Incoming students now using Google Apps for Education

Calvin Tong posted this on the Harvey Mudd Facebook App yesterday:

Email address and account information have gone out to the incoming class of students! The information has been sent to your personal email address. It comes from the HMC CIS Help Desk and contains information about your email address, accessing Sakai, taking the Chem Proficiency exam online, accessing Google Apps email, and your CX ID. If you have not received an email, please give the CIS Help Desk a call at (909) 607-7777 or email us at¬† … be sure to check your junk email or spam folder just in case!

And wrote internally to CIS:

HMC Google Apps has gone “production”. ūüôā

We’re very happy about this.

Live blogging from the Sakai 2011 conference in Los Angeles

Sakai Los Angeles logoTuesday, June 14, 2011

Greetings from the Westin Bonaventure hotel where I am attending the annual Sakai conference. There are about 500 people here from all over the US and from abroad. The conference kicked off this morning with a general session with presentations from Ian Dolphin, Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation; Jens Haeusser, University of British Columbia, Chair of the Board of Directors of Jasig; and Josh Baron from Marist College and Chair of the Sakai Foundation Board. The most interesting news from the keynote presentation was that the Sakai Foundation and Jasig are in active discussions for merging the two foundations. If all goes as planned the merged organization would be in place by January 2012.

The first presentation I attended this morning was by my colleagues at Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College. Jason Smith and Ben Royas shared our somewhat painful experience with our upgrade to Sakai 2.7 last fall. We ran into some fairly significant bugs at the beginning of the Fall semester that did not show up during our summer testing. The experience led to a great deal of discussion at the Sakai Administration Team on our upgrade process. It’s a lot more fun sharing your success stories, but the community is always appreciative when presenters share their missteps as well.

Jason and Ben’s presentation was one of two presentations from The Claremont Colleges. In the afternoon Mary McMahon (Pomona), Teresa Shaw (Pomona), Ben Royas (CMC) and I presented on the use of project sites. Our presentation was well attended and we had some great questions from the audience.

The most exciting session today was the general session after lunch where we saw live demos of Sakai OAE (previously known as Sakai 3). Sakai OAE is a total redesign of Sakai and the developers have made a lot of progress since the demos I saw last year. The demos focused on three of the design themes: openness, content creation and re-use, and collaboration. I was most impressed by the ways in which the developers have redesigned Sakai to make content more “discoverable” even by people who are not registered Sakai users. Another feature that I’m sure will make many users happy is the new ability to view documents from within Sakai without downloading them. This includes PDF files, images, and all Office files. It was pretty cool!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today’s sessions were not quite as exciting as yesterday’s, but I had several interesting conversations which I hope have given me a clearer picture of the future of the Sakai CLE and OAE. At last year’s Sakai conference Sakai 3 was discussed as the brand new redesign of Sakai and the replacement for Sakai 2. In the course of the past year the Sakai Foundation began referring to Sakai 2 as the Sakai CLE¬† and Sakai 3 as Sakai OAE. The rationale behind that decision became a lot clearer to me after today’s sessions and a conversation with Chuck Severance, or Dr. Chuck as he’s known in the Sakai community. Sakai CLE and OAE are now being seen as separate but complimentary products. Sakai OAE development will focus on design themes such as social interaction, content creation and re-use, openness, and user autonomy. Sakai CLE development will focus on teaching and learning management, learning activities, and evaluation and assessment. Sakai 2.8 was released just a few months ago, a Sakai 2.9 release is planned for late this year, and there was even talk of Sakai 2.10. So development on Sakai 2 will be continuing for quite some time. The most common scenario is for institutions who are interested in taking advantage of the new features of Sakai OAE is to run both Sakai CLE and OAE in what is being referred to as hybrid mode where users can access CLE tools from within OAE.

Dr. Chuck did a session this afternoon on the work being done on Sakai 2.9. It’s been over 4 years since any real changes have been made to the user interface of Sakai CLE. Sakai 2.9 plans to address some of the user navigation and usability¬† issues that customers have complained about for years. The demo was quite impressive. The new design will also bring Sakai CLE more in line with the look and feel of Sakai OAE. So lots to look forward to in the Sakai world!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday was the last day of the conference and was not a full day of sessions. But I attended two sessions that were quite interesting. The first was by Duffy Gillman from rSmart on his efforts to integrate Google Docs into the Sakai CLE. There are lots of issues and complications with making that happen in a truly useful way. The most difficult issue is that Google and Sakai have very different concepts of permissions. Google has a pretty simple set of permission settings, while Sakai has a much more fine-grained concept. In any event the first pass at a solution from rSmart allows users to add a link to their Resources tool that basically creates a copy of the current state of the Google doc when a user clicks on it. Users can’t edit or create a Google doc from within Sakai. So it’s a start but far from a complete solution.

The second session that I found interesting was from HEC Montreal, a business school in Canada. The session’s focus was on how they manage the lifecycle of their course sites using PeopleSoft and Sakai. They have built a tool that is basically an extension of the Worksite Setup tool that allows power users to manage multiple sites, copy the contents of one site to another, and archive sites. The part that I found fascinating is that when they archive a course site at the end of the semester, instead of un-publishing the site as we do at The Claremont Colleges, they have a script that sets the course site to be “read only.” Basically the script resets the role permissions on the site so that faculty and students can no longer make any changes to the site. Faculty and students still have access to the site, but can’t modify it. It’s an interesting idea since it allows student to continue to access the course content as long as they are students at the institution.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Sakai conference. If you’re interested in looking at any of the session slides from the conference you can find them at: Thanks for reading!

May 2011 update from the CIO

We decided to rename May to Mayhem. Two new Directors, the end of year flurry, Commencement, beginning of Summer projects and, to top it all, we moved to Sprague 5 at the end of May.

New CIS Offices on Sprague 5
You should come by and visit our new offices and enjoy the view.¬† Many thanks to Rowan Reid of F&M for the work he did to help get the space ready and then move us in. ¬†The beautiful and subtle color scheme is Rowan’s work too. ¬†The goal was to create a space that is open and light filled, reminiscent of the Learning Studio on the first floor and we have achieved that. ¬†Now CIS is learning about how to work in an open plan office, which is a first for most of us.

Advancement folk from Thomas-Garrett will now be moving into the Parsons basement area.  The data center/machine room stays in that location, at least for now.

Commencement Streaming
HMC provided a live video stream of the Commencement ceremony for the first time this year. It went marvelously well, and you can read about it and the technology involved at

I have written about the LabSTOR service several times in the past. It is a remote computing system that allows you to get access to applications stored on virtual computer images. ¬† We are hoping that it will help do away with the need for people to visit labs where a particular piece of software is installed and instead get to the applications they need from any computer with an internet connection. ¬† I’ve written a bit more detail about getting access at It is now connected to HMC’s Active Directory server, so you can login in using your Active Directory account (Charlie or Alice account). ¬†Give it a try and let us know what you think.

As soon as Neal Pisenti ’11 and Ryan Muller ’11 graduated, they moved to Portland, OR to start working on a new version of Learnstream ¬†(see¬† along with Camille Marvin ’12 and Marko Milosevic. ¬†Neal and Ryan had received a Shanahan grant, which CIS is augmenting in order to cover 8 weeks of work by the team. ¬†In collaboration with the Physics department, they are going to produce some pilot modules for high-school students taking AP Physics C.

The Learnstream team decided to do a rewrite of the code from the ground up, using Extreme programming techniques and working in Ruby on Rails.  I video-conference with them once a week to learn about their progress.  They are doing truly spectacular work. I am really excited about this project because I think it has the potential to have a large impact on educational technology far beyond Harvey Mudd.

IPV6 class
In May we hosted a IPV6 taught by Internet2 staff in the Learning Studio. Attendees came from all around Southern California as well as the Claremont Colleges. Many thanks to Cynthia Humes (CMC) and Roger Wiechman for working on the logistics of this class.   Roger has been working to get CINE IPV6 ready for some time.  And we learned more on IPV6 day (June 8).

New Directors
We asked Mitch Shacklett and Cindy Abercrombie, our two new CIS Directors to interview one another for the news site. ¬†Want to learn about a data center that could roll 18″ in any direction? ¬†You’ll find that in the interview with Cindy at And if you’d like to learn more about what the HMC Director of Systems and Network does when he is not working on HMC infrastructure, visit¬†

So that’s it for May’s update. ¬†Whether you are here in Claremont or far away, we at CIS hope you have a great summer. ¬†There are only 82 days left to the start of classes in the Fall, so enjoy every one of them!

Testing LabSTOR

I’ve written about LabSTOR and the LabSTOR consortium before (see and¬† ¬†It is now up and running.

The system is designed to let you create a reservation on a remote virtual system, so that you can access applications from anywhere with an internet connection.

The Colleges involved in this consortium are now in the pilot testing phase.  As part of this testing, HMC will be partnering with Allegheny, Middlebury, Smith and Luther Colleges on June 10 to do load testing.

If you’d like to try it out for yourself, you can visit¬† Log in using your HMC Active Directory (Charlie or Alice) credentials. ¬† The system is pretty self-explanatory, but if you have questions, visit¬† or contact the Help Desk at or (909) 607 7777.

National Academies Press titles available free online

The following note came through on one of the mailing lists…

Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2011 16:01:07 +0100 
From: National Academies Press <>

Subject: All PDF Books Free to Download

As of June 2, 2011, all PDF versions of books published by the National Academies Press (NAP) will be downloadable free of charge to anyone. This includes our current catalog of more than 4,000 books plus future reports published by NAP (* Free access to our online content supports the mission of NAP–publisher for the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council–to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health. In 1994, we began offering free content online. Before today’s announcement, all PDFs were free to download in developing countries, and 65 percent of them were available for free to any user. Like no other organization, the National Academies can enlist the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of society’s most pressing problems through the authoritative and independent reports published by NAP…. Sign up now. It’s quick, easy, and free.


Barbara Kline Pope

Executive Director for Communications and The National Academies Press

*There are a small number of reports that never had PDF files and, therefore, are not available for download. In addition, part of the “Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals” series is not available in PDF. Future titles in this series will also not have PDFs associated with them.