Friday, February 8, 2013

ITAP Presentation to Senior Staff

Earlier posts have shared the role of the ITAP assist Grinnell College in the prioritization of ITS initiatives. 

Yesterday, the work of the ITAP committee was presented to the Senior Staff for ratification. Great dialog; great feedback.  You can find a copy of the charts at the following link:   I wanted to share the highlights of the meeting with you:

  • Complete ratification of the ITAP Committee's work. Agreement to proceed to the next phase with five selected projects (Alumni email, Online Registration/eAdvising, Student Retention Alert, Data Warehouse)
  • Significant discussion and interest, primarily led by President Kington, to move up the date of Online Registration
  • Much interest in having us look at teleconferencing...with the understanding that our agenda is full with the projects cited above
  • Interest in having a copy of the full list of projects
  • Discussion (Joe Bagnoli) about the importance of web analytics for recruitment. Joe will create a paper on this topic
  • Hi interest expressed in document imaging
I am very grateful to the ITAP committee. Their contribution has been strong. The process is working as we intended. 

Next steps:  we in ITS will create project charters for each of the above initiatives (the "5") and come back to Sr. Staff with a funding request and project plan.

I think that we will take a few months hiatus from meeting as a committee. We are in the phase of getting these projects kicked off.

From my perspective, the ITAP Committee has made a serious difference to Grinnell College as they have prioritized the initiatives for ITS.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lynda is Here!!!

I would like to introduce you to Lynda....Lynda . Com. 

Lynda is the newest member of our team. Lynda was hired specifically for you. Let me tell you a few things about Lynda:
  • She is smart; she knows a little about every technology topic that you might imagine. 
  • She is a teacher, teaching primarily technology oriented topics. 
  • She is fast; she typically teaches in 1-5 minute bursts. 
  • She is available. We had a little work to get this one through HR, but her shift is 24x7x365.
  • She can help all of us out by answering our questions...pronto. She is one click away.
You can meet Lynda by following the instructions below. Spend some time with Lynda to get to know her. I think you will find her to be one of your new BFFs.


This is an email that went out from John Hammond on this topic this morning:

Description: cid:image001.png@01CDFF95.5EA53DF0
Good Morning,
Information Technology Services is very excited to now provide unlimited access to for all students, staff and faculty. is an online library of courses covering topics from photography to project management. 
Here are just a few of the benefits to using
•           Courses include a wide variety of technology and disciplines
•           Up-to-date content helps to keep your skills current
•           New courses are added every week 
•           Access to instructors’ exercise files let you follow along as you watch tutorials
•           Closed captioning and searchable, time coded transcripts for increased comprehension
•           Beginner to advanced courses to learn at your level
•           Watch complete courses or individual tutorials as you need them
To access, go to and create your user name and password.  You must use your Grinnell email address.
You must be on campus the first time you create your account, but after that you can access from anywhere! If you are an existing member, you can use your current user name and password to create your profile. Once your profile is created, you will be able to access directly through from anywhere! To learn more, we suggest that you watch the introductory movie about the service, and also access the How to use course.
Introductory Movie:
How to use course
Please contact the Grinnell Technology Services Desk if you have any questions or issues signing up for or into
Best regards,
John Hammond
Technology Services Desk Manager

There is Something Very Phishy Around Here...


We seem to be under siege lately from phishing attacks. These fake, unwanted email solicitations look real and do a good job of luring us in. Then, Bam!...we find that they have stolen our email identity and password and started working on our computer work under our identity. 

What is so bad about this?

Several things:

First, I don't want my identity compromised. Everything...passwords, emails, files... Once the phishing site has it, the phishing site can disburse my personal information wherever it chooses. Kind of like a home invasion. You never feel safe in your home once it is compromised. 

Secondly, our Grinnell email servers get tagged as phishing servers, sending out erroneous information to others. In the internet world this is bad. Our servers carry a "good guy" or "bad guy" score, kind of like your credit score. When your score goes down, other servers around the world will not let you talk with them. They take your emails, etc. and throw them into a trash can. Now...we don't want that, do we??

Enough of all of this explanation, you get the picture. 

Here is something very, very cool you can do. Go to this site (it is a non-phishing site!!!):

Establish an id and take the course on Defending Against Phishing Attacks (section 4, second class). 

The above site is for We just purchased a campus-wide license. There are many, many great classes you can take at Check it out!

The first time you enter you need to be on campus (security!!!). Establish an id. The site will walk you through how to do this. Give me a post back, if you are having trouble...we can post specifics of how to get in.  

Feel free to post back tips that you have experienced that may help others.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Becoming an Analytics Driven Organization

It has been some time since our last post. I've been watching for items that warrant your attention. We have a few!! I will make them the subject of separate posts over the next several days.

I am greatly encouraged with the direction that we are heading as we strive to become an Analytics Driven Organization. We have the strong leadership of President Kington driving this topic, great interdepartmental teamwork, and a spirit on campus of "let's move ahead." Narren Brown (Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research), Angela Voos (Office of the President), Brent Jaeger (ITS), and Jon Case-Minners (ITS) have been major players. There is some significant work underway in the divisions...thoughtful, insightful work.

We must evolve to become a more fact driven organization. We face increasing accountability regarding the effectiveness of our product (education) and the effectiveness of our expenditures. The world we interact with expects us to understand our business quantitatively and respond to their questions.  We find ourselves increasingly incapable of doing so.

The topic of how you become an Analytics Driven Organization is messy; it is amorphous; it requires teamwork. It is one of those topics that make you scratch your head and ask: "Where do we start?" Many organizations start this process, then stop as they lose focus, purpose, and will. 

The way to accomplish this is not to try to create an environment that can answer every question that anyone has ever thought of. “Build it and they will come” is not an effective approach. It also is not effective to install a data warehouse software package and hope that with the press of a few buttons all of our answers will be magically spit out. 

Rather, there is a cultural change that is needed in the institution, a kind of DNA alteration in how we think of information (data) and its use. We need to become an organization where data is an institutional asset, versus a personal asset or departmental asset. Everyone can view and use "our" data, given the proper security authorization. Our business processes change so that others may access information that we hold or have sourced. Data is named according to institutional standards, so that it can be found and understood by others. And, policies govern the creation and use of data.

We will evolve incrementally, thoughtfully. We will create results as we progress. As we move forward together, we will increase interdepartmental collaboration, sharing of data, and teamwork. 

Yesterday, in the Grinnell Senior Leadership meeting, a plan for accomplishing the above was unveiled. President Kington created a strong vision of where we are headed. Houston Dougharty, Mark Peltz, and Beth Halloran presented excellent, sample scenarios of how the lack of access to data and analytics impairs their operations. Main challenges were presented: naming conventions, data holes, quality/accuracy, completeness and sharing. Lastly, the specifics of our next steps were presented. 

Over the next couple of weeks the Senior Staff will discuss the top analytics oriented questions that will affect the institution. Each Senior Staff member will bring to the table their most pressing questions. They will be discussed and prioritized. We will then take the top 1 or 2 questions and create a project charter to answer each question. The project charter will define our approach to answering the question, deliverable dates, and who will be involved in the project team. Our goal is to achieve results. We will incrementally approach the answer to questions in this fashion. Over time, the repository of information that we build will grow. Our familiarity with the process will grow. Our cultural perspective will evolve. 

We are on an exciting path together. 

You may wish to check out the slides that were presented yesterday at:


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Making Grinnell a "Hot" Spot

Well, OK....we already know that Grinnell College is a "hot" spot!!! I'm talking WIFI "hot spot" though!!!

This week, the third of five outdoor WIFI antennas has been installed. The campus is now lit up ("hot") from 6th Avenue through the athletic facilities north of 10th Avenue. Areas south of 6th Avenue are planned for outdoor WIFI antenna installation over the next month!!

I know that this announcement is a relief to those of you who wish to sit in the football stadium stands over the winter months as you relax reading your favorite online book. For the rest of you, your wireless devices should work well as you traverse the campus green (soon to be white...) or sit in the stands of the Natatorium as you watch others work out.

I'll end now...I'm getting a little carried away...


ITS Open House

What a great time we had with our friends at the ITS Open House last Thursday! Eighty attendees experienced the Grand Opening of the new ITS Services Desk in the South Forum. Thank you for coming!!!

Our pupose in the Open House? Simple:
  • Publically express our gratitude for the new space. It is space that allows us to bring together the members of the Services Desk team into one physical location. This helps a lot!!
  • Describe the Services Desk team to those that participated. Thanks, John Hammond for doing that!
  • Demonstrate a few cool tools:
    • Remote access: a demonstration of how we can remote into a user's computer while they watch our work from their screen
    • Bradford: our new network access system (going live January 9)
    • Entering a ticket: how we use the Kbox system as our management tool to resolve your technical topics
    • Lynda: a subscription that we have on campus that any user can use, allowing for you to view demonstration videos on 1,000's of "how do I..." topics, from using PowerPoint to learning Project Management skills
  • Communicate our new centralized phone number x-4901...for all services
  • Listen to our constituents needs
I'd like to express our deep gratitude to several people who helped make the South Lounge project work:
  • John Kalkbrenner: thank you for your moral support...and your support in acquiring the space and your support budgetarily
  • Paula Smith: thank you for your help with approvals
  • Christi Baker: thank you for all of your help with lots and lots of project related specifics. You miss nothing!!!
  • Mark Godar, Rick Whitney, Les Ollinger: your department always knocks it out of the park. This was a very short timeframe project and it was done so well. Your department is about service...everytime I turn around I see it.
  • Dave Dale: as project manager, a great always! Thank you Dave.
A few pics to enjoy (below)!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What do you mean..."it is frustrating getting on the network?"

For years we have used a network security system that many have found cumbersome and frustrating. Our current Cisco system requires login and authentication each time we use it, it limits the number of devices that we can attach to the network at one time, and it has been "unfriendly" to visitors. That is a nice array of compliments, isn't it??
All of that is going to change!! In early January we will be implementing a new network authentication software called Bradford. GONE will be the days of multiple logins...Bradford will remember you! GONE will be the limitations on BYOD (Bring your own device) network attachments...we will be able to attach your personal devices...students and fac/staff. GONE will be the frustrations of visitor logins...Bradford will allow for self registration.
Sometimes the simplest changes help us the most...