Tips and Tricks

Twenty Minutes to Tech Literacy

Written by Tess Walsh, Technology Training Specialist.

The world we live in is always changing. In 2022, we read academic articles on phones, use emojis to communicate with coworkers, and might even order groceries from robot assistants. The ability to interact meaningfully with a variety of software, devices, and apps—a skill often called technological literacy—has become vital in all aspects of our lives.

Everyone at Clark is at different points in their tech literacy journey, and this journey will continue beyond your time on campus. Just as technology itself is always evolving, so too is our relationship to it. Here are a few ways you can enhance your technological literacy:

These resources will take you less than 20 minutes and may make a big difference in how efficient and comfortable you are working, teaching and studying at Clark. Look for more future resources in this reoccurring column.

Interested in learning more? Tess Walsh, our Technology Training Specialist is available to meet with staff and faculty to learn more about how best to use technology. Click here for more information.

Stay on Track with Moodle

Decorative: Moodle Logo in a cloud

In a world full of deadlines, we can always use a reminder or two. With our recent update, Moodle now has new tools to help teachers and students stay organized by tracking what work is due and what has already been submitted and graded.

These tools are available now and include the Timeline block, Upcoming Events block, and additional information in the Collapsed Topics course format.

Timeline

This new feature provides a way to keep track of activities and deadlines across all of your Moodle courses. Located on the right-hand side of your dashboard (the first screen you see when logging into Moodle), this block allows you to sort by overdue or upcoming due dates (for all courses), or sort by due dates for each course.

Student and faculty view of the timeline block

Upcoming Events

The Upcoming Events block shows deadlines within and specific to a course. The block is located on the right side of the course page and displays activities and assignments that have due dates, as well as other calendar events. Users may click an item to preview details and navigate to the activity to be completed.

Detail of the the upcoming events block

Collapsed Topics: Additional Information

When using the Collapsed topics format (a Moodle course that has sections that you can toggle open and closed), users will now see additional information about the status of many activities, including assignments and quizzes. Directly from the course home page, users can see at a glance the due date, submission details and if feedback is available for a range of activities.

Collapsed topics and additional information

Remind me to Grade by

For faculty and TAs a new assignment option can now remind you when to grade submissions. To add the reminder, under the Assignment Availability settings, set “Remind me to grade by” to a date/time on or after the due date. The notification will display to faculty and TAs in the Timeline and Upcoming Events blocks.

Screenshot of how to set up Remind me to grade by

We hope these changes enhance your ability to better plan and prioritize your work. If you have questions about these or other Moodle features, reach out to your Academic Technology liaison.

Upgrades and Updates and Security, Oh My!

The news is regularly full of scary reports about critical security exploits on phones, tablets and computers and advice to immediately update your device. Additionally, you’ll see many articles touting the newest, greatest version of Windows, MacOS or iOS. How should you read, prioritize and act on these reports?

Upgrades

Upgrades represents a significant change to the way your computer works. Moving from Windows 10 to Windows 11, or from MacOS 10.15 (Catalina) to MacOS 11 (Big Sur) or from iOS 14 to iOS 15 is an upgrade. Usually there is a lot of media attention for these upgrades as the developers promote new features and software.

Upgrades are exciting and may mean a big change in how you use your device.

IT professionals – including Clark’s ITS – usually recommend not upgrading to a new operating system immediately on release. New operating systems often experience minor issues that the developers need to work to resolve. Additionally, software that you use regularly may not always be compatible with the new upgrade. Finally, for Clark community members, ITS will often need to spend some time evaluating the upgrade  to ensure it will fully integrate with our campus resources.

Updates

Updates are smaller changes to your operating system that are used to keep your operating system secure and reliable. Sometimes called patches, updates usually do not have new names, or a new full version number – instead being represented by a “dot release number”, such as iOS14.8 to iOS14.9.

ITS recommends you install and apply updates on a regular basis, and when prompted by ITS or your manufacturer.

How to Update your Device

Windows

Please note that ITS manages software updates for the university-managed Windows devices, and while you can follow these directions anytime, you do not need to.

  1. Click the Windows icon in your taskbar
  2. Click the settings icon
  3. Click Updates and Security
  4. Click Windows Update on the left (if necessary)
  5. Click Check for updates; Don’t click “Check online for updates from Microsoft” if you’re using a university-managed computer.

Click here for more information on how to apply Windows updates

Personally-Owned Mac

Please note that ITS manages software updates for the university-managed Mac devices and you will not need to follow these instructions; you will instead be prompted to simply close applications for the update to apply.

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Choose Software Update
  3. Click Update Now.

Click here for more information on how to apply MacOS updates on personal devices.

iPhones and iPads

  1. Ensure that your device is plugged in, or is at least 50% charged
  2. Go to Settings
  3. Go to General
  4. Choose Software Update. The screen shows the currently installed version of iOS and whether an update is available.
  5. If an update is available, click Download and Install and follow the prompts.

Click here for more information on updating iPhone or iPads

            Android

  1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
  2. Near the bottom, tap System
  3. Choose Advanced
  4. Choose System update.
  5. You’ll see your update status. Follow any steps on the screen.

Click here for more information on updating Android devices

If you have any questions about upgrades, updates or if you should make changes to your device, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITS Help Desk.

Back-up Early, Back-up Often

Some of the most difficult calls we get to the Help Desk are when students, faculty, or staff, who are working hard on projects, papers, research or grading, have something significant happen to their device, and face losing important data. This is especially difficult in the run-up to the end of the semester when stakes are higher, and time-lines are tighter.

While ITS will work hard to try to restore data where possible from Clark-owned devices, and help as much as possible with personal devices, the easiest way to reduce the stress of losing your work is to back-up often, both to your device and to another location.

Clark University provides all community members with 5TB of OneDrive space for you to store or back-up your Clark data and access it from many different devices. Especially at this often-stressful time of the semester, please get in the habit of backing up your work regularly.

As an important reminder, confidential data (Social Security Numbers, other PII, PHI, etc.) should not be stored either on your Clark device, nor in your OneDrive. Click here for more information on different types of data and the appropriate storage choices.

Looking for a New Computer? Plan Ahead.

As you may have seen in the news recently, there is still a shortage of computer chips which will in-turn lead to a shortage of a range of items in the coming year – including new computers. What does this mean for Clarkies? If you’re considering buying a new personal device for Fall 2021, it will be important to plan ahead and order early.

Additionally, if you’re considering purchasing an Apple computer, owners of devices with the new M1 chips are still facing complications when finding compatibility for important academic applications. If considering this new technology, it will be important to do your research and ensure that it’s a good choice for your type of usage.

Finally, don’t forget to check out Clark University’s Get Hardware page for more information and links to preferred vendors.

Classroom Technology – Owl Cameras

ITS has placed Owl (360-degree, smart) Cameras in many classrooms. See below for additional resources

Should you need help or more information contact the Help Desk via email at helpdesk@clarku.edu or call 508-793-7745.

Add your D&I Digital Badge to your LinkedIn Profile

1. Locate the email that you received from Badgr with details about the Badge

2. Click on the image of the badge in the email. It will be similar to the image below.

3. Copy the URL that you’re routed to

  • Example: https://badgr.com/public/assertions/dpi [followed by 20 letters and digits]

4. Visit and log in to https://www.linkedin.com/

5. Click the Me option in the top menu bar

6. Click View Profile

7. Click Add Profile Section

8. Under Recommended, click on Licenses and Certifications

9. Enter the following information:

  • Name: Clark University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate
  • Issuing Organization: Clark University (choose from the drop down menu)
  • This credential does not expire: Check
  • Issue Date: Current month, current year
  • Credential ID: Leave Blank
  • Credential URL: Paste the URL from Step 3

10. Click Save

Finals are coming …

As the end of the semester is approaching, technology can either be your friend, or foe. Here are some quick tips for students and faculty on how to ‘tame the tech’.

Students

Backup your work

The last thing you need as finals approach is to lose a semester’s worth of work if your computer has an issue. Backup your work regularly on your favorite cloud provider. Don’t forget that you have access to 1TB of storage in OneDrive with your Clark account.

Check your work and your dates

Using Moodle (if available) and your syllabi, double-check that all of the work that you’ve completed has been correctly submitted and received. Additionally check all your upcoming due dates so that you don’t miss something important.

Don’t leave Technology until the last minute

If your final assignment involves technology, don’t leave it until the last minute. Install and try out any new software now so you can focus on the content in the last couple of weeks instead of working out new tech.

For example, if you’re doing a poster presentation, check out our poster printing guidelines early so that you don’t waste time creating a poster in the wrong dimensions. Or, if you’re doing an in-class presentation, make sure that your presentation software will work well in the classroom.

Faculty

Get a Gradebook Check-up

The Moodle gradebook is great, but it can get complicated. As you start your final grading, feel free to email or call your Academic Technologist so that we can run a quick check on your gradebook. We’ll make sure it’s calculating correctly and you’re comfortable with how the students are viewing grades. We can usually do that in about 10 minutes. Click here to find your Academic Technologist

Submit your Grades

First time submitting grades, or just need a refresher? Check out this handy guide from the Registrar’s Office on how to finalize your courses for the semester. 

Think about Spring

While we hope you get to have a relaxing and/or productive Winter Break, remember that ITS staff, including Academic Technologists and the Help Desk are available on campus for much of the break. So as you begin thinking about those Spring courses, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and let us know how we can help.

Countdown to Cybersecurity Month: Spyware

Digital lock guard sign binary code number. Big data personal information safety technology closed padlock. Blue glowing abstract web internet electronic payment vector illustration art

October is National Cybersecurity month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of Cybersecurity, and how to stay safe while online.

Clark’s ITS professionals take the campus’s cybersecurity very seriously. In fact, in a single 24 hours period in mid-September, our security systems blocked over 90,000 threats presented by spyware. Spyware is malicious software that will infiltrate your computer (and Clark’s system) and report back passwords, financial information and internet usage. It can also slow down your computer and spam you with ads.

While ITS systems are keeping threats from Spyware at bay, you can provide the best layer of defense when you take your online security seriously – both on and off campus. As a community member, your Clark computer is protected by ITS, but you also have free access to Sophos, an anti-virus product that also includes Spyware Protection (Click here to learn more about Sophos.)

Click here to read a 5 minute article about spyware and other ways you can avoid the threats it presents.

Shortcuts for Success

Close up of a keyboard

by Flickr user Walimai.photo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/walimai/)

Whether you’re looking to impress your new boss or just become more efficient when working on your PC, Windows shortcuts are the key. Learning a few of these time-saving combinations can make your workflow quicker and easier.

To use many of these, you’ll need to press the Windows key on your computer at the same time as another key. The Windows key usually has an icon similar to the Microsoft Windows icon, and is usually between the ‘fn’ (function) and ‘alt’ keys

Some of our recent favorites are

  • Windows Key + l (lower-case L): locks your computers; perfect to use as you’re running out of your office.
  • Windows Key + d:  toggles between your desktop and your current window; useful if you want to temporarily hide what you’re working on, or get quick access to files on your desktop.
  • Windows Key + → (right arrow on your keyboard) or Windows Key + ← (left arrow on your keyboard): Snaps your current window to the right (or left) half of the screen; great when you need to see two windows at the same time.
  • Windows Key + p: Shows presentation options including mirroring and extending; great for when you’re working with two monitors.

Click here for more useful shortcuts for Windows and we haven’t forgotten our Mac users, check this out for Apple specific shortcuts