CIS Summer Projects

With half of summer already gone,  CIS is knee-deep in projects.  Thankfully, we have an excellent team of interns helping us this summer:

  • Chris Butler ’20
  • Harry Fetsch ’20
  • Andrew Pham ’20
  • Aomsin Pongpiriyakam ’20
  • Kainoa Correa ’20
  • Xingyao Chen ’20
  • Anthony Romm ’18
  • Johan Hoeger ’17

Our team of summer interns is working on multiple projects that scale in size from small updates to improve workflows, to a complete overhaul of the HMC website to improve accessibility.  They are helping us support multiple departments throughout the college.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the projects we are working on currently:

Accessibility Project
Perhaps the biggest task our interns are undertaking is the accessibility project. Students are evaluating HMC’s website to determine whether the documents, forms, and structure are in the most accessible format. Students have met with the Communications department to outline the task and obtain access to the college’s WordPress site. We are already in the process of converting documents to webpage formats, making them easier to use. Over 800 PDFs and pageviews have been collected! The owners of the documents have been identified and the level of access to these forms has been determined as well. While this is a major undertaking, these changes are critical to improving users’ experiences online! You can learn more about this project here.

Electronic Forms Project
Students are putting their coding skills to work by converting the Registrars’ paper forms to Google Forms. Goals in this project include reducing the use of paper forms and adding automation and efficiency for tracking the status of requests and approvals between students, faculty, and the Registrar Office. Many of these forms have both student and faculty versions that are designed to automatically store responses and send reminder emails to advisors for approval. Students are currently testing the Transfer Course Approval form and the Independent Study form. More information about this project is outlined here.

Help Desk Chat Support
CIS is always looking for ways to expand on the service we provide faculty, staff, and students! While you can always call, email, or visit the Help Desk, we wanted to integrate another option for users on the go: chat support! Utilizing Google Hangouts, the chat service is currently being designed to provide automated responses and direct users to information for after-hours support. Faculty, staff, and students can also receive real-time support from CIS staff via the chat option. If a response is not received within a specific amount of time, the chat bot will provide an automatic response. Our interns are using programming to develop and deploy the service. You can learn more about the chat bot project here.

HMC Lecture Capture Migration
Many students on campus have taken at least one class that utilizes the Lecture Capture service. Faculty may request semester-long recordings of their lectures and provide them to students. In addition, the service may be used for special presentations, events, and guest lectures throughout the academic year. All recorded media is migrated from MediaSite to an HMC Google Drive maintained by the CIS department. Our students have already successfully archived the 2016 Fall – 2017 Spring academic year! You can find out more about this project here.

Shanahan Center Audio Visual Equipment Checks and Repairs
You may have seen the CIS staff throughout the course of the semester testing classroom equipment in the Shanahan building. Our interns join alongside us during the summer to ensure all equipment is tested and ready to go for the upcoming fall semester. No task is too small – classroom functionality is critical to the success of our faculty and students!

These projects represent only a handful of the responsibilities our interns are taking on this summer. Several other projects will be starting up later this summer and we’re excited to share our progress with you! If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to stop by Sprague this summer! You can always call or email the Help Desk too!

Summary of LMS Survey Results

Sakai logoThe IACC (Intercollegiate Academic Computing Committee) recently conducted a survey of all faculty, staff, and students at The Claremont Colleges. This survey focused more on users’ satisfaction with Sakai, how they felt about possibly transitioning to a different LMS, how they used Sakai, and what they felt was missing from existing tools.

The results for all colleges showed that a majority of student, faculty, and staff respondents were satisfied/very satisfied with Sakai (66%, 65%, and 60%, respectively). Looking at the HMC-only results, 61% of students, 53% of faculty, and 39% of staff surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied. HMC staff respondents were more neutral about Sakai’s usefulness, ease of use, reliability, and available features than staff at the other campuses. Faculty and student responses did not differ significantly from the combined results of the consortium.

Across The Claremont Colleges, a majority of students, faculty and staff expressed neutral feelings about transitioning to a different LMS (51% students, 50% of faculty, and 71% of the staff). Only 19% of the students, 22% of the faculty, and 12% of the staff respondents were in favor of a transition. The HMC results were similar; the only significant variation is that HMC staff were much more likely to mark an LMS transition as a medium, high, or urgent priority than staff at the other colleges.

Faculty and students who did not favor transitioning to a new LMS expressed that, given Sakai’s adequacy in meeting their needs, switching seemed to pose more challenges than benefits. In particular, they pointed to the challenges of learning to use a new system and of having to use two systems simultaneously during the switch. Several students also shared their desire to see faculty use Sakai more consistently and in more sophisticated ways.

Those who expressed dissatisfaction pointed to frustrations with Sakai’s navigation and described some additional features in existing Sakai tools (Dropbox, Forums, Gradebook) that they would like to see. Constituents will be pleased to know that a number of the requested features will be implemented this summer in the newest version of Sakai, including an updated interface to the Resources tool that requires fewer clicks, a new version of the Gradebook tool that incorporates new features from Gradebook 2, and a revised user interface. Interestingly, there were also a number of requested features that already exist in Sakai, suggesting that respondents either do not know about these features or have not received adequate instructional resources to be able to use them.

As a result of these responses, the Educational Technology Services team will prioritize developing new opportunities and methods for the community to learn to use Sakai’s existing functions and features, as well as those that will be introduced this summer. Hopefully this effort will benefit both faculty and students by making it easier to integrate the LMS into course activities. We look forward to partnering with others on campus in implementing new programs and resources in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Results from the Lecture Capture Survey

Lecture Capture Survey Summary Report – March 2017

HMC CIS conducted a survey of the HMC community (faculty, staff, and students) about their satisfaction with the current lecture capture system on campus. Overall, the respondents were satisfied with lecture capture services at HMC: 69% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their overall experience, while only 10.9% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed.

When asked what works well about the lecture capture system, many respondents pointed to the same aspects:

  • Convenience
  • Non-intrusive recording process
  • Useful side-by-side recording of speaker and slides
  • Opportunity to view recordings of events when scheduling doesn’t permit attendance
  • Ability to review lectures after class
  • Different playback speeds for faster review

In terms of possible additions or improvements, faculty, staff, and students provided the following suggestions:

  • Using cameras that track the speaker (rather than a fixed camera angle)
  • Improving audio/video quality
  • Making it easier to find previous recordings
  • Providing self-service interface for recording and editing
  • Allowing users to download recordings
  • Permitting users to use their own microphone (instead of a designated mic or lectern)
  • Providing clearer view of chalkboards/whiteboards
  • Speeding up video buffering for faster playback

Finally, over 50% of the respondents want to see lecture capture used more often on campus (46.3% said “Yes, much more” and 27.8% said “Yes, a bit more”), and many expressed a desire for recordings to be more quickly available (43.6% wanted “Same day” and 35.9% wanted “Within 3 days”).

Thank you all for your participation. We hope to use these preferences to inform future changes and improvements to the lecture capture system to the extent that we are able.


Update from the CIO January 2017

I hope everyone enjoyed the winter break and returned with renewed vigor.  The start of classes already seems like so long ago!

There are many things to cover in this update as a lot is going on in the information technology world at HMC and at the Claremont Colleges.

Looking back….

We closed 2016 at CIS with a review of some of the year’s highlights.  The truly great staff at CIS brought up some new services,  with benefits for applicants to HMC, as well as for faculty, staff and students .   Brittany Oliver, one of our newest hires, wrote a lovely article  2016 Year in Review .

Looking forward, there is much to address, but I will frame it all up by looking at two things, IT@TCC and the HMC Computing Committee…

You might recall that the Presidents’ Council set a number of initiatives in motion in the Fall of 2015, all leading in the direction of what I like to call “appropriate centralization” of IT. None of the Colleges are really in a position to go it alone in IT, which is an area in which there are many natural pressures toward consolidation and centralization.  The trick, of course, is to get the right balance between local and more centralized support; there are many minds from the colleges focused on this task at the moment.  CUC has made some excellent new hires and they are leading a fast paced change effort.  You can read about this in my article on the changing IT landscape at the Claremont Colleges.

Computing Committee
Under Prof David Money Harris’ leadership this year, the computing committee has been having vigorous and interesting discussions.

The committee, and the Department Chairs, have given us some very helpful feedback about the design and features of email, Google Groups and calendar systems.  We have created a document (requires HMC credentials) that summarizes what we have heard and the changes we can make with the intention of improvement.  Please feel free to comment in the document itself or give us feedback in any other way that suits you.

The committee has also been discussing what we can do about providing better Linux support, student printing,  and the new web accessibility policy.  It will soon take up a review of the impact of college growth indicators for Information Technology.

Staff, we are currently looking for a successor to Tim Hussey for the staff position on the Computing Committee,  so  if you’re interested, please use our sign up form.

More to learn about

Here are some other things you might want to read about…

Students (well, anyone really), if you are inclined toward building applications, want to learn a new operating system or delve into databases you should read about the free services you can use from Amazon Educate and about our APIs for college data.

The College adopted a policy on safeguarding confidential and sensitive information in March of 2016.  You can read about this and other policies on the IT Policy website.  We will soon be sharing some practical recommendations about how to comply with the policy, but the core of it is as follows.  We live in a high autonomy and very open information technology environment.  That means we must place an emphasis on each and every user being responsible for how they protect and make use of confidential and sensitive data collected by the College.  That means you!

If you are interested in mailing lists and want to follow what is going on with the transition from majordomo to Google Groups, I recommend three articles:

And, with that, we wish you a successful Spring 2017 Semester.

The changing landscape of IT at the Claremont Colleges

You have probably noticed some signs of it: the landscape of Information Technology at the Claremont Colleges has begun to change significantly. In this article, I will remind you of some of the initiatives that have started or will start in the near future and try to give an idea of their potential impact.

The Council of the Claremont Colleges (“Presidents’ Council”) commissioned a report on Information Technology from consulting firm BerryDunn in 2013. The report made a number of recommendations about consolidation and cost reduction/avoidance.  This led to extensive discussion between the ITC (committee of CIOs of the Colleges) and Council, resulting in the creation of six initiatives, collected under an IT@TCC umbrella.  The initiatives were to do with Networking, Security, Disaster Recovery, Telephony, Identity and Access Management and Data Centers.

At a very high level, the initiatives all call for appropriate centralization and improved management under the aegis of CUC.  In 2016, many of the original six, as well as a few others, launched.   CUC has begun to build a strong IT unit that will manage shared services.  They have made a number of great hires for the roles of CIO, deputy CIO and network management.

A new cross functional committee, the IT Steering Committee, has been formed.  It is comprised of the Vice Presidents from each College with responsibility for IT, the Dean of the Library, and representatives from each of the committees that report to Council (Academic Deans, Treasurers, Student Deans, Communications).  This committee has responsibility for governance of IT and for making decisions about which services should be provided at a Claremont wide level, rather than at individual colleges.  You can read about the ITSC and view its membership on the new site.  That site also has information on a number of sub-committees (called “ITOCs”) that are digging into initiatives on networking, telephony, identity and access management among others.

Other initiatives that started before the ITSC was formed are connecting up with the new governance structure and process.   They include:

  • Claremont participation in the Workday Student Strategic Influencer program, led by Andrew Dorantes
  • Assessment of Student Information Systems (SIS), led by Jeff Groves
  • Deployment of Workday’s Human resources system, led by Stig Lanesskog of CUC

So what might this all mean for  HMC faculty, students or staff?

By the summer, Council should have a recommendation from the SIS assessment group regarding the student information system.  It will take at least a couple of years, once a decision on a vendor has been made, to deploy a new system, but we will be saying goodbye to the current versions of the Jenzabar portal and underlying software.  I know that this will be welcome news to many.

The deployment of Workday HCM (“Human Capital Management”) has begun. This is the second Workday system that is being deployed for the Claremont Colleges, following the Financial Management System – the two are tightly integrated.  The new system is scheduled to go live in January 2018 (to coincide with the tax year).  We will be saying goodbye to UltiPro, to PeopleAdmin (for job applicants) and to current performance evaluation system (word docs).   Cynthia Beckwith, Kimberly Taylor and I are your HMC representatives on the workgroups responsible for deploying Workday HCM.  So please get in touch if you think there’s some aspect of this that you would like to influence. We’d love to know what is currently working well, what works but could be improved and what is not working for you at all.

The landscape really is changing, and there is much more to report, but I will stop for now.  Do get in touch if you have questions or comments.



Spring 2017 CIS Service Reminders

Classroom in Shanahan CenterDear faculty,

Course mailing lists have been created in Google Groups. You can see them in your My Groups list or get a full list of all course mailing lists at: Spring 2017 Course Mailing Lists on Google Groups.

We have made a couple of changes to the default settings for course mailing lists: the members of a course mailing list are only viewable by the group members, and the web archive of messages sent to the list are also only viewable by members of the group. Several other changes are under discussion with the Computing Committee, but will probably not be implemented until the Fall. It’s always a good idea for the group owner to check the group settings by clicking the Manage button.

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, many classrooms have resident document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD or DVD/VHS players. You can find a full list of which rooms have what equipment in this document: AV Equipment in HMC Class/Meeting Rooms.

Other technology available for use in the Shanahan Center and other classroom  includes:

  1. Laptop carts
  2. Lecture capture
  3. iClickers
  4. Smartboard
  5. Video cameras for displaying experiments

More details on these other technologies can be found below:

  1. We have three carts with 15 laptops each, which are stored on the second floor of the Shanahan Center for use throughout the building. Laptops are made available on a first come, first served basis so please let us know as soon as you can if you need laptops for your class. Also, consider carefully how many laptops you need or if at some point you realize that your class is using fewer laptops than you requested, please update your requests so that the systems can be made available for other classes. If you’d like more information about the laptops and how to reserve them, please visit
    You can find a full list of the software that is included on the laptops and the CIS lab computers in this document: Lab Software in CIS Managed Labs and Carts.
  2. There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. You can visit the CIS web site for more information at the Lecture Capture Service Catalog Page.
  3. Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. At this point all students have purchased iClickers so all you need is a wireless receiver and the iClicker software installed on your computer.  We have extra iClickers if you have non-HMC students in your class. More information about the iClickers can be found at the iClicker Service Catalog Page.
  4. We have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. While the Smartboard is on a mobile stand, it is too big and heavy to move between classrooms, so we are currently keeping it in one of the technology-rich classrooms (Shanahan 2460). Use of the Smartboard is on a first come, first served basis so please let us know right away if you would like to try it out in your class, as we may need time to work with the Registrar to reschedule classrooms.
  5. Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the 6 rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use the CIS AV Request Form or send us an email at

We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request. Please do not wait until the last minute to submit requests.

Have a great Spring semester

2016 Year in Review

The CIS department at HMC has spearheaded many initiatives that have made meaningful changes for faculty, staff, and students across the Claremont Colleges. Through the hard work of our staff and partnerships with departments across campus, we have introduced innovative projects, much-needed updates, and new processes to be a more effective support team for HMC and others.

We’ve seen many changes throughout the year and want to highlight some of the most impactful and memorable accomplishments we’ve made. If you’d like more information on any of our projects, please contact the Help Desk and we will gladly connect you with those who can provide additional updates.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs): In 2016, the CIS department inherited the responsibility of managing and maintaining MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) for the HMC community. These courses are designed to offer HMC-styled courses to students and teachers across the world. High school-aged students and younger can take courses that are roughly based on our own CS 5 course. This year, we relaunched SCRATCH, created by Colleen Louise, and CS 4 All courses to serve as introductory Computer Science courses. All videos created for the CS 4 All course were created by HMC students who are passionate about teaching computer science. To date, the SCRATCH course has had over 20,000 students enroll while the CS 4 All course has had over 23,000 students.

Data Assessment Team (DAT): In response to the cabinet’s desire to learn more about how data flows through HMC, our Data Assessment Team (DAT) set out to assess and document the way in which Harvey Mudd College collects, creates, and consumes personal data. The project results were delivered to the Data Standards Management Team (DSMT) to help Harvey Mudd improve current practices. Based off the data gathered, DSMT is able to help in a number of ways including: identifying process overseers, eliminating redundancies, streamlining the flow of student data, and monitoring data security. The progress made in this project has served as preparation for more impactful changes set to take place further down the line.

ETS Impact Report: The Educational Technology Services team published their first Impact Report this fall. The report focused on the team’s activities in the 2015-2016 academic year in the areas of support and outreach, projects and pilots, instructional design, and research computing. You can pick up a print copy of the report at the CIS Help Desk or read it on our website on the IT Matters page.

Research Computing Growth: HMC is the first and only institution in the Claremont Colleges to support advanced, high-performance computing for student and faculty research projects through XSEDE. This year, several HMC math and engineering students utilized XSEDE Campus Champions supercomputer allocation for research, including senior thesis and clinic projects. HMC also hosted several well-attended  XSEDE Big Data, MATLAB, and R workshops. All workshops HMC offers are open to students, faculty, and staff in the Claremont Colleges. For more information, contact the Help Desk or Dr. Jeho Park.

Lingk: We have started investigating the use of Lingk to deliver data via a standardized application programming interface (API).  Through the use of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), college course information is readily available in a format that matches that of other institutions that utilize this same standard. Students can easily search for courses, see who is teaching, and plan their schedules with this information. In fact, several students created a portal project that allows students to browse the HMC course catalog and plan a schedule for upcoming semesters. It even allows students to see a visual representation of what their schedule may look like based on selected courses. (You can find it here: Standardized data can make it easier for HMC to work with new vendors and integrate new products. While the partnership with Lingk has provided us with immediate benefit, it has also set us up to more easily extract and migrate data in the future.

Single Sign-On for HMC Applicants: At the request of Admission, we started this project to allow for single sign on single sign-on to Slate and NetPartner, the two applications used by applicants. It automates the creation of Slate accounts and the creation of CX records. Additionally, it also automates the process of removing CX records for applicants who do not become students as well as the provisioning/deprovisioning of accounts in NetPartner/PowerFAIDS.

Educational Technology Project Program: This year, the Educational Technology Services team began a formal program of accepting and supporting faculty projects in instructional design and technology. The team has supported twelve faculty projects, including designing lesson plans and workshops, creating customized technology solutions, and consulting on useful classroom tools. We’re excited to continue our project program in 2017 – please feel free to email project ideas to

Upgrades to Portal: Several areas of the Portal were upgraded in June with the implementation of System Maintenance Order (SMO) 13000.  The SMO software provided by Jenzabar allowed our campus to work toward resolving many long-standing issues and requests for enhancements.  Since the upgrade, we have been able to make progress on issues and requests that included information presented and formatted on official and unofficial transcripts, display of GPA and sessions, GPA field for student degree audit, wait-list functionality, cross-listed courses, email notifications, and student biographical information.

These projects represent only a fraction of the work completed by CIS this year. We’re already gearing up for 2017 with numerous projects well underway and other proposals in the works. If you have any ideas for future projects or collaborations, you can reach us any time through the Help Desk by calling extension 77777 or writing an email to Even if you’d just like to share feedback with us on something we’ve implemented, we’d love to hear from you!

We look forward to continuing great work with the Claremont Colleges in 2017! Enjoy your break – we’ll see you next year!

Who sees your posts in Google Groups?

When yousurprisedface write an email to a list that runs on Google Groups, do you know who gets to see that message?  “The people on the list, in their email” would be a natural response.  That’s correct, but did you know that Google Groups also keeps a web archive of list postings as well? And that the default is to allow “all organization members” to browse the web archive?   In our case “all organization members” means all faculty, students and staff as well as most alumni.   This may not be what you desire, so please make sure to check your configuration options when you create a new group.  It is the very first option in basic permissions on the group creation page. Unfortunately, Google staff tell us that it is not possible to change the default to something more restrictive than “all organization members”. So please be careful when you are creating a new list.

We recently audited the permissions on Google Groups and contacted the owners of lists that were set to be viewable by all organization members. We will do this from time to time in the future too.

You may also want to consider turning off web archiving completely. This is especially the case if sensitive information is distributed and perhaps should not be seen by future list members. To do so, you can delete all the current messages and then, on the configuration page, go to “Information->Advanced”.

There are several advantages to web archives: easy access to all messages together in one place, ability to link to a particular message (rather than forwarding it) and an easily searchable archive of all postings.




Need access to College data to build an app?

If you are interested in getting access to some of the data in our student information system, such as course scheduling data or catalog data, then we are interested in hearing from you.  We’re running a beta program that allows for access to some of the data via a standardized and (near) real time REST API.   If that seems interesting then read on…

For this beta program we are making Harvey Mudd course catalog data available via REST APIs.  Using the HMC course roster APIs (which we have built using a product from, you can build web and mobile applications that could help your fellow students.   With HMC course roster data, you could build course planning tools, course alerting, mobile scheduling and more.

This is a beta program.  The Registrar’s Office and CIS are interested in exploring how best to make data securely and appropriately available outside of the HMC Portal.  We are also interested in hearing from you about other data to which you might like secure and authorized access in order to develop apps.

Want to take your project beyond HMC? The REST APIs that we can build using are standardized using the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), enabling your project to easily consume data from other higher education institutions.

Have some ideas and want to get started?  Just contact the Help Desk ( and reference this article.

Goodbye Majordomo

We are rounding the final bend in our journey to decommission the old Majordomo mailing list system and move lists to Google Apps for Education (, now known as “G Suite for Education” (see

Lists related to departments (such as or have  been moved over to Google groups.  We are now sifting through the remaining lists and have begun asking list managers to identify which lists need to be recreated in Google Groups. Many of the majordomo lists are very old, appear to have been abandoned, and will probably not need to be moved.  Thanks in advance to the list managers for your help with this.