Information Technology Update 2016

The following is an update on some of the key projects that Information Technology staff have been working on.

Classrooms, Labs, and Event Spaces

In the Martin Auditorium, much of the equipment was replaced, greatly improving the quality and reliability of sound, the ease-of-use of the podium controls, and the lighting. Wireless access was also expanded. New curtains and paint provided by Facilities Management completed the refresh.

In Cushing Martin, the Graphic Design Computer Lab (CM 143) now has seven 4K high definition screens on the wall, which display the instructor's computer and enhance the ability to view and collaborate on creative works. Facilities Management added a custom instructor station, a tack board wall to display printed work and moveable tables in the center of the room.

In Duffy 219, we are piloting a new Cleartouch Interactive Display, an easy-to-use interactive digital whiteboard with many features that surpass other popular standard electronic whiteboards. Feedback from faculty who are using it is very positive.

IT also modernized and improved classrooms by replacing some older projectors, improving sound, and ensuring all computers can play DVDs. As announced in the spring, VHS/DVD players were removed from all classrooms. Be sure to see the Library's helpful post for more information about Stonehill's transition away from VHS. Over 50 VHS recordings were digitized over the summer as part of the transition.

Computers in labs and classrooms were upgraded with the latest version the Microsoft Office suite, Office 2016. As a reminder, all faculty, staff and students can install Microsoft Office on their personal computers through their Office 365 account.

New Software for Teaching

Servers were built to provide access to RStudio and SQL Server to support courses offered by Rob Carver and Mike Sale in Business. RStudio is a user friendly environment for the R language that provides students real world skills in data mining. It will be used this fall in Intro to Data Science as well as Gene Quinn’s Statistics for Science class. Students in Mike Sale’s Decision Support Systems class will be developing sought after skills using Microsoft’s Power BI software to access data in the SQL Server databases.

Computer Replacements

We began replacing the College’s oldest staff computers after meeting with department heads to review their needs. The new standards for Windows computers include the HP EliteDesk 800 G2 Mini desktop and the HP Spectre 360 X2 laptop. The new Spectre laptops have been positively received for their thin design, crisp touch enabled HD display, ability to convert to a tablet, and impressive performance. We have deployed 45 of 90 planned replacements and will begin faculty deployments later in the fall.

Wireless Improvements

Upgrades to wireless access points (APs) in Boland Hall, New Hall, and Notre Dame du Lac Hall were completed in July enabling four times the capacity of the old equipment. Approximately 40% of our APs across campus have been replaced with new devices from Aruba enabling better coverage, speed, and manageability. Over the last 2 weeks, we experienced some very frustrating disruptions in these buildings. The addition of a controller late last week resolved the problems.

Xfinity on Campus for Students

A new TV service provided under our existing contract with Comcast was launched for students living in Stonehill residence halls. The new XFINITY On Campus service offers online access to live streams for over 100 channels showing TV shows, movies and sports programing plus the extensive XFINITY on demand catalog. Plus, students can record up to 20 hours of programming on their cloud DVR. Early feedback from students is very positive.

Rave Mobile Alert System

Rave is our new emergency notification system which was selected by the Emergency Communications Evaluation Team last spring. IT staff are on the implementation team led by Chief Carnes. We developed integration with Banner and ensured the system was available to start the fall semester. Rave provides a streamlined interface that shortens the time it takes to send a message, which can also be sent to media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds. Those sending messages now use their Stonehill username and password, simplifying the login process.