IT syncs passwords, refreshes campus and equips nursing college


By Glenn Battishill

Most people’s summer “to-do” list includes lots of relaxation, cleaning things and maybe a little work. Ashland University’s Information Technology department was doing lots of work, lots of cleaning and not doing very much relaxing.

The first and most noticeable thing that was done over the summer was synchronizing passwords between emails, ANGEL, Webadvisor and other services.

“Password synchronization means you have the same login and the same password for multiple systems, whereas ‘single sign on’ means you sign in once and you have access to multiple systems,” Curtis White, vice president of Information Technology said. “You change your password in one place, it changes it everywhere.”

This will be a welcome change for students who continually get their multiple Ashland related passwords confused. White hopes that IT will move Ashland in a single sign in direction in the future.

“We are moving towards single sign on,” White said. “Password synchronization is a major step towards that. There’s a lot that had to happen behind the scenes to make that work.”

In order to change their passwords, students must visit and enroll to change their password across all of the aforementioned services.

One of the biggest changes coming for students this fall is the website, a site that will give students access to their email, Webadvisor, a directory and many other tools. The site uses students’ active directory login information, the information students use to access the university’s computers, which is another service synced under the new password system.

“The Web Portal has been on our road map for about two years now,” White said. “There just has not been funding to move in this direction. This year, there was funding and we took advantage of that. Eagle Web was the previous service we were using for this, but it simply wasn’t built for what we wanted to do with it. Our goal is to decommission Eagle Web by the end of the year.”

IT is hoping the portal will provide students with easy access to crucial forms and applications they would need.

“Human resources has been great about filling the Portal with essential documents for students,” White said. “This is the direction a lot of departments are going to go.”

The other challenge IT faced this summer was equipping the College of Nursing, which included hooking up phones, security systems, Internet, audio/video technologies and medical simulation systems. One of these changes included hooking up a new experimental phone system and, if it proves to be a success, implementing it on the main campus.

“We are going to see how that goes and if it goes well we are going to use it as a model to migrate the entire university,” White said. “It’s nice to be able to try things on a small scale before you have to do it with thousands of units.”

IT has been working to fine tune its support model to accommodate the needs of the Nursing College, which included hiring a simulation system technician and moving a few staff members to the college to help the opening of the college go smoothly.

In addition to these technology needs IT also began refreshing campus computers to keep them running smoothly. IT planned to refresh faculty computers but was unable to complete all of them due to budgetary issues. They also replaced wireless Internet switches across campus but didn’t expand their range.

IT announced that students can gain access to ANGEL on their mobile devices by downloading the “Blackboard mobile learning” app.