How are you using Office365?

A while back, I posted an article about how Prof Eliot Bush is making use of Google Apps for Education.   We recently completed the migration of accounts from mailbox-01 to Microsoft Office365 for Education.  I asked Patricia Wang how she liked it, and to tell me two things that she does with the Office365/Outlook combination.   Here’s what Patricia wrote:

Since I was really comfortable using Zimbra, I was a little apprehensive about migrating to Outlook 2010. I’ve only been using Outlook for a short time, but I’ve discovered a couple of features that I really like already.

One of the features that I find helpful in Outlook 2010 is the built-in task list. I use it to organize my tasks by assigning due dates, setting reminders, and marking tasks as complete when I finish them. It can also be used to delegate tasks to other people and manage task assignments. Tasks can be created from scratch by selecting the New Items > Tasks button on the Home tab. However, my favorite way to create a task is by by dragging an email to the task button on the bottom of the navigation pane. This transfers an existing email message to my task list without me having to create an individual task from scratch. I can also use this drag and drop method if I want to flag a contact record for follow-up.

Another feature that helps me keep organized is the Rules Wizard. Outlook lets me set up instructions, called rules, that determine how it should process messages upon receipt. I can set up rules to automatically move, copy, delete, forward, redirect, or reply to an incoming message. For the messages that are already in my inbox, I love the run-this-rule-now feature. It’s like waving a magic wand to reduce the clutter in my inbox!

I hope to discover other neat features as I explore Outlook 2010!

Thanks to Patricia for sending these comments. If you have other interesting ways that you make use of Google Apps or Office 365, don’t hestitate to share in the comments section below, or send me an email.

How do you use Google Apps?

We’re putting together short articles about the ways that people make use of the new HMC Google Apps for Education service.  I asked Eliot Bush, chair of the Computing Committee, to give me examples of things he does.   Here’s what he wrote:

One thing I do is use appointment slots in google calendar. This is great for setting up meetings with students. When its time for advising meetings and registration, I set up a bunch of appointment slots and have them select them.

I also co-teach quite a bit. We often have to do things like write an exam together. Its so much easier to do this with a google doc which can be edited together. It saves us from having a thousand different versions flying back and forth over email.

If you have found a good use for Google Apps, or know of a Google add on we should activate, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, or leave a comment on this post.

Sakai Service changes coming

Harvey Mudd College has been the “Lead College” for the Sakai service since its inception in 2006.  This means that we provide the service to all the Claremont Colleges and receive some funding from the other Colleges to do so.

About two years ago I began to explore the option of contracting with rSmart for Sakai hosting.  rSmart is a company dedicated to hosting Sakai and other Higher Ed applications for a long list of higher education customers.  Hosting the service with them would take advantage of their expertise and the scale of their operation, which is based in Arizona and housed in one of the largest data centers in the country. On almost all dimensions of the comparison — cost, architecture, functionality, infrastructure, expertise — rSmart looked to be an improvement over what HMC could provide alone. Exploration of this option took many months, and then in August 2011 I made a formal proposal to the Information Technology Committee (ITC) that we should host Sakai with rSmart.  A series of monthly discussions took place, including a visit by the rSmart team in December.   However, I did not manage to persuade my CIO colleagues from the other Claremont Colleges and so the ITC voted to accept an offer from Pomona College to host the service.  The ITC is now moving forward to bring that recommendation to two other Intercollegiate committees, the Business and Financial Affairs Committee (BFAC) and the Academic Deans Commitee (ADC).  Assuming those committees endorse the idea, the Sakai service will be provided by Pomona College effective July 1, 2012.

If the service does move to Pomona, end users will not see any real difference in how the service is delivered. Pomona has offered to continue to subsidize the service and to augment and strengthen the infrastructure, which are good things.  Over time, they may install the rSmart version of Sakai which would provide some nice additional functionality over the “vanilla” version of Sakai that we have been running.

User support for Sakai questions will continue in the same way as it does now.  You can contact the Help Desk for help with issues and if you need advice on how to use a particular tool, you could contact Elizabeth Hodas.

For CIS, the change means a return of time and resources that were being dedicated to supporting the intercollegiate service.  During the analysis of the rSmart option, I discovered that we were subsidizing the service by about $50k per year. We were indeed investing time and resources in an important service and received praise from the other Colleges for our work.  But we are now looking forward to investing time and energy in other projects that will benefit the College, while confident that the Sakai service will be delivered in the ways we were familiar with.

 

Google’s new privacy policy and Google Apps for Education

On March 1, 2012 Google introduced a new privacy policy that applies to their consumer products (gmail, picasa, youtube etc).   There was a huge amount of coverage of this in the media.

Discussion with the HMC Computing Committee made it clear that we should remind you that the HMC contract with Google is for the Google Apps for Education (GAE) service, which is a separate suite of products, covered by a separate contract.  The new privacy policy does not apply to the core GAE service.

Among the key differences between GAE and the consumer service is that GAE includes a FERPA clause.  This clause stipulates that Google is subject to FERPA in the same way as the college is, and must process educational records (such as emails to students) accordingly.

In our discussions within CIS, we were struck by the fact that what Google is doing seems so much part and parcel of the tracking we are all subject to, both on and off line.  Retailers have been doing it for decades, as we learned from a NY Times article about how companies learn your secrets. I find it fascinating which practices and policy changes get noticed, and which don’t.

So, again, the GAE contract is separate from the Google’s consumer product privacy policy. If you have concerns or want to learn more, you should read the Google Apps for Education contract.

You may also find these Chronicle, Educause and Campus Technologies posts of interest.

CIS to make more use of Footprints ticket system

Partly as a result of our recent BAO and CIS service initiative CIS has committed to making more effective use of the issue tracking system Numara Footprints.  This system is housed at Pomona College and is used by most of the Claremont Colleges, though each has a separate section in the database.

CIS has developed a process for working with the ticket system which identifies roles, responsibilities and the stages in the ticket life cycle. There’s a quick overview in the following slideshow.

Essentially, there are three roles and three life cycle stages. The roles are “user” (you, the customer!),  “assignee” (members of CIS staff that do the work), and “owner” (member of CIS staff responsible for guiding the ticket through to completion).  The “owner” plays a customer advocate role to ensure that we provide the service we aspire to provide.

Why would you care about any of this? If we put issues in a ticket system they are less likely to be forgotten, and are seen by more than one pair of eyes. We will be able to track the work we do at CIS better, and build a knowledge base of solutions to common problems.  You don’t have to know the details of who does what in order to see your requests answered.  And we’ll be able to ask you for specific feedback about individual service requests.

I am very impressed with CIS staff member’s quick adoption of our process.  We’ve had a couple of “ticket squashing” pizza parties that resulted in closing large numbers of issues and, when we identified nearly 200 older tickets that did not have an owner assigned, the group pulled together to eliminate this problem in less than one day.

Room reservation software upgrade to EMS Campus

Guest author, Isabel Jordan, wrote for us about a recent upgrade to the Event Management System….

HMC’s reservation software, Event Management System (EMS), has been upgraded to the Campus 3.0 version. Virtual EMS was only changed in appearance but not use. There has been some feedback from Mac users who say they are having difficulty viewing Virtual EMS. The solution has been to use Google Chrome
as the browser rather than Mozilla Firefox.

Currently, CIS and the Facilities & Maintenance team are working together to
get the Integrated Authentication module up and running. This module will
integrate EMS with the directory server so that one can log in to EMS with
the same account log in/password that is used to log in to one’s computer
(HMC credentials).  There are over 600 users who have accounts in EMS so we
are trying to figure out the most efficient way to make this happen.

Moving forward the plan is to install an Academic Planning Module that will
assist the Registrar’s office to connect the academic schedule from CX to
EMS. Currently the 5C registrars are being trained to learn the
collaboration between CX and EMS.

IAM @ HMC journey begins

In my last update from the CIO  I gave a quick overview of Identity and Access Management (IAM).  We have now contracted with Fischer International for Identity and Access Management services.  Throughout 2012, this decision will have an increasing impact on all of our daily computing lives.  You will hear and read more and more references to your “HMC Credentials”, which will be a username and password derived from your current Charlie or Alice passwords (Active Directory).  We will stop referring to credentials that are specific to an application, such as “your Zimbra username and password”.   Eventually, your HMC Credentials will be the only credentials you need to access most services; moreover, you will see a “single sign on” ecology begin to emerge:  once you’ve logged in to one service, you typically will not have to provide credentials for the next service you visit.  For example, you would log on to your computer in the morning and then visit Sakai, which would recognize that you have already authenticated and not ask you for your credentials a second time. Ditto when you visit email (including Google Apps) after you’ve logged into Sakai or the Portal.  And so on.

The IAM @ HMC initiative will also bring you a web interface to reset your password for your HMC credentials.

There’s more: an important milestone along the IAM @ HMC journey will be our ability to join InCommon, which is an Internet2 initiative.  Two immediate benefits: you will be able to use your HMC Credentials to access online resources through the library, NSF resources and any other “federated” resources that work with InCommon.  We anticipate joining InCommon in the first six months of 2012. 

Presentation to PPCPC on Campus Network Infrastructure

At the September Board of Trustee meetings, Cindy Abercrombie, Mitch Shacklett and I presented some information about our work in the area of network infrastructure review.  We are working toward a long term plan for the network infrastructure and wanted the Physical Plant and Campus Planning Committee (PPCPC) to be aware of the issues we are seeking to address.

Below is a reconstruction of the presentation, which I recorded afterward. If you want to look at the full size screen cast, you will find it here.

Saddle Rock Presentation on Technology and Education

At the annual Saddle Rock Trustee retreat in October 2011, all of the Vice Presidents gave presentations.  I wanted to stimulate discussion of issues in technology and education, so I spent about twenty minutes giving an overview of four interesting examples, and then had people discuss them in groups.  Prior to the retreat, I had mailed out a document that contained information about the four topics, for those who wanted to read beforehand. You’ll find that document linked here: IT reading prior to Saddle Rock 2011

Below is a reconstruction of the session, which I recorded afterward. If you want to look at the full size screen cast click here.

Learnstream

Our series, A Bite of Learning,  is intended to foster innovation.  In October 2010, Ryan Muller ’11 and Neal Pisenti ’11, approached us about doing a presentation on a project they’d been working on.  It was Learnstream, an application for creating lecture notes around YouTube video content.  Their pilot version was built around Francis Su’s Real Analysis Class.  This was one of our more popular Bite of Learning presentations.

You can see how the current version of Learnstream works at beta.learnstream.org

Since then, Ryan and Neal have been working very hard on the project and CIS has been supporting them where we can.  Together Ryan, Neal and I applied for an Educause Next Generation Learning Challenges grant, although we were disappointed in that effort.  Working with Jeff Burkett ’11 and Chandler May ’11, they added social networking features to the application over winter break.  They showed Learnstream to Bill Gates when he was here, and he found it “stimulating”.  

As soon as Commencement is over, they will be working hard on a rewrite of the application and on developing content for material to support high school students who are preparing for the AP Physics C exam.  This work will be funded by a Shanahan grant and CIS funds.

This is quite a success story from one Bite of Learning presentation!  Got a project you’d like to present?  If so, get in touch with Elizabeth Hodas or with me (vaughan@hmc.edu).