Summer 2013 Update from the CIO

Welcome (back) to all!

2013 was one of the busiest summers ever for CIS, with a large number of projects and a summerheavy stream of upgrades and improvements. In this message I will cover some of the things we got done.

Shanahan Center
The Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning is now up and running! We have a high speed network and all digital AV systems.  We have purchased additional laptops (dual boot Macbook Air) for our pool and will be providing laptops to the faculty that requested them for their classes.  On a daily basis, we will have staff in what we’ve been calling the “pop up store” beside the Living Room (in the cafe).  There’s a printer there with a print release station and, as we watch what traffic patterns are like in the new building, we anticipate that we may have more technology and/or more people in that space.

Please note that the wall phones in each classroom can be used to dial the help desk at 77777 (just don’t use the big red emergency button with that intention!).  So if you need quick delivery of a cable or are having difficulty getting something working, don’t hesitate to call us.  The room number is on each phone, so you can quickly tell us where you are.

Rooms 2450 and 2454 are “technology rich classrooms”.  For the moment, that just means that they form part of the suite of classrooms in which simulcasting (high definition between room videoconferencing) can take place.  But we plan to take the same approach with these rooms as we did with the Learning Studio Classroom: they are intended to be experimental spaces where we try out new technologies to see what might work for general deployment.  A great example of this approach is Lecture Capture, where we took time to get experience in the Learning Studio Classroom before making the purchase that Elizabeth Hodas has written about in her article on Lecture Capture in the Teaching and Learning Building.

We look forward to enjoying this wonderful new building with you.

New focus in User Support
We have begun slowly rolling out a new model of support in the User Support Group. The old model was built on the idea of a dedicated person for a department or group of departments. We have now switched to a model in which a team of people provide support as service requests or incident reports come in, independent of the source. We try to match expertise with the need and we are building a common body of knowledge across the really great team of people that make up the user support group: Beverly Kelley, Pete Sanchez, Travis Gomez, Corey LeBlanc and Robert Kingston.  To reflect this change in approach we have dropped “departmental” from their titles: they are now all Technical Analysts (TAs).  The User Support program is being run by Cindy Abercrombie, whom you can contact with feedback or questions.

New faces at CIS
In early August we hired two new people in CIS.  Gerald Reyes came across the street from Scripps College to work in our data services unit, where he will be focusing on the JICS portal.  Robert Kingston came to join the User Support team from a position at Apple Computer, where he managed the Apple brand within a Best Buy store.  I was delighted with the strong applicant pool that we received for both positions and congratulate Susan Selhorst and Cindy Abercrombie on astute hiring decisions.  Susan has written more about Gerald and Cindy has written more about Robert.

This is a good place to include a shout out for the HMC students who took up employment with us over the summer: Cindy Angpraseuth, George Aspesi, Andrew Michaud, James Saindon and Eric Storm.  Between them they tackled 37 projects this summer, leaving us in much better state than they found us.

Identity and Access Management
Over the summer we worked with Fischer International to put the finishing touches to a sixty-two page functional requirements document for the third phase of our Identity and Access Management (IAM@HMC) initiative.  This phase will include improvements to the password management kiosk, and put in place an automated account creation and deletion process for several of the systems we manage.  It will also bring the Portal and Office365 into the single sign on bundle, meaning you will no longer have to login multiple times as you move between the Portal, Ultipro, Google Apps and Office365.  We anticipate moving into the testing phase of this project in the next month or so, with roll out scheduled for the late Fall.  As part of the roll out we will be asking you to use the IAM kiosk to synchronize your passwords and set (or reset) your security questions.  More on that in future updates from the CIO.

Portal Advisory Group
Registrar Mark Ashley has been working with Susan Selhorst over the summer to refine the list of projects that we wish to undertake to improve the Portal. While Susan was conducting the search that resulted in the hire of Gerald Reyes, she was also directing the work of a contractor from Jenzabar, who managed to “take out” a number of the portal issues that we had identified.  Early in the Fall, Mark and Susan will bring a list of projects for prioritization by the Portal Advisory Group.

Network Infrastructure
During the summer months we made a number of changes and upgrades that affected the network:

  • New conduit was laid under Platt boulevard which will enable us to provide network diversity for the Shanahan Center and reduce risk for Kingston, Hoch-Shanahan and points east.
  • As part of the Olin vacated space plan, we put in upgrades to support higher access speeds for the Beckman Server room.
  • We upgraded the network equipment in Olin.
  • We upgraded wireless in Beckman 126.
  • We are in the process of upgrading wireless in Case, North and South dorms.

More to come
The pace of change in technology is, as always, breakneck.  So we anticipate more changes during the Fall.  Our Office365 suite will be upgraded by Microsoft.  The company has notified us that it will happen over the next four weeks and we are gathering more information to get you the details.  This change will primarily affect staff.

We anticipate completing more network upgrades in the Academic Buildings and will be working closely with F&M to plan for the Parsons vacated space activity.

That’s probably enough for now. Everyone in CIS is happy to see you and we wish you a great Fall semester.  As always, we rely on you to give us honest feedback and let us know what is working well, what needs improvement and what’s not working at all.

Best,

Joseph

Welcome Robert Kingston to HMC

RobertPlease welcome Robert Kingston to HMC and the User Support Group in CIS as our newest Technical Analyst.  Robert is fairly new to California having moved from Arizona in January of this year, and he would love to have suggestions for fun outdoor activities or nearby places to visit.  He enjoys playing basketball in his spare time, and would appreciate knowing about places for local pick-up games or men¹s leagues.  Robert joins us from Apple and Best Buy.  CIS invites you to stop by the Help Desk in Sprague Learning Center to meet Robert.

Technology in the Shanahan Center

Classroom in Shanahan CenterShort version:

If you are planning on only using the video projectors or LCD screens in the new Shanahan Center this Fall, then read no further. If you are planning on using any other technology (and especially if you did NOT respond to the faculty technology survey that was distributed earlier this summer) you should read on.

Long version:

In addition to the video projectors, LCD TVs (in the 12-person classrooms), speakers and screens, we will be providing additional technology in the Shanahan Center on request. This includes:

  1. Laptops
  2. Document cameras
  3. Blu-Ray/DVD players
  4. DVD/VHS players
  5. Lecture capture
  6. Smartboard
  7. Videocameras for projecting experiments
  8. iClickers

We have installed document cameras, Blu-Ray/DVD and DVD/VHS players in the classrooms where faculty requested their use in every session of their class or at least once a week. We also plan on delivering the laptop carts to several courses that requested their use in every class session.

In addition, we have scheduled a number of classes for lecture capture recording of every class session. Recently we purchased a commercial system called Mediasite that will automatically capture audio and video of the speaker as well as video of anything projected through the video projector, such as Powerpoint slides. 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 read more about lecture capture here.

We will have one Smartboard (interactive whiteboard) for faculty to try out. Unfortunately, it has not yet been delivered, so we have not had a chance to test it out and provide training. So we’ll have to keep you posted on that front.

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.

Clickers (personal response systems) are also available for loan. At this point all freshmen, sophomores and juniors have purchased iClickers so if you do not have any seniors in your class all you need is to borrow a wireless receiver and install the iClicker software in order to use the iClickers in your class. We also have sets of iClickers that you can borrow if you have seniors in your class.

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 help-desk@hmc.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome Gerald Reyes to CIS

GeraldThis month we welcomed Gerald Reyes to CIS. Gerald joined the Data and Software Engineering Services group as our Web Programmer Analyst, after five years experience in the IT department at Scripps College. Gerald’s principal responsibility is the care and feeding of the JICS Portal and his experience and expertise will be put to good use as we work to improve and enhance that system.

When not busy at work, Gerald likes spending time with his family, working on his 1978 Impala, and traveling – Honduras being a favorite destination. Gerald has twin 8-year old daughters and a 7-year old son who all share the same birthday – but they each get their own cake.

Fall Semester 2013 Reminders

Here are a few reminders about IT services for the Fall Semester.reminder-smiley-face

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. We will also be staffing the IT “pop up store” next to the Living Room (part of the cafe) in the Shanahan Center from 11-2 daily.  We have not yet decided how we will manage that space, but instead we are waiting to see what traffic patterns and need will be.  Please send a support request via our request form or send us email at helpdesk@hmc.edu or call us at (909) 607 7777.

Course Mailing Lists
Course mailing lists have been set up. If you have any questions or need help with mailing lists, please contact the Help Desk.

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 the same HMC Credentials you use for Sakai or Odyssey.

Sakai Updates
Fall 2013 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.

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.

Learning Studio Classroom 
With the opening of the Shanahan Center, the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio will no longer be used for regularly scheduled classes.  This means that it will be more readily available for one-off workshops, special study sessions, meetings etc. You can view and request reservations for the Fletcher Jones Classroom in the Learning Studio in VEMS  http://emsweb.claremont.edu/HMC/. You can also contact F&M for reservations.

Have a truly great Fall 2013 semester!

Make Your Job Easier Using Cognos Reporting

cognos logo

Hello everyone! I am Veronica Hart, your friendly local database reporting and workflow developer here in Computing and Information Services. I wanted to spread the word about an exciting tool we have available that might help make your job easier!

Most staff at the college rely on specific information to execute their work, and Cognos can deliver the relevant data needed, formatted and sorted in whatever way is most useful to you. Scheduled reports can arrive through email without you ever having to log on to the software. A common example of this is a report listing the current students at HMC with their emails, which is delivered to a variety of people at regular intervals.

So what is Cognos? IBM Cognos 10 Business Intelligence is a web-based toolset primarily used for reporting data from our student information system (CX), but can also be integrated with other databases and spreadsheets. Several components are available to meet the different information needs of HMC, ranging from running pre-made reports with a single click to authoring complex and dynamic reports.

Whether or not your department is already using Cognos, if you are interested in learning more about how Cognos might better meet the information and reporting needs of your office, please don’t hesitate in contacting CIS so that we can discuss possible solutions. Having training and access to reporting software can minimize the time you spend waiting for information from others, as well as grant the ability to manipulate and massage the information into a format that efficiently and consistently delivers pertinent data on demand. Whether you need a report sent to you once a year, you want to learn to write your own reports whenever you need them, or anywhere in between, we have resources available to help.

For more information or any questions you might have contact me at veronica@hmc.edu x74369, or to get started using Cognos right away, send an email to helpdesk@hmc.edu.

Hope you have a great upcoming semester,
Veronica Hart

Retired tools in Sakai 2.8

Sakai logoShort version:

When we upgrade Sakai to version 2.8 in August, some tools will no longer be available. Most of the retired tools have not been used by most faculty and staff. However, one tool, Blogger, has been used in some Sakai sites. It is being replaced by a new tool called Blogs. Content in the old tool will NOT be available once we upgrade. So if you have content in an old Sakai site that you still want you will need to export that content BEFORE the upgrade. The tentative date for the upgrade to Sakai 2.8 is Tuesday, August 13, 2013. You can contact help-desk@hmc.edu for help in doing this, or use our easy documentation to do it yourself. The documentation is located at: http://goo.gl/bFMLqM.

Long version:

During preparations for upgrading Sakai to version 2.8 the Sakai Administration Team examined the full list of tools available in Sakai 2.7. After considering factors such as history of use, bug reports, and the list of tools currently supported by the Sakai community, we decided to remove some tools from the list of tools that will be available in Sakai 2.8. The full list of tools that will no longer be available in Sakai 2.8:

- Blogger: Replaced by Blogs tool
- Linktool: Not currently used
- Reports: Not currently used
- Timeline: Has not been updated by developer
- Evaluation System: Not frequently used and has bugs
- Modules: Replaced by Lessons tool

The Blogger tool has been discontinued by the Sakai community and is being replaced by another tool called Blogs. It is the only tool in the list that has been used with any frequency. After we upgrade to Sakai 2.8 the Blogger tool will no longer appear in the list of tools that can be added to a new or existing Sakai site. It will be replaced by Blogs in the Site Info/Edit tools list. If the tool already existed in a Sakai site, it will still appear in the list of tools on the left hand side of the site, but will not work. So if you want to save the content from an old instance of Blogger you will need to export the content BEFORE we upgrade to Sakai 2.8. The tentative date for the upgrade to Sakai 2.8 is Tuesday, August 13, 2013. You can contact help-desk@hmc.edu for help in doing this, or use our easy documentation to do it yourself. The documentation is located at: http://goo.gl/bFMLqM.

Sakai 2.8 Upgrade

Sakai logoThis summer Pomona College’s Sakai administrators will be upgrading The Claremont Colleges’ Sakai server to version 2.8. We’ve been running version 2.7 for several years so we’re looking forward to the bug fixes and new tools that will be available in version 2.8. The Sakai Administration Team (SAT) will be testing the new version on a test server during May and June. The upgrade will take place in early August after summer classes are over.

New tools include a tool called Blogs which will replace the discontinued Blogger tool. The old Blogger tool will no longer be available. Faculty and staff who have old sites with the Blogger tool will no longer be able to access that tool after the upgrade. CIS will be providing documentation on how to export text from the old tool before the upgrade. The new tool is quite similar to the old one and has a very simple and easy to use interface.

The Sakai Administration Team has also decided to add Gradebook2, an alternative to the regular Gradebook tool. The original Gradebook tool will not be going away but will run in tandem with the new tool. Gradebook2 was developed at UC Davis and is similar to Gradebook with some significant new functionality (extra credit items and categories, drop lowest grade item, grade item weighting, excuse individual grade record, etc.) along with some improvements to the user interface.

Profile2 will also been be added when we upgrade to Sakai 2.8. It replaces the old Profile tool in My Workspace. It adds some social networking features and allows users to upload photos of themselves and create more detailed profiles. Users can also create social networks with other Sakai users and send personal messages.

Another new tool is Lessons. Lessons was developed by Rutgers University and is used to structure course content in a sequential or hierarchical manner. Instructors can use the tool to create lessons organized by week or by topic and can link to other Sakai tools like Assignments, Forums, and Tests & Quizzes. Instructors can also allow students to create their own Lessons page and can insert rubrics for peer review. It looks like an exciting new tool that can provide a very different, less tool-centric way of using Sakai.

We’ll be offering workshops on these new tools later this summer so stay posted!

The full list of tools that are being retired includes:

  • Blogger
  • Linker Tool
  • Reports
  • Timeline
  • Evaluation System
  • Modules

The Blogger and Linker Tools are being discontinued by Sakai. The other tools have been available for quite a while and are still available, but SAT has decided to remove them because they are not being used. The only tool that has been used in the past is the Blogger tool, which is being replaced by Blogs. As mentioned above, we will be working with faculty and staff to export any data they have in the Blogger tool since it will not be available once we upgrade.

If you read my news item on the Open Apereo 2013 conference, then you many be wondering why we aren’t upgrading directly to Sakai 2.9. Sakai 2.9 is getting very good reviews and many of the presenters urged institutions to upgrade sooner rather than later. However, after our rather difficult upgrade to Sakai 2.7 a few years ago, the Sakai Administration Team made an informal vow to be more circumspect about upgrading to versions of Sakai that had not been out very long. But there were several other members of SAT at the conference so I expect that we will discuss this option again.

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.