A REFLECTION ON THE 2017 SPRING SEMESTER
BETTER INTERNET ACCESS: demand for internet connectivity on campus, the ICT Division has added Access Points (APs) in the library, the on-campus hostels and the auditorium, to bring the total number of APS to over 100, spread across campus. The additional capacity boosts both indoor and outdoor access to Wi-Fi and enables our network to support more mobile devices than ever before.
WIRELESS ROAMING: USIU-Africa has expanded its partnership with the Kenya Education Network (KENET) to ensure members of other universities can use our Wi-Fi connectivity using the same credentials they use on their campuses. Eduroam, the service that makes this possible is a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.
ONLINE LEARNING: As part of the University’s partnership with KENET, ICT Director Dr. Paul Okanda was sponsored to attend the annual EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Summit in Phoenix, Arizona from February 27 - March 1. Insights gleaned from the Summit will inform a pilot program to offer online courses to be coordinated by the ICT and Academic & Student Affairs divisions. The program is expected to offer a real-world assessment of the University’s preparedness to roll out a unique online learning program that blends synchronous and asynchronous modes of delivery.
ONLINE ACADEMIC PROGRAM REVIEW MANAGEMENT: In order to strengthen the quality of our degree programs ICT and the Office of Quality Assurance engaged Taskstream to provide online management of all program assessments and reviews, program and institutional accreditation, and e-portfolios. This is expected to translate into a fully online submission of evidence for the WASCUC re-accreditation visit in 2018.
SECURITY UPGRADE: The division has also upgraded the security software by adding three new modules; the Threat Prevention module that has new advanced malware scanning features, the Web Security module prevents users on campus from accessing malicious websites, while a Firewall module stops malicious inbound and outbound network traffic. The new modules are not expected to impact PC performance since scans will only held when PCs are idle.
Other enhanced security measures include automatic prompts for enforced password changes on our critical systems every 90 days with support from a self-service online and mobile device system.
HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: The Division has also successfully set up and tested a new Human Resource Management Information System (HRMIS) and Payroll platform, which fully integrates Payroll with HR functions, plus a host of new features and security upgrades. The new system will be further subjected to a parallel run during preparation of the May 2017 Payroll, in collaboration with the Finance and Human Resources departments.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY AND DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN: Finally, the initial phase of the University’s ICT Systems Business Continuity Plan is close to completion. This has been aided in part by the university’s partnership with Continuity East Africa, which has led to the upgrade of the Data Center at the Science Center, and the laying of a fiber link to our offsite Disaster Recovery location.
SUMMER SEMESTER FOCUS
TELEPHONY UPGRADE: The division will complete the rollout of the final phase of an upgrade from analog to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to complete the University’s convergence of telephony with the Local Area Network (LAN) infrastructure.
NEW HRMIS PORTAL: ICT also plans to partner with the Administration and Finance divisions, to roll out a new employee portal that will enable employees to update their profiles, apply for leave and access their pay slips on the new software system in the next few months.
DISASTER RECOVERY TESTING: The next phase of the University’s Disaster Recovery DR plan will begin this semester with the testing of our failover plans in our offsite location.
CONTRACT MANAGEMENT WORKFLOW: A new online Contract Management Workflow system will be rolled out this semester to boost further efficiency in the management of contracts with vendors.
CO-CURRICULAR ASSESSMENT SYSTEM: The University is keen to provide holistic training to students in a way that provides them with the competencies that suit the needs of the industry. In order to achieve this aim, ICT in partnership with Academic & Student Affairs division, has procured an online co-curricular assessment system that enable the creation, collection and assessment of student artifacts to demonstrate individual and co-curricular programmatic success. 300 students who are part of the pilot program, will receive co-curricular transcripts alongside their curricular transcripts at the end of this semester.
A CALL TO ACTION
ICT: The ICT division is encouraging all staff and faculty to support the roll out phase of the HRMIS portal and offer feedback as we endeavor to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible. It also requests all members of the community to take personal responsibility for their security, including using availing ourselves of the self-help digital tools that we have invested in.