During 2012, the Office of Information Technology deployed new and enhanced IT resources to support teaching, learning, and the administrative needs of The New School community. Along with the day-to-day operational activities of the Help Desk, Academic Technology, Media Services, Telecommunications, Security, Network Services, and Enterprise Applications teams, we worked with various members of the university community on more than 100 individual projects. Here are some highlights.
New Faculty and Staff Email System: Google Apps Migration
In January 2012, IT transferred staff and faculty email from GroupWise to New School Google Apps. We declared a Google Day in mid-January, when the faculty and staff could begin accessing their Google Apps accounts. We also offered training workshops during that week. The transfer to Google Apps has made possible a wide range of collaborative activities for faculty, students, and staff that have become essential to work and communication at 21st-century university.
Lobby Boards: New School Beat and More
For many years the lobby LCD screens have provided students with information about class locations and computer station availability. This past spring, IT partnered with the Office of Student Services to add the New School Beat, a ticker that provides helpful information. The screens now also display media content created by University Communications and External Affairs to highlight public programs and New School activities.
Campus Data Center Expansion
In March 2012, the Office of Information Technology completed an expansion of the campus data center at 55 West 13th Street. This has enabled us to improve the layout, power distribution, and overall manageability of the hardware in that building, which enhances the reliability of the university’s network and related services.
With the help of the Office of Institutional Research, IT began and will continue to conduct surveys of our students and faculty about technology services. The first survey, taken last spring 2012, asked respondents to evaluate technology in our classrooms. Two additional surveys are in the field: one is for evaluation of the support and availability of the resources from the Equipment Center; the second is for evaluation of our open technology labs and public workstations. This data will be used to better understand user needs as service improvements are planned.
Improvements to instructional spaces continued last year. This included the addition of 16 instructional spaces, five video conferencing locations, one new hands-on audio classroom, upgrades to Wollman Hall, and new setups in several lobbies and conference rooms.
System and Server Upgrades
Every year, IT implements numerous system and server upgrades for a variety of purposes, such as staying current with the latest versions of operating systems and software; replacing old hardware with new; and “virtualizing” to improve manageability, scalability, and overall hardware resource utilization. A few examples of those completed in 2012 are the operating system and server migration for the international student and scholar information system, fsaATLAS; the Blackboard Learning Management system upgrade; and the replacement of the physical access system, DHS, with a more feature-rich system, S2. Additionally, we virtualized the Pharos (Lab Printing Service) and Roomview (Equipment and Station/Suite Reservation) servers.
Network and Infrastructure Enhancements
Throughout the year, IT works to improve the network infrastructure around campus, including such enhancements as the dormitory networking switch-over to RCN, the expansion of office and academic spaces on the 16th floor of 79 5th Avenue, and the addition of wireless networking in dormitory lounges.
New Systems and Banner Integration
Two major systems that required Banner data integrations were implemented this year. Enrollment Management went live with a new online student admission application that required a new integration tool, Axiom, used to import the data into Banner be implemented by IT. The second project, the Student Success Network, which assists students to communicate with academic program support services, is also tightly integrated with Banner student, faculty, and course data.
In September 2012, we launched our own new website to provide an overview of all IT resources that The New School makes available to students, faculty, and staff. A new interactive filtering feature and live update feeds for service status alerts provides streamlined access to the information that users of our services need. The filtering mechanism allows users to narrow the set of service icons to those that apply to one's status as a student, faculty, or staff member. The alerts feed from our Twitter account provides live, dynamic updates service requests status and other timely information. Prominently featured at the top of the page is a search bar for quick keyword searches of site content.
Annual Hardware and Software Upgrades
This past year's upgrades included the addition of both software programs and equipment. New applications made available include Avid Media Composer, Native Instruments Komplete8 synthesizer tools, Novation Impulse 61 midi keyboards, Celemony Melodyn, and Keynote. New hardware includes DSLR cameras, Canon 5D, with prime lenses and mounting accessories. Upgraded hardware includes the Arnhold Hall 8th floor lab T7100 plotters and additional Windows and Mac workstations throughout the campus.
In October, the Banner operating system migration (HP Unix to Red Hat Linux) and new server implementation project that spanned many, many months and involved many university offices was completed. With brand new hardware and a new operating system, response time has improved for many Banner processes. Hyperion reports and Banner jobs can be completed in much less time—in some cases, processes that were taking an hour now take 10 minutes.
For My.Newschool.edu, IT developed a way to display targeted announcements using a fine-grained set of parameters to create target groups. This allows the university to control the proliferation of bulk emailing and ensure that information is directed at those who really need to have it.
Automation and Self-Service Enhancements
Working closely with other offices of the university, IT has implemented new technical solutions to automate processes and to make more self-services available. Some examples are the direct deposit of Employee Reimbursements and the online Open Enrollment for Benefits this November.
To provide design students the ability to render their work using multiple processors, the university installed a “render farm” accessible from the 8th and 9th floor open lab stations at Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th Street. The render farm uses Maya, 3D Studio Max, Rhino, and After Effects running on a Pipeline Qube! system of ten processors with 120 cores and 4.5 terabytes of storage.
A Look Forward to 2013
We know that next year will bring new challenges and opportunities to improve Information Technology Services at The New School. We are especially looking forward to setting up IT facilities in the new University Center building at 65 Fifth Avenue. Information Technology will be busy bringing the building onto the university’s data and voice networks and configuring everything from the building’s internal network infrastructure and new presentation/computing facilities to the phone lines and the card readers for security. 2013 promises to be another productive and rewarding year for IT. We look forward to working with all our colleagues at The New School in 2013.