Forms and Surveys at Hampshire

The Hampshire Form Generator

For over ten years, Hampshire IT has supported a custom tool, built by students, for generating online forms. Many staff, faculty, and students have used the Hampshire form generator to create online forms and surveys for different purposes. While this system has worked OK for the needs of some, it is lacking in features and has some bugs of its own. Rather than focusing our time and attention on maintaining the Hampshire form generator (and, frankly, rebuilding the wheel) we are embracing other tools that already exist with similar and better features. Enter Qualtrics…

Qualtrics

Qualtrics Research Suite is a powerful tool for building complex surveys and doing data analysis. Hampshire has a license to use this software, which has been a key part of collecting data for the Office of Institutional Research for the last few years. Much like the Hampshire form generator, anyone with a Hampshire username and password can create forms and surveys using this software. Learn more about the latest version and features of Qualtrics.

We will be hosting workshops this Spring for folks who are interested in learning more about Qualtrics. In the meantime please contact Asha Kinney with any questions or to request training.

The Future of the Hampshire Form Generator

Hampshire IT has made the decision to slowly retire its custom form generator. The slow retirement will look something like this:

  1. The ability to create new forms will no longer be available as of March 1, 2016. People will still be able to submit responses to existing forms, and owners of those forms will still be able to access and export responses, but nobody will be able to create brand new forms.
  2. The ability to submit responses to forms will no longer be available as of August 1, 2016.
  3. The ability to access and export responses to forms will no longer be available as of September 1, 2016.

What Does this Mean for Form Owners?

  1. If you have any forms in the form generator that need to be active after August 1, 2016, the forms will need to be recreated elsewhere. Unfortunately there is no way to export forms out of the form generator. We recommend creating forms in Qualtrics, but if you find that Qualtrics is too much for your needs and you want a more simple form building tool, please get in touch with IT and we can discuss other options for creating basic online forms.
  2. If you want to save responses to any of your forms you must export that data before September 1, 2016. Here is a quick video that shows how to download form response data.

Questions?

Contact the Applications and Web Services team.

TheHub Tuesday Maintenance Window Ending

Since its inception, TheHub has had a weekly maintenance window on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm. Effective April, 2015 this will be ending – students, faculty and staff can use TheHub every weekday evening (including Tuesdays) without interruption.  Please note that the maintenance window from 3am-6am each day will remain in effect. Also note that periodic maintenance windows may be announced on an as-needed basis.

History

As with any web application, in order to properly operate TheHub we have to periodically install software updates which cannot be accomplished while users are logged in. Additionally, database tuning and maintenance must be performed regularly – something that previously could not be accomplished with users actively using TheHub. However, improvements in software and database architecture over the last 10 years now allow us to side step some of these hurdles.

We hope you receive this message and are overjoyed at the possibility of using TheHub on Tuesday evenings.

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Student Toolkit for End of Term

It’s not too early to think about the end of the semester, it will be here sooner that you think! Get some strategies in place now and things may feel a little easier in December!

Juggling Workload

Last month Alana Kumbier (Library) and Asha Kinney (IT) ran a workshop for the First Year Students Program called “Getting It Done” which outlined a strategy for keeping your work organized and lists some good tools and techniques. Slides and notes from this workshop are here.

Tools for Staying Organized

Here is a playlist featuring some online tools that can help you keep your work, time, and research organized. Need help deciding which to use? Here’s a matrix of what we think each one is best for.

Presentations

Many of you will need to do presentations for class. This video has some tips on keeping your audience awake, what software to choose, avoiding technical disasters, and calming presentation day nerves.

Create a PDF Portfolio

Some classes will have you submit an end-of-semester portfolio of your work. This video shows a few different ways to combine multiple file types into one PDF document. This one is a little long, so check out the video description on YouTube to jump to different sections for Mac or PC, etc!

Stop Sneaky Software from Slipping In

When you install 3rd party software or updates there will sometimes be add-ons bundled in with it. Stay alert when installing to keep your computer from getting bogged down.

The problem
Oftentimes perfectly legitimate software installations and updates–Adobe Reader, Oracle Java, etc.–will include with them an option to install virus protection software or browser toolbars. The virus protection software conflicts with Hampshire’s virus protection, and should never be installed. The toolbar add-ons take up space in the browser and often change your default search engines; don’t install these, either.

Common Culprits
We regularly see McAfee Security Scan, Norton Security Scan, MacKeeper and the Ask Toolbar installed on computers on campus; we do not recommend any of these utilities. Each of these programs can slow down your computer or cause unexpected behaviors.

How to Keep from Installing “Extras”
There are a few simple steps to keep extra software from slipping in:

  • When you download an application like Adobe Reader from a website, look carefully at the options. If there’s a checkbox for additional software, deselect it before downloading.
  • When you install software or updates, read the screens carefully, looking for check boxes that indicate they’ll install extras. Deselect anything that’s not the specific program you intended to install, and anything that indicates it will change your searching or browsing settings.
  • Sometimes installers will have a “Custom” install option; if they do you should always select it so you can review the options that are being installed. Deselect anything that’s not the specific program you intended to install.

How to Remove Things Accidentally Installed

Removing Firefox Add-ons
If you find that you’ve accidentally installed a toolbar or other browser add-on, in Firefox it’s easy to get rid of it:

  1. From the Tools menu select “Add-ons.”
  2. Click on “Extensions”, and then disable any that are suspicious.
  3. Click on “Plugins”, and do the same.
  4. Close up the Add-ons tab or window, quit and restart Firefox and you should be all set.

If you’ve accidentally installed anti-virus or other non-browser additions you can remove those, too.

Removing PC Extras

  1. From the Start Menu (or Windows Button), select “Control Panel.”
  2. Select “Add or Remove Programs” or “Programs and Features” (if you don’t see one of those choices, first change the menu selection from “Category View” to “Small Icons”).
  3. Look for items that you didn’t add, like McAfee or Norton AntiVirus. Select the program you want to remove, and click on “Remove.”
  4. When you’re done, close up the windows and restart your system.

Removing Mac Extras

    1. In the Finder, from the Go menu select “Applications.”
    2. Look for applications that you didn’t add, like McAfee or Norton AntiVirus. Select the program you want to remove, and drag it to the trash.

Some programs are stored other places and start up automatically when you start your computer. If this seems to be the case:

  1. From the Apple Menu select “System Preferences.”
  2. Click on “Users & Groups.”
  3. If the padlock on the lower left is closed, click on it and then enter your password when prompted.
  4. Select “Login Items” from the tab at the top.
  5. In the list, look for items that you want to keep from starting up. If you see one you want to remove, click on it and then use the “-” button on the bottom left to remove it from the list.

Moodle Upgraded to 2.6

In order to keep up with security updates, feature additions, and improvements, we’ve upgraded Hampshire Moodle installations to version 2.6. The highlights of the changes include:

  • A new, Hampshire-branded, responsive theme/design.
  • A new format that allows for collapsing and expanding sections in a course/site.
  • A new text editor.
  • Editing icons switched to a menu.
  • A new feature for annotating PDFs.
  • A new login block that shows help text and login link when logged out and a log out link when logged in.

Moodle

Hampshire College uses Moodle for course websites, but we also have a separate installation called CWS (community websites) that is used for managing collaborative projects and committees. Up until now, CWS had been using a different version and theme for Moodle, but now it has the same version and design as Hampshire course websites.

Check out the Moodle Guide for Faculty for screenshots and more details about the new Moodle version. Questions, concerns, or feedback can be sent to moodle@hampshire.edu.

Hampshire’s Successful Migration to Drupal

drupliconHampshire’s website, www.hampshire.edu, was moved over to the Drupal platform last Tuesday, July 8. Prior to this move, content authors had been using RedDot content management system to edit content on the website. We made the decision to switch last year and we chose Drupal for a number of reasons.

Read more about the decision to move to Drupal »

In addition to working on other projects, Hampshire IT and communications staff have worked hard over the last year to learn Drupal, build a Drupal installation to fit our needs, and prepare the website content to be moved automatically into this new system. We worked with Drupal experts from Palantir.net to help guide us in this process, and we also received some great advice from our colleagues at Mt Holyoke who went through a similar migration process in the past.

What does success look like?

The website looks almost exactly the same! The plan was to implement our existing design in Drupal, and that’s what we did.

Did anything change?

The biggest change is that we were able to retrofit our existing design to be somewhat responsive. This means that the website should be easier to use on devices like mobile phones, which is a big deal because mobile web traffic just keeps increasing over time.

The other big change is for our content authors. Everyone updating content on the website needed to be trained on Drupal. We are still in the process of training content authors, but many staff who have already been trained have indicated that they like the new editing interface that Drupal has to offer.

What does the future look like?

Over the next couple months we will be working on changing the design of the website a bit to reflect more modern web standards. This will not be a big redesign by any means, but we will be implementing some changes like wider page content and being able to display more content on the homepage.

Drupal has an abundance of features, some of which allow for content to be displayed on multiple pages, and in different ways, in an efficient manner. We will also be working on setting up these mechanisms to make it easier for our content authors to display information on the website in more visually appealing ways.

There will likely be a large redesign of the website in the future, which will include a cohesive process of discussion and organization around Hampshire’s identity and communication strategy. Conversations are beginning to happen around what this process might entail, but a project has not yet been put into action on this front.

Have any questions, comments, or concerns?

Send them to drupal@hampshire.edu.

Tech Tip of the Week: The Demise of Windows XP

On Tuesday, April 8, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP, meaning no more updates to plug security holes. As time goes on computers running XP will become more and more insecure.

About Windows Operating Systems
Windows XP is a Microsoft operating system for PC’s that was released in 2001. In 2007 Microsoft released Windows Vista, which was intended to take over as the standard PC operating system. Vista was not generally well received, and many users continued to use XP; here at Hampshire we decided to skip deploying Vista and held out for its successor, Windows 7, released in 2009. The most current operating syste from Microsoft is Windows 8, but that is seeing a slow adoption rate because of its significant changes to the user interface.

Why XP is Still Out There after 13 Years
Windows 7 is generally well regarded, and was adopted by many PC users. Despite this enthusiasm, it did have some barriers to adoption: the system requirements–it runs best with at least 2 GB of RAM–and its cost–often more than $100. It’s also not a simple upgrade–you have to re-install any programs you have on the computer, which means it takes several hours to complete.

What’s Changing…
…or not changing, to be precise. Up until now, Microsoft has kept sending out updates to plug security holes in XP as they’ve been discovered; on April 8 of this year the last update was released. From now on Microsoft will release no security updates for Windows XP to the general public.

There is an exception to this–Microsoft is providing a paid update service to some critical use customers (did you know that 95% of ATM’s were running XP just before April 8?)–but for regular old users there will be no more updates.

How to Tell if your Computer is Running Windows XP
To check whether your PC has Windows XP, right-click on the Computer icon on your desktop or in the Start Menu, and choose “Properties.” A window will come up that will tell you what operating system you’re running.

What this Means for You
If you’re still running Windows XP on a computer, it will become less and less secure as time goes on. If it’s at all possible, it’s time to upgrade your computer to Windows 7 or Windows 8. If that’s impossible or impractical for you, take steps to make sure that you keep it as secure as possible:

  • Don’t use it for any transactions that you need to keep secure. It will become vulnerable to attacks that can steal passwords and other personal information.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date and always running. This isn’t going to solve every problem, but it will definitely help.
  • Don’t use Internet Explorer as your browser. Choose Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
  • When you don’t need to be connected to the internet, disconnect. That means turn off your wireless access (often there’s a switch on the side of a laptop as well as the option to turn off wireless through software), and unplug any Ethernet cable that’s connected. You can be sure there will be malware bots trolling the internet looking for XP computers to infect.

What IT is Doing About the Remaining XP Computers
We’ve been migrating users to Windows 7 over the past several years. There are still a few computers out there running XP that we’re actively scheduling for upgrades. We will be contacting everyone we’re aware of who has a Hampshire computer running Windows XP; if you don’t hear from us in the next week and are running XP, please let us know by emailing helpdesk@hampshire.edu.