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December 2012 Archives

Google Eliminating Appointment Slots - UPDATED

On January 4, 2013, Google will be shutting down several less popular Google Calendar features. One of these items is the Appointment slots. After this date, you will be unable to create new reservable times on your Calendar through Appointment slots, but existing Appointment slots will continue working for one year.

1/2/13 UPDATE: Google has changed the date for appointment slots to go away to January 30th, 2013 instead of the original January 4th timeline.

1/17/13 UPDATE: Google has reversed course on this decision and
will continue to support appointment slots in Calendar for all Google Apps for Business, Education and Government customers

Posted on Monday, Dec 17, 2012 | Permalink

Reduced Services for Personal Computers Over December Break

Due to holiday closings and reduced staffing at the ITSS TechCenter, we will be temporarily limiting service for personal computers from Monday, December 17 through Tuesday, January 1. During this time, we will continue to provide walk-in technical support for all devices (University or personal), but will be accepting only University equipment for check-in repair service. Customers with personal computers will be encouraged to explore other local options for repair, or they may bring their personal computers in beginning January 2.

The ITSS TechCenter relies heavily on student staffing, which allows us to keep our labor rates much lower than commercial services in Duluth, but also limits staffing during finals week and campus breaks. Additionally, the University is officially closed for five business days during this period, which significantly decreases available staff time and increases shipping time for parts ordered for warranty or non-warranty work. Limiting the number of workstations accepted for repair will ensure we can provide timely service for the computers needed for University business. Normal computer check-in procedures will resume on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, for all computers.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and your patronage. Questions or concerns can be directed to Sally Bradt at x8856 or via email at

Posted on Monday, Dec 10, 2012 | Permalink

Library 410 to Become Active Learning Classroom with ITV

The Pharmacy program, ITSS, and external consultants are designing Library 410 to offer active learning classroom features as well as video conferencing. Initial implementation will be complete by the beginning of Spring semester.

There has been a growing body of research for quite some time that indicates "active learning" is a more effective way to move students up the hierarchy of Bloom's Taxonomy and thus maximize learning outcomes. More recently, many universities have been working on classroom layout, technology, and user support models to try to make active learning more central to the classroom experience.

Library 410 Adapted to Pharmacy Needs

The emerging "Information Commons" concept in the Library is a perfect context for our next move into active learning classrooms. Funded by a special grant from the Pharmacy program, this room will address the unique needs of a program split across two campuses. In addition to the typical components of an active learning classroom, the School of Pharmacy needed to have a strong video conferencing component. Faculty, staff, and students from the program have been working with Classroom Technology Services, ITSS, and external consultants to design and implement a room that will do both teaching modes well.

Typical Active Learning Classrooms Features

  • As much white board space as possible as a perimeter
  • Multiple flat-panel display projection systems
  • Round tables that accommodate six or nine students each
  • A centered teaching station that allows selection and display of table-specific information
  • Easy to use controls to allow student or faculty display from any of the "pods" in the room

Additional Library 410 Features to Accommodate Video Conferencing

  • Collaborative tables designed to shift from group learning to video conferencing
  • Multiple cameras and displays at each "pod"
  • Power and controls integrated into the furniture to accommodate each student
  • Motion tracking cameras for remote lecture
  • Acoustic wall panels and ceiling tiles for tailored audio
  • Support for traditional Interactive Television as well as emerging technologies such as Google Hangouts.

Next Steps

We will use Spring semester to continue our needs assessment and tweak the space to inform the second half of this project, which will be a similar resource on the Twin Cities campus.

Related Resources

For an example how active learning has be implemented and research findings regarding its effectiveness consult the Active Learning Classroom (ALC) Twin Cities Web Site.

Posted on Monday, Dec 3, 2012 | Permalink

UMD IT Staff Present at EDUCAUSE

Peter Angelos, Director of Technology for CLA and Jason Davis, ITSS Manager for Classroom Technology, along with Brad Cohen and Brittany Lloyd who are both Associate CIOs from OIT on the Twin Cities campus spoke at EDUCAUSE 2012.

The topic was "Shared Leadership: From IT Silos to IT Alliance". The four explained how eight months of training from an external consultant and common work projects helped improve relationships and cooperation via the development of mutual language, process, and trust.

Presentation materials are available on the Shared Leadership: From IT Silos to IT Alliance section of the EDUCAUSE 2012 site.

Posted on Monday, Dec 3, 2012 | Permalink