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Exam access app a resounding success

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Until recently granting access to examinations for students has been a manual and time-consuming process of checking-off access lists. However, thanks to new technology developed by Information Technology in collaboration with the Examination Office in the Registrar’s Division, this is no longer the case.    

Since June this year, the identification of students for access to examination venues has been facilitated with the use of cell phones at each venue. 

A student’s student card is held against the back of the cell phone, and on the screen, it is indicated whether the student is supposed to write the examination in the specific module in the specific venue. The screen will display a green mark if the student is at the correct exam venue (see image right) and a red cross if not. If the student is at the wrong venue, the screen will indicate where the student should be for the exam or test.  

This will result in access to examination venues being easily and swiftly controlled and will certainly simplify and improve the function of access control with regard to examination venues.  

This easier scanning process is made possible by the NFC (near-field communications) chip on Android phones which communicates with the MIFARE chip embedded in the student card,  and the identification information is then used by the phone app to look up the student’s exam venue. The exam venue and module information come from the Student Information System. 

Tests were first conducted on a small scale during the November 2017 examination and the technology was rolled out fully for the June 2018 examination. It was a resounding success.  

 Emce Louw, Head of the Exam Office experienced the impact first-hand as the process was driven from her office. This included loading the cell phones, setting up data, training the convenors responsible for scanning at the venues and collecting the phones after the exams. She received overwhelmingly positive feedback from invigilators and students alike: 

 

 

 

 

Scan van studentekaarte is fantasties! Ek het gister 4de jaar Megatronika studente gehad. Hulle was vreeslik beïndruk met die scanning!”

The development and successful completion of the technology was a cross-functional team effort. Hendrik le Roux from Information Technology’s Access Control Division was the project manager and Guzelle Hendricks was responsible for business analysis for the two three-month phases of the project which ran from the end of 2017 to June 2018.  

In addition to Hendrik and Guzelle the following staff played a key role in getting the project off the ground – Phillip Greeff (TAS), Gregory Isaacs (TAS), Anna-Mari du Toit, Marc-Allen Johnson, Jeremy van Rooyen, Charles Hopkins, who wrote the app and Elmar Matthee who was responsible for the back-end development. On the side of the functional stakeholders, besides for Emce, Neels Fourie (Deputy Registrar), and Jan du Toit and Helene Nieuwoudt (both from SISS) participated in the project.

REDCap launched for researchers

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

SU Research Support Services are pleased to announce the launch of Stellenbosch University’s Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) service. REDCap is a secure web application for building and managing online surveys and databases and can be configured to meet compliance standards such as HIPAA, 21 CFR Part 11, and FISMA.

REDCap is a tool for capturing confidential information. This requires planned and careful management in order to protect the participant’s personal data. For data security purposes, exporting of data from the platform is discouraged, but if necessary, security and confidentiality will depend on correct tagging of identifier fields in the data dictionary and correct assigning of user rights for export by the Data Manager.

Ethics approval is required from an appropriate Stellenbosch University REC if working with humans, human material (such as blood or tissue) or their data, including secondary use of such materials (this is defined as the reuse in a new project of previously collected data or material). Please contact your local ethics office if you have not yet applied for ethics clearance. The application will include questions related to how you manage, store and use data, including data entered into REDCap. It may also require that you submit the data dictionary and an assigned roles list. Particular attention should be paid to which identifiers you intend to collect and how you will maintain confidentiality if exporting identifiable data.

Adequate and appropriate consent is an essential requisite of REC approval. If you are collecting and storing personal identifiers, it must be reflected in the consent form. If you intend to share or reuse data or material, it must be consented to when the data or material is collected, otherwise, it cannot be used or shared in future research projects.

To access this service, register on redcap.sun.ac.za with your active SU username and password. As part of the registration process, you will receive an email verification request. This auto-generated email will include instructions on how to set up Google Authenticator. For security reasons, Google Authenticator must be used with REDCap to ensure multi-factor authentication.

A training instance of REDCap is also available on redcaptest.sun.ac.za, where you can explore REDCap functionality and present training sessions. ‘Real’ data may not be captured in the training environment. Google Authenticator has to be set up separately for the training environment and the live environment.

SU does not provide institutional support for the day-to-day operational use of REDCap. It is a researcher’s responsibility to familiarise themselves with the software, however, embedded video guidance and numerous FAQs are available online. SU-specific guidelines are available here. For fee-based REDCap advanced support, contact redcap@sun.ac.za.  For technical support (i.e. access-related or system errors), contact help@sun.ac.za.

A REDCap mobile app is also available and can be used on iPhone, iPad, or Android phone or tablet. The REDCap Mobile App adds a new dimension to REDCap’s versatility by providing users with a tool for offline data collection, particularly in environments with poor Internet connectivity. The devices (tablet or phone) must be secured. REDCap Mobile App users must report any stolen tablets or phones to SU IT and the SU REDCap Administrators.

 

 

 

Protect what you share

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Last month it was revealed that a Trump data company, Cambridge Analytica, used the data of Facebook users during the American election. Security company SANS Security provided the information below to clarify the situation and provide solutions if you are concerned about your data being shared online.

“The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 settlement when data of up to 50 million users were transferred to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm.  This data was originally collected from a Facebook app called “thisisyourdigitallife”.  The app not only collected extensive data from people who downloaded it, but the app connected data on their friends also.  This incident is raising a lot of questions, to include what other data has been collected by other apps, and how was that data shared.  Below are steps you can take to protect your privacy.  Note that while these steps are specific to Facebook, you should consider following the same steps for any social networking sites you use online.  In addition, Facebook will be making privacy changes in the coming months, as such, some of the links or options listed below may change. 

  1. Delete: If you are truly concerned about Facebook and no longer trust it, the most dramatic step you can take is to Delete Your Facebook Account.  If you do, your information cannot be recovered, so we recommend you download all of your past Facebook activity first from your settings page.
  2. Deactivate: The second option is to Deactivate Your Facebook Account, which is in your General Account Settings. This freezes your online activity to include disabling your profile and remove your name and photo from most things you’ve shared on Facebook.  However, you will still be able to message people.  Unlike Deletion, with Deactivation, you can Re-activate your account, which means your profile and past activity is restored.
  3. Minimize Apps: The issue is not only what data Facebook collects about your activity, but what data any third party apps that connect to your Facebook account, apps such as Clash of Clans or What is Your Inner Age.  Only install apps you need and minimize what they collect.  Why do you think there has been such an explosion of these fun and free apps?  Because they make money harvesting your information. In addition, limit what others share about you with their apps in the “Apps Others Use” section. Finally, delete an app when you no longer need it or no longer trust it.  Not sure what apps you have?  Check out your apps page and review your apps. Every app you have is just one more opportunity for others to collect information about you.  
  4. Logins: Many websites (and apps) give you the option of using your Facebook account to login.  While that is convenient, it just means more data sharing is happening between that website and your Facebook account.  Protect your privacy by using a unique login for each and every account you have.  Can’t remember all of your passwords?  Neither can we, that is why we recommend a Password Manager.
  5. Sharing: Always be careful what you share with others.  If you do not want your parents or boss to read it, you probably should not post it.  Yes, you can use privacy options to control who can read your posts, but remember those can be confusing and change often, so what you thought was privately shared can become publicly available.
  6. Two-factor Authentication: Finally, while not related to privacy, one of the best steps you can take to securing any of your online accounts is to enable two-factor authentication.  This requires a second step to logging into the site.  This very simple step is one of THE most effective ways you can secure your online accounts.

Unfortunately, these steps are not as simple as we would like.  Facebook and other sites do this on purpose, they make money by collecting your information.  We want you to be aware that information is being collected about you and the steps you can take to protect yourself.  Finally, while these steps are specific to Facebook, keep in mind many other free sites have the same issues.”

[Source: SANS Security Awareness]

All Office365 applications now available

Monday, June 5th, 2017

Information Technology enabled the complete cloud-based Office365 package for all staff with an active role earlier this month.

The complete Office 365 package includes:
– Outlook mail
– OneDrive for Business (5TB for each staff member and student)
– SharePoint Online (public and team sites)
– Access to online MS Office apps (for example Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
– Five downloadable versions of Office 2016 for personal devices (for example laptops, tablets and smartphones) Take note that these Office 2016 versions are not allowed on any asset number devices, it’s only allowed on personal devices.

What is Office 365?

If you have any questions, please let us know by logging a request on ServiceNow or calling our Service Desk at 808 4367. For more information on the Office365 package, please consult our FAQs or have a look at the Office365 training videos.

IMPORTANT: When using cloud-based services, you have to keep your private and work usernames, passwords and data separate. Never use the same username for private and work email accounts, storage spaces and applications.

What is Microsoft Office 365?

Monday, June 5th, 2017

What is the cloud?

Cloud services is a broad description for IT services provided over the internet. Your services aren’t hosted on your system at work or home, but it’s located and managed remotely. Many services today use the Cloud, for example some e-mail services (e.g. Gmail), data storage (e.g. Dropbox) or photo storage (e.g. Flickr) Because it is is located online or ‘in the cloud’, you can access it from virtually anywhere on any device as long as you have an Internet connection. More articles on the cloud.

What is Microsoft Office 365?

Office 365 is an online, cloud-based application of the Microsoft Office products, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access (Publisher and Access are available on PC only) available to staff and students with an active role. 

What do I get?

  • Five downloadable versions of Office365 for personal devices, for example, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This does NOT include asset number devices. 
    IMPORTANT: For the versions to stay active you must be an active staff member or student of the university. Licenses of the downloadable versions have to be refreshed on a monthly basis, otherwise it will stop working.
  • Mail: 50 GB mailbox in the cloud
  • Access to Microsoft Office365 online apps from any computer connected to the internet.
  • Calendar: online calendar
  • Word: online to access from any computer
  • Excel:  online to access from any computer
  • PowerPoint: online to access from any computer
  • People: online contacts
  • Planner: organise tasks and teamwork
  • OneDrive: 5TB online storage
  • Teams: collaboration
  • OneNote: digital notebook
  • Class Notebook: OneNote for classrooms
  • Sway: Create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more.
  • Forms: build survey forms and easily share them with students, parents, and colleagues.
  • Tasks: schedule tasks
  • Video: scalable, easy-to-use portal for uploading and sharing your corporate videos.
  • SharePoint: online storage and sharing of files
  • Yammer: collaboration tool that helps you and your teams stay on top of it all. Start conversations, work together on files, and organise around projects.

What is the difference between the cloud and your PC?

After moving to the cloud you will have both data locally on your PC, on the network (G and H: drives), but you will also have data on the cloud. The same goes for your applications. You will be able to have some applications locally on your PC, while others will be cloud-based. Data on the cloud will be the primary source, while the copies on your PC and network drives are synced versions.

The same applies to your Office365 applications. For this reason, it’s important that you keep track of where you save your data. 

IMPORTANT: SU copyright agreements do not extend to storing and sharing of documents protected under the copyright law on OneDrive for business, SharePoint online or any other public store spaces.

What are the advantages of cloud services? 

  • More storage space available, up to 5TB on OneDrive and 50GB on Outlook.
  • Your data is available from anywhere, anytime, on any device. You’ll always have access to your data if you have an internet connection.
  • Your information is also safely stored, even if you lose one of your devices.  

What are the disadvantages of cloud services?  

  • Familiarise yourself with copyright regulations. Make sure you know what you are allowed to store and share online.  SU copyright agreements do not extend to storing of documents protected under the copyright law on OneDrive for business or any other public store space.
  • You are entirely responsible for your own information. Be careful who you give rights and access to, as it will compromise your information if it’s visible to other people.
  • You are responsible for synchronisation between online and local data. Synchronisation between online and local information needs to be set up correctly and done on a regular basis.
  • Keep in mind that access to cloud services when on campus will not incur any costs, but if you work from home your own data will be utilised.
  • It is very important that you keep your private usernames, passwords and information separate from your official work, to prevent your data from getting mixed up.
  • Having access to the cloud from any computer makes your digital identification vulnerable, do not use computers you do not trust to access your cloud services.

What if I have been using OneDrive personal, Dropbox and other cloud storage options? 

You can keep on using them, but it is very important that you only use these storage options for your personal data.

OneDrive for business and SharePoint online is available under of the US MS Licence agreement for storage and sharing of institutional data. The storage and sharing of institutional data are not allowed on Dropbox, OneDrive personal or any other cloud storage. IMPORTANT: SU copyright agreements do not extend to storing and sharing of documents protected under the copyright law on OneDrive for business, SharePoint online or any other public store spaces.

What is the difference between the storage options?  

 

ONEDRIVE

ONEDRIVE FOR BUSINESS

SHAREPOINT ONLINE

DROPBOX

GOOGLE DRIVE

 

PURPOSE

Personal

Business

Business

Personal

Personal

 
 

MANAGED BY

You (private)

You (business)

Teamsite owner, moderator (business)

You (private)

You (private)

 

WHAT DATA SHOULD I STORE HERE?

Personal files
(photos of your pet, last holiday, etc.)

Work files
(e.g. Word or Excel docs, PDF’s, etc.)

Your teams’ collabrative files, big data files, etc.

Personal files
(
photos of your pet, last holiday etc.)

Personal files (photos of your pet, last holiday etc.)

 

HOW MUCH STORAGE SPACE?

5GB (more if you created an account before Feb’16)

5TB

Limited by your imagination or work needs.

First 5GB free, then pay as you need.

First 15GB free, then pay as you need.

 
 

FILE SHARING?

Yes, similar to Google Drive or DropBox.

Yes. You manage the share (security) of file/folder. Simple versioning.

Yes, team collab space; managed by moderators. Most granular and secure.

Yes, very simple.

Yes, very simple.

 
 

Do I still have to back up my data if it’s stored in the cloud?

Yes, it’s always beneficial to have more than one backup of your data, preferably in different locations.

 

 
 

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