Monday, June 2, 2014

Technology- Good and Bad

This past week was a reminder that, for as much as technology helps us, it also can create problems for us, in unexpected ways. At our Davenport campus, we lost the use of ParScore. And when you begin to consider what this means, it can boggle your mind. We have a Student Information System (SIS), which is coordinated via PowerCampus, and which links to so many different areas of college function. For example, it links to financial aid, to the business office, and it links to faculty via classroom rosters. We download rosters from PowerCampus at the start of the term. This populates our ParScore rosters so that when we grade examinations, we then fill the spreadsheet with each student’s score.

But all of a sudden we could not get in to ParScore. I gave a test on Thursday morning last week, and was able to enter grades (and thankfully print out the grade set for my own records). Later that day, the system went down. As far we as can tell right now, it was the result of an infection from a kind of malware known as ransomware ( This is a bad kind of program that literally holds files for ransom; if you do not pay the ransom, it destroys the files. We found 2 computers in the network with the infection and replaced them. But to restore the system, IT had to use a saved backup version of the system and reinstall it. This they did several times, going further and further back in time to where they could stabilize the system. We lost 2 days of work in the Par system as a result.
Like many, I lost all the work I did in the later part of the week. I had to hand restore my grades and scores from the sheet I had fortunately printed out. I tried as best I could to keep faculty informed of developments, knowing that at least 15 people were going to have to re-enter scores. It was bad all around. But this is now the world we live in- reliant on technology, but not all that aware of every threat out there.

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