You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘OSU’ tag.

tools_losStudents and instructors share the complex challenge of managing the elements of multiple courses simultaneously.

Solutions to that daunting task just became more reliable and perhaps easier with the Learn@OregonState ecosystem and website—

The power of this concept flows from the unification of OSU’s teaching and learning technologies to provide seamless access and dedicated support university wide.

This growing learning ecosystem currently consists of Canvas, Kaltura, Turning clickers, Turnitin and online content from publishers.

Three key attributes of tools in the Learn@OregonState ecosystem are:

1) They are available to every member of the OSU community via ONID authentication.

2) The applications are interoperable to multiply their power.

3) The tools are centrally supported for all users.

The result of this is organic management strategy is more than a set of technologies, it is a framework for managing technological change and bringing new tools into the system.

In order to understand the dynamics of OSU’s learning ecosystem I spoke with Lynn Greenough, Associate Director of Learning Platform Services.

Greenough managed the transition from Blackboard to Canvas in 2015 and works for Academic Technology in Information Services.

She made clear that supporting student success is her top priority; “Without students there is no Learn@OregonState. We know the world they are preparing for requires ever-changing skills, and our goal is to ensure that OSU’s learning environment supports their academic goals.”

Greenough perceives success with technology for both students and instructors as being a function of quality; “not only knowing how to use the tools, but how to use them well.”

That is why the dedicated support aspect of Learn@OregonState is significant to instructors and students alike.

You may be aware of the applications that make up this learning ecosystem and it is important that you know how they fit together and where to go to improve your uses of them.

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) that provides course-level tools for students and instructors including a class list, grade book, assignment uploads, online grading, online tests, communication tools, an tools-canvas-group-imageassignment calendar and numerous ways to share course content.

Students value having a single place to get key information for all of their courses, so I urge instructors to at least publish their syllabi in the appropriate Canvas courses.

OSU’s front-line Canvas expert is Tasha Biesinger who helps the teaching and learning community make the most of those capabilities – contact Tasha at –

Kaltura is a media management system where instructors and students can upload video and audio into a streaming format for online viewing and listening, similar to YouTube.

kaltura-group-imageKaltura provides more access controls than YouTube making it the appropriate option for identifiable student media.

A great use of Kaltura is to use the Screen Capture tools to quickly create tutorials and commentaries.

Embedded video quizzes integrated with the Canvas grade book are a recent innovation in Kaltura.

Raul Burriel is the key support agent for Kaltura at OSU; get help and comment on Kaltura at –

Clickers are a means by which many instructors structure and credit in-class

The Turning bundle, which students purchase at the Beaver Store, includes a remote device for participating in class and a four-year ResponseWare license allowing iPhone, Android and laptop to operate as the student remote.

Instructors interested in using clickers will receive equipment and quality training from Nargas Oskui –

Before this website launched Fall 2016 the support resources for these tools were in several places; now they are collected in a single site, are presented with consistent style, and are kept up-to-date by the people who know the tools inside and out.

A critical feature of the new system is how change is managed. Greenough explains;

“We have an established process for reviewing and evaluating requests, which is posted on our web site: We look at the impact that a proposed addition will have on students and instructors, and also validate that new applications meet our standards for accessibility, data security and technical interoperability.”

All OSU members are positively encouraged to be active agents in of the growth of our learning ecosystem by sharing feedback and requests for new elements.

Lois Brooks, Vice Provost of Information Services, succinctly sums up the core principle of the instructional technology support strategy;

“We have had two major innovations in the last year; Learn@OregonState is our virtual ecosystem and the Learning Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art physical facility that allows active and engaged learning. What we are working to accomplish is excellent educational opportunities for our students whether they are in a physical or virtual space.”

Learn@OregonState is a contemporary sophisticated foundation for succeeding at the information side of teaching and learning at OSU.

dangerous-software-1200_croppedImagine that you are working to meet a midnight paper submission deadline.

Suddenly your computer freezes. Reboots don’t help. The Engineering major down the hall can’t help. Midnight passes helpless. The next day the repair specialist tells you that a wicked virus trashed your machine and only a total reformatting of the hard drive will save it. It is expensive.

Even worse, all of your data including your paper, drafts, research and earlier works are just plain gone.

This heartbreak is a genuine possibility, but the odds against it can be radically shifted in your favor.

“OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year.”

To understand how we may ward ourselves against digital catastrophe at OSU I spoke with Lois Brooks, Vice-Provost of Information Services (IS), and Dave


Lois Brooks

Nevin, Chief Information Security Officer for the Office of Information Security.

These guardians of our networked community had two salient calls to action for you: be aware and compute safely.


Dave Nevin


Being aware means paying attention to the daily changes in our network ecosystem in order to take appropriate action.

For example, are you aware that this week OSU Information Services is recommending an Apple computer patch and device update in order to address new security risks to the Apple OS?

If you are not aware of this current threat, then you are not network secure, no matter what operating system you use.

“Criminal hackers seek to access your personal information (e.g. SSN) and sell sell it to high-end information identity thieves.”

Nevin is blunt about the risks to the inattentive; “OSU is subject to 16 million hostile network attacks every day of the year. The hostile attacks are from criminal organizations seeking personal information and intellectual property. OSU can prevail against this assault only if students, faculty and other members contribute by safeguarding their computers and devices against the hostile hackers.”

I was like; “Did I hear that right? 16 million attacks per day? Why would anyone even do that?”

The answer is that your Social Security number and other personal information is stored digitally at OSU which criminal hackers can immediately sell it to high-end information identity thieves.

Nevin observes; “It’s tough. We’re out-numbered. The people we’re fighting against to protect that information are smart, and have a lot of resources available to them. But we have smart people too, and we’re working together to do everything we can to prevent t1hat from happening.”


NORSE Attack Map

To see a live display of network attacks around the globe, see the NORSE Hack Attack Map (do check this out because it is amazing!)

Brooks is OSU’s chief information officer and is ultimately responsible for the University’s information technology (IT) policy and budget.

She explained to me in detail the delicate balance between security, safety and privacy at the large scale of the university enterprise.

“All OSU members participate in a social compact with one another to ensure a secure community of trust and shared resources. It requires that every individual take personal responsibility to meet that overall aim.”

Do your part by keeping all of your devices fully patched using current anti-virus and anti-malware available to you for free from Information Services.

Sometimes safety goes beyond network hacks and enters the realm of physical threat.

Brooks and Nevin affirm that OSU cooperates with law enforcement to protect public safety.


On occasion this involves accessing information from the accounts of individuals.

Brooks emphasizes how extraordinary such instances are; “Even though we need to be able to respond when there is a problem, we at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Ours is a culture of respect and I speak from experience to vouch for the integrity of our university leadership in upholding these values.

For you, dear reader, there follows from this balance of privacy and safety a principle based in the wisdom of discretion.

That is: do not use OSU network resources to post information that potentially puts you and others at risk.

Create your own balance of safety and privacy by keeping your machines full patched against hacking and by maintaining intellectually responsible content.

This is what it means on Overheard at OSU when someone posts; “Keep it classy Beavers.”

“We at OSU go out of our way to not look at people’s data unless necessary.”

Here are two simple steps that you can take to do your part in upholding safety and respect at OSU.

Be Aware: Build your expertise about the OSU’s security ecosystem at “Be Aware!”


Free Software: Turn your computer and devices into a personal anti-hacking fortress by installing the free and essential software at:

“Anti-virus is a requirement while you are at the university as it is part of the Acceptable Use of University Computing Resources agreement.”

Nevin invites all OSU members to contact him about network security and privacy issues:

Brooks has an open door policy concerning all OSU IT matterantivirus-icon[2]s:

You can always write to me about anything.

I promise to make sure that your comments get to the appropriate people and I will write you back.

Have a great start to Spring term, invest some time in your network awareness and safety and keep it classy, Beavers.


OSU Office of Information Security

OSU Antivirus Software

OSU Campus Civility and Inclusivity Campaign


Image Acknowledgements







jan_michael_looking_wolfThirty years at OSU and I can say that not a single day has been uneventful. 

Walking across campus after an interesting symposium I came upon a large circle of students playing wooden flutes. 

They were past students from Jan Michael Looking Wolf ‘s course Native American Flute (MUS108) at OSU. 

350 students joined to play "One Heart" in what may be a world’s record for the most wooden flutes at one time. 

Looking Wolf has submitted the event to the Guinness Book of World Records.

For your joy, here is my video of that magic moment.

pov_globe_cropLast Friday Kelley Engineering Center erupted with ingenuity and excellence as more than 600 undergraduates demonstrated their senior projects capping their careers as OSU engineering students.

300-plus projects from all 8 engineering disciplines departments were on display and I was fortunate to talk with a few dozen of the groups about their work; here are my impressions of a few.

Healthy Cat is a smart feeding station that measures food and water consumption of the porculent puss when it steps onto the feeding platform so that feline guardians may adjust the amount and frequency of Meow Mix via a mobile app; I grey_catsuggested adding a camera to automatically upload kitty selfies to Instagram.

3D Printing Management is notable as this achievement is now deployed in the OSU Valley Library 3D printing system and has reduced order processing time by 75% which is outstanding given how popular the library’s 3D printing service has become in the year since it launched.

The Bird Detection System uses a GoPro camera and custom software to identify and track birds and achieved a breakthrough by removing non-moving elements of the scene, thereby freeing most of the processing power to more accurately follow the fowl in flight.

OSU_Rocketry_Logo_Alternate-300x295The OSU Rocketry Team is always a top contender at the Experimental Sounding Rocketry Association (ESRA) and this year is especially strong with a contribution from the Payload Electronics Team who designed on-board instrumentation that “parses GPS coordinates with altimeter data and plots a 3D visualization of the flight into Google Earth, showing a 2D representation of the flight profile.”

Master Hand DJ Glove controls electronic dance music by gestures, which looks and sounds cool; Michael Jackson would have loved it.

Persistence of Vision Globe produces an animated 3D image of the earth out of a spinning ribbon of programmed LEDs which made this one of the most visually interesting projects on display.

Autonomous Energy Harvesting optimizes the performance of solar powered instruments by smartly controlling the level of operation according to how much power is available, thus preventing battery drain and ensuring that the sensors will have sufficient energy to do their work.

OSU stormwater runs from campus directly into Oak Creek so this team measured contaminants and found a lot of zinc but no detectable E. coli, and acceptable levels of turbidity and conductivity.

Smart Disk is a wireless switching device that replaces traditional wall switches with programmable mobile controllers that work with conventional light bulbs which is wonderful since most commercial wireless light control systems require special bulbs at higher cost.

Baxter is a smart industrial robot that is state-of-the-art except for having only two fingers on each hand which makes it hard to turn door knobs and that is why the “Door-Opening Tools for Robots” team designed add-on prosthetics that Bather can use to accomplish tasks requiring three points of contact; even though Baxter’sbaxter_profile face is really an image on an iPad, it looked happy about this.

The “Self Orienting Puck” uses internal electro-mechanics and Netwon’s Third Law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, (not the metaphorical interpretation from “Interstellar”) to keep the puck up no matter how it lands.

The “Extreme Materials Tester” team designed a tool to analyze the materials that can be used to make amazing soft robots that move around like alien life forms and can be useful for many applications including search and rescue operations in disaster areas; I must say, however, that if I were trapped in an earthquake and then saw one of these jelly-fish like robots oozing towards me without warning, I’d feel anxious.

Engineers Without Borders is a global organization with an OSU student chapter that is currently participating in projects in El Salvador, Kenya and Nicaragua such as developing clean drinking water systems.

Phi Sigma Rho is a social sorority for women in engineering and having met some of the women in the OSU chapter I am certain that they have outstanding careers ahead with a lifetime of support from this group.

Phi_Sigma_Rho_heartMany more wonderful projects and groups were present at the 2015 Engineering Expo such that I wish we had more opportunities for all of campus to experience these outstanding achievements.

These brilliant beavers worked hard for a year or more to bring their ideas to reality and warrant our hardy congratulations for their successful projects and especially for bringing their academic efforts to commencement.

I thank all of these students and the College of Engineering for sharing these accomplishments at the Expo.

Now go forth dear graduates to make this world a better place and bring glory and honor to your alma mater!

Social Media, Ebola and the Flu

HealthMap-300x189Infectious disease is a social phenomenon because it is transmitted among people.

Now we can use information transmitted among people via social media to track, contain, and prevent disease.

A key part of our public health system is surveillance which is the collection and interpretation of health-related data in order to plan, implement, and evaluate public health practices.

You can become part of the health surveillance system and doing so may help you avoid infectious disease.

The resources referred to in this article with annotations and more are available at Dr. Tech’s Bookmarks.

Crowdsourcing is the use of social media to produce resources from contributions from self-selected members of a population.

An amazing instance of crowdsourcing health information is HeathMap,, which openly tracked the 2014 outbreak of a ‘mystery hemorrhagic fever’ more than a week before any official announcement of an outbreak.

HealthMap works by aggregating data about disease incidences from its members.

Anyone can join HealthMap and contribute information to it.

Enter a report illness symptoms and HeathMap will plot that data in time and space and correlate it with other reports.

A similar project from the same group at Boston Children’s Hospital is Flu Near You,, which collects and displays incidences of influenza.

Both HealthMap and Flu Near You apps are available at no cost for iOS on App Store and Android on Google play.

Another technological approach to disease surveillance is Google Flu Trends which analyzes search terms such as “flu,” “cough” and “Mucinex” in order to track the spread of influenza,

So how does Dr. Tech know so much about infectious disease?

I don’t.

Instead I  visited Dr. Jeff Bethel, Assistant Professor of the OSU School of Public Health.

He has a Doctorate in Epidemiology (2005 UC Davis), worked for the Center for Disease Control and teaches graduate courses in epidemiology.

Jeff and I talked about what people typically believe and know about Ebola,Ebola_virus_virion influenza and other infectious diseases.

There is a lot of misinformation about infectious diseases.

While talk radio and other anxiety-based media raise alarms about an Ebola pandemic in the United States, Jeff says this is unlikely because the US health system is prepared to contain it.

Ebola is not a respiratory disease; it is contracted through direct contact and bodily fluids, not through the air.

The chances of Ebola mutating to become airborne are very, very small.

As Jeff observed; “It would take a significant amount of mutations to become airborne. We never have seen a virus that is transmitted through direct contact and bodily fluids like Ebola is, then switching to become airborne.”

Jeff said that the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS ) “is our most recent frame of reference for global pandemics and viruses like SARS have the potential to do some harm in the United States because respiratory diseases spread more quickly than Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers.”

Put in perspective, the 2003 SARS pandemic resulted in 8,273 cases world-wide, 775 of whom died from the infection.

170px-H1N1_influenza_virusCompare that to the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic in which 50 million people died world-wide.

Reviewing such histories underscores the importance of public health and the contributions of information technology to it.

Crowdsourcing technologies such as HeathMap and Flu Near You are changing the way that our species responds to disease.

Equally important is the quality of the information sources that we use to guide public health policy.

I asked Jeff what are the top 5 sources of information about infectious disease for OSU students; he answered;

1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source of information on public health, hands-down,

2. World Health Organization (WHO) for global perspectives,

3. State Public Health Se such as Oregon Health Authority,

4. County health agencies such as Benton County Health Services

OSU Student Health Services –

Jeff reminds us that the most powerful technology for staying healthy is your own brain; make the choices that keep you healthy from infectious disease.

1. Get a flu vaccination every year; it is never too late to get your flu shot.

2. Use effective hand hygiene; wash your hands frequently and keep your fingers (pencils, etc.) out of your eyes, nose, and mouth.

3. Practice safe sex, which is all about direct contact and body fluids.

I hope that you will join me in using Flu Near You regularly.

It will be fascinating to see how our campus community may respond to the flu season when informed by our collective reporting.

Dr. Tech says, get the Flu Near You app, share the sites on Facebook and stay healthy.

Image Sources

O365Welcome back Beavers! I was lucky to meet many incoming students at START and BRIDGE this summer; an impressive class indeed.

My basic message to students is this: DON’T BUY MICROSOFT OFFICE!

No, I am not an anti-Bill-Gates-Apple-hugger (though I do love my IPad).

The bare fact is that all OSU students now own MS Office Pro Plus for free.

The resources referred to in this article with annotations and more are available at Dr. Tech’s Bookmarks.

OSU’s Information Services negotiators have been working hard to make this real.

I spoke with Kirsten Petersen, Core Application Manager in Network Services, to learn the details.

She is smart, nice and funny; here is how she broke it down for me.

Every OSU student, undergraduate and graduate, can download five (count em’ 5!) personal instances of MS Office Pro Plus Suite to install on Windows, Macintosh and mobile.

The MS Office Pro Plus Suite includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access. That is impressive, but wait there’s more.

Suppose you are somewhere without any of your devices? No problem, log into your free Office Online account where you can create and edit Office documents within a Web browser. That is cool, but wait there is more.

Where do you keep all those precious documents? Keep them on your 1 terabyte (really?) One Drive cloud storage that connects to your installed online Offices.

From One Drive you can share and co-edit Office documents with other students. Kirsten says; “It is your network drive in the cloud.

If you have a group, for example a student club, that shares documents, then Sites is your no cost solution; in addition to the OSU Google Drive that you already have.

What’s the downside, you ask? Mainly this: when you leave OSU these free accounts will expire. The take-away lesson is – always keep backup copies of your data.

I hope that you are enjoying this news thus far. Yet I am faculty and have to wonder; “What is in it for Dr. Tech?

The answer is: OSU staff and faculty don’t get everything that students do in this deal, but we are not left out.

Information Services leadership expects to secure Office Online, One Drive and Sites for staff and faculty in W15.

Besides, OSU staff and faculty may download and install personal copies of MS Office Pro Plus now via the Home Use agreement for $10 per installation. Dr. Tech can live with that.

Important note to staff and faculty: OSU remains site licensed for MS Office on your University workstations. None of this changes the Office in your office or cubicle.

Instructors should be aware that Blackboard and the coming Canvas (which I’ll address in a future column) support online commenting and grading of Office documents submitted by students.

To use online commenting and grading see the Quick Reference Guide to “Creating Blackboard Assignments” at –

Why is Microsoft giving away the store? Because Microsoft is in competition with Google whose Apps for Education provides a suite of applications to students for free.

Google is using the resulting market penetration to leverage sales of Chromebooks and Android devices.

Microsoft is pushing back with the Student Advantage package to promote their low-end laptops and Surface tablets.

OSU student email (onid) already uses Google and while the Outlook email client comes with Office365, there are no plans to change student email accounts any time soon.

For help with any aspect of Office365 contact the OSU Computer Help Desk or visit the Walk-Up Computer Help Desk on main floor in Valley Library.

For current information about Office365 at OSU visit

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 331 other followers

thought flashes

RSS thought currents

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.