Spring in RVA is in full swing with lots of tree pollen in the air and on the windshield. As we march toward the end of Spring Semester (and all this pollen), I would like to highlight two changes coming to the VCU IT environment.
On May 17, 2016 the VCU Blackboard System will be upgraded to a newer version. The newer version is the “Q4 2015 Release” for Blackboard Learn 9.1. The system will be unavailable from 8:00pm on Tuesday, May 17th until 8:00pm on Wednesday, May 18th. Once the upgrade is complete and the system is ready for use, a notice will be posted in the Learning Systems blog.
Upgrading to a newer version is always beneficial in order to maintain compatibility with newer browsers and tools, and to correct known issues, etc. This upgrade is not a drastic change, and it will look and feel very similar our current version. However, it has some new features and important updates as described below:
- Goal Performance Dashboard – There is now a competency-based education Building Block to map goals to courses within Learn. The Goal Performance Dashboard evaluates evidence of competencies individually, allowing for true measurement of mastery.
- Calendar– Individual users now have more choice about how their calendars are formatted both in the Calendar tool and when making date selections. They can alter the first day of the week that starts the calendar view in month and week views. A course list filter is now available in the calendar, and users can also now choose the Hijri Islamic lunar calendar.
- Content Editor – The Content Editor spell check option is now ON by default.
- Video Everywhere – Blackboard Learn has integrated with OAuth 2.0. With this update users are able to seamlessly use several video features within Learn without authentication issues.
- Zoom – Desktop web conferencing is now integrated with Blackboard. Zoom allows instructors to schedule an activity for a course. The teacher adds the Zoom meeting ID to this activity. The teacher and all enrolled students can join the meeting via a single URL click that is displayed on the activity.
- VoiceThread – In response to technology shifts related to the browser support of java applets, Blackboard will be replacing their existing Voice Authoring products with VoiceThread. We have tested the tools and will make them available in May during our upgrade. Although the existing Bb Collaborate Voice Tools will be available until October when Blackboard removes them from service, please begin using the new VoiceThread tools now
Links to more information can be found on http://www.ts.vcu.edu/askit/knowledge-base/blackboard/blackboard-upgrade-may-2016/
CAS and DUO Multi- Factor Authentication
The Central Authentication Service (CAS) is a single sign-on protocol for accessing Web applications such as Google or the myVCU portal. Here at VCU, CAS permits a user to access multiple applications while providing login credentials (eID and password) only once. It also allows web applications to authenticate users without gaining access to a user’s security credentials, such as a password. DUO is the multi-factor authentication software that is integrated into our VPN and other selected systems at VCU. By using your phone or mobile device as a secondary authentication mechanism, the DUO mobile app allows more trusted and secure authentication to VCU IT systems.
In the coming weeks, we will be combining CAS and DUO to provide VCU users with a second layer of security by requiring two different channels of multi-factor authentication. For example, your first factor will be your eID password, while your second factor is sent via a push notification generated by DUO authentication on your smartphone that you must approve. This new process better protects your user logins from remote attacks that may exploit stolen credentials. Look for more information and instructions on how to get started in the next few weeks.
Next month, I will provide a full update on the upgrade of the University Computer Center, which is very close to full completion, as well as an update on Project LIBRA, our initiative to more fully leverage Banner and its functionalities.
Thanks and Happy Spring,