January 2013

Welcome to uWaterloo Connect IT! This blog will provide a collaborative environment for university community members to help shape the future of IT at Waterloo.

Are security challenges faced by universities that much different than other organizations?

There was some buzz in the media earlier this year about universities being subject to an increasing number of cyber attacks.  An article in The New York Times drew a fair bit of attention, spawning articles in the Toronto Star and WLU’s The Cord.

Organize for Success update

The Organize for Success (OFS) project in Information Systems & Technology (IST) is moving into its final stages.  This is an update based on Open House sessions that were held with IST staff and with staff from across campus (PDF) in October.  It will also look to the future as our new organization ramps up with newly defined services and initiatives.

Making progress on IT Directions

In May, Waterloo’s IT community released its four page overview of IT Directions. These directions were determined after broad consultations with the campus community, and also with an eye to University directions that were emerging at the time, and general technology trends. The IT Strategic Plan project participants, who came from many areas of campus, used that input and identified four main areas on which to focus initially.

Widget Wednesdays episode 3: Food

One of the first widgets created for the Student Portal was the Food widget. As you can see below, it shows users upcoming menu items for Food Services eateries on campus.

Additionally, users can click on many of the menu items and see nutritional details to help them make informed and healthy choices.

Using tech tools to connect with students

Our students have high expectations that uWaterloo will communicate with them in the ways they want. Sure, there is still a place for email in the hearts and minds of students (although they do expect us to follow some best practices) but there are other interesting and effective ways to connect with them.

Housing and Residences announces $1.9M refresh of residence networks

Over the next 8 months, the department of Housing and Residences will be upgrading wired and WiFi Internet services throughout all of its residences, and adding campus WiFi to Columbia Lake Village–North (CLV-North).These upgrades represent a complete refresh of the current network services, and will provide full dual band a/g/n WiFi service in all Waterloo Residences buildings.

Change to blog schedule

As we dive into another busy, but exciting Fall term, we've decided to publish blog posts bi-weekly. Look for our next post on September 18, 2013!

Thank you for your continued support of the uWaterloo Connect IT blog.

Widget Wednesdays episode 2: Parking

In our last blog post, we took a deep dive into the Student Portal interface and explored the Routes Widget; one of the many widgets that the portal is comprised of. Today we continue the exploration with the Parking widget.  Please note that the portal is under development and these designs are subject to change over future iterations.

Voting systems

Voting or ranking systems are popular tools used to collect stakeholder feedback relating to something; an event, idea, film choice, potential candidate, etc. If used on a website, site owners are able to post content and, using a voting tool, provide the opportunity to site visitors to rank or vote for the content they see. This information can be extremely useful to the site owner who can then make a decision to act based on the stakeholder feedback.

On vacation

I will be taking some holidays the first two weeks of August and will resume the blog when I return. Look for our next post on August 21st.

Out of the office this summer? Let your colleagues know!

The summer holiday season is well underway! The halls are a little quieter and your email inbox is getting a small break from the flurry of messages it’s used to receiving. If you’re planning on catching up on some much needed rest and relaxation this summer, don’t forget to set your out of office replies. Your colleagues, who’ll be streaming peaceful sounds of ocean waves on their work computer, will appreciate it!

Widget Wednesdays episode 1: Routes

In our last blog post, we framed the Student Portal as a digital assistant that helps users organize data that interests them. In this post we will review the interface that is currently under development and take a closer look at one of the many widgets that the portal is comprised of. Please note that the portal is under development and these designs are subject to change over future iterations.

Purpose of the IST reorganization

In November 2012, Information Systems & Technology (IST) launched an intensive process to review the overall organization of the department. Working with Human Resources (HR) and a consulting firm, this process included a review of the department structure and resources, services and systems, and service needs from the university IT and campus communities. An environmental scan of comparable institutions coupled with IT trends in higher education emphasized the need for a proactive approach.

Digital badges: tracking our ‘horizontal’ skills

Recently the Globe and Mail and EDUCAUSE Review published articles on the growing popularity and use of digital badges for tracking and sharing achievements in professional development.

Using technology to build brains and develop a ‘SixthSense’

The university recently posted a news story and Tweet about Dr. Chris Eliasmith’s impressive work in the area of Theoretical Neuroscience. His new book, How to Build a Brain, introduces Semantic Pointer Architecture (SPA), which provides a set of tools used for cognitive modelling. Using these tools Dr. Eliasmith and team have built the world's largest functional brain model, Spaun, which demonstrates the high-level neural activity of the brain as it completes several tasks (i.e. recognition and list memorization).

Designing the Portal is like organizing your junk drawer

Imagine if you had an assistant that supported your life here at the University of Waterloo. What would it look like? Many individuals rely on a human resource; a personal assistant. Unfortunately, this isn’t a practical solution for our campus community. What then is our light at the end of the tunnel? Digital technology. More specifically, a ‘portal’ that provides a gateway to multiple disparate channels of communications and information. The portal will help support you in your journey providing quick, easy access to the organized data you need, when you need it. 

Web Accessibility deadline approaches

One in seven people in Ontario have a disability. Over the next 20 years, that number will rise as the population ages. The University of Waterloo is committed to ensuring that all people, regardless of ability, are able to use our websites. Further, the Government of Ontario has made accessibility a priority, aiming for a completely accessible Ontario. Regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) require that public websites owned by certain organizations, including the University of Waterloo, be accessible by January 1, 2014.

Building a client-centric IT environment

At the end of May, Sue Grant, Senior Coordinator, Organizational & Human Development, facilitated a session for IT co-op students and their supporting managers focused on Communication for Exceptional Service. The session was open to IT staff from Computing Helpdesks across campus.

Introducing “Enterprise Architecture”

When you think of the word ‘architecture’, what are some words that come to mind? Perhaps you think of a style of building, a blueprint, or an area of study. Possibly the process of planning, designing, building and maintenance comes to mind. Precede the word with ‘enterprise’ and you are on the road to understanding what Enterprise Architecture (EA) is about.

Phishing season, open all year round!

What is phishing?

"Phishing" involves mass-delivered messages, often designed to impersonate banks, businesses, Internet service providers or computer help desks.  These messages try to entice recipients to provide personal information or to run software allowing the sender to control a recipient's computer.

Be easy to do business with

“Be easy to do business with”. A simple statement that sounds like it wouldn’t take much to achieve. Unfortunately, just saying you’re easy to do business with isn’t enough; you need to walk the talk. 

Together we enable

I am very pleased to announce that since our last meeting at the March Open House, the IT strategic planning team has completed a strategic directions document for the university community.

Taking a university-wide perspective to IT, this document is the first of its kind and carries with it an underpinning motto of "Together We Enable".  As we move towards the implementation phase of the Strategic Plan, the strategic directions identified will focus our attention on four key areas:

UWaterloo Connect IT

Welcome to uWaterloo Connect IT! This blog will provide a collaborative environment for university community members to help shape the future of IT at Waterloo.

We’re listening

In creating the IT Strategic Plan we’ve collected and reviewed your comments regarding the current state of IT on campus, how we can be better, and where IT could be going.

Time to act

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