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General

IT HUB – operating hours during COVID

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Current operating hours for the IT HUB are 09:00 – 16:00

You can also call the IT HUB at 021 8089289, but preferably log a request on the ICT Partner Portal. This can be done as follows:

1 Log an issue report on the ICT Partner Portal at https://servicedesk.sun.ac.za/
2 Sign on with your SU username and password.
3 Select the “ICT Partner Portal” service desk.
4 “Students select the IT HUB option. Staff select the  option depending on the type of issue.
5 Fill in the necessary information – if there is an asset number, please include it. 
6 Add any additional information in the description field.
7 Copy any related images, files and emails to the attachment area.
8 A staff member will make contact once the report has been logged and schedule an appointment.

All services offered by the IT HUB in the Admin A building – collection of equipment and all other types of support – are available by prior arrangement only. Students should make appointments by logging a call at the online service desk in advance. Appointments can no longer be logged at the entrance to the IT HUB and call log ID (ICT-#) can no longer be done at the IT HUB .

Students and staff members who have lost their student/staff cards are the only unscheduled visitors allowed at the IT HUB, and only between 11:00 and 14:00 daily.

Hardware support during lockdown

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Even though Information Technology has been fully operational during lock down, there are some functions we haven’t been able to perform. Since Level 3 some of these functions, such as repairs and receiving deliveries are possible again.  However, this does not mean that our offices are open every day and we can receive visitors.

Stellenbosch campus:

  • Currently no deliveries are made to clients by IT.
  • Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays:   Suppliers deliver equipment to our offices.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays:  Staff may pick up their orders at our offices. 
    IMPORTANT:  If you have placed an order and it has been delivered, you will receive an automatic message from our system when the order has been processed, however this does not mean you should come to the offices and pick up your equipment. We will send you an email with a specific date to pick up your order.  (Example of email) 
  • Device repairs:  If you have equipment which needs to be attended to, log a request as usual and a technician will contact you where after you will receive an email with a date and instructions on when to bring the equipment to our offices and again when to pick it up.

Tygerberg campus:

  • Wednesdays:  Deliveries from Stellenbosch campus to Tygerberg
  • Pickup of new orders:  You will be contacted by a technician with a specific time for collection. 
  • Device repairs:  The same as Stellenbosch campus

For any enquiries, please log a request on the ICT Partner Portal. Please remember to provide a cell phone number where we can contact you.

Developing a stronger support base for Learning Technology Systems

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

Over the past 6 months, the Learning Technologies teams (IT & CLT) have had the responsibility of ensuring that all students and staff are effectively supported on SUNLearn, SUNOnline and associated Learning Technology Systems. These efforts have included increasing the number of support agents, working collaboratively with Faculty representatives and Blended Learning Coordinators, and using available data to understand where the need lies with the University community.

This past weekend, the call centre dedicated to SUNLearn and other learning technologies, was upgraded by the IT Microsoft Specialists. This upgrade now allows staff or students to select either “General SUNLearn support” or “SUNLearn Assessment” support as the reason for their call. Assessment queries are diverted to more senior support officers before being routed to the rest of the team should the senior staff be busy on another call. This change is in response to recommendations from the University Ombudsman, the Business Continuity Committee for Online Learning, and, as a result of quality assurance mechanisms and monitoring on the LearnHelp service desk.

New support officers are currently undergoing intensive training in preparation for support during examinations and assessments scheduled from October. At the same time, the 2nd and 3rd level support teams for Learning Technologies in IT are preparing for annual upgrades and completing final testing schedules for any issues that may have come up in the past 3 months. All in all, a very busy time ahead!

As you head into preparation periods for end of year assessment and activities, please reach out to the support team with any questions you may have.

Support hours are as follows:

Monday – Friday: 08h00 – 22h00
Saturday: 08h00 – 16h30

Learning Technologies Service desk
Learning Technologies Call Centre: 021 808-2222

Reminder to enrol for MFA

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Last month we told you about the planned implementation of MFA (Multi-factor Authentication). Thank you to the 28 671 staff and students who have already enrolled to use MFA..

If you are still unsure what MFA entails, here is some information

Although we have not activated MFA yet, soon all staff and students will be required to use multi factor authentication when using any of the Microsoft 365 applications (Outlook, Sharepoint Online, OneDrive for Business, etc.) to protect their information university’s network. If you haven’t enrolled yet, we strongly advise you do so as soon possible by following these steps.

If you have any questions first consult our FAQs and if this does not answer your question, please log your request on our ICT Partner Portal and a technician will contact you. If you have any questions you would like to add to our FAQs, you’re welcome to send an email to help@sun.ac.za and we’ll add them to the list.

Microsoft Teams empowered students and staff to study and work from home

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

In response to the declaration of a national state of disaster on 15 March, Information Technology immediately started preparing emergency remote online learning technology contingency- as well as work from home plans, to prepare for off-campus operations – and the possibility of a national lockdown, which was later announced by the president from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020.

Students

There are 4678 SUNLearn users who have activated Office 365 user profiles from within the Learning Management System. Academic Staff have used Teams to create class group channels where conversations and online meetings are hosted with tutors and lecturers. An example of where this is working well is in Economics 114. This is a class with 1752 students enrolled in the module. It has been sub-divided into channels by the module team each with its tutor. The tutor hosts the channel and from what we can see, has been very active in communicating with students.

The added feature of having each module now linked to an Office 365 group creates a data set, which to date we have not had available anywhere else, i.e. knowing who the lecturers are that are attached to specific modules and specific student groups.  As each Team is activated on SUNLearn modules, an Office 365 group is automatically created. The lecturers become owners of the team and students become members of that team. Once a lecturer or student is no longer a participant in a SUNLearn module attached to an MS Team, they are automatically removed from the Team.

Staff

Office 365 overview / training sessions and assistance for Staff, with the focus on Microsoft Teams and associated applications, intensified, in order to assist users and environments, who had not at that stage adopted these new Software-as-a Service tools, to be prepared for the sudden work-from-home situation.

The challenge for staff was to rapidly adopt new ways of working and acquire knowledge and skills to utilise Microsoft Teams, in order to stay operational, while working from home.

Information Technology’s Service Desk and Office 365 specialists made a large effort to assist and support users. A portion of the staff population was very eager to take advantage of the Office 365 capabilities and went to great lengths to help themselves, by making use of the following comprehensive Microsoft Teams and other Office 365 Help & learning sites:

Microsoft Teams help & learning

Microsoft 365 Training

Planner Quick Start

OneDrive help & learning

OneNote help & learning

 

The usage of Microsoft Teams increased exponentially since the national lock down came into effect. Statistics from the Microsoft Teams Administration Centre for the University are as follows:

 

Teams Daily Active Users:

Microsoft Teams Unique Active Users at start of lock down

< 9000

Microsoft Teams Unique Active Users at 24 June

25500

 

Teams user activity report

Date Range: 27 March 2020 – 24 June 2020

Messages

Channel Messages

Number of unique messages that users posted in a team chats during the specified time period.

191 064

Reply Messages

Number of unique reply messages that users posted in team channels during the specified time period.

121 874

Post Messages

Number of unique post messages that users posted in a team channels during the specified time period.

44 750

Chat Messages

Number of unique messages that users posted in a private chats during the specified time period.

697 543

Urgent Messages

Number of urgent messages that users posted in a chat during the specified time period.

63

Meetings

Meetings Organised

Number of scheduled meetings users organised during the specified time period.

60 136

Meetings Participated
Number of scheduled meetings users participated in during the specified time period.

65 095

Group Calls

Number of group calls that the user participated in during the specified time period.

17 035

Calls

1:1 Calls

Number of 1:1 calls that the user participated in during the specified time period.

45 457

 

Using Microsoft Teams, staff were able to adopt excellent new ways of work, e.g. to conduct and record online video meetings, conferences and even oral examinations. The use of Microsoft Teams also enhanced team productivity and -collaboration. It enabled staff to make Team calls, have online discussions and co-author documents in real time. It also allowed staff to chat and check-in with colleagues, just to say hello.

Microsoft Teams also allows for collaboration with guests, outside of the University.

Staff have quickly learned to use all the above features – meetings are well organised and structured and they are also making good use of the content management and workstream collaboration features.

Microsoft Teams has improved over the past three months and the following additional features were added, e.g.:

Raised Hand feature

Download attendance reports

Use of Live Captions in Team Meetings (transcribing spoken English to text)

Microsoft Teams can now show 9 participants simultaneously in video meetings.

Stellenbosch University is participating in Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program for Teams, whereby the limit of number of people in a Teams meeting were raised to 350 – this limit will be further increased in the near future.

According to Gartner, organisations that fail to exploit new digital tools paradigm and foster workforce digital dexterity, are at a substantial risk of falling behind.

The national lock down forced a dramatic change in our normal operations, but also provided an excellent opportunity to accelerate digitalisation, including the adoption of Microsoft Teams and associated Office productivity tools, to substantially improve productivity and outcomes for the university.

We are transitioning to the digital workplace!

[ARTICLE BY Bernard Heesen, Johann Kistner and Lianne Keiller]

 

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