Fall 2020 update from the CIO

September 28, 2020, by Joseph Vaughan

Hello everyone,

Well, here we are in Fall 2020.  Everyone is facing new challenges and living through tough times.  The Mudd community is showing its strength and compassion in numerous ways, and I find it inspiring.

This is the update from CIS for the Fall Semester.  There is much to tell you, so I have written this as an overview with links to more detail.

Good stuff in Identity and Access Management
We launched a new Identity and Access management system at the end of June.  This was an enormous amount of work, two years in the making and I am so proud of the CIS team for bringing it to fruition.  More than 20 different servers and systems were involved in the change and it went smoothly overall.  The new system, Rapid Identity, puts us in a position to add additional services to the single sign on environment more easily.  Among the benefits, we count the ability to provide Office365 accounts for faculty and students, which you can read about in our news article Microsoft Office 365 for Students and Faculty.

New services 
Soon after IAM was launched, we rolled out an expanded Gradescope offering, Screencastify for screen recording and campus level Zoom, which was funded by the Dean of Faculty.  You now all have access to three excellent video conferencing solutions: Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.  Each has great features, and we encourage you to explore them. Each is also getting new features almost monthly.  For example, Google Meet just added the ability to blur backgrounds, and Microsoft Teams got Whiteboard integration with sticky notes, while Zoom has better directory integration.  In the face of all this I sometimes feel like I’m looking at a four hundred item menu at a restaurant, and I get stressed out. But I remind myself that we are living in an age of endless choice in technology.  So, I turn to my preferred metaphor of a garden with lots of flowers at different seasons, to be enjoyed, and the more I look or learn the more I can enjoy.  The people at CIS are more than happy to walk around any part of the garden with you and we have a (partial) guide in our service catalog.

More services to come
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now in its seventeenth year. To mark it this year, CIS will be introducing two new services.

  • We are working with Lastpass to roll out a password management tool, which will allow you to safely store and manage passwords. It will also suggest strong passwords when you create new ones, as well as auditing your stored passwords for weaknesses.
  • We are also working with a company called Ninjio on a set of services that will provide monthly snippets of educational material around cybersecurity.

You can read some more about these efforts in our post on Cybersecurity Resources.

Supporting students during remote instructionI wanted to include a mention of the support available for students during remote instruction. Starting with the basics, if you need help with anything, you can email the Help Desk (helpdesk@hmc.edu) at any time; you can call (909) 607 7777 between 8am and 5pm PST to speak with someone and you can also chat with us by visiting https://helpdesk.hmc.edu.  The chat function includes the ability for us to connect with your computer and work on it remotely (with your permission of course).  Our Help Desk staff will never say “We don’t support that”, but will always be willing to help you figure out a problem.

We normally operate several “laptop carts” for use in the physical classroom. That program has been suspended for the Fall, so we can ship you one of the laptops as a loaner if you need it. Just visit our loaner request page to let us know.

We have made all of the software that was on our lab computers in Sprague and LAC available for you to download and install on your own computer.  You can find it in our Academic Software shared drive, which you can access using your @g.hmc.edu credentials.

Workday StudentAn update would not be complete without mention of Workday Student, which is the big Claremont wide project to replace our aging Jenzabar student information system.  The replacement is a new product built by Workday and is tightly integrated with our current financial and HR systems (Workday Finance and Workday HCM).  Testing of a “tenant” (an instance of the software, hosted in Workday’s cloud) begins on October 5th. Registrars, Admission, Financial Aid, and IT staff at all the undergraduate colleges will be testing the software features in a “sprint”, which involves daily tests and reports on outcomes.  Some 51 people (across Claremont) will be working directly on testing and 120+ people are involved overall.

I hope you enjoyed reading these updates and do get in touch with me if you have any questions or comments.

Good luck with the rest of the Semester from everyone at CIS.