Information Services - IS Success

Thursday, March 8, 2018

IT Success - Top Hat

How Top Hat Helped a Liberty Professor 


There was a time when Donna Donald forbade the use of digital devices in her classroom.


“One frustration I’ve always had—and I think this is across the board whether it be in college or in a business setting or wherever—is with the distracting quality of cellphones,” says Donald, a history professor who has been teaching at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, since 2001.


The era of the forbidden cellphone came to an end for Professor Donald’s students in 2016, when Liberty partnered with Top Hat and Donald, who teaches classes as large as 120 students, recognized the opportunity that was being presented to her: Since Top Hat runs on students’ digital devices, its use in the classroom would allow her to keep a large class engaged. And the anonymity the platform provided would encourage a wider variety of students to respond during her lectures, not just the eager ones or those sitting up front. The devices Professor Donald had once banned were going to work for her class.



“Cellphones are always there, no matter what you do or say—the students have them out or they might be hiding them, but they’re going to use them,” says Donald, who had already been an early adopter of technology at Liberty, making the most out of the clickers that had long been in use campus-wide.


Before Top Hat, those devices helped her simplify attendance and improve engagement. When she started using Top Hat in the fall of 2016, she took a similar tack, using the app for classroom response— adding two to three questions into her lectures—and for taking attendance.


“Top Hat support is there to walk you through every step of the way. And the students love Top Hat. If they are happy with it and it’s effective, why not give it a try?”

- Donna Donald, Professor of History, Liberty University


“It was working about the same as clickers,” says Donald of her early experimentation with Top Hat Classroom. But Top Hat, Donald quickly realized, was a lot more than a substitute for clickers—her students loved it. When Liberty’s Center for Teaching Excellence conducted an assessment of Donald’s class during that first semester in 2016, the class delivered a clear verdict: Of all the things Donald was doing, students felt that the most effective tool in her teaching arsenal was Top Hat, and because it made her lectures more engaging, they wanted her to use it more.


“I was surprised,” says Donald, “I thought, ‘Wow, if that’s the case, then let’s use it.’ So I started using it more. I still mainly use it for classroom interaction, but I’ve tried to be a little bit more creative with it and now use the polling and click-on-target features too.”


Three semesters later, says Donald, student engagement is riding high. “The in-class response does several things. First, it helps me gauge my effectiveness. If I give them a question and half the class misses it, then something is wrong. We need to back up and go over that material again. But if I give a question and all but a few get it right, those who missed it might realize their attention wandered. They need to re-engage in the class.”


Near the end of 2017, Donald tried Top Hat Test, a new Top Hat feature that allows instructors to create and securely administer exams in a bring-your-own-device environment. Now that she’s tried it, Donald plans to use Top Hat Test for all her assessment needs.





“Testing was one thing I really missed from using clickers,” says Donald. “I don’t like using Scantrons. They are cumbersome and expensive. With Top Hat, there is no scanning or alphabetizing and I can get analytical data that’s not available with Scantrons.”


For any of her colleagues who might still be apprehensive about giving Top Hat ago, Donald offers this reassurance: “Top Hat support is there to walk you through every step of the way. And the students love Top Hat. If they are happy with it and it’s effective, why not give it a try?”


Top Hat Test allows you to securely administer and auto-grade quizzes, tests, midterms and final exams, and ensure academic integrity remains high by using Top Hat’s proprietary lock-out browser. Top Hat Classroom helps you make every class feel intimate by leveraging students’ devices to drive discussion, identify common misconceptions and get real-time feedback. Find out more at

Posted at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Friday, June 2, 2017

IS Success - Roku Launched

Liberty University Collaborates with the Largest Set-top Box Service.

Early this May, Liberty University in a joint effort with Roku and Float Left Interactive, created its own downloadable channel to broadcast campus events; including one of Liberty’s highest attended commencements of all time.

Roku is a set-top box service and product that allows individuals to turn their televisions into internet portals. These portable devices enable TVs to stream video content across multiple entertainment sites and cable television programs, all in a single location. Roku is the largest set-top box service in the industry and is quickly becoming one of the largest TV brands in America. One out of every eight smart TV’s sold in the U.S. ran a Roku operating system.

Liberty’s goal in working with Roku is to provide on-demand, live video streaming of university events in order to deliver an on-campus experience worldwide. Family, friends, and others interested in the University’s activities will be able to become more involved in events such as Convocation, Homecoming, and Commencement. In the future, Liberty hopes to integrate Roku into the classroom; both residentially and online.

Roku provides the simplicity of all your streaming services in one location. Connect your Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and any other video account to Roku and browse video and movie entertainment with ease. You can even add various channels depending on the genre to make your browsing more enjoyable. Make sure to add Liberty University's own channel and keep up with all that is happening on campus!

Posted at 11:46 AM | Permalink

Thursday, January 26, 2017

IT Success - Indoor Track Facility

This weekend, Liberty’s new indoor track complex will open for its first official meet.

Back in the fall of 2015, the University announced plans for a new building to replace & expand on the facilities that had been housed in Green Hall. For the next seventeen months, various members of our Infrastructure/Media Operations division partnered with internal & external groups to understand the scope of the project:

  • For the office spaces, computers, monitors, network drops, & wireless access points were needed.
  • For the track proper, the needs included monitors, sound reinforcement, & digital scoreboards.
  • For concessions & other spectator areas, digital signage & point-of-sale terminals were required.

Once designs were confirmed for the new facility, Site Lead Ryan Smith & team began the task of meeting these needs. Thousands of feet worth of network cabling were laid while the Complex was built up to support hardware installations. Additionally, Business Relationship Managers (BRM’s) worked parallel to Smith, ensuring open communication was maintained with Athletics as new requirements were discovered. As building continued through 2016, IT was able to work around multiple challenges, including construction delays & Leadership changes within IT, to meet deadlines.

Over the winter break, additional IT teams from Network Operations came in, putting in late hours, to ensure last minute details were addressed. In the past few weekends, Athletics have used smaller meets to test out the new facilities. There will be a grand opening ceremony for the Complex this Saturday, January 28th, at 10:30 AM.

Posted at 1:04 PM | Permalink

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IT Success - Adobe Design Wars

Last Thursday, the Adobe-sponsored “Design Wars” took place at the School of Communication &  Creative Arts (SCCA) in Green Hall. Nearly thirty undergraduate and graduate students from several different fields of study participated in the five-hour event. Once submitted, the best work was decided upon by Monique Maloney (Assistant Professor, co-faculty advisor for AIGA), Todd Smith (Chair of Studio & Digital Arts, professor), Chris Hara (Deputy CIO of Information Services), and Josh Frejosky (Director of IT Communication). Congratulations to Blake Embry (first place), Annie Shelmerdine (second place), and Grayson Guffey (third place) for taking top honors.


Design Wars” is a concept that allows students to create advertisements for a hypothetical client. 2016 marks the first year where IT Communications (IT COMS) helped host and gain sponsorship of Adobe for the competition. Students recieved their assignment and informed that only Adobe products may be used to create their work. This year, the students submitted posters and invitations that IT COMS could use for next semester’s second annual Adobe Academic Achievement Awards.


Photos taken by Noelia Alvarado & Chris Shaw.

This event was a huge success. Special thanks goes out to the School of Communication & Creative Arts, AIGA, IT Communications - Marketing, and Adobe for making this event a huge success.

Posted at 2:49 PM | Permalink

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

IT Success - IS Road Show

On Thursday, Oct. 27th, IS Communications (IS COMS) put on the University’s first IS Road Show. The concept was established as a means to facilitate interaction with new technologies. In partnership 

with the School of Education (SOE), the IS Road Show was comprised of four stations set up in the SOE clinical rooms. Faculty & staff members were invited to share files, create presentations, take quizzes, and edit documents using products such as Dropbox, Adobe Spark, Top Hat, and Microsoft Office 365. In four hours, over two-thirds of the SOE were able to experience the Road Show. Feedback regarding the show has been positive, with several SOE faculty stating they appreciated the hands-on nature of the event.

IS COMS is currently exploring different schools and departments across the University for future Road Show events. 

Postedby Christopher Shaw at 8:01 AM | Permalink

Monday, October 10, 2016

IT Success - MABUG

During the University’s fall break, the Registrar’s Office hosted this year’s Mid-Atlantic Banner User Group Conference (MABUG). Entitled “MABUG On The Mountain”, over 200 representatives from over three dozen schools and universities were treated to three days of entertainment, vendors, and small-group breakout sessions covering a myriad of Banner-related topics.

All in all, 22 of the 67 sessions were facilitated by members of LU Information Services (LU IS). Speaking from our University’s perspective, Analytics/Decision Support (ADS) and IT Operations representatives presented material and led group discussions on topics including:

  • Stream Replacement & Data Replication Software
  • Xtender database design
  • Overall SQL performance
  • APEX Development & Everyday Use

2016 marks the second time that Liberty has played host to the conference (2009). By inviting so many institutions to the campus, LU has the opportunity to build relationships with those responsible for education and infrastructure from institutions as far away as New Jersey and South Carolina.

Postedby Christopher Shaw at 5:09 PM | Permalink

Friday, September 30, 2016

IT Success - IT Marketplace: Campus Technology Store Launch

On Wednesday, September 28th, IT Communications (IT COMS) ushered in a new chapter in the story of the IT Marketplace. Existing as an online entity for the past several semesters, the IT Marketplace, an Apple ® Authorized Campus Store, now resides within the Computer Lab on the second floor of DeMoss Hall. Since the soft launch of the store a couple of weeks prior, dozens of students have already taken advantage of the physical inventory and point-of-sale efficiency.

Several teams coordinated efforts to make the store a reality on campus. Across the University, Accounting, Finance, and Procurement worked through details surrounding purchasing, POS, and inventory. Within Information Services, Compliance (part of Enterprise Architecture) partnered with IT COMS on legal matters surrounding point-of-sale & brand representation.

To celebrate the Grand Opening event, IT COMS took over the DeMoss Grand Lobby, offering free candied apples and assorted “swag”. In five hours, over 700 students, faculty, and staff visited the store, stirring up excitement within the Liberty community!

To learn more about the IT Marketplace, please visit our store location at DeMoss 2184 or check out our website at

Postedby Christopher Shaw at 12:16 PM | Permalink

Friday, September 30, 2016

IT Success - Technology Councils Take Shape

In an ongoing effort to understand how the University interacts with technology, IS Communications (IS COMS) has established technology councils. Last fall, the Student Technology Council (STC) began meeting with IS Leadership & representatives from different vendors (Adobe, Cisco, McGraw-Hill) to offer feedback on the products and services that are in use every day at Liberty. Over the summer months, COMS launched the Faculty Technology Council (FTC), allowing instructors of all levels to provide their thoughts on how technology may improve student engagement.

In the September meeting of the FTC, faculty members from several schools and departments provided observations from the first month of the fall semester. Practical examples were given around the use of Top Hat within classroom settings. Several members had good things to say around the new wireless access points (WAPs) throughout DeMoss. Our new CIO, John Gauger & our new Deputy CIO, Chris Hara, were in attendance. They spoke to updates around Dropbox data security & the integration advancements Top Hat is currently working towards.

For the first STC session of the school year, the group continued to explore the range of telepresence. The residential group was split across two rooms in the Jerry Falwell Library, while the IS COMS director, Josh Frejosky, & online students connected remotely using Jabber by Cisco. The meeting showcased the ease of accessibility for meetings with people separated by distances near or far. After introductions, the IS COMS team began a discussion around internet connectivity, Top Hat use in classes, & Help Desk interaction. Frejosky introduced the concept of “remote desktops” & gathered feedback around how this emerging technology may be utilized across the University. 


Postedby Christopher Shaw at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IT Success - HelpDesk Blitz

As the 2016 school year got underway, multiple teams from IT set up shop in the Jerry Falwell Library for the annual IT Blitz. Between August 24th and September 2nd, students, faculty, and staff were able to have their questions about connectivity, printers, software, hardware, or their LU account answered by members of Campus Support (CS) or Communications (COMS).

During the event, CS successfully handled over 2,200 requests from walk-in traffic as well as requests submitted through the Help Desk Portal. The top requests students brought to the Blitz included network setup/connectivity, software installations (including Office 365 and the Adobe Creative Cloud), and support for printers or mobile devices.


Students, faculty, or staff with questions about hardware, software, or applications should contact the IT Help Desk. Many questions have already been answered by CS via Help Desk DIY. There, hundreds of articles written by subject matter experts direct the reader through basic troubleshooting steps.


Postedby Christopher Shaw at 3:50 PM | Permalink

Thursday, September 1, 2016

IT Success - Dropbox

In late July, Information Services (IS) launched a new cloud-based storage solution for University Faculty and staff. Dropbox for Education is a platform for file storage and collaboration that improves idea sharing. It also simplifies data accessibility whether working on campus or remotely. Once created, a Dropbox account provides several efficiency and storage advantages:

  • Unlimited storage of work & personal files
  • File version rollback for any file saved in Dropbox
  • Deletion recovery
  • Remote access to all files without the use of VPN
  • Ability to collaborate with internal and external by sharing files

Initially released to the population in waves, Dropbox is currently available to approximately eight thousand faculty and staff members. So far, adoption has been promising (all data presented as of August 22, 2016):

  • Over thirteen hundred people have created a Dropbox for education account
  • Dropbox for education folders have been accessed on over one thousand different devices
  • Over four terabytes of data have been moved to Dropbox folders

Faculty or staff members who have yet to receive an invitation to Dropbox are encouraged to contact and submit a request. Additionally, those interested in training around the different advantages a Dropbox for education account offers may visit the Technology Education Center’s (TEC) webpage to register for an upcoming class.

Postedby Christopher Shaw at 10:05 AM | Permalink

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Information Services - IS Success

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