Faculty Share How
They Use Course Management System
By Mary Janzen Aziz
Penn State’s Course Management System, A New Global Environment for Learning
(ANGEL), is making it easier for faculty to distribute information and collect
student work. ANGEL allows instructors to place a wide variety of content in
a single online location without the need to know HTML. Several course communication
tools make it easy to share ideas and information within a class. Tools and
reports allow instructors to keep track of student progress. Because an instructor
may use as few or as many ANGEL features as desired, each of the several faculty
profiled below employs the system in a unique way, to best fit course objectives.
James Beierlein, professor of agricultural economics, finds ANGEL particularly useful in large classes. Not only does it assist with management tasks such as automatically updating the roster, he says, but its communication and team features improve students’ engagement with him, each other, and the lesson content. Student engagement, a major factor in a university’s student retention rate, is one of Beierlein’s primary teaching objectives. To help humanize a large class, Beierlein uses ANGEL to assign students to teams. For example, in the first-year seminar he teaches, he covers topics such as time management and note-taking. He then forms a time management team, note-taking team, and others, who collaborate using ANGEL and present on their assigned subject.
For a number of years Beierlein had created his own electronic lesson materials, then pieced them together to use in a course. Now that he uses ANGEL, he says, “Everything you’ve always wanted to do with IT can be done in one place.” ANGEL has also greatly reduced the volume of paper he handles. In the past, it required a hand truck to transport copies of his syllabus to a large class. Now that he posts the syllabus within ANGEL, there is nothing to transport, students never misplace it, and it can be easily edited. Since students use ANGEL dropboxes to upload assignments, he does not have to carry dozens of papers between the classroom and his office.
Nuria Sagarra, assistant professor of Spanish, belongs to a team of developers setting up ANGEL courses for Spanish I, II, and III over several terms. This semester they are focusing on using ANGEL to present level I language exercises, hoping to eventually do away with printed workbooks.
The developers frequently use the ANGEL quiz tool, in many cases for practice exercises, not assessment. They are also adding a number of Web pages of language materials directly within ANGEL, incorporating sound files where appropriate. Next year, they hope to add more digital photos and videos, as well as many new activities. They also plan to use more course communication tools such as chat rooms in the future. For now, Sagarra commented, “We’re in the baby stage. Everything is very plain.”
As more exercises are added to the ANGEL courses, she said, eventually students will only attend class two hours a week, spending more time on ANGEL homework outside of class.Norm Aggon, instructor in operations management, used ANGEL in the summer Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP) for first-year students. During this orientation to University life, ANGEL support staff present an introduction to ANGEL to give new students a head start. Aggon also points students toward the “ANGEL Quick-Start Guide for Students,” available in the online help section at http://cms.psu.edu/.
This fall, Aggon is using ANGEL in two large sections of a junior core course. In class, he presents PowerPoint slides with his lecture points. He then uploads each presentation to ANGEL for student review. He frequently uses ANGEL to add links to other Web sites, including University Testing Services, where class quizzes are administered. Now that he has mastered the basics of setting up an ANGEL course, Aggon plans to start using additional features, including teams and message boards. He says that the system “brings everything together in a very easy manner for both the students and the faculty.”
Aggon reports it was not very difficult to set up his first ANGEL course,
and after becoming more familiar with the system, he says, “Now it’s
a breeze. You don’t have to be computer-savvy to learn ANGEL.” He
also notes that ANGEL’s strong point is that “You can make it fit
your needs. It’s flexible enough.”
Gerry Santoro, assistant professor of information sciences and technology, began developing his own course management system in the mid-‘80s.“It was an area very dear to me,” he said. He has also used well-known course software such as Blackboard and WebCT. He approaches such systems skeptically, realizing none is ideal, but said, “I really like ANGEL.” He explained that some course management systems force an instructor to do things a certain way, whereas ANGEL is a set of objects you can choose to use or not use, as applicable to your own teaching style.
Santoro describes his approach as a hybrid between distance and traditional in-class instruction. Instead of meeting thirty times a semester, a class now meets only half that. He says ANGEL supports this hybrid model by making it easy for students to e-mail course members and identify a sender. Student teams may meet in person, but ANGEL’s chat room feature also allows them to meet virtually. Students can contribute to shared file space reserved for a particular team and read the contributions of teammates.
Santoro notes, “ANGEL does not result in less work, but students will get a better learning experience.” This is true, he says, because students are forced to use technology to learn technology and equip themselves for the future. Because it is common to many courses, there is not a learning curve for students every time a student begins a course. Santoro also notes that now that he has set up his courses in ANGEL, he has more time to interact and communicate with his students.
Each of these faculty members has chosen a different combination of ANGEL features to make the system best enhance his or her teaching style. Although none has mastered every feature of ANGEL, the system allows them to use a few basic features, then gradually integrate new ones as needed.
Just Business: Teaching Business Concepts and Real-World Skills
Using SAP Software
By Kate Strauss
Penn State’s Enterprise Integration Consortium’s finger is on the pulse of the global business market. The Enterprise Integration Consortium’s dynamic curriculum uses SAP software to teach students the concepts of supply chain management and enterprise information system management.
SAP is database driven enterprise integration software that incorporates all
aspects of a working business and that is why such software is referred to as
enterprise integration software. Enterprise integration facilitates communication
from one department or business level to another. Increased efficiency of data
flow within a company and its supply chain has a direct, positive effect on
company productivity. It improves customer service and product quality, decreases
product time to market, and creates more efficient inventory levels.
The Enterprise Integration Consortium evolved when the Department of Industrial Engineering recognized the need for its students to learn about enterprise integration and how to use emerging enterprise integration software. Industrial Engineering and the College of Engineering was joined by Business Logistics, Management Sciences and Information Systems (both in the Smeal College), Information Sciences and Technology, Penn State Erie–the Behrend College, and Penn State Great Valley in forming what is now called the Enterprise Integration Consortium at Penn State. The Enterprise Integration Consortium worked with SAP America, a provider of one of the leading enterprise integration softwares, to obtain the SAP software for academic use at Penn State.
The Enterprise Integration Consortium’s objective is to use SAP enterprise software to “teach fundamental concepts related to the engineering and management of supply chains and the use and management of enterprise information systems” (from the Enterprise Integration Consortium home page: http://www.ie.psu.edu/EIC). Enterprise Integration Consortium courses are designed to provide students hands-on experience with state-of-the-art information systems for decision making in complex environments involving vast amounts of information (Enterprise Integration Consortium home page).
For example, SAP software can be used to show students how a manufacturing company is affected by running out of one type of part. If the company can’t manufacture its product without that part, they can’t ship the product, and Accounts Receivable can’t collect money for it. Sales doesn’t have the product available to sell it, and Accounting’s general ledger faces ongoing production costs without a counterbalancing income from product sales. Human Resources faces the possibility of having to lay people off because the production line is closed. SAP software uses the same data problem–not having a part–to inform all of these different departments. SAP’s integrated information database can be used to illustrate how one function of a business affects another, and it can be done from the viewpoint of different departments like Accounting, Sales, or Administration.
Another SAP feature is built-in business models that mimic existing companies and can be used for demonstration. Instructors can focus on one specific part of a business and directly apply that information to their course materials. For example, marketing courses can use the SAP models to examine purchasing trends for use in developing marketing plans. Mike Errigo, SAP Manager, is enthusiastic about using these SAP business models for teaching. “You’re basically giving professors a way to show students how an enterprise works,” he says.
One instructor teaching with SAP is Dr. Vittal Prabhu, who instructs IE450, Manufacturing Systems Engineering. Manufacturing Systems Engineering teaches students the mechanics of modern manufacturing systems. Dr. Prabhu says he uses SAP to illustrate how business processes need to work in tandem to make a business successful. “The way I try to tie (SAP) into my course is to say, ‘Where do we get the information for manufacturing production?’”
Emphasizing the database-driven nature of SAP, Dr. Prabhu teaches students how core data is used to create a master plan that all divisions of a corporation work from. “This is the first time students think broader than just the engineering aspects of an enterprise,” he says. Typically, IE450 incorporates a day or two of lectures on how SAP impacts the flow of
the business process, and time is also given for students to log on and learn some of the software functions as well.
Faculty, staff, and students who are interested in learning about SAP software and incorporating it into their curricula or coursework have several resources available within the university community. A main way to gain exposure to the SAP software is through ITS Training Services Web-Based Training. Web-Based Training, available on-line at http://its.psu.edu/training/, is available to the Penn State community free of charge.
For faculty, ITS Training Services offers a seminar titled “Using SAP R/3 in Enterprise Integration and ERP Related Courses” that introduces all the resources, requirements, and assistance necessary to use the SAP product as a teaching tool. More information about the ITS SAP R/3 seminar is available on-line at http://its.psu.edu/training/.
Mike Errigo encourages faculty to take the ITS Seminar on SAP and explore ways to incorporate SAP into their courses. “There are simple examples available that have been developed by professors here at Penn State and at other Universities. Professors will be amazed at how easy it is to get started with SAP and to use those exercises to explain complicated business concepts.” Faculty members who are seriously considering developing SAP-based course materials can contact Mr. Errigo via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about SAP access and support.
A key outlet for SAP training is through SAP America-sponsored training. SAP America offers training to professors via one-week curriculum development seminars every summer. These in-depth seminars have covered topics in the past such as: Implementation of an Integrated Business Solution, Business Information Warehouse, Production Planning and Supply Chain Planning, Financial Accounting, and Systems Administration. The diversity of topics is a good indication of SAP’s wide range of features and functions. More information about training is available on-line at http://www.sap.com/usa/education/.
As database driven software that incorporates all of the key elements of a business, the SAP system has tremendous power. Teaching all of its capabilities would take much longer than a semester. However, the purpose of using SAP in courses isn’t to teach SAP software. The purpose of using SAP software is to teach course material in a way that shows how different components are integrated. SAP illustrates the interconnectedness of concepts and the components that affect decision making and operations.
Instructors can tailor SAP examples to integrate only those components that they want students to consider. The models already created in the SAP software can be used to explore the information relevant to a specific course, whether that course is in accounting, advertising, agricultural business or systems management, business administration, business logistics, communications, economics, environmental resource management, finance, health care management or policy administration, industrial engineering, information systems technology, or a host of other fields.
By Craig Anthony
Since their development in the 1960’s, Relational Database Management
Systems (RDBMS) have been used to manage information. Over time RDBMSs have
evolved from software that ran on a mainframe computer and was used to manage
tabular data, such as names and address, into highly integrated systems that
can manage and analyze any form of digital data and run on any hardware/operating
system platform, even hand held devices.
The explosion of the World Wide Web as an E-commerce interface and overall information provider could not have occurred without RDBMS providing back-end data management, and Web Application Servers to provide the interface between the RDBMS and the end user. Web Application Servers are computer software that use a programming language that understands HTML tags, provide programming operators such as IF/THEN statements, and allow the embedding of SQL (Standard Query Language) statements. SQL is the industry standard RDBMS interfacing language and is required to retrieve and update the RDBMS. The result of this combination of features allows business transactions and the creation of dynamic Web pages whose content changes based on user input.
The Academic Services and Emerging Technologies (ASET) group is pleased to provide RDBMS and dynamic Web Application Server services for teaching and research purposes to the Penn State community. As part of the IBM Scholars Data Management Program, ASET is able to provide IBM’s DB2 RDBMSs free of charge for teaching and research use. DB2 is an industry leading RDBMS with a wide variety of tools for data management and analysis. Students and Faculty may directly register for the Data Scholars Program to obtain their own copies of software and news updates, get involved with data management certification classes and get help with “teaching the teachers” about DB2 (http://www.ibm.com/software/info/university).
ASET is also providing several Web Application Servers. At this time ASET is providing SUN[tm] ONE Active Server Pages (http://www.sun.com/software/chilisoft), PHP (http://www.php.net/), PERL (http://www.cpan.org/), and the APACHE TOMCAT JSP Servlet Engine (http://java.sun.com/products/jsp). Each of these Application Servers are free or nominally priced, are compatible with the APACHE Web server engine, are compatible with DB2 and are widely used in industry. This software configuration will provide a secure, stable, scalable environment for teaching and research. The service will be flexible in that users will be able to connect to their database using any of the Application Servers. The service will utilize the Penn State DCE/DFS computing environment which provides a secure environment for the transmission of sensitive information.
To acquire these services users must apply for a database account at http://aset.psu.edu/accounts/db2.html. After completing the application, a database will be created for the user or users and they will be sent an e-mail describing how to get started. In some situations it may be necessary to sit down with a prospective user and plan for the intended use of the database. For large database applications, the initial planning of table definitions, tablespace management and memory management are crucial to database performance. Users must work with a DB2 client to access their database. The client will either be downloaded from the Penn State PASS server or a UNIX client is available by using a secure telnet connection to log into rs6klab.aset.psu.edu.
About Evidence, Penn State’s e-Portfolio Initiative
By Glenn Johnson
The foundation for Penn State’s e-Portfolio Initiative was laid as a
result of the seminars on portfolio assessment that were held in the fall of
2000 and 2001. These seminars were hosted by the e-Education Institute (http://www.e-education.psu.edu)
in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Last spring, this group released
the report “Using e-Portfolios at Penn State to Enhance Student Learning:
Status, Prospects and Strategies.” This report outlines the potential
benefits of e-Portfolio development to students, faculty, and institutions as
well as associated costs, obstacles, and risks. Copies of the report are available
The report includes recommendations on how Penn State might encourage instructors to actively and collaboratively involve students in learning through expecting their students to become what David DiBiase, director of the e-Education Institute, calls “producers, not just consumers, of Web-based information.”
Based on these recommendations, ITS, the Division of Student Affairs, the e-Education Institute along with a number of other program units in the university such as the School of Information Science and Technology, and the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education joined together in a collaborative effort that set the e-Portfolio Initiative into motion in the Spring of 2002.
On August 15th, 2002 portfolio.psu.edu opened. The portfolio.psu.edu Web service is a centrally maintained Web service for all e-Portfolio developers at Penn State. The aspects of service that this Web site focuses on includes:
• showcasing exemplary student e-portfolios,
• providing instruction needed to foster
independent and peer learning about
e-Portfolio development, and
• providing support for faculty to
assignments in their courses.
Every Penn State student has the opportunity to create an e-Portfolio by using the new 100 Mb Personal Web Space account offered at no charge by the University’s Information Technology Services.
What is an e-Portfolio?
Today the term portfolio is being used to describe many things. This service promotes the development of e-Portfolios that are personalized, Web-based collections that include:
• selected evidence from coursework,
• artifacts from extra-curricular activities, and
• reflective annotations and commentary
related to these experiences.
Essentially, it provides students with the powerful opportunity to collect and then select and reflect on evidence they can publish that demonstrates what they know, what they can do and what they value strongly. The services at portfolio.psu.edu are designed to help support this process beginning with a student’s first through their final year at Penn State.
Why become involved in e-Portfolios?
The e-Portfolio development process encourages all students to become more actively involved in planning, and more responsible for achieving, their own educational goals. Students also benefit by:
• sharing examples of their work with potential employers,
• mastering transferable information technology skills, and
• demonstrating knowledge, skills and attributes gained beyond the classroom.
Students can think of their e-Portfolio as a means of documenting their Penn State experience.
For faculty, e-Portfolios can be used as an alternative assessment strategy
that can be used to supplement or replace more traditional ways of determining
what students know and can do. In addition, e-Portfolios can help advisors determine
a student’s level of participation and engagement in both academic and
co-curricular learning. Based on a fuller understanding, more meaningful guidance
can be offered that supports students’ achievement in all educational
The purpose of any initiative is to propose a new idea through active understanding and participation in the initiative. Take the time to visit the Website at http://portfolio.psu.edu and determine for yourself how you might take advantage of Penn State’s information technology infrastructure as a student, faculty member or student advisor. Send your comments and suggestions to Glenn Johnson, e-Portfolio Initiative Project Manager at email@example.com.
For more information visit the Website at http://portfolio.psu.edu or contact Glenn Johnson, e-Portfolio Initiative Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Penn State
By Ray Masters
“Deep View” is a research project at IBM’s T. J. Watson Research
Center aimed at improving the link between parallel computing and scientific
visualization while supporting very large scale display devices such as video
walls. The two principle software components of this project are: 1) a special
version of OpenDX which will execute in parallel on multiple nodes of a Linux
cluster; and, 2) Chromium, which automatically modifies the OpenGL graphic components
of an application to run in parallel along with the parent application.
OpenDX, a free, open-source, scientific visualization environment, was derived from IBM’s Data Explorer (DX), an application and development library for visualizing all types of data having two- or three-dimensional spatial associations. OpenDX was created in 1998 by removing the license manager from DX version 3.14B. OpenDX enjoys a large user community who continually upgrade and enhance its functionality to support applications in geographic and scientific visualization.
OpenDX has always contained the functionality to exploit shared memory parallelism on symmetric multiprocessing computers. It was also designed to work in a client/server environment where one can distribute a visualization task across multiple, heterogeneous workstations. “Deep View” was the impetus for IBM’s Gregory Abram to extended the functionality of OpenDX to support execution on multiple clustered nodes using the Message Passing Interface (MPI).
OpenDX/MPI is a package built on top of OpenDX. It consists of a set of additional modules and associated infrastructure that allows data to be spread among many nodes of a distributed cluster. OpenDX/MPI operates in a master/slave architecture, in which the master holds a simplified representation of a distributed data object which contains attributes that link it to partitions of the un-simplified data that reside on slave nodes. The simplified objects on the master, which are called stand-ins, are processed by standard OpenDX modules as if they are the data itself. However, OpenDX/MPI modules that recognize the distributed-data attributes operate on the unsimplified distributed data.
Chromium is a free, open-source software project initiated at Stanford University and subsequently supported by many of the National Labs and the cluster rendering community. Chromium intercepts the OpenGL calls of any graphic application by replacing the native OpenGL driver with its own. This allows an unmodified program to automatically have its graphics output rendered in parallel on all the nodes of a cluster.
When computing large, parallel applications in a cluster environment, it often becomes impractical to off-load the visualization component since it requires the serialization and exportation of raw data to that server.
OpenDX/MPI/Chromium allows the distribution of data in a parallel computation
to remain preserved, closely coupling the generation of data to the visualization
of that data. This helps integrate the visualization process with the analysis
process rather than just the presentation process, thereby enhancing understanding
and knowledge so that computations can be steered in the most appropriate directions.
Early in the summer of 2002, Gregory Abram worked with members of the Graduate Education and Research Support group at the ASET to install and test the beta versions of OpenDX/MPI and Chromium on Penn State’s Lion-X cluster.
The software is now available for further testing and refinement. Interested people should send email to: email@example.com
Website Shouldn’t Be Your Goal”
By Ralph Oliva, professor of marketing and executive director of the
Institute for the Study of Business Markets in the Smeal College of Business
A great, functional Web site is a wonderful thing–and they certainly
are fun to navigate. Special congratulations to all who have been cited as the
“Best Business WebSites” by the editors of B-to-B Magazine. On the
In recent discussion with several business Web practice owners, one thing became clear: Their Websites are becoming less and less “where the action is.” Sure, they’re an important asset for addressing broader publics, PR applications, investors, and perspective employees, students, etc. But that’s not where the focus is turning. The real action is becoming “what lies beneath”: custom, digital/networked connections between trading partners, which enable tighter linkages between firms, unique and differentiatable value-added, significant reductions in cost and cycle time, real business impact.
If you’re focusing on your pretty Website-improving navigability and user experience, fine. But, if you’re not exploring digital/networked applications such as custom extranets and intranets to deep link with your customers and suppliers, you may be missing the real action. Examples show a real opportunity to get entangled in your customer’s business in ways that create real, new value.
One chip manufacturer discusses how proprietary design software and collaborative project work happen in a secure Internet environment, completely separate from any Website activity. A real linkage between the competency of the chip firm, and the competencies of OEMs using their chips, are enabled through these secure connections.
A disk drive manufacturer finds a way to improve service and sales, at lower expense, by using a digital/networked approach to deal with the time consuming process for handling special pricing requests from value-added resellers. A leading office supply firm–Corporate Express–does just this. If you’re a Corporate Express customer, your company intranet managed by Corporate Express is the portal to their complete array of services.
Sometimes these applications are internally focused, helping streamline operations. Company intranets that get the right information to the right place at the right time to streamline manufacturing, share best practices, cut costs. Business-to-Employee, or B-to-E, Web applications are becoming important. For example, as firms move to more flexible benefit plans, choiceboards can enable employees to select the correct mix from a “cafeteria” of benefit offerings.
Spotlight on: John Carnicella
Like much of Penn State, the ITS Help Desks are busiest during the first few
weeks of fall semester. Returning students, especially users new to the Penn
State system, flood the Help Desk phones with calls on subjects ranging from
software set-up to Internet usage.
When the Computer Building consultants can’t answer a question, the second level of consulting support is John Carnicella, manager of the Computer Building Help Desk. John enjoys both technology problem-solving and working with people. He says that the combination of the two is one of his favorite aspects of his job: “Whenever I can help someone with something - can help them get something they wanted, or make their jobs easier by helping them use the computer, that is the most rewarding,” he says.
Some of the ways that John and the Help Desk consultants regularly assist users:
• Troubleshooting Internet connections
• Fixing email problems, including configuration errors
• General help with email client use, especially Eudora and Webmail
• Aiding with the transition from using FTP to using SSH
• Accessing PASS space
• Virus detection and prevention with Norton Antivirus and Live Update
• Software installation and usage
• Support for Corporate Time
• Support for ANGEL
• Software lending (SAS and OSX)
• Distribution of PAC-ITS CDs (free Internet software)
The Computer Building Help Desk is available for walk-in (at 215 Computer Building), phone (863-2494), and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) consulting Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm.
John says that the only downside to managing the Help Desk is when he or the consultants can’t solve people’s computing problems. “It’s hard when we see problems that there just doesn’t seem to be a solution for–often something is wrong with the computer or we can’t help them over the phone,” he says, “but we do our best to direct users to other resources who can help them.”
Penn State computing questions aren’t the only kind of questions that the ITS Help Desk receives. Some people think the Help Desk line is a general Penn State help line. The Help Desk line has received requests for football tickets, parents looking for children attending the University, and on one memorable occasion, an order for Beanie Babies, complete with credit card number and expiration date. John instructs consultants to help these callers as best they can by directing them to the appropriate information sources.
There is also another category of callers to the Help Desk line with whom John interacts. These callers aren’t satisfied with the answers provided them by the consultants and are looking to John to offer a different or a better solution to their computing problem. John’s authority as the manager at the Help Desk and his interpersonal skills help resolve situations with unhappy clients.
John’s job with Consulting and Support Services includes more than answering tough questions. As manager at the Computer Building Help Desk, he hires and orients the consultants.
Another side of his job is working on the PAC-ITS CD, Penn State’s collection of free Internet software that is distributed annually for faculty, staff, and students. The PAC-ITS CD includes both Mac and PC applications, and John handles much of the Windows side of the CD. He writes the Windows PAC-ITS Web pages, creates installers for the software, and tests the CD. He is also the manager of the committee that decides which software will be included on the CD each year.
Working with the Help Desk and on the PAC-ITS CD is fun, John says, because he both interacts with people and stays current on new technology. Technology has always been a primary interest of John’s.
Since the fifth grade, John knew that he wanted to work with computers. “I was visiting at a cousin’s house for a wedding, and his dad worked for AT&T and had a terminal in the house - that was completely unheard of back then,” John recalls. “We stayed up forever playing around with that computer, it was a paper terminal, the kind that didn’t have a screen.”
After that first experience, John was hooked. He aimed his education at working with computers, starting in high school and culminating in his Computer Science B.S. from Penn State in 1990. He started working at Penn State originally as a mainframe programmer and eventually switched to his current job in order to have more contact with people, a switch he is glad he made. “I never get bored with my job,” he says, “if I get bored, it’s my own fault. I’m always going after what I see out there, learning more about technology, working with new people.”
ACCESS Grid Node at Penn State
ITS/ASET’s Visualization Group is in the process of setting up an ACCESS
Grid node to allow teleconferenced participation in ACCESS Grid events from
a University Park location. The ACCESS Grid uses a suite of hardware, software,
and audiovisual tools to facilitate collaborative multi-group experiences using
multicast connections over the Internet. The ACCESS Grid supports distributed
meetings, collaborative work sessions, online conferences, seminars, etc.
Additional information on the ACCESS Grid can be found at http://www.accessgrid.org.
Viewing the ACCESS Grid
Some recent and upcoming ACCESS Grid seminars are described at:
If you are a member of the Penn State community who is interested in learning more about the ACCESS Grid, participating in a scheduled ACCESS Grid event, or otherwise exploring this emerging virtual venue for telecollaborative activities, please let us know of your interest and requirements via e-mail to: email@example.com.
VR Tools Help Assess Mild Brain Injuries in Student Athletes
Faculty from Hershey Medical Center, the Departments of Kinesiology and Psychology, and the Applied Research Lab are working with the ITS/Academic Services and Emerging Technologies Visualization Group to develop tools for assessment of mild brain injury in athletes using virtual reality (VR) technology combined with motion analysis and brain imaging techniques. Protocol development occurred during Spring 2002 using ASET’s Immersadesk VR facility.
Freshmen football players were shown moving scenes on the wide-field-of-view
Immersadesk screen while their postural responses to the perceived motion were
measured using magnetic motion tracking devices. The subjects also stood on
a force plate to record changes in their center of pressure resulting from the
postural response. The Immersadesk protocol will be used to assess athletes
who suffer mild concussions (both post injury and during recovery) at a new
facility being created in the Lasch Football Building. The project is funded
by a Hershey Medical Center Dean’s Feasibility Grant with additional funding,
equipment, and support from each department involved.
Participating investigators include Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, Hershey Medical Center; Dr. Sam Slobounov, Kinesiology; Dr. Richard Tutwiler, Applied Research Lab; Elena Slobounov, Visualization Group; Dr. William Ray, Psychology and Dr. Karl Newell, Kinesiology.
To learn more about Penn State’s visualization efforts, see: http://gears.aset.psu.edu/viz/projects/vr/
Lion-XL, a High-performance Computing Cluster
This month, Penn State’s Academic Services and Emerging Technologies (ASET) deployed its third-generation Linux cluster, Lion-XL, to help solve complex computational problems for research projects in a variety of departments including biology, chemistry, meteorology and physics.
Clusters (many computers networked together) are rapidly gaining momentum as a cost-competitive approach to scientific and engineering computing. A cluster of computers, or “compute servers,” combined with scheduling software to distribute the computing tasks allows standard and readily available equipment to offer computational speeds comparable to far more expensive proprietary computer systems.
Lion-XL is the fastest and most powerful cluster Penn State has built to date, in which 80 compute servers have been linked together with fast ethernet and an additional high-speed network from Quadrics, a company based in the United Kingdom. Lion-XL has a peak computing capacity rated at 400 GigaFlops, roughly 400 times faster than an average desktop machine.
The University’s clusters, Lion-XE and Lion-XL, are a collaborative partnership among several faculty members spanning three colleges and ASET, a unit of Information Technology Services (ITS). The partnership is aimed at consolidating and therefore increasing the resource available to each participant, as well as decreasing the duplication of efforts inherent in smaller systems.
“Instead of individual research groups deploying small clusters in their labs, it’s far more productive to build larger machines,” said Vijay Agarwala, director of high-performance computing and visualization at ITS/ASET. “Larger machines, when properly run, significantly lower the total cost of operating these resources.”
This collaborative partnership is open to all faculty members. The high-performance computing group seeks to expand Lion-XL to 256 compute servers in the future. For more information on using these new resources, or to learn how to become a partner, check the Web at http://gears.aset.psu.edu/.
Files with PASS
By Bill Verity
PASS (Penn State Access Account Storage Space) is given to all users when they
are joined to Penn State e-mail service. The default allocation for a user’s
PASS is 100MB.
This is a companion article to the information available through https://www.work.psu.edu/pass/. That Web page discusses all platforms and tells you how to access your PASS as a network drive. You can also use the Penn State Portal to access our PASS space from any Web browser.
This particular article shows you how to mount your PASS space on Windows XP. Similar articles are available for other platforms. Once you have access to your PASS space through the Portal or as a networked disk, it is easy to upload files that can then be shares with other colleagues via urls imbedded in e-mail.
It assumes that you also have activated your “Personal Web Space.” If you have not, please go to https://www.work.psu.edu/webspace to start this process. After this has been activated, at most three working days, come back to this article.
To mount your PASS space on your computer running Windows XP:
• Click Start and choose My Computer. Click the menu option Tools.
• Choose Map Network Drive.
• Enter \\SAMBA.CAC.PSU.EDU\HOMES for the folder and click <FINISH> (You can pick the drive letter if you like. By default, the system picks the first unused letter at the end of the alphabet.)
• You will have to enter your userid and password at the connect prompt.
• If you would like this mapping to appear every time you boot your machine, check the Reconnect at login option. If you do this, you will not need to perform this process again. Please note that the Reconnect at login option will not work with the machines in the computer labs or for computers not connected to the Internet at startup.
Your PASS space will appear as a drive on your computer, usually with an unused letter at the end of the alphabet, like z:. If you go to Start>My Computer, you should see it under Network Drives.
If you have “Personal Web Space,” there will be a “www” folder in your PASS space. Within that folder will be an “index.html” file that is your “home” page.
To share files with people, you can put them directly inside your www folder or create a sub-folder inside of “www” and store files there. I’ll describe the latter.
At the “root” of your PASS directory, double click on the www folder and then pull down the menu items File>New>Folder and create a folder called “shared”. Anything you put in “shared” can now be referenced with a url of the form http://www.personal.psu.edu/userid/shared/file-name. For example, I have a file called “readme.doc” that you can see by clicking this link: http://www.personal.psu.edu/whv/shared/readme.doc
So, whenever you are tempted to attach a file to an e-mail, particularly to a large group of people and/or a large file, STOP! Put the file in your shared folder and then use a url pointing to the file in your e-mail instead.
The PASS Explorer: You can also access your PASS space by
using the Penn State PASS Explorer. The Penn State PASS Explorer is a special
file transfer tool of the Penn State Portal. It lets you quickly and easily
transfer files between your PASS and a local directory/folder on your machine.
To access the PASS Explorer, you will need to add the Penn State Access Account Storage Space channel to your Portal page. Go to https://portal.psu.edu/ and choose the “Add Channels” link on the Portal header. Select the Access Account Services category from the “Categories” pull-down menu, and then select the Penn State Access Account Storage Space channel. The channel appears in the “My Channels” list. Click the <Add> button, and then click the <Save> button. Now every time you access the Portal you will be able to use the PASS Explorer.
A Word about Passwords
A Penn State Access Account is a user ID and password combination that allows
Penn State students, faculty, and staff to use the full range of Internet services.
Your user ID is the “public” part of your Penn State Access Account. Like your name, your user ID identifies you as an individual. This is the part you should share with others so that they know where to send you e-mail. Your user ID is usually composed of your initials followed by a 1- to 4-digit number such as xyz123. It is important to remember that the letters are lowercase.
Your password is the “private” part of your Penn State Access Account and, as such, should not be shared with others. Like your University ID card, it authenticates that you are who you say you are. Your password is the “key” that lets you open electronic doors. Guard your password just as you guard your bank card PIN. Don’t write it down or make it easy for someone to guess. Don’t share your password with others, as they would then have the opportunity to read your e-mail, see your grades, obtain your transcript, charge printing to your Bursar bill, and forge e-mail and news postings from you. It is a violation of policy AD20 to share your password.
Change your password as soon as your account is active. You can do this on the World Wide Web. ITS provides the Web browser software Internet Explorer and Netscape in our Student Computing Labs. To access the Web in our labs, first log in with your Penn State Access Account user ID and password. Next, launch Internet Explorer or Netscape (whichever one you prefer):
• On a Macintosh computer, double-click the “software” icon, then double-click the icon of your browser of choice (Internet Explorer or Netscape Lite).
• On a Windows computer desktop, select your browser of choice (Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator) from the “Start” menu.
Go to https://www.work.psu.edu/ and select “Change your password.” If you have difficulty, lab consultants can assist.
Following are guidelines for changing your password:
• Use a combination of six to eight letters and numbers. An example is ex2bdf4x.
• Make sure the “caps lock” is not on.
• Note that your password will not show as you type, so be careful not to make mistakes.
• Some special characters like semi-colons, angle brackets, and parentheses will not work in your password. It’s best to use alphabetic and numeric characters only, unless you’re absolutely sure that all the software you use will accept any special characters you may choose. This may be client software dependent.
• Choose a password that you can remember but that others won’t be likely to guess. For example, don’t set your password to your name, your license plate, your friend’s name, your pet’s name, your favorite drink, or anything else that someone might easily guess. Avoid words that can be found in a dictionary.
• Change your password as often as you wish, but at least once every six months.
• Penn State Access Account passwords are “case-sensitive,” meaning that uppercase and lowercase letters are recognized as different characters.
Note that the Change password menu items in the Macintosh and PC Eudora e-mail programs are not implemented at Penn State.
to Have on Hand When Calling the Help Desk
By Help Desk staff
So . . . you think your computer is misbehaving: all of a sudden you cannot
send (or receive) e-mail; you are not sure how to configure your dial-up connection;
the images you have just uploaded to your web page are not visible; or you
just have a general computer question.
All you have to do is contact the Help Desks at either 863-1035 or 863-2494 and we will be happy to help you.
Before you call, however, please read the following checklist and try to have on hand as much information as possible.
First of all, if possible, make sure that your computer is turned on and within reach of your phone when you call in so that we can easily check your computer’s settings and suggest possible changes to solve your problem.
Secondly, please make sure you know the following data:
Troubleshooting over the phone is not always easy, so remember the more details
you can provide, the better we will be able to help. Please try to provide
the data mentioned above. Without that information we might not be able to
determine what is wrong with your computer.
One last thing: we will ask you for your user ID. We need that information not only to check whether your account is active or not, but for statistical purposes.
By Skip Knoble, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the last newsletter
there have been several Microsoft system and software updates. We recommend
that you keep your system and software up to date both for integrity and security
reasons. Key updates in this category are as follows:
1) Office XP Service Pack 1 and 2. These must be applied in order as SP-2 is NOT cumulative. These updates require the Office XP install CD. These updates may be downloaded from: Office XP Service Pack 1: http://office.microsoft.com/downloads/2002/oxpsp1.aspx Office XP Service Pack 2: http://office.microsoft.com/downloads/2002/oxpsp2.aspx Note that these updates correct the Outlook 2002 bug that prevented it from being used as an e-mail client with the Penn State mail servers.
2) Windows 2000 Service
Pack 3 may be downloaded from: http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp3/default.asp
Please read the install instructions carefully. This Service Pack is cumulative
and you do not need to install Service Pack 1 or 2 before installing Service
3) Windows XP Service Pack 1This may be ordered from Microsoft on CD for about $13 or downloaded (104MB) from: http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsXP/pro/downloads/servicepacks/sp1/default.asp Please read the Release Notes and Install instructions carefully.
All of the above updates and other system and product updates and service packs download URL’s are available at the ITS/ASET/GeaRS Web page: http://ftp.aset.psu.edu/pub/ger/documents/Where95&NT.htm#SystemUpdates Also see various sections there on special topics like MS Office Tools and Conversion Issues, Tutorials, and Document Recovery.
4) Windows Critical (Security) Updates should be applied on a regular basis. This may be done by connecting to the Internet and using Internet Explorer menu item: Tools/Windows Update and choosing: Critical Updates.
5) Antivirus Virus Definition Files should be updated on at least a bi-weekly basis. For Norton Antivirus 2002 Corporate Edition distributed on the ITS-PAC CD available at the ITS Help Desks, after connecting to the Internet right-click the Norton Antivirus icon in the system try and choose Open Norton Antivirus. Click the top left-hand shield icon titled: Norton Antivirus Corporate Editon, and then click the Live Update button to start this update.
Institutional Licensing and Software Distribution (ILSD)
The Institutional Licensing and Software Distribution (ILSD) program allows University departments, faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to purchase UNIX software at reduced prices by buying either site licenses or by buying in quantity.
ILSD program members are provided with access to software and licenses, new version releases, updates, patches, bug reports, the ability to submit bug reports, and use of the program administrators’ expertise in the area of operating systems and software. To maintain the program’s low-level overhead, ILSD membership does not entitle members to any extensive system administration help; however, advice and in many cases on-line documentation and printed installation instructions are provided. Students benefit from the program by being able to use the software that is installed on the UNIX lab machines.
For more information on what ILSD can offer you, please refer to http://cac.psu.edu/ilsd/index.html.
Would you like to see a new addition to the software offered by the ILSD Program?
Periodically, the ILSD program is asked to consider software packages as a possible new addition to our list of site license software. A site license is a cost effective solution to minimize costs to individual departments, colleges, and the university as a whole. Site licenses allow us to purchase software at an educational discount rate, rather than you purchasing it at a higher individual rate. Assuming packages are cost effective and demand dependant we will certainly welcome and consider your suggestions.
If there are any packages that you feel the university may want to consider evaluating as a possible site license, please let us know via ILSD@CAC.PSU.EDU.
For additional information or questions regarding the ILSD program please contact ILSD@CAC.PSU.EDU or call (814) 865-4777.
The Institutional Licensing and Software Distribution (ILSD) program and the Computer Store (MOC) have jointly entered into an agreement with Unipress Software to license Footprints, a Web-based help desk and customer problem management software. Departments that would like to license the software must first download the 30-day trial version from Unipress at http://www.unipress.com/cgi-bin/download_fp.pl.
After obtaining the trial software you may contact Toni Baylets via ILSD@CAC.PSU.EDU to purchase a permanent license for the Unix version or Sue Gavazzi at email@example.com for the Windows version. Following is the URL for Footprints: http://www.unipress.com/footprints/
ILSD Site License Administrator
230 Computer Building
Penn State’s Computer Store
Penn State’s Computer Store, the Microcomputer Order Center (MOC), a
service of Information Technology Services (ITS), sells a multitude of computer
hardware and software products at low, academic prices.
As an educational service, the Computer Store qualifies for academic pricing which is passed on to the Penn State community.
The Computer Store showroom, located in 12 Willard Building, has a variety of products on display for hands-on evaluation. Non-commission consultants are available to answer questions and demonstrate products. New Site License Programs!
Over two dozen special site and volume purchase agreements allow the Computer Store to offer software at extremely low prices.
New offerings from the site license program include software from Macromedia (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, etc.), Mathematica (special price for students), Microsoft (various applications), Footprints (helpdesk tracking software) and movianVPN (secure wireless communication for PDAs).
12 Willard BuildingUniversity Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-865-2100 or 800-251-9281
Ordering Information• Order Online• Order in Person• Order by Phone• Order by Fax
Only Penn State students, faculty, staff and departments are eligible to purchase from the Computer Store.
New Features in
Web-Based Training Provide Convenience, Flexibility
By Tara Caimi
Web-Based Training (WBT) has a new look and a streamlined interface for the fall semester. A service of Information Technology Services at Penn State, WBT traditionally offers over 1,100 free technology and business and professional development courses to Penn State faculty, staff, and students.
WBT now offers a completely revamped Web site, equipped with an easy-to-use interface that allows users to log in, add and organize courses, work online, and even download courses for offline use.
According to Web-Based Training specialist April Sheninger, the new Web site boasts many features designed to organize the information in a comprehensive manner that promotes customer service. Users will find the Web site easier to understand and navigate, and the new WBT features add convenience and flexibility.
Susan Bechtold, of Hershey Medical Center, has used some of the new features of WBT. She said, “… it can be difficult to carve time out of the work day for a two-hour course; however, these courses are designed to permit one to stop, if necessary, and resume the course without having to start over again at the beginning.”
Some new features of Web-Based Training include the following:
• Compact Site Design–The site uses menus and tabs to organize a large number of documents, making it easy to locate information. These menus and tabs have been added to each page, so users can navigate between pages and around the site with simplicity and ease.
• An Integrated Login–This feature allows users to move freely between the Training Plan and the rest of the WBT Web site, even after the user has logged in to the Training Plan. Accordingly, the user is able to access any functions of the Web site, such as viewing a manual or finding a phone number, without exiting the Training Plan.
• Contacts & Help Menu–This feature combines all manuals, help, and contact information into one area, effectively streamlining the customer service functions of the site and making it easy for users to locate the help they need.
• Announcements & News Menu–This area provides monthly updates on new courses, new features, and training resources, so users can stay up-to-date with WBT.
• New Training Plan Editor: Modify My Plan–The WBT Training Plan allows users to add and organize courses. The new Modify My Plan feature allows users to search for courses within the course catalogue and to add courses directly from their search results. This simplifies the process by minimizing the number of steps involved in adding a course. The new plan is visually organized to allow users to view all of their course listings at once, or to collapse the listings into a condensed view. This new feature makes the Training Plan easier to understand, and the combined new functions give users much more control over their Training Plans.
• Download Courses–Through the new download feature, courses can be downloaded to the user’s desktop or laptop computer—at home, in the office, or anywhere the user has access to an Internet connection. After the course is downloaded, users can run the course at any time, without the need for an Internet connection. The next time the user logs in to the WBT Web site to use a WBT course or to download another course, the scores and any progress made in previously downloaded courses will be automatically updated. The flexibility created by the new download feature makes using WBT more convenient for all users.
To use the download feature, users must have an Activation Key. This Activation Key is a unique word that is specific to each user. The Activation Key is randomly assigned and will be e-mailed to users after they log in to WBT for the first time after August 19, 2002. If a user forgets or loses the Activation Key, a form is available on the WBT Web site for retrieval.
• Targeted Curricula–Curricula are groups of courses that provide guidance for specific users, based on their particular technology or business and professional development training needs. Examples of currently existing curricula are Skills for Undergraduates, Skills for Graduating Seniors, various vendor certifications, First Time Manager, HR Professionals, Project Managers, IT Professionals, and IT Managers. Recently added curricula include International Students, Grad Assistants, Administrative Assistants, and Career Development Skills.
Reviews of the new features in WBT have been positive, according to Sheninger. In a feedback e-mail, one student said, “(I) just wanted to … tell you that the new WBT is great. There were a few things that really prevented me from using the system a lot before and it appears a lot better now.”
Chris Lucas, Administrative Information Services Training and Support Specialist, likes the convenience of WBT’s new download feature. “When I’m away for training and have a break, I can just use my laptop to work on WBT courses. I can work at my own pace and convenience to fit the (WBT) training into my schedule,” said Lucas.
WBT is a free service that gives every member of the Penn State community the opportunity to learn or improve technology and business/professional skills at their convenience, via the Web. The Web-based courses available through WBT can enhance career skills, enrich personal and professional knowledge, and supplement other training sources.
For more information, or to start using WBT today, visit http://wbt.psu.edu/.
Penn State’s Course Management System, A New Global Environment for
Learning (ANGEL), now offers expanded features, making it even more versatile.
With an upgrade to version 5 in August 2002, ANGEL now provides additional
avenues for course communication, monitoring student participation, and
Some of the new features in ANGEL this fall include:
Free Technologies for Learning Forum Seminars Offered
Faculty may attend free Technologies for Learning Forum seminars October 25
and November 22, each from noon until 1:00 p.m. in room 141 Computer Building,
During these informal seminars, Penn State faculty members present their personal experiences with incorporating technology into their teaching environments. A thirty-minute presentation is followed by a thirty-minute open forum discussion, allowing participants to network with others who are interested in assimilating technology into teaching.
This fall’s topics are as follows:
Friday, October 25
“Teaching Technology or Building Self Teachers”
George S. Young, Department of Meteorology
Friday, November 22
“Calibrated Peer Review: Bringing Higher Thinking to Life through Writing”
John Wise, Director of Engineering Instructional
Participants are welcome to bring a lunch and a beverage. Space is limited, so please reserve a seat by registering on the Web at http://its.psu.edu/training/.
For more information on the Technologies for Learning Forum, offered by Teaching and Learning with Technology, visit http://tlt.its.psu.edu/fmc/teach/.
Free Technology Seminars Offered This Fall
Free technology seminars are available for Penn State faculty, staff, and students, courtesy of Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT), a unit of Information Technology Services (ITS).
This fall, TLT is offering over two hundred free seminars in areas including
Microsoft Office; graphics and desktop publishing; operating systems; technology
in the classroom; UNIX; computer security and more. TLT assists members of
the Penn State community in using technology to improve teaching, learning,
and the overall academic experience.
Registration for these seminars is ongoing. For more information, please visit the Web site http://its.psu.edu/training.
The Multicultural Enhanced Learning for Diversity (MELD) Project
In spring 2002, Penn State received a two-year grant from the AT&T Foundation for the Multicultural Enhanced Learning for Diversity (MELD) project. The goal of the project is to help faculty incorporate concepts of pluralism and inclusiveness into their courses by tapping into resources contributed by their colleagues.
MELD will provide the framework for a digital library of information, materials, examples, and resources on diversity that can be used by faculty across all Penn State campuses and academic disciplines.
This endeavor will augment the University’s drive for diversity awareness, particularly among new undergraduate students, and help meet a Faculty Senate mandate for a greater focus on international and multicultural understanding at Penn State.
MELD is managed by Education Technology Services (ETS), part of Teaching and Learning with Technology, a unit of Information Technology Services.
During the 2002-2003 academic year, ETS will consult faculty focus groups for expertise and content, then create a pool of online resources, including:
Examples of lessons and activities
Experiential learning ideas
Problem sets and simulations
Experiences with international exchanges
Research on ethnicity
Classroom climate and culture
ETS will continue to seek the valuable contributions of faculty to enhance and update this storehouse of materials. It is hoped that these in turn will inspire further sharing of ideas.
During the 2003-2004 academic year, ETS will develop and deliver a tutorial for faculty on how to use the resources to create an inclusive classroom climate. The tutorial will be offered both face-to-face and online, supported by listserv discussions.
In early 2004, ETS will plan and host a conference on diversity-enhanced curricula for universities belonging to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the academic consortium of the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago.
For more information please send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty Receive Teaching with Technology Resource CD
A resource CD entitled “Teaching with Technology” arrived in
Penn State faculty mailboxes this month. The CD contains a variety of information:
demonstrations of how faculty can integrate technology into teaching, descriptions
of technologies, tutorials, and lists of resources, help contacts, computer
labs, and technology classrooms on each Penn State campus. The CD also contains
free software trials, Penn State images, and sound files.
If you are a faculty member who did not receive a CD, please e-mail email@example.com to request a copy.
Faculty may reproduce as many copies of the CD as desired, provided it is for Penn State use. For information on their CD duplication service, visit the Computer Store site at http://computerstore.psu.edu/services/cdgeneral.html
The CD was developed by Teaching and Learning with Technology, a unit of Information Technology Services.
About this newsletter
This newsletter is published by The Pennsylvania State University, Consulting and Support Services, a unit of Information Technology Services, 214 Computer Building, University Park, PA 16802. The newsletter is also produced as a set of Web pages and Acrobat PDF files at http://cac.psu.edu/news/ on the World Wide Web. A printed version is mailed to full-time faculty and staff at all locations. Copies are available at the Computer Building at University Park. To obtain copies by campus mail, contact Danette Yakymac at (814) 865-4757 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information Technology Services encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact us in advance of your participation or visit.
This publication is available in alternative media upon request.
Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please contact the editor,
Margaret Smith, 214 Computer Building, University Park; (814) 865-4757; e-mail email@example.com.
Editor in Chief
Kathy Mayberry, Director, User Services
Cristol Gregory, Kate Strauss
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