Wires Crossed

Mobile devices have revolutionized the way people work and play, and are now doing the same for how we teach and learn. Two weeks ago at TwTT we heard about the Yale School of Medicine's remarkable initiative to eliminate paper in the classroom by issuing iPads to all students. Last week, Julie Newman described how the unique form factor and interface of the iPad can enrich assignments and improve participation. Now, in this week's TwTT the series on mobile technology concludes with a panel of students from the Wires Crossed internship, here to talk to us about how they incorporate mobile technology into their daily lives.

Emmanuel Quartey, Architecture '12, set the tone of the panel when, while clutching his iPad, he said "I shudder to think what I would have accomplished at Yale if I had owned this device my freshman year."  While some of the students felt more strongly about the importance of mobile technology, all of them agreed that the iPads and smartphones they were issued through the internship had dramatic effects on their studies.

So what is Wires Crossed? Originally "my mobile year," this internship program initially sought to peer into the life of mobile technology use by students, but quickly morphed into a report on the pulse of technology on campus. Behind the scenes, 5 students, Austin Berhadt, '12; Salvador Fernandez, '13; Henry Furman, '14; Emmanuel Quartey, '12; and Sara Stalla, '13, were issued iPads and smartphones and asked to report back regularly on when they were using the devices and how. This report came in the form of a Tumblr based blog and a Twitter feed, both of which picked up more interest from undergraduates than had been expected.

At the onset, the project was new and students were unsure of how to present their findings and whether to keep the name "my mobile year." Though they settled on a blog, choosing a hosting platform was a challenge - different platforms offered different advantages, and a forum on mobile and academic technology had to have excellent ease of use and a high degree of mobile-readiness. Ultimately, a few key features helped the students settle on Tumblr. First, the freshman class was full of Tumblr users, making it easier to connect to students. Second, the platform has an excellent and easy to use mobile interface. Most importantly, Tumblr's format allows an entire community to be created around an idea - perfectly suited to a project studying academic technology. By tagging all posts "educational technology" readership grew quickly.

With the blog going up, students thought about the nature of the project and quickly realized that it was much more than a documentary of their use of mobile technology. They reasoned that the name should reflect this expanded mission. Thinking not only about the vast scale of academic technology, the challenges they ran into in choosing how to even begin a blog project, and their initial frustration after being immersed in this world, but also the intersections between technology, education and student life that they saw emerging around them, the name "wires crossed" seemed appropriate.

After settling on a name for the project, and a platform for presenting the work, the five students set out on their mission.  At first, the students spent a lot of time thinking about their new learning tools, with the iPad getting the most attention. Early posts included discussions of apps that emerged as particularly useful in the classroom. GoodReader, with its folder structure and excellent annotation features for PDFs and other documents, won approval from all students, with Emmanuel pointing out that reading and annotating became so easy with GoodReader that he actually found himself doing more readings than he had without it. Students also used the iPads to take notes in class, with Henry promoting the features of notability while other students suggested using the iOS version of pages.  Dropbox also earned an honorable mention for the ease it brings to file management without a laptop, and Rebtel made the list as a social app that helps students make free VOIP phone calls to long distance or overseas friends.

Austin points out that the iPad is more than just an academic tool. In his daily use he feels that outstanding twitter and foursquare integration make it primarily a social device, a "practical toy" that can make academics much easier by allowing him to unobtrusively browse current syllabi during shopping period before checking what's on the dining hall menu. Although he is open to tighter classroom integration, he notes that the lack of uniform pagination poses a serious problem in English classes, and that many free books use uncorrected OCR, resulting in typographical errors, missing words, and broken lines - issues for verse particularly, but literature generally.

While the iPads were a central part of the internships, the whole panel agreed that students recognize the breadth of academic technology. Student run initiatives have really taken off, and some of the most prominent have been featured in the blog and highlighted on the Wires Crossed twitter feed. The quintessential student project is the Yale Bluebook, which adds a user friendly face and social elements to the process of course selection, currently done through the multi-windowed and clunky Yale Online Course Selection system. Alone, Yale Bluebook could be seen as a few clever students going through an unusual amount of work to fill a need, but understood in the broader climate of technology among undergraduates at Yale the project takes on greater significance. Students feel a need for a new technical literacy, one where knowledge of HTML and CSS is a launching point for further innovation. Students have also taken steps to fill this need. The HackYale program brings expert students together with neophytes to learn topics from HTML to iOS development, all on a voluntary basis with no credit awarded. The Yale College Council App Challenge is an initiative that seeks to add compensation for good ideas - and has gotten results with social applications like Rommeo and academic projects like Slidee earning cash awards or campus-wide recognition, or both.

Student led initiatives show that there is certainly a desire among undergraduates to become technically literate, and that student projects will serve not only social but also academic functions. The panel seems to highlight that while students are achieving amazing things on their own, they could be doing even more with greater backing from Yale and better tools to find each other, with Harvard's "Innovation Incubator" highlighted as a possible model. Students need to be given more access to institutional data and more support for their projects in order to produce academic applications that can have major impact on teaching and learning at Yale.

Although staff and faculty led attempts to integrate social elements into classes are laudable, panelists point out that without the inclusion of students, these attempts can frequently go awry. Adding a discussion forum or making comment posting mandatory usually lead to dry and forced interactions, and fail to really involve students. A forum, where faculty members could connect to undergraduate developers who are more in touch with how their peers approach social learning, would be an example of a support structure that could foster rapid and meaningful innovation.

While starting with mobile technology, the Wires Crossed interns have worked together to produce a blog that measures the pulse of technology on Yale's campus. From creative iPhone apps, to improvements to the course selection system, students have already made significant contributions to academic technology at Yale.  As the panel points out, with greater university support, even more could be achieved.

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iPads in the Classroom – Julie Newman's Sustainability Course

In last week's session, we learned from the Yale School of Medicine that iPads can be used to completely replace paper in a professional program. This week, Julie Newman, Director of the Office of Sustainability and lecturer in Forestry and Environmental Science, came to TwTT to describe her experience using iPads to replace paper and enhance teaching in her undergraduate seminar titled "Sustainability: From Theory to Practice in Institutions."

The initiative started when the CLC set up a pilot program to loan out 20 iPad2s to a seminar that would integrate them most effectively into its structure. The library would loan the devices, and ITS's Instructional Technology Group would provide technical and teaching support. After a successful spring 2011 project in the digital humanities, Julie Newman's class won the fall semester challenge, both for its ambitious goal of eliminating paper use in the classroom and for its use of iPad optimized assignments and projects.

Julie described to the audience how her class goals were uniquely suited to the iPad. First she wanted to go paperless, both to lessen the seminar's carbon footprint and to enhance text with media integration and instant research. She also wanted to go mobile with the class, leaving the seminar room to visit local sites while students could continue to watch the presentation or take notes. These would be accomplished without the social barrier of a laptop screen. Finally, she asserted that she wanted to start a conversation on not only about technology as a teaching tool but also the role of technology in sustainability.

The environmental impact of the iPad was central, Julie pointed out, since it was being used to replace paper in a class on sustainability. After carefully considering the impact of the device she concluded that it did serve a net positive, and in conjunction with her laptop was able to almost completely eliminate paper use in the class, making it the "most paperless she'd ever been."  This impact, however, is tied to two conditions. The first, she argues, is that it cannot be constantly replaced every time there is a new version of the same technology. The second is that the device must be used to its fullest capacity - replacing paper in contexts outside the classroom and providing additional functionality that would have required other devices.

Inside the classroom, Julie structured her assignments  to take maximum advantage of the unique features of the iPad. Course texts were acquired as Amazon or Google eBooks, articles were posted on Classes*v2, slide shows were given via Google docs. Although Julie admits that she didn't have a comprehensive plan when she started the semester, by the end she had found a rhythm of iPad use, reaching an even greater level of integration than even she had expected.

The flexibility in assignments and projects allowed by the iPad was especially remarkable. Although adoption of the iPad was complete in daily assignments, with students pulling up homework on screen at the beginning of the class and PDF readings completed on the popular GoodReader app, it was in special projects that the iPad really showcased its educational potential. An example comes from her assignment of an "ideas forum." This project involved students identifying a local sustainability challenge and working to develop, propose, and discuss solutions. Despite leaving the submission format open, Julie expected most students to use the iPads to assemble and deliver keynote presentations, which some students did. Others, however, used the iPad's integrated media tools and software to construct multimedia shows or short films. In this context the combination of iMovie and a camera on a single device  made the iPad an ideal tool for the on-site assembly of a compelling multimedia presentation. Other students used the mind mapping software iDesk, only available on iOS, to diagram their understanding of the problem in a format that is both faster and easier to understand than traditional blocks of text.

With the success of coursework and special projects on the iPad, Julie explains that she will certainly integrate the device into new attempts to reduce paper consumption and to integrate technology more closely with teaching, although if she cannot secure iPads again then she will try to replicate the functions using laptop computers. The iPad does convey a number of distinct advantages over a laptop, however. First, limited multitasking keeps students focused in class, while still having access to internet and processing tools. The extra mobility and integrated cameras allow students to take the device with them to field sites, bringing practice and learning together in a way that is difficult even with portable computers. Finally, Julie felt that after learning about iDesk she had underutilized it in the classroom, something she will remedy in a future class if the devices appear again.

Besides using iDesk more heavily, Julie points out that there are a number of things she would do differently in the future. First, she feels that more training is necessary, and that professors should start using the device at least a semester in advance of teaching with it. She also feels that more training for both students and faculty would be useful, particularly on applications like keynote, iMovie, GoodReader, and Evernote. Finally, a more efficient content transfer system and possibly keyboards for in-class note-taking should be considered in future iPad based classes.

Besides the user challenges associated with teaching with iPads, IT Staff overcame significant challenges to deploy iPads on short notice. It was only two weeks before the devices were to be given out that staff was able to begin the process of deciding how to configure and distribute the devices. Particularly challenging was the process of deciding what applications to pre-load, and how to keep track of all 18 devices and accessories to make sure that nothing could be lost. Despite these challenges, however, the iPads rolled out successfully, and integrated with course materials to a degree nobody had anticipated. While future classes may not encounter some of the initial obstacles associated with a pilot program, it is certain that they will all benefit from the educational potential of the iPad in the classroom.

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Yale Medical School iPad Program

When the Stanford School of Medicine decided to incorporate mobile technology into the curriculum while reducing the use of paper in the classroom, students were issued iPads to access electronic versions of their course materials. Within a semester there was a general revolt, and paper was reinstated as the primary teaching tool.

When the Yale School of Medicine sought to use iPads to eliminate paper, after a botched experiment with flash drives, the goal was to take a big risk in order to have a big impact. The bold strategy paid off. With 84% of first year medical students saying that the iPad was their primary classroom tool, and 90% of students reporting that it was their primary tool for reading, adoption rates were better than the implementation team had expected. Now, not only has the program been recognized as a success, but the Yale Medical School is also now regularly contacted by other departments and programs, as well as other universities, for information on how to successfully deploy iPads in teaching. Joining us on Tuesday to talk about the history, implementation, and success of the program were Michael Scwartz, Gary Leydon, Judy Spark, and Mark Gentry, all from the team at the Yale School of Medicine responsible for the success of the iPad program.

As Assistant Dean of Curriculum, Michael Schwartz began the presentation by explaining not only the problems other schools had encountered while teaching with iPads, but also the steps that Yale knew it needed to take to make the program unique and successful. Several elements stood out. First, education on the use of the iPad was mandatory. Second, they used a pilot program to determine student needs, and adapted the program to anticipate and avoid simple problems that might otherwise have been easily overlooked. Third, there was significant cooperation between departments, and, finally, a mobile support network of mobile-friendly sites and a new CMS compatible with the iPad  were deployed at the same time as students received the tablets. Finally, the implementation group decided to focus on near perfect functionality of core components rather than trying to support all features, resulting in the cutting of printing support and non-HTML5 movies to focus on encryption, reading, and note-taking. The cumulative result was an environment where students could focus on learning course content rather than learning how to use the device.

Although adoption was made as easy as possible for students, creating this transparency was an exceptional challenge for support staff. Starting with the news that the program had been expanded overnight to cover all 518 current medical school students instead of only 200 first years, the implementation team was faced with the challenge of preparing 518 devices that each required being physically plugged into a computer to turn on for the first time - before being individually configured with internal encryption to meet stringent healthcare confidentiality requirements for electronic protected health information (ePHI) in the clinical environment.

The initial group of 9 committed students in the pilot program had emphasized the importance of ease of use of supporting systems as well as the device itself. Frequently accessed websites and the learning management system had to be optimized for use on the tablet - including not only a redesign of the mobile version of the sites, but also the ability to quickly access classroom resources through bulk download and rapid content update. With screen constraints, course sites and resources needed to be completely uniform to avoid confusion while accessing content, and students wanted to be able to interact with that content not only through touch and drawing, but also with a keyboard.

Thus, the implementation team faced a dual challenge. First they had to configure over 500 devices to be secure and useful tools to access both course material and confidential health information. The second, greater, challenge was the need to develop the support infrastructure to make these devices useful.

The restructuring of learning infrastructure to improve the iPad experience involved three main components. First, the learning management system, where all course materials reside, needed to be linked to the iPads in a form that allowed students to update materials in seconds before lecture if a professor has made a last minute change to his presentation. The second support system was a modification of Medical School Websites in general to make them more mobile friendly, and to create portals through which students could access the most commonly needed content, including course podcasts, faculty produced teaching applications, and pages with tips and instructions. The final step is providing technical and software support beyond the basic applications included with the iPad. In the YSM program, this function is filled by the library, which evaluates medical software and resources, acquires site licenses, and consults with students about how their technical needs might be better suited by new tools. The library also helps students integrate their portable computers, mobile phones, and tablet computers to improve productivity while maintaining compliance with ePHI regulation.

In order to perform all of the changes needed for back end support of the iPads, the implementation team had to bring together many departments to work cooperatively. While the library worked on promoting mobile friendly interfaces and testing software, ITS and the curriculum development group worked on the LMS. Settling on a system called "BlueDogs," an implementation of the licensed LCMS+ system for medical schools,  a script could be used that every 55 minutes looks through content, finds new material, indexes text, produces PDF copies of everything, and then pushes the content to a WebDav server which hosts content that can be pulled, either one file at a time or a semester at a time, to iPads on demand (push sync has not yet been tested). Once on the iPad, most students choose to use GoodReader to read and annotate materials.

In order to minimize technical problems, educational support staff kept complete control over the content on the LMS. This included renaming all files to match a standard convention over the course of six months and sorting the items into folders - the same folders that would appear on the iPad. Although the sheer number of changes implemented at once made some staff members nervous, ultimately all of the back end changes worked well, and in the coming year faculty will probably get direct access to their own course sites.

With the back end services ready to go, the challenge of physically preparing and issuing the iPads came next. As mentioned earlier, each iOS4 unit had to be manually plugged into a computer and configured, but since each device would have to be registered to the wireless network using netID, and encryption passwords would all be private, the setup that could perform in advance was limited. Nonetheless, staff purchased  a 10 port USB hub (the 20 port physically burned out) and initialized every device. In the process they installed a web clip (like a shortcut) that linked to the YSM's setup guide for iPads, and also iBooks, so students would have to set up an apple account, but could do so without a credit card. Serial numbers for all devices were retained and tied to students' names.

In the opening week of classes, students were obligated to go to an orientation class to get their iPads where they were broken into groups of 25 to 40 people for training on setting up curriculum, email, and security systems. Students also received either an Apple Bluetooth keyboard or a $69 Amazon giftcard to purchase their own keyboard, 2 years of AppleCare warranty coverage, and a Goodreader activation code. Students were fast learners. While the older students took about an hour to set up the iPads, first years usually finished the entire process in 15 minutes.

Adoption rates have been very high, and while the BlueDogs system is completely compatible with laptops and other devices, most students will still use their iPads to obtain and read course materials. The program has also been successful in mostly eliminating the use of paper in teaching. Before the iPad program, over $1000 worth of copies were made for every student. Students are still given the option of purchasing the paper form of course information, but not a single student chose to. The program also promises to bring more creative learning opportunities to the Medical School. Some professors have already begun the process of writing applications to go along with their courses, including interactive maps of body systems. iPads will also be integrated with the information systems of Yale New Haven Hospital, allowing students to use the same device for both learning and clinical practice. With outstanding rates of adoption, and increased integration with new teaching tools and the clinical setting, the Yale School of Medicine's iPad program is a model for the deployment of tablet computing in education.

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Yale Summer Session Online Courses

Yale classes are already streamed around the world in high definition through the University's revolutionary Open Yale Courses initiative. This program allows students to watch lectures and access certain class resources from anywhere at any time, but not for course credit. The idea that Yale credit cannot be earned through an online only program began to change in 2010, however, when Yale Summer Session Dean William Whobrey was approached by university officials about the possibility of introducing online courses for Yale credit in the summer of 2011. After a four course pilot, the experiment has been labeled a success and is expanding in the summer of 2012. To describe the ideas behind  the Yale Summer Session Online courses, and the technology that powers the program, Dean William Whobrey and Richard Collins from the Yale Summer Session, and Lucas Swineford, from the Yale Broadcast and Media Center, came to TwTT to present on distance learning at Yale.

The first priority of program planners was to ensure that the courses offered online were held to the same high standards as their conventional

classroom counterparts. Besides putting each course through vetting  by the Course of Study Committee, each class had to meet a strict set of criteria before students could be allowed to register. All online classes were versions of courses taught in previous years on the Yale campus in conventional classrooms, ensuring the existence of a comparative metric and effective subject material. To control for the possibility of an atypical student body, registration in the pilot was limited to current Yale undergraduates, and enrollment was capped at 25 students or fewer, creating a "seminar feel."  Despite the small class size, each course was also assigned a teaching fellow to maximize student access to material. Despite all these controls, Bill argues that what ultimately makes these classes unique is the outstanding teaching quality. All courses were taught by Yale ladder faculty, bringing students as close to a Yale campus experience as possible, regardless of their location in the world.

After settling on the general guidelines for the courses, the summer session team had to choose a learning management system (LMS) to be used as a platform for the program. From many vendors laying out a panoply of competing products, Rich Collins explained that the group ultimately settled on Pearson's e-college suite, a cloud based learning environment in use at Columbia University and other peer institutions. Pearson's excellent customer support and immediate technical assistance were weighted heavily in the decision process since faculty members worried that software problems might disrupt their classes - a fear that proved unfounded. The Pearson Learning Studio environment also allows significant flexibility in teaching. Professors could post readings and collect written assignments, initiate threaded discussions, broadcast recorded lectures, moderate group activities, and also administer exams and assessments. When students are in compatible time zones the software has a video conference feature which allows up to 25 participants to "meet" online in a live session that is recorded for later review. The LMS also has a facility that allows a common media space to be shared by all participants, which can include slide shows, podcasts, video clips, PDFs, or a white board where control can be limited to the professor or delegated to students. The Pearson LMS allows students and faculty to interact directly and use a variety of learning tools - a degree of personal attention that is nearly unique in the world of online classes - and the reason why students are charged regular summer session tuition for participation.

Given the variety of teaching styles made possible by the Pearson LMS, it is unsurprising that each of the four classes used a slightly different model, from campus based sections to seminar style interaction to a more conventional distance class based on recorded lectures. Tom Duffy's Jazz and Race in Americamet at regular times on Yale's campus, but used the online system to deliver additional content to students. Donald Brown's course Computational Financebrought all students online simultaneously to work through problem sets together on on a virtual whiteboard. An online section of Craig Wright's Brains of Genius ran at the same time as the classroom course, resulting in a distance experience that mirrored the classroom. Ellen Lust taught her class completely from overseas, recording lectures and guest speakers for students to watch, and also hosting online sections to ensure that students had an opportunity to discuss content face to face.

Bill pointed out that all of the classes are highly atypical in the distance learning community, and that this uniqueness is something that program administrators consider important. Indeed, the novel class formats have received very positive reviews from both students and faculty. Although the sample size was too small for rigorous scientific study, professors felt that they could teach effectively using the LMS, and that the classes were certainly worthy of Yale course credit. In a vote of confidence, all four faculty members plan to teach online again. Students also responded positively to the program, explaining that online classes actually proved to be more work than conventional equivalents.

The success of the online classes offered through the Yale Summer Session in 2011 has guaranteed that the program will be expanded in 2012. Although online classes pose significant technical and logistical challenges - Rich compared administering the program to running a live radio show - the successful learning outcomes and positive response from students and faculty seem to justify the extra effort. The program may also be expanded beyond the summer. Although it is unlikely that students will be able to take term-time classes online, Yale's professional schools have expressed interest in the program, and may begin to offer their own distance learning programs. Despite fear of technical problems and poor learning outcomes, the Yale Summer Session Online Courses program has demonstrated the distance learning is a viable and effective complement to Yale's traditional course offerings.

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eBooks in Overdrive

Like many academic library patrons in 2010, if Yale library users found a book available on Kindle through Amazon and wanted to get it from the library, they would have to find a print copy of the book in the Yale system and go to a library to pick it up. This changed in June of 2011 when Yale University Library became one of only a few academic libraries in the world to offer eBook lending through Overdrive. In order to explain how this came to pass, and to describe some of the challenges associated with integrating eBooks into the collection of a major reference library, Tod Gilman, librarian for literature in English, and Marsha Garman, acquisition librarian and interim head of library acquisitions, came to TwTT to talk about the development and implementation of the two year Overdrive pilot.

Patrons have wanted to borrow eBooks almost since their invention, but the lending of an intangible work poses many challenges, not least of which is the technical one. Without running afoul of copyright law, the library had to figure out a way to distribute electronic texts where readers had to return the books for use by others after the lending period, without keeping permanent copies for themselves. Initially this was set to be done through the lending of entire Kindles, but with ambiguous wording in the Amazon user agreement, as well as the physical difficulty of lending and collecting the reader, this approach was deemed infeasible. Instead, the Yale library turned to a service that has become popular in public libraries known as Overdrive.

Overdrive is an eBook lending service that allows libraries to purchase items from a catalog of over 650,000 electronic books and audiobooks and then distribute them using a web site branded for the individual university, but maintained by Overdrive. This creates an online digital library, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that behaves much like a conventional print library. Users search for and check out a title, which they can then download to their portable reader or audio device. Once they have checked out a title, it is theirs for a period of 7, 14, or 21 days and cannot be used by other readers at their institution unless the library has purchased multiple copies. If users finish an eBook early, then they can return it from the device they initially used to download it, freeing their account to borrow another book up to a limit of five at a time. Titles that are not returned before their deadline are automatically returned for use by another reader.

While the Overdrive service is both intuitive and convenient, it presents several challenges for research libraries. The first, and possibly most significant, is that with a history in public library lending, Overdrive's catalog has many more popular titles than academic press books available for purchase. The second major challenge is the integration of Overdrive's service into existing university infrastructure, including the online catalog, Orbis, and the existing central authentication system (CAS).

Although Overdrive provides tools to connect library users to the eBook lending service, these systems were designed for barcode based public libraries. In order to allow NetID login to Overdrive, Yale had to develop an application that could communicate between Yale's authentication system and Overdrive's. Once access was possible, the challenge of linking the catalogs became apparent. In order to make Overdrive books visible in Orbis, a new catalog entry, known as a MARC record, had to be inserted for each book. First, the most basic form of each book's record was obtained from the online computer library center (OCLC) using a list of acquired titles. Next, metadata from Overdrive was overlaid onto those basic MARC records. After the creation of the record, a link is inserted that allows patrons to connect to the item on Overdrive from the record in Orbis. Audiobooks also appear in the Orbis catalog, and can be identified by an audio icon next to the title. The result is that electronic books and digital audiobooks appear alongside physical books and CDs in the electronic catalog, making them more accessible to users.

Although users may be able to find electronic books alongside print versions in Orbis, they still have to download the items to their own personal reading devices in order to actually view the texts. Most books can be read on a laptop with either Amazon's Kindle reading app or Adobe Digital Editions software installed, and many users will choose to use a tablet or an electronic reader for book consumption. Although tablets will often be very flexible in the content they can display, electronic readers are frequently more selective when it comes to format. Overdrive specifies before a book is added to a user’s shopping cart the formats in which that book is available. If a book is only available as a Kindle book, the only e-reader to support that item will be Amazon's Kindle device. If a book is only available as an Adobe .epub file then most devices, including the Barnes and Noble Nook and Sony e-reader, will be able to open the item, but it will not be readable on a Kindle. Audiobooks must be loaded through Overdrive's “Media Console” software to be transferred to individual devices. Although Yale has tried to ensure maximum availability of all works, individual publishers may set restrictions on the distribution format of their electronic books.

Like format, some other features of electronic books and media are restricted by publishers. Annotation and copying rules follow the platform in use - a product of publisher guidelines and device capabilities. When a Kindle book is annotated, Amazon stores all of the highlights and notes in the cloud so that if the user borrows the book again or purchases it him or herself, those notes and marks are saved. There is no comparable central storage system for Adobe based books, and the default Adobe software permits bookmarks as the only form of annotation.

Although some figures in the library were nervous about the ability of patrons to navigate different book formats within the Overdrive console, librarians were very enthusiastic about the possibility for patron driven acquisitions in Overdrive. Patrons can use an online form to ask the library to check whether a book is available through Overdrive and to acquire that book. The platform also has a feature where if there are four or more people on the waiting list for a book, another copy is automatically acquired and made available to the first person on the list. This ensures that even though electronic books cannot be "recalled" like physical books, there is always availability. Having a straightforward and fast acquisition path for new books is a boon to librarians, but just as important is the platform's ability to host institution generated content. If, for example, a professor wants students to read his dissertation through Overdrive, there is a process through which the document can be published to Yale's overdrive library and made available to Yale library patrons without being published to all the libraries that Overdrive serves.

Although the Overdrive program will continue as a pilot through the end of May 2013, the enthusiastic response by patrons and rapid growth of the electronic collection suggest that the library will continue to lend electronic books into the future. The future of Overdrive based electronic book lending at Yale may also someday extend into reserves. The current e-reserves system only permits the library to post a small percentage of the total page count of a book for student download. If courses require entire books, it may be possible to purchase multiple copies of the book for the Overdrive library and then lend the reserves electronically. While the precise nature of Yale's future eBook lending program has yet to be decided, the Overdrive pilot makes it clear that minimizing format and licensing issues opens the way for eBooks in education.

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Yale Stock Market Game

Since the 1970s, students at the Yale School of Management have gathered in conference rooms and ballrooms in groups as small as 15 students and as large as 240 students to test their financial prowess in a game that simulates the New York Stock Exchange. Although the original game was developed to be played with colored paper and a deck of playing cards, in today's TwTT Professor Roger Ibbotsson and Instructional Technologist Sam Cohen presented a new web-based version of the game that could expand the market simulation to an audience limited only by server capacity.

Before Sam presented the updated version of the game, Professor Ibbotson took the audience back 30 years to invention of the simulator. At that time, there was a need to teach students the dynamics of a trading floor where most transactions were carried out in person. To this end a game was developed where four fictional companies, identified by color, are assigned a hidden value using playing cards drawn at random from a deck. Students are issued an equal number of shares from each company and $200 of simulated cash. They can then buy "peeks," a glimpse of 3 of 10 cards that determine value, from which they form a notion of the value of a company. Shares are then exchanged as traders try to acquire shares of a company for less than those shares are worth. At the end of the game, companies are liquidated, and players are ranked by their final assets. To monitor progress up to this point, however, graduate students had to roam the room, listening to traders shouting sale prices and updating a blackboard, or more recently a projected spreadsheet, at the front of the room.

As electronic trading supplants floor trading, the Yale Stock Market Game's playing cards, spreadsheets, and shouted trades began to appear dated. To bring the game into the age of electronic finance, Professor Ibbotson contacted the Yale Center for Media and Instructional Innovation (CMI2) to work together on the creation of an electronic version of the game. The outcome of that collaboration was a browser based, iPad friendly, backwards compatible web application written in Java 1.6. A persistent client server connection ensures that as soon as a transaction occurs between any two people, it can be seen by all players, and a tabbed interface makes research and market watching closer to a modern electronic trading platform where trades are directly between players than a physical trading floor or trade with a bank.

As Sam discusses the electronic version of the game, he points out that usability was a priority in development. In the present version there are three sections to the screen. The first is the "banner" where there is a ticker and a countdown timer. The second is the content area where actual trading and research takes place, including  the trading tab, showing current market activity, sell orders and buy orders, and the research tab where players can buy peeks. There is also a persistent sidebar which shows each player his or her private information,  including current portfolio and trading history. When the game ends and all companies are liquidated to compute final scores, all players are presented with a valuation screen which reflects how well they did individually and also in comparison to others.

The new format of the game confers significant advantages over the paper based predecessor. Possibly the greatest advantage is that a large physical space is no longer necessary, reducing the time required to set up a game to minutes from weeks, and allowing instructors to focus on teaching rather than administering the game. And although the fact that traders are interacting directly with each other rather than with a bank still necessitates a minimum of 15 participants, the electronic game has almost no theoretical maximum number of players and can accommodate traders all over the world over a span of several days. Finally, the electronic format allows for unprecedented amounts of data collection. At the end of the game instructors can download a .csv formatted spreadsheet with the trading history of the session, allowing future discussions of why participants behaved as they did and an analysis of trader insights and errors. Future versions of the game may even include other market traded items, including bonds, warrants, and options, turning it into a teaching tool for a variety of securities.

While the current game is limited to stock trading and is access restricted to Yale NetID holders, the future scope of the game is far from set. Usability testing for the current beta version is ongoing, and will culminate in a full scale pilot session from 6 to 8 pm on April 17th at the School of Management (SOM A74). The final version is expected to launch in time for classes in the Fall 2012 semester. Parties interested in participating in the pilot, which will feature food and drink, should  RSVP to Gabriel.Rossi@yale.edu.

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EliApps for Education

In the past few months, most students and some faculty members received invitations to leave behind the old central webmail and its infamous hordeAdam Bray, Ken Panko, Laura Tomas, Loriann Seluga interface to transition to the new EliApps system which is based on the Google Apps for Education platform. More than an email system, however, EliApps offers an expanding suite of tools to students and faculty, and Loriann Seluga, Adam Bray, and Laura Tomas of the Yale Student Technology Collaborative (STC), along with Ken Panko of Yale's Instructional Technology Group (ITG) came to TwTT this Tuesday to give Yale's first public presentation on the educational applications of EliApps.

What is EliApps, and How do I get an account?

Rather than thinking of EliApps as any one application it is better to conceive of the platform as a modular collection of applications offered by Google that can be turned on or off individually for the Yale network. The core of the current package comprises five apps: Mail, Docs, Calendar, Sites, and Groups. The Maps, Books, and Bookmarks services have also been enabled, and more applications are being examined for deployment at Yale, particularly Google Moderator.

Although the EliApps applications, and all user data, reside on servers managed by Google, an EliApps account is different from a commercialGoogle or GMail account. This is reflected in the privacy policy. Although the language is the same as Google's commercial policy, Yale, rather than Google, is specified as owner of the data. There is also no merging of data between a user's personal Google account and their EliApps account - email sent to a user's @Yale.edu address will not appear in that user's private GMail inbox unless he or she has manually linked the accounts using forwarding or IMAP access. Since the EliApps accounts are different from commercial accounts, there may be times when users want to be signed in to both their EliApps and regular Google accounts at the same time - checking mail from both accounts in different tabs, for example. To do this, users can find instructions at yale.edu/its/eliapps for instructions on how to use a feature called multiple sign in, which enables the same person to log in to Google services with different credentials.

Google Apps for Education users experience some benefits over regular commercial accounts. The mailbox capacity of an EliApps account is 25GB,much larger than the 7.5GB limit of commercial GMail. Docs users will also enjoy 1GB of cloud storage space. These changes come to an interface that most users will recognize from commercial Google products, that is, EliApps Mail will look like GMail with the exception of the EliApps logo that appears in the top left corner of the page instead of the Google logo.

EliApps is slowly being rolled out to the entire central campus, with students and faculty making the switch first, while other staff members may have to wait a bit to make the change. Essentially, if you use a pantheon mail account you are eligible to transfer to EliApps. If you use Connect or Exchange to access your mail, you are not eligible to make the transition yet. The single largest exception will be staff that handles confidential electronic health information - the students, faculty, and staff of the medical campus. Since this information has different legal requirements associated with its transmission and storage, there will be no transition to EliApps for these accounts into the foreseeable future. For now, however, eligible faculty interested in switching to EliApps should contact faculty support, and students should follow the instructions they received in an email invitation to make the transition.

How do I Use EliApps for Email?

EliApps will eventually take the place of pantheon services, most notably email, group mailing lists (panlists and mailman lists), and department email accounts. The platform will also extend new services to users, particularly shared calendaring and document sharing. In order to improve service, however, the format and interfaces of existing services will change during the transition to EliApps.

One of the most common group collaboration tools currently used is the Mailman service, which allows users to send content to mailing lists. This service will be replaced in the coming year by the Google Groups tool. Although not completely live yet, Groups will be available by April 1st, and introduces some new features to campus mailing lists - improving the control list owners have over content. The Groups tool will allow a number of different preset configurations, including "team" which restricts the group to members only, "public" which allows anybody to send an email to the mailing list, and "announcement only" which can be used for a list where only the owner will be allowed to send mail. Group owners will also be able to manually set privacy and distribution restrictions, and can take advantage of the new archive feature, where all the messages sent to the group are stored and threaded to create a timeline of list activity. Groups can also be used to contact people outside of Yale, although non EliApps users will not be able to take list ownership.

While some departments may choose to use Groups to handle shared inboxes or departmental email addresses, others will probably choose to use a feature known as "shared accounts."  This feature is built into the Mail app, and allows a department to make an email account (e.g., Yale.Library@yale.edu), and then assign privileges to other individual users to access the inbox. These users can then switch between their personal inbox and the department inbox from a drop-down menu. This has the benefit of allowing actions taken on messages to be seen in real time by all users of the mailbox.

How will EliApps fit into Work and Teaching?

While Groups and the shared mailbox feature of Mail allow users to replicate services offered under the previous mail system, the greatest strength of EliApps is that it not only extends previous services, but also introduces new ones. With the introduction of Calendar, Docs, Moderator, Sites, and other apps and tools not yet activated, the applications of EliApps in work and teaching are limited only by user creativity.

Among the new tools, many consider Calendar to be one of the most exciting. Calendar allows users to not only create and maintain separate schedules for personal events, classes, activities and other regular happenings, but more importantly to selectively share calendars with other EliApps and Google Calendar users. The applications of shared calendaring in the classroom are manifold. Class sessions, office hour sign-ups, relevant campus events, or anything else can be instantly shared with all members of a particular group or course. The link to the calendar can be sent out using Groups, and the invitation itself can be restricted so that people have different levels of access to the calendar you are sharing. At the most private level, other people can only see when an event is happening (time marked as busy) without being able to see titles, descriptions or locations. At the highest level of sharing, other users can not only make changes to the calendar but also share it with other people. This level of integration allows both peer to peer communication and instructor student collaboration to happen much more efficiently since meetings can be scheduled without email or telephone tag, and event sharing is instant.

Some people will notice that some of the features of EliApps, including office hour sign-ups, already exist through Classes*v2. Although this is true in some cases, many more features are new, and those that are duplicated are implemented in a fully integrated way not possible through Classes*v2 alone. The schedule feature is an excellent example. Although faculty could previously set up a class schedule in Classes, it was fully independent from students' personal schedules. In EliApps, however, when an event is scheduled by the professor, it will instantly appear on the calendars of all students subscribing to that class. Other features like Docs simply don't exist in Classes*v2, but have obvious applications for instruction and may be integrated into Classes*v2 in the future, ensuring that the systems will coexist rather than compete.

Although EliApps tools have not yet been integrated with Classes*v2, instructors may still find EliApps useful in their teaching. The collaborative editing features and web integration found in Docs can give instructors more feedback about students' writing process than a document left in a drop-box, and can also make peer editing much simpler. Unlike most word processors, Docs tracks changes to documents across time and allows multiple users to work on a document at once. This has the obvious benefit of allowing students to work together on editing a paper, or students to see instantly where revisions have been made by instructors. Another benefit, however, is that if a student writes an assignment in Docs the instructor can look back over the revision history and see how the paper took shape - giving him or her insight into the student's writing process and where he or she may be having problems. Beyond word processing, Docs offers other office-suite tools, including powerful presentation and spreadsheet applications. Since Docs lives in the cloud, it can leverage web connectivity in ways not possible for standard desktop office applications. One example is the "importHTML" feature. This allows users to pull data directly from websites, updating the spreadsheet as internet data is updated. Information can then be presented in the form of charts and graphs, including a novel form of three dimensional chart that has a slider allowing the chart to show change over time. Yet another feature of docs with great classroom potential is the "form" tool. This allows the creation of web based surveys and forms that automatically populate a spreadsheet as people fill them out. This can be for everything from collecting student suggestions to carrying out surveys for class projects.

While students can obviously work together using Docs, some may choose to create a more involved collaboration space using Sites. This service is a very simple web publishing app open to anyone with an EliApps account. Although not an environment where custom HTML pages can be uploaded, Sites allows a website to be created and published in minutes. Sites can also be access restricted, creating closed collaboration spaces. This service could be of particular use for a laboratory class, where students are working in short-term temporary groups. Each group can quickly create a site and upload all data to that site instead of passing it between each other using flash drives or email. It should be noted, however, that Sites is intended for small and temporary sites - permanent labs or recurring classes should still use the university's commons, Drupal, and WordPress services.

As use of EliApps expands, faculty can suggest the activation of other Google services on the platform. Google+ integration may be enabled if there is interest. Google Moderator is another service that will likely be flipped on in the near future. Moderator is a service that runs as a lecture is going on, and allows people to ask questions and then vote on them - essentially giving real time feedback on the understanding of the audience and where problems may be emerging, allowing the lecturer to know what he or she needs to review or present in more depth.

The final shape and role of EliApps is not yet certain, and for now, staff members using Connect or Exchange for email and Sharepoint for collaboration will not see too many changes. Students and faculty, however, can begin taking advantage of the new EliApps services immediately, and as semesters pass, new uses for EliApps in teaching, learning, and collaboration are sure to be discovered.

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Digital Comics: Age of Bronze

This week at TwTT, Thomas Beasley, a graduate student in Classics and the annotator of the digital edition of the graphic novel, Age of Bronze, joinedTom Beasley presenting us to talk about the iPad edition of the comic, called Age of Bronze: Seen. Distributed by Throwaway Horse, the electronic version features not only a story line informed by a comparative literary analysis and drawings based on the best available history, but also a reader's guide built into the app that brings historical context and archaeological foundations into the narrative. Although some people are still skeptical of the graphic novel's role in education, Thomas points out that comics are dynamic and have been embraced by Yale as a valid form of literature, and that the addition of the reader's guide opens the path to exploring graphic novels as teaching tools in other disciplines as well.

Although the electronic format may seem natural, before Age of Bronze was on the iPad it was a meticulously researched print comic on the history of the Trojan War. The author, Eric Shanower, sought to go beyond the well-known end to the war, recounted in Homer's Iliad, to create a graphic retelling of the whole ten year conflict. With such a vast undertaking, no single source was sufficient. Instead, Shanower drew upon centuries of literature to create the story line. The comic is informed as much by purported first person historical accounts as by 20th century opera, resulting in a narrative that is historically grounded, but fresh and relevant to contemporary audiences.

While the story line draws on many sources across time, the actual art of the comic is based on archaeology and material culture. Buildings and sites depicted in the work will mirror the best archaeological reconstructions available, and a close examination of any frame reveals details that are based on extensive research. Figurines, jewelry, instruments, weapons, frescoes, and altars depicted in the graphic novel are all based on historical finds. Where data was not available from Troy, Shanower drew on relics from the nearby Hittite culture - trying to keep speculative drawing to a minimum.

What the electronic edition of the graphic novel does is open up all of this careful research to the reader - making it accessible from a side-pane. Screenshot showing the Reader's GuideWhen the iPad is in landscape orientation, the user can open the guide, and have access to a story summary, dramatis personae, the commentary, and a discussion area. The commentary section includes a background of the research on which scenes were based, and explains cultural and customary aspects of the story that may be easy to overlook in the comic by itself. The commentary is also interactive, providing download or purchase links for source material, as well as content useful for further research.

It is the interactive aspect of the reader's guide that makes the app a useful tool for teaching. A comic is a form of literature that is naturally easier to understand than dense academic texts or original language source material, and can also make cultural or material historical references more apparent to students. The traditional weakness, however, is that this ease of reading comes at the expense of depth. With the inclusion of a parallel reader's guide, this weakness is overcome. Students can now not only see a character complain about "breach of hospitality," but also read about how scholars understand classical social norms and the repercussions for violating them. When reading about the decision to go to war, the comic may present some of the surface and personal reasons for conflict, while the guide can point readers to the geopolitical situation of the time.

In addition to serving as a launch point for research and discussion, the app itself can be an engine of collaborative learning. Using the discussion feature, students can engage each other and a larger community of readers in conversation while working through the narrative. A professor using the material could assign students to add comments to certain key parts of the graphic novel, provoking research on relevant periods or at least extending dialog after hours.

While usage of Age of Bronze: Seen in the classroom is currently low, this may be a result of relatively poor exposure - many instructors will dismiss comics offhand without awareness of the resources available through a digital edition. Nonetheless, the use of sequential art in conjunction with detailed historical background is novel, and may reflect a new way to present historical narratives to students. As more digital comic editions of classic works become available, it may be that graphic novels will be more significant in the future of digital humanities and in the next generation of digital publishing than they have been historically. After all as graphic novels gain acceptance as a valid subject of academic study, and earn places alongside traditional print media in academic libraries, it seems natural that what Thomas calls "a new version for a new century" will be put to new instructional uses.

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Collaborative Services & Spaces: The CSSSI

More than half of the acquisitions budget of the Yale University Library System last year went to digital acquisitions - journals and books that exist only in cyberspace.  While this statistic may be shocking, especially since many people still think of libraries as repositories for dusty volumes sitting on dark shelves, it is only part of the modernization of Yale's libraries.  In addition to expanding access to electronic resources, Yale has realized that students, staff, and faculty work differently than they did over 70 years ago, when Sterling Memorial Library was erected.  Today's patrons are more likely to need access to advanced computational tools, help with quantitative methods and database searching, and to work in groups on presentations and joint projects.  With these new needs in mind,  Yale's librarians worked in conjunction with the university's IT services to conceive of a space where patrons could not only access advanced reference and technology resources, but also have a single point of service for support.  The product was the Center for Science and Social Science Information - the CSSSI.

As the CSSSI was planned, the needs of contemporary patrons were constantly in mind.  ITS and the Library had to work together to ensure that the research needs typically associated with a library could be balanced with the information processing capabilities found in facilities like Yale's Statistical Laboratory (StatLab).  In order to reach this goal, the committee working on the CSSSI not only evaluated the present services offered at Yale by both ITS and the  Library, but also traveled to other institutions to observe how they were approaching the issue and to evaluate services not yet offered here in New Haven.  From this research, several key points emerged.  Among them, it became clear that students and faculty were in need of a facility that provided interdisciplinary information, collaborative space and services, and help with different resources from a single point of service. Thus, the foremost goal of the CSSSI would be to serve as an intellectual and social hub for both students and faculty.  The challenge then became to develop a space and collection that could fill this need.

Designing the Space

While library interiors are usually structured for quiet individual study, and librarians discourage writing on walls and surfaces, the CSSSI was designed to not only support but also encourage collaborative learning.  To this end, rather than using carrels and shelves to isolate study areas, the CSSSI has an open design and seating areas that encourage people to face each other and work together.  Many articles of furniture are also movable - allowing patrons to adapt spaces to their needs. In other areas, writable walls (both glass and painted), white boards, and projectors allow ideas to literally expand across the entire room - accelerating the flow of ideas between participants.  Since following an idea to its conclusion can often extend past library hours, there is a 24 hour flexible study area at the entrance to the CSSSI, allowing a productive session to continue uninterrupted into the night.  In the 24 hour area there is also a media wall - an expanse of monitors that displays useful library and campus information until a student plugs in his or her laptop and takes control of the entire unit.

The group-friendly atmosphere continues into the main room of the CSSSI, where all workstations have dual monitors and desks with two chairs, allowing students to easily work on assignments in pairs.  If students are developing a presentation they can easily step into one of the library's presentation spaces.  These rooms are designed with not only projectors and presentation equipment, but also with cameras and videoconferencing equipment.  Some students will use this space to practice and review presentations or interviews, while others will use the videoconferencing hardware to meet with distant peers, on West Campus, for example.  Other group study rooms are equipped with mediascape screen sharing systems.  These systems allow up to eight students to share their displays using plug and play connectors.

One of the most important parts of the old Social Science Library was the associated StatLab.  Themba pointed out that in the old space there was a physical separation between the library and the lab that led some patrons to see the two facilities as separate entities.  This artificial division has been eliminated in the CSSSI, and the StatLab now occupies part of the main floor of the library.  Like other collaborative spaces, the StatLab has an abundance of writable surfaces, areas to continue conversations that started in the classroom, and hardware that allows screen sharing.  Along with group study rooms, collaborative workstations, and presentation spaces, the StatLab is part of a facility that has been built to understand and support today's students and researchers.

Although collaborative spaces and technology dominate the library's main space, books have not been eliminated.  On the lower level of the library students will find traditional quiet study carrels and the book stacks that house the library's 180,000 volumes.  Current periodicals and certain reference texts are also still available in print form on the upper level of the CSSSI.

Enabling Technology

In the planning of the CSSSI it became clear that students not only needed spaces where they could work together, but also needed access to technology that enables research and makes collaboration more efficient.  With this in mind, the library installed a wide variety hardware devices equipped with software designed to take learning efficiency to new levels.

In the main space of the CSSSI, all workstations have been equipped with as much productivity software as possible.  This includes advanced statistical software, creative design packages, and document creation suites.  Since some students are more comfortable working on their personal computers, but still need access to the wired network to transfer massive amounts of data, there are workstations that include ethernet cables that students can plug directly into their own computers.

Creative design needs not met by the standard workspace image can be met by the row of Macs that line the library's west wall.  These computers have been equipped to work with digital media, and have the software and computing horsepower to handle new media projects.  For students and researchers converting items in print media to digital form, there are scanning stations that include a book scanner, designed to quickly send PDFs of pages to an email account or flash drive, as well as a high resolution flatbed scanner connected to a workstation with a Wacom Cintiq writable display for fast image editing.

Machines with software that has not been licensed campus-wide, including a Bloomberg Terminal for access to real-time financial market information, are available at the desks closest to the courtyard.  The software on these computers, along with the regular workstation image, allows users to open and work with as many different types of data as possible.  In fact, the CSSSI makes every effort to support old formats of digital information.  Themba points out that if a user comes in with a floppy disk containing a presentation in the Harvard Graphics format from 1992, there will be hardware and support staff to open and convert that data into a useful format.

Support Staff

In order to offer support for the spaces and resources of the CSSSI, the Center's staff is trained differently from librarians and research assistants in other libraries.  The information desk at the CSSSI exemplifies this transformation in library services.  Rather than being trained in only one aspect of the library, all staff members can provide basic help with both the hardware and software products offered at the CSSSI.  Desk workers are also trained to be able to help with research tasks in both the social sciences and the physical sciences, essentially establishing a single point of service that can assist with the most common patron requests and problems.  Staff expertise is kept up to date with a technology training curriculum.

When students need help with either technology or research that exceeds the scope of service provided at the information desk, they can meet with either a StatLab consultant for statistical software issues, or a specialty librarian for research questions.  These staff members reside in a set of offices known as "librarian row," with glass walls designed to promote openness and communication.  In the pool of available experts at the CSSSI, there will be staff present to help design, research, and analyze results from a project.

The highly trained staff of the CSSSI help the library function as a technologically rich collaborative work and research space, while also allowing for new patron services including article scan-on-demand, delivery of print materials to offices, as well as enhanced research services.  Although the library's location under the Kline Biology Tower targets science and social science majors, the unique blend of technological, collaborative, and research services at the CSSSI is sure to draw students and faculty from all disciplines to the new space.

Photos of CSSSI by Michael Marsland and Amanda Patrick via Yale News.

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Lights, Camera, Action! Student digital media resources at Yale

Erin Scott, head of the Bass Media Equipment Checkout Service (BMEC) started off this spring's Teaching with Technology Tuesdays (TwTT) series with a talk on digital media resources at Yale. Although art and filmstudents have access to the Digital Media Center for the Arts, and instructors can get help with media in teaching from the instructional technology group (ITG), the expanding media services of Bass Library offer all students access to both the equipment and training they need to complete basic digital projects.

What's Digital Media and Why Use it?

While initially the BMEC lent some film based equipment, those items have been phased out. Why? Erin points out that it is the versatility and durability of digital media equipment that makes it desirable. With few or no moving parts and card or hard disk based storage systems, digital equipment can store massive amounts of data reliably. A student can then use one multi-function device or multiple specialized devices to combine photos, graphics, audio, and video, to engage in "digital storytelling," the term for the use of digital media to convey ideas and messages in organized story form.

While some students and instructors will be excited to experiment with new ways to present ideas and research, others might question the benefit of digital media projects over traditional essays and papers. This concern is valid, and must be evaluated in the light of each specific case. In general, however, digital media has several advantages over text-only content. One of the most prominet is that it represents a modern approach to analysis, allowing viewers and listeners to access experiences that simply cannot be conveyed fully through text. There can also be forms of creativity showcased in a media presentation that are distinct from the creative process of essay writing, and video in particular allows a very literal form of multi-perspective analysis. The final reason has to do with culture - tech is sexy. With more information coming from audio and video sources, students want to gain fluency in digital media.

Connecting Students to Digital Media - Equipment and Training

In order to give students access to digital media resources, the BMEC program, and its supporting Bass Media Techs (BMTs) provide equipment, consultation, and basic hardware and software training, to students who are engaging in both personal and academic media projects, although priority is given to academic tasks. Currently the service is managed by Erin, who oversees 2 student managers and 17 dedicated media techs. All dedicated media employees are trained in the use of the equipment in the rental catalog, can answer very basic questions at the circulation desk, and can be paired with patrons for consultations with an appointment. In order to guarantee that students can have access to equipment as long as the library is open, all 50 Bass circulation employees are trained in the circulation, albeit not the use, of the equipment in the media catalog.

The volume of support staff hints at the large, and growing, size of the equipment collection. The articles being circulated include digital SLR cameras, digital camcorders, studio microphones, audio recorders, and writing tablets, among other popular, often pricey, items. Until checked out, media technology remains in a locked area behind the Bass circulation desk, which is the primary point of service for the BMEC program. Although students can make reservations "on the fly" at the desk, the BMEC program is constantly operating near capacity, and it is strongly recommended that students reserve equipment well in advance through the online reservation system at weke.its.yale.edu/bass. Answers to frequently asked questions, including the possibility for extended reservations under special circumstances, can also be found online at clc.yale.edu/bass-media-faq. Although the program is free, the high volume of circulation (over 250 per month) makes on-time returns crucial, and the penalty for being late is $35 per item per day. This keeps projects moving on time even at the end of semesters, when equipment reservations must be made weeks in advance.

Even if a student has placed a reservation long enough in advance, and has a good conception of what he or she needs it for, the hardest part of project is still ahead - using the equipment properly and mastering the final product. In order to help with this the BMEC has just launched an "Experts" program, where students can schedule a consultation with a BMT who has mastered a particular area of digital media. After setting up an appointment by emailing bassmedia@yale.edu, they can speak with a BMT who has become an expert in a relevant area of hardware or software. Currently consultations are available in Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, Final Cut, iLife Suite, and all hardware. Experts gain their position by demonstrating ability with a minimum 20 hour self designed project. For students who prefer to learn independently, the campus license for the Lynda.com training system allows people to set up accounts and learn from a video tutor how to use a wide variety of software, including media related packages.

Teaching with Digital Media

Even when both students and instructors are enthusiastic about using digital media in the classroom, a successful project depends not only on the mastery of technology and software, but also on a well designed assignment. There are many types of project that can be assigned depending on the course being taught. History students may learn from making a documentary-like slideshow, music students may be tasked with developing an audio podcast, and business students can practice their creative presentation skills using a video project. Successful media projects can also be disseminated through a number of channels, from DVDs to screencasts and websites. The common denominator for all media projects, however, is planning by both educator and student. It is easy to underestimate the time required to produce even a short media project - beginners will spend on average seven minutes editing video for every one minute they spend filming, and when all phases of the project are considered it can take up to two hours of work to produce every minute of final product.

Since digital media projects can take so much time to complete, optimal results are achieved when students and instructors have realistic expectations, engage in careful planning, and break the project into smaller graded chunks. There are many tools available to help first-time media producers estimate how long different steps will take. For instructors, the CLC offers resources to help plan and grade successful projects at the Digital Media Teaching Resources Page. This includes a sample digital assignment rubric which suggests how to identify and weigh different parts of a project. Both instructors and students can benefit from a time estimate for the different phases of  production, and there are a number of such project estimators online. One recommended service comes from the University of Delaware indicates how much time a student can expect to spend on each step of a project, based on type of project and length of final product.  Checklists and rubrics can be used to keep students on the projected schedule, and using class "showcases" is an effective tactic to encourage students to perform at their best since their work will be seen and judged (but not graded) by peers.

Planning is important at all phases. Storyboarding and scriptwriting can be difficult processes, but completing these steps early allows for an evaluation of the feasibility of a project. Students should have a backup plan from the beginning in case their first idea just doesn't work. Reservations for equipment should also be made long in advance since shelves can empty quickly as final deadlines approach. Even if the best equipment stocked by BMEC is available, however, that does not always mean that it is the equipment best suited to any given project. An expert consultation, scheduled by emailing bassmedia@yale.edu, can help a student figure out what kind of equipment they need, how to use it, how long the project might take, what software is needed, and other common media related questions. Equipment is not all plug and play, and a meeting with an expert in advance can save hours of work caused by a simple mistake.

With planning and proper communication of expectations digital media can unleash the creativity of students. Although the complexity of projects must obviously be evaluated in terms of the amount of time allotted for completion (students can accomplish much more in a semester-long task than a shorter assignment), and can be submitted in many different ways - from DVD to YouTube to ClassesV2, multimedia stories can be used to powerfully express ideas that are traditionally relegated to the world of print reports and oral presentations. An example comes from the University of Alabama's undergraduate business program, where students used the imagery of Forrest Gump to propose a business model. The internet is full of resources to help brainstorm and implement a creative media project, including the CLC's resource page and a wiki collection of over 50 tools useful in relating a story using media. As Yale's resources expand, and the role of media in communication continues to increase, now is an excellent time to consider planning and implementing media projects as part of a class curriculum.

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