At the September meeting of the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC), Vice President, Rod Tosten, revealed a new program that will explore the creative use of applications (Apps) available for the Apple iPad by administrators, faculty, and staff members. Successful applicants will have at their disposal an IT supplied iPad for the duration of the pilot project to test the usefulness of their chosen app for the project. While recognizing that the iPad and its apps are closely interconnected, Tosten stressed that this initiative is focused on iPad apps, as opposed to the many features of the iPad hardware. Proposals need to describe the overall goal of the project, how the apps will help to meet this goal, an indication of which iPad apps the investigator is planning to use, and how these apps will be tested or used. Prior to announcing the project, IT researched the question of incorporating iPad apps in a higher education setting. The only project that could be identified was one at Reed College in Portland, Oregon which was looking at classroom applications of apps. The current IT project has a broader mission of looking at an across campus use of the iPad and its apps.
The iPad Store boasts of having over 140,000 apps available for prices which typically range from free to under $20. Free apps range from TV network news alerts, to apps for reading your Kindle or Nook electronic readers synced with an iPad and many corporate supplied apps to use their products. Typically, most apps are priced at $4.99 or $10.99. Included in this grouping are many apps for education and business. These are the apps that the current initiative is targeting. How can the mobility and ease of use of the iPad be paired with appropriate apps to promote productivity and efficiency of operations or to facilitate learning at the college level? This is the question that the principal investigator will attempt to answer.
While the application process is still open, some proposals have been submitted that look to be interesting. One proposal is to use one of the meeting apps that are available to allow students who are working on group projects to keep in touch and exchange ideas or notes from references for their project. A proposal from the Financial Services Office is to use meeting and presentation apps, such as GoToMeeting, WebEx, Documents To Go, Keynote, iAnnotate PDF, Quickoffice, Numbers, and GoodReader in order to make preparation of several important committee meetings that will be held in the spring. They also are proposing the use of Desktop Viewer applications to access materials from one’s desktop/laptop. And there is a third proposal from the Associate Provost for Planning, Facilities & Technology. This proposal targets the movement of classrooms, offices and labs in McCreary Hall to temporary quarters during the replacement of the HVAC equipment in McCreary. The focus will be on apps that facilitate critical planning and setting priorities for tasks using information gathered during on site interviews. Examples are database apps such as Bento, a spreadsheet application like Numbers will allow one to create and track the inventory of individual faculty offices, class rooms and laboratories in preparation for the move. In addition, the application iObserve which provides data collection abilities that can be imported into a spreadsheet is proposed. The total cost of these three apps is under $20.
The projects are expected to be implemented and completed during the spring of 2012. There is still time to present proposals. Any interested parties should contact their TAC representative or Rod Tosten for information on how to submit a proposal.
During the weekend of September 22 - 25 the Volunteer Leadership Summit 2011 was held on the campus of Gettysburg College. The purpose of the Summit was to thank volunteers, alumni, parents, and friends of the college for their past service to Gettysburg and provide them with tools to continue doing “Great Work” for the college. In addition, the Summit provided an opportunity to highlight student projects and presentations. The weekend was hosted by President Riggs and the Board of Trustees, who together with the President’s Council formed the Honorary Steering Committee. This group worked closely with and provided valuable input to the 22 member Steering Committee chaired by Maida Connor, director of Donor Relations and Special Events, during the year and one half of intensive planning and organization required for the ultimate success of the Summit. Other members of the Donor Relations and Special Events team who served on the Steering Committee with Maida were Jamie Callahan, Administrative Assistant, and Samantha (Sam) Isherwood, Assistant Director. Sam had the demanding job of being in charge of the logistics for the Summit.
To give an idea of the complexity and careful planning required for the Summit, consider these facts: On Friday, the 23-rd there were two rounds of seven concurrent sessions and Saturday there were two rounds of eight concurrent sessions. In addition there was an opening reception at the Majestic Theater on Thursday evening, Friday Lunch at the Gettysburg Hotel, Friday Supper and a Saturday Picnic Lunch in the Memorial Field Tent, and a Gala Dinner and Celebration on Saturday evening in the Center for Athletics. Many of these events were at disparate locations across campus and also in downtown Gettysburg. All of the events required technical support for their presentations ranging from support for PowerPoint presentations, to musical group presentations, live feeds, and video presentations. The technical requirements were extremely varied and required personnel from IT to assist the presenters. In addition there were major challenges brought on by the extremely rainy weather.
Responding to the demands of the conference were Eric Remy, Travis Mathna, and Mark Rosensteel from the ITT Department, Rod Tosten, and a student, Maggie Tosten '13. Alice Carter, Assistant Director of Development, Alumni, and Parent Relations also worked with the IT team. At least one of them was on hand at each presentation to assist the presenters. Travis and Mark assisted with audio and visual presentations and were constantly in contact with Jamie and Sam. For the Saturday evening gala Bream Gymnasium at the Athletic Center was transformed into a first class, exclusive banquet hall. Travis and Mark ensured that the audio was balanced and clear. They also transformed the lighting to a soft glow and set up screens and projectors in the front of the room at the right and left of the guests’ tables. As a result all of the 440 guests could enjoy the presentations and live feeds that were an important part the evening. The fact that the banquet was really being held in a basketball court was unnoticeable.
In short, the technology requirements of the conference were absolutely demanding, diverse, and multifaceted in their needs, Thanks to the careful planning of Maida, Jamie, and Sam, as well as the dedication and expertise of the IT staff, IT was able to respond admirably and help to make the Volunteer Leadership Summit an outstanding success.
To gain a full perspective of the scope and diversity of the conference, see the VLS Summit website that was created by Alice Carter. You will certainly agree that VLS Summit 2011 was a great weekend for Gettysburg College!
All departments of IT perform important services to help the community with its computing needs. Data Systems provides valuable database and financial software as well as internet services that are used every working minute during the day. Instructional Technology and Training mainly ministers to academic needs and provides training in the use of equipment and internet services. However, all of this would not be possible if it were not for the work of the Infrastructure and Computing Department of IT. It is here that, to use a colloquialism, “The rubber meets the road.” It is this department under the guidance of director, Michael Hayden, that takes care of our computing hardware and is responsible for keeping the college’s network running and secure.
One of the latest projects of the IC Department was to increase the previous campus network speed from 200 mb/s split between the two entry points in the Central Energy Plant and Pennsylvania Hall to 1000 mb/s divided into 500 mb/s for each location. This was a 5 fold increase that, due to a negotiating process with the college’s network supplier, CenturyLink, was achieved with only a 20% increase in cost, i.e. 5 times the speed at cost increase of 1/5.
While the actual task of making the connection involved only the plugging in of the feed from Century Link to the receptacle in the CEP and some minor reconfiguring, there was a great deal of work that needed to be done prior to the October 1, on schedule, connection. The increase in speed, on the wired, on campus, network was immediately apparent. Tasks such as downloading from the internet and streaming video became much faster and reliable. In addition to the on campus upgrade, the college offices at Expedition Trail off of Route 30 East were supplied with their own separate 50 mb/s connection. The computing activity at that location does not impact the usage on campus.
Several people in IC worked on the upgrade, but the point person was Eric Yurick, internet network specialist, who upgraded the internet equipment to accommodate the increased band width, laid out the specifications for the upgrade proposal, upgraded the software on the firewall, and participated in the negotiation of the proposal. He is still working on improving the efficient use of the bandwidth. (See picture above.)
The campus wired network involves a ring around the entire campus with feeds to individual network connections. It involves massive parallelism with there being 144 strands of fiber optic cable in some places and as low as 96 strands in others. While not all of the cable in the Science Complex is fiber optic, in this building alone, there is enough cable to stretch from the Gettysburg Campus to Ottawa, Canada. Each strand of fiber optic cable is about 5 mm thick, but the fiber optic itself is amazingly tiny at only 5 microns. The remainder of the cable is the casing wrapped around the fiber optic.
IT is proud that this transition took place on schedule with a minimum, almost unnoticeable disruption of campus internet service. The IC Department is to be congratulated on this outstanding achievement.