Tufts Technology Services (TTS) announced several new services for students and faculty at the beginning of this semester. The offerings range from a new encrypted wireless network to tools for collaboration, according to a statement from TTS.
“Input and feedback from our community shape our service choices, and we also strive to stay current in IT landscape to best serve the university,” the statement said.
Dawn Irish, former TTS Director of Communication and Organizational Effectiveness who left the university earlier this month, noted the addition of a new wireless network to campus: tufts-secure. She encouraged students to use the new secure network, especially for banking and other personal matters.
The next step, according to Theresa Regan, TTS director of Enterprise Infrastructure, is increasing outdoor wireless coverage.
TTS also announced the launch of a new Virtual Private Network (VPN) service in July. The VPN offers Tufts community members more support and better mobile capabilities, allowing access to Tufts network resources and Internet from off campus.
Irish noted that TTS has increased its ability to assist with technical issues with an on-site location in Eaton Hall. Help is also available over the phone with a 24/7 IT service desk that debuted in April.
Beyond these improvements, one of TTS’ new offerings is EndNote, which assists users with bibliographies and citations. It can be installed on institutional computers though an email request or on private student, staff and faculty computers by going to the Eaton Lab, according to the TTS website.
Another new offering is Cisco WebEx, which is used for planning and hosting electronic meetings. TTS is also promoting Box, a file-sharing application already available to members of the Tufts community. This year, each student and faculty member is allocated 50 gigabytes of storage, which others can access for collaboration, according to the statement.
Kris Manjapra, an associate professor of history, said he is using some of these programs to conduct courses in classrooms abroad.
“We use a set of IT tools in order to create a virtual classroom,” he said. “That helps to create a sense of a shared learning community.”
Among these tools is Box, which Manjapra said is useful when the Tufts students are working with their international counterparts to create projects. He said this long-distance group learning allows students to explore building trust with students from different backgrounds.
“It helps to create a sense of discussion in the class,” Manjapra said. “All of these pieces fit together to create an integrated long-distance learning community.”
The courses also use video-conferencing software to hold weekly meetings between the different students, though Manjapra said they usually use Adobe Connect rather than the similar new program, WebEx.
Manjapra said he and Ayesha Halal, the Mary Richardson Professor of History, taught a class last semester with BRAC University in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and are planning another one with the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in Lahore, Pakistan for this spring.
“The hope is to teach more like this in the future,” Manjapra said. “[Courses like this] allow students to explore the meaning of globalization … It’s a way of connecting theory and practice.”
According to the TTS, it is still unclear how many students and teachers will actually make use of these offerings, and they declined to release any information relating to the cost of these services.
“We always track adoption, and it varies by timing in the academic year,” the statement said. “We will continue looking at metrics for each service throughout the year. For services we have just recently launched, our measurements take on greater meaning as the academic year progresses.”
— Sarah Zheng contributed reporting for this article.