The eDesktop Virtual Computer Lab is a premier service offered by the university and targeted to distance learning students (though all students and employees can take advantage of the online lab). eDesktop makes university-licensed software available to students through a Microsoft terminal server environment. It is helpful to think of eDesktop as an open-access computer lab that is available from any computer with a high-speed Internet connection. There are 150 seats available in eDesktop, and it is offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
The eDesktop environment was designed and developed to make general purpose software available to students; applications include Microsoft Office, SAS, and SPSS. Due to the terms of some software license agreements as well as technical limitations, not all software applications can run in eDesktop. Information Technology Services has procedures in place to test software applications in this shared environment; you may place a request from the Help Request Forms on the Argus “IT Help” tab. Because of the complexity involved in both licensing and preparing the application for the eDesktop environment, two to three months of lead time may be necessary before software can be added. For more information on eDesktop, visit the eD tab in Argus.
Administrative video conferencing is now available in the university libraries. Video conferencing allows groups of people to interact via cameras, microphones, and display units. Video conferencing should not be confused with web conferencing where meeting participants typically participate via their personal computer (i.e., each person in the web conference uses his or her own PC to communicate).
Requests for use of either video conference room may be submitted through the Microsoft Calendaring system or by contacting the Library Administrative Office (474-2492). Requestors should provide the name of the facilitator for each site (both the Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach campus) at the time that the request is submitted. If the requestor does not have the name of a facilitator, he or she may contact the Library Administrative Office (474-2492) for the names of individuals who have been trained as facilitators for their department, college, or division who might be drafted to assist. Obtaining facilitators is the responsibility of the requestor. If no facilitator is available, training will be required prior to final commitment for the rooms. The video conference rooms are available for use by administration, faculty, and staff at all hours that the John C. Pace and Emerald Coast Campus Libraries are open, including evenings and weekends. Video conference organizers are asked to conclude their sessions at least 15 minutes prior to the closing of either library.
Since the video conference facility also doubles as the libraries’ primary meeting space, scheduling priorities have been established to reduce conflicts. Priorities for the rooms have been set as: (1) library administrative use, (2) executive-level use involving staff on both campuses, and (3) other administrative uses. Within those parameters, library personnel will do everything they can to accommodate requests.
To use the rooms, the authorized facilitator will need their Nautilus Card to check out the video conference box at the John C. Pace Library circulation desk. The box contains both the remote control for the equipment as well as a key to the conference room. At the Emerald Coast Library, the facilitator may request the circulation desk provide them access to the remote and the room. The facilitator has the responsibility for returning the remote and key to the respective circulation desk.
The administrative video conferencing systems have the potential to greatly reduce the need for travel between Pensacola campus and other UWF campuses. In addition to tangible savings in travel expenses, savings are also realized in time and productivity.
Instructors seeking to add the interaction of the traditional classroom to their eLearning courses can now engage students dynamically using the Elluminate Online Classroom. Elluminate, a software application developed and hosted with pedagogy in mind, enables instructors to conduct live class sessions in the online environment. Instructors may also record and webcast the sessions to students on demand at a later time.
Using Elluminate, instructors can incorporate collaborative, cooperative assignments into the online course curriculum. Engaging students in project-work has long been an effective learning technique; with Elluminate, barriers that students typically encounter while engaging in project work can be appreciably minimized. Although conventional distance learning courses are asynchronous, real-time (synchronous) interaction can be added to any online course, augmenting students’ understanding of course material. To learn more read the UWF Elluminate Overview at http://uwf.edu/help/kb/elluminate or from the IT Help tab in Argus.
The Computer Science program has recently been revitalized with an infusion of technology. Recent updates to the teaching infrastructure of the classrooms will provide students with new and unique learning experiences. New LCD projection systems, instructor computers, and SMARTboard technology are just some of the enhancements which were installed during summer term. Instructors can now further engage students as they learn to use and manage cutting-edge network and systems technologies as well as collaborate on dynamic research opportunities.
Over the summer, Information Technology Services developed an improved printing service for students. The new service, called ArgoNet Printing Services, gives students more control over the documents they print in ArgoNet labs. Students may now view their queue of print jobs, and they have the option to print or delete the job. Although students have been able to delete jobs in the past, it was a somewhat cumbersome process; the new service enables students to be more responsible and accountable for what they print and encourages them to be more conservative.
Graduate students receive 1,000 pages free from the university, and all other students receive 500 pages free. Should students need additional pages, they may purchase them online or in the cashier’s office. For more information, visit the My ArgoNet tab in Argus and look for the ArgoNet Printing Services section.
Podcasts and video streams can be used to post lectures or as a means of distributing supplemental audio/video files directly to students’ computers. This content can greatly augment students’ understanding of concepts presented in an academic environment. Information Technology Services provides the technology to publish media files using these technologies.
A podcast is a series of audio or video files that can be downloaded and played on a computer or personal media device, such as an mp3 player. The audio files in a podcast are typically published as a series of episodes. Your audience can listen to a single episode, or subscribe to the entire podcast series so that new episodes are automatically downloaded to their computer, which can then be transferred to a personal media device.
Video streams are better suited for single video files that will not be published in a series. With a video stream, viewers can watch the file over the Internet without first downloading it to their personal computer. The video is continuously displayed while being delivered from the UWF server.
A third media publishing option is a media download where the file is simply saved to a web folder (such as a UWF I: drive) and a link is posted to direct students to the file. When a student clicks on the link, the media file is downloaded to their computer before it begins to play. Media downloads are a good choice for single audio files.
Each of these technologies has its benefits and limitations. The best publishing option depends on the characteristics of the file being published. ITS developed an online “Solution Wizard” to help identify the best solution for any media file.
The solution finder and all online documentation including guidelines for creating files and step-by-step procedures for publishing are available at http://uwf.edu/help/kb/media or from the search box on the Argus “IT Help” tab.
The university has been engaged in a multi-year project to upgrade the instructional technology in generally scheduled classrooms. The standard UWF technology-equipped classroom, called an “eClassroom,” is designed to give instructors a consistent technology look-and-feel from classroom to classroom. For instance, the defining characteristic of eClassrooms is the way the technology is controlled; unlike Hi-Tech classrooms, eClassrooms are controlled by a touch panel. Using the touch panel control system, the classroom technology engineers are able to design rooms which may have different models or brands of LCD projectors, DVD players, and amplification systems, but are still controlled through a common interface.
Over the summer-to-fall intersession, seven Hi-Tech classrooms were converted to eClassrooms: 36/108, 74/101, 74/105, 74/107, 78/103, 82/206, and 79/179. In addition to LCD projectors, audio amplification, and DVD players, these rooms now have personal computers installed in their podiums. Seven-port USB hubs are also available, allowing a variety of USB devices to be used in the classrooms, including PowerPoint “clickers,” pen (or thumb or jump) drives, etc.
Hi-Tech classrooms are the university’s legacy technology-equipped classrooms. Unlike eClassrooms, most of the instructional technology in Hi-Tech rooms is controlled via remote control. Although these rooms all feature LCD projection systems, it is difficult to provide a standard environment from classroom-to-classroom. Considering that the university has 60+ generally scheduled classrooms, a multi-year project would be needed to update the instructional technology in each classroom. During that time, technology changes making standardization a challenge to achieve.
Despite the tight budget year, classroom technology engineers have been able to repurpose existing computers and use funds from last fiscal year to make a few modest improvements in these legacy classrooms. For instance, instructor computers have been installed in all remaining Hi-Tech classrooms. These computers include university-licensed software, including Microsoft Office, SAS, and SPSS. The computers are on the university network, and instructors may log on using their ArgoNet username and password. For access to specialized software, instructors may continue to bring their laptops, and now that “pigtails” have been installed in the podiums, instructors no longer need to bring their own VGA, network, and audio cables. A Classroom List of generally scheduled classrooms with a list of the instructional technology available in each is available from the Argus “My Office” tab, under “Course and Scheduling Tasks.”
|Occasionally the ITS Help Desk offers short refresher courses on UWF services. Our attendees are often surprised to learn about services that they didn’t know about, or that they weren’t using to their full potential. ITS now offers “What you need to know” cards that cover the essentials of IT services, or just “what you need to know.” They are available from the IT Help tab in Argus or from the link in this article.|
Our newsletter got a facelift. It’s here for you, so we encourage you to let us know if we’re meeting your needs through our online survey.