/IT Department develops online tools for students

IT Department develops online tools for students

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Chynna McKillion

Troy University’s Information Technology Department has been developing new Web-based student tools and an upgrade to the Trojan Card, the student ID, allowing students to manage information online.
“There are a number of new deliverables in the near-term,” Dr. W. Greg Price Sr., chief technology officer for Troy University, said in April.
“We are working with the registrar and bursar’s offices to deploy new Web-based student self-service tools and a new student educational planning solution … the solution will allow students to view balances online and engage in a number of online account management activities.”
Wi-Fi is offered in all buildings on campus with a student login. Students have noticed spotty Internet connections in some areas, however, such as the Trojan Center Ballrooms and Claudia Crosby Theater. According to Price, this is due to uneven traffic in these areas.
“Wireless access is a critical component of Troy’s IT infrastructure,” he said. “At the Troy, Ala., campus, there are nearly 600 wireless access points. Using a variety of focus groups and surveys, we place the wireless devices in areas identified as ‘high activity.’ Of course, over time, activity levels change.
“The ballrooms and Crosby Theater experience low volumes of traffic for the majority of the year. During large events, especially in the ballrooms, we provision additional access points to increase availability.”
By the time school starts in the fall, Troy IT plans to place access points in these areas permanently to alleviate the problem.
Even though students have Internet access on campus, they can’t do everything they can do at home.
Blocked websites
Sites with adult content, and all peer-to-peer software — software that allows students to illegally download movies and music — are blocked. In some cases, a student may be quarantined, or blocked from the network, until he or she removes such a program.
Students also must have a fully updated computer running anti-virus software and must download Troy’s authentication program, Safe Connect, to prove it.
“I think blocking sites is pointless,” said Faith Karwacki, an ecology and field biology major from Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., who was a senior in the spring. We’re all adults here. It is also inconvenient to run the software necessary to work online when I do work on campus.”
Another program that’s blocked on campus, with the exception of residence hall networks, is Netflix.
“The university primarily blocks Netflix because of high bandwidth issues,” said Matthew Bailey, president of Troy’s IT Society and a Helpdesk operator. “It’s unfortunate because occasionally teachers want to show a movie in class that is hosted on Netflix.”
Computer access
Computer labs are located all over campus. Depending on a student’s major and preference (Windows or Macintosh) there is a lab to suit those needs.
“There are computer labs located in every academic building; however, some of them are limited to people who have majors in those departments,” said Timothy Kraus, the computer center supervisor for IT.
“The Art Department, for instance, has a lab with about 10 Macs, but it requires a key fob to get in.”
Computers are free to use by any student in the library in Wallace Hall and in Computer Works in Eldridge Hall.
Despite the student handbook stating that professors are allowed to limit or prohibit cellphone usage in class, cellphones can be a great tool for classes.
Troy University app
Troy University has an app available in both Apple and Android app stores that allows a student to check email, the campus parking map and more. There is also a stand-alone Blackboard app that will let students check grades and notify them of new postings by professors.
Blackboard is an online tool that faculty and students use to manage courses, submit assignments and see grades.
“The Blackboard app has honestly saved my butt a couple of times,” said Kayla Jones, an English major from Huntsville who was a sophomore in the spring. “It notified me of an assignment I had coming up that I had completely forgotten about.”
Troy’s IT department has an entire system to help the university community with various computer difficulties called Helpdesk. For help, call 800-414-5756, or visit helpdesk.troy.edu.