Category Archives: Academic Computing

Gaming Extravaganza – December 11th in Kohlberg 326 (LRC)

Join us December 11th from 11 am – 3 pm for Swarthmore’s first Gaming Extravaganza Study Break.  Great food and an array of different games set up at multiple stations in and around the Language Resource Center (Kohlberg 326).  The event will include vintage games and gaming platforms, multi-player, handheld games and foreign language games.


New Coordinator for the Beardsley Media Center Arrives

Q: What do Antarctica, Brazil, and the Beardsley Media Center have in common?
A: They’re all places that Jeremy Polk has worked.

Jeremy Polk joined ITS last week in the role of Media Center Coordinator. Jeremy previously worked as a media producer at the National Science Foundation, where he specialized in documentary filmmaking and media technology support. In 2010-11, he directed and produced three short documentary videos in Antarctica for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Ice Core Project, for which he was awarded the Antarctica Service Medal of the United States of America.

Jeremy has also worked as a youth media counselor with NOAA’s Ocean for Life program, taught English as a second language in Brazil, and led college students through the process of creating a weekly television broadcast. He earned his B.A. from the University of Delaware and an M.A. in Film and Video Production from American University. His favorite activities include adventuring, SCUBA diving and playing strategy games.

We are excited to have him here and are certain that Swarthmore is going to love having him on campus.

The Beardsley Media Center is an open studio that supports students, faculty, and staff in their work with a wide (and growing) range of digital and print media. Please drop by to meet and welcome Jeremy to the Swarthmore Community. If you have any questions about the Media Center, please contact Jeremy ( or Doug Willen (

Ashley Turner joins Media Services

We’re pleased to welcome Ashley Turner to the Media Services group. Her colleagues, Michael Patterson, Dave Neal, and Mike Bednarz, are renowned on campus for their helpfulness. Unfortunately, we’d come to the point where the event and course needs of the campus required a level of support from them that often exceeded the merely heroic. Ashley joined us as a Media Services Specialist in August and has already become an indispensable member of the team. Before coming to Swarthmore, she was the sound engineer for the Wilma Theater and an adjunct instructor of sound design at Drexel University. She earned her B.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Missouri—Kansas City.

Ashley’s arrival also makes it possible for Media Service to offer expanded coverage, particularly in the evenings. If you’re looking for equipment or AV support for your event after 4:30PM, email or call x6201.

Michael Kappeler has new role in Academic Technology

Michael Kappeler, known around campus as ‘MK’, was promoted this summer to the position of academic technologist. MK has been with the College for nearly six years in expanding roles as a web developer/designer. For the last two years, his work has focused on academic projects and support.

MK has already established his reputation as a go-to expert for faculty who need help with anything web-related, but he’s actually a renaissance man in ITS. His abilities as a programmer and teacher made him an ideal person to train and lead our Summer interns for the SEED program. His artistry spans a variety of analog and digital forms, including illustration, photography, music, and film. (In fact, this past weekend he premiered his new graphic novel project at the Small Press Expo, the premier annual conference for independent comics producers.) His skills nicely complement those of our other academic technologists, Andrew Ruether and Doug Willen. As we undertake new projects in the digital arts and humanities, it is great to know that we will continue to have MK’s considerable talents to draw upon. To reach Michael, email or call x6130.

New Version of SPSS

ITS has a newer edition of SPSS (version 21 ) available for download for faculty, staff, and students here:ITS Software

What’s new in version 21?

Simulation. Predictive models, such as linear regression, require a set of known inputs to predict an outcome or target value. In many real world applications, however, values of inputs are uncertain. Simulation allows you to account for uncertainty in the inputs to predictive models and evaluate the likelihood of various outcomes in the presence of that uncertainty. See the topic Simulation for more information.

One-click descriptive statistics. Select variables in the Data Editor and get summary descriptive statistics (for example, mean, median, frequency counts). Appropriate statistics are automatically determined based on measurement level. See the topic Obtaining Descriptive Statistics for Selected Variables for more information.

Read Cognos Business Intelligence data. If you have access to an IBM® Cognos® Business Intelligence server, you can read data packages and list reports into IBM® SPSS® Statistics. See the topic Reading Cognos data for more information.

Merge data files without pre-sorting. Merge data files by values of key variables without pre-sorting the files based on key values. You can also merge data files based on string keys of different defined lengths in each file and merge a case data file with multiple table-lookup files with different keys in each table-lookup file. See the topic STAR JOIN for more information.

Compare datasets. Compare the data values and metadata attributes (dictionary information) of two datasets. See the topic Comparing datasets for more information.

Password protect and encrypt data and output files. See the topic Encrypting data files and output documents for more information.

Pivot table editing enhancements. After creating pivot tables, you can now:

• Toggle the display of names, values, and labels. See the topic Controlling display of variable and value labels for more information.

• Sort table rows. See the topic Sorting rows for more information.

• Insert rows and columns. See the topic Inserting rows and columns for more information.

• Change the output language. See the topic Changing the output language for more information.

Export output in Excel 2007 and higher format. See the topic Export output for more information.

Preserve table styles when exporting output to HTML. All pivot table style information (for example, font styles, background colors) and column widths can now be preserved. See the topic HTML options for more information.

Unicode default. SPSS Statistics now runs in Unicode mode by default instead of code page mode. See the topic Unicode mode for more information.


Moodle 2 Upgrade on Thursday August 8, 2013

ITS will upgrade to Moodle 2 on Thursday August 8, 2013.  Moodle will be unavailable from 11AM to 8PM.  All your existing courses and enrollments will remain in Moodle after the upgrade.

In addition to design improvements, Moodle 2 has useful new features, such as:

  • Drag and drop file uploads
  • Easy downloads of all student assignment submissions
  • Conditional access: automatically make items visible after a specified date
  • More display options, including collapsable topics or week sections

To help you with the transition to Moodle 2, we will offer several workshops in the coming weeks.  If you can’t make any of the scheduled workshops or would like to arrange a special training for your department, please contact Andrew Ruether (aruethe2, x8254).

New features in Moodle 2 (for Moodlers familiar with the previous version)

  • Wednesday August 28, 2013 from 10AM to 11AM in Trotter 201
  • Thursday August 29, 2013 from 1:30PM to 2:30PM in the LRC (Kohlberg 326)
  • Tuesday September 3, 2013 from 1:30PM to 2:30PM in Trotter 201
  • Wednesday September 4, 2013 from 1:30PM to 2:30PM in Trotter 201

Introduction to Moodle 2 (for new Moodlers)

  • Tuesday August 27, 2013 from 1:30PM to 2:30PM in the LRC (Kohlberg 326)
  •  Wednesday September 4, 2013 from 10AM to 11AM in Trotter 201 a great new technical training resource

ldc_banner_160x600_fear-no-softwareStarting immediately, I.T.S. is providing all students, faculty, and staff with access to, an online subscription library that teaches the latest software skills through high-quality instructional videos. maintains a very large and up-to-date library of courses taught by prominent technologists and designers. New titles are added every week.

To try out the videos, visit or find the link under the “More” menu on the Dash toolbar. Lynda is tied into our single sign-on system, so you can log in with your College username and password. You can watch the videos 24/7, from anywhere that you have network access. You may also download a free app to your mobile device from the Apple or Android app store if you’d like to view courses on the go. (If you use the mobile app, just be sure to log in using the “Web Portal Access” option.)

Courses are broken up into bite-size chunks of a few minutes each. You can use Lynda whether you have five minutes or five hours. If you are trying to complete an entire course or playlist of courses, it automatically keeps track of your progress. But you will also find useful as a just-in-time knowledge base. If you’re stuck trying to figure out a feature in an application, search for it on Lynda. You may just get the answer you need to get back up and running quickly.

There are Lynda videos for every skill level. For beginners with an application, here are just a few of the relevant “Up and Running” and “Essentials” titles in the collection:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects)
  • MacOS 10.8 and Windows 8.1
  • Microsoft Office
  • SPSS
  • WordPress
  • Moodle
  • iBooks Author
  • GarageBand
  • Python
  • Sibelius
  • SolidWorks
  • R

Moodle 2 Upgrade This Summer

ITS will be upgrading our Moodle site to Moodle 2 this summer.  There are many improvements in Moodle 2 that make creating and updating a course easier.  Among the updates are the following:

  • Drag and drop file uploads
  • Conditional access: automatically make resources and activities visible after a specified date or to specified users.
  • Quick edit of resource and activity titles from the front page
  • More display options, including collapsable topics or week sections
  • Design and layout improvements

We will continue to keep past courses in Moodle so that you will be able to access materials from previous years after the upgrade.  We will distribute a guide to the new version of Moodle in July and hold training courses in August.

The upgrade is scheduled for July 14, 2013. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with Andrew Ruether in ITS (aruethe2, x8254)

Libraries and ITS announce recipients of 2013 Summer Education eProject Development (SEED) support

ITS and the libraries are pleased to announce the 2013 SEED projects. As they did in our inaugural year of 2012, Swarthmore faculty and staff submitted an exciting and innovate pool of proposals. Here are this year’s recipients of SEED support:

Collaborative web repository for video clip collections
Erik Cheever, Ben Berger, and Sunka Simon

Creating accessible course materials for students with disabilities and learning differences
Leslie Hempling

E-Latin Texts
William Turpin

Human rights and atrocities library guide
Krista Thomason

Online chemistry readiness exam for first year students
Kathleen Howard with General Chemistry Instructional Staff and Josh Newby

Reading Involves Shared Experience (RISE): eBooks and literacy for the Deaf child
Donna Jo Napoli

Web based access, entry, and analysis of long-term ecological datasets from the Crum Woods
Jose-Luis Machado

Zadachi (tasks): a supplemental video course for elementary Russian
Brian Johnson

Congratulations to our proposers. Our staff and student interns are excited to get another summer of productive collaboration underway.

About SEED
The SEED process facilitates the creation of new digital objects or resources that enhance teaching or facilitate undergraduate research.  SEED projects will receive dedicated support from teams of software developers, librarians, academic technologists, and student interns for an eight-week period of project development in June and July 2013.

SEED projects have:
• a clear focus on enhancing undergraduate learning.
• a scope that can be completed within eight weeks.
• a plan to be put into use in the 2013-14 academic year.