October: National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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Elizabeth Kelsey

With the start of a new term, security engineer Adam Goldstein sees students attempting to download free eBooks to avoid paying for textbooks. But the texts come with a hidden cost: “These books have malware Trojans,” Goldstein says. “By downloading them, students introduce harmful software that can delete files and steal data.” In addition, Goldstein has noted a significant uptick in copyright violations online—also fairly routine for this time of the year. “We caution students not to illegally download material because they’re subjecting themselves to lawsuits from media companies,” he says.

Ebook malware and copyright violations are just two of many security issues Dartmouth’s Cyber Security Team confronts on a daily basis, which is why the College is taking part in National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The U.S. Federal Government designated October as a time to reach out to the general community about various safeguards to protect privacy and personal data.

“It’s important for everyone to do what they can to protect themselves, and we hope to help them by giving them some tips on ways to conduct themselves online safely,” says Chief Information Security Officer Steve Nyman. According to Nyman, one of the most common threats at Dartmouth is phishing, a type of attack in which users receive an email link to a legitimate-looking site, click on the link, and enter sensitive information into a malicious website.

“No one is immune from it,” Nyman says. “Bad guys and spammers are out to take advantage of any resource and any information they can get their hands on. People find phishing emails popping up in their mailboxes and they need to be aware and delete those messages.”

Staying safe online is important at an institutional level, as well. Nyman and his team protect Dartmouth’s broader IT infrastructure to prevent economic espionage and attempts to steal university research.

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Dartmouth’s Cyber Security Team: From left to right: Sean McNamara, Adam Goldstein, Steve Nyman. Photo: Eli Burakian

“We had a system that was developed and maintained by a graduate student and a faculty member, which was not adequately designed and therefore was subjected to a routine type of attack,” Nyman says. If the College’s IT professionals had managed the system, the breach would have been easily prevented. Nyman: “Individuals who are going to set up systems need to reach out and get professional IT assistance in making sure those systems are secure.”

Cyber criminals also target higher-ed resources, such as library subscription services. According to Nyman, hackers have already infiltrated such systems at several universities. Once inside, thieves use subscriptions without charge and violate an institution’s licensing agreement to the point where vendors threaten to shut off a university’s access. Dartmouth’s Identity and Access Management project has deployed Knowledge Based Authentication (KBA), a series of security question challenges, to thwart the use of these hijacked accounts.

ITS offers several security tips online. In the coming weeks, we’ll post more information about cyber security attacks and how to combat them. In the meantime, Nyman says: “Be careful what you click on.”

 

Connecting through First-year Trips

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Dartmouth Outing Club First-Year Trips gather in front of Robinson Hall. (Photo: Eli Burakian ’00)

Elizabeth Kelsey

Earlier this month, the Dartmouth Outing Club wrapped up its First-year Trips prior to the start of the academic term.

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Trippees experience their first visit to Moosilauke. (Photo: Eli Burakian ’00)

The excursions, a tradition dating back to 1935, welcome new Dartmouth students by taking them on adventures in the wilderness that surrounds the College. “Trippees” choose from different journeys that include hiking, canoeing, and horseback riding. All trips last five days and conclude with a night at Moosilauke Ravine Lodge.

Although Trips are a Dartmouth tradition dating back to 1935, some things are bound to change over the years. According to the program’s Director Gerben Scherpbier ’14, he and fellow organizers take advantage of modern technology while also restricting its use.

“In order to facilitate bonding between students, we actually take all of the trippees’ cell phones on their first night and store them until they get back to campus,” Scherpbier says. “We think this helps students focus on the beautiful environment surrounding them and the other people in their group.”

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Spencer Lambdin  ’18 (back row, far left) with fellow trippees during their five-day canoe trip in September 2014 (Photo: Spencer Lambdin)

Peter Skow ’18, from London, who went on a climb and hike trip says, “I didn’t miss my phone at all. Being away from it was calming.  I didn’t notice anyone in my group having a serious reaction to the disconnect, which was a pleasant surprise.”

Spencer Lambdin ’18, from New Canaan, Connecticut says he was glad devices were collected before he and his group set off in their canoes.

“In high school I went on a few mission trips with my church where they instituted the same policy,” he says. “Eliminating the distraction of a cell phone made it easier to get to know everyone on my trip and on the other trips in my section.”

 

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“Not having our phone definitely made the outdoors experience a little more real. We were still able to have a camera if we wanted to take photos or anything like that, but being without our phones let us really enjoy the outdoors.” —Spencer Lambdin ’18 (Photo: Spencer Lambin)

Lambdin adds the absence of his cell phone made the social experience more focused:

“While anyone could be tempted to text their friends at home if we had our phones, having them taken away made us talk to each other and be fully present in each conversation and interaction we had. At the same time, not having our phones definitely made the outdoors experience a little more real. [Lambin says his favorite part of the journey was jumping into the river with his mates]. We were still able to have a camera if we wanted to take photos or anything like that, but being without our phones let us really enjoy the outdoors.”

One area of DOC trips that has improved significantly, according to Scherpbier, concerns safety. Trip leaders once relied solely on satellite phones to communicate with trips in the Second College Grant but now can also use Skype or Google chat to stay in touch with these groups.

Cell providers increasingly cover trip routes, and leaders record all safety information in an online database: when an incident occurs Vox Croo (a DOC group that provides medical attention to injured or sick trips participants) can view trip updates and documents from Hanover. “If a student is allergic to bee stings for example, all of our safety personnel can view that information without having to pass out paper copies,” Scherpbier says.

One of the technology’s biggest improvements has been in logistics, says Scherpbier. While trips are underway, he uses a GPS tracking system to locate buses throughout the day, which helps leaders make sure everything is running on schedule and enables them to alert others of delays. Organizers perform all registration and pre-Trips communication through email and an online database. As recently as 2012, the DOC still relied on snail mail to get some information from incoming students. Previous directors would need to scan hundreds of pages of registration information.

“I am so thankful for that change!” Scherpbier says.

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A New Generation of Security Experts

The 2014 Institute for Security, Technology, and Society High School Summer Camp.

The 2014 Institute for Security, Technology, and Society High School Summer Camp. IT Security Engineer Adam Goldstein (top, third from left) served as lead instructor.

The ISTS High School Workshop

Elizabeth Kelsey

Hackers continue to outsmart computer systems. As governments, businesses, and institutions contend with identity thieves, one Dartmouth program strives to train more security-savvy professionals from a very early age.

This fall, 16 high school students from throughout the Northeast are returning to classrooms with a better awareness of Cyber Security— thanks to a program offered by Dartmouth’s Institute for Security, Technology, and Society (ISTS). The institute’s free High School Summer Workshop was filled to maximum attendance when it took place July 7-11, 2014.

IT Security Engineer Adam Goldstein, who served as lead instructor for the workshop, says even though significant cyber security opportunities exist in both academia and the workplace, “the new and rapidly evolving field of study is not typically covered in the high school curriculum.” Goldstein adds that even if students don’t plan to pursue a career in security, by studying the topic, they can explore a different approach to learning by asking not only  “Does this work?” but “How does this work and keep from breaking.” Such thinking is especially useful in engineering and medical fields where individuals should consider potential failure scenarios when implementing any solution or technology.

Goldstein and fellow organizers ISTS Associate Director Bill Nisen and Program Manager Karen Page designed the high school workshop’s curriculum so students understand security from a hacker’s perspective. “In doing so,” Goldstein says, “they can explore the potential risks such actions may pose and how to implement appropriate defenses.”

Lecturers covered a broad overview of cyber security and focused on emerging threats and defensive computing strategies.  Guest speakers included Dartmouth CISO Steve Nyman, who discussed “Information Security in an Enterprise Environment”; NSA Computer Scientist Christen Shepherd, who outlined cyber security opportunities in the federal government; and Dartmouth System Administrator Joe Hill, who explained digital investigations. Students lunched with Chair of Computer Science Tom Cormen to discuss university-level computer science programs. In addition to scheduled events, organizers asked students to complete outreach projects, which are due in October.

Elisabeth Dubois, a senior from Derby, Vermont plans to study digital forensics in college and eventually work for the federal government. She learned about the Security, Technology, and Society workshop from an online search.

“Cyber security is needed with all the Internet use today,” Dubois says. “I enjoyed learning about the criminal aspect of cyber security and really enjoyed meeting other people who shared my same interest.” Dubois is currently working on a poster for her local library on safe computing.

The ISTS workshop, which has grown since its inception in 2007, directly addresses the need for K-12 cyber security education programs as outlined by The White House, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE3), the National Science Foundation through the Cyberwatch program, and other independent organizations. The Department of Defense funded programs in 2012-2014 through its information assurance scholarship program. Workshop organizers advertised the opportunity in the Valley News summer camp section, and in flyers sent to local high school science teachers, guidance counselors, and other school administrators.

See completed outreach projects from 2013 and 2012, which include a school newspaper article on cyber security and a Guide to Identifying Phishing.

 

 

 

The Future of Instructional Design

Instructional design is the systematic development of educational materials, workshops, tutorials, training, and curriculum to ensure quality instruction and increase student success. In the final of a three-part series on the subject, Interface looks to the future of ID at Dartmouth.

Part 3: The Future of Instructional Design

Elizabeth Kelsey

Dartmouth’s EdTech group currently has five instructional designers who help with new teaching-and-learning focused initiatives, such as DartmouthX and the gateway course redesign project, which aims to enhance individualized learning in courses that have large enrollments by necessity.

Instructional Designers work with faculty in multiple ways, according to Michael Goudzwaard, an instructional designer who joined Dartmouth’s team in October 2013. “In the Canvas LMS transition project we reach out to faculty to help with their switch from Blackboard to Canvas, which can sometimes lead to other work together on a course,” Goudzwaard says. “Each instructional designer has a primary area of focus with departmental assignments,” he adds. “This allows us to build relationships with the faculty in our departments of focus so requests also come directly by email or even in a conversation on the sidewalk.”

Ashley Kehoe is an instructional designer who joined Dartmouth’s team in November 2013. Like many who eventually pursue the field, she has a background in education and found her way into the profession by way of teaching. “I learned how important but also challenging it is to develop a curriculum that makes sense for students and accomplishes what you’re actually trying to teach,” Kehoe says. “I started focusing my professional efforts in that direction and found that instructional design is a fusion of my passions for designing meaningful, high-impact learning experiences and using technology in innovative ways.”

Kehoe is currently working with a team of faculty and librarians to develop a long-term oral history project on the Vietnam War.

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The Vietnam Oral History Project team, including undergraduate student researchers, faculty from The Department of History, librarians/archivists, an instructional designer, a digital media specialist, a guest lecturer/oral history expert, and a local Army veteran. (Photo: Susan Simon)

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Local veteran Mike Heaney shares his experiences in the Vietnam War. (Photo: Susan Simon)

“The overall vision is to train students as oral historians while capturing and archiving stories from members of the Dartmouth community—alumni, faculty, staff, local community members—who remember the Vietnam War and protests on campus,” Kehoe says. “In this example, we’re working together to use the faculty’s subject matter expertise and my knowledge of experiential learning to create a high-impact learning experience for students while contributing a service to the broader community. That’s what experiential learning is all about.”

There are plenty of groundbreaking experiences in store, according to Assistant Director of Educational Technologies Barbara Knauff: “We’re about halfway through our transition to Canvas, which has turned out to be a great opportunity to connect and re-connect with our faculty around teaching and learning questions. We have a robust collaboration with DCAL (the Dartmouth Center for Advancement in Learning) and the libraries, which is growing even stronger with some of our new initiatives. More of our staff have formal degrees in ‘Instructional Design’; and all of them get fewer confused looks when they tell someone what their job title is. Most of our faculty actually know who we are and how we can partner with them to help with their course design. Instructional Design as a profession has moved into the mainstream—both nationally, and at Dartmouth.”

See also:

Part 1: A Fruitful Collaboration

Part 2: A History of Instructional Design

 

Instructional Design at Dartmouth: A History

Instructional design is the systematic development of educational materials, workshops, tutorials, training, and curriculum to ensure quality instruction and increase student success. In the second of a three-part series on the subject, Interface looks back on the history of ID at Dartmouth.

Part 2: A History of Instructional Design

Elizabeth Kelsey

Dartmouth’s instructional designers team up with faculty on a variety of teaching, learning, and technology projects. Instructional designers help professors develop and expand their use of Canvas, Dartmouth’s learning management system. They also collaborate with faculty on creating web-enabled learning environments by “flipping” static content, like lectures, to be accessible outside of class via online recording, so students can spend more time applying the content in class. Additionally, instructional designers recommend and implement new technology, such as lecture capture and data visualization software. They work with faculty on an individual basis, as well as in workshops and online training formats.

According to Barbara Knauff, Assistant Director of Educational Technologies, instructional design has been happening at Dartmouth—and elsewhere—for centuries.  “At its most basic, as soon as you are stepping back and thinking about what you are trying to accomplish with your teaching, and how best to do it, you are designing instruction,” she says. But Knauff adds that Instructional Design as a discipline didn’t really take off until the 90s, and has exploded in the last decade, with online learning as a major catalyst.

Students participate in a class as part of Dartmouth's Master of Health Care Delivery Science, a joint program between the Dartmouth Institute and the Tuck School of Business.

Students participate in a class as part of Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science, a joint program between the Dartmouth Institute and the Tuck School of Business.

Dartmouth’s Master of Healthcare Delivery Science program combines residential sessions with distance learning, and the DartmouthX initiative will launch its first online course in early 2015. But the College gravitated towards instructional technology long before these programs were established. In the 80s and 90s, Dartmouth was a leader in computing across the curriculum and in personal computing. “Many Dartmouth faculty started using technology in their own instruction, be it with projects like hyper-card-based learning modules and tools, or with web-based teaching resources, back in the early days of the Internet,” Knauff says. She cites Dartmouth’s Milton Reading Room, which with help from Academic Computing has enabled Professor of English Thomas Luxon and his students to annotate the English poet’s work online since 1997.

The first printings of Milton's Paradise Lost, from Rauner Special Collections Library. Professor of English Thomas Luxon's Milton Reading Room is a pioneering example of web-based instruction.

The first printings of Milton’s Paradise Lost, from Rauner Special Collections Library. Professor of English Thomas Luxon’s Milton Reading Room is a pioneering example of web-based instruction.

Due to growing faculty interest in technology teaching resources, Academic Computing added a branch called “Curricular Computing,” and hired and re-allocated staff to help professors. The group adopted the Blackboard learning management system (LMS) early in its production. As a result, faculty wanted to learn more about teaching with technology.

“Our roles shifted towards consulting with faculty on their teaching, and away from working on niche technology projects,” Knauff explains. Job descriptions evolved from “Curricular Computing Specialist” to “Educational Technologist” to “Instructional Designer,” with growing emphasis on pedagogical expertise.

Instructional Design at Dartmouth: A Fruitful Collaboration

Instructional design is the systematic development of educational materials, workshops, tutorials, training, and curriculum to ensure quality instruction and increase student success. In this three-part series, Interface explores the role of Instructional Designers at Dartmouth.

Dartmouth's Instructional Design Team. Top row: Adrienne Gauthier (left), Ashley Kehoe. Bottom row: Michael Goudzwaard (left), ​Scott Millspaugh

Dartmouth’s Instructional Design Team. Top row: Adrienne Gauthier (left), Ashley Kehoe. Bottom row: Michael Goudzwaard (left), ​Scott Millspaugh.

PART 1: A Fruitful Collaboration

Elizabeth Kelsey

In the fall of 2012, Dartmouth Professor Thomas Jack taught Biology 11 to a class of 147 students in the same format he had used for the past six years: primarily in-class lecture, in-class polling, and high-stakes bi-weekly quizzes and exams. When Jack received his course evaluations that year, he acknowledged several students were disappointed by the course’s lack of interactivity. Additionally, performance on the final exam was lower than it should have been. “I felt I needed to make some changes in the way I was doing things,” he says.

In the fall of 2013, he heard about Lecture Tools, a new feature-rich polling platform, and scheduled an appointment with Adrienne Gauthier, one of Dartmouth’s instructional designers. The simple tutorial about the technology turned into a dialogue about how Jack wanted his students to benefit from the new tool, which led to a bigger discussion about his course.

“When an instructional designer helps a faculty member design their teaching, it can facilitate a different and more effective learning experience for students,” Gauthier says. “When a professor can articulate what students should be able to do, be able to effectively assess that they can do it, and create activities to bring students along that road, then the learning experience can be richer and have more relevance.”

Professor Jack wanted to change the way he taught Bio 11, and more importantly, how his students were learning. Together, he and Gauthier redesigned the course to incorporate active learning and student-centered approaches. This new framework included pre-class activities such as short videos, multiple-choice self-assessment, and open-ended questions where students could voice what they were struggling with. The in-class sessions took the course’s concepts to a higher level where students continued to follow lectures but were also doing group problem-solving and more polling with peer instruction.

The average score for Bio 11’s 2014 final exam rose to 91 percent, compared to 74 percent before Professor Jack changed the course’s pedagogical strategy. In feedback, students praised the new pre-lecture videos, Lecture Tools, screencasts, smaller class size, group work, and “engaging” class sessions. Jack’s expectations were exceeded.

“I had a gut feeling that the students would like this approach more, but I underestimated the degree to which they found it valuable and were enthusiastic about it,” he says. “As far as the learning goes, I was skeptical if they would actually learn the material better by using a different technique in the classroom, but the evidence is that they did learn it better. The literature states that would be the case, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it myself.”

For full background on Gauthier’s and Jack’s collaboration, read their paper “The Professor and the Instructional Designer: A Course Design Journey” on The Academic Commons

 


 

Closets Within Closets: A Virtual Tsunami of Stuff

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Susan Lee, Director of Web Services

Comparing a website to a house is barely an abstraction. When building websites we use words such as blueprint, architecture, structure, and making paths to describe the process of creation and use. Similar to our homes, websites create spaces and places where we hang out with people we know, play with new friends, study with classmates, and store the things that make life so interesting.
Like our homes, over time websites too can suffer from TMS syndrome—Too Much Stuff!
Taking a tour through the big house, www.dartmouth.edu, reveals this truth. It is comprised of over 2,200 rooms (websites) and inside these rooms are more rooms, and these have closets within closets brimming with stuff.

Taking stock of a content inventory this large can overwhelm even the most seasoned information architects, but in the end everything will find a purpose, be properly organized, or be archived.
Here’s a general breakdown of the multitude of websites Dartmouth hosts:

  • 19 library sites
  • 24 athletics sites
  • 49 graduate school or related sites
  • 68 academic department or academic-related sites
  • 128 center, program, or project sites
  • 160 student organizations and activities sites
  • 165 administrative, service, and utility sites
  • 195 courses and labs sites—some dating back to the late 1990s
  • 100s of faculty, student and staff personal sites
  • … and a bounty of miscellaneous

Even in a virtual home, the accumulation of too much stuff has costs and consequences. A good example is the frustration of conducting a simple search only to bring up documents from a course offered in 1999 or information on an internship opportunity—that expired three years ago.
The tens of thousands of html pages, PDFs, and other documents on our public sites are continually crawled, indexed, and listed by the search engine. When a project, event, or course is complete, the associated website often persists, either due to neglect or a conscious decision to maintain a living site archive.
This past year Web Services began working with our 200 website clients in a massive community house-cleaning project in which we remove old content, prioritize, and re-organize information as we migrate websites into the new content management system. Dragging all that stuff out onto the front lawn to take a closer look and decide what to keep and what to discard is part of the work Web Services will be doing with you when we start your website migration.
Whether we work with you on your department site or you have other sites that you manage, we hope you’ll join in and look through your closets as well. If you have an old site that no longer serves a purpose, send a note to the Computing Services help and request its removal. We’ll all feel lighter.

Revised from a previously published post.

 

Combatting Extreme Scheduling

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By Hoi Wong ’17

“You’ve got mail.” Remember the good ol’ days of AOL and the monotonic male voice notifying us that we have received new email in our inboxes? It seems like it was just yesterday when I had to sit in front of a desktop to check my email, maybe a maximum of three times daily.

In today’s society, we are increasingly relying on technology to assist not only with communication, but also with scheduling and productivity. Through the years, as I became more obsessed with occupying every single moment of free time, I slowly migrated from writing down meetings and assignments on a paper calendar to inputting every minute of my day on an electronic calendar. Technology, in a way, has made it easier to be busy.

I started college never having used the calendar application on my phone or computer. I relied solely on my memory to keep track of homework assignments, due dates, and meeting times. Although this method got me through the first two weeks of class, I soon found myself tangled in scheduling conflicts.

I began my process of hyper-organization by first merging my BlitzMail account to my Gmail account so I could utilize all the Google applications seamlessly without having to constantly jump between Google and Microsoft Outlook. Adding my Gmail onto my phone, I was soon able to view and send Blitz on the go. Next, I added my Google account into the Calendar application onto both my Mac and my phone, allowing me to view and add events on the same calendar across my different devices and have them sync automatically.

The final touch for the complete revamp of my productivity was setting up alerts on my phone so I would receive a reminder on my phone ten minutes before each scheduled event. Although I am still guilty of over-sleeping from time to time, my failure to show up due to forgetfulness is now a thing of the past.

Being able to manage my email and calendar across platforms has drastically improved my productivity. Although technology has made my life easier in some ways, it has arguably made my life more difficult in others. With an electronic calendar, scheduling has become a game of Tetris where the goal is to fill up every block of spare time I had. I would feel a sense of accomplishment when my commitments fit together perfectly like a puzzle.

However, a danger of extreme scheduling is the domino effect, where missing one event or being late to a meeting can cause the rest of your schedule to collapse in a chain reaction. I learned this the hard way when I missed the first leg of my journey to New York City, having no other option than to take a $60 taxi ride or miss the next two pit stops.

Extreme scheduling and the personal pressure to maximize productivity can quickly lead to over-commitment and burnout. I found myself physically exhausted and unable to mentally focus on or enjoy my activities. For some time, I was could not fully engage and was present for the sake of being present.

By the end of this past term, I could not remember feeling so tired. I had planned activities back-to-back without making room to take a breather. At the peak of my extreme scheduling, I would have class from 10am – 1pm, work from 1pm – 3pm, a fencing practice from 3pm – 5pm, dinner from 5pm – 6pm, meetings from 6pm – 8pm, and studying/homework from 8pm – 12am. I learned an important lesson: although my calendar theoretically allowed me to schedule events for all the 1,440 minutes that existed each day, I needed to take time to sleep, to eat, and to enjoy the red brick buildings, the changing colors of leaves, and the quaint New Hampshire scenery. My solution? I scheduled “me-time” into my calendar daily: a mandatory hour and a half to breathe and to be me.

Hoi

ITS, ISTS Wrap up Securing eCampus Conference

ecampusYesterday ITS and ISTS (Institute for Security, Technology, and Society) wrapped up the 8th Securing the eCampus conference, which took place on the Dartmouth campus on July 15 and 16. The event drew 60 information security experts from across the country.

In her introduction speech, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Ellen Waite-Franzen noted that many of the security issues relevant in the conference’s first year still prove challenging today.

“The work you do is so important to our institutions,” she told the room full of security experts.

The conference featured professionals from a range of fields and viewpoints. Keynote speaker Nate Fick ‘99, CEO of the security firm Endgame, stressed how social norms will need to evolve in today’s security environment. Rodney Petersen, Executive Director, Research and Education Community Collaborative at EDUCAUSE discussed how the education community must collaborate and share services to maintain security. Paulina Haduong of Harvard’s Berkman Center’s Youth and Media Privacy Initiative offered insights into how pre-college students use social media and attempt to stay safe online. ITS security alum Patrick Perry, now Systems Engineer at FireEye, discussed advanced attack detection.

Other topics included lessons learned in the aftermath of natural disaster, geopolitics and the cloud, and “Keeping the Lights on and the Hackers out.”

IT Security Engineer Adam Goldstein, Chief Information Security Officer Steve Nyman, and ISTS Program Administrator Karen Page organized the conference. Goldstein: “Our goal is to bring those who may or may not be working in higher ed, but who would have a viewpoint that would be informative or provocative for those of us in higher ed and how we think of information security…I think that’s what sets us apart from other higher-ed security conferences—to bring in some folks on the periphery and to look at things from a national and global view, and how that impacts higher-ed in terms of the future and our planning.”

Women in Technology: Christina Dulude, Web Architect/Engineer

As technical lead for the Web Services team in ITS, I manage the development of Darxtina copytmouth’s websites and their integration with other campus systems. Web Services client websites include those for academic and administrative departments, as well as centers and initiatives and the dartmouth.edu homesite—for a grand total of close to 200 separate sites. We’re in the middle of a major web redesign and the migration of websites from one content management system to another.

What I most appreciate about our team is that we all wear many hats, rather than being siloed into specific roles. One day I might be coding PHP for a custom website module, and the next day conducting an index-card sorting exercise with an academic department to gather user-feedback on how to best structure the pages on their website.

I became interested in technology in a very roundabout way. Growing up, I always assumed my strengths were in the creative or artistic fields. In high school, I leaned more towards literature and creative writing; I never really gave much thought to math, science, or computers because I just assumed I wasn’t very good in those fields—despite getting the same grades in my math and science classes as I did in the humanities.

In college, I triple-majored in Comparative Literature, Gender Studies, and Classical Studies (Latin and Greek). It wasn’t until my junior year that I took my first computer class—only because it filled a general education requirement for my degree. The class was Java programming; much to my surprise, I not only found the class quite easy, but I also really enjoyed it. I then proceeded to pack my schedule with as many IT classes as I could for the remainder of my college career, and ended up with a minor in Computer Science.

I was particularly interested in making websites. This was back in the late ‘90s when being a “webmaster” meant that you coded your own HTML from scratch, designed your own graphics, maybe did a little Perl—and you probably managed the server yourself too. As someone who likes to do a lot of different things at once, this was right up my alley. I was also interested in the human factors of web design, so I completed a masters degree in Information Science. There, I learned about usability and information architecture, which is the field of organizing websites so they are intuitive for people to use.

In my undergrad Computer Science classes, there were very few women. In my masters program, however, there were slightly more; although still a greater number of men than women. I have been at Dartmouth since February of 2011. Previously I worked at Duke University for six years as a web developer. Before that, I was the web specialist for the Indiana University School of Medicine.

I am very involved with higher-ed web organizations and web design and development communities (particularly for Drupal, which is the new content management system we use at Dartmouth). I recently presented at the national Drupal conference in Austin, TX with folks from Harvard, Stanford, and Yale on scaling Drupal for higher education. As part of the conference, I also co-organized a day-long higher-ed specific summit. Closer to home, I speak fairly regularly at Boston events for Drupal and WordPress (another content management system we use at Dartmouth). I always enjoy meeting designers and developers from other universities, as well as from other industries.

Overall, I haven’t found it terribly difficult to work in a male-dominated field. The main challenge I’ve faced has been people assuming I’m the graphic designer when they first meet me in an IT context without knowing my role, or thinking that they need to dumb down technical language around me. I sometimes joke that one thing I quite enjoy about being a woman in technology is having no line for the ladies’ restroom at IT conferences, while the men’s has a line out the door.

I think more women don’t pursue careers in technology because we just assume we won’t be interested in or good at it—especially when we are young and considering career paths. I also think that a lot of young women feel like they need to be perfect and are afraid of falling short, so they don’t step outside their comfort zone. My main piece of advice to women considering a career in technology is to not fear failure, or at least not let that fear prevent you from trying new things. Your male counterparts aren’t inherently smarter; they are just more confident.