Posts by Petar Mitrevski

 
 
 

New Smart Classrooms in Twilight

Categories: Middlebury Community Interest, Post for MiddNotes, Post for MiddPoints

Dear colleagues,

In late May and early June of this year, LIS worked with Facilities Services to add new media equipment in several classrooms in Twilight: 110, 204, 206 and 301. You can now play DVD (or Blu ray) discs on a larger screen or connect your laptop and show a presentation in these rooms. However, due to the industry’s goal to eliminate analog media, we were not able to add VCRs in these classrooms – VCRs and VHS tapes are simply not being produced anymore. We have announced the analog sunset in MiddPoints, but it is worth mentioning again that, as we update technology in classrooms, we will need to continue removing VCRs. Please visit the Analog Sunset page to learn more about what LIS is doing about this and what you can do to prepare. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Why TVs?
Note that in these classrooms we chose to use flat screen TVs instead of a projector & projection screen. This reduced the project costs by close to 60%. In addition (and unlike a projector) the TVs do not need a lamp, which further reduces our operating costs and ensures that a class is not interrupted by a lamp failure. You can see a photo of room 204 here.

Whiteboard in Twilight 204
Please note that during the installation of the equipment in room 204, we had to move the whiteboard to one of the sidewalls. The room has a 12 foot chalkboard and another portable chalkboard. We can certainly add a portable whiteboard to the room, if that is necessary, just let me know.

How-to & Orientation
The equipment in the classrooms is simple and similar to other rooms on campus, however it is new for twilight. There are written instructions in a drawer under the screen in each of the rooms, and the same instructions are online: Using the Media Equipment in Twilight 110, 204, 206, 301. However, if you would like an orientation on how to use the technology in these rooms, please let me know.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Petar

Goodbye VHS (and LaserDisc) – The Analog Sunset

Categories: Classroom Technology, eNewsletter, LIS Staff Interest, Middlebury Community Interest, Post for MiddNotes, Post for MiddPoints

Important notice about the analog video format
This is an important notice about the analog video format. It relates to the phasing out analog media and analog players (VCR, Laserdisc [LD] and slide projectors) in the classrooms at Middlebury College. Please review the next sections for information on the reasons behind this and the approach that LIS plans to undertake.

Summary of the analog sunset plan
Analog media (VHS, Betamax, U-matic, etc.) and certain digital media (LaserDiscs) have become obsolete – new media are not being produced, nor are replacement players. For LaserDisc and VCR technology, better, higher quality, and easier to use digital technologies have emerged. By removing these media players players and slide projectors from classrooms, and by replacing these older formats with digital ones, we can ensure that our classrooms will continue to be functional, easy to use, and easy to support, both now and in the near future.

The media and computer industries have chosen to retire certain older audio and video technologies and move to newer digital audio and video formats. This means the imminent death of VHS, LaserDisc, 3/4″ tape and, eventually, even our beloved VGA (and possibly even 16mm and 35mm film, but we don’t know that quite yet). BluRay (using a newer connection type – HDMI) and streaming Internet video are the newer formats intended to replace all of the aforementioned older media formats. The DVD format remains alive, for now.

LIS has developed a plan to address the obsolescence of these older formats and support for the new ones. The process is guided by a combination of technology options, copyright law, and input from our user community. The Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines section of the Handbook outlines some of the copyright intricacies. If you currently have a VHS tape, Laserdisc or 35mm slides that you use for class, you should be developing a strategy for migrating the class material to a different media for use inside and outside of class (see What can you do to prepare.)

Important Dates

  • Phase I – Beginning January 1, 2013 LIS will no longer add VHS players to new or renovated classrooms. Current status: VHS players were not added to any of the Warner classrooms after the renovations in January, 2013.
  • Phase II – Beginning January 1, 2014 LIS will begin removing VHS, LaserDisc, and slide projectors from all classrooms except for the main auditoriums (Sunderland Dana, Alexander Twilight Auditorium, and Axinn 232). We need to preserve as many of these devices as possible for spare parts and archival purposes.
  • Phase III – Onward and upward. LIS will continue to move forward with digital technology, including investigating reliable streaming options, and strive to accommodate any emerging technologies for the future.

What we are doing to prepare

  • Over the past two years, LIS has replaced a large amount of analog and obsolete media (VHS & LaserDisc) placed on Library Reserves with DVD or Blu-Ray media. Last winter, a large LaserDisc deselection project reduced our holdings by almost 90% and was lauded by staff and faculty as a strong step forward. In the past year we’ve been turning our attention to the VHS collection, targeting those items which have never circulated, which reduced our holdings by over 35%. We are currently in the process of removing VHS copies of works for which we also have DVD and/or Blu-Ray versions.
  • Other VHS titles have not circulated at all in the past seven years (i.e., since our migration of MIDCAT to the current platform), and we are reviewing those titles with faculty input and assistance. Individual departments should check their collection of media titles for VHS items. If any are crucial for teaching or research, LIS can attempt to purchase new copies in modern format (DVD or Blu-Ray) if we do not already have them. If these formats are not available, we will retain the VHS. All other VHS will be removed from the collection.
  • Our classrooms will continue to have the option of bringing in an analog or obsolete digital device (VCR, LaserDisc player, slide projector) for the foreseeable future. LIS maintains an inventory of VCRs, LaserDisc players, and slide projectors in functional condition available for check-out from the Library circulation desk. However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to maintain and repair these devices indefinitely, as new supplies dwindle.
  • We are following similar steps with our collection of aging audio cassettes. Cassettes that have never circulated in the past seven years are being reviewed. Cassettes that have been put on reserve or that have circulated will be replaced, retained, or migrated to a newer format.
  • Please place individual requests to purchase replacements VHS/LaserDisc media at go/requests.

What can you do to prepare
If you currently have a VHS tape, Laserdisc or 35mm slides that you use for class, you should be developing a strategy for migrating the class material to a different media for use inside and outside of class. Look for DVD, Blu-Ray or (legal) Internet video replacements for any VHS, LaserDisc, 3/4″ tape, or Betamax titles in your personal collection. The Library (go/requests) or your liaison (go/liaisons) can assist you with this. If a commercial digital copy is available we will attempt to purchase a replacement; processing times will vary based on availability. Before any in-house conversion of analog or obsolete digital formats is done, however, we need to determine the legality of the duplication request. Expect about 5 business days for the copyright question to be resolved (this can be a somewhat complex issue) and another 5 business days for the actual conversion.

Your input is needed!
We are looking for feedback on the plan, the process and our communications. You can reach out to your LIS liaison or contact me (Petar Mitrevski) directly. You can also post a response right here on the blog and start a lively discussion.

We emphasize the analog sunset whenever we receive a report that a VCR player or VHS tape is broken. We have shared this plan with the Faculty LIS Advisory Group (FLAC) and are working to incorporate their feedback. LIS liaisons will continue to work with each academic department to share this plan and engage in discussion. We have talked about the analog sunset in our December Quarterly Update, April Quarterly Update, and in the context of the recent classroom renovations in Warner. But we need more input from our community. Thank you!

More Information
You can read the entire plan at http://go.middlebury.edu/analog. In addition, we’ve developed an FAQ section based on questions from our community. You can also check what other schools are doing to address the issue.

Top Tech Tips for a Successful Event

Categories: eNewsletter, LIS Staff Interest, Middlebury Community Interest, Post for MiddNotes, Post for MiddPoints

Middlebury College hosts hundreds of events each year. A successful event is the result of careful and timely planning. To assist you with planning your event, LIS has outlined these tips for a successful event:

  • Plan ahead: For all events that require tech support, we ask that you give us at least 5 business days notice. This deadline ensures that we have enough time to coordinate support with other departments (that have similar deadlines) and ensures that we can support more events and produce higher quality events.
  • Give the Master Location Schedule a spin: This tool can help you get a list of spaces that have the features you need: visit go/mls, open the Locations tab, click More Search Options and under Features select the feature you are looking for (e.g. Computer installed at the podium). This can be very helpful in the early planning stages.
  • The right room for the job: Keep in mind that some spaces are better suited for specific purposes. The event location is especially important if:
    • you are planning a videoconference,
    • you would like to have the event recorded
    • you plan to use microphones

Not all spaces are well suited for the above purposes (due to acoustics, lighting, capacity, etc.) Thus, to ensure a successful event, LIS has selected specific locations (see list below) that are best designed for these types of events. The Scheduling Office will work with you and LIS to find the best location for your event.

  • Tech options: Consider whether you will need additional equipment or tech support (projector, microphones, show a DVD, record the event, etc.):
    • Many event venues already have the most popular equipment (projection, speakers, etc.), as well as an easy to use control panel and a set of printed instructions. With a brief orientation session, you’ll operate the equipment with ease. Contact the Helpdesk if you would like to schedule an orientation session.
    • If the location you are hoping to use does not have the equipment you need, LIS offers several options for getting equipment on loan.
    • If you’re sure you’ll need tech support, make sure to indicate that when filling out your event reservation request.
  • The Scheduling Office is your ally. Submit your reservation request to the scheduling office as soon as possible, keeping in mind that LIS and other service departments require a 5-7 day notice. If you do require equipment or tech support, please ensure you select the appropriate option on the form. If the correct option is selected, the Scheduling Office will notify the Helpdesk of your event in a timely manner and we will contact you if more information is needed. Again, it is imperative that you respond to our requests for information at least 5 business days in advance of the event.
  • Useful forms: To help you prepare for some types of events, and to ensure we get all the information necessary to give you our best service, we may ask you to complete a simple form. See the list of useful forms below.
  • Guest speakers: If you are bringing a guest speaker on-campus, send them our Technology Checklist for Visiting Speakers.
  • Use a podium computer or bring your own: A lot of classrooms have a built-in computer at the podium, reducing the need to bring your own computer. Again, the Master Location Schedule can help you get a list of these locations. If you prefer to use your own laptop for the presentation, make sure to test your computer and your presentation in the event location. Please feel free to contact the Helpdesk if you would like us to help out with the test!
  • PowerPoint Tips: Using PowerPoint to enhance a talk, Tips for including media – pictures, videos, audio (& ensuring it all works!)
  • Microphone Tips: Effective Microphone Techniques

Supported Locations

Due to acoustics, lighting, capacity and other factors, not all spaces are well suited for special events such as recordings, videoconferencing, etc. Thus, to ensure a successful event, LIS has selected specific locations that are best designed for these types of events. The Scheduling Office will work with you and LIS to find the best location for your event but you can plan ahead and review the potential venue options:

Every year we renovate selected spaces, so the options will continue to grow. You can always check the above links for the most up-to-date information.

Useful Forms

To help you prepare for some types of events, and to ensure we get all the information necessary to give you our best service, we’ve prepared a few forms:

  • For recordings:
    • You will need to have the speaker(s) fill out the recording consent form (go/consent). We need to receive this form 2 business days (48 hours) before the event or we will not be able to record. This is a legal document that ensures the speaker is aware of your intent and, at the same time, protects you and the College in the case of a lawsuit. For more information, visit go/consent.
    • Complete the recording request form (go/recording). We need to receive this form 5 business days before the event or we will not be able to record. This form collects information that we need to prepare for the recording, create a high quality recording that is accessible and reliable, and properly catalog the recording so that you or the College may reuse it in the future. For more information visit go/recording.
  • For film screenings:
    • Complete the screening request form (go/screening). We need to receive this form 5 business days before the event or we cannot guarantee that we can staff the screening. Screening any media requires sufficient time to purchase (or confirm) that we have the screening rights and that we have the working physical media. Even if you plan to bring your own media, screening rights need to be confirmed and the media itself needs to be tested. For more information, visit go/screening.

Note: We will continue to update this list, as our services and event venues change. Please check the page Top Tech Tips for a Successful Event for the latest version. In addition, visit the Media Services homepage for more information on our services.