Skype Kit Will Soon be Available for Checkout in Debartolo 115

Skype was first released in 2003. It allows users to communicate by voice through a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet. Skype has a wide array of uses, and has proved valuable in the higher education classroom.

Over the past few years, Notre Dame has seen an increase in the educational use of Skype. Professors have used it for teaching remotely while attending a conference, recovering from an illness, stranded by weather, or participating in research abroad such as at the CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics. It has also been used to connect guest experts with the class. Recently, Skype was used for a call with a topic expert at the U.S. State Department. Students can actively participate, as the speaker is able to pick up questions from about twenty feet away.

Skype has allowed faculty and students to communicate and connect in ways that would have been impossible or very costly prior to 2003. To continue to encourage this communication and connection between faculty, students, and outside experts, the University has created two Skype kits. Each kit contains all that is needed to hold a Skype video conference: a laptop, speakerphone, and web camera. Currently, these units are being tested with faculty. By the spring 2015 semester, there will be two of these kits available for checkout from 115 DeBartolo Classroom Building.

If you are looking for a way to remotely connect with your class while you are conducting research abroad, or if you like the idea of bringing an expert into your class remotely, please contact us in Academic Technologies for assistance in using the Skype kits.

Digital Week Wrap Up

Notre Dame Digital Week wrapped up on Thursday, October 9th. The week was an opportunity to explore emerging technology, and engage in lecture and discussion around the ever changing digital world, and the role of technology in education. In case you missed any of the week’s exciting events, here is a brief recap:

  • The week kicked off on October 3rd, with a lecture by Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, an online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT. Agarwal’s talk explored the place of digital learning in reinventing education.


Anant Agarwal’s lecture during Digital Week. A participant was able to watch the presentation remotely using the Beam device!

Anant Agarwal’s lecture during Digital Week. A participant was able to watch the presentation remotely using the Beam device!


  • Other lectures and discussion took place throughout the week, alongside weeklong events, such as a Digital Scavenger Hunt and 3D printing contest.
  • There was an opportunity to explore the Beam robots and Lightboard technology.


Tweet from @ND Digital Week showing the light board and Beam devices in action.

Tweet from @ND Digital Week showing the light board and Beam devices in action.


  • The Students as Developers event was geared towards parents, showcasing the growing interest among Notre Dame students in developing software.
  • There were demonstrations of Notre Dame’s Digital Visualization Theater, which allows viewers to be emerged in high-resolution images projected on a 50 foot diameter dome in Jordan Hall.
  • Professor Elliott Visconsi discussed “Online Learning and the Future of Higher Education”.


 Professor Elliott Visconsi using the Beam during ND Digital Week

Professor Elliott Visconsi using the Beam during ND Digital Week

  • A workshop using Pixon helped participants learn to create their own digital comics.
  • The final event of the week was a roundtable discussion on Going Digital to Improve the World. Participants explored how academics are utilizing digital technology in education to improve our world.


We hope that you enjoyed Digital Week, and that you continue with us in exploring emerging technologies and their place at Notre Dame.

Mobile Lecture Capture Cart

About a year ago, we featured a story on our blog about our efforts to evaluate two competing lecture capture systems.  As a result of this evaluation, the Echo360 lecture capture system was selected and deployed to a few classrooms on campus. The Office of Information Technologies has recorded lectures for many years, but the number of lecture requests has been growing rapidly. This requires additional manpower, time, and resources, as videographers move around campus and record in different locations. Recording a one hour class requires the time needed for scheduling, staffing, going to and from class with equipment, set up, filming, and editing. This can become quite a time consuming process!


Our colleagues wondered whether a standard Echo360 capture device could be used to create a mobile lecture capture cart to simplify and automate part of the recording process. Academic Technologies explored this and created a prototype cart. It is rolled into the classroom, turned on, and the microphones and cameras on the cart record the contents of the lecture. With the cart, there is a minimal setup and a videographer does not need to remain in the classroom for the duration of the class. The content is uploaded to the server automatically and is ready to be viewed by the class within a few hours.


The prototype cart was created at the beginning of the semester to pilot the new technology. The Echo360 system also provides detailed analytics which allows faculty to see who watches the content, and what parts are watched multiple times. Professors can use this data to determine what content may need to be focused on in later lectures. The cart has been successful, and is currently being utilized by a graduate level theology class that has 30-35 students viewing remotely. With the success of the prototype cart, new equipment has been ordered and a production ready cart should be available soon. This new cart will allow filming to take place in more locations, expanding the Mobile Lecture Capture program on campus.

Navigating Campus with Leap Motion

Leap Motion controller device is being used for virtual tours of Notre Dame.

Leap Motion controller device is being used for virtual tours of Notre Dame.

On my first class day of freshman year, I eagerly grabbed my backpack and headed to DeBartolo Hall. Looking at my campus map, I navigated my way to the DeBartolo building I had circled in red, but the walk started to feel a lot longer than it had when practiced my schedule a few days prior! The building was beautiful on the inside, but why did it look so different than I remembered? Confused, I swallowed my pride and asked for help. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I was at the wrong DeBartolo. With both a DeBartolo Hall and a Debartolo Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame’s campus seemed impossible to figure out!

Having spent a few years here, it’s easy to forget how confusing campus once seemed. Luckily, the Academic Technologies department hasn’t forgotten. At Freshman Orientation this year, they debuted a virtual tour, allowing users to navigate their way across campus simply by using their hands and the Leap Motion device.



Waleed Johnson developed this virtual tour by linking the Leap Motion device with Google Maps and Leap Motion is able to track the natural movement of the hand, providing 8 cubic feet of three dimensional, interactive space. Take a look at the technology in action:



As Waleed demonstrates, there are two options for navigation. The street view map combines Leap Motion technology with Google Maps street view. This allows users to look at a three dimensional version of campus, navigating as if they are actually walking across the quad. The second is a satellite view, linking Leap Motion to While not as realistic, this option has labels for campus buildings. When the user hovers over a label, information about that building opens up. The virtual tour provides visitors and new students with an interactive experience in learning their way around Notre Dame’s campus.


Hackathon 2014

This weekend, stop by Innovation Park on Angela Blvd for the Notre Dame AT&T Hackathon. This free event will be running from Friday, September 26th at 6:00 PM to Sunday, September 28th at 12:00 PM.


The Hackathon will assist attendees in deploying their own apps through presentations, code samples, and technical tips. Food will be served, and cash prizes will be awarded for the best Hackathon App, and the best use of an AT&T API.
This event is a great opportunity to network and fine tune your development skills. All are welcome to attend. For more information, or to register for the event, click here.


Go to the Board, Wirelessly

Apple TVs in Jordan Hall 105

Apple TVs in Jordan Hall 105

We all remember the feeling: hiding in the back of the classroom hoping the teacher will not call on you to write your solution on the chalkboard. I know that for me, it was scary to display my work for everyone to see. However, it caused me to be more engaged in class, taking care to ensure I was working through problems correctly. While some may consider chalkboards to be a thing of the past, promoting student engagement during lectures is not. Classrooms in Notre Dame are exploring new applications of the Apple TV for this purpose.


When Apple TV was first being tested in Notre Dame classrooms, a separate wireless network had to be installed for students and faculty to connect to the device. This was limiting, as too many wireless networks interfere with the existing Notre Dame networks, and provide additional hassle for students. To resolve this issue the Apple TV has new wireless connectivity capability. Students with an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4s and later can connect through bluetooth discovery. The device can find the Apple TV if it is in the proper range without extra hardware or installation. In this way the Apple TV becomes a portable wireless projection system for iOS.


The improved wireless capability is expanding the use of the Apple TV on campus. Professor David Hyde’s genetics class in Jordan Hall 105 uses three screens with Apple TVs. This is the first time that multiple devices are being utilized in the same classroom at Notre Dame. The class has about 90 students, each with an iPad they owned previously or leased from OIT. Professor Hyde can display his teaching material on the center screen, and utilize the two others for displaying class solutions to problem sets. The screen will mirror what the student worked through on their personal device. This technology increases student overall engagement because it is new, interesting, and interactive. Like the traditional chalkboard, the potential of having their work displayed on screen creates a sense of accountability and engagement among the class.


After seeing Professor Hyde’s use of the Apple TV, there was a request for the same set up in 101 Jordan Hall. This classroom also utilizes three Apple TVs. However, this room was already set up with its own wireless network, and thus connects under the old method. This allows for comparison of the two methods to determine which will be most beneficial to utilize in the expansion of the Apple TV program on campus. As professors continue to explore new ways to engage students, the Apple TV can provide an effective solution. In the future, there is the opportunity to create a system where a teacher could check out an Apple TV for use as needed.


ND Campus Mobile App YouTube Video

The OIT’s Academic Media Services group is proud to announce that our very own Ray Herrly’s commercial for the ND Mobile app was added to the ND YouTube channel.

This is another example of the high quality work produced by the excellent & talented students we have working for Academic Digital Media/Academic Technologies!

It’s amazing how fast Ray got to class (and in/out of S Dining)!


Student Innovation Lab in LaFortune

Those of you who have ventured into the basement of LaFortune over the past several weeks have probably noticed the construction project for the new First Source Bank branch there. You may also have noticed the use of a small student lounge area as space for material storage and carpentry work. Come August with Back-to-School, that lounge area will revert to a different function, serving as the home base for the student Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab is a student collaborative project for the development of mobile applications. The student group has participated in the “hack-a-thon” done last year in conjunction with the OIT Mobile Summit, and is leading the charge for a September “hack-a-thon” this year. While the lab space is very much under construction today, by the time the students return it will be back in shape, and contains: • Four networked Mac computers for development • A wireless access point to ensure that all participants in the development session have connectivity We’ll be adding: • A “lightboard” style white board – the first project the student team will be undertaking when they return. • Investigating if Apple TV or other networking can be used to allow the flat screen TV in the lounge to serve as a shared demonstration monitor The student’s plan is to be able to introduce our new freshmen, and returning upperclassmen, to the opportunity of participating in both a fall “hack-a-thon” and the regular development sessions in the innovation lab. As the student group moves ahead with developing applications, there may be a call for OIT subject matter experts to give them short (15-minute) overviews of their area of expertise and to field questions from the group. If working directly with a group of motivated and very bright students appeals to you, please let me know and we’ll look for opportunities!

How Technology Molds Our Learning Ability

by Jeffrey J. Hanrahan, Academic Technologies

Around 1875 the telephone became a commercial product allowing people to communicate using audio.  This was used for personal and business use.  It allowed people to stay in contact with each other over short and long distances as person-to-person.  It was not much of a learning tool.

In 1920, comercial Radio broadcasting, evolved.  This was one-way broadcasting of audio from one-source to many listeners.  Although it provided personal entertainment, the underlying principle was for marketing of business products.  It also introduced some side effects.  It made you use your mind to create detailed images of what was transacting on the radio.  It provided steady “noise” in the background and generated the perceived sense that you were in a group with others around you.  You could go about doing things while you listened to the radio.  Portable radios allowed people to listen to broadcasts and music while they were outside or traveling.  People would also turn on a late night talk program to lull themselves to sleep at night as the radio tubes glowed in the dark.  There was little or no educational value.

Shortly afterwards in 1928 came commercial television.  This was one-way broadcasting of video from one-source to many viewers.  It also had side effects.  You didn’t have to use you mind to imagine events that were transpiring.  With the addition of “Laff Box” systems (canned-laugher) you are told when things are supposedly funny.  It is provided to you in a video.  It didn’t require you to think, you just needed to watch.  It made the population less intelligent and molded their attention span.  It also tied you to the television screen and people were’t able to go about doing other things for the fear of “missing something”.  Television programs were designed to tell stories for 30 or 60 minutes and it seems that these shows set our attention span to the time it takes for a scene to change, around 3 minutes.  Music videos became annoying as the camera shots would change every few seconds like clockwork.  So much visual stimulation was added that you would have to say to yourself “Is there anything else on TV?”.  There would be news programs 30 minutes long, broadcasted 3 times and then on some other channel you may see a “60 Seconds Around the World” film clip that contains more information than the 30 minute newscast.  The news programs often read E-Mails and show YouTube videos for their content.  If they continue to do that, why do we even need news programs anymore?

There were people who didn’t like the mindless television shows being produced so television also became a limited tool for teaching with the creation of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) channel.  Television also became a baby sitter for children, and still allowed people to be lulled to sleep at night.  It became a drug that our nation was addicted to.

By 1973, mobile phones evolved.  Still a one-way broadcasting of audio in a person-to-person environment.  The technology was still young and used primarily for business use.

In 1980 the Internet came into existence.  It provided a central perceived place where “things” can reside and be accessed globally at any time of the day or night, including holidays.  It is one of the few things that was initially designed for educational use.  As marketing and business usage was added, the Internet grew in size and offerings as well as the devices that were able to access it.

Then in 2007, the iPhone came into existence and changed nearly everything.  A telephone with audio, video and E-Mail came into existence that can access the Internet.  There is an app (software application) for just about anything.  You don’t have to bother yourself with building anything, you don’t even need to know how to write cursively anymore.  You don’t even need to purchase various musical instruments, because there is an app for them.  There are even educational apps to help you learn.

The mobile phone evolved, iPads and Tablets came into existence and provided a means to view material from the Internet and video broadcasting services.  These became the Electronic Swiss Army Knife.  They are used as an electronic pacifier for children.  It makes television portable.  With the proper application, these devices can serve as the remote control for your television.  Instead of reading a book, there are videos on how to fix and do things.  This also brought on the need of where to save digital things that you want to keep.  The “Cloud” came into existence as the solution. The new electronic devices eliminate the need for physical social interaction.  It also eliminated the need for children to develop mechanical skills.  Why should they physically build a go-cart when there is an app that probably does it for them digitally?  People can stay at home and have the luxury of listening to network radio broadcasts, play streaming television, watch movies, play videos, listen to music, do electronic E-Mail, electronically shop in stores and handle banking transactions.  Just point and click.

Technology has molded us over time to prefer and accept a number of things; person-to-person contact, information presented in a short and concise timeframe, information that is to the point, video preferred over text, one place for all content, off-device information storage, immediate information access, tap and swipe rather than typing, greater availibility of consumable content, catering to short attention spans (you can fast forward the content).

Technology has also exposed us to some things that are not so good; everything on the Internet may not be true, advertisers are relentless to sell you things, mental activity is preferred over physical activity and that just one of “Who, What, Where, When and Why” is acceptable in a story.

Early technology has provided the parts for the evolution of where we are today and how we expect things to operate.  It has provided us with the Internet which is technology designed for education and sharing information despite becoming more of a marketing tool.  It has given us Cloud services, Learning Management Systems at colleges, On-Line Courses and specialized instructional courses.