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Academic IT

Gartner’s IT research and advisory service – free to all staff and students 

Monday, March 25th, 2019

For more than two decades Stellenbosch University, through the IT Division, has subscribed to Gartner’s IT research and advisory service. Since 2004 Gartner’s research notes have also been accessible to all university staff and students by simply logging on, using your SU credentials (email address and password), at 

For the IT Division and other institutional ICT partners, this service has proved to be invaluable. SU’s service, Core IT Research Reference for Higher Education, is an offering designed to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff, and technology professionals at SU. It provides unequalled access to real-world, practical research and advice about IT trends, markets, vendors, systems and technologies, best practices, leadership, tender processes, mapping technologies to university models, etc. conducted by Gartner’s 15000+ staff worldwide, who have unequalled access to IT vendors, leaders and enterprise clients. Gartner also has a knowledgeable set of analystswith experience in academic and professional positions in higher education, who focus on the application of ICTto, and digitalisation of, higher education. 

The Business School and Department of Information Science’s faculty and students have used the service to varying degrees over the years, the IT Division would like to invite more academics, students and professionals to engage with the service, given the emphasis on digitalisation of the university and its growing dependence on information systems and software solutions.  

Gartner is not just for techies; it serves leaders and professionals across all functions. It is a great way to become more “IT literate” and helps to establish a common language between laypeople and IT professionals through a rigorous glossary and taxonomy. 

So, feel free to access the service at any time (no costs are involved), simply by: 



TechSmith Relay for lecture recordings

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

TechSmith Relay has been in use within Faculties and on personal devices by lecturers for lecture capture in multiple formats for a number of years. Recently, the Academic ICT department has been informed, with minimal notice, that TechSmith Relay will no longer support this self-hosted version of the software. The information provided by TechSmith Relay indicates that they will be focusing their efforts on developing a cloud-based solution. There are, however, no timelines available for if/when this will be available in South Africa.

What does this mean to lecturers and students?

Currently, the software is still fully functional. All licenses are still valid. However, should any changes (or upgrades) take place on our operating systems, this may result in a situation where the software is no longer compatible with our devices. Recordings are still accessible and downloadable in MP4/MP3 format for safekeeping, and we recommend that this continue as per normal. The content that has already recorded will not be lost.

What is ICT doing to provide a viable solution?

Since receiving this notice from TechSmith, we have been actively testing alternatives. We have also requested that a workgroup investigate sustainable alternatives and recommend a way forward for the University. This workgroup includes members of ICT staff/ Centre for Learning Technologies and the Computer User Area Manager team. This workgroup has been requested to provide feedback and initiate testing within the next four weeks. In the interim, all effort will be made to maintain the operating systems on the computers in lecture halls to avoid any potential issues with the software.

What is the alternative?

Our recommendation is that lecturers can continue with the use of TechSmith Relay for recordings for the next two months. We will notify all academic partners should the situation change in this time. However, should you be concerned about the stability of the TechSmith relay option, the SUNStream (Adobe Connect) plugin within SUNLearn is a stable and reliable alternative. Many lecturers already use this method for lecture capture and capturing any interaction with students who may be joining the classes via streaming. Assistance with user guides and/or training on using this option within your SUNLearn module will be provided via the CLT support desk

Lecturers may direct additional questions to the CLT support desk.

Every day is Data Protection Day

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

In South Africa, we’re a bit late to the Data Privacy Day party. In Europe, it’s been around since 2007, while The United States joined in 2009. 

“What day?” we hear you ask. According to Wikipedia “Data Privacy Day (known in Europe as Data Protection Day) is an international holiday that occurs every 28 January. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. It is currently observed in the United States, Canada, Israel and 47 European countries.”

Even though data Privacy Day has been around for more than ten years, awareness around the protection of data has become more critical over the past year or two. The reason is two-fold. Firstly there has been a surge in data breach incidents across the world, whether it’s Facebook or more recently Google who was fined £44 million fine in France for alleged GDPR breaches. Which brings us to the second reason – the implementation of GDPR last year. Up until then, there was little to force companies to protect users’ data. The GDPR and POPI acts changed this. Now companies are held accountable and can be heavily fined for compromising their clients’ personal information.

Why is data so important, though? According to Mark Barrenechea, CEO at OpenText, “[e]very day we are building, brick by brick and bit by bit, a digital copy of ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not.” A bigger digital footprint makes it easier to find information about you, whether it’s personal information such as usernames and passwords, your physical location or your interests or hobbies. Algorithms can track your actions and anticipate your behaviour. Every little piece of information adds up to a bigger picture and can be used to your disadvantage. 

Sharing data is progressively becoming easier, which makes it critical that you take responsibility for protecting your own data. We can no longer depend on companies or social networks to keep our digital identity safe. This we’ve clearly seen over the past year with multiple data breaches – many including large companies such as Facebook and Google. 

Data Privacy is just one day in the year to make data owners (that’s anyone using a digital platform) aware of the importance of protecting our data. However, we should be aware of the risks every day. How can you protect your data? You already know, you just need to start or continue doing it. www.digitalguardian has an extensive guide for protecting your data, but here are 10 basic tips:

  1. Use encrypted networks when you’re accessing important information. Even though open and free Wi-Fi is tempting, it comes at a risk. If you’re browsing websites which are not https, know that whatever you do can be seen by someone else.
  2. Choose strong passwords. Don’t know how? Here are some tips. The general trend is using two-factor authentication. More tech experts are recommending a password manager as it’s the most secure solution.
  3. Protect your passwords. Don’t write them down. Don’t share them. Don’t use the same password for all your social networks or websites. 
  4. Update your software when it prompts you to. Don’t ignore it because you don’t have time – it might be an important security update.
  5. Update your anti-virus software regularly. New versions of viruses, malware, etc. are released on a daily basis. If you don’t update, you’ll be an easy target. Also, consider an anti-virus for your mobile devices – they are even more vulnerable.
  6. Check and configure privacy settings on your phone. Consider carefully which apps you give access to use certain services on your phone.
  7. Lock your smartphone and tablet devices when you are not using them. Mobile devices are used to access social media, banking services and various other apps – all of which can be abused if gained access to. 
  8. Enable remote location and device-wiping. If your mobile device is stolen, at least someone won’t be able to access your information.
  9. Delete your data from old devices, for example, smartphones, before you sell, discard or pass them onto someone else.
  10. And lastly, back up your data on a regular basis. At least you’ll have access to it even if you lose your device.

Data means power and unless you want to lose that power, you need to protect it.

[SOURCES: https://www.forbes.com]


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