Mar 17, 2015

Student Affairs IT Launches New Responsive Site

Designer Manager

The Division of Student Affairs Department of Information Technology has just launched a new site. The site is based upon WordPress and uses a very popular theme called Avada by Themefusion, which is billed as the #1 selling WordPress theme in the world. We selected Avada primarily because it is very responsive. But also because the built-in theme feature set is so robust, that you can do almost any type of design without a large amount of custom CSS work. This makes it a good theme for our departmental customers who want to have a sharp looking site without having to wait for IT to mock it up. The site is also integrated into our departmental Twitter feed so stories go out via social media.

Nov 1, 2013

Tragedy of the Commons


A recent EDUCAUSE Center for Research and Analysis (ECAR) report cites a tragedy of the commons playing out in the ether of university wireless networks. It seems that the number of “Internet capable devices” is increasing at a steep rate among campus humanoids, most sharply among students. In fact, the prediction is that there will be four devices per student on Doctoral/Research campuses by 2014. At Texas A&M University, that translates into more than 200,000 devices, and that doesn’t even account for faculty, staff, administrators and visitors. What’s frightening is that the curve doesn’t appear to be slowing. While we have yet to see saturation of the campus network, the theory of the tragedy of the commons would posit that this condition will eventually lead to a depletion of the common resource (e.g., bandwidth, network nodes, addresses, etc.).

How will individual digital behavior and habits impact the collective commons of shared networking space? Will the current adequacy of the resource eventually move to scarcity, and how can we avoid it? Perhaps setting some bring-your-own-device (BYOD) guidelines are in order. The report goes on to talk about the federal government’s BYOD Toolkit with a set of pre-canned policies that could serve as a starting point for our own discussion. ECAR reports that 47% of institutions are developing comprehensive mobile device strategies and consider it a high or essential priority. The most common policies are acceptable use (89%), employee privacy (79%) and security requirements for data (75%). The least common policies are limitations of liability (32%), permitted/allowed apps (40%) and ownership of provisioned apps and services (43%).

Back to the BYOD proliferation issue. If the trend of (roughly) doubling devices every three years continues, we may not be able to keep up in the future. Now is the time to start a discussion on mobile proliferation.