Audio/Visual Solutions Implements Record Number of Classroom Technology Upgrades

While many students and faculty depart campus for the summer, the teams in the Office of Information Technology are busier than ever. The Office of Information Technology’s Audio/Visual Solutions (AVS) team was hard at work this summer upgrading technology in a record-breaking number of classrooms and meeting spaces.

In a typical summer, AVS upgrades 12 classrooms. This summer they upgraded a total of 38 spaces with audio/visual equipment including 25 classrooms, 4 conference rooms and 9 additional spaces.

“We strive to provide cutting-edge technology and tools to create a modern learning environment,” said Greg McDonald, manager of AVS. “We want to compliment traditional learning with tech-based solutions.”

The AVS team works to create flexible spaces that foster a collaborative environment and maximize communication.

“When designing modern classrooms, we’re thinking about instructors first,” said Josh Adams, assistant manager of AVS. “Their needs are always at the forefront of our discussion and continue to be a driving factor in the functionality, layout and the hardware and software provided in classrooms.”

Instructors can look forward to new, user-friendly technology in several classrooms on campus. The AVS team upgraded one classroom in each of the following halls: BB Comer, Capital Hall, Gorgas Library and the Old Capstone Medical Building. Upgrades were completed in two classrooms in Farrah Hall, Garland Hall, Gordon Palmer Hall and SERC, three in Rowand Johnson, four in Reese Phifer and six in Graves Hall for a total of 25 classrooms.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a role to play in the selection of certain upgraded equipment in a few classrooms.

“The pandemic influenced the technology upgraded in some spaces such as cameras, web cameras and in-ceiling microphones in classrooms,” said McDonald. “Where possible, these tools help provide a more seamless learning experience for students.”

AVS strives to enable real-time classroom participation through hardware and software in classrooms equipped with tools for interactive video conferencing. In classrooms with this equipment, students and instructors can look forward to interactive and largely automated technology that provides almost immediate feedback.

A few equipment highlights include new technology that promotes interaction from smartphones and laptops, improved audio for lecture capture, larger desktop monitors with annotation capabilities, height adjustable podiums, as well as projector improvements for a high-resolution viewing experience. In Reese Phifer Hall, AVS was able to implement new pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras in some rooms capable of capturing both instructor and audience participation.

“This technology provides students with interactive resources during and after lectures through Panapto, promoting engagement and keeping them connected to the course material,” said Adams. “Our detail-oriented team has worked tirelessly to make the Fall 2021 semester a great experience for UA students and instructors.”

Along with upgrading equipment in classrooms, AVS provides support and maintenance, consultation, design, installation, and training for a variety of audio/visual resources. Visit the OIT website to learn more.

Welcome back students! Check your email!

In case you missed it, OIT migrated student Crimson email from Google to Microsoft O365. Students should regularly check their Crimson email to stay connected and receive campus news. Below are 4 ways students can access email.

  1. Log into myBama.ua.edu and click the Crimson Email link
  2. Visit mail.crimson.ua.edu
  3. Add your account to the Outlook desktop app
  4. Add your account to the Outlook mobile app

The OIT website has email best practices and step-by-step video guides for accessing email at oit.ua.edu/crimson. If you experience any issues accessing your Crimson email account, please reset your myBama password at myBama.ua.edu, then log in again.

Listserv Upgrade – Aug. 15

Listserv will undergo a system upgrade Sunday, August 15 at 6:00 am. The Listserv web interface will be unavailable for 1 hour while the upgrade is performed. Any messages sent during the maintenance window will be put in a queue and will be sent once the upgrade is complete at 7:00 am.

This upgrade brings an updated look to the Listserv web interface. Our team will be updating instructions for managing a Listserv through the updated interface.

listserv upgrade

Returning to campus? Update your computer!

In the coming weeks many faculty members may be returning to campus for the first time in months. OIT recommends that returning faculty perform updates to their University-owned computers before returning to campus. Updated computers are secure computers. Plus, by performing updates before coming to campus, you can be sure your computer is ready for #FirstDayUA!

Update Windows

Windows operating systems can be updated by first connecting to the campus Virtual Private Network (VPN) through the Cisco AnyConnect application. Instructions for connecting to VPN are available on the OIT website.

Once connected to the VPN, search for “check for updates” in the search area. The network will recognize your machine and begin to perform system updates. OIT recommends that you leave your computer on and connected to the VPN overnight to allow for updates. Restart your computer once updates are completed, then check for updates again. Repeat this process as needed, several rounds of updates may be available for machines that have not been connected to the campus network in a while.

Update Mac OS

Mac operating systems can be updated by visiting System Preferences > Software Update. Only update to the latest version of your installed OS. Please wait until tech support is available to assist you in updating to Big Sur as updates must first be performed to antivirus software.

*Please note, only supported operating systems are permitted on the campus network. Check the OIT website for a list of supported systems.

Update Applications

Software applications and web browsers should also be updated to the latest version. Open each application or browser and check for updates.

  • Internet Browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, etc.)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud/Adobe Acrobat DC
  • Office 365

Blackboard Learn Unavailable Aug. 5 – 13

Blackboard Learn and certain tools accessed through Blackboard Learn (Panopto, Collaborate, and Turnitin) will be unavailable from Aug. 5 until Aug. 13 for a database migration and upgrade. This move will help provide a more stable, scalable, secure, and updated Blackboard Learn experience for UA users.

More information is available on the CIT website.

Blackboard Learn Upgrade Aug 5-13

Microsoft to Retire Skype for Business Online

Microsoft is retiring Skype for Business Online on July 31. Skype functionality has been fully integrated into Microsoft Teams. After July 31, if someone attempts to use Skype for Business Online for calls, chats or for scheduling new meetings, they will be redirected to Microsoft Teams.

Access to Crimson Google Drive Will End May 2022

After the Spring 2022 semester, Google Drive will no longer be available to UA students and alumni with Crimson Google accounts.

Current UA students with a Crimson Google account (students enrolled before May 2021) should move all Google Drive content to Microsoft OneDrive. Alumni and former students should export content to a personal storage space.

Faculty and staff who share content with students using Google Drive should also transition to use OneDrive.

This project is a function of OIT’s initiative to consolidate redundant email and cloud storage environments at UA. One major step in this project was completed by migrating Crimson email accounts from Google to Microsoft O365. Coincidentally, Google will be limiting available storage space for Google for Education customers in 2022, further accelerating the need to move away from the Google platform.

See more information, and step-by-step guides for moving content, on the OIT website.

Check Junk Folder Regularly

Some “good” mail may be intentional delivered to your junk folder, and some junk may be delivered to your inbox. By labeling messages as “junk” and “not junk” users can train their mailbox to recognize what’s junk and what isn’t.

myBama, Banner and Other Services Unavailable Sunday, July 11

OIT will install the quarterly Oracle patch on Sunday, July 11, from 4:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. The following services will be unavailable during the installation period: Appworx, BITPRD, Banner, CEME, CENSUS, Crystal Report Server, Degree Works, myBama, OIRA, PCR360 and SiteFile. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the IT Service Desk at 205-348-5555 or itsd@ua.edu.