Tech Handbook: Policies and Procedures

1.1 Request for Computer Labs

The College of Arts and Sciences owns and maintains (through eTech) nine computer labs, all of which can be reserved for teaching purposes. Faculty and instructors who have classes that will require extensive use of computers by the students can reserve computer labs for use during normal operating hours (go to https://etech.as.ua.edu/labs/ for lab hours). Reservations must be requested in advance, are granted based on the availability of the rooms, and depend on the needs of the faculty. When making a reservation request for a computer lab, the following points should be kept in mind:

  • Faculty who would like to block computer labs for particular courses should submit their requests at least two months prior to the semester in which they are requested.
  • Single-date or short-term requests for lab use should be made at least 2 business days in advance; however, more advanced notice is recommended since requests made closer to the desired date may not be able to be granted, due to lack of availability.
  • All classes must have received approval prior to the appointed time. Walk-in classes will be denied.
  • Faculty will not be able to book rooms that have already been reserved.
  • Although one may make a request for a specific room, actual room assignments will be made based on availability and in accordance with priorities set by the Dean’s Office.
  • A confirmation email will be sent to the requestor once the request has been granted and a lab assignment has been made.
  • Computer labs can only be reserved for courses/events where students are using the technology provided in the room as part of their curriculum.

Computer lab reservations may be requested by going to the eTech website at https://etech.as.ua.edu/labs/ and entering the required information. Please note that completing the form submits a request only. Faculty will receive confirmation from eTech when the rooms are actually reserved. Any software requested for teaching purposes must be requested at the time the reservation will be placed and will be accommodated whenever possible. In order to allow for sufficient installation time, a minimum of two weeks lead time should be given whenever software is requested (minimum three weeks in August and September). All software requested must either be licensed by UA or purchased by the department, if there is an associated fee.

1.2 Request for Equipment

Under certain circumstances (office computer under repair, etc.) faculty and staff may be required to borrow equipment, such as laptops and iPads, for a limited time. If such a request is approved, the following should be kept in mind:

  • Equipment is only available to A&S faculty and staff. Non-A&S faculty and staff and students must go to the UA library system or their departments to seek out loaner options.
  • Since equipment is extremely limited, approval of requests will be based on availability and limited to emergency situations, such as a temporary replacement while the individual’s primary computer is undergoing repairs. Equipment will not be provided for personal use or travel.
  • The duration of the standard loan time (two weeks) may be extended in some cases. However, requests for an extension must be made before the due date and are granted based on availability.
  • All borrowed equipment must be returned on or before the due date.
  • Faculty who do not turn in the equipment by the agreed-upon due date will be denied future requests for equipment for a minimum of one year.
  • When returning items, faculty and staff must return all pieces checked out to them. This includes carrying case, all cords, and accessories. Faculty and staff who do not return all accessories loaned to them will be denied future requests for loaner equipment for a minimum of one year.
  • Equipment that is damaged while checked out must be reported immediately. eTech will assess the damage and take appropriate action. Faculty and staff who damage equipment loaned to them will be denied future requests for loaner equipment for a minimum of three years since computer damage can be costly to fix and may result in total loss of the equipment.
  • Faculty and staff who do not comply with the terms will not be allowed to borrow resources in the future.
  • Faculty and staff can designate someone to pick up the equipment on their behalf. However, the request must be made under the name of the person loaning the equipment, and that person should be aware that he/she is still responsible for the equipment, even when it is in the possession of their designee.

In order to request equipment, faculty, instructors, and staff should contact eTech at eTech@ua.edu. Please note that emailing a request does not guarantee use of the equipment. If a request is approved, then someone from the eTech office will contact the individual to let him or her know when the requested equipment can be acquired.

1.3 Request for Rooms

This section deals with room reservations for events only (i.e. club meetings, workshops, guest speakers, etc.). Each department is responsible for scheduling space for semester courses and final exams using the University of Alabama ASTRA system. For more information on how the scheduling process works, go to https://etech.as.ua.edu/index/reserve-a-room/.

Faculty, instructors, or staff who want to reserve rooms that are not controlled by their department or for events that include non-UA organizations should make these requests through eTech. Outside departments or organizations that request rooms in your area should be directed to eTech. When requesting rooms, please keep the following in mind:

  • Room reservations are granted based on availability and are on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Equipment, chairs, and tables must be put b­ack exactly as they were arranged when the group arrived. Whiteboards should be wiped at the close of the meeting.
  • Equipment used during the meetings should be turned off at the end of the session and doors to the rooms should be checked to make sure they are locked — especially if the meeting takes place after hours.
  • Classrooms included in the reservation system are accessed via swipe and should automatically unlock or be accessible using action cards. (Classrooms that require keys are not included in the reservation system.) It is important to make reservations at least two (2) weeks in advance, for events that occur after normal business hours or during weekends, so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
  • If the designated group does not arrive at the room within 30 minutes of the stated reservation time, the room will be relocked and the eTech person will leave the location.
  • The individual or group reserving the room is responsible for the room while it is in their possession. Those responsible will be charged for the cost of repairing any damages that may occur during this time.
  • All student groups must have designated faculty advisors who are present and in the room during after-hour and weekend events.
  • Individuals and/or groups that do not follow the room reservation policy risk being denied future use of A&S-controlled rooms.

Faculty, instructors, and staff can go to https://etech.as.ua.edu/index/reserve-a-room/ to make a request. Please note that submitting a request does not guarantee a room reservation. If a request is approved, then someone from the eTech office will contact the individual to let him or her know.

1.4 Teaching in Rooms/Buildings with Swipe Cards

In order to provide better security, most buildings at The University of Alabama have electronic keyless entry systems for buildings and classrooms. This system allows the Security department to automatically unlock and lock all doors at set times during the day. They also provide access for faculty who need to gain entry to the buildings and rooms outside of normal operating hours by swiping their action cards across the activation plates. Individuals who come across electronic doors that are locked when they should be unlocked or vice versa should call Access at 205-348-9159 (205-348-9494 after normal work hours) to correct the situation. A CWID may be required to verify the identity of the caller. For more information on swipe access, see https://etech.as.ua.edu/index/getting-classroom-swipe-card-access/.

Swipe Card Buildings

The swipe card system is linked with ASTRA and will automatically grant access to faculty for the classrooms in which they are scheduled for classes by using their action cards or an app that can be installed on their iPhone. Doors should automatically unlock 15 minutes prior to class and stay unlocked until 15 minutes after class is finished. Rooms with back-to-back schedules will remain unlocked until the last class is finished. All faculty/instructors/TAs must be listed on the courses in ASTRA in order to have access outside class periods using their action card.

Other Buildings

For non-A&S controlled classrooms with swipe cards or buildings with keys, departments will need to contact the appropriate college/building rep to which the classroom belongs in order to request access. For swipe card access to rooms in buildings owned by the Provost, departments need to contact the Building Administrator for the Office of Research at 205-348-6818.

1.5 Wireless Account

The Office of Informational Technology (OIT) requires that all University students and employees register for the wireless system every academic year. When staff, faculty, and students try to access the Internet for the first time using a wireless device, they will be prompted for a login and password. This will be the same login as the person’s myBama identification and password. Please note that the username must include @ua.edu to connect (ex. jmonroe24@ua.edu). If the employees or students have any questions about this process, they can contact the OIT service desk at 205-348-5555. See https://oit.ua.edu/services/internet-networking/wifi/ for more information.

1.7 Guest Wireless Account

UA-Guest is the secure network for visitors at The University of Alabama. UA-Guest provides internet-only access to non-UA personnel. It does not provide access to on-campus resources or shared drives. For more information on how to get connected to UA-Guest, see https://oit.ua.edu/services/internet-networking/guest-wifi/.

Guests who are from institutions that are part of Eduroam can use the UA Eduroam network. They will need to connect using their school credentials and passwords.

1.7 A&S-Owned Computers

The College of Arts and Sciences provides each faculty and staff member with an A&S-owned office computer (with regular replacement) to be used for the duration of his/her employment. The College of Arts & Sciences has a technology inventory system that provides a comprehensive view of all A&S-owned computers. In order to keep this system accurate, it is necessary that eTech have up-to-date information on the location and condition of the equipment. If faculty or staff members move from one office to another, they or their department must notify the eTech main office. The eTech staff will then make the appropriate changes in the A&S inventory system. Departments that need equipment, furniture, or other items moved should contact UA Logistics for assistance. All items, excluding furniture, should be placed in boxes before the movers arrive. Faculty and staff are not allowed to swap computers. Faculty and staff who receive new equipment will need to relinquish their old equipment to eTech. Equipment from exiting faculty will also be recovered by eTech to be repurposed where there is the greatest need.

If laptops are damaged, the faculty and staff to whom these computers are assigned are responsible for the repairs and associated costs. Faculty and staff can check with the eTech main office to see if their computer is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

Please see https://etech.as.ua.edu/about-etech/college-and-university-policies/arts-and-sciences-custom-computer-request-policy/ for details on the A&S Custom Computer policy.

1.8 Computer and iPad Replacements

A primary function of the A&S technology inventory system is to provide an automated system for notifying individual faculty and staff when they are eligible for a new computer or iPad. This automated system relieves faculty, staff, and departments of the burden of tracking the age of their technology and ensures that no equipment posing a risk to the UA network is in use.

When faculty and staff are identified by the system as eligible for new computers or iPads, they receive an email that provides them with a link and an activation code. This information allows them to log into the automated system and request what type of equipment they prefer, if applicable. Faculty who require computer equipment outside the standard models offered by the College are given the option to request custom computer configurations. In these cases, the College provides a set amount of money toward the equipment, and the faculty or their departments are responsible for providing the balance through research, start-up, or department funds. Department approval must be provided for custom computer requests. When the new computer is installed, the faculty/staff member must relinquish the old computer to eTech so it can be repurposed where there is the greatest need in A&S. The policy for custom computers can be found at https://etech.as.ua.edu/about-etech/college-and-university-policies/. Individuals who want their A&S iPads to include features beyond the standard A&S issue will have the option to order add-ons using department, research, or startup funds. The college will only replace one designated office computer for each faculty and staff member. Additional equipment provided as part of a startup package or bonus is one-time only and not included in the replacement process.

All instructors and GTAs are supplied with reallocated computers that are updated as needed, based on availability. Due to limited quantities, replacements for computers will be determined by eTech using the A&S technology inventory system. Priority will be given to instructors and department labs and to the overall needs of the College. Departments that experience an increase in instructors and GTAs or desire additional computers for their department should contact the Director of eTech and their Associate Dean to determine if cost-sharing with the College on new computers is an option.

1.9 A&S-Owned iPads

In order to promote academic continuity and communication in the event of an emergency and to enhance both the teaching and research experience in the College, the Dean has issued iPads to all faculty, staff, and instructors who do not have A&S-issued laptops. As with office computers, these iPads are A&S-owned and should be treated as such. When issued an iPad, employees should keep the following in mind:

  • In order to get an A&S-owned iPad, all eligible faculty, staff, and instructors must attend an iPad session. During this session, eTech staff will assist the individuals in setting up their iPad (email, wireless, registration) and will offer some general information on how to use the iPads.
  • For security reasons, all faculty, instructors, and staff must have and keep the Find My iPad feature activated. Faculty and staff who do not do this and have an iPad stolen may not be issued a new one.
  • A&S employees who experience problems with their iPads can contact eTech to get help from an experienced technician.
  • iPads are purchased with Wi-Fi capability. Employees who wish to have an iPad with cellular will need to work with eTech and their department to purchase an upgrade. The user will be responsible for setting up an account with the appropriate provider and paying the monthly fee.
  • When faculty, instructors, and staff leave the College, they must return the iPad to eTech or arrange retrieval with eTech staff.
  • When faculty/staff iPads are upgraded, the faculty/staff member must turn in all parts of the iPad, including the power cord, brick, and cover.
  • iPads that are lost or stolen must be reported immediately to UAPD, or to the local police department if the theft occurs out of town, and to eTech. These departments will work with the individual to attempt to recover the device or remotely wipe critical information from devices that cannot be recovered.
  • If an iPad is damaged, faculty/staff should notify eTech to get instructions on how to get the equipment fixed and to determine whether the College will cover the cost of repair.
  • The College uses a mobile device management system to be used with all A&S iPads. This system allows the College to issue A&S-purchased eBooks and apps to faculty and staff, free of charge when deemed appropriate.
  • A&S does not distribute iPads to individuals with A&S-issued desktops, since faculty/staff with laptops have a means of mobile communication already in place to meet academic continuity requirements.
  • Faculty who would like to use iPads in teaching should contact the Director of eTech, who can help them determine whether they qualify for a long-term issued iPad. Those with short-term needs can request the use of an iPad through the eTech loaner program.

1.10 Department Technology

Some departments may choose to purchase technology with departmental funds (regardless of funding source) in order to enhance their faculty and students’ teaching and/or research experience. In order to ensure that all technology purchased meets UA minimum standards and that the departments are getting the best prices available to UA, the department should submit notification to eTech at https://universityofalabama.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6AkT22yojqfXBLD. This is not a request to purchase equipment. Rather it is a way for departments and faculty to notify eTech of their intent to purchase equipment and to request assistance with obtaining quotes, when needed. The departments will need to tell eTech whether this technology was purchased with department, research, or startup funds, so eTech can make the appropriate designation in the technology database.

1.11 Information Storage

With the increasing interest from faculty in reporting student and course information electronically, it is important that this information be stored and transferred using secure methods. The College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Educational Technology has worked with the Office of Information Technology to establish some guidelines that departments can use to make sure that their information is as safe as possible and that no one inadvertently violates any Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations.

All faculty and staff members should keep the following points in mind when storing and transferring student information. Please be aware that failure to abide by these guidelines could result in legal liability for the individual and/or the department.

Do

Store all student information and sensitive information (personnel information, research, if applicable, etc.) on the University network drives. This includes the share drive, faculty home drives, and UA Box, all of which are contained within the University firewall.

Use the University of Alabama Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever attempting to access share drives from off-campus. Additional information on when to use the VPN can be found under the FAQs section at the end of this memo and at https://oit.ua.edu/services/internet-networking/vpn/. For those who have difficulties accessing the VPN, contact the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at itsd@ua.edu.

Send all correspondence with students and about students through UA email accounts only. Please keep in mind that while non-UA email servers may advertise that they are secure, these providers glean information from your emails for research purposes. Therefore, outside email sources should never be used for sending any student information such as CWIDs or grades. For those who want to keep email in a single location, this can be done through clients such as Outlook and Apple Mail. For more information on these systems, contact eTech at eTech@ua.edu or OIT at itsd@ua.edu.

Practice due diligence when maintaining grade books. Faculty are allowed to keep grade books (hard copies and electronic) in locations off the network drives, with the assumption that appropriate precautions are taken to make sure that the information is not easily accessible or viewable by other people. When faculty are using external sources (laptops, home computers, physical grade books, iPads, etc.) to record student grades, they should take care to disclose as little information as possible on these records. Student names are acceptable, while last name only (or last name with first initial) would create a higher level of security. Faculty should never record student names with CWIDs in their grade books.

Do Not

Save any CWIDs to unprotected devices, such as a non-compliant server, flash drive, unencrypted laptop, disk, external hard drive, or an unsecured online system such as Dropbox, Evernote, or GoogleDocs. If you are unsure whether the device or system is secure, contact eTech at etech@ua.edu or just don’t use it.

Never store social security numbers for students, staff, or faculty on any personal devices, external storage devices, or office computers. There is no reason that departments should ever need or use social security numbers for work or any other purpose. If departments are using forms that ask for social security numbers, they should remove this category immediately. If the form is from an outside source, the department should instruct the individuals filling out the forms to write “declined” in that section. (If the form is from an outside source within UA, please contact eTech so we can alert OIT security to investigate the matter.) When departments receive documents that contain social security numbers, they should obliterate the numbers with black markers on hard copies and delete the numbers on electronic copies.

Collect or store sensitive student information on unsecured electronic devices (this does not include grade books). Sensitive information includes student names when they are combined with CWIDs, birthdates, mothers’ maiden names, social security numbers, grades, medical records/data, or entrance exam scores. If any faculty or staff members are collecting this type of information, it should be stored on the share drive or a University-encrypted laptop. Anyone who is storing this information on unsecured external electronic devices should transfer it to the share drive and immediately delete it from the external source. Any hard copy materials with sensitive student information should be shredded.

No A&S department should be using unapproved off-network servers to store student information, department emails, share drive folders, etc. Any existing share drives in departments must be cleared through the College of Arts and Sciences and undergo review from OIT security to determine whether they can be used. See the following page for more information on servers.