Elon Technology Blog

Need to Cancel Class? Try These 4 Online Alternatives Instead!

Photo of an empty classroomWhether you have a planned absence on the calendar, or inclement weather suddenly threatens to cancel your lecture, there are several ways to hold an effective class digitally. Read on to learn about online tools that can help keep your class on track when holding class isn’t possible.

 

1. Utilize Moodle’s impressive array of features.

Todd Lee, a Professor of Mathematics and and Faculty Fellow for Technology, is no stranger to conducting classes remotely. While conferences and the occasional illness sometimes keep him from class, Lee has not shied away from using digital tools like Moodle to keep his classes on schedule despite absence. The ability to embed videos, articles, and quizzes into Moodle courses can be very helpful for designing an online equivalent to lecture. One way to gauge students as they follow a remote class is to assign relevant readings and/or videos, and then a subsequent benchmark quiz.

“You want to plan ahead. If you know you can’t be there, great, or if you find out the snow is coming in you can write up some questions,” Lee says. “You can even post hints to Moodle if you’re looking for students to find something in a video or on a page.”

Directing students to follow through content posted to Moodle, and then answer a handful of follow-up questions, gets students engaged from outside of the classroom and helps drive critical knowledge home. Although one may be skeptical that students will rush this type of assignment and neglect to absorb any material, Todd Lee says this is not true of his experience.

“You may have some students who do their best to zap through it, but I don’t think that’s the general case,” Lee comments.

 

2. Conduct conference calls with students using WebEx.

Elon faculty have easy access to WebEx, a video-conferencing software that will allow you to meet and collaborate with students online. If you’ve caught the flu and can’t be present for lecture, plan to check in with your students during the class period via a WebEx discussion. It can be much more comprehensive than an email correspondence if you’re looking to keep students on track amidst a cancellation.

“I try and push students to use microphone and video because it is a lot easier to have a high level discussion,” says Todd Lee.

Lee also affirms the value of setting up “digital office hours” on WebEx, or a call that the professor keeps online for a certain window while students drop in and out. WebEx can be complementary to aforementioned Moodle activities, in case students have questions while completing a module and would benefit from a face-to-face chat.  

 

3. Create screencasts so that your students can follow along with a digital lecture.

If you’re going to miss a lesson crucial to understanding of your course overall, but don’t want to misalign your class with the syllabus, screencasts can be helpful in designing a lecture students can follow at home. Record short examples or tutorials using Screencast-O-Matic.Then, post the miniature lessons to Moodle and trust students to listen along.

A class composed of screencasts can be augmented by a Moodle quiz emphasizing key takeaways.

 

4. Point your class towards Lynda.

Lynda is an online learning platform, providing training to help students and professionals learn business, technology, and creative skills. Cheri Schauer-Crabb with Teaching and Learning Technologies attests that assigning a Lynda training as a result of class cancellation can “refresh ideas” or “introduce a skill that’s coming down the pike.”

Lynda offers an extensive library of tutorials that can teach you how to score a film, how to network as a sales professional, and many skills in between. Professors can likely find a training that aligns with any syllabus in the case of a class cancellation.

While one or all of these tools can be used to support an efficient online equivalent to class, it is important to be conscious of common pitfalls associated with remote teaching. As Todd Lee comments, “It’s important to not overweight what you ask [students] to do because you’re missing the class. You should think about what is accomplished in a normal class period and try to fairly match that.”

Additionally, Lee attests that it can be easy to assign “throwaway” assignments or busy work that will not have any value in the scheme of the class. Although any type of assignment will be helpful in keeping students thinking on an off-day, proper planning before an online session can mitigate the delegation of busy work.

 

Have you ever held a remote class? What tools do you use to make it run smoothly? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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5 Awesome Moodle Features You Didn’t Know Existed

After the Moodle renovation this winter, the interface has more features than ever, geared to make your online classroom interactive and convenient. Want to learn how to get the most out of Moodle? You’re in the right place – here are five hidden features you may not have known Moodle offers.

 

1. Use Moodle’s user-friendly editing tools to make frequent changes in your courses.

As an instructor using Moodle, it’s easier than you may think to adapt and edit your courses.  You can use the “Turn Editing On” link to make editing icons visible and customize your course. Moodle also makes it simple to organize modules even in the most content-heavy courses. Click and hold the crosshairs icon beside a course header and Moodle will display all headers uploaded to the page. Then, you can click and drag where you want each activity to fall.  

If you’re on the move and don’t have time to reconstruct a course, you can shift things around on the Moodle mobile app without having the go into editing mode. Navigate to an existing activity and use the gear icon to access useful editing tools on-the-go.

2. Track your students’ progress using the activity completion function.

Activity tracking on Moodle lets students see their progress in a course through the use of checkboxes in the margins of activities. There are two types of checkboxes you, as the professor, can embed in a course. Dotted lined checkboxes are automatically ticked by Moodle once a student completes an activity, like a quiz or a video viewing. Solid lined checkboxes are ticked by the student to signal their own progress.

Professors can access activity reports to monitor the progress of students, and can also mark an activity complete on behalf of students using the “override activity completion” feature if needed.

You can set up the activity completion tools in just a few clicks. First, navigate to “Edit Settings” on the gear icon. Scroll to completion tracking, and enable it by checking the “Yes” option. By clicking “Save and Display,” you unlock the ability to go into an activity and view completion tracking data. Anytime, you can edit whether Moodle will indicate that an action has been completed manually when entered by the student, or automatically. For each course or activity to which you want to add the completion tracking feature, edit the settings for said activity and choose “Selection.”

3. Maintain a customized glossary for your class terms using the Glossary feature.

Much like a dictionary, a glossary can help students find definitions to terms relevant in your course. Entries can be searched, browsed, and categorized when you create a glossary tailored to your course on Moodle. You have the choice of making a collaborative glossary, allowing students to add terms, or restricting it so only you can build entries.

Seeking inspiration for your own glossary? Click here to browse a word bank related to studying Shakespeare, or here to see how a glossary could help science students learn the parts of a cell. Ready to add one to your own Moodle course? Use the steps below to design a glossary for your online course:

  1. Turn editing on.
  2. Choose the section where you want your glossary to fall and select the link “Add an Activity or Resource.”
  3. You will be able to customize your glossary by adding a name, choosing the appearance, linking entries, and deciding who will contribute.
  4. Once you are satisfied with the learning bank you’ve created, click “Save and Display.

New terms can be added to the glossary whenever you please, and they can be supported by images, attachments, and links.

Moodle’s tools make it easy to build and edit your custom glossary.

 

4. Gauge opinions and needs by polling your students on Moodle.

The choice activity element on Moodle enables you to set up voting options, so that students can be polled. This feature can be used to test a student’s understanding of a subject, gauge needs, or get students thinking about a discussion question. Then, you will be able to view responses.

Setting up a choice activity is simple in editing mode. Select “Add an Activity or Resource” where you would like the poll to appear, and launch the “Choice” option.  Select display options, how many answers each user can select, whether you would like to limit the number of responses, and more. Finally, click “Save and Return to Course.”

 

Use the “choice” tool to gauge whether students understand class concepts.

 

5. Save and back up your Moodle course for future use.

After you’ve created the perfect Moodle page, you’ll want to save your work to reuse in courses to come.  In the case of a glitch, courses you’ve backed up will remain unscathed.

To back-up your Moodle course:

  1. Click the gear menu. Select “Backup.”
  2. Follow the dialogue to decide what you would like to save in a copy of the course.
  3. You will be prompted to either click “Next,” or “Jump to the Final Step.” If you’ve never backed up a course before, you are advised to select “Next.”
  4. For those who continue by pressing “Next,” you will be able to view a confirmation and review page. Here, you can edit the file name and check that the settings for your saved Moodle site are correct. If you spot a mistake, you can return to previous screens.
  5. Once you’re satisfied, select “Confirm Backup.”
  6. Continue to be redirected and see where you can get a copy of the backup file to download and save offline.

When you’re ready to select “confirm backup,” you should be redirected to a loading screen like this.

 

 

Want to learn more Moodle tips or just need a few Moodle questions answered? Visit the Teaching and Learning Technologies office in Belk Library 115 or chat with an e.l.i.t.e. student at the library circulation desk. Stay tuned for more Moodle tips coming soon!

 

 

 

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2 Real Examples to Help You Spot an Email Phishing Scam

A person typing on their computer

The dangers of phishing scams hit closer to home than ever last week as Elon faculty and staff members found themselves targeted. As one can note from the screenshots included below, these convincing, yet fraudulent, emails asked faculty and staff to log onto their private Elon accounts. From there, scammers will search for account numbers, login IDs, and other user information. It’s important to learn how you can detect and avoid similar scams.

Check out the emails and annotations below to learn how you can spot a fraudulent email.  (Click the images below to zoom in.)

Be wary of emails with poor grammar as that can be an indicator of a fraudulent email.

A suspicious email sent to Elon faculty and staff.

 

Be sure to check who the sender of an email is. If it's not someone you know, don't open any attachments or click any links.

A second fraudulent email received last week by Elon faculty and staff.

 

How to spot a fraudulent email:

  • Remain wary of emails from senders you don’t recognize, especially if they’re asking you to click a link and log in to a website.
  • Remember that grammatical errors can be a sign that an email is a scam, particularly if the email is from an unknown sender.
  • Be wary of emails regarding any requests that you didn’t make.
  • When in doubt, don’t click on any links or download/open any attachment unless you’re expecting such an email.

If you receive messages with these indicators, you may be a target for phishing. If an email seems questionable, simply delete it and do not open any attachments that may be linked or click on any links within the email. Report any suspicious emails sent to your Elon email account to security@elon.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Common Tax Scams and How to Avoid Them

A calculator and documents

According to the IRS, thousands of people have had their personal information (and sometimes money) stolen as a result of a tax scam. These scams, also known as “phishing schemes,” try to trick people into sharing their personal information by pretending to be an official organization, such as the IRS. While you may think that you’re not at risk, if you possess a phone, an email address, or receive mail, you too could fall victim to a tax scam. Today, we’ll share a few ways you can detect common phishing schemes and keep your personal information safe this tax season.

There are several ways that scammers may contact you when trying to phish for personal information. Stay alert and familiarize yourself with some of the most common ways scammers may reach out:

  1. Threatening phone calls claiming you owe back taxes, or threatening arrest if you do not pay.
  2. Fraudulent emails phishing for personal information, pin numbers, and other data.
  3. Scam letters sent directly to your home.

Keep in mind that the IRS does not initiate unsolicited contact with taxpayers so follow the tips below to detect a scam before giving out your information.

 

What to do when a scammer contacts you via phone:

The majority of reported scam attempts via phone calls follow a predictable pattern. First, the scammer leaves a voicemail, often with poor sound quality, informing a recipient that they are being issued a “final notice” from the IRS about a late payment. The recipient is prompted to call back, and if they do, they will be connected with someone who threatens arrest if they do not receive payment. The callers often use false names and fake IRS employee identification numbers to make themselves seem legitimate, so be wary.

Scammers may also request an unusual form of payment, such as an iTunes gift card, which serves as an untraceable currency. According to NBC, 70% of victims were asked to pay this way, but keep in mind that the IRS never accepts unusual forms of payment.

If you suspect that you may have received a fraudulent pre-recorded message, do not call back. Know that the authentic IRS would never contact you in this way, ask for credit information over the phone, or accept an unusual form of currency. Also, be aware that the scammer may have gathered information on you from the internet to make themselves seem more legitimate. Just because they are aware of your home address or other forms of contact, does not necessarily mean they are from the IRS.

 

How to detect a scam via email or physical mail:

Another way you may be contacted by a scammer is via email or physical mail. The correspondence you receive will be designed to look like official communication from the IRS and ask for information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts, or verifying PIN information. The IRS does not request this kind of information via email or physical mail, so if you’re unsure about the legitimacy of such a request, always contact the IRS directly for verification. 

Scam emails will appear to be sent from an @irs.gov account because the scammer has faked their email address, so don’t trust an email solely on the appearance of the sender’s contact information. Additionally, misspellings and grammar mistakes could indicate that you have been contacted by a scammer. 

 

Spotting an IRS email scam

Use these quick tips to help you spot an IRS email scam.

 

Tips for staying safe during tax season:

In addition to not sharing personal information with a scammer via email, over the phone, or through physical mail, there are many other ways for you to stay safe this tax season. Check out some of our tips for combatting scammers and avoiding identity theft:

  • File your taxes early
    • If a scammer is able to obtain your Social Security number or other information, they will use this information to file fraudulent tax returns to the IRS and other tax authorities in order to receive your tax refund and other tax credits. By filing your taxes early, you decrease your risk of being scammed by limiting the window in which a criminal could obtain and utilize your information.
  • Use a secure wifi network
    • Make sure you are using a secure and private wifi network when completing actions related to paying your taxes, including checking your refund status and filing taxes yourself online. A hacker could gain access to your information if they are able to get on the same network as you by using a common man-in-the-middle attack.  Learn more about securing your home network.
  • Know what to expect
  • Choose a trusted tax preparer
    • Do your research before choosing a tax preparer. Ask yourself these questions before sharing your personal information with any tax preparer:
      • Do they have a website that looks up-to-date and professional?
      • Are their any reviews for this person online?
      • What are the preparer’s credentials?
      • Do they offer any guarantees if something is not filed correctly? 
  • Report suspicious contact
    • If you receive an email that you believe to be a scam, do not open any attachments or text that may be linked. Report the correspondence right away to the IRS. 

 

By following these tips, you can stay safe this tax season and ensure that your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Learn more about preventing identity theft, cybersecurity, and more by following us on Twitter and by checking out more articles like this on the Technology Blog.

 

 

 

 

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5 Tips for Blocking Hacker Attacks This Cyber Monday

Christmas tree and giftsThe holiday season has arrived! While this is a perfect time to get great online deals, this is also the time when scammers and hackers take advantage of the increase in online transactions to steal personal information. Scammers often use social media, email, and text messages to trick you into giving away your personal information by getting you to click on links disguised as sales. Usually the links appear to come from a legitimate source, however clicking on them takes you to a malicious, but real-looking, page asking for your personal information. Today, we’ll share a few ways you can spot shopping scams and keep your personal information safe.

Ask yourself these quick questions before buying online this holiday season:

Question 1: Are my apps and web browsers up-to-date?

Apps and web browsers are updated regularly to add new features and address any security vulnerabilities. Before making a purchase make sure everything has the latest updates so you can benefit from any new security improvements.  (How to update apps: Android and Apple.)

Question 2: Do I trust this website with my personal information?

Does the site have a small padlock symbol in the address bar area of the web browser? Does the website address begin with https://? Both of these indicators let you know the site is secure. It is especially important to see these when you are entering passwords, credit card numbers, or other sensitive data, as it ensures that your data is encrypted when sent across the internet.

Question 3: Is my internet connection secure?

Know what network your device is connected to before you click “checkout” to purchase items. Did you have to enter a password to gain access to the network the first time you tried to connect? If so, that’s typically more secure than an open, public wifi connection. Public wireless hotspots at coffee shops and airports are convenient, but since they are publicly available, they are not secure enough to protect others from stealing your data across the network. Keep in mind that when you checkout online, you’re sending your address and credit card information across a wireless network that others are also using. These days, it doesn’t take hackers much to tap into that data and use it for their own gain. When possible, try to limit your use of free wireless networks for just casual browsing.

Question 4: Which payment method should I use?

Use extreme caution with websites or apps that only accept checks, wire transfers, or money orders as the forms of payments.  Cards are preferable, but consider using credit cards over debit cards as they generally provide better buyer and fraud protection if your account is breached and you need to dispute charges.  Review your account statements often to make sure the only transactions listed are the ones you authorized.

Question 5: What else can I do protect myself from while shopping online?

Online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay not only sell products themselves, but also offer products sold and shipped by third-party sellers. Before making a purchase on these sites, take a few minutes to look at comments and reviews to see how others rate the seller and quality of the product. If you see a lot of negative reviews (or no reviews) you may want to shop around for a different seller. Also, be sure to check for the seller’s contact information, such as a phone number or address, in case you have issues and need to coordinate a return or refund.

You should also take some time to check your password habits. Are you using a unique password for each account, especially for banking and other important sites? If not, you could be at risk of a hacker cracking your outdated password and accessing your accounts. Learn more about improving your passwords.

 

Online shopping can make the holidays merry and bright when you are doing everything you can to make secure purchases. Use these tips to stay safe this holiday season and be sure to check out #ElonSecure on Twitter for more cybersecurity tips!

 

 

 

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Takeaways from National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2017

National Cyber Security Awareness Month logo

Every October, businesses, organizations, and individuals from around the work come together and participate in National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) to promote online safety and cyber security awareness. This month, Elon’s Office of Information Technology has worked together to help make online safety approachable and accessible with weekly cyber security articles and quick tips for staying safe online.

Here are the main takeaways from each week of NCSAM:

Cyber Security 101

A major theme in this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month included sharing that it is not difficult to stay safe from the threat of cyber attacks. Throughout the month, we highlighted simple tips for keeping your information safe on the web, including how to create strong passwords, learning to spot email scams, and how to regularly backup your device.

Creating a Culture of Cyber Security in the Workplace

There are many ways for hackers to steal data in the workplace which we brought to light in Week 2 of NCSAM. For example, sharing information online over an unsecure WiFi network or leaving your computer unlocked while away can compromise the privacy of your personal information. However, there are many ways for you, as an employee, to protect personal and professional information. Locking your devices with a password, changing your password regularly, and avoiding links from unsolicited emails are a few simple measures to protect data, prevent identity theft, and stop cyber attacks in the workplace.

Securing Smart Devices

Smart devices allow us stay connected and updated on what is happening around the world while also monitoring our activity and saving our personal information. While smart devices can improve our everyday lives, it is important to remember that they are still at risk of cyber hacks. To stay safe while using smart devices, be sure to set up two-factor authentication, update your devices’ software regularly, and personalize your usernames and passwords.

 

Although National Cyber Security Month is coming to a close, there are still many ways to stay informed and involved with cyber security. Check out Stay Safe Online to learn more about how you can make the internet more safe and secure for yourself and others online. You can also follow @StaySafeOnline on Twitter and join the #NCSAM conversation to stay on top of cyber security news.

Check out all the National Cyber Security Month articles here on the Elon Technology Blog, and look for #ElonSecure on Twitter for more security tips!

 

 

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Securing smart devices and protecting personal information

Photo of smart home connected to devices

Source: asurion.com

We live in a world of smart cities, connected devices, and digitized records. Smart devices allow us stay connected and updated on what is happening around the world, and help us keep up with our fast-paced lives. Although smart devices are immensely useful, they are fueled by our personal information, which can be dangerous. By providing your smart devices with information like your shopping preferences or address, they are able to monitor your activity and save personal data. For example, some connected devices, such as the Echo and Alexa, work by listening to audio cues and spoken phrases to provide their users with a helpful responses. These devices can help us create a shopping list, call a loved one, play our favorite song, and more, but as they are always listening and monitoring what we say, it can be difficult to know how to protect our information from security threats. With this in mind, it is important to understand how to use these cutting-edge devices in a safe and secure way.

 

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to devices that can connect to the internet while collecting, analyzing, and sharing data. A few examples of IoT devices could be:

two people playing video gamesphoto of smart watchGPS system in a car

 

Fitness tracking device

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While smart devices are useful for monitoring and improving our everyday lives, it’s important to keep in mind that they are still susceptible to potential security breaches and hacks. Here are some simple ways to keep your information safe while using smart devices:

  • Set up Two-Factor Authentication
    • Two-factor authentication means going beyond creating a username and password and also providing additional authentication information sent to you from a separate device. For example, when logging into Twitter, there is an additional code sent to your phone that is needed to log in on your computer. This way, even if someone knows your password, you are the only one able to log into your account.  Many devices and apps have this built-in these days, but be sure to enable it for all accounts/apps when possible.
  • Keep your devices and apps up-to-date
    • When an official software update becomes available for your app or device, download it! These updates often contain security patches and bug fixes to prevent potential security issues.
  • Personalize usernames and passwords
    • Most devices come with a default username and password that hackers can easily crack. For example, most wireless routers have login credentials on a sticker on the back of the device which can easily be accessed and is not private. Be sure to create a secure username and password that only you know.

 

Although smart devices can threaten our data and security, they can make our lives easier and there are many simple ways to use these devices safely. Along with taking precautionary measures such as using two factor authentication, updating your device, and creating personalized usernames and passwords, it is important to be smart and cautious while using these devices.

 

For more cybersecurity tips. check out last week’s article here on the Elon Technology Blog, and stay tuned next week for a National Security Month recap article! Don’t forget to look out for #ElonSecure on Twitter for even more tips.

 

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Creating a Culture of Cybersecurity in the Workplace

Man using laptop computer

Data breaches are increasing every year and hackers are getting more advanced as security systems improve. Because of this, there are many ways for hackers to steal data in the workplace including when you share information online over an unsecure WiFi network or leave your computer unlocked. Fortunately, there are many ways for you, as an employee, to protect personal and professional information.

Here are a few simple measures to protect data, prevent theft, and stop attacks in the workplace:

  • Be aware of the people around you
    • Be mindful of the people around you while working in public spaces such as coffee shops or a library. For example, people may be standing behind you or looking over your shoulder while you’re typing in credit card information or viewing sensitive documents. 
  • Lock all devices with a password
    • Having a passcode on your phone and computer can stop a thief from accessing your personal photos, emails, data, etc., if your devices are stolen. Passcodes can also protect your data when you are away from your computer, tablet, or phone.
  • Change your password every few months
    • Changing your password frequently will help protect you against phishing sites and viruses that may attack your computer or other devices. 
  • Do not click on links contained in unsolicited emails
    • If you’re not expecting an email or attachment from a sender, simply don’t open it. Suspicious emails or attachments may contain viruses or phishing scams targeted to capture your personal information.
  • Do not share sensitive information over email
    • Hackers can easily steal information from your email, so please avoid sharing confidential or personal information via email when possible.
  • Clear your desk of all sensitive work and personal documents
    • Do not leave paperwork or post-it notes with sensitive information on your desk as people walking by could easily view that information. For example, passwords, personal employee data, and confidential information should be kept private and inaccessible from people walking by or visiting your desk. 

Employees play a major role in maintaining security in the workplace and must know the basics of preserving data security and spotting possible breaches. Fostering a culture of cybersecurity focuses on strengthening employees’ understanding of security issues and how their actions can help or hurt the company’s security.

 

Check out last week’s article here on the Elon Technology Blog, and stay tuned next week to learn about the risks of using smart devices! Don’t forget to keep up with National Cyber Security Awareness Month by looking for #ElonSecure on Twitter!

 

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Information Technology recognized during National Customer Service Week

Ryan Gay and IT student worker, Katie Shifflette, answering technology questions at College Coffee.

Ryan Gay and IT student worker, Katie Shifflette, answering technology questions at College Coffee.

Information Technology is proud to highlight the exemplary customer service provided by the department’s staff during National Customer Service Week.

 

Service with a smile

When it comes to offering customer service, the employees of Information Technology (IT) strive to offer faculty, staff, students, alumni, and retirees the best experience possible. From troubleshooting issues, to creating new applications and sites, to assisting faculty in integrating technology into their pedagogy, the IT staff is constantly solving new problems to help the Elon community daily.

Offering excellent customer service isn’t unique to IT. It is prevalent throughout Elon in the work that all employees, both professional and student staff, provide to the campus community. To celebrate outstanding customer service, the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) established National Customer Service Week.

 

What is National Customer Service Week?

Celebrated each year during the first full week of October, National Customer Service Week is an opportunity to celebrate customer service professionals and highlight the important work they perform. Originally started in 1984, National Customer Service Week was proclaimed a national event by Congress in 1992, thanks to the help of Former U.S. Senators Robert Dole and Nancy Kassebaum and U.S. Representatives Dan Glickman and Pat Roberts.

In addition to celebrating customer service professionals, the week also serves to emphasize the importance of offering excellent service to customers. According to John Kressaty, former ICSA president, another purpose of the week “…is to get the message across a wide range of business, government and industry that customer service is very important.”

 

What does customer service mean?

Customer service is present with everything IT does at Elon. Every staff member works with any number of University constituents to help them achieve their desired goal—whether it’s fixing a broken printer, creating a new web application, or figuring out a way to use new technology in the classroom.

“We understand that technology changes rapidly and is pervasive in our work as educators,” explained Assistant Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer, Christopher Waters. “We embrace a support model that is seamless in our community. The Office of Information Technology consistently adjusts our support strategy to meet the changing needs of our students, faculty, and staff. As a strategic partner with departments and offices, our goal is to listen and understand the need or innovation of our campus constituents.”

In fact, the staff in IT are extremely dedicated to making sure that those we work with have a positive experience.

“Customer service is going the extra mile to provide the customer with what they need,” explained Technology Service Desk student staff member, Janae Williams. “The majority of customers don’t come to Technology just to say hello. [At the Service Desk] many customers are experiencing issues that inconvenience them and the ability to do their job. But, we always do our best to get them to their desired resolution.”

Instructional Technologist, Sara Vanderpool, noted that IT staff strive to go the extra mile when working with customers.

“Customer service means being kind, patient, and a good listener,” she said. “It also means assisting the client until their problem is solved, their question is answered, or until you’ve pointed them to the person who can help. This may mean that you have to do things that are out of the scope of your job.”

 

How do we provide customer service?

IT staff provide customer service in a variety of ways. Several members spoke on how they strive to provide users with the best experience possible.

“You have to show willingness to help solve an issue,” explained Assistant to the CIO, Mel Brown. “You get the answers the customer needs and you follow-up with them.”

Service Desk Analyst, Ed Williams, noted that he always puts his best foot forward when working with users.

“I provide my best customer service skills—you have to be patient, communicate clearly, and inform them of what’s going on,” he said.

Janae Williams agreed, noting it’s important to stay positive in conversations (particularly when a user is frustrated) and sympathizing when things have gone wrong, like when a student’s hard drive has crashed.

Michelle Woods, Manager of the Technology Service Desk, added another layer.

“I give each customer my undivided attention and put forth my best effort to resolve their issue as quickly as possible,” she explained. “If I’m unable to resolve the issue, I ensure the customer that I will document the issue and get it to the appropriate area that will be able to provide a solution.”

 

The best parts of customer service

Certainly, there are difficult customer service experiences. People may be frustrated or not able to achieve their desired results, which can complicate things. However, the joy of being able to help others is what stood out most when discussing customer service.

“I love the fact that each user is unique,” Ed Williams said. “Each one needs to be addressed in their own way. I just really enjoy helping others. My favorite moments are when a user will call in and begin a conversation with, ‘I’m not tech savvy,’ or ‘Forgive me for taking up your time.’ I always respond: You know what? I’m here for you! You know, if I were attempting your job, I’m sure I’d need help, too!”

Vanderpool noted that what she enjoys most about providing users the best customer experience possible are the relationships.

“By providing the best customer service experience, I’m allowed to get to know the clients a bit,” she explained. “I am able to ask the client about their day or about their course, which allows me to further provide the best customer service I can.”

“I just enjoy helping people get the things they need,” Brown noted.

Learning how to provide customer service has also been beneficial for students in their experience at Elon.

“I believe that (we) want to leave a positive and lasting impression on the Elon community,” Janae Williams said. “I just enjoy how appreciative customers are when I provide great customer service. I’ve learned that I can directly impact how others feel for the remainder of their day. So, in my mind, I believe I’m helping customers feel better.”

 

Posted in Technology@Elon | Comments Off on Information Technology recognized during National Customer Service Week

Cybersecurity 101: 5 Quick Tips For Staying Safe Online

To kick off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re sharing five simple tips for keeping your personal information safe from cyber attacks. While you may feel that you’re not at risk for a cyber attack, keep in mind that over 1.9 billion data records have been hacked during global cyber attacks in just the first half of 2017.  It’s even possible that your information has been hacked without your knowledge. Luckily, there are several ways to protect yourself from the threat of cyber attacks.

Here are 5 tips for staying safe on the web:

  1. Create secure passwords

    • Want to create a secure password and, most importantly, remember it? Check out LastPass, a password manager that will help you create strong passwords and remember them for you! Test your password strength and find out how secure your password is here!
  2. Lock your devices

    • Lock all of your devices with passcodes to keep intruders out. Even if your device is stolen, a passcode will stop the thief from accessing your personal photos, emails, data, and more.
  3. Look out for email scams

    • To avoid phishing scams and increase your email safety and security, don’t open attachments or links from senders you don’t know. Rule of thumb: If you’re not expecting an email or attachment from a sender, simply don’t open it.
  4. Keep personal information personal

    • Just like in real life, there’s such a thing a sharing too much information. Don’t post sensitive information to social media, such as your phone number or where you live. Also, be sure not to share private information over an unsecure public network, such as credit card information or bank logins.
  5. Backup your information regularly

    • Be sure to backup your data, contacts, files, photos, etc. in case your device is lost or stolen. Learn how to backup an Apple device here, or an Android here.

Beyond having a large scale impact on major corporations and databases, cyber attacks can impact our daily lives as well. Hackers can tap into emails with personal information, bank accounts, social media, and much more. Make sure to follow these quick tips and do your part in protecting your devices from viruses and hackers. To learn more, read next week’s article on cybersecurity in the workplace and follow #ElonSecure on Twitter!

 

 

 

Posted in Technology@Elon, Tech Tips, Security and Safe Computing | Comments Off on Cybersecurity 101: 5 Quick Tips For Staying Safe Online