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…

IT@TCC
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 it.claremont.edu 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.

 

 

Course, Major, Dorm and Class mailing lists

In 2013 the Computing Committee surveyed the faculty to identify priorities for CIS.  The second highest priority (after “Improve the Portal”) was “improve the course mailing lists system”.   Since then, we have been steadily moving lists away from the old software (called Majordomo) to Google Groups within our Google Apps for Education domain g.hmc.edu.  I am writing now to let you know that we are about to move some widely used lists to Google Groups.

There are two kinds of list:  ad-hoc lists that are created by hand and automated lists that are created by scripts that draw on information in the student information system.   We (and you)  have been creating ad-hoc lists on google groups for some time.  We are now ready to migrate the automated lists to Google Groups and also to automate more lists, such as faculty-l, staff-l and some departmental lists.

The automated lists on Google Groups are now working in parallel with the Majordomo lists (so you can write to either).  On Wednesday, August 26 we will turn off the majordomo lists for the following categories of automated lists.:

  • section (“math-60-1-L@hmc.edu” will become “math-60-1-2015-FA@g.hmc.edu”)
  • major lists by year (“bio-majors-15-L@hmc.edu” will become “bio-majors-15@g.hmc.edu”)
  • dorm (“atwood-dorm-L@hmc.edu” will become “atwood-dorm@g.hmc.edu”)
  • class (“HMC2019-L@hmc.edu” will become “HMC2019@g.hmc.edu”)

You do not need to memorize any of these names, as they will appear in both the Directory and your  “My Groups” listing at groups.g.hmc.edu, as well as autocompleting when you compose a message in gmail.

Your course lists will be automatically updated three times per day, on the same schedule as Sakai. And you will be able to read archived messages at any time.

There should be no major changes for people who wish to use the lists. There are some new additional features of Google groups that you may find useful, such as the ability to view and respond to messages on the web, view archives and view member lists.  To distinguish automatically created lists from manually created ones, we will not be using the “-l” convention on Google Groups, so automatically created list addresses will have the format “groupname@g.hmc.edu”, whereas ad-hoc lists will continue to have “-l” at the end.

I would like to publicly thank Andy Davenport who has done patient and careful work to develop a system for automatically creating these lists.

As usual, I would appreciate any feedback you might have.

Digital Humanities Applications

From our friends in Digital Humanitiesdhcc-web

A reminder that faculty applications for the 5C Digital Humanities @ The Claremont Colleges (DH@CC) 2015 Summer Institute and Digital Course Development grants are due on March 6th. You can find applications at http://claremontdh.com/applications/, and learn more about these Mellon Foundation-supported programs at http://claremontdh.com/category/grant-applications/grant-descriptions/.

If you have any questions about DH@CC, please contact Project Manager AJ Strout at AJ_Strout@pitzer.edu.

February 2015 Update from the CIO

80101383152976HMCWeb10We had such a busy Fall semester that I was unable to send out updates.  In this one, I will cover developments since my last update in late August. I hope you have some time to read it.

People
Starting with the most important aspect of all organizations, I have the pleasure of introducing three people.  Taylor Calderone has joined us in a permanent position as a technical analyst on the User Support team.  Taylor has been with us for a while on a temporary basis, working primarily with audiovisual support.  When Corey LeBlanc left for Pomona’s Computer Science department, it was really great to see Taylor compete for and win the permanent position.

Brian Reid has joined us in a temporary capacity to work on the User Support team. Brian came to HMC from the Geek Squad, and we are very happy to welcome him to the campus.

I am also very happy to announce that our Senior Network Engineer search has finally yielded fruit.  Duke Vu joined  the CIS team on January 5th.  He comes to us after a five year stint at JPL and we are really looking forward to adding his set of skills and insights to the team that works on that most fundamental of things, our network.  Duke will report to Mitch Shacklett, Director of the Systems and Network Group.

ITC
The intercollegiate Information Technology Committee (ITC) has  been very active of late.  This year, I get to co-chair the committee with Ken Pflueger of Pomona. Among the topics we are dealing with is the IT Assesssment by BerryDunn, which I mentioned in my last update.   The final version has been received and is under review by both the ITC and the Presidents Council.  The ITC agreed with many of its recommendations and has started to lay the groundwork to implement some of them.  The Council discussed the report at their January 2015 retreat and ITC is meeting with Council in March.  Council has urged the IT leaders to collaborate more deeply in order to build strong centralized services where appropriate, in particular in areas like networking, data centers, security, identity and access management and disaster recovery.

Related to the ITC, I have been helping out at CUC since the late Fall departure of the previous CIO. I am assisting Stig Lanesskog, the CEO of CUC, with IT decision making and keeping the department moving while they redefine the CIO position and launch a search.  It is an honor and privilege to help the consortium in this way, and will, I believe, yield benefit for HMC in the long run.

Workday
I hope you all saw the announcement about Workday Financial Management.  This is big news for lots of reasons.

Last year, the intercollegiate Budget and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) began looking for a replacement for the aging Datatel financial system that is run by the Claremont University Consortium (CUC).  The BFAC narrowed its requirements down to four or five “show stoppers”, two of which will be of great interest to our faculty.  The first was the ability easily to report across fiscal years, which is often very important to grant holders. And the second was support for all modern browsers. (You read more about their philosophy on user interface design).

There is so much to say about this topic that I have started a series of separate posts about it.

Password Policy
Password Policy: As you know by now, we did not implement the system change we had announced for October 27th, which would have required you to change your password every 365 days.  Thanks to good feedback from the community and the Computing Committee, I went back to the drawing board, connected with our financial auditors and finally we worked out an agreement that will require slightly longer passwords, but no annual changing of passwords.  Once per year, you will be required to check your password to ensure that it meets the HMC Credentials password requirements (the timing of this check is up to you, based on when you last changed or checked your password).  If your password meets the requirements, then you are good to go.  Only if it doesn’t meet the requirements will you be required to change it.

Email aliases
joseph.vaughan@hmc.edu, jvaughan@hmc.edu, vaughan@hmc.edu, joseph_vaughan@hmc.edu which one am I? We have traditionally tried to anticipate what people might think was someone’s address by populating our “Mail Central” with a number of aliases for the main address, which is always of the form username@hmc.edu. During the Fall semester we reviewed a number of issues with this system:

  • As the numbers in our community increase, it is more and more common to have name clashes, so that the underlying idea of being able to “make up” the email address if you know a person’s name is no longer valid.
  • Many systems now use email addresses as usernames, which means that they treat the different aliases as different accounts.  We have a variation of that problem with the Footprints Ticket System.
  • All modern email systems have some form of directory lookup and autocomplete of addresses, so you don’t have to remember them.

With this in mind, we decided to stop creating aliases for email addresses and just use the canonical form username@hmc.edu.  We did not touch existing aliases, but will no longer be creating them when we create accounts.

Other Topics
So this update has gotten long enough. But please visit our IT News site to read other articles:

NSF cyberinfrastructure grants

Dramatic increase in service requests in SCTL

CIS Digital Badge Pilot

Enjoy Spring Break and the rest of the semester.

Workday Student

As I mentioned before,  the Claremont Colleges have decided to participate in Workday’s Strategic Influencer program for the Workday Student product.   This initiative is now taking more shape.  The following people have been appointed to the Workday Strategic Influencer Project Team:

  • Margeret Adorno (Registrar, Pomona)
  • Mark Ashley (Registrar, HMC)
  • Andrew Dorantes (Treasurer, HMC)
  • Robert Goldstein (CIO, Pitzer)
  • Elizabeth Morgan (Registrar, Claremont McKenna)
  • Joseph Vaughan (CIO, HMC)
  • Chris Waugh, (Director, Smith Campus Center, Pomona)

The Project Team will visit Workday headquarters in Pleasanton, CA on February 24 for the first meeting of Strategic Influencers and Design Partners.  These meetings will be broadcast so that you can listen in from home.  Workday will be conducting interviews with functional groups as well.  If you have views on what a Student System should do, now is the time to speak up!

Claremont Colleges will use Workday Financial Management

I hope you all saw the announcement about Workday Financial Management.  This wd-logois big news for lots of reasons.

Last year, the intercollegiate Budget and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) began looking for a replacement for the aging Datatel financial system that is run by the Claremont University Consortium (CUC).  The BFAC narrowed its requirements down to four or five “show stoppers”, two of which will be of great interest to our faculty.  The first was the ability easily to report across fiscal years, which is often very important to grant holders. And the second was support for all modern browsers. (You can read more about Workday’s  philosophy on user interface design).

The BFAC and the consultant they worked with (a former treasurer at Scripps College) reviewed all the market leaders and finally settled on Workday, a relative newcomer with a strong pedigree (it was founded by the founder of Peoplesoft, Dave Duffield and the former chief strategist of Peoplesoft, Aneel Bhusri).  The Presidents Council signed off on the BFAC choice in August and the target for implementation of the new system is July 1, 2015 (yes, 2015!).

One interesting aspect of this for me, as CIO of one of the participating Colleges, is that Workday is only offered as software as a service (SaaS): there is no on-premise version. We will not be making any local customizations.  This is one more example of systems moving to the cloud, with all the implications that carries for IT units and for the Colleges.

Also extremely interesting from a Claremont perspective is that all of the Treasurers have agreed to “hold hands” and use one system, including changing and aligning business practices across the Colleges.  This includes Pomona College returning to being on the same financial system as the other colleges.

A further related aspect of this is that Workday have begun developing Workday Student, a new student information system.  They invited the Claremont Colleges to participate in the development of this system as “strategic influencers”.  The intercollegiate Academic Deans Committee (ADC), Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and Information Technology Committee (ITC) made a joint recommendation to the Council that we should take Workday up on their offer.  But at the same time the committees recommended a market review of Student Information Systems, with a view to replacing Jenzabar CX (including, potentially, with Jenzabar JX). The Presidents agreed.  Andrew Dorantes, Mark Ashley and I will all participate heavily in the Strategic Influencer work.  Workday will also conduct interviews with different groups of users, starting this week with the Registrars.

So in the near future (July 2015 or soon after) we will gradually bid a fond farewell to OnBase RFCs and the CUC Connect financial reports. And in the medium future (late 2015) the Claremont Colleges will investigate alternatives to Jenzabar CX.
lebowski
There is a lot more to say about this, and as the Dude said “It’s a complicated case, Maude. Lotta ins. Lotta outs. And a lotta strands to keep in my head, man”. So I will post individual news items on it as we move forward.

 

 

HMC Scientific Computing Workshop and Digital Badge

We are pleased to announce the HMC Scientific Computing Workshop schedule in October.  The workshops will be held on Wednesdays from 5:30 pm to 7 pm in Aviation Room in Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons.

  • October 8th: Essential MATLAB for Beginners — Learn the basics of MATLAB programming and plotting through hands-on examples of simple script m-file and function m-file.
  • October 15th: Advanced MATLAB — Learn more about MATLAB’s advanced programming skills: data structures, advanced use of functions, debugging and profiling, and parallel computing techniques.
  • October 22nd: R for Statistical Computing — Know R for statistical data analysis and graphs.
  • October 29th: OpenMP Multithreaded Programming — an easy way to parallelize and speed up your iterative calculations on multi-core machines.

All these workshops are digital badge-earning opportunities. All participants who finish their required work in and out of the workshop will be awarded a digital badge through CIS Digital Badge Pilot program. For more information about digital badges, please see https://www.hmc.edu/cis/digital-badge/.

badge-samples
HMC Scientific Computing Digital Badges

Please reserve your seat by signing up at http://bit.ly/scicompworshops-Oct2014

 

Summer 2014 update from the CIO

beanoWhen I was a kid growing up in Ireland, I loved reading the Beano and the Dandy.  Every summer, they would announce a “bumper edition”, which was packed with extra stuff for those long summer days out of school.  This is the bumper edition of updates from the CIO!

Infrastructure
The summer was a very busy one in the realm of IT infrastructure. We oversaw a major rewiring of the Parsons structure; which set the building up to host a modern wired and wireless network that should serve us well for the foreseeable future.  The major points of emphasis in the architecture of the new network are:

  • Assume an increase in the use of wireless devices (to support this we increased the number of wireless access points from nine to sixty seven).
  • Build a high capacity wired network that requires fewer physical cables (cat 6A throughout the building, fewer physical ports, but higher capacity)
  • Improve switching closets and reduce their number (from six to two).

I am very grateful to our partners in Facilities and Maintenance who worked with us to make the wiring project a success, and were supportive of our idea of carrying out our project in parallel with the vacated space project.  The new Clinic space in the basement is just beautiful!

We planned the new dorm wired and wireless network and, taking advantage of the construction work, have laid the groundwork for a “north campus loop” that will enhance the resilience of The Claremont Colleges network by providing alternate (redundant and diverse) networking routes to the second CINE core switch.

We bought new switches for east and south dorms, as well as the Linde Activity Center. We placed a new UPS in Kingston and new wireless access points in the LAC.

A new fiber run from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles is about to be completed, connecting with the Claremont network at the CUC building on First Street. This will increase the resilience of our connections to the internet.  As you can imagine, this is ever more important with the increased use of software services that are hosted elsewhere.

IAM@HMC (Identity and Access management)
We worked closely and intensely with our project partners from Fischer Identity during the summer, meeting every day for many weeks.  This let us push through to get several big wins:

  • We eliminated the distinction between LDAP passwords and Active Directory passwords — it’s all HMC Credentials from now on.
  • Automatic Account Creation (“provisioning”) went live. This meant that we could bring all the new students on board in record time, without manual account creation.
  • We brought the portal (portal.hmc.edu) into the Single Sign On environment. It uses HMC credentials now and you won’t be challenged to log in if you have already logged in and established a session in another application that is part of Single Sign On.
  • We added payors to the HMC portal so that they can view and pay bills on line.
  • We worked with other consortium members to bring up CAS, which will provide single sign on for other systems and, in our case, increases the usefulness of your HMC Credentials. In a new phase of the IAM@HMC project we hope to integrate CAS with Fischer Identity and get even more single sign on in place.

IT Assessment by BerryDunn
During the summer, representatives from consulting firm BerryDunn were in Claremont working on a Claremont-wide IT Assessment at the request of the Presidents Council. Some of you took the opportunity to meet or talk with them and give your views on the quality of IT overall at the Colleges.  I understand that the BerryDunn folk will be coming back again in the Fall, so there will be additional opportunities to meet with them.  I will try to send a bit more advanced notice, so please keep an eye out.  If you are particularly keen on talking with them, please just get in touch with me and we can set up a telephone call. They are very eager to provide the Colleges with a high quality actionable report and would greatly appreciate your input.

IT Policy
During the summer, I completed updates to the HMC Password Policy and finalized the policy on incidental personal use of IT, both of which are now linked on our IT policies page on the HMC website.  Both are the result of extensive discussion with various instances of the Computing Committee, the Presidents Cabinet and other stakeholders.  I believe that policies should be realistic and should interfere as little as possible with your day to day experience, while at the same time achieving institutional goals.  I have found that a good way to achieve that is to have extensive discussion with stakeholders, including college counsel and to be willing to wait until the policy is well cooked before releasing it.

Next up is a policy on safeguarding confidential and sensitive information.

Speaking of passwords, on October 27th we plan to turn on the password expiration function in the Fischer system.  If your password is over 365 days old, you will need to reset it. The prompt at login will just say “invalid credentials”, as we don’t want to give hackers any clues.  But you will receive a notice via email when your password is seven days away from expiring. When we first released the HMC Password Policy, the advice of the Computing Committee at the time was that August would be a good time to remind people to reset passwords, since everyone is coming back and doing housekeeping tasks for the new year.  The timing of your annual reset is up to you though, since you can change your password at any time by visiting the Password and Account Management Kiosk.  If your password is getting old, now might be a good time to change it.

Websites
When we moved to the new HMC website last January, we vowed that we would work hard to ensure that only accurate and relevant information would appear on our pages. We continue to work on that goal and have been enhancing our Service Catalog page and keeping on top of updates to the IT Projects page.  Our goal is to make it valuable and effective to turn to the CIS web page whenever you are looking for a solution or are curious to know what we’re up to.

We have also set up pages.hmc.edu for people who wish to host static html pages outside of any of our content or learning management systems.  I wrote about this in the April update, but it is worth mentioning again as we work towards decommissioning older systems such as thuban (www2), odin (www3) and www5.  www4 has already been decommissioned and replaced by pages.hmc.edu

Educational Technology
Thanks to our restructuring that placed AV operations under the wing of User Support,  Educational Technology Services had become even more focused and productive under Elizabeth Hodas’  leadership. Elizabeth is paying special attention to the question of how to relate technology tools to the goals of faculty and students.  I hope you will notice this emphasis in the roster of workshops available during our Week of Workshops, which started on Monday.

Over the summer, there was a surprising amount of interest in trying out Google Glass. Jeho Park described our experiments in his article OK Glass,shoot a laser beam!.  I found the star mapping app really compelling, even though the night on which I had Glass was a cloudy one!  It was the first time I really felt for myself the potential of augmented reality applications and I will never forget my daughter’s exclamation “oh wow” when she donned the Glass and went outside to conquer her fear of the dark.

Also over the summer, Deb Mashek set up a Google Apps Learning Community that several of us participated in.  It was a quiet success and I heard from a number of the participants about how they liked the hands on and interactive approach of these sessions, so we’re thinking of other possibilities.   We are also exploring the possibility of subscribing to lynda.com campus edition through a Claremont wide agreement. This would give faculty, students and staff a large number of online professional development and learning opportunities.

People
Unfortunately, Corey LeBlanc left us for Pomona College, where he is now the Computer Science Dept System Administrator. We wish him the best of luck, and were very sorry to see him leave us.

Taylor Calderone will be helping to fill in as we search for a new DTA. Taylor has been with us for a while in a temporary capacity, particularly with AV support for events, so he knows the ropes.

In other hiring news, we are having more success in the search for a Sr. Network Engineer and have interviewed a couple of really promising candidates in recent weeks.  Stay tuned for news on that front.

As I completed writing this update, I had a feeling of exhilaration.  It is just so pleasing to see so much progress in so many areas!  And, once again, my hat is off to the hardworking staff at CIS who just keep on working at a very high level.

Welcome back every one (and welcome, first years).  At CIS, we missed you and are looking forward to supporting you for yet another great year at Mudd.

 

 

 

Adventures in Self Publishing

This is a story in the “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade… ” category.

After we experienced some hardware issues with the Charlie file server, some of the older websites that were published under www4.hmc.edu went offline.  The new version of Charlie did not provide the file system needed by the www4 server, which had been limping along for some time.  So we quickly began to explore ways to host those pages. The inimitable Mitch Shacklett (Director, Systems and Network) came up with a great way to do this, by making a subset of your folders on Charlie visible on the web.  He promises that we will soon have a way to password protect pages being offered in this way too.

One of the people affected by this was Tad Beckman, Professor Emeritus in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts Department.  Tad had a collection of pages that included some essays and lecture notes that were referred to by many people around the internet.  Together we looked at a variety of options to publish this material in a more permanent format.  In the end, Tad found a very interesting solution: he published five eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle Store.  I was intrigued by this idea, and asked Tad a few questions by email:

How did you discover that you could publish on Amazon’s kindle store?

I Google searched self-publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing was one of the sites that came up.

Why did the  Claremont library not want to take your material?

The Claremont Digital Library program seems to be only for faculty works that have already been published somewhere. I was dealing with course notes and unpublished materials.

To whom would the material be of interest?

All of these materials have been on my WebSite from the early 1990s onward. Some were developed for courses I was teaching but others were just pursuing interests of mine. Philosophy students around the country have used my course notes and I’ve had extensive contact with some of them. Students of Native Americans (especially California 4th graders) have used my extensive notes for my freshman course “Indigenous People of the Western US”. I used to interact with parents, students, and teachers quite a bit. In addition, I wrote a whole book about California’s indians (The View from Native California) but failed to finish it when I became department chair for the second time. It wound up on the WebSite. In addition, I put up an article on Martin Heidegger which has been read widely over the internet.

How easy/difficult was it, in your opinion to get this done?

If you already have an Amazon account, it is easy to create an account on Kindle Direct Publishing. If you intend to publish, you can go ahead and fill out the tax-related forms as well. Then you get a “bookshelf” from which you can add new titles. It is very easy to do if you have your material in MS Word format. (I was using Word for MAC 2004 but switched to Word for MAC 2011.) When you add a title, you fill out a longish form with all the vital information — title, subtitle, author, categories, search words, etc. You will do two important things toward the bottom of this form — first, create a cover using their cover-maker (import your own image or leave it without an image) and, second, upload your Word file. After that, you go to a second form where you select a price and authenticate that you have authorship rights. After that, it takes the system about 12 hours to put your book into the store. The book appears on your “bookshelf” and offers several operations that you can perform — like creating an updated version, etc.

The one thing that gave me trouble until I finally figured it out was creating a table of contents that worked on a Kindle or iPad. When you know the magic it is easy in Word. In the MAC version at least, you just insert a “bookmark” over the title of a chapter, essay, etc. Then, in your table, you insert a “hyperlink” to that bookmark. When you are all finished, the table works in the Word version and is taken up by the Kindle-format conversion.

What would you say to fellow faculty about your experience with the Amazon system?

Well, I wanted these materials someplace where people could continue to use them and this looks like a good place. It was a very easy process to convert my Web pages into Word format and then coalesce them into a full document. Most of the time went into proofreading, editing, and making additional text so that the final document would be coherent. In about three weeks, I have created five publications. (You can see them by searching “Tad Beckman” on Amazon.com.) I’ve even sold a few!

Any other comments?

Retirement is great!

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I am grateful to Tad for telling me about this. You can take a look at his new  pages, served from Charlie, at http://pages.hmc.edu/beckman and his Amazon publications can be found at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tad%20Beckman