Category Archives: Academic Computing

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.

Libraries and ITS solicit Summer Educational eProject Development (SEED) proposals.

Do you have educational content, activities, or projects that you want to put online, but don’t have the time or know-how?

The libraries and ITS invite all current employees (including faculty, instructional staff, and staff) to submit proposals for Summer Educational eProject Development (SEED) support. SEED projects will receive dedicated support from software developers, librarians, academic technologists, and student interns for an eight-week period of project development in June and July 2013. With your SEED project team’s help, you can create a new digital object or resource that enhances your teaching or facilitates undergraduate research.

Successful projects will 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.

Projects will be evaluated on the potential benefit to Swarthmore students and faculty, but also must align with ITS/Libraries capabilities. Preference is shown to projects that have a potential reach beyond Swarthmore.  Visit the SEED Project page to see examples of previous projects:

To be considered for SEED support this summer, please complete the application form by the end of the day on March 15. 2013: (You may have to sign in with your Swarthmore credentials to fill out the form.)

For more information, contact Eric Behrens, Associate Chief Information Technology Officer ( or Barb Weir, Associate College Librarian for Technical Services and Digital Initiatives (

New Version of SPSS

ITS has a newer edition of SPSS (version 19) available for download for faculty, staff, and students here:ITS Software

What’s new in version 19?

Linear models: Linear models predict a continuous target based on linear relationships between the target and one or more predictors. Linear models are relatively simple and give an easily interpreted mathematical formula for scoring. The properties of these models are well understood and can typically be built very quickly compared to other model types (such as neural networks or decision trees) on the same dataset. This feature is available in the Statistics Base add-on module. See the topic Linear models for more information.

Generalized linear mixed models: Generalized linear mixed models extend the linear model so that: the target is linearly related to the factors and covariates via a specified link function; the target can have a non-normal distribution; and the observations can be correlated. Generalized linear mixed models cover a wide variety of models, from simple linear regression to complex multilevel models for non-normal longitudinal data. This feature is available in the Advanced Statistics add-on module. See the topic GLM Multivariate Analysis for more information.

Lightweight tables: Lightweight tables can be rendered much faster than full-featured pivot tables. Although they lack the editing features of pivot tables, they can easily be converted to pivot tables with all editing features enabled.  See the topic Pivot table options for more information.

Scoring wizard: The new scoring wizard makes it easy to apply predictive models to score your data, and scoring no longer requires IBM® SPSS® Statistics Server. See the topic Scoring data with predictive models for more information.

Improved default measurement level: For data read from external sources and new variables created in a session, the method for determining default measurement level has been improved to evaluate more conditions than just the number of unique values. Since measurement level affects the results of many procedures, correct measurement level assignment is often important. See the topic Data Options for more information.

Syntax editor enhancements: You can now split the editor pane into two panes arranged with one above the other. You can indent or outdent blocks of syntax or automatically indent selections with a format similar to pasted syntax. A new toolbar button allows you to uncomment text that was previously commented out, and a new option setting allows you to paste syntax at the position of the cursor. You can now also navigate to the next or previous syntactical error (such as an unmatched quote), making it easier to locate these errors before running the syntax. See the topic Using the Syntax Editor for more information.

Compiled transformations: When you use compiled transformations, transformation commands (such as COMPUTE and RECODE) are compiled to machine code at run time to improve the performance of these transformations for datasets with a large number of cases. This feature requires SPSS Statistics Server.

Custom Tables: Custom Tables makes it easy to summarize IBM SPSS Statistics data in different styles for different audiences. It combines analytical capabilities to help you learn from your data with features that allow you to build tables people can easily read and interpret.

Haverford hosts “Tablets in Teaching Forum”

Our I.T. friends at Haverford College graciously welcomed all Swarthmore faculty and staff to attend their “Tablets in Teaching Forum.” A series of Haverford professors were joined by an Apple engineer to showcase a variety of classroom practices enabled by the use of tablets.

Paper-free Grading and Stylus-driven Electronic Blackboards: Transitioning to an Android Tablet
Casey Londergan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Haverford College

iPads, Panopto, and Styli – Better Living Through Cooperation
Mark Schofield, Visiting Associate Professor of Chemistry, Haverford College

iPads in the Classroom
Ken Koltun-Fromm, Professor of Religion, Haverford College

Transforming Education with the iPad
Mike Wolk, Systems Engineer, Apple