By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

The second in a new series of user-friendly, tech-topic “Ten K Talks” is planned this Friday at the School of Information Studies. The topic is personal online security.

The session is scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. at 011 Hinds Hall (the Innovation Studio, lower level). Pizza will be served, and reservations are not necessary.  “TenK Talks” are open to anyone at the iSchool, the Syracuse University campus, and the surrounding community. The programs are hosted by the iSchool’s IT Services Department professionals.

The talk will address how computer users can protect themselves online and secure their online information. Topics include creating and maintaining strong passwords; securing your wifi network; safe Internet surfing; avoiding phishing scams; and protecting your PC from virus infection.  James Powell, instructional technology analyst and an adjunct faculty member at the iSchool, is the principal presenter this month. 

The hour-long talks, focused on new technologies, are designed as informal presentations for general audiences, are a community-service initiative developed by the iSchool’s Information Technology Services Department. Presenters currently include IT Services Department personnel Powell; Michael Fudge (senior systems and IT Support administrator and adjunct faculty member); and Michael Clarke (Web specialist II and adjunct faculty member).

The talks are informal, and are presented in a seminar style.  They were started in response to the type of questions that the IT support staff receives on a regular basis from students, staff and faculty. The group decided to formalize that kind of assistance into a monthly seminar program, Fudge explained.
“The concept is to give a 10,000-foot view of one topic in each session,” he explained. “It’s not hands-on training; we’re not taking people through a class. It’s literally a brain dump of why you should care about a specific topic, and where you can go on your own to dive into more detail.” Attendees then have a range of knowledge to initiate the next learning steps or subsequent action on their own, he said. “There are so many resources on the web that have detail, but not a lot of references about why should I care, why is it important, and how can I leverage that information for myself.”

Clarke said that IT Services “saw a need within the School, and it’s us trying to help out. It’s also a way for us to increase the awareness of all the services we offer on a daily basis.”

Powell concurred. “There are a lot of things that aren’t discussed in classes because they aren’t course- worthy, but they are tech-worthy. Much of the time people come to us since there isn’t a class dedicated to these topics. If we can help them and get them kick-started, why wouldn’t we share the knowledge?”

Each monthly session follows the same format:  a 40-minute presentation (which is video-recorded for later use) and a one-page takeaway sheet of key points and additional sites and references. Anyone who is unable to attend the live session can follow later, at the program’s website,

The first program in the series was held in March, and it focused on understanding the basics of WordPress and Web hosting.  Talks are planned for users of various experience levels, from easy, to intermediate to advanced, Clarke said. The first talks are for basic levels. Future ones include sessions on computer programs InDesign and Photoshop.

“We want the community at large to feel comfortable and welcome,” Fudge said of the talks. “I certainly benefit from the Syracuse community by going to user groups, so this is part of paying it forward, and it’s certainly part of the University’s mission,” he added. 

The group plans to continue offering the sessions each month throughout the year, and to expand the range of presenters for the talks to include subject experts outside the IT Services Department. That encompasses anyone who may have some expertise to share on a topic, from additional iSchool faculty and Syracuse University presenters, to members in the local community, according to Clarke. The TenK group also is seeking suggestions for future topics as well. Ideas can be submitted on the website. In the fall, a day-long seminar is planned featuring multiple sessions throughout the day.