The end of the spring term was hectic for Pitt IT, as they worked around the clock to support the University’s sudden shift to remote operations. In a matter of weeks, they released Zoom, increased PittNet VPN capacity, launched the Virtual Computing Lab/Virtual Desktops, ensured remote support, extended LinkedIn Learning for recent graduates, and published resources to support remote work. And they didn’t stop there. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the new IT projects completed recently.
Jump to: Virtual IT Support | Flex @ Pitt Technology | Canvas Launch | Wi-Fi Improvements | Virtual Computing Lab | My Pitt/Pitt Mobile Upgrade | Antivirus Update | Federated Authorization Community | Pitt Passport Makeover | More to Come
Pitt Information Technology’s new Virtual Support service offers device support for those times—like a COVID-19 pandemic—when you can’t make it to Drop-In IT Support in Litchfield Towers or the University Store on Fifth. This option is ideal for issues that aren’t easily resolved via phone, email, or online chat—like setting up a new device or removing a virus. You’ll get the same personal service—via Zoom—that you're accustomed to at Drop-In Support locations!
Virtual Support is open now and will continue to be available after we return to campus. The hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. To get started, go to pi.tt/virtualsupport and grant a consultant remote access to your device.
Flex @ Pitt Classroom Technology
The University has adopted the Flex @ Pitt classroom model for the upcoming fall term to support simultaneous in-person and remote classroom experiences. Pitt IT and the University Center for Teaching and Learning are working to quickly implement the required hybrid classroom technology in over 200 locations across the Pittsburgh campus. These rooms will utilize Zoom Rooms, a software-based system that connects specialized in-room equipment with a Zoom Videoconferencing meeting for an integrated experience for all participants.
The University has transitioned to the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Because students prefer a single LMS for all courses, instructors were encouraged to make every effort to transition all their courses to Canvas; however, faculty could request an extension if needed for the summer term.
Fall 2020 courses will all be administered through Canvas—in fact, they are already available in the system for instructor access. Faculty and students are encouraged to log into at canvas.pitt.edu now to become comfortable with the interface. The University Center for Teaching and Learning is conducting live virtual training throughout the summer to help instructors learn the platform—register today!
PittNet Wi-Fi Enhancements
Pitt IT expanded outdoor PittNet Wi-Fi service in several prime common areas around the Pittsburgh campus. The goal is to support student productivity while also encouraging safe social distancing. The first phase of outdoor Wi-Fi expansion included the following areas: Cathedral of Learning grassy area, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall grassy area, William Pitt Union on the Fifth Avenue and Bigelow Avenue sides, and Posvar Hall/Hillman Library corridor bench area.
Pitt IT has merged the University’s two PittNet networks. The merger simplifies the experience of connecting to Wi-Fi, while delivering the same speed and reliability. The combined network uses the familiar Wireless-PittNet name. Pitt IT recommends that you use the “forget network” function to remove the PittNet_Wireless_Fast option if you had saved it.
Virtual Computing Lab Upgrade
At the end of the Spring term, Pitt IT launched a pilot Virtual Computing Lab to give students access to the most popular lab software. Over the summer, the Virtual Computer Lab was upgraded to provide a nearly identical experience to the physical Student Computing Labs. The Virtual Computing Lab offers the same software, appearance, navigation, functionality, and compute power as a lab machine, from the convenience of any location on any device.
My Pitt / Pitt Mobile Upgrade
An upgraded My Pitt site is coming July 1. The new site has a streamlined design optimized for use on mobile and desktop. Create favorites, bookmarks, and collections for quick access to the services you use most. Choose to dismiss announcements, so you only see relevant notices.
A modernized Pitt Mobile app is already available. It rolls everything students need into one place … your phone! The new Pitt Mobile lets you add events to an in-app personal calendar and features private messaging to help you stay connected … and more features are in development. Download the new Pitt Mobile from the Apple or Google app store today.
Antivirus Software Update
Pitt IT moved to Microsoft Defender ATP as its enterprise antivirus solution on University-owned devices, effective June 13. Licensing for Symantec Endpoint Protection software was not renewed. This change was implemented to ensure superior virus protection, while avoiding an unplanned and significant increase in Symantec licensing fees.
For personal devices, Pitt IT recommends either Malwarebytes Premium for Mac or Microsoft Defender Antivirus, which is built into the Windows 10 and Windows 8.1/8 operating systems. Both solutions are excellent, and Microsoft Defender is optimized for use with Office 365 apps. Symantec stopped providing virus definitions and security updates on June 13, so you should remove Pitt-licensed Symantec software and install an alternate program on your personal devices.
Federated Authorization Community
Requesting access to University data, such as the Student Information System (PeopleSoft) or General Ledger Mart, requires the Federated Authorization process to ensure proper data security and controls. The new Federated Authorization Community provides a centralized online location to digitally request access to University enterprise systems. It retains all the security and auditing benefits of the paper-based process, while eliminating the need to print forms, obtain handwritten signatures, and fax forms to approvers.
The system handles the entire request and approval process, automatically routing requests to the appropriate approvers. Updates are system-generated, so you can track the status of your request. You can access the Federated Authorization Community from any device, using almost any web browser. To get started, just connect to https://technology.pitt.edu/FedAuth.
Pitt Passport Makeover
Pitt Passport, the University’s single sign-on service for accessing Pitt resources, has a fresh, new look. You don’t need to do anything—the sign-on process is the same. But this is a good opportunity to remind you that scammers sometimes copy the appearance of a login page to trick you into giving up your username and password! To make sure you are connected the legitimate Pitt Password page, look at the URL address in your browser—it should read: https://passport.pitt.edu.
More to come…
After their busy summer, you might think Pitt IT would relax for the next few months. Nope—more IT innovations are on the way. Stay in the know by subscribing to a Pitt IT newsletter or notification service: pi.tt/subscribe.