Livescribe Spartpen

The Livescribe smartpen records what the user hears and writes. It functions as a normal pen with additional digital capabilities. Written notes are easily transferred onto the computer, and audio lecture can be played back word for word. Livescribe creates a “pencast” playback, allowing the user to hear, see, and experience notes as they were originally captured.


For students, this unique combination of visual notes and audio recording can help them retain and understand course material. Rather than scrambling to write down every word, students can focus on being engaged with class material and present during lecture. The Livescribe pen also has potential for instructors, allowing them to create pencasts as they draw and narrate difficult diagrams or demonstrations to be shared with the class.


To learn more about tools available to benefit the Notre Dame academic community, visit our page What Technology is Available to Me?

One Button Studio Proof-of-Concept

We’re happy to report good progress on our One Button Studio project.  One Button Studio is project that originated at Penn State, and we’re preparing to install a prototype studio here at Notre Dame, in cooperation with the Hesburgh Libraries.

One Button Studios are intended to be a self-service video recording studio where faculty and students can create content quickly.  Faculty can create short videos for their courses, and students can practice presentations, just to mention a couple common examples.

Imagine a student walks into the studio, inserts a flash drive into the OBS computer, and the software begins a countdown on the computer screen.  The student walks to the designated mark in front of the camera and begins presenting when the countdown reaches zero.  When the student is done, he or she walks over to the computer, presses a big button, and waits a few seconds for the video to be transferred to the flash drive.  At that point the student takes the flash drive and leaves the studio.  Easy.

Below are a few pictures from the other day when we moved the OBS equipment into DeBartolo Hall B011 and created a working proof-of-concept.  Kudos to Charles Barbour for driving this project forward.

camera_light comp_and_camera screen

O’SNAP on the ND Mobile App


As a college student, studies and meetings can require late night treks across campus. It is comforting to know that I can call O’SNAP when I do not want to walk alone at night. O’SNAP is Notre Dame’s Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol Initiative, run by members of Notre Dame Security Police. It is the newest extension of the campus SafeWalk program, which provides escorts for students who are walking through campus after dark. O’SNAP uses electric carts that help to make the program more efficient and easily accessible. Students are able to call and receive escorts to their destinations free of charge.

OIT is working to release a module for the ND mobile app to make it even easier to request a ride from O’SNAP. The user will input their name, where they are looking to go, how many people there are, and their location. An O’SNAP vehicle will be dispatched to the location, and a specific pick up point will be established through the module. The O’SNAP program has been increasingly successful at Notre Dame, and the addition of the module will help to increase the ease of use on campus. The module is expected to be released on the ND mobile app in the coming weeks.

Google Glass Gives Fans a Front Row Seat

“We want to bring fans a perspective they have never had before,” Aaron Horvath says, “giving them a brand new, more exciting game day experience.” Horvath is part of the team at Notre Dame Athletics that is partnering with OIT to bring Google Glass technology to campus. The softball, football, and cheerleading programs have been exploring how Glass can change the athletic experience at Notre Dame.


Footage of Notre Dame Softball Captured with Google Glass


The women’s softball program is one of the pioneer teams in exploring the opportunities of Glass on the field. The team has used Glass on the batter to get firsthand footage of fastballs and home run swings. The technology is also being used in football. It has been put on the leprechaun at home games, bringing fans right to the center of the action. Fans are immersed into a sideline view of the field, as Glass captures exciting game day moments up close.


Video Captured With Google Glass During the Football Victory Over Stanford


The major advantage of using Glass is that it can capture footage in places that a traditional camera cannot. Notre Dame has used the unique footage recorded by athletes and the leprechaun in promotional material and YouTube content. It has been successful thus far, as both fans and student athletes are excited about using high tech eyewear on the field. It also appeals to prospective athletes, demonstrating Notre Dame’s desire to stay at the forefront of integrating the latest technology into athletics.

The potential of Glass raises interesting questions in the Notre Dame community.  Where does Glass provide an advantage over traditional cameras? How can we use it to better tell our story? Horvath and his team are also looking into the future potential of Glass for coaches and recruiters, allowing them to see where players are looking, and give a different view of technique. The full potential of Glass will continue to be explored. In the mean time, fans can sit back, relax, and enjoy their front row seat.

Paperless Grading in Sakai

The Drop Box tool in Sakai allows instructors to connect with students’ homework using the iAnnotate PDF app on a tablet. Instructors can mark feedback and corrections directly on the document. By utilizing this tool, assignments can be graded and returned digitally.


How Does it Work?

  • To use the system, the professor needs to have an iPad or Android tablet available.
  • Students need to submit work through the Drop Box portion of Sakai.
  • The WebDAV protocol is used to connect the file with the iAnnotate PDF app.
  • On the iPad, WebDAV URL and authentication can be entered directly in the app. For Android, a WebDAV app must be downloaded.
  • Once the assignment is loaded in iAnnotate PDF, it can be directly marked, highlighted, commented on, and saved.


What are the Benefits?

  • Paperless grading is more cost effective, uses less resources, and requires less paper storage than traditional grading.
  • Students receive feedback more quickly than waiting for a paper copy to be returned in class.
  • Class presentations can be graded as they happen by marking a blank rubric and saving it directly to the student folder in Drop Box.
  • By more efficiently grading papers, the instructor has more time to work with students or focus on research.


iAnnotate is used by a large number of higher education institutions around the world. However, this application of the app in conjunction with Sakai has not been seen beyond Notre Dame. The method is currently available to Notre Dame faculty. If you are interested in learning more about paperless grading, contact Kevin Abbott at 574-631-8707 ( or Chris Clark at 574-631-7434 ( to set up a meeting.


For more about Dropbox, visit:

To learn more about Sakai, visit:

Piazza Has the Answer

Students often have similar questions about course material making it is inefficient for instructors to respond to multiple emails, especially in large lecture classes. Piazza provides a solution using an answering board system to minimize repeat inquiries.


Piazza is an online platform that allows professors and students to efficiently collaborate in a single space. To use the system, students post questions on the Piazza site. Instructors, TA’s, and other students can respond, providing feedback much more quickly than professors could on their own. Answers serve as a collaborative space, as students can continually contribute to and develop an answer. Posts needing immediate attention are highlighted, so the professor can get to them quickly, and updates are shown in real time. Pizza also benefits the instructors, allowing them to see when in the term the most questions are being asked, and how student discussion aligns with class lecture.
The Piazza system is easy to set up and free for instructors. It has been used at Notre Dame since 2011, and is very successful.  As of fall 2014, there were about 64 Notre Dame classes using Piazza, and this number is expected to grow.  If you are interested in learning more about Piazza, contact Kevin Abbott ( at 631-8707.

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.