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.

 

 

 

Fall Semester 2014 Reminders

Here are a few reminders about IT services for the Fall 2014 Semester.http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21831106

CIS Help Desk
The Help Desk is located in the Learning Studio on the ground floor of Sprague. The hours are 8am-5pm, including lunch hour. Please send a support request via our request form or send us email at helpdesk@hmc.edu or call us at (909) 607 7777.
Password Resets
The HMC password policy (available at http://goo.gl/pKiHd ) requires a password change once a year and this might be a good time to do it. You can click the “Forgot your password?” link to change your password anytime you are logging in to the HMC Portal or Google Apps. Or you can visit the HMC Password and Account Management Kiosk at https://iam.hmc.edu/identity/self-service/HMC/kiosk.jsf.
Course Mailing Lists
MajorDomo course mailing lists have been set up. You can find instructions on how to send email to a course mailing list at http://goo.gl/8ZvhMw as well as a list of all of the Fall 2014 course mailing lists at http://goo.gl/MBFfcK (you must be logged into the HMC Google Apps for Education domain to access these pages). More information about all of the ways to email the students in your courses can be found on our Course Mailing Lists page in the CIS Service Catalog.
Course Mudd Shots
Course Mudd Shots have been updated for the semester. They are available at http://www.internal.hmc.edu/dir/courses/. The pages are restricted to the HMC network only, so if you are off-campus or on wireless, please connect to the VPN first.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
Remember the VPN! It is software that allows you to connect to the HMC network as if you were located on campus. Visit http://vpn.claremont.edu and select the group HMC-LDAP.  Log in with your HMC Credentials.
Sakai Updates
Fall 2014 courses have been created and populated with students and faculty. The courses are synchronized with the Jenzabar CX student information system three times per day at 2:30 am, 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm. Sakai has also been upgraded to version 2.9.
Google Apps for Education
Everyone at HMC is entitled to a Google Apps for Education account in our g.hmc.edu domain. Many people have started using the system for email, to share documents or work on them collaboratively.  As a reminder, here are the URLs that will take you directly to the HMC single sign in page and then on to the g.hmc.edu domain (without an intermediate Google login page):
http://docs.g.hmc.edu will take you to your google drive document store.
http://mail.g.hmc.edu will take you to email.
http://calendar.g.hmc.edu will take you to the calendar.
http://sites.g.hmc.edu will take you to google sites.
Technology in the Shanahan Learning Center
A separate email has been sent to faculty about technology available in the Shanahan Learning Center and how to request special setups. You can find the text of this information in this news item as well.
Have a great Fall 2014 semester!

Technology in the Shanahan Learning Center – Fall 2014

Short version:

Shanahan Learning CenterIf you are planning to use  only the video projectors or LCD screens in the Shanahan Center this Fall, then read no further. If you are planning to use any other technology you should read on. To request the use of any of the technologies described below please send an email to the CIS Help Desk at helpdesk@hmc.edu or use the AV Request form at http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-avrequest. We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request.

Long version:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, many rooms have resident document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD or DVD/VHS players. You can find a full list of which rooms have what equipment at this link: http://goo.gl/4Mj1Nx.

Other technology available for use in the Shanahan Center includes:

  • Laptop carts
  • iClickers
  • Lecture capture
  • Video cameras for displaying experiments
  • Smartboard

More details on these other technologies can be found below:

We have three carts with 44 laptops, which are stored on the second floor of the Shanahan Center for use throughout the building. If you’d like more information about the laptops and how to reserve them, please visit https://www.hmc.edu/cis/services/laptop-cart-reservation/.

There are six rooms in the Shanahan Center that are lecture capture-ready, including the Lecture Hall (1430), the Recital Hall (B480), the 85 person classroom (B460) and three rooms on the 2nd floor (2450, 2454 and 2460). All of those rooms have a video camera and microphone. You can visit the CIS web site for more information at https://www.hmc.edu/cis/services/classroom-recording-mediasite-lecture-capture/.

Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. At this point all students have purchased iClickers so all you need is a wireless receiver and the iClicker software installed on your computer.  We have extra iClickers if you have non-HMC students in your class. More information about the iClickers can be found at https://www.hmc.edu/cis/services/iclickers/.

We have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. While the Smartboard is on a mobile stand, it is too big and heavy to move between classrooms, so we are currently keeping it in one of the technology-rich classrooms (Shanahan 2450, 2454 or 2460). Use of the Smartboard is on a first come, first served basis so please let us know right away if you would like to try it out in your class, as we may need time to work with the Registrar to reschedule classrooms.

Many faculty also like to be able to project a demonstration or experiment from the front of the room to one of the big screens. The document camera is capable of doing this or you can use a video camera, either one of the built-in video cameras available in the 6 rooms listed above, or CIS can set up one for you.

If you’re interested in using one of these technology services in a class, please submit a request to the CIS Help Desk. You can use our AV request form at http://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-avrequest or send us an email at helpdesk@hmc.edu. We ask that you give us at least 48 hours notice when submitting a request.

OK Glass, shoot a laser beam!

Google GlassHave you tried it on?

Glass is Google’s wearable computer that sits on your right ear and displays its contents through a tiny prism projector screen over your right eye. (duh)

During this summer break, CIS had a test-out event of a Google Glass loaned from the Claremont Library for two weeks. Soon after the announcement for the event, several people (six faculty, seven staff, and six students) with exceptional curiosity jumped right in. At Harvey Mudd, we like scientific experiments. So in this case, the hypothesis to accept (or otherwise sadly reject) was “Google Glass helps teaching and learning (in a way).” (Hey Google, isn’t Harvey Mudd a perfect place for testing such an emerging technology in higher ed? Contact us if you want to donate a Google Glass or two. ;))

Anyway, those 18 enthusiastic experimentalists came back with their personal opinions after trying Glass out for two to three hours. Two common responses were “It’s cool!” and, interestingly, “It made my head and eyes hurt.” A group of MyCS students tried it for a scavenger hunt using Glass apps like Word Lens for a group of teachers and reported that it went really well–this was actually a great use case for Glass in an educational setting. In addition, a couple of faculty members noted that the usefulness in teaching and learning would be dependent on the Glassware you use.

In fact, the default functions of Glass are pretty basic: google something, take a photo, record a video, get directions to, and send a message to, etc. But my 13-year-old son’s first command for Glass was “OK Glass, shoot a laser beam!” Unfortunately (and fortunately to me) it didn’t shoot a laser beam on me. It, however, could’ve done that if he had installed a Glass app doing it (at least on its screen). And it could’ve been educational (in a way) like showing how to calculate the power density of different laser beams depending on parameters like the beam diameter and the distance from the object. So as our faculty members noted in their feedback, with the right Glassware, it may be useful for education in near future.

P.S. We couldn’t accept or reject the hypothesis due to the small sample size. Google, we are eager to do more experiments and you know what to do. ;)