Campus 2.0: Technology Updates at the UA

University Information Technology Services personnel have worked tirelessly over the summer to give UA's information technology a refresh.
Aug. 25, 2011
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The IT Student Advisory Board, or ITSAB, is gearing up for a new year and is accepting applications. ITSAB surveys the student body for its IT priorities, then makes recommendations to campus administration on how the Student IT Fee should be spent.

Now available for Android mobile devices, the UA's official mobile app includes access to the campus map, meal plans, videos, photos, news and more.
(Screenshots courtesy of Student Affairs. Graphic by Eurice Gomez.)
Now available for Android mobile devices, the UA's official mobile app includes access to the campus map, meal plans, videos, photos, news and more. (Screenshots courtesy of Student Affairs. Graphic by Eurice Gomez.)

Several technology upgrades at the University of Arizona are making it easier for students to navigate campus, get help with their computers and keep track of classes.

New Mobile Apps

Launched in May for the iPhone, the UA's official mobile app, Arizona Mobile, is now also available for Android mobile devices. A version for Blackberry is planned.

Arizona Mobile puts the University at the user's fingertips. The app allows mobile device users to navigate the UA campus, manage meal plans, browse course offerings, get information about campus events and news, search for library books, watch new videos daily, download UA-themed wallpapers and access emergency information.

The Arizona Mobile app is now available as a free download from the App Store and Android Market. To see the complete suite of components, visit the Arizona Mobile app page.

Upgrades to UAccess

The UAccess Student and UAccess Employee interfaces were upgraded over the summer to make them easier to navigate. Content and functions remain the same.

UAccess Student, part of the Mosaic Project, is the new self-service portal for students, which replaced Student Link.
UAccess Student is a password-protected service that allows students to access personal information and transact University business via the Web. They also can search for classes that are open for registration.

A UA NetID and password are required for login. UAccess Student enables students to view and make changes to their academic and personal information as well as add, drop or swap classes, view their academic advisement report showing what courses they have yet to take, and plan a schedule of classes. They can also grant guest access to a parent, make payments and obtain refunds and check on financial aid status.

"I think incoming students should make sure that they know how to use their UAccess, D2L and their CatMail accounts," said Shelley Littin, a senior majoring in organismal biology. "These are the primary websites for students to enroll in classes, access their courses and communicate with professors."

D2L combines links to individual class Web pages at a single source, so students don't have to keep track of multiple Web addresses. They can access each course page for their classes for a given semester, and from there they can communicate with their instructors, turn in homework, and access the syllabus and often other course materials. Instructors frequently use D2L to post updates about class assignments, related extracurricular activities or occasional unplanned class cancelations.

Information on how to use these Web-based resources can be found on the University Information Technology Services website.

Computer Lab Access

The Office of Student Computing Resources, or OSCR, provides computer access in many convenient campus locations including the Integrated Learning Center, the Computer Center and in many departments throughout campus. OSCR labs are open to any student or faculty or staff member at no charge.

Some labs are open-access, some can be reserved by instructors for classes that need computers, and some are instructional only. OSCR enables access to a wide variety of technologies and many types of technical assistance to students in every discipline.

OSCR also partners with some departments to manage labs for their department's use only. In addition to providing and supporting computing infrastructure, OSCR offers training in basic, intermediate and advanced technologies and tailors its support services to respond to each student's particular needs.

"There are a total of eight labs, and they come in different flavors," said Karina Mc Cune, Client Services and Operations Head at OSCR. "They are open to students, but two of them can be reserved by faculty for classes."

OSCR supports four General Computing Labs on the UA campus. Located in the north, central and southern parts of campus, these labs provide students and other University community members with access to Windows and Macintosh computers. All lab computers contain an extensive set of productivity software such as the Microsoft Office suite and the Adobe Creative Suite, plus lots of other software.

The locations also contain specialty software specific to the needs of students taking certain classes. Some have specialized software, for example the OSCR labs in the engineering buildings.

"We have noticed a trend that many software applications receive frequent updates that can be expensive," Mc Cune added. "The OSCR labs always have the latest versions."

There also are two multimedia labs that have Adobe Creative Suite and specialized software for audio and video editing, 3D animation, etc. A complete list of software available in each lab can be found on the OSCR Lab details page.

According to UITS Marketing Specialist Lisa Stage, five OSCR labs were updated with new Macintosh desktop computers for the fall semester: Engineering 318, McClelland Park, Shantz, the Multimedia Learning Lab, and the Multimedia Zone.

"Four of those labs are now equipped with dual boot operating systems," Stage said. "This means that users can choose whether to work in Macintosh or Windows operating systems, according to their preference."

Users who are specifically interested in multimedia applications will find OSCR's two multimedia priority locations especially useful: the Multimedia Learning Lab in the Music Building, which now offers extended evening hours, and the Multimedia Zone at the information commons on the bottom floor of the Main Library.

Stage said another change is the OSCR lab in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Building is going from an instruction-only multimedia classroom to an open-access general computing lab that will still be reservable.

In addition to computing resources, OSCR offers a variety of multimedia equipment including digital cameras, digital video cameras, lighting kits, tripods, microphones, audio gear and more to students for educational purposes through the Gear-to-Go Center.

OSCR hours and locations are available on the OSCR webpage.

24/7 Computer Support

If the hard drive crashes while putting the finishing touches on a thesis or the wireless simply won't connect, UITS' 24/7 IT Support Center is there to help around the clock, seven days a week, at no cost to all UA students and faculty and staff members.

The center currently is being remodeled to offer more workspace for technicians and should be open shortly after the start of school. During the remodel the center is operating out of Dr. Martin Luther King Student Center.

"Faculty and staff on a work computer should consult their departmental IT staff," Stage said. "For trouble-shooting with their personal machines, students and employees are welcome to use the 24/7's services."

Said Littin: "I have always found the 24/7 IT support center to be incredibly helpful. First, they really are 24/7: I have called them at 2:30 in the morning, and they answer, they're friendly, and they have always helped me solve my computer problems in less than 10 minutes."

Stage said the 24/7 IT Support Center now also offers UAssist, a public interface allowing clients to submit requests online, check back on the status of requests, and even see the answers to old requests that were resolved.

IT in Residence Halls

Like a growing number of buildings on campus, almost all UA residence halls feature keyless access, so residents can enter using their CatCard.

Wireless Internet is available across all UA residence halls through the UA's two public WiFi networks, UA WiFi and UA Public.

"We see quite high usage of the wireless networks, but for those with desktop computers or preferring a cable connection, we provide Ethernet connections as well," said Eric Jeanes, assistant director for Infrastructure Operations at Residence Life. "The two newest residence halls, Likins Hall and Arbol de La Vida Hall, are equipped with Gigabit networks, which are extremely fast."

Ethernet users need to provide their own cable. Instructions on how to register a computer to the network can be found on Residence Life's computing webpage.

Antivirus Protection Update

The old Sophos Antivirus server was retired over the summer. Anyone who uses Sophos Antivirus should be sure they are getting updates from the new server. Sophos Antivirus is provided free to students and faculty and staff members. More information is available here.