Message from CIO/AVP Patty Kahn
The Office of Information Technology Services is happy to share our Spring 2022 Newsletter. As we all know, this has been a challenging year and OIT focused on providing technology and services to successfully support our students, faculty, and staff in a remote environment. Now that we have returned, our shift will be to support the community while on campus and simultaneously continue to provide remote services. Please take the time to learn about some of our initiatives that supported the College community. Finally, be sure to read about projects that are underway highlighted in the “On the Horizon” section.
Supporting Our Community
In today’s environment, security remains on the forefront of IT’s priorities. In this regard, several initiatives were accomplished including implementing time out configurations on lab computers; MFA for student email; and MFA for desktop logins. There is still a lot planned, so please be sure to review the “what’s on the horizon” section of this newsletter to review upcoming initiatives.
- VPN access
IT provided administrative staff access to on campus workstations leveraging VPN technology. Now that we are back on campus, policies are in place to assure security compliance for all users remotely connecting to their desktop from a remote location.
- Virtual Computer Labs
IT provided virtual computer labs in order to provide students access to software from home. Using VPN technology and leveraging existing software, IT was able to securely provide access to lab computers where students were able to login to these workstations and access software from any remote location in order to complete assignments. Now that we are back on campus, we converted our public labs back to their original state. However, we kept 1L-202 as a remote lab. Please be sure to review the “what’s on the horizon” section to read about our VDI initiative, which will allow for server based access to applications from a remote location.
- Device Distribution
Students received Chromebooks, iPads, and hotspots. In addition, web cams, headsets, Waycom tablets and laptops were purchased in support of faculty and staff working remotely.
- Training, Training, Training, ….
Training workshops continued with zoom and Bb Collaborate showing the greatest attendance. Our virtual office hours for drop-in support is also getting a lot of traffic. Please contact the Technology Training Team if you would like to schedule a training session for your department. Training can be customized to meet the needs of your office.
- Helpdesk and Support
- From January till present (4/7/2022) – IT has closed over 3200 Faculty and Staff (~1700 were closed by the HelpDesk) and over 2900 Student requests (closed by the HelpDesk).
- We assisted the Campus with recertifying 313 users for External VPN access.
- IT HelpDesk also assisted the Campus Community with the re-entry process by providing assistance with Vaccine Verification and the Cleared4 access pass.
- Applications and Web Development
The CSI website upgrade project was successful where the content management software was upgraded from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9. Benefits from this upgrade include an enhanced administrative and end user experience, improved accessibility, improved security, and better performance. Please review the “What’s on the Horizon” section for next steps on this initiative.
- Network Upgrades
IT completed the campus-wide in-house wireless site survey identifying several locations to deploy access points to improve wireless coverage on campus. Last semester, a total of 115 state-of-the-art access points were deployed to improve speed and coverage.
The Office of Information Technology Services is in the processes of improving Business Continuity and Disaster Recover strategic planning. It is critical to ensure university operations continue to function following unforeseen events. Preparing and developing recover strategies is a continuous process.
On the Horizon
The Office of Information Technology Services and Campus Planning are working with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York on a campus-wide replacement of the existing Fiber Optic cable network. The new Fiber Optic cable plant will increase the reliability and capacity of the College’s data and communications network providing backbone speeds up to 100 Gigabits per second. The estimated time frame for the completion of the design phase is June 2023.
- Applications and Web Development
- Training for Drupal 9 end user: Training sessions have begun for both Administrative and Academic Departments. Also, faculty is being trained to update their profiles. Zoom sessions as well as Digital documentation is available. Additional training for preparing ADA documents is occurring in May as well.
- Implement additional styling options on the site
- VAX programming for processing of students
- Lifecycle replacement
IT is planning to replace majority of Desktop PC’s that are greater than 6 years old. We are meeting with each area to determine their needs and priorities.
- Hyflex expansion
While our existing Enhanced Hybrid Smart Classrooms are already equipped with a document camera, a webcam capturing content written on a whiteboard/blackboard, and a conference microphone, we are adding additional technology to two rooms on the main campus and one at St. George. This will include a tracking camera to allow remote students to see the entire board used by faculty, as well as a heightened audio solution that fills a room with numerous virtual microphones.
- VDI pilot
IT has successfully created a server based virtual desktop environment which is currently being tested. This VDI environment will allow users to log in to a web page allowing access to a virtual computer, running an open lab image created in real time. We are currently piloting the VDI environment this semester and hope to have it available for general use by Fall 2022.
- Security – MFA laptops on the domain Teams.
IT continues to make every effort to protect your digital identity. In addition to time out configurations on lab computers and MFA for desktops, next on the horizon will be enabling MFA for laptops. Finally, MFA for TEAMS access will be implemented shortly.
We are pleased to announce that the College of Staten Island will be replacing the current CSI email system (Outlook Exchange) with Microsoft 365 (M365), a cloud-based email system accessible through the cloud. Further details including FAQ’s is available on our website
- Computer lab upgrades
During the summer, IT plans to upgrade seven instructional computer labs with new PC’s. In addition, about 240 systems will have standard hard drives replaced with faster and more robust solid state drives.
Can’t keep up with all the new technology? Join Doriann and her team as they introduce new topics each month. Beginners, intermediate and advanced training is offered for a range of programs including those in Microsoft 365, Office 2016, CUNYfirst 9.2, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Zoom, Adobe, and Enhanced Smart Classroom and Hyflex technology. Please use our Registration page to register for a workshop.
Congrats to the IT team for their presentations during the CUNY Technology Conferences:
- ACCESSIBILITY : The Web Development team presented on ADA compliance during the annual CUNY Technology Conference . We discussed how we brought the CSI website into full ADA compliance. We presented our corrective action plan, which included the following steps:
- Website Remediation Plan
- PDF Document remediation plan
- Training plan
- New Content Plan