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ITS Newsletter

ITS Newsletter

Get Ready for a New Phone System and New Phone Numbers

Information Technology Services (ITS) is currently leading an initiative to replace MSU Denver’s telephone system. The current phone system is provided by Auraria Higher Education Center (AHEC) and shared by three institutions on the Auraria Campus (MSU Denver, the University of Colorado Denver, and the Community College of Denver). This initiative was prompted by a decision that each institution manage their own telephone system, rather than share a single system. 

After researching the various phone systems, ITS determined that leveraging Microsoft’s Skype for Business (S4B) may be the best solution as it provides customizable software with cutting-edge capabilities and one big advantage it’s already included in MSU Denver’s Office 365 suite of applications. In fact, ITS believes that using S4B with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones/headsets will provide the University with a robust, unified communications solution including many useful features that aren’t available with our current phone system. 

In order to fully evaluate the viability of implementing S4B University-wide, a pilot test is currently being conducted within the ITS department. As part of the pilot, ITS staff are testing the usage of S4B with various types of VoIP phones/headsets to determine which type will best meet the needs of the University. So far, the S4B solution has revealed improved call quality, built-in directory information, integration of voicemail with e-mail, conferencing features, and the convenience of self-configuration of features. 

After an appropriate telecommunications solution has been determined, ITS will distribute VoIP phones/headsets to all University departments in planned phases. Communications will begin within the coming weeks to all departments. Due to this change, new telephone numbers will be assigned to replace most existing phone numbers. You will be contacted prior to receiving your new telephone and telephone number.

We thank you in advance for your patience and support with this important initiative. For additional information, please visit the Telecommunication Initiative webpage.

Blackboard Learn Scheduled Maintenance on Feb. 17

Blackboard Learn will be unavailable from 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. on Friday, February 17, due to system maintenance. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the ITS Helpdesk at 303-352-7548 or

Specific Services Will Be Affected by Upcoming AHEC Electrical Work on Feb. 18-19

AHEC will be performing electrical work in the Central Classroom data center from 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 until 5 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19. During this time the following services will not be available: Network drives (P, S, U, Y drives), and Document Imaging, including BDMS, Web Extender, and App Extender. Contact the ITS Helpdesk at 303-352-7548 or with your questions. 

A New Standard for Online Course Quality at MSU Denver 

The ITS Educational Technology Center is excited to announce a new institutional milestone regarding online course quality. As of January 2017, and following active participation in the ETC CourseAssist program, Dr. Emily Ragan’s General Chemistry (CHE-1800) and Dr. Elizabeth Simmons’ Physical Oceanography (GEL-1150) were awarded an official Quality Matters (QM) Certification. This is an impressive accomplishment as QM is a leading, and internationally recognized, quality assurance organization that provides the gold standard for certifying the quality of online courses and programs. QM is a collegial, peer-driven review and feedback process based on a rigorous, design-focused rubric. QM sets a standard for certification at 85% or better, and CHE-1800 and GEL-1150 both scored a perfect 100%.

These are the first courses to achieve formal QM certification, fulfilling goals outlined in MSU Denver’s Continuous Course Improvement plan for 2016-2017. This is a significant step for MSU Denver and a highly visible signal of our commitment to quality-assurance and continuous improvement supported by best practices, rigorous review, and research.

In order to achieve QM certification these instructors:

  • equipped learners with the necessary guidance to achieve expected course outcomes.
  • applied a variety of strategies to build community and ensure engagement.
  • enhanced learning activities to promote peer-to-peer interaction.
  • deployed high-quality course materials aligned with institutional policies for accessibility.
  • improved course design for mobile learning effectiveness.
  • implemented tools and techniques for enhancing rigor.
  • stimulated critical thinking skills by engaging learners in thought-provoking activities and assessments.
  • provided a variety of instruction and delivery modalities, allowing students to grasp difficult theories and concepts.

Please join us in recognizing Dr. Ragan’s and Dr. Simmons’ achievement, enthusiasm, and passion for online course quality. Their dedication to creating exceptional learning environments will benefit countless students and have a lasting impact on MSU Denver.

Enhancing the Online Teaching and Learning Experience

To provide an optimal teaching and learning experience in the online learning environment, the ITS Educational Technology Center has offered a Master Institutional Template in MSU Denver’s Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard Learn, since 2015. The template is updated annually, so a new version was recently released and will automatically be applied to all new course designs and blank course shells throughout the University.

Usage of the template provides consistency in course navigation and structure, offering continuity for learners regardless of the course discipline. It also enables faculty to develop courses in the LMS without the requirement of web development skills, empowering faculty to focus on the alignment of course content and activities with intended outcomes, rather than design practices and usability.

The new 2017 Master Institutional Template meets many of the industry standards established by the internationally recognized Quality Matters (QM) program and includes improvements in responsive design, to meet the demands for improving mobile learning effectiveness and teaching practices. It also includes several new features and enhancements such as: inclusion of a collaboration area that provides easy access to tools that facilitate active learning and student engagement, enhancements to the Course Syllabus page, and improvements to the overall structure and organization. Mobile learning effectiveness and teaching practices have also been addressed by redesigning all HTML content to enable mobile queries, making the mobile test development compatibility tool available, as well as a transition to HTML5.

Helping Departments Communicate With Their Students

ITS created a process that automatically updates the ‘major’ and ‘minor’ lists in the Lyris ListManager email distribution system on a daily basis, based on information from Banner. Messages are sent to the lists based on the Banner major or minor codes. For example: A message to all ACC majors would go to the list ‘’ and a message to all CJC minors would be addressed to ‘’. The lists include currently enrolled students only and are accumulative throughout a term. However, a list administrator (Department Chair or representative) can add additional recipients to a list as needed.

To ensure that the ‘major’ and ‘minor’ lists are kept as up-to-date as possible, in the future at the end of each term the names of the students who were enrolled in the previous term will automatically be deleted from the lists and the names of the students who are registered for the upcoming term will be added to the lists. Please note that if the names of additional recipients were manually added to a list during the term, their names will need to be re-added at the beginning of the next term.

The ‘major’ and ‘minor’ lists will switch to the registered students of the new term on the day after the official end of a previous term. For example, this year Spring term ends May 13, so the automated process will add those students who are enrolled for Summer term starting on May 14.

For additional information about Lyris ListManager, please see the ITS Lyris List Essentials.

Learn What It Takes to Refuse the Phishing Bait!

From the Educause Security Awareness Initiative webpage

Cybercriminals know the best strategies for gaining access to your institution’s sensitive data. In most cases, it doesn’t involve them rappelling from a ceiling’s skylight and deftly avoiding a laser detection system to hack into your servers; instead, they simply manipulate a community member.

According to IBM’s 2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, human error is a factor in 95 percent of security incidents. Following are a few ways to identify various types of social engineering attacks and their telltale signs.

  • Phishing isn’t relegated to just e-mail! Cybercriminals will also launch phishing attacks through phone calls, text messages, or other online messaging applications. Don’t know the sender or caller? Seem too good to be true? It’s probably a phishing attack.
  • Know the signs. Does the e-mail contain a vague salutation, spelling or grammatical errors, an urgent request, and/or an offer that seems impossibly good? Click that delete button.
  • Verify the sender. Check the sender’s e-mail address to make sure it’s legitimate. If it appears that your institution’s help desk is asking you to click on a link to increase your mailbox quota, but the sender is “,” it’s a phishing message.
  • Don’t be duped by aesthetics. Phishing e-mails often contain convincing logos, links to actual company websites, legitimate phone numbers, and e-mail signatures of actual employees. However, if the message is urging you to take action — especially action such as sending sensitive information, clicking on a link, or downloading an attachment — exercise caution and look for other telltale signs of phishing attacks. Don’t hesitate to contact the company directly; they can verify legitimacy and may not even be aware that their name is being used for fraud.
  • Never, ever share your password. Did we say never? Yup, we mean never. Your password is the key to your identity, your data, and your classmates’ and colleagues’ data. It is for your eyes only. Your institution’s help desk or IT department will never ask you for your password.
  • Avoid opening links and attachments from unknown senders. Get into the habit of typing known URLs into your browser. Don’t open attachments unless you’re expecting a file from someone. Give them a call if you’re suspicious.
  • When you’re not sure, call to verify. Let’s say you receive an e-mail claiming to be from someone you know — a friend, colleague, or even the president of your college or university. Cybercriminals often spoof addresses to convince you, then request that you perform an action such as transfer funds or provide sensitive information. If something seems off about the e-mail, call them at a known number listed in your institution’s directory to confirm the request.
  • Don’t talk to strangers! Receive a call from someone you don’t know? Are they asking you to provide information or making odd requests? Hang up the phone and report it to the help desk.
  • Don’t be tempted by abandoned flash drives. Cybercriminals may leave flash drives lying around for victims to pick up and insert, thereby unknowingly installing malware on their computers. You might be tempted to insert a flash drive only to find out the rightful owner, but be wary — it could be a trap.
  • See someone suspicious? Say something. If you notice someone suspicious walking around or “tailgating” someone else, especially in an off-limits area, call campus safety.

Learn more about spam and phishing or hacked accounts from the National Cyber Security Alliance.

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