The University of Montana

Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

Tech Lounge opens in UC

In Academic, Innovation, People, Projects, Support, Wireless on November 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

TECH LOUNGE, UC – I’m writing this post sitting in a funky orange chair in the new UC Tech Lounge. Nine students are scattered around the room. Several are lounging without technology—reading or sleeping—but others have laptops open. One is tapping away on a netbook at the email bar.

There’s a traditional computer lab two doors down where patrons quietly work at banks of computers. This space is designed to be very different. Furniture can be moved. Groups can plug into big monitors at four “collaboration stations,” or schedule use of a room.

The space is meant to be noisy. There are no “Quiet Please” signs or grumpy librarians shushing you. The current crowd hasn’t caught on yet. The only sounds are tapping keys and the occasional zzzzppp, zzzzpp of a backpack zipper.

There are five internet-access computers on the corner bar, but for the most part this lounge is BYOD—Bring Your Own Device.

Wi-Fi has been beefed up, and there are lots of places to plug in and charge up. Starting next week, there will be a monitor on duty from 9 a.m. to midnight to provide technical support.

UC Director Liz Roosa Millar built a coalition of supporters for the tech lounge project, which kicked off last spring. Partners included Information Technology, the Provosts Office and the Student Computer Fee committee.

Diego Baccino, who serves on the Student Computer Fee committee, said the committee had been discussing a change of direction from using student fees to support traditional hardware-based computer labs to space where students would bring their own computers.

“The committee didn’t want to keep funding hardware that has a short lifecycle,” Baccino says. “We loved the idea of a tech lounge that encouraged people to bring their own computers and connect to the network.”

Roosa Millar, along with her talented staff, conceptualized the space that delights with color, lighting and openness. A grand opening of the lounge is scheduled for Monday, December 5th at 4 p.m

“We’re almost there,” Roose Millar said. “It’s going to be amazing seeing students use it.”


CyberBear login to switch to NetID

In Academic, Administrative, Banner, Systems, Web on February 2, 2011 at 8:27 am

Beginning March 14, UM students and employees will use their NetID and password to log into CyberBear rather than their 790 number and PIN.

CyberBear provides web access to academic, employment and personal information as well as course registration and fee payment functions. Faculty also use CyberBear to view class rosters and advisee lists.

This authentication process isn’t new to campus. CyberBear will use Central Authentication Services (CAS), UM’s standard for accessing network resources. Blackboard, Moodle, Onestop, UMConnect student email, Mansfield Library, campus wireless and numerous other systems use the NetID and CAS for authentication.

All students are assigned a NetID upon admission, and employees receive a NetID when they are hired. To find your NetID, go to and click on “What is my NetID?” Your initial password is the last six digits of your 790 number. The first time you login with your NetID, you will be prompted to change your password and set up a security question. That allows for self- service password reset if you forget your password or it expires.

This article appears in the February, 2011 edition of IT’s Bits newsletter.


In Academic, Communication, Innovation, People, Web on October 28, 2010 at 9:42 am

This from an Educause Review article titled Attention, and Other 21st Century Social Media Literacies:

Michael Bugeja, a journalism professor at Iowa State University, conducted an online survey of several hundred students and found that a majority had used their cell phones, sent or read e-mail, and gone onto social network sites during class time. The kicker was that a quarter of the survey respondents admitted that they completed his survey while attending another class.

Plan your spring with Academic Planner

In Academic, Innovation, Support, Web on October 18, 2010 at 7:26 am

Every semester, UM students cull through thousands of academic courses that will be offered during the next semester, and choose four or five courses that have seats available, meet general education or major requirements, and don’t have time conflicts with each other.

It’s a tedious task that has been made easier with a homegrown web application called Academic Planner.

“We use Academic Planner for nearly every student who comes in,” says Beth Howard, director of UM’s Undergraduate Advising Center. “We have them pull it up and log in and we talk about how they can use it to look at various schedule scenarios.”

Academic Planner provides multiple ways to search and filter UM’s course offerings, and lets students build an unlimited number of alternate course schedules. The course listings for spring semester 2011 include up-to-the-minute information about how many seats are still available in the course.

Academic Planner was developed in 2008 and enhanced during the past year. Jon Adams, a programmer in UM’s IT web technologies group, says the biggest improvements were the addition of a student’s academic history and a better calendar. The planner now displays courses and general education requirements that a student has completed in past semesters as well as those that are in progress and proposed for future semesters. The calendar graphically displays course times in a schedule grid. Adams pointed out that you are now able to hover over search results and see instantly how a course fits into your schedule.

“It’s particularly helpful for any student with special scheduling conditions,” Howard adds. “If you have work or childcare or athletics considerations, you can use the tool to maximize your time.”

You can find Academic Planner at The tool requires authentication using a UM NetID.

Spring semester pre-registration begins at the COT on Oct. 20, and on the mountain campus Oct. 25. UM Registrar Ed Johnson reminds students that actual registration still takes place in CyberBear. He encourages students who have planned schedules in Academic Planner to recheck course availability when their registration time comes up.

Perception gap

In Academic, Innovation, Strategy, Training on November 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

CDW Government polled 1,000 college students, instructors and IT staff for their report 2009 21st-Century Campus Report: Defining the Vision. Some key findings:

  • 81% of college students use technology every day to prepare for class.
  • 74% of faculty say they incorporate technology into almost every class, but only 45% of students say technology is fully integrated into their curriculum.
  • 52% of students report using social networking sites for educational purposes while 14% of faculty say they use social networking site for educational purposes.
  • 67% of faculty say they are satisfied with their technology professional development, but 45% of students rate faculty lack of tech knowledge as the biggest obstacle to classroom technology integration.
  • 32% of students and 22% of faculty strongly agree that their college/university is preparing students to successfully use technology when they enter the workforce.

    Media Arts makes its mark

    In Academic, Innovation, People, Web on June 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

    A new breed of students challenge professors, technology and conventional ways of teaching

    Rick Hughes has sacrificed his golf game and many hours of sleep to keep up with technology—and his students. He grumbles, but a lower handicap and more sack time could never compete with the adrenaline rush he gets from the pursuit.

    Hughes chairs UM’s fledgling undergraduate Media Arts program, which has grown to 93 majors since its inception two years ago. The program turns away more students than it accepts.

    Graduate student Amber Bushnell and Professor Rick Hughes experiment with real-time artistic collaboration with Julia Lindquist, a UM student currently in Japan.

    Graduate student Amber Bushnell and Professor Rick Hughes experiment with real-time artistic collaboration with Julia Lindquist, a UM student currently in Japan.

    Hughes is an administrator, a mentor, and always an active partner with students in a collaborative learning process. In May, he and graduate student Amber Bushnell experimented with long-distance, peer-to-peer artistic collaboration. From an office in McGill Hall, Amber connected to UM students in New Zealand and Japan. Across oceans, using Apple’s iChat on a Mac and a high-speed network connection, the students worked together to create art on a shared digital canvas. They did it in real time using voice and video communication.

    Hughes wants to engage other universities in similar peer-to-peer collaboration with his students, but he struggles to find faculty and administrators at other campuses willing to give it a try.

    “This idea takes advantage of technology everybody already has,” Hughes says. “Everybody seems to be waiting for the next big thing, but we’re missing an opportunity to take advantage of technology that already exists. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It doesn’t take brilliant people. It just takes people willing to do it.”

    It doesn’t take much to convince Amber of the benefits of collaboration. She has produced interactive art installations where viewers become participants in her art. The results always amaze her. Her graduate theses will focus on collaborative art, but on a global scale.

    “We tested the technology with UM students in New Zealand and Japan and it worked great,” she says. “But the distance part isn’t what I’m interested in. It’s collaborating with people from different cultures artistically—using technology to bring cultural ideas together. When you have different mindsets, you learn so much from the other people you’re working with.”

    Different mindsets

    Hughes, age undisclosed, is driven to keep up with technology in part because of his daily interaction with digital natives—students who have no recollection of a world without the World Wide Web.

    Charles Raffety is innately comfortable with technology. Heading into his senior year, Charles will be among the first to earn an undergraduate degree in Media Arts from UM.

    “I came here as a Fine Arts major and discovered a whole new thing—the integration of art and technology,” he says. “I jumped right on the bandwagon.”

    Charles grew up in Dillon where he had access to a computer lab at his elementary school. He didn’t have a computer at home until eighth grade, and his home Internet connection crawled, but he says, “I was excited enough to have patience with it.

    “I had a sense that it was cool, but changing all the time,” he recalls of his online experiences. “Every year it got better. Faster.”

    Charles admits that he has advantages over faculty who are a generation or two ahead of him.

    “For those of us raised in this environment, it’s easier to assimilate to the Internet culture,” he says. “It’s not impossible for faculty, but I see a hesitancy to try new technologies. I think people get overwhelmed and they let that get to them before they sit down and try things.”

    Amber, who teaches Media Arts classes to students of all ages, says her older students are definitely more reluctant to explore new technologies.

    “For younger students,” she says, “things are automatic. Built-in. Second-nature. Older students do great in class, but early on they’re overwhelmed. I see resistance. They’re inhibited. I tell them to ‘just play around’ and that changes their mindset.”

    Amber and Charles represent a wave of college students who will expect something different—something better—from their college education. They will increasingly reject one-way lectures from a podium in favor of cooperative learning that taps into the power of communities and collective intelligence.

    “Collaborative learning is a much richer experience,” Charles says. “Learning to work with others and share viewpoints is important. You’re pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, and you’re creating more advanced work.”

    “Participation is what’s been missing,” Hughes says. “It’s what we’ve been trying to get to. There are so many opportunities to do truly impressive things with technology we already have.”

    Media Arts in the Missoulian

    Media Arts students Amber Bushnell, Charles Raffety and Lou Ghaddar were featured in a May 15 Missoulian article about an interactive holographic art installation they created.

    Guidelines drafted for external web systems

    In Academic, Administrative, Communication, Governance, Policies, Security, Web on June 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Guidelines for appropriate use of external web systems like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have just been drafted to help UM departments and student organizations use the tools responsibly.

    The guidelines acknowledge the challenge of writing policy for an ever-expanding and changing set of non-University web systems. In response, the guidelines focus on constraints imposed by FERPA and other privacy laws and policies related to a student’s educational record; HIPAA and Montana health information privacy laws; federal and state archival and retrieval requirements for official electronic communication; and state laws regarding personnel evaluations.

    The draft guidelines are available on the web at:

    All the king's horses

    In Academic, Innovation, Leadership and Management, People, Strategy, Web on June 5, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Keith Lynip in UM’s Extended Learning Services is contemplating our next learning management system. His blog post Synthesis lays out a vision for an integrated approach to academic technology. He foolishly asked for my perspective.

    As Ramon the penguin said in Happy Feet:  “Big guy. Let me tell something to you. Come close. Don’t be afraid. You want answers?”

    Keith laments that the University is “far better at analysis-separation, deconstruction-than synthesis.”

    Yes, we excel at separating ourselves from one another-sector-by-sector-school-by-school-department-by-department-website-by-website. We can blame limited resources, organizational culture or bad management, but why blame ourselves. Google has separated and deconstructed us far beyond our mortal powers.

    Information-including our information-has been smashed into a bazillion pieces and wrested from our control. It’s a done deal. Our best hope now is to figure out if the University can be relevant in putting the pieces back together.

    Humpty-DumptyOut of chaos comes order, but the emerging order is quite different. If we don’t start thinking differently, we’ll be like all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, who couldn’t put Humpty together again. Except that in the digital age, Humpty is capable of putting himself back together and we become obsolete if we don’t adapt. Don’t believe me? Google “death of newspapers”.

    In “Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder,” author David Weinberger says that “miscellaneous order is changing how we think the world itself is organized and-perhaps more important-who we think has the authority to tell us so.”

    He points out that before the digital age, physical limitations on how we organized information limited our vision, and gave the people who controlled the organization of information more power than those who created the information.

    Then along came all the “bliggity blogs and the facey spaces and the tweety pages,” not to mention the social tagging, the RSS feeds and the data mash-ups.

    If all that boggles your mind, here’s a simple guide for the new age:

    It’s all about me.

    If you want synthesis, don’t synthesize around academics or any other organizational aspect of the institution. Synthesize around ME. My life. My WHOLE life. My academic life. My social life. My love life. My health. My job. My finances. My responsibilities. My causes. My passions.

    You (any department, administrator, faculty or staff) don’t care about me (any student) as much as you care about yourself. That’s just how humans and human-made institutions work. But I’m in control now. I’m calling the shots and I have to tell something to you.

    Our bliggity blogs and our facey spaces and our tweety pages are thriving because they operate in a world that revolves around me.

    We-the University-haven’t figured out how to function in that world yet.

    When we do, the technology will be ready.

    Systems outages report

    In Academic, Administrative, Banner, Network, Systems on June 2, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    New to the IT website:  systems outages report.

    And the Hugi goes to . . .

    In Academic, Innovation, People, Projects, Web on May 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Note:  This article is included in the May issue of Bits, IT’s monthly newsletter.

    UM’s Academic Planner web application has been awarded a Hugi Excellence Award by the Northwest Academic Computing Consortium (NWACC).

    The academic planning tool, programmed by IT web developers Jon Adams and Tom Fite, provides an intuitive interface for students to plan course schedules and share them with academic advisers. The application was released in beta this spring, with students in the Davidson Honors College putting it to the test. New UM students attending orientations beginning in June will be the first to use the application in full production.

    Loey Knapp, ACIO for Technology Support Services, said the project has received support and guidance from several UM offices, including the Registrar’s Office, Enrollment Services, the Office of Student Success, Extended Learning Services and the Davidson Honors College.

    The Hugi awards are named for former University of Oregon Chief Technology Officer Joanne R. Hugi. UM’s recognition was in the category of business processes and systems.