April 2014 Update from the CIO

As we round the corner into the home stretch and everyone’s focus is on those last few weeks of the Spring Semester, I hope you can take a moment to read the news from CIS.

New CIS Web Site
The new College website was launched in January. In line with that effort, Elizabeth Hodas led a team within CIS that developed a new CIS site. It emphasizes simplicity and is designed to help us keep information accurate and up to date.  Since January we have made a couple of important additions.  We now have a “top IT Projects” page, which lists the status of our most important projects and will receive at least quarterly updates. And we also have a rapidly developing “service catalog” page which will list all of the services we provide, with information about how to request them.  Take a look at http://www.hmc.edu/cis

Top IT Projects
Our Top IT Projects page https://www.hmc.edu/cis/it-projects/ is intended to give you an overview of our top projects, even though it is a subset of the 50 or so projects that we have in the pipeline at any time.  The CIS Management Team (CIO + four Directors) chose these projects as the “top” ones by considering such things as importance to the community, impact and cost & effort required.  We review this list on a regular basis, with each project owner giving an update on status at least once per quarter.  Early feedback has been positive; it included suggestions that we avoid acronyms and be more specific in places. We’d love to hear  your feedback too.

Educational Technology
We have reorganized a little in CIS in order to focus even more on Educational Technology, shifting the responsibility for everyday AV operations to the User Support Team.  This is a natural progression from the creation of an Educational Technology Group in 2009, originally funded by the Fletcher Jones Foundation.  Elizabeth Hodas has been taking the group through some online professional development experiences, which will help shape future work.  In the coming year, we anticipate a collaboration with the Claremont Libraries around digital badges; we are looking at video over IP solutions and there is rumor that we will have access to a Perceptive Pixel.  If there is an area of Educational Technology in which you are particularly interested, please make sure to contact Elizabeth about it (ehodas@hmc.edu).

The Computing Committee
The Computing Committee got off to a slow start this year, with only one or two meetings in the Fall, due to some issues with membership and faculty assignments.  But under the intrepid leadership of Rachel Levy, the committee made important contributions in what remained of the year. This year’s committee was Rachel Levy (Chair), Deb Mashek, Weiqing Gu, Tim Hussey, Jacob Bandes-Storch and myself. In the policy arena, the committee reviewed and made significant changes to a draft policy on safeguarding private information and suggested a new statement on incidental personal use. Both are currently under review by Campus Counsel.  The committee sent out a survey requesting feedback and created a mechanism for ongoing feedback to the committee (https://www.formstack.com/forms/hmc-computingcommittee).  It cautioned against asking faculty to complete a long survey to benchmark IT services and provided strong feedback about ways in which we at CIS could improve communications and the quality of service provided through the Footprints Ticket System.  The committee was also instrumental in the design of our efforts for Data Privacy Month (https://www.hmc.edu/cis/dpm/).  We also engaged in vigorus conversation about the role of the committee in IT Governance, which will benefit future instances of the committee. I would like to publicly thank Rachel and the other committee members for a really great year.

Consolidation of web servers
We have started consolidating older web servers such as www2, www3, www4 and www5.  The number of servers proliferated over time to meet different needs, but they have proved somewhat difficult to maintain.  For example, when www4 crashed as part of the Charlie issues we dealt with in January, we were not able to revive it.  So we worked with the seven or so faculty who had material on that server and moved it all.  One of the new destinations is the new Charlie, but in a new, more secure manner that is easier to maintain.  Tad Beckman was one of the people affected by this and the result was some adventures in self publishing.  Read about them at http://www5.hmc.edu/ITNews/?p=2779.

Network Infrastructure work during the summer
At the January Board meeting, the Budget and Financial Planning Committee approved additional IT Infrastructure Funds (ITIF) to undertake a complete rewiring of the two structures that make up the Parsons building (Parsons East and Parsons West).  We will be removing a large amount of unused cable, and recabling the whole building.  We will reduce the number of network closets down to two from six, and make serious improvements in the wireless network, increasing the number of access points from nine to seventy three.  This work will come with some disruption and network downtime unfortunately, but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.  We are working closely with the building occupants on this project.

The summer will also see work on the network in preparation for the new dorm; we will bring online a new fiber connection from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles; and we are researching solutions for more wireless capacity on campus, particularly in the residential areas.

Other topics
People have been asking for more support for Google Apps for Education (g.hmc.edu). So we were delighted by Debra Mashek’s note.  Read more …

Elizabeth Hodas wrote that Sakai will be upgraded to version 2.9 this summer, with a new look and feel being planned.

Several faculty have told me that they were surprised by some of the things they learned when they took the FERPA quiz. Take a few minutes and see how you do yourself.

The CIS staff and I wish you the very best for a busy, but at last celebratory, end of semester.

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