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August 27, 2013

Technology Changes that Impact Teaching and Learning

Technology changes that affect teaching and learning continue to be undertaken this academic year. You may wish to be mindful of the following recent updates:

Fall 2013 Updates

Course Blogs Now Available

The Division of Instructional Technology is pleased to announce the launch of Course Blogs. Course Blogs is powered by WordPress, a web publishing platform that enables site builders to set up a web presence quickly and easily. For information on the service, visit http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=wordpress, or to request a site for your instructional purposes, visit http://courseblogs.gmu.edu/.

Discontinuation of Classweb Service

Effective December 31st of this year, the Classweb service will be decommissioned. After this date, links to Classweb sites will be removed. Faculty with content on Classweb will have until March 1, 2014 to save any files they would like to keep. For information on alternate places to host course-related content or questions about the discontinuation of the Classweb service, contact classweb@gmu.edu.

Updates to Blackboard LMS

In May, the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS), which includes myMason Portal, Organizations, and Blackboard 9.1, was updated and now offers several new features and enhancements including a new, cleaner interface. For more detailed information on the newest features available in Blackboard, visit http://coursessupport.gmu.edu/Fall2013.cfm.

New Technology Classrooms and Classroom Refreshes

During the summer, 10 general purpose classrooms were upgraded to technology classrooms. This resulted in an increase in the number of technology classrooms available for instructional use this fall. Additionally, 16 classrooms were refreshed with new technology equipment. For classroom descriptions and equipment training, visit http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=class_description.

The new technology classrooms include:
  • Fairfax – Exploratory Hall – L003
  • Fairfax – Exploratory Hall – L004
  • Fairfax – Exploratory Hall – L102
  • Fairfax – Exploratory Hall – L111
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1002 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1004 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1005 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1006 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1007 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
  • Fairfax – Music & Theater – 1008 (formerly Fine Arts Building)
The technology classroom refreshes include:
  • Fairfax – Robinson Hall B104
  • Fairfax – Robinson Hall B111
  • Fairfax – Robinson Hall A111
  • Fairfax  Robinson Hall B113
  • Fairfax – Enterprise Hall 277
  • Fairfax – East Building 122
  • Fairfax – Enterprise  Hall 173
  • Fairfax – Enterprise  Hall 174
  • Fairfax – Enterprise  Hall 178
  • Fairfax – Research Hall 201
  • Fairfax – Research Hall 202
  • Arlington – Hazel Hall – 224
  • Arlington – Hazel Hall – 120
  • Arlington – Hazel Hall – 121
  • Arlington – Hazel Hall – 412
  • Arlington – Hazel Hall – 348
For assistance with any classroom technology issues, please contact Classroom Support.

Fairfax: 703-993-3456
Arlington: 703-993-8226
Prince William: 703-993-8499

Update to Office 365 E-mail for Mason Employees

Microsoft will update Mason's Office 365 (http://office365.gmu.edu) employee e-mail system on Wednesday, September 4. The update delivers a new version of the Microsoft web interface for Office 365 (OWA). The e-mail system will be available while the update runs; however, account management processes such as new Office 365 account creation will be suspended.

For information on how to prepare for the update, an overview of the changes, and a preview of the new OWA user interface, visit http://tsd.gmu.edu/services/office365/upgrade20130904/.

This update does NOT impact the MASONLIVE student e-mail system, which was upgraded in early August.For information about the MASONLIVE upgrade and the potential impacts to your students, visit http://masonlive.gmu.edu/overview.html.


Spring 2013 Updates

Support for VHS Tape Players

With a constantly changing technology landscape, users and support groups are frequently faced with the obsolescence of existing equipment and the emergence of newer technologies. Legacy systems, such as VHS tape players, make it challenging for the ITU to provide a prompt and consistent user experience in the classroom. New classrooms built from this point forward will not be equipped with VHS players as maintenance of this obsolete technology is increasingly difficult. In addition, the library has stopped purchasing video content in VHS format. To accommodate faculty who continue to use content in VHS format, but who are not assigned to a classroom with a VCR, Classroom Support on all campuses will provide VHS tape players as long as the equipment is available. For a list of classroom types and the technologies available in classrooms please refer to http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=class_description.

While there is no guarantee that faculty will be able to use old VHS materials, please contact the following for assistance:

  1. When equipment is needed for instructional purposes, contact your local campus Classroom Support office at the beginning of the semester. This office will arrange for you to borrow a player that can be plugged into the digital classroom equipment.

  2. Fairfax: 993-3456
    Arlington: 993-8226
    Prince William: 993-8499

  3. For assistance finding a replacement of the VHS tape in a newer format (e.g. DVD), contact the Media Services/Film Studies Librarian (993-7593) who will search for an updated version. The time required for this task will depend on the title's availability in a different format. Often, older titles are not available in DVD or streaming format, in which case library staff will assess the applicability of 17 U.S.C. §108 to create a DVD copy of the VHS title owned by the library. Library staff will not copy personal or departmental VHS tapes into another format, unless the user provides proof of copyright ownership or a permission letter.

  4. If the exact content on the VHS is not required for pedagogical purposes, contact your department or school's Liaison Librarian to assist you with finding newer video releases on the same topic in DVD format. To address the replacement needs of VHS, you may request specific video titles to be purchased by the University Libraries. DVD is the default format purchased, unless you specifically request streaming media.

Upgrade to Office 2010 in University Classrooms and Labs

At the start of the fall 2013 semester all university classroom and lab computers will be installed with Microsoft Office 2010. Office 2010 contains new features and security enhancements that are essential to maintaining an enterprise level deployment. The Division of Instructional Technology (DoIT) will coordinate with the regional campuses throughout the installation process, but little to no interruptions or issues affecting faculty or instruction are expected. More than half of the managed desktops on Mason's campuses currently run Office 2010 and once the transition is complete, older versions of Office will continue to be available within the Virtual Computing Lab until January 1, 2014. Training programs are currently offered on campus through Training & Certification and will remain available to assist during this transition. Additionally, Desktop Support Services provides installation of Office 2010 on faculty and staff desktops upon request. Please contact Desktop Support by calling 993-8870 or e-mail support@gmu.edu.

Mason's Virtual Computing Lab (VCL)

As a reminder, the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) serves as a learning resource for George Mason University and is available to all students, faculty, and staff. The VCL remotely delivers software to users regardless of their physical location or the time of day. Use of the VCL requires an Internet-enabled computer and Mason Patriot Pass credentials. This cloud-based computer lab is able to accommodate up to 305 users at one time. Please remind your students of this convenient resource for accessing common and specialized software to complete course assignments. Mason faculty can also request block reservations for students in a class, request course access for a designate image on the VCL, or submit requests for special software. For more information, visit the DoIT web site.

Introducing LabMaps, a Lab Monitoring Web Site Tool

Last semester, Classroom and Lab Technologies rolled out LabMaps to improve the computer lab experience. By introducing this service to the Mason community, students now have an easy and convenient way to check availability of workstations in the DoIT supported computer labs. By visiting labview.gmu.edu, via a computer or mobile device, users can see what work stations are open in the following computer labs- Bull Run Hall, Founder's Hall, Innovation Hall, and the Johnson Center. This tool not only serves students across campus, but will also provide beneficial data regarding lab utilization and software usage that will inform future organizational decisions and further enhance the user experience. The site is fully available for use by the Mason community and DoIT encourages faculty to share this helpful tool with students.

Use of Personal Computing Devices in University Classrooms

Equipment in Mason classrooms continues to be upgraded from analog to digital to ensure that audio visual and computing technologies continue to work as technology standards change in 2016. As of spring 2013, approximately 112 of the 175 technology classrooms at Mason have been upgraded to a new digital media standard. For a list of these spaces please visit http://doit.gmu.edu/documents/Digital_rooms.pdf. Faculty should see no significant differences in using the equipment in the classroom. However, if using your own personal computer or mobile device instead of the computer in the technology classroom, consider testing your device in advance. For assistance with the newer, digitally-equipped rooms, please contact Classroom Support.

Fairfax: 993-3456
Arlington: 993-8226
Prince William: 993-8499

New Technology Classrooms and Classroom Refreshes

In advance of the spring semester, two general purpose classrooms were upgraded to technology classrooms. This resulted in an increase in the number of technology classrooms available for instructional use this spring. Additionally, ten university classrooms were refreshed with new technology equipment.

The new technology classrooms include:

  • Fairfax - Hanover Hall - L002
  • Fairfax - Hanover Hall - L003

The technology classroom refreshes include:

  • Fairfax - Enterprise Hall - 274
  • Fairfax - Planetary Hall - 120
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A101
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A105
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A106
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A123
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A243
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A247
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A249
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - B201

For classroom descriptions and equipment training please visit http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=class_description

Mason Upgrades to Office 365 for Campuswide E-mail and Calendaring System

You may have read in Mason E-Files or heard from colleagues that George Mason University selected Office 365, a new integrated e-mail and calendaring system, to replace Mason's MEMO e-mail and the Oracle Collaboration Suite Calendar system.

Once implemented, Office 365 will offer a variety of benefits including:

  • 25 GB of e-mail storage
  • Access to e-mail, calendar, contacts, and tasks from a web browser and access and synchronize account from mobile devices
  • Send messages as large as 25 MB with attachments
  • Integrate calendaring with e-mail and contacts
  • Schedule meetings with other Mason users
  • Delegate to other users so delegates can accept meeting requests

While progress to implement Office 365 as quickly as possible is being made, there are several tasks required to prepare for the transition. Because of the extensive work involved with the migration process, the cutover date to Office 365 has not been finalized. A project team within the ITU is diligently working on an implementation timeline that will be available at http://office365.gmu.edu later this month. Please check back to this web site for project updates, training and tutorials, or to submit questions. In the meantime, to help you prepare for this transition, please visit the following website: http://office365.gmu.edu/prepare/prelaunch/index.cfm?sec=1.

For more information regarding this upgrade, please contact David Robinson (Technology Systems Division, Information Technology Unit) at drobinsd@gmu.edu.

Fall 2012 Updates

Windows 7 Migration Complete

The Division of Instructional Technology has upgraded all University classroom and lab computers on Mason's campuses from Windows XP to the Windows 7 operating system. The installation was performed to maintain critical security support. Users should not experience differences between Windows 7 and the previous operating system. For technical support regarding Windows 7 in classrooms and labs, contact Classroom Support:

Fairfax: 703-993-3456
Arlington: 703-993-8226
Prince William: 703-993-8499

Blackboard Mobile Learn Application

Following increased demand for on-the-go access to Blackboard, the Division of Instructional Technology has unveiled the Blackboard Mobile Learn application to the university community. Available for download by Mason faculty, staff, and students, the free app provides access to myMason Blackboard Courses and Organizations on a variety of mobile devices including the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Android tablets, BlackBerry phones, and webOS/Palm. Blackboard Mobile Learn features a host of functionalities including:

  • Push Notifications – view notifications of new course events (i.e., announcements, course availability, and new content items)
  • Mobile Tests – faculty can create and deploy tests that can be completed through Mobile Learn
  • Discussions– faculty and students can review and post threaded discussions as well as comment on journals posts

To install the free app search for "Blackboard Mobile Learn" from your device's app store. Once downloaded, open the app on your device and search for George Mason University. Log in using your Mason username and password.

For further instructions on how to get the Blackboard Mobile Learn app and use its features visit https://coursesandorgs.pbworks.com/w/page/52104011/Blackboard%20Mobile%E2%84%A2%20Learn.

To submit user feedback or for questions regarding Blackboard Mobile Learn, contact courses@gmu.edu.

Virtual Computing Lab

The Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) serves as a learning resource for George Mason University students, faculty, and staff. The VCL is a technological way of remotely delivering software to users, through the Internet, regardless of their physical location or the time of day. Use of the VCL requires an Internet-enabled computer and Patriot Pass credentials. This cloud-based computer lab has a capacity of 305 seats, which means that the VCL can accommodate 305 users from 305 different remote locations at one time. Through the VCL, Mason faculty can request block reservations for students in a class, request course access for a designate image on the VCL, and submit requests for special software. For more information, visit the DoIT web site or e-mail VCLhelp@gmu.edu.

Blackboard Course Retention Guidelines

Blackboard Course Retention Guidelines outline the maintenance and removal of Blackboard course sites. "Course sites" refer to the space in which materials (files, assignment submissions and grade book data) are uploaded and/or maintained in Blackboard. Permanent Courses, Sandbox Courses, and Organizations are not impacted by these guidelines.

Blackboard course sites will be maintained for two years and then removed from the system. Removal will occur semiannually on January 15 and July 15 of each year with the first course deletion having occurred in advance of the fall 2012 semester. At this time, all courses from spring 2010 and earlier have been removed from myMason. Individual faculty with needs outside of the two-year window should contact courses@gmu.edu for assistance.

Faculty interested in preserving documents and information are encouraged to copy course content into a newer course site or archive a copy of the course site to be restored at a later date (with the assistance of DoIT staff).

For complete guidelines, visit the DoIT web site. For technical assistance or questions, contact the ITU Support Center at support@gmu.edu.

Gaming Lab Opens in the STAR Lab

This September, the new Gaming Lab will open in the STAR Lab (Johnson Center, Room 229). The space will have five workstations equipped with specialized game design software and viewing areas that include gaming consoles for testing and tablet devices for rendering. The lab will be available to game design students working on class projects and will be staffed by mentors with expertise in gaming hardware and software.

Two New Collaborative Workstations in the CLUB

The Division of Instructional Technology is pleased to announce that this fall two new workstations will be available to students in the Collaborative Learning Hub (CLUB). Recently installed in the Fairfax CLUB (Johnson Center, Room 311), the two collaborative workstations are equipped with large LCD monitors and devices which allow participants to dock laptops for sharing content with individuals around the table. The stations are designed to allow users to access and share digital information and facilitate effective collaboration. Workstations are available by reservation by calling the CLUB at 703-993-3141.

Use of Personal Computing Devices in University Classrooms

All equipment in Mason classrooms is being converted from analog to digital media to ensure that audio visual and computing technologies continue to work as technology standards change in 2016. As of fall 2012, approximately 100 of the 173 technology classrooms at Mason have been upgraded to a new digital media standard. For a list of these spaces please visit http://doit.gmu.edu/documents/Digital_rooms.pdf. Most faculty should see no significant differences in using the equipment in the classroom. However, if using your own personal computer or mobile device instead of the computer in the technology classroom, consider testing your device in advance. Should assistance be needed with these newer, digitally-equipped rooms, please contact Classroom Support.

Fairfax: 703-993-3456
Arlington: 703-993-8226
Prince William: 703-993-8499

New Technology Classrooms and Classroom Refreshes

During the summer, four general purpose classrooms were upgraded to technology classrooms. This resulted in an increase in the number of technology classrooms available for instructional use this fall. Additionally, nine university classrooms were refreshed with new technology equipment.

The new technology classrooms include:

  • Prince William - Bull Run Hall - 130
  • Fairfax - Aquia Building - 219
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A349
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - A412

The technology classroom refreshes include:

  • Prince William - Occoquan Building - 302
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - B205
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - B218
  • Fairfax - Robinson Hall - B222
  • Fairfax - Innovation Hall - 132
  • Fairfax - East Building - 201
  • Fairfax - Planetary Hall - 131
  • Fairfax - Planetary Hall - 206
  • Fairfax - Planetary Hall - 212

For classroom descriptions and equipment training please visit http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=class_description.

Equipment Checkout for Faculty Not Assigned to a Technology Classroom

For faculty not assigned to a technology classroom, but who need access to technology during the fall semester, portable equipment is available through Classroom and Lab Technologies. To request equipment for checkout, please visit http://doit.gmu.edu/staffSection.asp?page=equipment.

*Please bookmark this page and review it periodically to remain apprised of changes. 

*For an archive of Technology Changes That Impact Teaching and Learning from previous semesters, visit http://doit.gmu.edu/aboutSection.asp?page=impact.


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