It’s that time of the year again! The black and gold flags are up, traffic is increasing, and the VCUCard office is filled with new students as they become part of our community here. As I think about our entering students, it’s interesting to note that many of our undergraduate freshmen were born in 1998. Beloit College’s Annual Mindset List provides some interesting observations and perspective about the class of 2020 for those of us who have been around a little longer. Some of the items on the list I find most relevant in my work at VCU:
- They have never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time
- If you want to reach them, you’d better send a text—emails are oft ignored
- Books have always been read to you on audible.com
- Bluetooth has always been keeping us wireless and synchronized
- X-rays have always been digital allowing them to be read immediately
- Airline tickets have always been purchased online
- Robots have always been surgical partners in the O.R.
For those of us who provide vital services to students, it’s always important to have some context and perspective. We are serving students who have always lived in a digital world. With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a couple of improvements in place for the new school year.
Significant improvements were made to the wireless network over the summer – especially with outdoor coverage and redundancy. While there were already some exterior areas with varying degrees of coverage, other outdoor locations had practically none. One of the goals this summer was to improve upon what was already installed and add wireless in areas that had no coverage. The following locations were the focus of that effort:
- Seating area in front of Brandt Hall and the bus stop area in front of Johnson Hall
- Common area between Student Commons and Harris Hall
- Common area outside the front and side of the Temple Building
- Grass and seating area between Oliver Hall and Trani Life Sciences
- Seating area behind Hibbs Hall
- Compass star area outside of Cabell Library
- Grass area on Franklin St side of Monroe Park
- Walkway in front of the ticket area at the Siegel Center
- Seating area between Sanger Hall and Hunton Hall
- Back garden area facing I-95 behind School of Nursing
- Seating area between Larrick Center and Cabaniss Hall
With the continued growth of the wireless network – now at over 3200 access points – full redundancy on the old controllers was a huge concern in the event of a major failure. To address this, new controllers (rated for 6,000 access points each) were installed, one in each data center. This allows for all of the wireless access points to remain active in case of a complete fail-over from one data center to the other.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
We have recently implemented Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, the newest version of Bb Collaborate. It is a “real-time video conferencing tool designed specifically for education”. This can be used within or independent of Blackboard. Unlike it’s predecessor, the “Ultra Experience” is not Java-dependent and offers a clutter-free, intuitive interface, with crisp audio & hi-definition video, along with new roles that provide customizations for accessibility and privileges. It also includes the ability to share images, PDF files, and PowerPoint presentations. For more information about Collaborate Ultra, please visit our askIT knowledge base.
I would also like to remind everyone that our IT Support Center location on the MCV Campus in the VMI building is fully operational and is a great resource for those needing IT support. Full service walk-in support is available and specialized, one-on-one IT assistance is also available via our consultation program. VCUCard and Media Support Services are also there, so please feel free to stop in.
I wish you all the best for a successful and rewarding new school year!