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a ticket in ServiceDesk at https://servicedesk.vcu.edu if you have trouble or need software installed.
Read the Classroom Support blog for all changes to classroom technology ttp://wp.vcu.edu/classroomsupport/
Web Accessibility – The Right Thing to Do
Web accessibility isn’t just a nice thing to have. It is the right thing to do to provide equal access to all. Providing equal access to all and complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is the right thing to do (in addition to being “the legal thing to do”).
Complying with these important regulations and guidelines is also the smart thing to do because it helps to ensure that VCU web content will be found by search engines. Google Search doesn’t see, it doesn’t hear, and it can’t use a mouse. Yet, along with other search engines and social web platforms powered by algorithms, it will increasingly function as our eyes and our ears in the search for relevant information. Making VCU’s web content accessible to all users is a prerequisite to becoming findable and staying relevant in the overflowing stream of data, and ultimately visible on the web.
If confused by the alphabet soup of web accessibility (ADA, Section 508, WCAG 2.0, etc.), this clarification written by Judy Brewer, WAI Director, for web professionals in higher education is helpful: “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 each address accessibility of information and communication technologies from different perspectives—civil rights on the one hand, and federal procurement of information technologies on the other.”
“WCAG 2.0 is a standard from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a standards body that develops technical standards for the Web. WCAG 2.0 is used by many web developers, and can also be referenced in policies. Increasingly, government agencies have been harmonizing their policies with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.”
VCU recently updated its policies to make sure that we consistently provide accessible web content. For more information, please visit http://www.webstandards.vcu.edu/compliance/accessibility/
VCU Mobile Refresh
The VCU Mobile app recently went through a quick “refresh” with more to come in the months ahead. The app is an on-the-go hub for all things VCU, connecting you to important Virginia Commonwealth University resources right from your phone. You can look up students and faculty, learn about upcoming events on campus, find detailed information about courses, and get the latest news about VCU. In addition, get the latest VCU videos and images from around the university, track where you are as well as the bus system, and ask a question. I encourage you to download it if you haven’t already and to provide the Web Services team any feedback you have as they strive to continuously improve the service.
Best wishes for the 2017-2018 academic year!