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Parents' Guide to Technology at UMass Amherst

Parents can use this guide to learn more about technology services offered by the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) and get answers to frequently asked questions about computing and technology on campus. Parents can also view the New Student Orientation Parent Presentation.

 

OIT Services

Students have a rich array of services at their disposal, including access to: 

  • SPIRE, the online student information system, where students register for classes, sign up for on-campus housing, and manage University finances 
  • Moodle, an open-source, Web-based learning management system for online course content 
  • Apps at UMass Amherst, Google's popular suite of collaboration and productivity tools, customized especially for UMass Amherst
  • Go.UMass, an online student portal featuring students' class schedules and useful campus resources, such as news, events, or maps
  • Public Computers in OIT computer classrooms, kiosks, and the Learning Commons

And much more...


 


Buying a Computer

Laptop

Students are not required to own a computer, but most students choose to purchase their own. 

Before bringing a computer to campus or buying a new one, check our recommendations for the configurations that work best in the UMass computing environment. For discounts on computers and peripherals, visit the U$ave program Web site

Students who have declared a major should check with the academic department for their recommendations. 


 


Software, Hardware & Cell Phone Discounts

  • Software: We offer free anti-virus software for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, free Windows operating systems and other Microsoft software*, and a free Linux operating system customized especially for UMass Amherst. Students can also purchase Microsoft Office and Adobe software at a fraction of the retail price. 
  • Computers & Peripherals: For competitive rates on desktops, laptops, and peripherals, check U$ave, a purchasing program for students at all UMass campuses. 
  • Cell phones: AT&T & Verizon offer exclusive savings on cell phones, plans, and accessories to all UMass Amherst students. 

*Certain restrictions apply


 


Wireless Internet Access in Residence Halls

All residence halls at UMass Amherst are wireless-only. To access the Internet from these buildings, students will need a wireless-capable laptop or desktop. OIT recommends purchasing a computer with a WiFi-certified, dual-band adapter that is 802.11 a/b/g/n- compliant. Newer laptops and some desktops have one built-in. 

Students should avoid bringing devices that can cause wireless interference and slow down their wireless connections, such as cordless phones, wireless printers, and wireless-enabled back-up devices (e.g., Time Capsules).

More about Wireless Network Access...


 


Access to Students' University Records

In compliance with FERPA (Federal Educational Rights & Privacy Act), the University must have students' written permission to share information from their records with anyone, including parents. Here are two topics you can discuss with your student:

  • The FERPA Privacy Waiver enables students to make their financial and housing information available to others. Once you are set up as a designee in SPIRE, you can request billing, financial aid, and housing information on your student's behalf. The waiver does not cover academic records, such as grades.
  • Unofficial transcripts are an easy way to share academic information. Students can view and print unofficial transcripts in SPIRE.  

 


Safer Computing

OIT strongly recommends that students download and use OIT's anti-virus software and update their computers' operating systems before arriving on campus. Students' connection to the Internet may be disabled if their computers are compromised. 

We also recommend that students avoid posting sensitive information (e.g., birth date) on Facebook or elsewhere online, and be wary of emails requesting such information. OIT will never ask students for their OIT Account password or other sensitive information via email.

More on Safe Computing...


 


Copyright Infringement 

UMass Amherst receives thousands of complaints from copyright holders each year. Each notice carries potential fines, University sanctions, or even criminal charges. Out-of-court settlements, typically paid by students' families, could cost up to $7,500. We strongly recommend that students uninstall peer-to-peer applications (e.g., KaZaA, BitTorrent) and take our Copyright Quiz to stay informed about copyright issues. 

More on Copyright Infringement...


 


Computer Repairs & Technology Support

OIT Help Center Consultants are available to answer students' technology questions in person, online, or over the phone. We also provide diagnostic and repair services for computers and peripherals, as well as software consulting services, including malware removal and data recovery services.

More on Technology Support...

 

Last Updated: Jul. 22, 2013