Goodbye Campus Network Storage?

With a one-two-three the need for network storage may have just become a thing of the past.

  • Dropbox, the market mindshare leader, released and announced a series of updates.
  • Microsoft sneakily beat Google to the punch by announcing an update to their Skydrive.
  • And lastly, Google finally announced their fabled G: Drive.

Here is the quick

  • Dropbox now makes it easier than ever to use their website and to share files with anyone. Their free limit is still 2 GB though .edu email addresses provide 500 MB of free storage for each referral.
  • Microsoft’s Skydrive provides 7 GB of storage space and is incorporated into Office which means it’s easier than ever to have access to your documents. But take note, their Skydrive app is only available on OS X 10.7.
  • Google Drive provides 5 GB of storage space for free and syncs with a Google Account. A quick thought, .edu’s using Google Apps, this is for you.

The Questions

How much network storage is needed on-campus, especially at small colleges/universities, when products that provide more and more storage for free?

Of course, this approach puts data off-site but isn’t most of it already not on a campus network drive when it comes to students and faculty?

Students have trouble when a machine dies because their work is on their personal computer and faculty often has trouble when a laptop, that has been provided to them by the school, dies. Faculty using desktops in their office often don’t use the network drive and lose their data because it’s not on the network.

Would it be easier for support staff on the client side and the network side to say, “Install this and save all your documents in X folder. If anything goes wrong with the computer or if you work on another computer, tablet, or smartphone you will have access to the most recent version of your files.”

Schools cannot compete with the development cycle of large companies like Dropbox, Microsoft, and Google and yet the people they need to support are using tools built by these companies more and more.

Bandwidth? It is mostly eaten up by video not documents so there should be little issue there.

Your Take

  • Has your school moved to an off-site solution for document storage for a small/medium/large school?
  • Which service(s) were considered?
  • What reasons would keep your institution from moving to this type of model?

Historical Map Images on the Web and in Google Earth

Have you ever had a faculty member or a student ask you how they could see what something looked like in the past in a certain part of the world?

There are many resources on the web to see how things use to be. Some are limited, some are expansive. Here are a few that I’ve found and used in the classroom.

One that stands out to me is Google Earth’s historical map data.

Embedded in the Google Earth app is global imagery and even contains balloon images taken by the Joe on the street. There is information on how you can make your own balloon with little expense to you or your institution. Source:

Here is a brief Google Early how-to video to view historical maps.

Other resources

What map sites or resources do you use in the classroom or recommend to students and faculty?

Yawn. It’s 4/20.

It’s the big day when 4/20 makes it’s way into the main stream media and college students are presented as pot smoking hippies.


The ultimate 420 moment just passed by and I can say that I did not see any large groups outside or anyone flocking to be outside at 4:20 on 4/20.

Even in the social media circles, 4/20 is a ‘meh’ item that only a few people mention in passing.

This is one of those times where the press makes the news. Students are not always looking to get wasted.

Put a lid on the advertising posts and just enjoy the day.

Knowing Vs. Perceiving the Needs of Students

I’d like to open up the topic of knowing versus perceiving.

What would you say if I were I to ask you:

Do students use a laptop, tablet, or smartphone more?

It’s a bit of a tricky question because there is no context, though there are many in decision making positions at edu’s that have to rely on personal awareness, experience, observation, anticipated needs, and any number of other concerns before deciding to embark on a change of the infrastructure.

For the past 4 years a technology survey has been conducted here at SLC and we’ve learned some surprising things.

  • Wireless was not only a technology of interest, it was imperative that it be in place everywhere.
  • Students like ebooks but aren’t interested in ereaders/tablets.
  • The scale of tech needed is not as dynammic or vast as a techy deciding what to purchase might think it to be.
  • Students are thrilled by Google Apps as their email and they use it as a backup for their work.
  • We now have a very accurate number of computers and other handheld tech that is brought to campus by students.

While we could have taken feedback from a number of students regarding wireless and extrapolated the needs, having the data provided decision makers on the tech and financial front what should take priority.

Other pieces of information were less obvious, especially the ebook interest, until it was discussed with students. Students need access to multiple books/documents in a classroom and ereaders limit their ability to flip to and from the key sections of text that they need when they need it in class. Books are still very popular because of this.

I wonder…

  • What mechanisms are you using to gauge technical desire and/or needs?
  • How involved are students, faculty and staff in new technology decisions?
  • What mistakes were made because there was no data or interest in a technology acquisition?

I welcome any thoughts on the idea of knowing vs. perceiving the needs of students at an edu.

iTunes U Collections – File Storage

If your school has been considering iTunes U with the idea of posting Collections of content, press the pause button for a moment and read this discussion from the Apple Forums. I found Tim’s message because Sarah Lawrence was recently accepted into iTunes U and after gathering some content, videos and PDFs, we quickly ran into a roadblock: How is content uploaded to iTunes U and how are Collections created?

My search led me to find that we were not alone.

Just been given the OK from Apple to build our iTunes U site and am confused since it looks like we need to have our own RSS feed to be able to start a new collection on iTunes U. I don’t understand why, I mean the content will be on Apple’s servers so why can’t we just upload it directly? I can upload Course material directly but not material for a collection.

What have other people done here for their institutions?


Tim’s post was a few weeks old so I didn’t know if he’d see my reply…

I’m experiencing the same troubles/confusion, Tim.

If you have learned of a solution I/we would be interested in what you found.

Thanks for posting your question.


He replied a few days later… (emphasis added)

Found out the hard way: you have to have your own content servers to stream the multimedia and host the RSS. Apple just collect the metadata via iTunesU.

I guess it makes sense, since if all the universities upload all our digital content to Apple’s servers, they would receive an aweful lot of traffic.

For future reference, it would be better if their documentation was a little clearer about the subject.



The take away from this experience can help you if you are considering iTunes U for your College/University. You will need a server to host the content you want viewed within iTunes U.

Learn from Tim and us. It’s not as easy as Apple makes it out to be regarding Collections.

Have you considered bringing iTunes U to campus? Does this have you reconsidering your next steps?

YouTube Partnerships for Everyone Inside and Outside the Classroom!

In the classroom students are taught a number of things. One of those things is to think on their own. Another is to create content. Often times it is for a class assignment. Often those projects inspire future ideas. It’s exactly what the education setting should be doing.

What happens when students gets inspired, talks to a friend who then talks to another friend which leads them to an ongoing YouTube series? My reaction is to call it like I see it, success! Students taking what they’re learning, collaborating, using a variety of technologies for a creative project is going to help them in the short and long term. I tip my hat to all of these intrepid creatives.

Looking around us it’s obvious that this has been happening around the world for years but YouTube just did something that will change the landscape for ever – everyone can make money on videos they upload. That’s right – everyone.

Hers is the official announcement  –

What does this mean for schools?

Well, at first glance it shouldn’t mean much but if we look a little deeper we might find some gaps in the classroom and in the student handbook.

In the classroom

Students are taught how to work in the known business world and a few schools see an opportunity to teach social media in Communication schools but what seems to be missing is the recognition that these pieces are not one thing or another. Social media is a business just like in-person networking events and office environments.

How many faculty have been successful with the use of these tools?

Dare I step back another step to ask, how many faculty are even using these tools?

This push by YouTube is going to have a mega-impact on entertainment, education and any other form of visual experience. Who is going to teach this to the next generation of students?

In the handbook

At Sarah Lawrence College the 2011-2012 Student Handbook states the following about “Computer and Network Acceptable Use.”

Acceptable Behavior

… In general, any uses of Sarah Lawrence College’s computer facilities that infringe on another individual’s right to privacy, adversely affect the user community, or are not allowed under the terms of our software licenses are prohibited.

  • commercial activities, such as development of software for sale, work undertaken to support any company, or other contracted work

Note: I’m not a lawyer, my interpretation of the policy topic is meant to be an exercise only. All of these bullets consider  that monetization enabled.

  • If a student creates a video for someone who will then post the content to YouTube
  • A student creates a video in their room and posts it to YouTube
  • A class project is purchased by Funny or Die and is sent via the campus network

Is the student breaking the school policy and even if they are, who is going to enforce it and how could it be enforced?

In the past commercial activities were relatively easy to separate from a ‘regular’ daily life. Over the past 8 years that has changed significantly. Yesterday, YouTube shattered the glass ceiling.

The question “How can I make money on YouTube?” is answered with 3 words, upload a video.

My questions for you, dear reader…

  • What are other schools doing to address the social media issue and how it has become a new financial model for, quite literally anyone?
  • Are faculty required to use at least one social media site?
  • Are schools willing to have the discussion of the social media landscape in the classroom?
  • Is your school so strict that it’s trying to force these tools into only one school of thought vs. many or all?

Please ask your questions below and rip apart my policy game exploration. I may have zero ground to stand on, then again it might be time for schools to reconsider their network policies.

The Facebook of 2012 Goes Back to its 2004 Roots

Yesterday the Facebook of old reared its head! No you don’t have to request a Facebook page for your school. Soon, schools will soon have their own private Idaho within something called “Groups for Schools.”

Here’s what Facebook has to say about:

See what’s happening around campus!

  • Find groups for your classes, clubs, and more
  • Post files like lecture notes or assignments
  • Easily message other students and teachers

Of course, it’s an obvious step for the massive social site. It’s actually a surprise that it didn’t happen sooner. Oh, say, when groups were pushed out to their user base as the perfect place to talk with friends and, groups.

Why are they going back to their roots?

I suspect they know what everyone else knows: Facebook has gotten to be too big at nearly 1 billion users. Yes, with a B.

It’s incredibly difficult to have a conversation with a stadium of people. Have you noticed?  There’s so much noise and the filters don’t do enough to make it easy for the everyday Facebook user.

The solution I hear (and have heard from students and non-students) is to remove friends who aren’t impacting their News Feed. That approach makes sense to me. Or will something like this back to the roots of Facebook idea have an impact?

Who is out of luck?

All students who graduate and lose their .edu address will have to say good-bye to their school group. If you’re a student, now is the time to push for an alum email address via Google Apps or Microsoft Live@edu.

When will it be available?

Great question. Facebook said that they will communicate the news when their school group is available. I you want to be sure you are in the know, go to the Groups for Schools page, search for your school, then add your email address to be notified.