Tech Xpress Spring 2019
ITD Help Desk heroes revealed
"The student has become the teacher. . ."
This famous saying is fulfilled daily on the ITD Help Desk, where often-anonymous high-tech heroes are ready to walk students, staff, and even faculty through digital disasters and internet nightmares.
Many of them are students themselves, like Adam Reed (pictured at right helping a walk-in customer) and Robert Smith.
Reed, who graduated in December with a degree in Computer Science, worked on the Help Desk for three years. And he said he loved every minute of it.
Well, almost every minute: There was the time when he had to literally de-bug a laptop brought into the Help Desk office in KUC 320.
"There were cockroaches in it," Reed said. "They were alive . . . I sprayed it with ‘canned air’ and they just took off."
But most of the time they deal with people frustrated by simpler technical glitches at high-pressure moments, such as when they are finishing an assignment, getting into PipelineMT to pay a bill, grading papers, or applying for a scholarship before a deadline.
"It’s good to take someone who has obviously been struggling and is frustrated and say, ‘Let me fix it—I got it,’" Reed said. "It’s kind of a fear of the unknown thing, and to be able to assuage that is good."
Oftentimes the callers are faculty, and the calls can begin with some tension and end with relief.
I can get a guy with three Ph.D's and is really good at chemistry but he can’t fix his password and I can say, ‘let me take care of this for you, and you go do education, Reed said.
Smith has worked the Help Desk for nearly four years and still finds satisfaction in it.
"Almost every day we’ll have someone calling who is almost on the edge of breakdown and the last thing they need happening is to be locked out of an account," Smith said. "And they’ll call and we’ll say ‘all you have to do is reset your password, or let us work a little bit of magic over here to get you back in.’ There’s enjoyment in hearing relief in some of those people’s voices."
Reed and Smith said most of their cases have to do with accessing accounts or resetting passwords. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trying again and being patient. Or sometimes it is a real mystery.
"It’s very nice when you can just help them here, get them on the path they need to be on and have them out doing what they need to do," Smith said.
Jeremy Stanley, ITD Help Desk supervisor, praised the student workers for their knowledge and willingness to help. He said Smith, for example, has worked the late shift—1 p.m. to 9 p.m.—most of his career, oftentimes as the only one on duty. In those situations, the student needs to know who on ITD’s on-call staff to contact in a major emergency, and when.
"On those evening shifts, you have no idea what’s going to come up," Stanley said. "They have to know who to contact. It’s a responsible job…You could have someone saying ‘the whole building is down, we have no internet.’ But they could be the only one in the building. They’re making the assumption it must be the whole campus.
"So (Help Desk workers) must have a level of judgment."
Because it is called the "Help Desk," people contact them with a wide range of questions. Reed said a client called in one day asking where she could obtain some MTSU-grown corn. Smith said he once tried to help a walk-in who wanted to block telemarketing calls.
Reed was working with another caller one day when he began being interrupted by a loud and very irritating screech on the line.
"It was her macaw," Reed said.
Both have greatly enjoyed working on the Help Desk and even though they want a career in the software or hardware development field, they believe troubleshooting tech problems has been very beneficial.
"I think everyone should have to work some kind of customer service, some kind of customer-facing," Reed said. "It has fostered more empathy and compassion, which as a younger guy I struggled with."
And they encourage fellow students to work in tech support, whether on the Help Desk or in other opportunities.
"It’s the best job I’ve ever had," said Reed.
Smith agreed. Also a Computer Science major, he is set to graduate this spring and wants a career that allows him to development software and get public feedback for improvements. The Help Desk has been great training ground for that.
"Working here helps me with troubleshooting and figuring out what questions I can ask to figure out where the specific issues are," Smith said.
"You have to have computer knowledge and you have to be willing to talk to people and help them out. Some people don’t want to help people. They just want to sit down at their computer and type code all day. That’s not me though," Smith said.
Help Desk workers are hired through the Student Technology Assistant (STA) program.
To apply visit https://www.mtsu.edu/sta/index.php and click on the STA Application and Assessment links.
MFA @ MTSU: What you need to know...
Along with everything else you are learning in the classroom as you return to campus in 2019, add the phrase "Multi-factor Authentication."
MTSU students must begin using the Multi-factor Authentication or MFA login process in February 2019.
A great starting point for information is https://www.mtsu.edu/security/mfa.php. It features a list of FAQs including:
Why do I need to use Multi-factor Authentication?
With more MTSU systems using single sign-on (SSO) services, it has never been more important to protect your MTSU account from unauthorized access. SSO services make it easier to access MTSU systems using a common user name and password. However, this also means the risk associated with a compromised user name and password significantly increases.
Phishing attacks, malware, and social engineering constantly target the University population with the intent of stealing users’ credentials to gain unauthorized access to MTSU systems. While users should always create strong passwords to protect against unauthorized access, passwords alone are simply no longer a sufficient means of authentication.
As a result, MTSU now offers MFA services to protect your MTSU account. This means systems using SSO services will require a second factor of authentication in addition to a password. So if hackers compromise your password, they would still need a second factor, like your phone, to complete an authentication request.
Can I opt out of Multi-factor Authentication?
Opting into Multi-factor Authentication early is the best way for you to become familiar with the service before it is required. As such there is no means of opting out of the service. We encourage you to opt-in early and provide feedback of your experiences so that we can refine settings for everyone before it is required.
Do I need to have a smartphone to use Multi-factor Authentication?
No, you do not need to have a smartphone to use Multi-factor Authentication. Users without smartphones may use the Microsoft Authenticator mobile application on a tablet. Users without smartphones or tablets may alternatively enroll a basic cellular phone number to receive a text message with a verification code or a phone call to approve or deny requests. Users without access to a basic cellular phone can enroll a landline phone like an office or home phone to receive a phone call to approve or deny requests.
Users who do not have access to or do not wish to use a phone may contact the ITD Help Desk at 615-898-5345 or firstname.lastname@example.org for other options.
How do I enroll in Multi-factor Authentication?
Click here for instructions on how to enroll your account with Microsoft Azure Multi-factor Authentication using the Microsoft Authenticator mobile application on your smartphone or tablet.
Users without smartphones or tablets can click here for instructions on enrolling a phone number to receive a text message with a verification code or a phone call to approve or deny requests. Users who do not have access to or do not wish to use a phone may contact the ITD Help Desk for other options.
What if I lose my phone?
If you lose your phone or suspect someone stole it and you enrolled multiple authentication devices, you should immediately log in with an alternative device and remove your lost or stolen phone as an authentication device. If you did not enroll multiple authentication devices or have any questions, contact the ITD Help Desk for assistance. Also, remember that while you should remove your lost or stolen phone as an authentication device as soon as possible, your password will still protect your account.
How do I authenticate if I cannot use the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app?
If you cannot receive push notifications from the Microsoft Authenticator mobile app, you can use a verification code generated on the mobile app. If you cannot use the Microsoft Authenticator app, you can receive a text message with a verification code. If you cannot use the Microsoft Authenticator app or receive a text message, you can receive a phone call to approve your sign in request. Click here for instructions on alternate ways to authenticate with Microsoft Azure multi-factor authentication.
What if I change my phone number or buy a new phone?
If you purchase a new smartphone, as long as you didn’t change your phone number, you can still complete your login request by receiving text messages or phone calls to log into your MTSU account online. You can then install the Microsoft Authenticator app on your new smartphone and enroll the app (see p. 1-9 here).
Similarly, if you change your phone number, as long as you still have access to the Microsoft Authenticator app, you can still use the app to approve your login request. You can then log into your account online and update your phone number (see p, 9-11 here). If you cannot accomplish these steps for any reason, please contact the ITD Help Desk.
MFA Web Resources
Multi-factor Authentication FAQ Website
Multi-factor Authentication Instructions
Multi-factor Authentication Opt-in Web Site
Data Science Institute gives students chance
to test autonomous auto, learn data programs
Want to take a ride in an autonomous vehicle, learn data-analysis programs, or one day major in Data Science? Those are some of the opportunities available to students through MTSU’s new Data Science Institute.
In Fall 2018, the DSI worked hard to establish relationships with companies and other agencies in need of analysis. As part of this, students and faculty were put into teams that worked directly with companies and organizations. One project that was a success for students and a local company was with Hytch Rewards LLC.
For three months, a team of five students (under-graduate and graduate students from an array of disciplines) was tasked with analyzing and exploring Hytch’s trip data. From this exploratory look at the data, some valuable insight was presented to Hytch.
The final result was a comprehensive report, continuing talks on future projects, and most importantly, one student from the team was hired at Hytch. See more at mtsunews.com/data-science-institute-hytch-f2018/.
Also last fall, the start of the research for iPassenger and autonomous systems began. Through a partnership with an external company, a Tesla Model X was purchased and approvals for research at MTSU were processed.
Starting this semester, the testing will begin to assess the passenger experience in an autonomous-capable vehicle.
Participants in the research will fill out a pre-survey, schedule a time for a ride, participate in the ride, and then fill out a post-survey of their experience. Future rides and possible driving of the vehicle will also be possible.
Students, faculty, and staff will be able to participate once testing begins later in January. To find out more and to participate, please visit mtsu.edu/BRAD.
Also this semester, students have opportunities to "use data for good" by participating in events. The first was at Hack MT, Jan. 25–27, where the Data Science Institute teamed up with Second Harvest to analyze the food bank's data to make better decisions pertaining to efficiencies and distribution of goods and services.
Other events will be posted as details are finalized. More information will be posted at mtsu.edu/dsi or you can follow @MTSU_DSI on Twitter.
Long-term plans include a proposed Data Science under-graduate degree. Interim DSI Director Charles Apigian has submitted the proposal to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
"The intent of a Data Science undergrad program has already been approved through the Board of Trustees," Apigian said.
Learn D2L ePortfolio from peers, seek MT Engage scholarships
MTSU students can now learn how to use the Desire2Learn (D2L) ePortfolio from their fellow students, then use that newfound knowledge to seek scholarship funds.
Peer tutoring is available at the Tutoring Spot in Walker Library. Tutors can walk you through the D2L ePortfolio platform—from just starting an ePortfolio presentation to polishing one with advanced features.
Sign up for a session at mtsu.edu/studentsuccess/tutoring.php.
In addition, MT Engage awards up to 15 scholarships valued at $6,000 each academic year as part of a process that includes creating a Desire2Learn (D2L) ePortolio page. The application period began on Jan. 15 and continues through Feb. 15.
Lexy Denton, assistant director for MT Engage, said the first scholarships were awarded in Spring 2018. Last year, MT Engage awarded $54,000 in scholarship awards to nine students representing four MTSU colleges.
"Our scholarship is based on Cost of Attendance (COA), and everyone used almost every dollar of their scholarship award—in other words, the need is real and our scholarships do make an impact on their financial capacity to graduate on time," she said.
Up to two scholarships will be awarded in each academic college, and one overall winner will be chosen. Scholarships will be paid at the rate of $1,500 per semester for four semesters.
Any student who applies for the scholarship and meets the eligibility requirements also will receive priority registration.
To apply for the MT Engage scholarship, you must:
- Have successfully completed two or more MT Engage course sections
- Have attended one approved ePortfolio training or workshop
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.75
- Have completed your 60th hour in Fall 2018 or are completing your 60th hour in Spring 2019
- Be currently enrolled as a student at MTSU with good academic standing
- Submit a complete ePortfolio presentation according to the MT Engage requirements
For instructions on applying for an MT Engage scholarship, visit mtsu.edu/mtengage/Scholarship.php.
Student Printing Update: Most Are Responsible But...
Student printing is available at all University labs and is a privilege for all active students.
We ask that students be frugal and responsible when making printing decisions and not print unnecessarily and excessively.
Printing should always be reserved for academic purposes only and not used for personal gain, i.e., advertising flyers, etc. Such non-academic printing should be performed at Blue Print Solutions in the Student Union Building.
Printing levels are monitored. The good news is that the vast majority of students (96.5 percent) are responsible printers. You will be notified through the print management system when you are approaching an excessive amount of printing.
Lynda.com Becomes linkedin learning
Lynda.com is becoming "LinkedIn Learning," and MTSU is working with LinkedIn to facilitate the migration of students, faculty, and staff to this upgraded version.
If you have used Lynda.com at MTSU your learning activity and history will transfer to LinkedIn Learning. You should have received an email with information to activate your LinkedIn Learning account. Activating your LinkedIn Account will complete the migration and allow you to pick up right where you left off.
LinkedIn Learning meshes the online Lynda tutorials with its data so you can learn new skills based on jobs you are interested in without leaving LinkedIn’s platform. When activating your account, you will be provided the opportunity to link your MTSU account with your personal LinkedIn Profile. This is optional and not required to complete your account activation.
Find more info at learning.linkedin.com/cx/lyndaupgrade. It will still be accessible through portal.office.com/myapps. If you have any questions or problems, contact the ITD Help Desk at 615-898-5345 or help@mtsu.
MS Imagine Academy announces changes
Some important changes in the Microsoft Imagine Academy’s (MSIA) online learning became effective last fall.
MSIA’s learner portal has been replaced with a master directory, in OneNote format, that includes links to direct students to specific online learning resources that support courses in the Academy’s four learning paths—Computer Science, Data Science, IT Infrastructure, and Productivity.
In addition, some of MSIA’s most popular courses have been refreshed, including the Office 2016 suite and Data Science courses.
MTSU students can access the MSIA master directory through PipelineMT’s Resources
Area. Visit pipeline.mtsu.edu/resources. For more info about the change in MSIA’s online learning, visit
Student Tech Handbook Available Online
A digital version of the Technology Handbook for students is now available on the
ITD website. Go to mtsu.edu/itd/publications.php.