Open Apereo (Sakai) 2013 Conference

Apereo LogoThis week I was in San Diego attending the Open Apereo 2013 Conference in San Diego. Apereo is the new name for the open source community that combines the Sakai and Jasig communities. Jasig is a community that develops open source academic software such as uPortal, CAS (Central Authentication Service) and Bedework (an enterprise calendar system). Last year both organizations voted to combine into a single open source organization called Apereo. The name is a combination of community suggestions, and represents the fusion of two Latin words, “aperto”, which means “open” and “mereo”, meaning merit.

This year’s conference showed a renewed enthusiasm in development on the original Sakai CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment) system. Sakai 2.9 was released to the community recently and has been getting great reviews. With a new, more modern user interface and several new core tools, Sakai 2.9 has been a shot in the arm to the community.

Many of the sessions I attended focused on how institutions have integrated Sakai with other 3rd party tools they are using. The University of Michigan gave a particularly impressive presentation on their Sakai integration of Google Apps for Education. The University of South Alabama gave an overview of the different methods they’ve used to integrate a wide variety of tools including BigBlueButton, Foliotek, ePortfolio, iClicker, Media Gallery, MyMathLabs, ProctorU, Scantron Class Climate, Smarthinking, Turnitin, and iRubric. I also attended several presentations on interesting usage scenarios that other institutions have designed within their instance of Sakai. The University of Virginia uses Sakai’s site template feature in very creative ways for example. When we upgrade Sakai this summer we will have access to two big new tools—Gradebook2 and Lessons—and I attended several sessions devoted to those tools. You can read more about our Sakai upgrade in another news post.

Development on Sakai OAE, now known as Apereo OAE, progresses with support from Marist College, the University of Cambridge, and Georgia Tech. OAE has had a rocky history. Originally envisioned as Sakai 3, a replacement to the original CLE system, the developers quickly realized that rewriting all of the code behind the CLE tools was logistically impossible. They then thought the two systems could run in tandem, in so-called hybrid mode. Last year we saw a real upheaval in the development process with complaints of severe performance problems and the withdrawal of two of the major contributors, the University of Michigan and Indiana University. (Both are still continuing with their development support for Sakai CLE.)

Development of OAE continues, but with a scaled-back focus. The developers pretty much started from scratch in order to fix the performance problems and have decided to abandon the hybrid mode idea. OAE is now designed to run completely separately from Sakai CLE. Sakai CLE will continue to provide the course management tools while OAE will focus on providing an open, permeable collaborative environment, similar to what we already have access to with Google Apps for Education.

Many of the conference sessions were recorded using Google+ Hangouts and published to a YouTube channel. You can find them at http://www.youtube.com/apereo if you are interested in learning more about the topics I’ve mentioned. The conference also used a conference schedule system called Lanyrd, which I really liked. So you can find the full conference schedule with links to presentation materials at http://lanyrd.com/2013/apereo.

Lecture Capture in the Teaching and Learning Building

Mediasite LogoOver the past two years CIS has been conducting a pilot of lecture capture in the Learning Studio Classroom.  “Lecture capture” refers to the ability to record audio and video of the presenter as well as the presenter’s display (including Powerpoint slides, images from a document camera or other device). James Sadler developed the scheduling system used in our pilot, which has been very successful as a proof of concept. We were primarily focused on finding out whether faculty were interested in using such a service and what they would use it for. Several faculty have participated in the pilot including Rachel Levy, Z Sweedyk, Michael Erlinger, Francis Su and Michael Orrison. One of the usage scenarios that quickly emerged was recording student presentations so that students could view them and study their performance.

Our home-grown system has the ability to schedule recordings and uses a webcam to record the video and audio of the presenter. A video splitter and Wirecast software takes care of recording the presenter’s display and creating a screen-in-screen recording of the video, audio and video display. What the home-grown system lacks is a back end system where the recordings can be automatically stored and distributed. The system was also not always as reliable as we had hoped.

Last year we began looking at commercial systems that provide lecture capture and video streaming. We looked at a variety of systems such as Panopto, Mediasite, and Echo360.  We ran a pilot of Kaltura last Spring.  Eventually, we focused on the main market competitors: Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite and Echo360.  Both have very similar capabilities and features. Last month we decided to purchase Mediasite for installation in the new Teaching and Learning Building. We purchased three Mediasite recorders and have contracted for three years of their hosting service. Two of the recorders will be installed in the lecture hall control booth and will be able to record from the main Lecture Hall, the Recital Hall, 85-person classroom, the two technology-rich classrooms on the second floor (rooms 2450 and 2454) as well as an additional 50-person classroom on the second floor. We also purchased a mobile recorder that can be moved to other classrooms for recording.

The Mediasite recorders include scheduling software for hands-free recording.  It can be used to set things up so that recording starts automatically when the class starts.  The completed recording uploads automatically to Mediasite’s web site. Faculty can embed a playlist in their Sakai course site so that new recordings are automatically available to students.

The Mediasite recorders also have the capability to do live streaming over the web. In addition to these features, faculty also have access to extensive analytics about which students are viewing what videos when. Faculty can even see graphics that analyze which presentation segments are viewed most often. Faculty can also add interactive features like polls and the ability to ask questions to their recordings.

We’re looking forward to working with faculty to explore how they can use Mediasite in their classes. We plan on giving Mediasite training to interested faculty starting this summer and fall. If you’d like to learn more about lecture capture in the TLB feel free to contact us: helpdesk@hmc.edu or (909) 607 7777.

 

March 2013 update from the CIO

This is the March 2013 update from the CIO.shamrock

Computing Committee Survey.
In late November, I asked the Computing Committee to discuss how they thought CIS is doing, while I was out of the room. The committee decided to run a quick three question survey and got a large faculty response. The short version: CIS has made many improvements (we got a B- grade at Harvey Mudd College!), but there is still work to be done. For more about the survey and a link to the discussion of the results read Faculty Computing Survey Results.

ITIF
In January the Board of Trustees approved policies creating a new Information Technology Infrastructure Fund (ITIF). This is an important development because it will allow us to plan more consistently for improvements and renovation work on the campus network. We are currently creating an “inventory of need” which we will use to prioritize infrastructure projects over the next five years. We will be designing the network architecture to address security, reliability and speed of the campus network.

SIGMAnet wired network report.
As I reported in the Fall, we contracted with a local company, SIGMAnet to conduct a review of our wired network. The report came in on January 10 and I updated the PPCPC Trustee Committee later that month.

The network assessment highlighted several key hardware and configuration risks. Twelve major concerns were listed that can be broken down as follows:

  • End of life and end of support equipment in use. This equipment presents risks on two fronts, security and potential down time due to equipment failure.
  • Security risks in network switch access methods and quality of switch passwords.
  • Design gaps such as lack of redundancy in connections between network switches.
  • Software configuration inconsistencies.

The report goes into detail and will be invaluable in the development of our comprehensive plan, which will address all of the issues. If you are interested in reading the report or contributing to the planning effort, please get in touch.

Core Switch upgrade.
One of our first ITIF projects! Early in the morning of Saturday, March 16 we will be upgrading the HMC network core. The network core is responsible for aggregating all of our campus network connections and linking us to the wider intercollegiate network and the internet. It has to be fast, powerful and reliable. CIS staff will be working in partnership with engineers from SIGMAnet to replace our aging core. The end result will be aprodcut_bulletin_c25-688075-1 much improved arrangement, with a pair of Cisco Nexus 7000 switches at the core. In the near future, we will move one of the pair out of the A-room in Parsons to either Platt or the TLB. This will give us both redundancy (“more than one”) and diversity (“not in the same place”) at the network core. There will be some network downtime associated with the work on Saturday morning, but the end result will be worth it.

Thuban retirement.
As well as rolling out new things, it is important for CIS to manage the retirement of services, to make sure we are making the most of our limited resources.  Thuban, a VMS system, is a case in point.  Most infrastructure services (such as DNS and DHCP) have been moved off of Thuban. Fewer than 20 people are still using the email system on Thuban and we are actively moving their accounts to either Google Apps for Education or Office365.  A number of faculty still have static html sites on www2, which is hosted on Thuban.  We are exploring options for moving them.  One of my favorites is to host them on Google drive. (did you know you could do that?).

TLB updates.
The TLB is 120 days away! I’m sure, if you’re on campus, you can’t help but notice the speed at which things seem to be happening. Weekly telecommunication meetings began this week  They are starting to pull cable for the network and electrical systems; wireless access points (86 of them, compared to 134 on the rest of campus) and network equipment have arrived and will soon be installed. The Audiovisual plans are in place. Much of the furniture has been chosen. The cafe is taking shape…They will be starting to prime and paint the basement this week.  It’s real!

Canvas pilot.
In the Fall, a group of Computer Science faculty presented a Bite of Learning on their use of Piazza for class discussions. Elizabeth Hodas and I were discussing afterward how we needed to keep up with developments in the learning management system (LMS) world.  Sakai is the LMS currently used by the Claremont Colleges but there are some interesting new ones, like Canvas.Canvas It is not like Sakai is going away anytime soon, but we do want to understand our options. So we decided to ask the same group of faculty if they’d be interested in running a small pilot of Canvas. Ran Liebeskind Hadas took up the idea and is currently teaching CS 140/Math 168 using Canvas.  We’re looking forward to hearing about this at a Bite of Learning session on April 17.

Other articles on the IT News site.
There are a few other articles on the IT News site that you might find interesting. Cindy Abercrombie provided an update on student printing. Elizabeth Hodas wrote about a variety of audiovisual improvements we will make over Spring Break in big Beckman and Hoch-Shanahan, complete with a photo of the instructor station, which is the same as the ones chosen for the TLB.   And we have an update on the Portal Advisory Group.

So, while you faculty and students are away, the CIS mice won’t be at play.  Have a great Spring Break!

 

Update on Portal Advisory Group

Screenshot from 2013-03-14 17:30:10I’ve written about the Portal Advisory Group before.  Affectionately known as PAG, it’s a group that will assist us with setting priorities for the Portal, starting from the premise that the portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. The group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.

The following people have all agreed to participate and I am grateful to them.

Mark Ashley (Registrar, Chair)
Lauren Kim (Assoc Registrar)
Susan Selhorst (CIS)
Cindy Abercrombie (CIS)
Paul Steinberg (HSA)
Vatche Sahakian (Physics)
Tim Hussey (OCA Communications)
Jennifer Greene (OCA Communications)
Guy Gerbick (DOS)
Scott Martin (BAO)

We are also seeking one or two students to help with this initiative.

The first meeting is being scheduled for just after Spring break.

I look forward to good outcomes!

Spring Break Audiovisual Renovations

Teaching StationOver Spring Break the Audiovisual staff will be working with Facilities and Maintenance and our vendor DJL to implement several renovation projects. In the Beckman Auditorium, Beckman B126, we will be installing a new main screen to replace the rear projection screen. We will also be installing a new video projector in the ceiling. We will be removing the old podium and putting in a new teaching station like the one chosen for use in the new Teaching and Learning Building. The audio equipment and DVD/VCR player will be installed into the new teaching station.

In the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons we will be installing additional audio speakers to improve the sound quality on the west side of the dining hall during events held in the main dining hall.

We’ve also been working on some colorful instruction sheets to be installed in the Green Room, the Aviation Room, and other rooms to make it easier to use the control systems and audiovisual equipment in those rooms. Those should be installed over Spring Break as well.

Faculty Computing Survey Results

survey-300x224In late Fall 2012 the computing committee ran a survey of faculty, asking three questions about information technology at HMC.

About 50 faculty responded to the questions, and almost everyone wrote a few lines of comments in response to each question – in addition to giving scores.

Question 1: How satisfied are you with the current teaching services provided by the CIS (e.g. Sakai, portal, classroom support, labs, etc…)?

- Average letter grade: B- (2.57/4.00, 54 respondents)

Question 2: How satisfied are you with the other services offered by the CIS (email, research related services, laptop/desktop support, etc)?

- Average letter grade: B- (2.69/4.00, 55 respondents)

Question 3: How satisfied are you with the current computing services offered by your own department (e.g. email, website, lab, course support, etc)?

- Average letter grade: C+ (2.35/4.00, 49 respondents)

The spread of each score was roughly 0.50/4.00, with a bigger spread for the third question.

The committee summarized by saying that things have improved and are going in the right direction, but that there is still work to be done.

The computing committee members this year are:

Vatche Sahakian (Chair)
Alfonso Castro
Weiqing Gu
Jacob Bandes-Storch ’14
Joseph Vaughan

The committee made four recommendations of its own and added more recommendations coming from the Faculty Executive Committee. You can read the full report, with my responses to each recommendation at the following URL (HMC Credentials required to access the document):
http://goo.gl/oqxiF

MathWorks MATLAB Seminar at HMC for The Claremont Colleges

matlab_logo_smallWe are excited to announce a free half-day MathWork Seminar at Harvey Mudd College for The Claremont Colleges. Please join us on Friday, March 8th from noon to 4:00 pm in Math Seminar Room on the 3rd floor of Sprague. A light lunch will be provided. Seats are limited, so please register online at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013. Details below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Technical Computing with MATLAB at Harvey Mudd College
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

—Register now—
Register at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013

—Agenda—
Presenter: Saket Kharsikar, Application Engineer
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Registration and Lunch
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. What’s new in 2012b?

Highlights include:
• New MATLAB Desktop
• Packaging and Installing MATLAB Apps
• Redesigning help
• Import tool enhancements for text files

1:15 p.m. – 1:40 p.m. Break

1:40 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. Mathematical Modeling with MATLAB
Mathematical models are critical to understanding and accurately simulating the behavior of complex systems. They enable important tasks such as forecasting system behavior for various “what if” scenarios, characterizing system response, and designing control systems.

This session will show how you can use MATLAB products for mathematical modeling tasks, including:

• Developing models using data fitting and first-principle modeling techniques
• Optimizing the accuracy of mathematical models
• Simulating models and post-processing the results
• Documenting and sharing models

You will also learn about different approaches you can use to develop models, including developing models programmatically using the MATLAB language, deriving closed-form analytical equations using symbolic computation, and leveraging prebuilt graphical tools for specific modeling tasks such as curve and surface fitting.

Q&A 3:40 p.m. -4:00 p.m.

—Register now—
Register at http://www.mathworks.com/HMC2013

Update for Student Printing

CIS remains committed to resolving printing issues for students, and increasing the overall availability of printing services. The PaperCut software implemented in the fall now has more than 1000 users. The User Support Group (USG) continues to collect student feedback for the system, and uses this feedback to communicate with the vendor regarding potential product enhancements.  As a result PaperCut 13.0 adds the ability for administrators to reprint previously printed jobs in case of errors.  PaperCut is working on expanding the feature to all users, but there is no target release date yet.

You may recall that USG developed a process to proactively monitor student printers remotely throughout the day from the HelpDesk, in addition to performing routine physical inspections of the printers. Recently, with the willingness and availability of a couple of very helpful students CIS is able to continue providing monitoring of print queues and clearing stuck jobs from Friday evening through Sunday evening.

Finally, after much effort and communications with Sharp and the printer repair vendor regarding printer drivers and handling of various Internet based file types, USG has arranged to have a new HP multi-function printer for testing and demonstration delivered to Sprague.  In the meantime, CIS is researching options to reuse the Sharps (Clifford and Toto) in an environment without print queues or universal print drivers, much like the print environment found in administrative areas.

Please keep the positive results of PaperCut in mind while CIS works through these final printer issues.  To date, the total pages printed via the system is 404,936.  The environmental impact information provided from the PaperCut dashboard displays savings of 3.91 trees, 1,417.1 kg of CO2, and 89,222.2 hours running a 60W bulb.
For any questions or comments regarding printing services or PaperCut, please send a support request via our request form or email to helpdesk@hmc.edu or call (909) 607 7777.

To view User Support Group Tweets regarding systems events please visit Help Desk Quick Links

 

Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award

From the Sakai folk…

Call for Entries: 2013 Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA)

The Sakai Teaching and Learning community is seeking submissions for the annual Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA) competition. The award recognizes innovation and excellence in technology-supported teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement. (See last year’s winners.)

Award categories include:

·         Higher Education: Face-to-face

·         Higher Education: Fully Online or Hybrid Course

·         Primary and Secondary Education (K-12)

·         Project Sites & Other Uses of Sakai

·         Portfolios

We look forward to entries from those using the Sakai CLE and those pioneering the Sakai OAE (Open Academic Environment).

This year, the selection process will consist of two phases:

 

Phase 1: Preliminary abstract submission (recommended but not required)
Opening Date:  Feb 11, 2013      Closing Deadline: March 1, 2013

Each applicant should submit a brief description of the innovative teaching method, practice or strategy to be considered for the final award. Instructions and an example of a well-written abstract are included in the submission form.

 

Applicants will receive feedback on abstracts by March 8, 2013.

Submitting an abstract is not required. However, the three questions on the abstract submission form will be required for all applicants as a part of the full application process. Those who submit a preliminary abstract may edit their responses prior to submitting the final application, in order to incorporate feedback from the judges.

The responses to these three items also will be used as part of the session description at the annual conference.

Phase 2:  Final submission (required of all applicants)
Opening Date: March 1, 2013     Closing Deadline: April 5, 2013

Each applicant will submit an in-depth description of the innovative teaching method, practice or strategy submitted and how it addresses the award criteria.

Resources for applicants

·         Award categories

·         How to get started

·         Award eligibility, criteria and rubric

·         Frequently asked questions

Winners will be announced no later than April 19, 2013 and recognized at the Apereo (previously Jasig-Sakai) Conference in San Diego, California, June 3 -6, 2013.
Registration and travel expenses may be available for award winners.
Contact: Salwa Khansk16@txstate.edu  Texas State University, TWSIA Committee Chair

 

December 2012 Update from the CIO

HolidayCard_2 This is the final update from the CIO for 2012.

Getting ready for the TLB.
That shiny new building will be ours in a mere 203 days.  CIS is working hard on preparations for our part in getting a building like this open. The things we are working on include:

  • Network within the building
  • Campus network to support the new building
  • Changes to the network to support the new uses of vacated space
  • AV services in the building, which will include “simulcasting” and (hopefully) videoconferencing from some of the rooms
  • Three “technology rich” classrooms to augment or replace the Learning Studio Classroom resource
  • As we get closer to the data we will need to be planning for moving computers for people moving into the building and all the moves that are triggered by it (in Kingston, Parsons and Olin)
  • Digital signage in the building

This is quite a list!  It is work we are (happily) undertaking in addition to the normal work of a Spring semester.  Please keep this in mind, especially if you are thinking of an IT project for 2013.  We’d love to hear about it soon.

Infrastructure
I mentioned last month that we had contracted with SIGMAnet to help us with a review of our wired and wireless networks, which will form the groundwork for a longer term comprehensive network plan.  We recently received a draft of the review of the wired network and will be presenting the results in an update to the Board in January.  In part thanks to the report, we have begun preparations for upgrading the campus network core in order to accommodate the new building.
In the past couple of weeks two intercollegiate committees  approved our proposal for major changes to the network beyond the Claremont Colleges that connects us to downtown Los Angeles and the greater internet.  Working with Los Nettos, our regional network provider, we will be purchasing equipment and fiber runs that will increase the diversity and redundancy of the network, and greatly reduce the risks associated with single points of failure.
We recently completed a four day workshop with Fischer International which moved forward our Identity and Access management project.  The current phase of the project is focused on account provisioning.  In ordinary English, this project will allow us to automate the creation and deletion of accounts in many of the College systems.
On the News Site
Elizabeth Hodas wrote about Recent Changes to Sakai and about the exciting Spring Bite of Learning Schedule.  And we have an article about what happens when people give us honest feedback, which I hope you will take the time to read and join me in thanking the members of our community mentioned there.

Everyone at CIS wishes you the very best for the holidays.