Calvin Tong joins CIS

Effective January 21, 2009 Calvin Tong will serve as User Support Group Leader at CIS.

Calvin comes to Harvey Mudd from UCLA, where he supervised the Help Desk and the support technicians at the Center for Digital Humanities. His group there had a well deserved reputation for outstanding teamwork and high quality service.

Calvin Tong
Calvin Tong

Calvin received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from UCLA.

As you will no doubt remember from previous news items, the Fletcher Jones Foundation has given us a grant that allows for the creation of two new positions in educational technology. Elizabeth Hodas is starting as the group leader for the new educational technology unit and Calvin is taking over from her in User Support. Take a look at the CIS Organization Chart to see how we have set this up.

During the search process Calvin received the usual Harvey Mudd grilling during a series of campus interviews in early December. I would like to thank the following people for their help with the search:

Karen Angemi
Peter Osgood
Thyra Briggs
Gerry VanHecke
Joe DeBlasio
Patricia Wang
Christine Alvarado
Cynthia Beckwith
Andrew Dorantes
Chris Stone
David Harris
Willie Drake
Tim Buccheim
Claire Connelly
Jake Liu
Liz Baughman
All of the CIS staff.

Please join us in welcoming Calvin to HMC!

Joseph Vaughan

Digging into data

From the NEH’s Office of Digital Humanities blog at

The Digging into Data Challenge

The Digging into Data Challenge is an international grant competition sponsored by four leading research agencies, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) from the United Kingdom, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) from the United States, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) from Canada.

What is the “challenge” we speak of? The idea behind the Digging into Data Challenge is to answer the question “what do you do with a million books?” Or a million pages of newspaper? Or a million photographs of artwork? That is, how does the notion of scale affect humanities and social science research? Now that scholars have access to huge repositories of digitized data — far more than they could read in a lifetime — what does that mean for research? Check out the competition website:

Linux server “Odin” to be upgraded

We will be replacing the hardware of the Linux server named “Odin”, on Thursday Jan 15 2009 at 4 PM. The new system will still answer to the name “Odin”, and have all the user data and perform the same services as the current machine. The transition between servers is expected to take less than 4 hours.

While it is happening

– You will not be able to access any files or e-mail on Odin.
– You will not be able to pick e-mail up from Odin.
– Odin will not forward any e-mail. No e-mails will be lost, only delayed.
– You will not be able to access web pages hosted on

If you have questions or concerns about this upgrade or the scheduled downtime, please send email or call the CIS help desk at or x77777

Teaching with Sakai awards

Instructors: Teaching Award Opportunity

Instructors making innovative use of Sakai, HMC’s course management system, have the opportunity to apply for the 2009 Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award. This award goes to an instructor making exceptional use of Sakai in the areas of

  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Learning Materials
  • Learning Outcomes & Assessment
  • Course Look and Feel and Usability
  • Learner Support

For more information on each requirement, see the Application Rubric (

Last year’s winner Dr. Aileen Huang-Saad taught a graduate level biomedical engineering design course at University of Michigan. After listening to a series of lectures by guest physicians on clinical challenges in their field, students used Discussion and Wiki tools to self-organize on which problems they wanted to address. They used Materials to share whiteboard snapshots of their brainstorming sessions. They later used those same tools to discuss and document the best solutions to those problems.

Second place winner Salim Nakhjavani used Sakai to teach international law at University of Cape Town, South Africa. His class simulated what it would be like to work as a legal advisor for ten African states in small group sections, and used Forums to share their group discussions. Students used Chat to organize their country groups as well as to ask questions of lecturers and TAs. Rather than requiring students to purchase a printed casebook, they published an e-casebook using Sakai’s Wiki. All assignments and tutorial preparation questions were delivered and completed online, freeing up class time.

Visit the TWSIA Web site ( to learn more about the award and view Huang-Saad and Nakhjavani’s applications. You can also see a Real Player video of their inspiring presentations (rtsp:// at the 2008 Sakai Conference in Paris.

Applications for the TWSIA must be made electronically by February 27 at the TWSIA Web site. Winners will be flown to Boston this July to address attendees of the 2009 Sakai Conference in Boston.