Thursday, October 19, 2017

Phishing Attacks in Education- What Can You do?

In 2016, Phishing attacks became mainstream, and in 2017 hackers began to innovate their practice of targeting of unsuspecting victims. While the media has covered large data breaches by corporations, hackers are increasingly probing and targeting educational institutions to steal data and create enormous spamming issues.

One of the most important methods to help thwart these attacks is to have a solid program to help  end users be aware of the risks of potential phishing and how to protect themselves. Developing a strategic communications can help faculty, staff, and students be prepared against cyber attacks.

This film was created to help end users understand what phishing attacks are, the risks, and how to create cyber awareness.

First, be sure to create and distribute clear and concise communications. Have a person or team craft messages which are easy to understand and not written in IT-jargon. Make your messages understandable to a wide audience.

Second, use analytical research tools to determine if and when your e-mail messages are being opened by your end users. E-mail marketing software such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are excellent services to track the effectiveness of your communications, and provides insights into the best time to target your audience, and the actual location placement of your content in your web e-mail message.

Third, don't rely only on electronic messages to your end users. Consider written messages, posters, door hangers, and other print materials to disseminate your narrative.

Fourth, develop a cyber security culture by going out to your customers to explain the importance of cyber security.  Plan meetings and workshops which provide a platform to faculty and student senates, committees, and residence halls. IT professionals should go out to their customer base to help them become aware of cyber threats and how to protect themselves.

Fifth, create your communication plan and target and time when you want to connect with your audience. Search out and consider research which specifies the optimum times to send digital messages through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Some research suggests the best time to posts on Facebook is 1–4 p.m. on Wednesday. For Twitter Wednesday 12-3pm, and Instagram, Monday and Tuesday at 9:00am are ideal times. There are exceptions to these times based upon time zone, culture, and additional factors.

To recap, the top 5 things to remember in creating a strategic communication plan for cyber security awareness are:

1) Good communications
2) Use analytical tools
3) Use digital and analog communications
4) Create a Cyber Security Culture
5) Target and time your messages

Monday, May 01, 2017

UNLEASH 2017 Begins in Madison, WI

On May 1, 2017, UNLEASH 2017 opened with special pre-conference workshops and the Enterprise Video Awards. It is impressive with the number of universities and international attendees who participate in this event. The conference is easy to navigate and networking opportunities abound. Stay tuned for more on location reports. #Unleash17 #mediasite.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

3 Elements for Transforming IT Culture

Recently I was interviewed by EDUCAUSE about the top 10 strategies to Transform IT Culture.  As we talked, the interviewer asked if I could narrow it down to 5, and when it came to produce a short video, I had to reduce it to just 3.  While all of the 10 core strategies, there are 3 elements, which can make a very large impact on your IT department, and in a sense "super charge" your culture.

First, there is Communication. 

In any IT culture, communication is the most often talked about challenge, but rarely solved. As a manager, you need to think about communications internal to the department, external to the department (on campus), and then the communication outside the traditional borders of the campus. Communicating our successes off campus to external audiences can may big dividends down the road.
"Communication needs to be clear, concise, and frequent."

Second, there is  Empowerment.

If our employees don't feel empowered, where does that motivation we want them to have come from? What gives them the most satisfaction in their job? It's feeling empowered in their job, to feel they can make a difference, that we can make a change.

The Third important strategy is to Develop Relationships. 

This is easy to say, but difficult to accomplish. Developing relationships can start with your colleague down the hallway. Rather than avoid people by e-mailing them- talk to them face-to-face. The next step is to connect with colleagues throughout your building and across campus. In the past I have heard the IT mantra, "What's good for IT is good for the campus."  This can create perceptions that IT wants to be in control of everything technology related. Instead we need to position ourselves to be a partner with our customers. Breaking down those barriers can help develop relationships which can go a long way in creating a culture of cooperation and collaboration.

Communication, empowerment, and relationship- a winning formula to help create a successful IT culture. Try this formula, and consider all 10 strategies listed in the previous post. To see the YouTube for this story, go to:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Creating an IT Culture: What You Want "IT" to Be

10 Key Strategies to Transform Your IT Culture

In many IT departments it is readily apparent there is employee disengagement, dissatisfaction, and a lack of empowerment. It many situations, as an outside observer, you can simply feel these negative vibes as soon as you walk into through the door. The question for technology managers and administrators, "How can you effectively change an IT culture to transform it into a vibrant, engaging, and effective department?"  There are 10 key strategies that work in tandem to create this much sought after goal. These concepts to transform IT Culture were initially presented at the 2013 EDUCAUSE Regional Conference in Chicago, and refined and expanded at the 2014 EDUCAUSE International Conference held in Orlando. The room was filled to capacity with CIOs, technologists, and faculty from around the world, all with one important. Let me explain a few of these strategies.

The 10 key transformative strategies to change your IT culture include the following:

When you embark upon a change in culture, it is first important to ensure that you precisely define your STRATEGIC VISION to the staff. This statement should be clear and simple so that all of the employees can explain it to others. For example, one potential version may read: 
 "Build a more focused IT organization with the ability to proactively adapt to new technology, new roles and implement seamless and customer centered process."
Trust is another important element in building an effective team. Without trusting in your leadership, and your co-workers, it makes for an environment which cannot function effectively and efficiently. To continually build trust, the workplace must instill a sense of accurate and consistent communications.Trust is a long term process to earn, but much more difficult to get it back once it's lost. As defined, trust is the "belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, and effective."

Another key component for a successful IT is how we EMPOWER our employees. As a manager, it is question that we too often fail to ask our employees.  Perhaps we just don't think about asking "the question" or on a more subconscious level, maybe we don't want to take the risk of hearing the answer.  Finding ways to empower employees takes time and effort. One of the best ways to accomplish empowerment is to put employees into lead project positions and let them succeed, or fail.  Failure is one of the 10 core strategies to change IT culture. The Honda Motor Company created a series of documentaries around the theme of The Power of Dreams.  One of these films, "Failure-the Secret to Succcess," deals with our ability to deal with Failure and to first admit it, then learn from it.

With the realization of failure also comes with the potential for success. It was Thomas Edison who once said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  To encourage success it is important to innovate.  For example, providing a wide, diverse, and innovative technology training programs not only energizes the faculty to learn, but it also supercharges the staff presenters to learn, stretch themselves, and motivates them to lead.  Innovative events such as HOT-Hands on Technology, Passport to Technology, and Tech 4 U serve to create interest and excitement and help to sustain the technology training program. You can learn more about these interesting technology training sessions by going to the UW-La Crossse ITS web site.

One event that accentuated the concept of Innovation, and which promoted collaboration and teamwork within the IT culture was the Technology Tomorrow, Today- a technology showcase. This event brought technology companies from around the U.S. and Canada, car manufactures, technologists, CIOs,faculty, staff, and students throughout Wisconsin. Local TV stations covered the event.

In addition our internal video unit captured the event. This was an excellent example of IT staff leading, taking ownership, and collaborating towards a common goal. The video captures the energy of IT staff on display, bringing technology to nearly 300 registrants. When you watch the video you will get a sense of excitement from the participants, corporate partners, and students.

One lingering strategy that is rarely discussed in transforming IT culture is the concept of EMPATHY. The notion of empathy extends from teh manager to the employee, but also from the IT staff to the client. As the definition tells us, empathy is "our ability to understand the feelings of another."Understanding the backgrounds, work and personal lives helps the employer make strategic yet empathetic choices when working with employees.  Understanding these same things when working with clients and stakeholders helps to provide a point of reference when searching out technology or process solutions.

For more information on all 10 of the core strategies to Change IT Culture, send me an e-mail or Tweet.  You may also find the 2014 EDUCAUSE session here. Follow each of these strategies and you too will be well on your way to change your own IT Culture- for the positive.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Wonder of Time Lapse Videos Reveals Insights and History

Time lapse videography allows us to see details in the passage of time that go unnoticed to our eyes.  These fleeting moments are almost imperceptible as we go about our daily lives, until we compress this time so that we can see motion, action, and trends in a sequence of individual frames of information. This collection of images can include thousands of frames of information, and when brought together and edited to music and entirely new world of information is presented to our eyes and ears.

I was always captivated with time lapse photography of clouds and plants, but wanted to transfer this concept to the construction of buildings.  These events can occur over many months and years. Using time lapse photography reveals the stages of demolition, site development, construction, and site completion. Tiny details emerge as the interplay of light, weather, and construction are captured. In addition, you are able to document a piece of construction history that would otherwise be lost, or otherwise potentially captured only in a few still images.

Centennial Hall Construction-

At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, I took the concept of capturing images through traditional video cameras, and later web cameras and recording individual video frames to a server. Later, thousands of still images would be collected and compiled with digital editing software to create short video segments. This may include 3 frames a day. For some segments, individual frames were purposely deleted to avoid stroboscopic issues with bright and dark images, depending upon the weather, season, and lighting for specific days. Later, music would be chosen to accentuate the emotional feel of the edited piece.

Showing these videos to various audiences, always seems to illicit a sense of wonder and amazement. It is a way to capture those fleeting moments we miss in our lives, and also persevere a sense of history in the process.

Stadium Site Preparation-

Reuter Hall Construction-

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Digital Transfer Project- Preserving a University's Analog Past

There they are. Rows of and rows of analog videotape, sitting on shelves stretching yards and yards down the wall. Perhaps the last time a videotape from these shelves was played was 10, 20, or  30 years ago. Each day the videotape sits there, the magnetic particles may start flaking off the polyester base. This breakdown process occurs when the binder that holds the magnetic particles on the polyester base decays on the videotape. These particles may eventually just flake of the tape itself. And remember, polyester can stretch and shrink.

If the videotape had been played over the years, it may have been subjected to a misaligned tape path around the spinning playback heads, or the cassette may have been ejected prematurely, causing tape additional damage. Also you may have difficulty finding an operational playback machine, or one that is in good working condition.

"Each day the videotape sits there, the magnetic particles may start flaking off the polyester base." 

What can universities, campuses, and companies do?
In an interesting sequence of events, the topic of transferring analog videotape to a digital format took on great significance in a very short period of time.  At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the original impetus to begin transferring videotapes occurred with the gradual removal of VHS players. This occurred when existing or new classrooms were converted to totally digital equipment, and the VHS player would be removed.  This happened on a much larger scale with the construction of Centennial Hall, the first major building to be digitally controlled. In the summer 2014, an e-mail from the IT department was sent to the campus explaining the importance of transferring old analog videotapes, and to be aware of the copyright law. This notice was also included in the campus newsletter, and was quickly picked up by the La Crosse Tribune. The story, "Tale of Tape" explains the magnitude of a duplication project and what it takes to get it moving.

Before long, the story became very popular with the media. CBS affiliate WKBT-TV picked up the story, and did a live 3 minute feature on the idea of transferring videotapes to digital formats.  The story, by  reporter Brittany Schmidt, does a good job of explaining the dilemma of duplication, and the actual process of transferring the videotape to a digital format. In transferring the footage, we typically consider DVD or Blu-Ray, but also a digital media file saved to a portable drive or on-line.  In addition we utilize Mediasite streamming technology and YouTube. On-line video storage web sites allow you to collect analytical utilization data about who is watching, when, and from where, something you cannot easily do with hard media. The duplicated media is then entered into a database, with appropriate metadata, for easy searching.

"On-line video storage web sites allow you to collect analytical utilization data about who is watching, when, and from where, something you cannot easily do with hard media."

After the WKBT story,  FOX and NBC affiliates, WLAX and WEAU carried another version of the story, focusing additionally on how these new digital formats work well in digital classrooms. Duplication is only one part of the project. The other critical issue is to be aware of current copyright law.  To ensure the university was following the correct protocols, a draft of  providing "copyright guidance" for the campus was shared with University of Wisconsin- System Counsel in Madison. After a thorough review, this was distributed to the entire campus to help faculty and staff navigate the sometimes confusing regulations covering copyright of multi-media materials. Support is provided faculty to help to obtain rights, purchasing digital copies, and duplicating copyright-cleared video material. In addition IT provides assistance in editing the material, uploading it to various on-line storage options, and how to promote their materials through social media.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Former CIA Consultant Provides Global Insights- Opportunities to Engage Learning

The tools of technology, communications, and our modern methods of data collection and analytical analysis today can provide us with a very insightful picture of our current and future worlds.  The way we live, consume our news and information, and how we interact with the world provides us clues into where we might be headed as a country.

Recently I was provided the opportunity to interview, Herbert E. Meyer, who served during the Reagan administration as special assistant to the director of Central Intelligence, and vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. He is credited as being the first senior official to accurately predict the fall of the Soviet Union, a forecast for which he later was awarded the U.S. National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Intelligence Community’s highest honor.

Meyer spoke at an event sponsored by the Wisconsin Chapter of TEC21, which is made up of executive members representing area companies employing 10,000 workers and generate revenues in excess of $1 billion. The global organization TEC, is a professional
Nearly 200 business executives and 
professionals attended Herb Meyer's talk.
development group of CEO’s, presidents, and business owners that meet in a confidential environment to “help each other succeed.”  Meyer, who speaks to business executives on global intelligence, provided a personal interview of key issues he feels the world needs to pay attention to. These key observations are not only helpful in our daily lives, but are also important concepts to discuss in our college curriculum. Meyer’s assertions and observations provide a good framework for faculty and students to “dive deeper” into worldwide trends barely noticed in the short term. Meyer provides a framework and opportunity to make learning both relevant and engaging for both faculty and students.

Birth Rates.

Of the many topics Meyer focuses on, perhaps the most provocative is his analysis of world birth rates. He says to sustain a country’s population; a birth rate of 2.1% is required. This means two children, one each to take care of mom and dad, and the .1 child to keep the county’s population stable. Easy to understand, but becoming more difficult to achieve in developed countries.

In nearly 20 European countries, the birth rate is actually less than 1.3%. Meyer stresses, “This is suicidal and in 30 years, there will be 70 million to 80 million fewer Europeans alive than there are today,” says Meyer. Meyer points out his figures are quite real and be can be looked up on the World Health Organization web site.

Meyer points out that Japan also has a 1.3% birthrate. “As a result, Japan will lose up to 60 million people over the next 30 years. Because Japan has a very different society than Europe, they refuse to import workers. Japan has already closed 2,000 schools, and is closing them down at the rate of 300 per year. Japan is also aging very rapidly. By 2020, 1 out of 5 Japanese will be at least 70 years old. Nobody has any idea about how to run an economy with those demographics.” Meyer said that for the first time in Japan’s history, more diapers are being produced for the elderly than for babies. Understanding birthrates, according to Meyer is critical to forecasting the effect on business, and on future generations.

The News.

Meyer stresses that, “News tells you what’s going wrong, but it doesn’t tell you what’s going right. If an airplane lands on time it is not a news bulletin.” Meyer points out, that the story we are not hearing is that the “world is emerging from poverty at a rate never before seen in world history.”


With our interest in news, comes our focus on pessimism in the world. Meyer says, “If you are being told everything is going wrong it’s hard not to be pessimistic. There are things that are going right.” Meyer cautions that if you are hearing so much pessimism, “You are getting a completely skewed view of the world.”


Most importantly, Meyer says that our “Journalism has to change. Journalism is the radar. If the radar
gives you bad information, then pilots make bad decisions. The radar is not tuned properly.” Meyer continued by noting that the while the mystery of flight 370 is a big story, the larger story we are missing is the democratic vote in Afghanistan. Meyer said, “Afghanistan had the most extraordinary vote better than anyone could have ever thought. That’s a gigantic story and our troops made that possible. No one is making that linkage, not even the President. He should have been on national TV....saying ladies and gentleman did you see that election in Afghanistan? That would not have happened without the armed forces of the United States, and people would feel better about it.”
Meyer stresses, “If you are the radar screen you have to tell them when there is a mountain in front of you, but if there are clear skies you have to tell them that too. The radar is only built to look at trouble. And that’s the glitch. You don’t get a balanced picture.”


Meyer tells us “the world is becoming modern. If you don’t have a framework then all you see is little events here and there that don’t make any sense. During the cold war decades we saw the world through a prism- this titanic struggle between the Soviet Union and the free world. When the cold war ended, nobody knew what the world was going to look like. George H. W. Bush tried to explain what the new world order was, but could not explain what it meant. It wasn’t clear.” Meyer says that, “Now it’s clear- the world is becoming modern, and it’s the best use of American power and ingenuity to make it go.” Meyer added, “As the world becomes modern, this is less of a reason to go to war.”

Message to the Young.

To conclude the interview, I asked Meyer how he would address today’s youth with so many daunting
challenges ahead of them. Without hesitation, and a smile on his face Meyer said, “The job of your generation is to take the world out of poverty without trashing the planet. I can‘t imagine a more interesting and complicate chore for a generation- lucky you!” He said he had very high hopes for the youth of the world.

For Meyer, he said he enjoys telling his story. He added, “It seems to resonate with people. People come up to me, and say, “I haven’t heard that before.” I am painting the picture they aren't getting.” Meyer concluded the interview by emphasizing the goal is to get his predictions of global intelligence on the public’s radar. He concluded saying, “You don’t have the radar with the green lines sweeping around. And that’s the missing piece. That’s what I am trying to fill in.”  Understanding technology, communications, and analytical data collection and analysis are important concepts to help educators make learning both relevant and engaging. Understanding and discussing what Meyer has uncovered can help motivate faculty and students to dig deeper into topics and issues that will have a dramatic and profound impact on our daily lives, today and in the distance future.