Information Technology

May 2009


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Division of Information Technology
P.O. Box 6888
Radford, VA 24142
Phone: 540-831-5173
Fax: (540) 831-6217

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Division of Information Technology (DoIT)
Radford University

Survey Tool Now Available

Market research or general feedback is an important asset that can help decision-makers make tough decisions on merit, not instinct. The Qualtrics survey software, licensed to the DoIT is a program that can assist faculty, staff and students and provide basic support to research, teaching and administration. The Qualtrics program provides the campus community a means to generate basic market research from surveys or questionnaires using a wizard that requires no prior training.

Qualtrics provides dozens of sample surveys on various topics that can be customized for individual use, a mechanism that integrates sending and tracking of e-mail invitations and automatically generates reminder e-mails and an integrated graphics and statistical tool kit that can download data into Excel or SPSS with full syntax retained.

Since DoIT implemented Qualtrics in 2008 over 100 accounts have been created by campus users who have created almost 300 surveys that have elicited over 13,000 responses. Visit Qualtrics to create an account and find out how Qualtrics can help gather important survey information.

2009 DoIT Computer Recommendations

LenovoThe RFP subcommittee of the Information Technology Advisory Committee is recommending the Lenovo platform as best for student purchase. As the recommended platform, DoIT will provide students, faculty and staff the opportunity to purchase Lenovo platforms for use in academic, professional, and personal work.

In addition to substantial discounts, students participating in this initiative will receive enhanced technical support including single point of service for both software and hardware repairs, loaner computers during repairs, and a custom RU software image. Along with all RU students, Radford University employees are also eligible to participate in this program for personal purchases of Lenovo computers.

To increase the effectiveness of the university support model, the same Lenovo laptop models along with Lenovo desktop computers will be deployed for faculty and staff and in computing labs during the yearly computer replacement cycle.

The subcommittee reviewed proposals from several computer vendors before selecting Lenovo as the recommended option and one that is well suited for use now and in the future. The Committee is comprised of members from the Information Technology Advisory Committee and is led by John Albano, director of Technology Support Services.

DoIT and the subcommittee are in the process of finalizing the specifications and prices for 2009-10 academic year and will soon publish this information in an upcoming edition of this DoIT newsletter and on the DoIT website.

May 2009 Banner Update

This month's DoIT Banner System update focuses on reporting. Banner is SunGard Higher Education's Administrative Systems Suite that, when fully implemented, will contain all of the campus' daily operational transactions. Transforming these transactions into information for use in decision-making is an important service that DoIT is providing the campus community.

To better serve those who require customized retrieval of the data that Banner accumulates and provide help with the challenge of locating and extracting the data that is stored in literally thousands of tables, RU purchased Cognos and the Operational Data Store (ODS), applications that are the university's selected tools for custom reporting. Cognos and the ODS will meet the ever-changing reporting needs of the university for analytical and institutional reporting, as well as the daily ad-hoc needs. The ODS provides a snapshot of the Banner transactional database that simplifies the data structures (reducing thousands of tables to several hundred) and is refreshed twice daily with current data. Cognos is the user interface that connects to the ODS and allows users to access the data and table structures. With Cognos, users can create unlimited custom formats for reports, define selection criteria, add graphics, etc.

"Cognos has definitely helped in getting the information we need," said Kathy Nester of the McConnell Library. "The report formats look very professional and are an improvement from when we used to have to cut and paste our data into other documents."

Banner does provide "canned" or predefined reports with which most end users are familiar from their queries and the reports in Self Service Banner (SSB). Harvesting the data and accommodating the customization issues that is beyond these canned reports required a solution outside of the Banner baseline that DoIT created using Cognos and ODS. For example, there are now 73 custom reports created in Cognos/ODS for Banner Advancement, Financial Aid and Finance. The finance module end-users were trained this spring and the new reporting capabilities are now in operation. Ongoing training will further open this valuable source of operational information to other users.

"DoIT and SunGard worked with us to create the unique reconciliation reports we need to meet Department of Accounts guidelines. The DoIT staff was helpful and gave us exactly what we asked for," said Ronda St. Clair, reconciliation accountant in Financial Reporting.

The Banner system upgrade is a major multi-year project designed to review, replace and enhance the university's legacy IFAS, IRIS, and Student Information (SIS) systems, including undergraduate and graduate admissions, financial aid, registration and records, student housing, advancement and fundraising, financials, budget, human resources and the portal. The administrative systems provide the university community of faculty, staff, students, prospective students, alumni with critical business processing, data retrieval, reporting and self-service functions.

Security Awareness Training

To facilitate user understanding of IT security risks and to ensure the security of university systems and information, Commonwealth of Virginia regulations now require all university employees to complete annual security awareness training. DoIT will be utilizing a Virginia Information Technology Administration (VITA) approved online security awareness program to help campus users meet the new certification requirement.

By using online training, faculty and staff will be able to complete the training at their convenience by the Dec. 31, 2009, deadline. The training will take about an hour to complete and includes several modules with questions at the end. Upon completion, the user will receive certification of his or her completion of security awareness training for the year. All university faculty and staff are required to complete this training and non-compliance could lead to account revocation on Jan. 1, 2010.

An early summer release of the computer security training module is expected. Further information about these training requirements and directions for completing this mandated certification process will be provided via email to individual account holders, the MyRU portal and upcoming editions of the DoIT newsletter.

DoIT Employee Profile

Lisa McDanielLisa McDaniel, Manager, Academic Technologies and User Training

How long have you been employed in the Division of Information Technology at Radford University?
In IT since 2000 and I have been at RU for 16 years. I graduated from Radford University with a B.S.-Information Systems in 2000 and a MS-Education Technology in 2005.

Valparaiso, Indiana, and I currently live in Dublin with my husband, Brian; my 15-year-old son, Cory, who is a soccer player at Pulaski County School; and Sadie, our family's miniature Schnauzer.

Movies and PC games. One of my all-time favorites is the Mist series, an adventure game where players solve mysteries.

Favorite Vacation Destination:
I would love to travel to Australia to see the exotic wildlife down-under.

Favorite part of your job:
I love helping faculty and staff with technology needs and watching for "ah-ha" moments where they see and understand how particular technologies can make their teaching more effective and jobs easier. I also like being the first to explore and evaluate the newest technologies.