August 2019 CIO Update

Welcome to the new academic year!  The Technology Services team was hard at work over the summer months preparing for the fall.  Many infrastructure upgrades and improvements were completed and several new technology initiatives were prepared for pilots or full implementation.

New Service for Residential Student Wireless

Residential students have long been requesting that the wireless network in the residence halls provide a more “at-home” experience. Specifically, they’ve desired the ability to connect devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and other smart speakers, wireless gaming systems, and other devices that do not support the secure log-in process used by VCU SafeNet or even the VCU Guest wireless networks.

VCU Technology Services is required to be able to associate network traffic with the source device in case we need to address network problems or complaints. Wired connections are tied to a physical location, and current wireless connections require the entry of an eID or valid e-mail address to connect.  Devices that do not support the current wireless log-in process were not allowed on the network due to security concerns.

The recent deployment of Cisco Meraki wireless access points allows the use of a third-party solution from Splash Access to provide the at-home experience. Starting in the fall months, residential students will be able to log into a new wireless network named “VCU ResNet” with any device that currently works on the VCU wireless network. Once authenticated, they will then go to a Device Registration Portal where they can enter the MAC addresses of any device that requires non-authenticated access. The registered devices will be associated with the eID that registered them if the need to locate a specific device arises. The person that registered the devices will have self-management capabilities to disable access or remove the registration entirely. The fall roll-out will be limited to students in VCU residence halls, but VCU TS would be interested in hearing business use cases that could justify expansion to other areas. 

Other major initiatives for the Fall:

The Adobe Creative Cloud Enterprise license is now available and provides VCU faculty, staff and students access to the full range of creative apps for digital imaging, design, web, and video.  The latest updates, new features, apps, and services are available as soon as they are released.

A new and improved version of the VCU Mobile app was released for the new academic year.  The new version includes improved personalization capabilities and enhanced mapping and wayfinding.  We also anticipate adding the new GRTC mobile app soon, which will enable VCU riders to use their phone rather than a card to ride.

The online VCU learning and development platform was upgraded with Microsoft recently combining the best of LinkedIn with Lynda.com to release LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning offers a new, easy-to-use interface, and a broad range of new features and instructional videos, combined with original Lynda.com content.

We are also piloting new technologies for automated attendance tracking and on-line courses which will directly impact VCU’s efforts to ensure student success.  I will share more on these initiatives in the coming months.

Best wishes for the new school year!

Alex

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