News from IT that isn't just for geeks

Get Up to Speed on Recent Enhancements

Posted on: January 21st, 2016 by

Office of Information Technology Staff (HANA implementation)

IT Technical Services  Staff (SAP HANA Implementation)

Welcome! The Office of Information Technology (IT) has been preparing for new and returning faculty and students. Below are updates on recently completed work.

HANA @ Ole Miss is Live!

The terms “analytics” and “big data” are heard frequently these days. The HANA project at the University of MS (UM) is all about improving data access times, handling large data sets, and delivering state-of-the-art analytics. This project reached a critical milestone on December 19 when IT analysts moved UM’s production SAP system to a new hardware platform running HANA. The impact to students and employees is faster response times in myOleMiss and SAP, more sophisticated reporting, and new services that were previously not possible. For example, transactions are now running 1/5 to 1/100 of their pre-upgrade times.  UM is one of a handful of universities around the world that have performed this upgrade. SAP Student Lifecycle Management (SLcM) developers will be onsite for two weeks in February to work with software developers at UM as part of a partnership to make ongoing improvements. The Basis, Application Development and Integration (ADI), Business Applications and ERP Support (BAES) and Systems teams within IT, as well as departmental partners, were critical in completing this major upgrade on schedule.

BAES & ADI Staff (SAP Hana Implementation)

(SAP HANA Implementation)

Enterprise Reporting with Tableau

Hand in hand with HANA is UM’s Tableau project. Tableau is a self-service analytics platform that enables visual exploration of data, allowing more creative questioning and revealing trends and insights not as easily seen with text-based reports and spreadsheets. Together, Tableau and HANA provide powerful capabilities in terms of deriving meaningful insights from large data sets. Throughout fall 2015 and continuing into 2016, IT and Office of Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning (IREP) staff are working with partners from across campus to find the best uses for Tableau at UM. This work has resulted in a first set of executive/administrative visualizations available through Tableau Server. UM users who currently produce reports from SAP may be interested in producing their own visualizations using Tableau Desktop for their co-workers to view. Monthly training is available for those who wish to participate in Tableau, whether as a “Viewer” or “Producer.” Get the latest information about UM’s Tableau implementation from the project page.

Blackboard Learn Upgrade

Also in December, Blackboard Learn was upgraded to the latest stable release of Blackboard Learning Core. This release provided new calendar and formatting enhancements. The spellcheck option in the content editor has also been updated so that the spellcheck option is now always turned on. The upgrade also provided the addition of Portfolios. Students can now create electronic portfolios to showcase their completed work over time. These portfolios can be shared with other UM faculty, staff, and students, or links can be sent to external users as well. Instructors can also create assignments within a course which require students to submit a Blackboard Portfolio instead of a file. For more information on these features or to request assistance, contact the Faculty Technology Development Center (FTDC).

Network Enhancements

With record increases in enrollment each year, there is a growing dependence on the campus network as well as system security. As a result, the network infrastructure upgrade is an ongoing project.  In December, Outreach IT worked with IT Telecommunications and completed the upgrade of all the network switches on the Tupelo campus. And, on the last day in December, while many folks were preparing for New Year’s celebrations, IT Networking upgraded multiple network infrastructure components.

Classroom Technology Enhancements

IT Classroom Technology (UMCT)  completed two initiatives on the Oxford campus.  In December, over one hundred lectern computers were upgraded with Windows 10 Professional along with memory and hard drive upgrades, which will improve the overall computer performance for instructors.  In January, thirteen classrooms in Anderson, Bishop, Farley, Guyton, Hume, Lenoir, and Turner were upgraded with new projectors supporting both VGA and HDMI compatible devices.  Before the first day of classes, faculty are encouraged to visit the UMCT website and review available equipment and attendance scanning capabilities in classrooms managed by UMCT.  If you need assistance with Windows 10, sign up for Windows 10 training on 1/27 or 1/28.


The application deadline for the Technology Acquisition for Curricular and Instructional Technologies (TACIT) was December 1, 2015.  Soon after, the Office of the Provost finalized the list of TACIT recipients, and the purchase requests for computers and tablets are being processed. Faculty recipients will receive the latest Apple and Dell computer hardware, and we will keep faculty updated on anticipated delivery dates of the equipment. Stay tuned.

Accessibility Coordinators Onboard

Over the last several months, two new job positions have been filled to help lead technology accessibility efforts at UM.  Drew Chiles works within IT and his primary responsibilities are to support faculty in the creation of instructional materials that meet accessibility standards and to help ensure that myOleMiss and other centrally managed online services are accessible. Alissa Evans joined UM in January as an Accessibility Coordinator for the Division of Outreach.  In this new position, Alissa will collaborate with the university community to encourage full participation of all students in the curricular and co-curricular environments. She will also provide support for multi-media accommodation requests, such as captioning, in academic courses.  Alissa and Drew are already having a big positive impact to the critical area of technology accessibility. Instructors may sign up for Accessibility related training  on 1/20, 1/26, or  2/5. For assistance, please contact Alissa and Drew by emailing

New Features for Faculty Activity Reporting

Several new features have been added to the faculty activity reporting application in myOleMiss with the purpose being to achieve more accurate reporting of faculty accomplishments. For example, faculty can now report on leadership roles in professional organizations. These changes resulted from discussions with the Office of the Provost, the IREP, as well as deans and faculty representatives.  For more information, read the New Features for Faculty Activity Reporting TECHNews article for all the details.

Attendance Verification Interface (AVI) Enhancements

Last fall, UM introduced a new “attendance verification” process, including a Web form in myOleMiss, for instructors to indicate whether they have seen students in class.  Due to federal financial aid guidelines, students must have their attendance (or participation in online courses) verified for each class in which they are enrolled. The form has been adjusted in an attempt to be more clear about what exactly needs to be reported.  Also, a new transaction has been developed for dean’s offices to directly edit results as part of the AVI clean-up process. Thanks to many who offered suggestions for improvements and especially Danielle Ammeter and Kelley Jenkins for their ideas in reorganizing the form for better clarity. Thanks also to instructors for the fantastic response rate in the fall!  Get up to speed before class begins.

3D Printing and Other Cool Technology

Last but not least, we have some exciting ideas about the uses of 3D Printing. Our friends in CME have kept us up to speed on the latest 3D Printing technology, and we decided to join the fun when the price point dropped below $500. The 3D Printer will be available at the FTDC in February for folks interested in learning more. When visiting the FTDC in Weir Hall, be sure to ask Penny Rice to show you the new Apple iPad Pro.

Important Links and TECHNews Articles

The links and articles below point to information and sites used every day on campus.

  • Get Started – IT has links to commonly used websites for employees, parents, and students.
  • Students, check out these Top 10 Technology Tips.
  • myOleMiss –  Locate grades, registration, and other services.
  • UM Mail – Do you need to check your employee email from a web browser?  UM Mail is the answer.
  • Blackboard – Our learning management system used by our instructors to interact with students; Don’t forget about Blackboard Mobile for your smartphone.
  • UM Box – IT promotes UM Box for file storage. FERPA and HIPAA content can be stored on UM Box, and we have the capacity to expand the file storage space beyond the default 15 GB limit. UM Box is a great solution for faculty needing a shared class repository and individuals storing shared content for a department.
  • Google Drive – Google provides unlimited storage to Google accounts associated with our Google Apps for Education domain, While FERPA or HIPAA content cannot be stored on Google Drive, it is a good choice for storing video screencasts, large documents associated with a course and personal files that do not contain sensitive information.  Sign up for a UM Google Drive account, if needed.
  • Vault – I suspect all UM employees receive a high volume of emails. Consider using the vault, which gives you an additional 5 GB of disk space initially with the ability to expand as you need more space.  Your UM Mail, including the vault, remains on University servers on campus. To get started, contact the IT Helpdesk and request the vault today.

Final Comments

If you have additional questions, please contact the IT Helpdesk at 662-915-5222 or   You can visit us in Weir Hall, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. CST.   We hope you have a great semester!