From The C.T.O. (Fall 2009)

Doing more with less is a common theme in higher education these days. OIT has been working hard to make the best of the current economic crisis. Although some projects are on hold and others are taking longer than we had hoped due to the tighter budgets and loss of staff, we have been able to accomplish a number of things in the past six months.

The Instructional Technology team is implementing a new learning management system called Glow. Glow is based on open source software and will replace our expensive Blackboard system. The goal is to make the move to Glow from Blackboard as easy as possible for faculty and students. We have a pilot this fall and hope that by the fall of 2010 everyone will have moved to Glow. The cost savings will be considerable.

Instructional Technology has also revamped the media studios for both faculty and students. Jesup 316 has been turned into a Media Education Center. Jesup B03 (“The Cellar”), 101 (“The Aquarium”) and 204 have been turned into media production studios, where we are experimenting with different kinds of seating and work environments. We think you will like the changes and improvements.

We had another extremely productive WIT (Williams Instructional Technology) program this summer where 12 students worked with 13 faculty and staff to produce amazing web-related projects. They led the way to learning how WordPress can be used as a web content management system until the College can move forward with a campus-wide initiative.

New desktop computers for faculty and staff and for the labs and lecterns are now being deployed with Vista and Office 2007. Although we are changing from a three year cycle to a four year cycle, the new versions kept Desktop Systems staff busy helping people get used to the new software. They also supported the client side for the new CUPS printing and PaperCut software now being used by the College to track printing resources more carefully. We also upgraded Meeting Maker, the calendar system used by most administrative offices.

Networks and Systems staff implemented a new and improved wireless network his summer. Purple Air replaces the previous student and facstaff networks with one that is more secure and that only requires logging on when one changes his/her password rather than every few hours. Reponses to these changes have been very positive.

Students can now enjoy a new searchable online catalog. Admission applicants can enter information online and see whether or not they are accepted by logging in at a designated time. Faculty and staff can now hire students online instead of following a manual process. Campus Security staff are the first office to use a new online time and labor system. We hope to be implementing the new system for additional offices and for student workers this year. In addition, the Administrative Information Systems team and staff from affected offices upgraded the PeopleSoft Student/HRMS system this summer.

We look forward to working with you this fall and hope you will enjoy the results of our hard work this past spring and summer.

Edition:Fall 2009 Department:C.T.O. Tags:

From the C.T.O. (Spring 2009)

Dinny Taylor We are happy to present our first online-only version of Connected. We are committed to helping Williams attain its sustainability goals and felt this is a good way to promote the use of electronic resources rather than paper. Going online-only has the added benefit of conserving fiscal resources.

The articles cover a variety of topics in all areas of OIT and answer some of the questions we’ve been receiving lately about new directions and additional services. We hope you will find the format easy to use and enjoy the articles.

Green Edition

Edition:Spring 2009 Department:C.T.O. Tags:

From The C.T.O. (Fall 2008)

Dinny Taylor Welcome back to campus! We at OIT have been working hard this summer to improve our services and upgrade software for the upcoming academic year. Students and applicants will find additional self-service in PeopleSoft. Computer labs and media studios have been updated to provide you with most any software required for classes. We are setting up virtual servers and experimenting with the next level of wireless routers.

Final tweaks and additional hardware for the new email system that were put in last May should end the slow email problems that plagued us last year and the system speed should now be what we expected from the vendor when we purchased the application.

Desktop Systems staff worked extra hard to get all new computers for faculty and staff delivered by August 1st so they could concentrate on the 190 faculty who moved into the new North and South Academic buildings during the month of August and still be ready for first-days when first-year students arrived on campus.

The plans for the Center for Media Initiative (CMI) in the new Sawyer are becoming real as we spend time examining architectural drawings for details, planning for millwork and thinking about furniture. We are excited about the new home for about a quarter of our staff and the space it will provide for faculty, staff and students to think creatively and express themselves using multi-media. (See the article elsewhere in this issue.) In the mean time we look forward to having some experimental furniture for students to try out in a few of the rooms on the second floor of Jesup. Come give Jesup 204 a try and let us know what you think!

We encourage each of you to try something new with technology this year. Call us for help at 4090 (faculty and staff) or 3088 (students) and we will be happy to help you. If you want to incorporate a new piece of technology into your teaching, contact your instructional technology liaison. We look forward to working with you this year!

Dinny S. Taylor
Chief Technology Officer

Edition:Fall 2008 Department:C.T.O. Tags:

Where Have All the PCs Gone?

Gone to Good Causes Every One

Ever wonder what happens to the computers we remove from faculty and staff desks after 3 years? The all-campus Information Technology Committee worked with OIT to determine a hierarchy for reallocating them.

“Trickle” computers are first used for a variety of purposes on campus. In general, trickle requests for the following summer/fall should be made in January along with the other budget related requests. Highest priority is given to:

  • Extra stations in administrative offices or academic 1. departments for temps or student workers
  • Extra uses in Faculty research labs 2.
  • Conference Office summer use3.
  • Emeritus faculty offices on campus4.
  • Official student organizations 5.

Any computers left after on-campus needs have been filled are donated to local schools and other charities. We will fill as many requests as possible, but we may not be able to satisfy every request. We collect requests all year. Donations occur at times of year when we have inventory and when OIT staff have time to prepare the computers and coordinate with the recipients. Priority to external donations is given to:

  • Public schools in surrounding towns6.
  • Other public schools in Berkshire County or 7. southern Vermont
  • College related education programs elsewhere8.
  • Local organizations9.
  • Other organizations that are not local 10.

The computers must be used by the schools or organizations. In no circumstances do we give computers to individuals, even through organizations.

Requests for donations go through Cheryl Brewer in OIT.
Edition:Fall 2008 Department:C.T.O. Tags:

Computer Donations to Malawi

For the past two years Williams has been able to donate 2-3 used laptops to schools or local governments in Malawi, Africa. Dean Stephen Sneed makes regular trips to Malawi and he hand carries them to make sure they get to the people who truly need them. As the OIT point person, I typically receive the thanks and gratitude of the recipients even though it is the College and others within OIT who are really providing the machines. Stephen has given the laptops to the Deans of two colleges where almost no one has a computer. One was given to a village for the children to use in their schoolwork.

Their notes are always touching as we realize how these contributions mean more to them than we could possibly have imagined. I ‘d like to share with you the letter we received from Dingiswago Chagomelana in the village of Ndirande Village, Malawi. Remember that in this letter, “Dinny” really means Williams College.

My Dearest Dinny Taylor (Ms.),
I hope you have never known the author of this letter before. My name is Dingiswago Chagomelana, fondly known as “Dingi.” I work for Malaŵi Posts Corporation at Limbe, Blantyne. The main aim for writing you is to send many, many heartfelt thanks for the very kind and useful donation of a computer for use by school children in my village. I live the city of Blantyne, the largest commercial and industrial hub of Malaŵi, in the biggest village of Malaŵi, called Ndirande. Ndirande is a very poor urban township village located to the northwest of Blantyre city about 5 kilometers away from the Blantyre City Centre. It is divided into many smaller sections of villages. It provides habitation to “indigenous” as well as “new comers” who hew living out of petty jobs, businesses, peasantry. We number around 500,000, ¾ of which are children. 2/3 of children attend school. People here live in dire poverty, many subsisting on 10 to 20 US dollars a month! A very small segment earn 50 US dollars a month! This implies that technological advancement is far from reach. Few people could hear about a computer but knew not how it could be operated.
Now, when my beloved brother, Dr. Stephen D. Sneed delivered the Dell Laptop package to our community through me and of course from you, I was dumbfounded and I do not remember to have thanked. It was on 19th January, 2008 morning hours in very bright sunshine. He honestly delivered everything intact including a manual and he showed me how to go about it. Often times, good number of children throng my small living room to see the marvel. I show them how to do it. Many children are going to benefit from the presence of, and proximity to, this wonder-performing machine. Currently, up to 25 children have laid down their hands on it. It is my hope that by the end of this year, at least 500 children will have benefitted from this Dinny Initiative and I hope numbers will turn into thousands, not only from the northeastern corner of Ndirande where I live, but also from other corners.

So, in a nutshell, you can see how beneficial this machine is going to be, the whole world of knowledge technological advancement and development at the doorstep of the world poor! Even though I know we cannot thank you enough, please accept on behalf of the community and on my own behalf, our sincere and heartfelt thanks for your kind gesture! I am also partly able to work from somewhere out of my office. You have improved our community’s poor lot. We can therefore see development coming our way in the pipeline. I am sending an email to you through the machine. LONG LIVE DINNY!!!

Yours truly grateful,
Dingiswago Chagomelana
On behalf of Ndirande Village.

Hand written letter from Dingiswago Chagomelana


Dean Steven Sneed handing computer to Dingiswago Chagomelana

Dean Sneed & Dingi

Enelious Overtone Kuntendere (village head man) shows children how to operate a laptop donated by Williams to Milonde Village, Malawi.

Enelious & Villagers

Jacqueline Chazema, the first woman Dean of Education in Malawi, attributes her current position to the computer given to her by Williams.


Emmanuel Muntali, Director of Computing Services, Chancellor College, University of Malawi, received his first personal computer from Williams College.


Edition:Fall 2008 Department:C.T.O. Tags: