Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Do not feed the phish!

Criminals would love to get their hands on your student loan, your university password, bank account details or our resources. We block most of these phishing emails, but sometimes they slip through the net. Make sure you know how to avoid them.

How to avoid phishing scams

  • Many phishing emails will try to get you to reply with a username and password, or ask you to click on a link and submit personal information such as log in details or bank account details. Don't reply and don't click on any links to avoid falling victim. If in doubt, forward the email to, then mark the email as spam and delete it.

  • Look out for Gmail warnings! If you get an email that looks like it's from a email address but actually isn't, Google will flag it as being unauthenticated. If you see this, be wary and look out for signs of phishing. The message on the right below is how it will look, compared to a message from an authenticated sender on the left:

  • Be suspicious of any emails that claim to come from Student Finance England. These can be convincing, but real Student Finance emails will never ask you to confirm your log in or bank account details via email.

  • Look out for the Gmail warning that will be displayed if you receive a message which includes a link to a website known for phishing, malware or unwanted software. Don't click on any links when you see this warning, it's not worth the risk!

  • Hover over links before you click on them to check where they go. The real URL should reveal itself in the bottom left corner of the browser.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Software updates in teaching spaces

Over the summer there have have been some updates to the software that we offer in our teaching spaces. Here’s a brief rundown of the changes and how you can get the most out of the  services.

TurningPoint Software
For this academic year we are trialing a new version of TurningPoint, called TurningPoint Cloud (TPC). If you’re unfamiliar with the software you can learn more about TurningPoint and how to get it here.  

TPC is faster and more reliable than previous versions of TurningPoint, as well as now allowing students to vote via their mobile device. Meaning that you can use TPC just with clickers, just mobile devices or a combination both mobile devices and clickers.

Every teaching space computer will have TPC installed as standard, but if you don’t wish to trial this new version TurningPoint v5 will still be available via the software centre.  Whether you plan to use a teaching space computer or your own laptop you will need to request a TCP account to try the new version. You can request an account here

There are additional details on how to sign in and get started using TCP here.

Smartboard Software
Our smartboard software has been updated to the latest version (2016). The new version bring with it a few changes:
  • You can now use Smart Ink straight away, as well as Notebook software. So you no longer need to wait to start annotating your display.
  • The newest version of the software no longer features the floating toolbar

Microsoft Office 2016
Microsoft Office 2016 is now available on all computers in teaching spaces.

In the latest version of  Office 2016 PowerPoint, the presenter view  is much easier to enable, but there are several points to consider when choosing whether to use it in teaching:
  • It will not work on any teaching pool space in which it has a Smart Podium (an interactive screen, which is installed in most spaces).
  • If enabled, Smart Ink does not function properly
  • If enabled, TurningPoint toolbar does not function properly.

Once enabled, presenter view will stay enabled for every other managed desktop computer you use, until you disable it. So, we recommend that if you do decide to use this feature, you enable and disable it as and when required.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The New MyEcho

MyEcho has gone through some changes over the summer. Here are some of the best new features of MyEcho.

MyEcho Everywhere
All lecture theatres across campus now have MyEcho hardware installed which can be used with your own laptop or using the lectern PC. If you would like to book MyEcho for your module, speak to your departmental timetabler who can book it through CMIS.

Get the most out of lectures with interactive slides
MyEcho now supports live lecture presentation. This allows you to use interactive slides to quiz your class, who can then submit their answers in real time.  It also gathers stats on how many notes your students are taking and how they did on quizzes. You can also enable your students to ask questions or flag when they are confused with certain content.
Dynamic new look for MyEcho web service  
The MyEcho web service, accessed through MUSE, has undergone a makeover. The Echoes page has been replaced with a Dashboard to give you a quick update from your classes and your Personal Capture area has now been replaced with a Library to store all of your videos and presentations. There have also been improvements to the playback system for students. Videos now play in HTML5 rather than Flash, meaning that content can be played on most browsers and devices and at a higher quality than before.

The new look is being rolled out now, so if you can't see it yet, don't worry - you'll be able to access it soon.
Never miss a second with our new monitor lights
MyEcho devices in lecture theatres now have monitor lights to let you know whether the lecture is being recorded:
  • Static red light indicates that the lecture is being recorded.
  • Flashing red light means the microphone is not being used.
  • Flashing yellow light means the recording is paused. You can pause and unpause the recording by tapping the top of the light.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Shared area moves

During the week beginning Monday 29 August we will be moving shared areas to new server locations. Each move will start at 19:00 and files will be unavailable for up to 2 hours as we carry out the work. You should make sure you have closed any shared files that you have open before 19:00.

The schedule for moves is:
  • Wednesday 31 August: windleden\shared3 will move to shareddata03\shared3
  • Thursday 1 September: ashopton\shared4 will move to shareddata04\shared4
  • Sunday 4 September: langsett\shared2 will move to shareddata02\shared2

If you are using the University Managed Desktop, Yoyo Desktop or a Windows computer with the Novell Client your new shared drive location will automatically configure the first time you log in after the move. Most shortcuts and linked documents should continue to work, however, some may need setting to point to the new location.

Those using unmanaged Windows, Mac and Linux will need to replace the old server name with the new server name in their connection settings following the move. They may also need to reconfigure, or recreate any shortcuts which point specifically to the old server location. Instructions for setting up connections can be found here:

As a result of the move, these shared areas will now be available in UniDrive through MUSE.

New security warnings in Gmail

We know that you receive mountains of emails everyday, and it can be frustrating figuring out which ones don’t come from a trustworthy source. To help protect your information security and make your life a little bit easier, Gmail has introduced two new security warnings.

The first is a filter which can warn you if a message comes from an unverified source. Thousands of  ‘spoofed’ spam emails are received by University staff each year. These emails claim to come from a  email address, but actually originate elsewhere. With the new filters in place, when an email can’t be authenticated you’ll see a question mark in place of the sender’s profile photo, corporate logo or avatar.

The second will alert you if you receive a message which includes a link to a website known for phishing, malware or unwanted software.

Seeing either of these warnings does not mean that the email is necessarily fraudulent, but it does mean that you should be particularly cautious. If the email requests personal information or contains any links you must contact the CiCS Helpdesk before taking any other action.

This extra level of security may cause your legitimate mails to be flagged if you send emails using an unknown sender. You are most likely to be affected if you;
  1. Send mails via third party service. For example using an external mailing or survey service such as MailChimp.
  2. Send mails using your Internet Service Provider’s mail servers. You will not be affected if, like most people, you use Google Mail or University servers.

Our Helpdesk has been contacting everyone we think might be affected, but if you are concerned that this change could affect you, please get in touch. You’ll be able to discuss your requirements and available options.

If you have any questions or concerns about this change, please contact the CiCS Helpdesk on 21111 or

Friday, 5 August 2016

Phone lines busy during clearing and adjustment

Clearing and Adjustment Begins Thurs 18 Aug

On Thurs 18 August A Level results will be released and Admissions will begin the clearing process. During this time the University will receive a high volume of incoming phone calls from potential students.

Phone Lines Busy

External phone lines are expected to be busy 18-22 August, with the peak expected 9-11:30am Thursday 18th. During this time any outgoing calls you make may receive a busy tone. In addition, people may experience difficulty when calling you from off campus.

Avoid External Calls if Possible

We ask for your patience during this short period and, where possible, that you avoid making external calls from your University extension.

Internal Calls Unaffected

No issues should be experienced in calls taking place between internal University extensions.

Call Recording Limited

Understandably, our central call recording facilities, used for recording phone interviews, will be limited 18-19 August. If you need to use this facility please phone helpdesk on 21111 for advice.

PebblePad 5 brings improvements to a powerful reflective portfolio tool

August sees big improvements to PebblePad, with the launch of v5 meaning a better experience for users of the reflective portfolio tool.

PebblePad is a personal learning space, used primarily for e-portfolios, and evidencing achievements and skills. The focus of the system is on reflection, allowing learners not only to log experiences, but reflect on their learning journey as they progress.

Learners can create their own material in PebblePad, using it to log and reflect upon any experiences they feel important. Alternatively tutors can create resources for learners to complete, which can then be assessed using the part of PebblePad known as ATLAS (Active Teaching, Learning and Assessment Space). Anything students create belongs to them, with learner ownership an important part of the PebblePad ethos. Free alumni accounts can be set up allowing unlimited access to learners’ material even after they leave the institution. Students can share anything they create with others, even those without PebblePad accounts, and even publish their material to the web for all to see.

 PebblePad can be beneficial to learners as it allows for a scaffolding of reflective practice. This can be for an individual module or assignment, the entirety of a learner’s time at University, or anything in-between. Tutors can check in with their students’ progress at any point, giving formative feedback and identifying learning needs. It also allows learners to think about and log their experiences as they progress through their academic career, and easily draw upon those at a later date. It is very flexible and can be used for a number of situations – it can be used as easily for tracking achievements in societies, hobbies or pastimes as it can for academic and professional development.

At the University of Sheffield, PebblePad is used effectively in a range of departments. It is used extensively across the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health in Doctoral Development activities, and in Postgraduate Training Needs Analyses and other activities across the Faculties of Science and Arts & Humanities. It is also the method for staff members creating HEA-accredited portfolios for the Learning and Teaching Professional Recognition Scheme. Other users include Careers, Sheffield International College, the Department of Lifelong Learning and Social Work, as well as it being used for a number of individual modules and assignments across all faculties of the University.

While always a powerful tool for undertaking this kind of work, it has been let down by a Flash-based interface, which was feeling dated, was not compatible with mobile devices, and many users found confusing and unintuitive. On the 8th of August we move across from v3 to v5, which addresses a number of issues with the system. 
Most significantly Flash is replaced with HTML5, meaning full compatibility with all browsers, including on mobile devices. With this comes a fresh new interface, looking cleaner, more modern, and easier to navigate. Much of the functionality has been simplified, and the language used has been made clearer and less confusing. Uploading and managing files in PebblePad has been vastly improved, and is easy to navigate. Creating portfolios, and templates and workbooks for others to use, is now an easier and quicker process than before, with the end results looking attractive and professional. There are not many new feature as such (PebblePad are wisely focusing on making existing features better), although there are a few additions to workbooks and portfolios that make them more flexible than before.

As the new version works on the same technical system, all material will be automatically transferred, with no downtime and no loss of data. ATLAS is not changing in the short-term, meaning those members of staff who only use PebblePad to administer assignments or mark work are unlikely to need additional training. Eventually ATLAS will be changed to match the style and feel of the rest of the system. 

While there are some significant changes in the way the system looks and is navigated, we feel strongly that this will be easier for learners to use, and greatly improve the experience of both staff and students using PebblePad. It is also hoped that the new version will address some issues that may have put colleagues off using it in the past, and that the simpler, attractive and responsive new interface will allow more people to consider its use when setting reflective, portfolio-based tasks.

If you have any questions about PebblePad, and how it can be used with your learners, please contact the TEL Team at

Pete Mella