Temple University: First-Year Writing Tech FAQ

What are good ways to save my work for my First Year Writing (and other) classes?
We can't stress enough the importance of saving your work! Whether rough draft or finished essay, your work needs to be somewhere disaster-proof and secure. You have several options for saving work to space allocated to you on network drives. Your Blackboard drive provides 1GB of storage space for saving files. You have the option of uploading a single file or multiple files there, and you can share work from that location with an instructor, student, or even someone outside of Temple. Visit the Blackboard guide for detailed, step-by-step instructions under "Using the Bb Drive": http://www.temple.edu/cs/bb/qrg.html. Another option for saving work: use the network drive Google Docs in your TU Gmail account. Click Documents at the top of your email page and proceed from there.
What do I need to know about USB Flash Drives?
Flash drives are excellent tools for students and instructors because they allow you to carry files between your home computer and the lab computers on campus. Remember, though, that any kind of storage carries some risk. If you have a virus on your home computer, you will have difficulty opening the file on campus computers. Because they are small, flash drives are subject to loss, threat, and accidentally going through the laundry. Always keep another copy of a document by saving it to your home computer, emailing it to yourself as an attachment, or printing a hard copy just in case.
How can I select an external hard drive to use to backup my files?
External hard drives are excellent tools for backup up files or data. They come in two varieties--larger versions that must be plugged into the wall and smaller versions that can be powered by the computer cable alone. Most computers have USB 2.0 ports, and some newer computers have USB 3.0 ports, which are much faster. All USB 3.0 hard drives should work with computers that have the older USB 2.0 ports. Keep in mind that external hard drives with longer factor warranties often include higher quality parts and may be more reliable.
Does it matter what file format (like .doc or .rtf) I am using when I submit written work?
Yes: you need to save files in a format which your instructors can open at Temple. Temple Computer Services supports Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Office Enterprise 2010 for Windows, and Office 2011 for Mac. This means you will find this software on computers on campus, and that the Help Desks can answer questions about it. If you are using other software on your computer, like Microsoft Works, iWorks Pages for Mac, or Open Office, remember to save in a file format which can be read in our supported programs: save your work as a .rtf, or Rich Text File. This will enable your professor to open your work using on-campus computers, and you can open and print your own files when you use any on-campus computer.
Do I really need Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word) for First Year Writing?
Microsoft Office is recommended, but it is not required for First Year Writing. For students with limited computer know-how, Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word) will be the simplest way to create and share files with your professor. Other alternatives may require you to save your file in a different format and may integrate differently with programs such as RefWorks (a program for saving citations).
Is OpenOffice.org really a viable, free alternative to Microsoft Office?
While OpenOffice.org duplicates many of the features of Microsoft Office, the documents that you will be working with in First Year Writing will need to be in the .doc, .docx, or .rtf formats in order to share your files with your professor. When you save your file, select the "Save As" option and select one of these file formats in order to save your file in one of these formats. Keep in mind that programs of study that might ask you to manipulate data in Microsoft Excel may require Microsoft Office further down the line. However, OpenOffice.org does include a spreadsheet program that can import and export .xls and .xlsx Microsoft Excel files.
Is Google Docs really a viable, free alternative to Microsoft Office?
Much like OpenOffice.org, you will be able to create and work with documents in a very familiar word processing environment. You will need to download your file as a "Word" document or "rtf" document in order to email your file to your professor. This option is available under the "File" heading at the top of the webpage.
How can I purchase software at academic/reduced rates for my home computer?
Your status as a student or instructor at Temple University gives you access to academic software rates at many online stores, including JourneyEd: http://www.journeyed.com/select.
What should I know about how my instructor will return draft essays to me with comments?
If your instructor returns an essay with comments as an email attachment, you will have the choice to VIEW or DOWNLOAD. You should choose DOWNLOAD. By downloading you ensure you can access the entire document, including the comments your instructor may have inserted down the right-hand margin using the Review feature in Word. If you only view your attachment (in Google Docs) you won't be able to see the comments. From Google Docs, though, you can shift from View to Download, using the download button in the upper right corner of the page.
Can I get a cheap computer here at Temple?
Computer Recycling Center - Bargain hardware can be bought from Temple's own Computer Recycling Center. The Computer Recycling Center is located on Main Campus on the 3rd floor of the TECH Center, and can be reached by calling 215-204-4749, faxing 215-204-5734 or by e-mail at crc@temple.edu. They recycle old hardware and sell it at very reduced prices to students. Typical price range is $25 for a desktop monitor, $25 for a printer. You can visit their online store at https://atlas.ocis.temple.edu/crc/new/webstore/default.asp.
You can also buy a new, discounted computer; Temple negotiates discounts on Dell and Apple hardware. The latest available discounts can be checked out at: http://www.temple.edu/cs/shoppersguide/shoppersguide_05.html.
What assistance does the Computer Services Center offer specifically to students?
We recommend that you visit the Computer Services pages to learn about what they offer for Temple students. They have a varied and wide range of resources including, at present, apps you can download, training courses you can attend, and a guide to the wifi hotspots on campus. A good place to begin is with this informational letter to the community from the VP of Computer and Financial resources, Timothy O'Rourke: http://www.temple.edu/cs/about/index.htm. To learn about their free training courses for students in software like Dreamweaver, Google Apps, and Photoshop, visit: http://www.temple.edu/cs/catalog/training.html.
Can First Year Writing recommend any good, free software which will help me save work, keep track of citations, and prevent viruses and malware?
Updates coming soon (or investigate by yourself now) about :
AVG antivirus free (free for personal use);
Ad-Aware free (spyware removal);
Firefox and Google Chrome (free browsers);
Dropbox (file storage service);
Mozy (automated backup, 2 gb for personal use);
Foxit reader (much faster than Adobe reader, great for slow office computers);
Calibre (allows you to convert documents and put documents on your ereader, like Kindle or Nook).
What should I know about security for my computer work?
Do I need antivirus software? Do I already have antivirus software?
Microsoft Windows 7 currently offers a built-in antivirus option, Windows Defender, which offers basic antivirus functionality. For additional security against viruses on campus, Temple University currently holds a license for Symantec Endpoint Protection, which is mandatory for every university computer. You may purchase this software for your home computer at a reduced rate here: http://www.temple.edu/cs/security/virusinfo/antiviruscd.htm.
Do I need antivirus software on a Mac? I thought Macs don't get viruses.
Although a Mac may be less vulnerable to some viruses, you should consider antivirus options to protect against potential new viruses and the risk of passing on infected files to your professors, students, or peers.
Do I need an antivirus for my tablet, tablet PC, or smart phone?
A tablet PC running Windows can run the same antivirus software as a laptop or desktop computer. There are not currently reputable antivirus options available for tablets and smart phones running mobile operating systems (Apple iOS or Android) but you should be cautious about the applications that you install on your device, particularly if your device is jailbroken or rooted.
What is Spyware or Malware and how can I avoid it?
Spyware and Malware are not necessarily viruses but can act like them. They are programs that steal your information, monitor your activities, or harm your computer or data without your permission. While no one would install these programs intentionally, carelessly installing downloading programs or visiting certain kinds of websites that carry malicious code increases your risk. Always read carefully before you click or press Enter.
How can I remove Spyware or Malware?
Freshly updated versions of Microsoft Windows include a built-in tool, Windows Defender, that can detect and remove many of these programs. If you are using a Mac, Apple releases regular security updates that detect and remove certain types of malicious programs.
What is a Firewall and why is it important?
A Firewall is a program on your computer that prevents malicious programs or individuals from accessing your computer remotely through the Internet. The most recent versions of Microsoft Windows and OS X have built-in firewalls that operate behind the scenes. Turning off these programs may put your computer at risk.
What should I know about privacy when I am doing college work online?
What do I need to know about sharing files with students or professors through Google Docs?
Google Docs is a great tool for collaborative work and for grading student papers, but instructors will need to manage the web application's simple privacy settings. When you share a document, this makes you the "owner" of the document and allows you to change its permissions. By default, a document that you create/upload and share will give each user the ability "add people and change the permissions," but you can restrict this access to the document's "owner" by selecting the "Change" option at the bottom of the dialog box.
How does FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) influence how professors can share information or documents with students?
At its simplest, FERPA means that an instructor cannot legally share personal information relating to the student's class performance with a third party, which usually includes the student's parents. This covers a variety of things, including papers, exams, and grades. Each student has access to his or her individual email address through Temple University's email system, and we recommend that instructors only return electronic papers to that student's email address whenever reasonable. For any other FERPA questions or clarifications, you should consult the First Year Writing Program administrative staff.
What TU Tech resources should I know about?
As a Temple student you are eligible for a range of discounted software. You can obtain a CD of Symantec Endpoint Protection Antivirus for Home Use (version 6) for your home computer for $8 from any Bursar's Office (where you pay bills), or from the Main Campus Help Desk on the 1st floor of the TECH Center. You will need to show your Temple ID; you can pay directly or have the fee added to your tuition bill. Check the required computer specifications for the software here: http://www.temple.edu/cs/security/virusinfo/antiviruscd.htm.
You can also purchase discounted software via Journey Education Marketing. Current product discounts include Microsoft Office 2010 Pro Plus 2010 for Windows for $80, and Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 for $85. These require that you provide evidence of your Temple enrollment via your ID when you order.
What do First Year Writing students need to know about communicating with professors?
Temple Professors always and only use your Temple email account for communication about classes and assignments. College rules oblige us to do this, so you should get in the habit of checking TU Mail frequently.
Most classes will have a Blackboard site, which you will be using to get details of assignments, an e-copy of your syllabus, readings (often in .pdf format), and perhaps take quizzes or deliver assignments. If you are new to Blackboard 9, which is Temple's current version, there is a good on-line guide which will take you through most features and functions: http://www.temple.edu/cs/bb/qrg.html.
What is the correct way to address a professor in an email?
Very politely. It's a good idea to use "netiquette" (internet etiquette) for any email communication with instructors and administrators. This means addressing them with titles such as Dear Professor Smith, or Dear Dr. Smith, or Dear Dean Smith. Casual greetings such as "Hi!" and "Yo!," all emoticons, and the abbreviations found on Facebook and Twitter (LOL, OMG, etc.) should be saved for emailing with friends. These rules will apply in workplace settings and graduate schools as well, so it's an excellent idea to start practicing netiquette now.

developed by Jesse Friedman/Jesse Enterprises Yay! Yay! Go Jesse!

produced by the First Year Writing Program Technology Committee

Last updated Wednesday, October 30, 2013