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.

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