From the CTO

9 September 2016
Janet Scannell

When my family went on vacation to San Francisco this summer, I thought I would be setting aside my focus on technology for a week.  But wouldn’t you know that the ferry to Alcatraz had a fantastic interactive display of their green energy usage that I felt drawn to study (as inspiration for the new Science Complex). I also used Google Maps more intently for our mass transit connections than I ever had, and the huge billboards and the giant Apple store persuaded my subconscious that I had to have an Apple Watch (which is fantastic by the way).

I suspect that many of you had similar experiences with technology this summer. Whether it was the move to Gmail or an obsession with Pokemon GO, my guess is that you explored something new, perhaps in a way that made technology a conduit but not the focus of your interaction.  Technology is indeed everywhere!

The ability for technology to be used seamlessly in the service of your work is always our goal in ITS.  And when invisibility isn’t possible, we hope that the “on-ramp” to a new approach is as straight-forward and self-discoverable as possible.  In other words, we want to do our best to help you, while realizing that the “do it yourself” option is increasingly important.  

We have tried to keep both of these principles in mind with the Gmail migration.  The in-person training that ITS and our campus partners offered was very well-used, as was the online self-service training from and Carleton-created videos and text tips.  As we all continue to learn how to adapt our practices to get the most out of this  expanded Google environment, ITS will be gathering and curating lessons learned by all of Carleton.  We look forward to hearing what you have discovered.

This summer we also worked on a resource we call the “ITS Catalog of Services”, which is intended to make it easier for community members to discover Carleton’s technology resources – to either dive in or to find a contact for more information.  If you explore the Teaching and Learning section, you will notice new software for creating videos (YuJa) and web-based lab notebooks (Lab Archives). Those new services and information about new features in Moodle are described in this newsletter article.  Our annual refresh of classroom and lab computers represents an aspect of technology that you may have also experienced this summer — that it never stops changing.  Software vendors add new features and stop supporting older versions, which leads to continual change and some ups and downs (read about Windows 10).  The evolution of Carleton’s technology aspirations also brings change.  ITS staff are working with the construction projects on updating telecommunications and audio-visual technology to the latest available features. And we are always working to support campus partners, like a new volunteer management system for External Relations & the Career Center, and an updated design for the student gateway web page.

So what’s coming for this Fall?  First, we will continue to roll out Dropbox, which we are doing a department or division at a time in order to move cleanly from COLLAB.  And we will be pursuing a campus technology master planning process which will include reaching out to hear about your emerging needs and ways that technology can further your work.  One of the most rewarding parts of the Gmail migration was how the campus community came together and supported each other – not just to replace Zimbra but to reimagine communications.  That type of partnership is essential in order to have a technology infrastructure that enables the good work of Carleton community members in a deep and well-integrated way.

I wish you well as you begin the new academic year.  Welcome back!

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  • 2016-09-09 18:11:05
    Ken Abrams

    What a thoughtful note - thanks for all the work you and your team do behind the scenes!