Student in green shirt using a laptop on campus

IT Assistance Imperative to Students during #UFMoveIn

itufsa user

By Brooke Perry

August 3, 2015 – 

Welcome to #UFMoveIn Week at the University of Florida.

To monitor these issues and help get students connected quickly and effectively, the Student Affairs IT Assistance team steps in to provide support.

IT Assistance To The Rescue

The Student Affairs IT Assistance Residential Support service provides residents with computer and Internet help and support. Their mission is to assist residents in connecting their devices in order to avoid any connection issues while living on-campus.

Most of this work happens before on-campus residents even set foot on the UF campus. To make this process as seamless as possible, all areas of Housing and Residence Education begin working with the Student Affairs IT staff months before #UFMoveIn.

In order for move in to be successful, multiple efforts are combined and executed with the resident in mind. These plans begin months before the first day of #UFMoveIn week and follow a strategic timeline for best results. Emails are sent the week before move-in to both students and parents.  Informational handouts are given to residents upon moving-in on how to connect. Social media posts are planned and executed, and residence life staff are trained and made aware of connection and software requirements for their residents.

On-Campus Resident Communication Plan

One of the first steps in this nearly five-month-long process is to create informational emails for residents and parents. These emails are sent out to on-campus residents and their parents separately prior to arriving to campus giving them enough time to read and follow the important directions.  One of the items that is highlighted in these emails is the Resident @Home Checklist.  This checklist contains tips and links to free software that on-campus residents are encouraged to follow at home prior to arriving to UF.

The next step in the communication plan is to provide on-campus residents with information sheets when they check-in to their residence hall.  This is facilitated by the residence life staff at the Department of Housing and Residence Education.  Residents are handed a green Internet Connection Info Sheet at check-in. When the residents open the door to their room, they are greeted with a white sheet that is placed on the pillow of their bed. This contains additional connection information along with any other important Internet-related announcements.

During the Summer B 2015 semester, IT Assistance piloted a contest called DASH (DHNet Awesome Scavenger Hunt). This contest encouraged on-campus residents to follow Student Affairs IT social media channels as well as read the important connection instructions. The final location on the hunt led the students to the primary IT Assistance Residential Support Help Desk located in Beaty East where they received a treat. For the Fall 2015 semester, Student Affairs IT partnered with four residence halls in Housing and Residence Education to expand the scavenger hunt and expose students to the two new residence halls: Cypress Hall and Infinity Hall.


— Joshua Vaughn (@2156571Joshua) July 1, 2015

The final step in the communication plan was to have a strategic and directed social media presence. Student Affairs IT uses multiple outlets for connecting with students, staff, and faculty.  The team recently joined SnapChat to better reach the student population.  SnapChat is now one of the fastest growing social media applications and the team has seen an increase in engagement.  Through the use of SnapChat along with Twitter and Instagram, the team is able to effectively communicate with students, staff, and faculty.

The IT Assistance Help Desks

The IT Assistance Help Desks are strategically placed across UF’s campus to provide convenient service to on-campus residents. Ricardo Vieitez, an IT Web Developer on the Student Affairs IT Communications team, saw a need to modernize the business processes for those Help Desks.  He connected various data sources and created a dashboard, called the IT Assistance Techs Web App, for all IT Assistance staff to use when working with their on-campus customers.

This web application allows the manager of the program to creatively position the help desks in locations that will serve the most residents. Additionally, it allows help desk staff to predict why a resident is coming to the help desk by aggregating all support tickets and SafeConnect information into one screen.

Helping Residents Understand The Importance of SafeConnect Posture Assessment

One of the popular reasons that on-campus residents visit an IT Assistance Help Desk is for help with the SafeConnect Posture Assessment Program.  SafeConnect’s primary purpose to protect students from having their personal computers compromised with viruses, malware, adware, and other malicious software programs.  The Student Affairs IT Security team has identified three major areas that normally contribute to a resident’s computer becoming compromised: lack of anti-virus software, outdated Java software, and outdated Adobe Flash software.

SafeConnect actively checks to make sure an on-campus resident’s computer has anti-virus installed and running along with the virus definitions being fully updated.  If Oracle Java or Adobe Flash is installed, the resident must ensure that it is fully updated and all older versions are removed. “In many cases, students do not need Flash or Java installed for their computer to work,” says Nick Werder, the Student Affairs IT Security Administrator. “We suggest that if you are unsure, just uninstall the software completely to avoid any future connection issues while at UF.”

Nick and his team also understand that getting connected to UF’s online resources during the first few weeks of the semester is critical. His team tunes the SafeConnect system so that it only warns students from the first day of #UFMoveIn through the end of Drop/Add period. “We want the process to be as seamless and easy as possible for our residents. Giving residents warnings during the #UFMoveIn and Drop/Add periods allows students to acclimate to campus before we block,” says Werder. “They get ample warnings so when their connection is blocked, it should not be a surprise.”

Formula for a Successful #UFMoveIn Experience

So, the formula for a successful move in? Each area of Student Affairs IT and Housing and Residence Education working together to ensure fewer connection issues and an increase of awareness to what the team does for its residents. Each of these teams must continue to evolve and change to accommodate the ever-changing Internet.