Hampshire’s Successful Migration to Drupal

drupliconHampshire’s website, www.hampshire.edu, was moved over to the Drupal platform last Tuesday, July 8. Prior to this move, content authors had been using RedDot content management system to edit content on the website. We made the decision to switch last year and we chose Drupal for a number of reasons.

Read more about the decision to move to Drupal »

In addition to working on other projects, Hampshire IT and communications staff have worked hard over the last year to learn Drupal, build a Drupal installation to fit our needs, and prepare the website content to be moved automatically into this new system. We worked with Drupal experts from Palantir.net to help guide us in this process, and we also received some great advice from our colleagues at Mt Holyoke who went through a similar migration process in the past.

What does success look like?

The website looks almost exactly the same! The plan was to implement our existing design in Drupal, and that’s what we did.

Did anything change?

The biggest change is that we were able to retrofit our existing design to be somewhat responsive. This means that the website should be easier to use on devices like mobile phones, which is a big deal because mobile web traffic just keeps increasing over time.

The other big change is for our content authors. Everyone updating content on the website needed to be trained on Drupal. We are still in the process of training content authors, but many staff who have already been trained have indicated that they like the new editing interface that Drupal has to offer.

What does the future look like?

Over the next couple months we will be working on changing the design of the website a bit to reflect more modern web standards. This will not be a big redesign by any means, but we will be implementing some changes like wider page content and being able to display more content on the homepage.

Drupal has an abundance of features, some of which allow for content to be displayed on multiple pages, and in different ways, in an efficient manner. We will also be working on setting up these mechanisms to make it easier for our content authors to display information on the website in more visually appealing ways.

There will likely be a large redesign of the website in the future, which will include a cohesive process of discussion and organization around Hampshire’s identity and communication strategy. Conversations are beginning to happen around what this process might entail, but a project has not yet been put into action on this front.

Have any questions, comments, or concerns?

Send them to drupal@hampshire.edu.

CMS Migration: RedDot to Drupal

Hampshire College has been using the RedDot content management system since 2007 to maintain the college website. Technological advances make it both necessary and desirable for Hampshire to migrate to a new content management system.

DrupalHampshire IT has looked into a number of different content management systems, including an upgraded version of RedDot, as a possible replacement and has determined Drupal to be the best option for the following reasons:

  • Drupal is open source, free software
  • Drupal technology is such that our existing staff can easily learn, use, and customize the software
  • Drupal is being used at the other four colleges in the Five College consortium
  • Drupal can be customized to fit Hampshire’s website needs

What this means for our content authors:

  • We will automatically move content from the existing Hampshire website into Drupal, so they will not have to do that themselves. This means that everyone should keep updating content as usual and NOT wait until Drupal is in place.
  • We will provide training sessions in 2014 for them to learn how to use Drupal.
  • Drupal’s interface will be different from RedDot, but we think that our content authors will find it to be a significant improvement.

What this means for everyone else:

  • The design of the website is not changing at this point in time, so many folks may not even notice the slight differences
  • The URL structure will be more friendly
  • The navigation will also be more friendly

IT and communications staff are in the process of learning Drupal, setting up the system structure, and planning the content migration. As we move forward we will have a better idea of what our migration timeline and training schedule will be like and we will be in contact with our content authors as we progress.

If anyone has questions or feedback about this transition, please send them to webmaster@hampshire.edu.

TheHub Changes for Faculty

Upcoming Changes to TheHub

In a few weeks, we will introduce the first changes to TheHub to move towards the BetaHub design developed working with students and faculty. Most importantly we want all faculty to understand that the changes you will see around April 1 are only the first step in a series of changes designed to help both students and faculty better navigate Hampshire’s unique academic program.

Main Menu
Main Menu

What’s New?

The navigation, or how you get around, has been vastly simplified.  Instead of clicking from a long list of possible items, you choose what you want to see from a few simple tabs at the top: your Courses or your Advisees.  Once you have selected a specific course or advisee, you can view details or take action such as sign a contract or write an evaluation.

Changes to Courses and Writing Course Evaluations

The content previously found under “Current Courses” and “Previous Courses” is all now located under the “Courses” tab.  When you click on it, you are presented a list of current courses, but you can use the filters on the left to view any course (past, present or future).  Moreover the course listing itself is will provide you useful information.  The color-coding and format of the lines will quickly alert you that you have something to do (eg: write a missing evaluation, etc).

Old Course Listings
Old Course Listings
New Course Listing
New Course Listing

Changes to Advising/Div I/II/III

The content previously found under “Adivsor” and “Division 1-3” is now located under the “Advisees” tab.  When you click on it, you are presented a list of current and prospective advisees, but you can use the filters on the left to view any advisee (past, present or future).  Additionally, the advisee listing will provide visual indicators (both with symbols and colors) indicate if/when you have some action pending, such as a Div II or III contract awaiting your signature.

Old Advising/Div Menus
Old Advising/Div Menus
New Advising Menu
New Advising List

Summary

We will continue with a series of blog posts to update the status as we prepare to release these changes to faculty.  Stay tuned for more updates shortly.

TheHub Changes for Students

thehub In just a few weeks, all Hampshire students will begin to use TheHub 2.0, the first in a series of steps to reinvent TheHub.  This first iteration will introduce changes to the navigation and menus students use to access and write evaluations.  The old, outdated display (at right) is finally going away to be replaced with something that’s far easier to use.

Who will see these changes?

The changes affect all students, but those who entered Hampshire since Fall 2011 likely have not seen the old menus so this may not seem new to some.  Regardless, we have vastly improved the site navigation by introducing tabs tied to your most common activities: Courses, Div I, Div II and Div III.  You can view and write all course evaluations under the Courses tab, and view/edit your forms for Div I and contracts for Div II and III under their respective tabs.

Is this bediv2tahub?  What is betahub?

Betahub is a project where IT is working with faculty and students to completely reinvent TheHub.  The changes we’re introducing here are only a first step in that process and betahub will continue to exist. Thus, we’re not done making changes yet…

 

Hampshire College Directory Changes

directoryThe Hampshire College directory, where one can search for people and office contact information at Hampshire, has gone through some changes over the last several months. Thanks to Jeff and Damon on the applications and web services team, the directory has been redesigned to not only align more with the visual identity of the College, but also to be responsive — meaning it looks good and functions well on devices of different sizes. In addition to the design, preferred name settings were added, as well as preferences for how information is displayed in the directory. Hampshire students and employees have the ability to log in and edit their preferred name and directory settings. If you haven’t already checked it out, you should! Questions can be emailed to thehub@hampshire.edu.

Projects for 2011/12

Every year the Hampshire IT department submits a plan of work to senior administration for review. We would like to share that plan with you and hope to keep you informed as to our progress, via this blog, as we work on this plan. We do get pulled off of projects for minor things like Snowtober and other important needs as they arise, but we try to stay on track. We use results from our student , faculty and staff surveys to inform our plan of work creation process.

Keep in mind that we do have a lot of work that involves supporting the community’s computing needs. This list is simply large projects that may require funding or significant resources above and beyond what we now have; it in no way reflects the entire department’s scope of work. The status of these projects will be updated monthly.

The plan as submitted in August 2011  with status of current projects updated:

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

WEB:

Announcement system changes.  Certain shortcomings of the current announcement system were identified during various governance conversations. We have modified the existing on campus announcement system to reflect some changes requested by survey groups. We will make incremental changes to the existing system and examine a total redesign looking forward.    Status:Open

Moodle programming, documentation, and modules.  As a result of our recent migration to Moodle, a new Learning Management System (LMS), we are continuing to install new features and modules. Further documentation and installation of LMS components will continue throughout the year. Hampshire is part of the Collaborative Liberal Arts Moodle Project (CLAMP). During the summer of 2011, Hampshire hosted the biannual CLAMP Hack/Doc Fest. This included the first-ever CLAMP Documentation Sprint, in which the group focused on revising and publishing the documentation being worked on. Hampshire is very active in the open source community.

Status :Open

Shibboleth Authentication. As part of a Five College project to enable multi-campus login to services, Hampshire has gone into production with Shibboleth authentication. This positions Hampshire to allow Five College students to sign on to our Learning Management System (LMS) with their home institution login information. The other four schools are still in the process of installing Shibboleth, while Hampshire has already launched various on-campus services.

Status: Complete

ePortfolio. We have been exploring the development of an e-portfolio system and ways to better manage documents and video content in our LMS. Research on a  Division 3 portfolio project is underway. We expect this work to evolve into a portfolio system for all students. Mahara is an open source ePortfolio system that can be integrated with Moodle LMS. This will allow faculty and students to easily upload, download and  manage files within Moodle. We will research and beta test Mahara.

Status :Open

RedDot. Our current Content Management System (CMS) is starting to show signs of age. We are exploring the possibility of moving to a common CMS platform across most of the schools in the Five College Consortium. Drupal CMS is the platform that will most likely be adopted across the Five College community. We have launched a sandbox instance of Drupal and will continue to explore its functionality.     Other CMS offerings will be explored as well.           Status :Open

Website. As a result of customer feedback, we have been revamping search functions on our web pages for both internal and external customers.

Administrative Systems:

Online Applicant Tracking System. This system has been tested and deployed for staff to assist the community in better managing job searches. Further vetting and expansion of the system will continue. This is rolling out for faculty this year.

Status: Complete

Community Engaged Learning (CEL) for Div 1. The academic program has introduced a new CEL program for Fall 2011. We are developing record keeping, tracking and evaluation functionality.

Status: Open

E-Commerce 4 installation. We have undertaken a PCI compliance review and will install additional software as a result of the survey.  Status: Complete

Online Directory. The governance task force held a series of focus group meetings with staff and identified dissatisfaction with the existing online directory as one issue. In response, we plan to do a major redesign this year.

Status: Open

Storage Array Network (SAN). We will continue last year’s work on both virtualization and consolidation of file storage and security. Status: Complete

E-Mail Efficiency. Storage capacity and security remain problematic. This service continues to see exponential growth. To address this and create a sustainable model, we have segmented and totally redesigned our email system. This work will continue this year.

Status: Open

Virtual Computing Lab (Beta). As part of the Five College consortium Davis Grant funded project, we will launch a beta test of a Virtual Computing Lab instance at Hampshire. This will install target software with high computational demand.  We plan to offer complex software that demands robust computing platforms to students anywhere, anytime regardless of what personal device the student is using. This is very similar to a thin client model.

Status: Open

OneCard Access. UMass Amherst is currently circulating a Request For Bids (RFB) for a new Card Access system for the Amherst campus. We plan to explore ways to allow Five College students access to facilities and services at all five campuses, solve an access control problem at our athletic facilities that enables us to monitor patrons, and increase card data security.  In order to achieve these goals and position, Hampshire will, with regards to the Five College project, be upgrading our card access system and re-carding the entire campus.

  • -Upgrade to CCure 9000:  Access control system upgrade
  • -Change door readers to IClass- entire campus
  • -Configure 9000 for IClass
Status: Open
Network and Telcom:

Wireless Access. Our fall 2011 student survey identified wireless access in the dorms as the top student concern. To address this shortcoming, we have deployed wireless access in Dakin and Merrill. This has been challenging from both a capital and manpower perspective.

Status: Complete

Prescott Remodeling Construction. Phase two of a multi-year project will take place this summer during which we will install new network and voice access.

Status: Complete

Voice and Data. Hampshire continues to see bandwidth demands increase exponentially. We see a doubling of bandwidth required every two years. Our voice contract with our provider expired in September 2011.  We have negotiated a new contract and have a chance to increase bandwidth while remaining cost neutral. We have split traffic away from our provider, UMass Amherst, to accomplish this.

  • -New ISP roll out: new connection to Paetec via Boston for Data and moving of bandwidth from UMass to Paetec.  Status: Complete
  • -New Firewall install on Paetec Link.        Status : Complete
  • -Install new PRI (voice circuits)                   Status: Complete
  • -New Voice contract                                         Status: Complete
  • -Research PBX services movement to the Cloud.   Status: Open
Admin:

Five College OneCard Project. Hampshire College will lead the Five College OneCard project, providing project management and oversight. The initial phases of this project will focus on identifying existing technological conditions. The group will then identify collaborative possibilities and possible impediments to a Five College OneCard environment.

Status: Open

Launch Technology for Teaching and Learning Department. The digital and technical world as we know it is changing and at a pace that has never been seen before. Cisco’s current Visual Networking Index predicts that the Internet will quadruple in size over the next four years. In fact, the incremental growth in Internet traffic between 2014 and 2015 will be 17.2 exabytes per month. That growth alone is roughly the amount of all global Internet traffic recorded last year.

This tremendous increase in technological and informational advances will create both opportunities and of course many challenges to higher education. We will need to deliver instructional materials to “digital native” students who can’t remember a time when Google didn’t exist. Faculty, staff and students will utilize computing devices that are increasingly becoming smaller and more powerful. Software and applications are moving into the Cloud. The digital world as we know it will be unrecognizable in 5-7 years.

In order to assist with these challenges and take advantage of these opportunities, Hampshire College’s Department of Information Technology is pleased to announce the creation of the Department of Technology for Teaching and Learning. We hope to strengthen the bridge between Hampshire’s academic departments and IT. We will also assist faculty and students in the exploration of innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

Status: Complete

Research PBX services movement to the Cloud. Hampshire’s existing telephone switches are at end of life. We have deployed a new Voice over IP switch and plan to migrate administrative phones to that new platform. Student voice services remain a challenge and we are exploring a possible move to the cloud for service delivery to that population. Dartmouth College has been successful in offering students software-based softphones. Cloud-based software voice services are the next step in this evolution and offer an attractive platform for deployment to remote populations, as well as customers who may not or do not use traditional handsets.

Status: Open

TEDx-Hampshire College. TED – Technology, Entertainment, and Design is as series of talks, presentations and performances designed to promote “Ideas worth spreading.” TED is multifaceted and multidisciplinary. We feel that it is important for the College to promote ideas generated by thought leaders who represent the best that Hampshire and the world have to offer. TEDx is a local version of the world class TED talks. We hosted the first annual TEDx-Hampshire College series in October 2011. IT played a key role in this project.

Status: Complete

Bob C