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March 30, 2007 Meeting Report

Committee Members Present

  • (Academic) David Beveridge, Norman Danner, Alice Globus, Robert Lane, Phil Resor, Francis Starr;
  • (ITS) Jolee West, Michael Roy.


Technology of the Month (TOM) [[]]

ITS has rolled out the Technology of the Month Blog. ITS Staff submitted ideas, then voted (using clickers) on how important they deemed each submission. Based on these votes, all submissions were ordered, forming the list of topics for the next year or so. However, anyone else in the Wesleyan Community with ideas for a TOM article are welcome to submit them at the blog website.

High performance computing cluster update [[]]

… look the cluster is actually performing benchmark computations External Link 8-)

An NSF Major Research Instrumentation grant awarded to NSM Faculty Francis Starr (PHYS), David Beveridge (CHEM), and Kathryn Johnston (formerly of ASTR) in July 2006, funded the purchase of a 288-processor high performance computing cluster from Dell. The cluster is maintained by ITS (Henk Meij is the cluster administrator) and is housed in the now-expanded Operations data center. When fully operational, the cluster will be used by Wesleyan faculty and students for computationally-intensive research. It is a central resource and so available to any faculty or student on campus with a demonstrated need.

Update on FFI grant for Scientific Computing and Informatics Center

In support of the new high performance computing cluster, a group of NSM faculty and ITS staff (David Beveridge-CHEM, Danny Kirzanc-CS, Francis Starr-PHYS, Michael Weir-BIOL, G. Ravishanker-ITS, Michael Roy-ITS, Jolee West-ITS) submitted a Fund for Innovation grant. The proposal requests funding for a half-time staff member to run a pedagogical program related to cluster use. A tutorial program, along the lines of the Writing Workshop and Math Workshop, would employ talented undergraduates and provide tutorial support to courses using the cluster or other computationally-intensive activities. Also proposed is a summer program to give undergraduates experience working with faculty on related research topics, and a series of workshops and lunchtime seminars for Wesleyan faculty and those from other nearby institutions.

Content Management Server for Wesleyan (with initial rollout to NSM)

ITS has chosen Xythos ( for a campus content management solution. The decision was made after a long look at a variety of competing products (see the content server wiki pages at The system will be a replacement for Dragon, for static website serving done on condor, and also provide a file management facility for Blackboard.

The motivation for employing a content management system included:

  • the need to put access control in the hands of end-users, particularly for faculty wanting to share files with students in a course, for cross-departmental sharing, and for students wishing to share files (currently these activities, in order to take place on Dragon, require ITS intervention)
  • the need of faculty to easily share files with colleagues off-campus, and to provide collaborative editing abilities (with outside users), without ITS intervension
  • the need for a content system for Blackboard to allow faculty to include documents in a Blackboard course, yet retain the ability to easily edit, and share those documents without making or keeping multiple copies

NSM will be the initial focus of a new content management system rollout. The system will replace Dragon for file storage and file-sharing within departments (i.e., the “G-Drive”), as well as the Dragon home directory, or “H-Drive.” Xythos can also server out static websites (i.e., those that contain no dynamic content or Frontpage controlled features, such as forms, Frontpage shared borders, themes, or dynamic “bot-driven” content).

A Blackboard add-on (courtesy of Northwestern University) will provide a connection between the content server and Blackboard.

Visual resources committee

The Visual Resources committee has been examining the pedagogical use of digital images on campus. The committee members include: Valerie Gillispie (Archives), Mary Glynn (ITS), Sally Grucan (Olin), Susanne Javorski (Art Library), Barbara Jones (Olin), Rob Lancefield (Davison Art Center), Alex McLane (Music Library), Susan Passman (Slide Library), Mike Roy (ITS), Dan Schnaidt (ITS), Phil Wagoner (Art & Art History), Jolee West (ITS), Allyn Wilkinson (ITS).

The committee, under the auspices of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), commissioned a multi-campus study of the use of digital images in liberal education (read the report at, and explores such topics as projection quality, asset management and storage, digital and image literacy). The report forms a foundation from which the committee is systematically approaching infrastructure planning, including making decisions and recommendations about centrally-provided asset management tools, as well as desktop tools for faculty to manage images stored on their local systems.

Academic Media Studio

ITS is reorganizing its various digital media services into a single entity named the Academic Media Studio. The new group will be composed of the technicians, designers, and programmers of the Digitization Service, the Learning Objects Studio, and the WebTech Program (which was retired two years ago). A full-time manager is being hired to run the Academic Media Studio. Once in service, the Studio will provide the same services as the component groups, but in a more unified fashion.

A discussion initiated by Francis Starr (PHYS) of poster-printing services explored ideas for creating a more user-friendly service, including a website explaining what applications are best for designing posters, formats for printing, and some facility to allow online file submission. Also discussed was the need for the university to subsidize printing costs.

Classroom recording (e.g., Apreso, Podcast LX in Blackboard)

A pilot project being run this year has been testing various methods for recording classroom lectures. NSM faculty participating in this pilot include Steve Devoto and Fred Cohan (BIOL), Mike McAlear (MB&B), and David Beveridge, Mike Calter, and David Westmoreland (CHEM). The recording methods that have been employed include “iPod in the pocket,” Camtasia, and Apreso's Anystream. The latter is a room-installed system that can be scheduled to start and stop at specific times, and uploads the recorded materials directly to a course's Blackboard.

Variables being considered in the study include: ease-of-use for faculty and student, staffing and end-user support levels required, cost, and whether availability of online recording effect attendance. The Office of Institutional Research has provided support in surveying students in participating courses.

Polling usage update

The following NSM courses have used/are using polling this academic year (estimated enrollments in parentheses): BIOL182 (141), CHEM144 (60), CHEM119 (120), MBB203 (25), PSYC105(200).

Intel-based Macs, Windows Vista

Issues relating to support of Intel-based Macs and the Windows Vista operating system are being explored currently by User Services within ITS. Both products have known compatibility problems with softwares currently supported on campus. Bob Lane (MB&B) raised the issue of the lack of support of automated Tivoli for Intel-based Macs and urged this problem be solved as soon as possible. Windows Vista will not be provided on University-purchased systems for at least a year.

Web 2.0 Working Groups

This year, ITS and other administrative staff members formed Web 2.0 working groups in order to explore applications and understand how they can be used on our campus (see

The applications being examined include blogs, wikis, rss and rss readers, social media, social bookmarking, online office applications. The goals are to examine current and potential uses of these applications on campus, benefits and pitfalls of various softwares, and to make recommendations of adoption and or support of particular software based on these analyses.

Also, a group is looking at the future of web editing on campus. Frontpage has been discontinued by Microsoft, no new releases will be made. Because of this, we are examining how to transition our campus website and personal websites away from dependence on the Frontpage server extensions we have been using for the past several years. These extensions support forms, embedded search engines and site indexing, included content, shared borders, themes, etc.

Exchange Server planning and implementation

Next year, the campus administrative departments will be moved off of Meeting Maker and Eudora, and on to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, an email, calendaring, and collaboration platform that works with Outlook (Windows) and Entourage for Mac. Since most staff in administrative departments use Windows operating system, the lack of full support for Macintosh is not deemed a problem. The primary benefits to Windows users include the greater functionality of a combined email and calendaring environment, disk space savings on email attachments that are sent to/shared by many users at once, and more uniform support for mobile access to email (via laptop, PDA and web-based email clients).

Faculty and other academic staff who want to use the Exchange server will be welcome, otherwise, no changes will be made to the academic community's email and network calendaring.

its/nsm_minutes.txt · Last modified: 2007/04/04 19:15 (external edit)