Thursday, November 5, 2015


Several staff in the Office of Technology have elected to participate in a nine-week 7 Habits of Highly Effective People professional development course. Our task this week was to study the sixth habit: Synergize.

The class split into two teams with a challenge to build the tallest tower using only the materials on the table.

Participants exercised several of the effective habits through the exercise: begin with the end in mind; seek first to understand, then to be understood; be proactive, etc. to successfully and creatively collaborate.

This is a photo of the winning team's tower. Note the creative use of sticky notes...

Friday, October 9, 2015

2015-2016 Technology Projects

As the Office of Technology completes its 2014-2015 Annual Report, we look forward to the future and the projects we plan to complete over the next year.

  • Skype for Business
  • Expand the wireless network
  • Replace a Storage Area Network (SAN)
  • Dual-authentication 
  • Additional security protocols
Enterprise Applications
  • Colleague Student Planning
  • Oracle iRecruitment
  • Nintex Workflow & Forms
  • TouchNet Marketplace
  • Terminal Four

Client Services
  • Analog to digital upgrades in classrooms & videoconference
  • Technology Lab Coordinators
  • Learning Technologists
  • Service Catalog

These projects are only possible through the strong partnerships the Office of Technology maintains across the University. Our department is dedicated to offering a portfolio of services that support operations, excellence, and innovation. Enterprise Applications builds upon the strong support Infrastructure develops and maintains. Client Services interacts with students, faculty, and staff to support all of the services offered by our department. 

Some of these projects keep the business of the university running; some grow our capability; and some of these projects position TWU to expand its global presence and reach. 

Message from the CIO
TWU is no longer just poised for greatness; we have collectively leaped into our future. All across our campuses there are wonderful and exciting projects underway. TWU is an awesome place to work. I can’t imagine a better place to grow personally, contribute to a more worthy mission, or be inspired by exceptional colleagues!!
Robert Placido, Associate Provost & CIO

TWU Technology Hearts the SECC!

After reaching 100% participation by the deadline set by donor, Dr. Bettye Myers, the TWU Office of Technology continued to show its generosity and teamwork by sponsoring two tables at the SECC Chancellor's Lunch. Dr. Robert Placido and Dennis Hoebee each sponsored a table for eight guests.

New to the Office of Technology, Lacey Monarch (far right), business manager, enjoyed the company of the business office student assistants, Danya Rangel-Rivera and Patrice Briggs.

Brittany Bruno, senior integration analyst, and Lena McLain, applications developer I, pal around at the luncheon. 

The OOT Owls will be back in action at the Charity-Ball on October 22, and the Office of Technology will have at least two chefs competing in the Chili Cook-Off on September 14. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Technology for Transdisciplinary Research

Dr. Delaina Walker-Batson is passionate about the training and research conducted at TWU’s Stroke Center - Dallas at the T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences. Speech Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Nursing students are involved at various levels of learning at the center.

Students who work with patients at the center benefit from a CCTV system that provides both live and recorded video feeds of a variety of patients receiving treatment provided by students in training and experienced professionals.  A patient being treated by one student is supporting the learning of that student, as well as any other student who reviews that interaction.

The Stroke Center’s reputation is such that students from across the state travel to complete observations at the Center.

The Dallas Technology team is there to support the needs of this excellent research and teaching center. The Office of Technology is eager to connect TWU students to their QEP: Learn by Doing. Making technology available to TWU faculty and students enables transformational learning that benefits our local communities and the state of Texas. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ITIL Case Study: Pioneer Emergency Notification

The IT Infrastructure Library provides a framework for IT best practices. It is an iterative lifecycle that demonstrates how IT services provide value to the business, aka the University. The recent change from an Oracle-based Pioneer Emergency Notification system to a Pioneer Portal-based Pioneer Emergency Notification system (TWU PEN) exemplifies many aspects of ITIL methodology.

Begin with the end | Continual Service Improvement
Technology received a great deal of feedback on the TWU PEN: incidents were logged into the IT service request ticketing system and individuals shared with Technology leadership concerns about the effectiveness of the existing service. A trend emerged. The TWU PEN needed to be improved. 

Start with why | Service Strategy and Service Design
Before applying a change, Technology leadership considered the purpose of the TWU PEN and how to design a service to meet those strategic needs. Changing the TWU PEN provided our colleagues an easy-to-use service to keep them safe.

Developing the service | Service Transition
Project management, application development, testing, and release all occur within the Service Transition process of the ITIL lifecycle. The Enterprise Application team charged with developing the application made it available for beta testing among all Office of Technology staff. They adjusted the application based on feedback received and then made the application available again for testing by department staff. After two rounds of testing and modification, the service was released.

Maintaining the service | Service Operation
Now that the new TWU PEN is live, the Technology Service Desk handles incidents, researches problems, and manages requests through a tiered support system. Since the service was released, there have only been two service requests/inquiries indicating that the service is working efficiently and effectively. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Connecting Students with Technology

This year the Office of Technology worked with the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence and with Enrollment Services and Student Life to implement two out-of-the-box software solutions for TWU students. TWUConnect through the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence is a searchable database of internships. The new and improved Scholarships software, Academic Works, takes the confusion out of the former application process by limiting the scholarships students see when they login based upon their eligibility.

  Allows for advanced search by TWU major
  Searches can be saved and notifications created based on search
 Allows upload of resume, cover letter, references, letters of recommendation, etc.
  Easier to navigate
  Students only see scholarships for which they are eligible

Streamlining processes
Both of these systems allow students internet-based and mobile access with the ease of single-sign-on technology through Shibboleth. Students login in with their TWU userID and password. The Office of Technology is pleased to enhance TWU students’ connectivity to internship and scholarship opportunities. Often, technology can be a barrier to students in the world of higher education; through partnerships with others at the University, the Office of Technology is able to remove those barriers and streamline processes.
Before either product was released, the Office of Technology had TWU students test the software and give feedback on usability. Including students in the testing phase helped ensure a successful roll-out of the products and allowed the teams a better understanding of how TWU students will use them.

Working with Arman and Cori was a breeze, and they were both very conscientious about staying in touch, keeping me informed, providing solutions to any issues that arose, etc. I could not be happier with my interactions with Technology.
– Kurt Krause, Pioneer Center for Student Excellence

Aligning technology with institutional values and goals
Both of these projects align with Texas Woman's University’s institutional values:
Educational Opportunity: Supporting learning among engaged students from varied backgrounds
Success and Sustainability: Preparing students for purposeful lives and careers of leadership, service, and lifelong learning in an ever-changing world

Further, TWUConnect offers additional students access to internships so that they follow our SACS QEP: Learn by Doing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

ITIL Training Prep

I've been working on curriculum for our department on how to implement the ITIL framework and service management methodology in any role in our operation.

What's ITIL?

Watch and learn. And have a great weekend!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Improving Communication in Technology

In 2013, the Office of Technology formed a cross-unit departmental Communication Committee. The committee members serve one-year terms and rotate quarterly so that the committee always has members with varying degrees of familiarity with the committee.

The committee meets weekly to discuss communications and miscommunications within and outside of the department. Its members make recommendations to the directors and CIO about processes and projects to improve departmental communication. In 2013 & 2014, the committee proposed and helped implement (1) professional development opportunities in communication, (2) a communication blog and website, (3) a website redesign initiative, and (4) new branding. In 2015, the committee will continue to improve the communication skills of our department through a set of communication training tracks that include face-to-face training.

The committee also develops an annual Strategic Communication Plan with the directors and CIO that guides the work of the group through the year.

2014 Strategic Communication Plan – Goals & Results
 Goal 1: Internal communication will be free-flowing – up, down, and across the organization.  It will be open and collaborative.  Communication will be consistent and clear. 4 objectives, all met.

Goal 2: External communication with faculty, staff, and students will be frequent, clear, and jargon-free.  Communication with colleagues will be timely, empathetic, and encourage suggestions and feedback.  Collaboration will be emphasized. 5 objectives, 3 met.

Goal 3:  Emergency and contingency efforts will demonstrate competence, organization, and efficiency. 2 objectives, both met.

Goal 4:  Marketing will be credible, professional, and collegial. 7 objectives, 5 met.

Technology Communication Committee purpose:
To develop continual Communication Improvement Initiatives that create an environment where improved communication is everyone’s job. In particular, tactics should be used to foster dialogue between units and subunits across the Department and with external constituencies so that meaningful communication happens constantly.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wearable Technology: Tech Talk Today!

Your Health:  The Next Wave of Personal Technology
Today, Thursday, April 23, 2015
2:00-2:30 p.m. Denton ACT 301 | Houston 7305 | Dallas 8720

Presented by
Michelle Reeves & Ruben Rangel, TWU Fitness & Recreation
Christopher Johnson, TWU Technology

Are you one of the 27 million Americans who plan to buy a fitness device in the next year?

Come to this Tech Talk to learn more about your wearable device options – including a preview of the Apple Watch – wellness apps, the future of wearable fitness tech, and more!
Reservations are not required.
For more information, visit

Can’t attend a talk? Events will be recorded and made available on the technology website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Future of Computer Labs at TWU

In spring 2015, the Students Advisory Committee for Technology (StudentsACT) researched trends and practices in computer labs at universities and applied that knowledge to a survey they made available to all TWU students. StudentsACT successfully surveyed the student population in spring 2014 to determine that student email would move to GMail. Response to the computer lab and printing survey was even greater, with a total of 2,169 students participating in the online survey.

To promote the survey, the committee members attended Student Government meetings on each campus and wrote a press release for The Lasso. Further, they hosted information tables on each campus and participated in a Commuter eLounge to engage 100% distance students. They presented at a Tech Talk to provide students a forum to discuss their experiences with campus computer labs and to consider possible enhancements to labs and printing.

Computer Lab & Printing Preliminary Results by the Numbers

56% use the labs multiple times per week 
44% most often visit the Library & Megalab  
Students use labs for printing, 85%, Blackboard, 73%, and to check TWU email, 58%  
41% visit a lab to print assignments more than 90% of the time

Future Features of Computer Labs

When questioned about potential features of TWU computer labs, respondents most favored: 

Tech Talks engage the TWU community

TechTalks are intended to connect the TWU community to trends and current events in technology. Business Analysts, Heather Davis and Christopher Johnson, reimagined the Talks as conversation starters. In fall 2014, the format was shortened to twenty minutes with ten minutes for questions and discussion. Topics would cover anything from software releases to social media to technology & society. The Office of Technology sponsors these talks as a learning opportunity and another means of building a tech savvy campus community. 

Tech Talk                                             Attendance
Inbox Zero                                                     30
Learning to Phish                                         14
Engaging Students with Social Media      14
Google Apps for Students                          23
Google Apps for Faculty & Staff               71
Data Collection Tools                                  12
Cyberbullying Panel                                   16
Future of Computer Labs                           13

Of the attendees who completed evaluations, nearly half had never attended a Tech Talk.  This indicates that the Talks are reaching new people and providing enough variety to engage the TWU community. 

Further, the Talks provide an opportunity for different groups to engage. TWU students attended Talks on Google Apps and Computer Labs, as well as Inbox Zero and the Cyberbullying Panel. The Talks also offer a platform for subject matter experts to share their knowledge. Lauren Meyer of the Student Union spoke on her experiences with social media last fall, and Michelle Reeves of Fitness & Recreation will partner with Christopher Johnson in Technology for the final Talk of the academic year to explore exciting developments in personal and wearable technology and health metrics.

One of the most rewarding Talks was the Cyberbullying Panel in February 2015. Faculty and graduate student engagement in the discussion was robust and lively. After the Talk, a new research cluster was formed and is being led by the presenters, Drs. Rosen and Trujillo-Jenks.

Learn more about Tech Talks at Don’t miss the final Tech Talk of 2014-15: April 23 – 2:00 p.m. - Denton ACT 301 | Houston 7305 | Dallas 8720 

TWU GMail Implementation

It started with a survey.

In spring 2014, over 1,000 enrolled students replied to a survey created by the Students Advisory Committee for Technology (StudentsACT) about the future of their TWU email. Over 60% of them voted for GMail. In fall 2014, the Office of Technology began implementation of Google Apps for Education which includes Gmail for students at TWU.

Through this process, all students, faculty, and staff have a Google Apps for Education account through TWU. Students were moved from Exchange to TWU GMail while faculty and staff had an option of moving to TWU GMail or staying with Exchange.

“Google Forms allowed our students and community partners to seamlessly communicate about observation visitation schedules.  In addition, Google Classroom allowed us to share resources that students may use even after they graduate and no longer have access to Blackboard. I also use Google Drive to collaborate with colleagues and students, using it as a central location for research resources (but not including confidential data files).”
--Holly Moore, Assistant Professor, Family Sciences 

Google Apps Communication Plan

Student, faculty, and staff testing of GMail and other Apps
Emails to students November through February
Website with help docs and live training in December

Phone bank led by students in January. Answered over 200 phone calls from students, faculty, and staff. 77% of calls (on average) were resolved at the phone bank, decreasing the burden on the Technology Service Desk