New Human Resources Software

By Veronica Hart

CUC has completed their research of many possible replacements for our current HR software and has chosen UltiPro as the best for our purposes. Ultipro HR is a new solution for streamlining the HR process and delivering all of the HR software functionality needed to manage all of the employee cycle. UltiPro will allow employees to change beneficiaries as well as view their current benefits. The goal for completion of the implementation of UltiPro and Workforce (which will replace ADP eTime for time and attendance tracking) is January 2012. With WorkForce, work study students will now have the ability track their attendance online. Currently HMC is working with CUC to adjust the business processes of HR to prepare for the implementation of this software. Once the decisions are made as to what specific features will be available, we will have a more detailed article about these new and exciting programs.

Using Livescribe Smartpen as a Lab Notebook Device

As noted in Elizabeth’s blog post, Educational Technology and Media Services group has been sponsoring the pilot using the Livescribe pen as a lab notebook device. In this follow-up post, we share feedback from one of the pilot participants. We also introduce various sharing practices of the Livescribe notes for those who wish to try the Livescribe pen out.

Livescribe ConnectLast May 2011, Livescribe introduced Livescribe Connect as an add-on software to Livescrive Desktop. It helps share Livescribe notes easily without using their proprietary sharing method via the Livescribe online website, which was a major hurdle in sharing the Livescribe notes in the past. With current Livescribe Connect (version 1.0.1.53964), there are four ways to share your Livescribe notes: Google Docs, Evernote, Facebook, and email/computer file. The table below summaries different features for different sharing methods:

Google Docs Evernote Facebook Email / File
Format Pencast PDF,
PDF
Pencast PDF,
PDF,
PNG image
Embedded Flash Pencast PDF,
PDF,
PNG image,
M4A audio
Downloadable Yes Yes No Yes
Searchable Text No Yes No Yes (in Livescribe Desktop)
Size Limit
for Sharing
No Yes
(25 MB – free,
50 MB – paid)
No Yes (when attached to email)

Livescribe’s Pencast PDF is a proprietary file format containing audio synced with the handwriting image in Adobe PDF. You need Adobe Reader X (version 10 or later) to interactively play the audio part of the pdf file while the image part can be viewed with any pdf viewers including Google Docs and Evernote viewer.

When uploading and sharing files via a cloud facility, the file size is an important factor to consider. Obviously, the size of the Pencast PDF file depends on the length of the audio part embedded in it. According to our tests, the Pencast PDF file takes up about 13.8 MB per one minute audio. This means that sharing Pencast PDF files on Evernote may be impractical because the upload size of one file is limited to 50 MB even with its paid premium account. But Google seems generous in allowing large PDF file upload (up to 10GB) to Google Docs. So to share a large Pencast PDF files, Google Docs would be your best bet. On the other hand, to search texts from your handwriting, Evernote is superior to Google Docs in that it offers text search feature by scanning Pencast PDFs and images.

There still exists the original (proprietary) way to share pencast files online: My Livescribe Online. Each Livescribe pen comes with 500MB online space to store and share your pencast files. Mobile device sharing is made possible through the online service. You can interactively play your pencast files on the My Livescribe space from iPhone or iPad using the Pencasts app; Android app is not yet available as of this posting.

Prof. Greg Lyzenga sent us his valuable and interesting feedback on the use of the Livescribe pen as a lab notebook device. He said, “My experience with the Livescribe was mostly pretty positive.  I found it to be pretty responsive to my writing style and the software was moderately friendly. One of the drawbacks is that you need to press pretty hard to make sure all strokes are recorded without missing or skipping.  As a result, your hand can get pretty tired after a hour of writing.  Another disadvantage as compared with an iPad or tablet is the inability to erase mistakes or use different colors.  For my personal use, I think I will prefer the iPad, even though it is a little slower in response to writing gestures.  But I will consider the Livescribe as a viable option for students who want to do electronic lab books.  For either option, pen or tablet, I am still exploring the best software and method for sharing, markup and version control. Ideally I’d like to be able to grade the notebook electronically and have my comments merged with the student’s archival copy.  I’m hoping that there is a drop box option within Sakai that will permit two-way document sharing with students so that I can do this.”

Our journey to exploit the Livescribe pen as an educational technology device will continue throughout the Fall semester. Please stay tuned for more feedback and information about the Livescribe pen from CIS.

June 2011 update from the CIO

CIS has now mostly settled into our new digs on the fifth floor of Sprague and our eyes are on the work that we need to complete before the start of classes, a mere 37 work days away (the “networkdays” function in Excel is a sobering piece of technology!)

Temporary Classrooms
One of the big things we are working on, in partnership with Facilities and Maintenance, is preparation of the temporary classrooms that will replace the T-G rooms.   It’s important to note that our approach to this has been to provide equipment equivalent to what was in the T-G classrooms.  All of the temporary classrooms will have blackboards/whiteboards, screens and projectors.   But we are not installing a control system, audio speakers, or DVD/VHS players. Elizabeth Hodas has written in more detail about the preparations at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=1339  As always, we are eager to hear or read your feedback about this.  Please contact Elizabeth (elizabeth_hodas@hmc.edu or 909 607 4583) if you have questions or concerns about the A/V elements in the temporary classrooms.


Digital Signage
A number of CIS staff are working on a cross-functional team led by Miguel Ruvalcaba of Dining Services.  The team is working on digital signage for the Dining Commons that will have up to the minute menu information and include reservation information for each of the PDRs.  This work is funded by a grant from Sodexho.  This project will give us experience with digital signage and the FourWinds software that the consortium uses, which will be helpful as we deploy more signs in Sprague and in the new building.

Email and Calendar
We have formed an Email and Calendar team consisting of Cindy Abercrombie, Mitch Shacklett, Calvin Tong, Andy Davenport and Veronica Hart.  In June they got the incoming students set up in Google Apps for Education and all of them are receiving official @hmc.edu email there now.  By early August, the team plans to have migrated all the mailboxes from mailbox-02 (Zimbra mail for students).  Then they will work on a plan for the migration from Zimbra to Microsoft 365 and Google Apps.  The team has set up a website (on Google Sites, which is part of Google Apps for Education) to disseminate updates about their work.

On June 28 Microsoft officially launched Microsoft Office 365, which is the successor to the MS Live product and is the platform we will be using.

We are still in exploration mode regarding the decision to source email and calendar with two cloud providers rather than one.  The charge I have given the team is to let me know if they encounter an obstacle that would make this decision too difficult to implement.  So far, it is not more attractive to go with only Google Apps, for example, as Outlook users would be less well served.  And, given the popularity of Google Apps with students and some faculty, they would be less well served by a decision to use Microsoft 365 only.   We are comparing notes with the University of Washington as we go, since they have made the same decision.

Admission Online Reading
Earlier this year, in partnership with CUC, the College signed an agreement with Hyland Software  to produce an online reading system for the Office of Admission.  Up to now, the many applications that HMC receives each year have been printed out for reading by the Admission team.  Starting in November, they will be able to read and process applications online.  The reading system will be a “workflow” built on Hyland’s OnBase product, which the Consortium purchased a few years ago.  In June, a team from Hyland visited for two days to conduct a “discovery”  session with Admission, CIS and CUC staff.  The Admission staff are eagerly looking forward to reading applications on mobile devices rather than carting around bulky files and, of course, more than one person can have access to a file at a time.  We are grateful to Bob Walton, CEO of the Consortium, for his willingness to invest in additional server side licenses to allow development of the HMC workflow.

Things to come
In June the CIS  Management Team conducted a two day retreat focused on building the team and on planning for the year to come.  We produced a set of goals and are working on the high level plans to reach those goals.  Watch for news on this in July.

As I mentioned in the May update, the Learnstream folk have been working hard on rewriting their software in Ruby on Rails.  It is now far enough along that they’ve started putting content in for Physics and Math.  We anticipate some more public testing in late July or early August, so watch for news on that one too.

Now that we have settled into Sprague 5, we are starting to think about an Open House in the Fall Semester.  You’ll see more news about that as plans develop.

Everyone at CIS hopes that you are having a good summer. If you’re not in Claremont, you’re missing the heat and the closure of Thomas-Garrett, but we hope you’re having a good time wherever you are.

Temporary classrooms to replace classrooms in Thomas-Garrett

With Thomas-Garrett scheduled to be torn down later this month, the Educational Technology and Media Services group and Facilities and Maintenance have been busy getting temporary classrooms ready for the Fall semester. There were eight classrooms in Thomas-Garrett. Those eight classrooms will be replaced by classrooms in the following spaces:

  • Parsons B144 (formerly the CIS Mac lab)
  • Parsons B146 (formerly the CIS PC lab)
  • Riggs Room in the Linde Activities Center
  • Baker Room in the Linde Activities Center
  • Beckman B115
  • Olin B143
  • 2 modular classrooms

All of the temporary classrooms will be outfitted with whiteboards and/or blackboards, screens, and video projectors. Since these classrooms are intended to be temporary we will not be outfitting them with all of the features of our standard classroom audiovisual setup. We will not be installing a control system, audio speakers, or DVD/VHS players. We have a 55″ LED LCD video screen with a DVD/VHS player that can be rolled into one of these classrooms if faculty would like to show a movie to the class. We are also considering placing computer speakers in each classroom so that faculty can play sound from their laptops.