Wednesday, June 8, 2016

PLU ePass Account Password Expiration

Your PLU ePass password provides you access to computers on the PLU domain as well as a variety of web resources including Gmail, the Sakai Learning Management System, Google Apps for Education, and library resources. Beginning on June 8, I&TS will begin enforcing ePass password expiration rules for PLU ePass accounts. If your password is set to expire, you will receive a series of email notifications to inform you of the need to change your password. These emails will provide a buffer so you can change your password at a time that is convenient for you. However, once your password expires, you will need to change your password at https://epass.plu.edu before you can log in to any other PLU resources.

Strengthen Your Password


To protect your personal information and privacy, it is important that you have a strong password. Changing your password is an opportunity to rethink how you might choose one that is more secure and easier to remember than those you have created in the past.

Visit the Change Your ePass Password page to change your password.
Strategies for Increasing Password Strength
The stronger your password, the longer you can keep it without it expiring. Below are some strategies for increasing your password strength. You’ll get interactive feedback as you update your password.

  • Longer passwords are more secure because it takes hackers longer to crack them when employing a brute force method. Consider using a password phrase with 16 to 24 characters.
  • Increase the number of alternatives for each character by using a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols.

  • Computers are great at trying patterns to guess a password.  Avoid using:
    • your ePass username, PLU ID, first & last name, email, and email alias
    • dictionary words
    • keyboard spatial patterns like: qwerty, asdf, or zxcvbn
    • repeating characters like:  aaaaaaa or 1111111
    • sequences like:  abcdef, 654321, years, dates, or zip codes

More Information and Help


For more information on changing your PLU ePass password, visit the ePass Accounts web page and the PLU ePass Password Requirements Quick Guide.

For assistance with changing your PLU ePass password, contact the PLU Help Desk at 253-535-7525 or helpdesk@plu.edu.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Summer 2016 Technology Workshops




Check out the schedule of Summer 2016 Technology workshops at http://www.plu.edu/itech/workshops/ along with full workshop descriptions and registration information. Workshops include a diversity of topics, including:
  • Google Docs and Drive Collaboration 
  • Zaption: Adding Interactivity to Videos
  • Prezi Basics
  • Web Conferencing Tools
  • HTML Basics
  • Intermediate Excel
  • Photoshop Basics
  • Using Qualtrics Survey Software
  • InDesign Basics
  • Backups and Data Security at PLU
  • Windows 10 and Office 2016
For a complete listing of workshops and their descriptions, see the workshop listings page.

If you have a particular need for specialized and customized technology workshops for your class or department, contact Layne Nordgren (layne.nordgren@plu.edu, 253-535-7197) and we'll do our best to meet your specific needs.

Need one-on-one assistance with technology? Contact itech@plu.edu to schedule a consultation. We'll find the right staff to assist you with your specific needs. In addition, Instructional Technologies provides a design lab with computers and software for digital editing projects. The Digital Design Lab is located on the first floor of the Library near the Help Desk.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Open Science Framework Changed My Workflow (for the better)!


by Jon Grahe, Professor of Psychology at PLU

It never occurred to me that I needed the Open ScienceFramework (OSF). It was shared with me because the developers knew that I was interested in trying to create large scale collaborative research projects, and so I ended up on their email list.  The Center for Open Science developed the OSF (free to all users) to provide researchers with the capacity to engage in scientific transparency. You might have noticed the furor around the Reproducibility Project or perhaps the slowly emerging consideration of the more impressive Transparencyof Publication guidelines.

However, I wasn’t involved in those activities, and that isn’t why I’m suggesting you consider using the OSF in your own scholarly and teaching workflow. While addressing an audience for a Psi Chi Distinguished Lecture at Western Psychological Association in 2012, Brian Nosek (cofounder of the COS) explained the value of the OSF by sharing a story about a collaborator emailing him and asking for a project file. He recalled the struggle of tracking the file on lab and personal computer to another collaborator’s computer. This story is one that any researcher might recall from his or her own past. Whether that file was ever found or not, the internet allows us to avoid losing files on hard drives. The OSF provides the capacity to keep those files in one place so that all collaborators (or any interested reader as the owner allows) can access them for future use.

Think of the OSF as an online, electronic file cabinet with the potential to serve as an interactive website. This cabinet can hold folders with other folders inside of those folders. I have no idea how many layers of folders are possible, but each folder can be kept private or shared as desired. Within each folder, files can be “dragged and dropped” from computer to the OSF location. Collaborators or visitors can download those files following the owner-allowed permissions. Documents and spreadsheets, pictures and video (or links to large video): files galore at your disposal. In the 2 ½ years I have been exposed to the OSF, I have come to rely on this electronic file cabinet/interactive website for most of my research projects and I have increasingly introduced it into the classroom.


The OSF allows me to collaborate easily with researchers at different institutions. Each of us can edit, upload, and create asynchronously. These folders (which are called components on the OSF) can be connected to other online applications (i.e., Google Drive, Dropbox, Github). When I make a new file and put it in a certain Dropbox folder, that file automatically gets saved on all my Dropbox computers as well as on my OSF project. My primary research activity encouraging undergraduates to coordinate their research activity could not be possible without the OSF. In addition, my local collaborations also benefit from using the OSF as our shared workspace.

In the classroom, the OSF provides a platform for students to share their work easily and privately with their partner; they can also include the instructor or the public. The OSF is not limited to psychology, or sciences. My 16-year-old daughter is using the OSF to conduct her own independent art study by uploading a weekly activity and seeking feedback from mentors. She can even share her artwork with her grandparents just for their own enjoyment.

While the OSF should not replace other online resources, it is quite easy to integrate them with it. I am shocked at how much the OSF has influenced my workflow. I invite you to try it as well.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TurningPoint Clicker Software Transition

What’s Changing?


June 3 UPDATE: PLU has now transitioned the Sakai integration to TurningPoint Cloud. Faculty or presenters using clickers should now be using TurningPoint Cloud v. 7.x. See Making the Transition to TurningPoint Cloud for details.

May 9 UPDATE: PLU's transition date has been changed to June 3, 2016 due to delays in the release of TurningPoint Cloud 7.3. Dates have been changed accordingly in the post below. 

This spring, Turning Technologies is rolling out their new clicker software, TurningPoint Cloud, replacing TurningPoint 5.X software. Effective January 31, 2016, TurningPoint 5 clicker software is being phased out, with support ending on June 30, 2016. We want to ensure you are aware of these changes sooner rather than later. To prepare for this transition, Instructional Technologies will be upgrading the Turning Technologies Sakai integration on Friday June 3 and classroom computers will be upgraded with TurningPoint Cloud software v. 7.x starting the week of June 6.

If you currently use TurningPoint clickers and software, read on to learn what you need to know to prepare for this transition. There will be a few small differences within the software that we will help you become familiar with over the next several months. A list of what’s new in the software as well as Frequently Asked Questions are provided below.

To make sure we keep you informed of these changes, please fill out the following web form so we can be sure to send you targeted future updates regarding this transition.

Subscribe to Turning Technologies Transition Updates


What Do I Need to Do Before the Transition?

  1. If you want to load clicker data collected in version 5.X software into your Sakai course Gradebook, do so before June 3.
  2. If you have an older gray USB receiver, upgrade your Turning point USB receiver by contacting Clayton Poston (cposton@turningtechnologies.com) at Turning Technologies. If your receiver is white and branded similar the photo to the right, it is compatible with TurningPoint Cloud.
  3. Request an upgrade of your laptop or desktop software to TurningPoint Cloud to be installed sometime after June 3. Create a helpdesk ticket at https://helpdesk.plu.edu. Use the request type “Software - Install/Update.”
  4. If you plan to use classroom computers with clickers after June 3, be advised that the computers will likely have TurningPoint Cloud software installed rather than TurningPoint 5.X software. 

What’s New with TurningPoint Cloud?


If you are familiar with TurningPoint 5, TurningPoint Cloud will come naturally to you. Some of the changes you will see include:
  • FERPA Compliance - Enhanced security to properly safeguard student data. Login passwords and collected data are encrypted. Files (participant lists or session files) are password protected when exported.
  • Required Instructor Registration - All instructors using the software will need to register in the new system. Detailed instructions will be forthcoming.
  • Required Student Registration - All students using clickers will need to register their clickers. Detailed instructions will be forthcoming.
  • Attendance Poll Function - Attendance can be polled multiple times throughout a clicker session.
  • Support for ResponseWare v2.1.0 - For use from computers and mobile devices rather than clickers. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Will my current version 5.X software work after June 3?

Yes, it will work as a standalone, but will not be compatible with the updated Sakai integration and all classroom computers will be updated to TurningPoint Cloud after June 3.


Can I transfer data collected in version 5.X software to the Sakai Gradebook after June 3?

No. The files and data formats from version 5.X are different from that of TurningPoint Cloud and will not be recognized by the Turning Point Sakai integration after the June 3 transition. Be sure to transfer any data collected in version 5.X that you want to go to the Sakai Gradebook of your course before June 3.


Will my students’ clickers still work with TurningPoint Cloud?

Yes.

Is TurningPoint version 5.x compatible with Windows 10?

No.

Is TurningPoint version 5.x compatible with Office 2016?

No.


Have More Questions or Concerns?


Contact itech@plu.edu and we’ll do our best to address them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Exploring Tackk: Is it Really “Ridiculously Simple Creation + Sharing”?

A quick look into potential uses of the web tool tackk for enabling web page creation, blogging, and discussion streams for courses.



Click image to view site

Several months ago I was searching for an easy-to-use web tool that would enable students to creatively introduce themselves to a class or share their course work -- without having to spend a lot of time learning how to use the tool. Several tendrils of my search led to Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s “What is a Photo Quest?” web page, an optional extra credit activity for her History of Photography course, created with a web tool called Tackk. I was struck not only by the nice-looking web page, but by the engaging nature of the activity in which students were asked to post a picture about a topic on a web tackkboard and write 200-300 words about it. I wondered how much technical overhead it would take to enable students to complete the assignment.

Ridiculously Simple?


Tackk-tackk.jpg
Diving deeper into the tackk.com web site I came across the tagline “Ridiculously Simple Creation + Sharing,” leading me to skeptically question “Can it really be that simple?” I’m all for getting the job done and, where possible, having the technology get out of the way. So I began exploring tackk to understand how simple it really is.

What is Tackk?


According to the tackk FAQs page, tackk was created “to empower anyone to create great-looking content on the web, without needing special design or technical skills.” To create web page you can add headlines (such as a page title), add text, drag and drop images, insert videos, and adjust page colors, fonts, and backgrounds.

Once you’ve finished your page, you can make it private, password-protect it, share it with individuals, or make it available to anyone on the web. In the context of a course, you could provide a link to the page via your course’s Sakai lesson page, resource, or assignment. Collaborators can contribute to the page and public users can add text and photos to a comment stream to add feedback or contribute to a discussion.

So in a nutshell, tackk is sort of mashup of functionality that includes characteristics of web pages, blogs, and wikis -- yet in a simple-to-use interface. See Why tackk? for a quick set of examples of tacck content blocks in a tackk page.

Potential Uses


Below are just a few examples of how tackk might be used in a course:

  • Personal Introductions - Develop an activity for your and your students to introduce themselves to the class, with the option of easily including photos and videos. 
  • Unit or Lesson Orientation - Introduce a unit or lesson with a video orientation to the content. Tired of some of the tedious constraints of Sakai lesson pages? Tacck provides a simple tool set to get creative with the look of your pages. 
  • Assignments - Create engaging assignments with incorporation of rich media. 
  • Blog Reflection Posts - Provide web space for individual or course blog postings. 
  • Interactive Syllabus - Create an interactive syllabus with images, videos, and buttons. 
  • Group Project Reports - Ask student groups to prepare a page that describes their project and progress. 
  • Peer Feedback - Have students share their individual or group work and receive feedback from their peers via discussion streams. 


Getting Started with Tackk


Though you don’t need an account to begin experimenting with tackk, your tackk pages will go away after five days if you don’t have an account. To create an account, go to the tackk home page at http://tackk.com. From here you can sign up for tackk or alternatively connect with your Google+ account by clicking the “More signup options link.” The next screen will allow you to adjust your user profile.

Click the green arrow in the upper right corner of the screen to create a new tackk. You can choose a blank canvas or choose from other templates.

Adding Content


The canvas provides a set of tools at the bottom to add content objects to your tackk. Each object can be moved up or down on the canvas and settings can be adjusted.



Some of the key content adding tools that are useful in context of a course include the first seven on the left of the toolbar above:
  • Headlines - You can add bold or italic formatting as well as links.
  • Text - You can add bold or italic formatting, bulleted and numbered lists, as well as links.
  • Photo - Add a photo by searching photos from 500px, uploading an image, pulling an image from Instagram, or by providing an image URL.
  • Video - Paste in the URL of a video from sources like YouTube or Vimeo or upload a video.
  • Audio - Paste in the URL of an audio file from sources like Soundcloud or Spotify.
  • Button - Add a button that links to a URL; customize the text on the button.
  • Map - Add a Google map of a location you specify.


Privacy and Comment Settings


Before publishing your page, you’ll want to check your Privacy settings under the options area. By default your tackk page will be public. You can adjust the page to be private or even require a password you set.

You can provide access to a private page by adding the tackk page link to your Sakai course or emailing those you want to share the page with. They will then be able to add to the page and comment on it via the comment streams. If your page is public, you can set whether comments can be made anonymously.

Adjusting the Look of Your Page


If you’re artistically and/or graphically inclined you can adjust the colors, fonts, and patterns of your page. But be prepared to try out a myriad of design combinations.

Is Tackk Ridiculously Simple?


For basic tasks, absolutely! But it does take a bit of experimentation to understand various details and options.

Schedule a Consultation


Need help with using tacck for your course? Schedule a consultation with Instructional Technologies staff via itech@plu.edu. We’re eager to assist!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fraudulent Email and Phishing Redux

Example of phishing email (click to enlarge)
Yet another round of fraudulent "phishing" emails have been sent across Campus masquerading as an official email warning users that their accounts are about to be shut down unless they are verified.

As we have noted multiple times during these campaigns, the Help Desk will never solicit your account information. All of our account work is done via our ePass website [epass.plu.edu], and we will not intentionally put your account into a position where it cannot be recovered.

Given how these emails continue, we felt it would be appropriate to pass on a small FAQ to help better inform the PLU community about these phishing emails.

Summary

  • PLU (I&TS) will never solicit your account information via email
  • If you ever have even the slightest inkling that an email might be fraudulent, do not do anything with it and call the Help Desk at 253-535-7525
  • If you have clicked on any links in these emails or responded to them, call the Help Desk at 253-535-7525
  • This phishing campaign has been attacking users for several months, taking over PLU accounts and sending more phishing emails from PLU accounts
  • They often include PLU logos to mimic official PLU emails and claim to be from the non-existent PLU Webmail Management Team

FAQ

Q: What exactly is a phishing email?
A:  A phishing email is basically an email meant to trick users into revealing sensitive information, "baiting" them into giving out private info such as passwords, credit card information, etc.

Typically, a phishing email will masquerade as coming from an official source, often claiming to either have important information for the user or claiming that their "account will be terminated" if the user doesn't give out their password information.

Unfortunately, methods will vary from phishing email to phishing email.

Q: How can I tell if an email is a phishing email?
A: Most phishing emails are plagued with:
  • Spelling errors
  • Grammatical mistakes
  • Strange use of punctuation
  • Bits of "code" showing in the email
  • Vague claims or threats towards your account
  •  Inconsistent or incorrect information about the account system
Q: Why is this still happening months after the initial email?  Can't these emails be stopped?
A:  The way this particular phishing campaign is working is to send out as many emails as possible to PLU emails, collect a few accounts, sit on these accounts for a bit while sending out more emails, and continue to collect more accounts.  Every time the attackers get another account, they can send out hundreds of emails; if even one person responds, that's another account and another couple hundred emails.

It's a vicious cycle that we can only break by educating users about the existence of these emails.  While we do our best to shut down the accounts as soon as we receive a report, usually we don't get a report until after a few minutes of sending, which can be hundreds of emails by that point.

We are considering other alternatives system side, but we need to be vary careful about such alterations as they can affect the receiving of legitimate emails as well.

Q: What do the attackers have to gain by doing this?
A:  Just more sources to spam people with.  Once the spammers have a sufficient number of accounts stocked up, they can start sending out spam emails to other people.  Often times we will cleanse an account and find that it has been altered to look like a bank or a school or a credit union.

Q: What should I do if I have responded to one of these emails?
A:  Change your password immediate by going to epass.plu.edu [epass.plu.edu] and call the Help Desk at 253-535-7525.  We will need to walk you through cleaning your account to ensure that no one else has access.

Q:  Is there anything I can do to help combat these emails?
A:  Yes!  Continue to report them to us every time you get one.  It may seem futile or redundant, but the sooner we know about a new wave, the sooner we can take action.



Tell your colleagues and friends about the phishing emails and about how they can learn more about them; the more people that know, the better chance we have that the phishing waves will be ineffective.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Enhancing Video Interactivity and Engagement with Zaption


February 14 marks ten years since YouTube was founded. Since that time there has been a massive proliferation of online videos, not just in YouTube, but in other services such as TED Talks, Vimeo, PBS Video, National Geographic, and Discovery. And though some might argue that much of it is not at all useful for instruction, with a bit of searching you might find the perfect jewel of a video to supplement your instruction in the classroom or online.

What if you could make clips of an existing online video, add text or image annotations to provide context, and then include multiple choice or open-ended questions within the video to create interactivity and engagement? A free, web-based tool called Zaption provides a toolkit to do just that. You can then publish the interactive video for use in your face-to-face class using Zaption Presenter and invite your students to respond during class. Or alternatively you can link to it online from your Sakai course for enhancing your blended, flipped, or online course videos.

Zaption Lesson Example


Click on the image below for a quick overview of how Zaption works from a student's view, using the TED Talk by Julian Treasure, "5 Tips to Listen Better." When you click on the orange "Start" button to open the video, you'll see an orange vertical slider under the video that you can use to navigate through the video. In the same navigation area you'll see gray vertical lines which represent spots in the video where Zaption elements have been added. Navigate to several of these elements to see examples of multiple choice or open-ended questions.

Zaption Lesson from TED Talk "5 Tips to Listen Better"

Video Sources for Zaption


Image from Zaption training presentation
The first step in creating a Zaption video is to find a video resource. To add a video to Zaption you can search by title and author keywords or by entering the URL of a video, including videos from resources such as:
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo 
  • TED
  • National Geographic
  • PBS
  • Edutopia
  • NASA
You can also pull in web-accessible mp4 videos, such as those you’ve published yourself.

Trimming tool

Trimming Videos


Once you’ve selected your video you can trim the head or tail of the video to pull out just the right segment. The process is as simple as dragging a start point marker to portion of the video where you want the video to start and moving the endpoint marker to where you want the video to end. In the example to the right the first third of the video is set for trimming.

Adding Zaption Elements


Next you can add elements to your video tour to create interactivity. The free version of Zaption allows you to add the following elements:
  • Text - Add and style text either over the top of the video or to the side of the video. The text might include a note about context of the video in relation to your class lesson, definitions, explanations, etc. 
  • Images - Add an images to a video by dragging it onto the video or selecting one from your computer file system. You might include schematics, illustrations, labeled diagrams, etc. 
  • Drawings - Add a drawing tool so users can draw on top of the video or to the side. You might ask them to highlight an object on the video or write a formula for instance. 
  • Open Response - Write a question and provide a text entry box for user responses. 
  • Multiple Choice - Write a question, provide multiple choice answers, and identify correct answers for feedback. 
  • Check Boxes - Write a question and provide check boxes. 
Settings for each element allow you to adjust parameters such as the:
  • Position - Over the video window or on the sidebar?
  • Behavior - Continue playing video or pause?
  • Duration - Show element for a fixed number of seconds or wait for the user to click “Play”? 

Publishing Your Video Tours


After you’ve finished adding elements to your video tour and adjusting their settings, you can publish your video for distribution. You’ll then have a link you can add to your presentation or Sakai site.

Viewing Zaption Analytics


Once you’ve had your students interact with the video tour, you can view analytics about the unique viewers, viewing times, and questions. Though these metrics may not directly measure learning, they might be used for informing modifications of the video content, questions, and instruction.
 


Still Interested? Try it Out!


Get a free Zaption account at https://www.zaption.com/signup. You can sign in with your Google account. Comparisons of functionality of the free and paid accounts can be found at https://www.zaption.com/pricing. Need help? Schedule a consultation with Instructional Technologies staff via itech@plu.edu.

Upcoming Workshop


Want to learn more about using Zaption? Register for the following hands-on workshop:

Title: Adding Interactivity to Videos with Zaption    REGISTER 

When: Thursday, March 3, 12pm – 1pm, Library 331

Workshop Description:
Zaption provides a toolkit for selecting clips from online videos, annotating them with text and images, and asking multiple choice and open-ended questions. This hands-on workshop will explore tools and techniques for making your videos more interactive and engaging.