7 Spring Updates from ITS

March 24, 2017 / By: Information Technology Services

Welcome back to campus! These seven technology updates below will bring you up to speed on what's new this spring and how to stay informed.   


The strategic plan and roadmap for ITS, the “Digital Transformation of St. Thomas,” is built on five foundational pillars that will establish St. Thomas as a digitally-enabled, 21st-century higher education institution. By transforming customer experiences, building effective partnerships, utilizing smart technologies, and reinvigorating our infrastructure, we will have the tools we need to develop sustainable, data-driven, digital strategies with our campus partners. Learn more about the vision and supporting initiatives on the ITS website 

2. Canvas Trial

Canvas logoBlackboard announced last year that they will be discontinuing our current version and releasing a newer model in the future. Our IT team is using this time of change to gather faculty input and evaluate if Blackboard is still the best solution for our university community and is exploring alternatives. Last spring, vendor demonstrations occurred on campus with Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle. Students and faculty who attended the demonstrations indicated that they would like to try Canvas for its intuitive design and widespread use across higher education. Currently, 25 faculty members and 500 students are testing this new system in their courses and are providing feedback on their experiences. For more information, visit the STELAR website 

3. Opportunities for Faculty

Over 30 faculty signed up this spring to participate in the new STELAR faculty grant program that will launch new online and blended course development projects across nearly all colleges and schools.  In addition, 20 faculty enrolled in the first course of STELAR’s Online Teaching Certificate that is already fostering high engagement and cross-departmental connections. Attend workshops led by the STELAR Faculty Fellows for more training available to the university. Watch for digital signage across campus for more information.

4. New Summer Course Offerings

The STELAR team collaborated with the Registrar to identify the top 20 courses that students transfer in each summer. Feedback from students revealed a significant need for more online summer offerings that allow students to advance towards their degrees in a way that is flexible to summer work schedules as well as accommodating to students whose home residence is outside of the Twin Cities. Ten of these courses will be announced in the coming weeks to students preparing for summer course registration.  


The Newsroom announced last fall that a new intranet called OneStThomas is on the horizon. OneStThomas combines online tools and information for faculty, staff, and students in an accessible, dynamic, and personalized format.  Serving as a wrapper over your Office 365 experience, the intranet will be a dashboard that surfaces the latest news, provides areas to collaborate with others across St. Thomas, allows you to access your email and relevant documents quickly, presents targeted information based on your role, and offers a place for Dr. Sullivan and other key administrators to communicate with our internal community that is separate from the publicly-facing Newsroom. OneStThomas will be launched to the community in the fall.  Look out for more communication and updates through the Newsroom. 

6. Salesforce

number of areas around campus are using Salesforce for better management of interactions with student across their academic lifecycle. Salesforce creates a 360 degree view of our students that is easily accessible through a web interface. Graduate admissions started to use Salesforce in June of last year. In February, the first phase to assist retention was rolled out to academic advising to enhance our ability to manage academic alerts and cases.  Salesforce will be rolled out for Undergraduate Admissions in June to manage recruitment and application process for the incoming 2018 class. 

7. Multi-factor Authentication

The ITS Security Team is leading a pilot of multi-factor authentication at St. Thomas. Multi-factor authentication is a method of signing into your account that requires more than one step of verifying that it is really you logging into the account. Verification methods include your username with password, a code sent to your personal phone, a phone call to your personal phone, or a push notification on a mobile app. This adds a critical second layer of security to university and personal data when you sign into your St. Thomas Office 365 account. Ten university units, totaling 100 staff members, volunteered to be early adopters in our initial phase of implementing this new system. More information about multi-factor authentication is available on the security website