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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Web Conferencing Tips and Tricks

Using video web conferencing

The University of Minnesota is a beautiful, sprawling campus that can prove difficult to navigate when trying to attend meetings, especially during poor weather.
The U of MN offers two easy-to-use web video conferencing solutions available from the comfort of your desk or a conference room. Both WebEx and Google Hangouts can accommodate both quick, informal meetings or more involved, collaborative webinars.

What you’ll need:

For small group or one-on-one web meetings, a laptop’s microphone and speakers work well if in a quiet space. To have the best experience with web conferencing, purchase a USB headset with microphone. The headset makes it easier to hear people in the web conference more clearly, and participants at the other locations will be able to hear the user clearly through the headset microphone.

Logitech USB Headset H540
In regards to video, there are also several options depending on the size of the group. 

Laptop cameras are great for presenting to a single person or a small group sitting near the laptop. For a larger group of participants sitting at a conference table, consider one of these solutions:

Separate webcam and microphone -
logitec web cam.PNG
jabra mic.jpg
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
Jabra SPEAK410 USB conference mic

All in one webcam and conference microphone -

Logitech Conference Camera BCC950

Two options: WebEx and Google Hangout

Google Hangout

Google Hangouts is integrated into the University Gmail interface –  only a plugin is required to enable web conferencing.


WebEx uses an app that is downloaded and installed on the first run.webex shot.PNG

Scheduling a web conference:

Any UMN employee can schedule a Google Hangout in a Google calendar event – just click Add Video Call – and the calendar event will have a link to join the meeting.

hangout event.PNG

Participants invited receive a link to the Google Hangout in the email reminder.

Sample Google Hangout calendar invitation the guests receive:

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.21.27 PM.png


When scheduling a WebEx meeting simply invite the participants. Attendees will receive an email invitation. Login to WebEx at webex.umn.edu - under the Meeting Center->Host a Meeting menu you will see an option to schedule a new meeting.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.15.15 PM.png

All participants will receive an email invitation with a link to join the meeting. The WebEx meeting invitation also includes the Meeting number - a participant can join a meeting with just the meeting number.

Sample WebEx email invitation:
Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 4.11.17 PM.png

Spaces for web conferences

Anyone can participate in a web conference from any location with a high speed network connection – either wireless or Ethernet. LATIS Departmental Consultants can assist in directing people to the proper resources to properly equip a conference room.
Considerations for upgrading a conference room space for web conferencing:

  • Lighting: do windows have adjustable blinds?
  • Network: is adequate ethernet or wireless network available?
  • Sound: will speakers need to be mounted in the room?
  • Video display: is there a display that can be positioned for a group conference?

More information on using Google Hangouts or WebEx

Google Video Calls – Hangouts

Cisco WebEx Meeting Center

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Get to Know LATIS's David Olsen

Name: David Olsen Current Position: Research System Engineer, LATIS When did you start working at the U? July 2003 What is your favorite aspect of your job? There is, of course, the intellectual challenges that are brought out by being a (small) part of the breadth and depth of research activities at an RU-VH institution. However, it is the visceral thrill in finding novel methods to help answer those questions that drive me. Tell us about one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for your job at the U? There are so many cool projects from which to choose, but my favorite has been the work I have done on setting up the infrastructure, DAQ, and analytical components for the Eolos Wind Energy Research Consortium (http://eolos.umn.edu). Wind energy research not only provided me an environment in which to explore stream processing and PHM of complex mechanical systems, but it is also not everyone who has the opportunity to do system admininstration work 80 meters off the ground in the nacelle of a 2.5 MW utility-grade turbine. With respect to my appointment in CLA, I look forward to exploring how infrastructure engineering and data science can be applied to the scientific workflow in domains of inquiry outside the physical and natural sciences (including some old favorites like econ). A recent example has been work with Cheryl Olman on creating a demo for a data repo and interactive modeling environment for the vision research community. Playing with fMRI data is something entirely new to me! Is there a technology trend that you think people should embrace? What is it and how could it be used to make their work/personal lives easier? This will sound odd from an infrastructure guy. Whether hardware or software, I do not think there is a particular set of technologies people need to embrace.
I'm an evangelist for R, Python, Linux, d3.js, and parallel computing, but this is because these are the tools that work well for me. Instead, I would encourage people to reframe the question as one that asks how a particular technology embraces their research or work practices (it is rare there is equivalence between the two forms of the question). My recommendation to our clients would be to focus on methodology over technology. For example, R, SAS, Stata, etc. are extensively the same app with different syntax, and they are all powerful tools when it comes to extracting information. Yet, this information is meaningless without command of the underlying processes that drive the data. Generalized packages that can do everything for you seem great on the surface, but it is a far better practice to acquire a firm understanding of both theory and your question, then choose a technology for which you are familiar that leverages your knowledge. Go with what you know and partner with LATIS for the rest--my colleagues are incredibly good at what they do. What is your dream job: For a long time I would have said Chairman of the Fed(eral Reserve System). However, after spending the last thirteen years in the academe, I'm convinced that I am pretty close to my dream job. Sure, there are detractors about working at the University. However, my job transcends disciplinary boundaries, there is no shortage of talent at the University, we have the flexibility to explore ideas, we are generally treated like adults, and as non-faculty, we don't have the publish-or-perish problem. There aren't many places I can work where this would hold true. What was your worst or most unusual job? As I am hardly a people person, the worst job I’ve held is as a restaurant manager. The most unusual job I’ve held was the CFO for an outdoor music festival that took place outside of Phoenix (Queen Creek, AZ) and Chicago (Twin Lakes, WI). Where is your favorite place on campus? Good question! With such a beautiful campus, it is a shame that we all spend lots of time looking at brick (this is certainly not confined to LATIS and not a criticism, just an observation). In terms of outdoor spaces, I would say it is between Northrop Mall, the space between Nolte and Bell, Mississippi Flats, or SAFL (watching the river rush over the spillway during peak flow is quite mesmerizing and tranquil). In terms of indoor space, the second floor of Walter; albeit bustling with activity; seems conducive to work. I’m still on the lookout for something akin to workspace @ Microsoft Garage, but the environment in Anderson Hall 110 (which I have yet to take advantage of) seems like it is heading in the lounge aspect of that space. Motto or personal mantra: Follow your curiosity Favorite book/author and do you prefer paper or e-book: I can't say that I have a particular favorite as this is genre specific. However, after a conversation with a colleague on positive vs negative freedoms, for the moment I'm digging Hayek. I have a weak preference for e-books, though still enjoy thumbing through a real book. Favorite food and drink: So many good foods from which to choose, but my favorite plate has to be a well-prepared medium rare steak, dauphinoise potatoes, and asparagus. Of course, this needs to be mated with a lush, earthy Pinot Noir. {Insert Homer moment here. Mmm.} Favorite source of inspiration: Failure. It is something that is a love-hate relationship for me, but I stumble upon my most creative solutions while banging my head against the whiteboard in frustration. What do you do for fun? While a bit of a dilettante in practice, I aspire to be a polymath. My spectrum of interests runs from astronomy to zymology. Rather than focusing on a particular hobby, I tend to allow whatever passion I have in the moment dictate my activities outside of work. People may be surprised to know: Despite a propensity to focus on science, music would have to be my most stimulating interest. Becoming a composer would be among the top five alternatives if I were to revisit my career choices.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Get to Know LATIS'S Reed Munson

Name: Reed Munson

Current Position: Departmental Consultant with LATIS. My portfolio includes Johnston Hall Administration and departments in Nicholson Hall and Nolte Center.

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? La Crescent, MN - Apple Capital of the world (hometown), Minneapolis to attend the U

When did you start working at the U? October of 1996.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?  I really enjoy relationship management. In my role as departmental consultant, I have the opportunity to work closely with faculty and staff to discuss technology and innovation. Helping people find solutions and achieve remarkable goals is very exciting!

Have you had a mentor while at the U and what did you learn from them? Pete Oberg has been an important mentor to me. He is always cheerful, friendly, and upbeat. Pete has great enthusiasm for the mission of the University and his positive attitude is highly contagious!

What is your favorite accomplishment with CLA? I managed the CLA Service Desk from 2009 to 2013 with Taylor Olson. We had a great team of student technicians - many of whom have gone on to impressive careers! In 2014, I was nominated to (what was then) the CLA-OIT Wall of Fame.

Is there a technology trend that you think people should embrace? What is it and how could it be used to make their work/person lives easier? I’m excited about virtualized desktops - I’m hoping we can soon do all of our computing in a virtual cloud space. All of our tools and resources in one place and closest to the data source.

What is your favorite place on campus? I love browsing the stacks in Wison Library - better selection than any bookstore!

Favorite book/author and do you prefer paper or e-book? I’m an avid fan of English classics - 18th/19th century fiction - I prefer regular books.

Top highlights of your life? Getting married and the births of my four daughters.

People may be surprised to know: I won first place in individual solo competition for brass performance in Drum Corps International in 1990.

I’m happiest when: playing music.

Motto or personal mantra:

Go right on working

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Moodle Data and 3D Printing and Modeling Mini-Cohorts Registration Now Open for Fall 2015

A mini-cohort is an opportunity for faculty and graduate students in CLA to come together and collaboratively explore topics related to teaching, learning, and technology. The time commitment is short: two or three meetings, each during a lunch hour. No previous experience necessary. This is a great, low-pressure way to explore a new topic!

Making the Most of Your Moodle Data 
October 22 & 29 (Thursdays)
Noon - 1:00 pm, Anderson 110 - Lunch provided

Your Moodle course captures a lot more data about your students’ engagement than you might expect! Digging into your Moodle data is an easy way to learn how students engage with your course site, and can help you adapt your course and teaching approaches over time. Whether you are teaching an online/hybrid course or using a basic Moodle course site to complement your in-person course, you'll learn how to address some common questions you may face about student engagement in your courses.

3D Printing & Modeling
November 13, 20 & December 4 (Fridays)
Noon - 1:00 pm, Anderson 110 - Lunch provided

Come explore the world of 3D printing and modeling - what it is and what it is not. Join colleagues across the college to discuss the larger implications of this technology. Roll up your sleeves to try your hand at modeling and printing. When you're done, you'll walk away with your own 3D model and some concrete ideas of its potential for teaching and learning.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Get To Know LATIS'S Denne Wesolowski

Name: Denne Wesolowski

Current Position: Assistant Curator, Digital Content Library, LATIS

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I was born in Madison, WI, and did my undergraduate years there (Physics, Mathematics, and Astrophysics majors), moving to the Twin Cities for graduate school and then remaining here.

When did you start working at the U? As a staff member, in August 2004; as a graduate student in Physics, from September 1990 through June 1998.

What brought you to your current job? I was halfway through my second bout of graduate school, this time an M.S. in Library and Information Sciences, when an Assistant Curator position became available with the DCL. I was very glad to be back working at the U again!

What is your favorite aspect of your job? Digitizing and making available one-of-a-kind materials via the DCL, for instance the ever-growing School of Music ensemble performance collection (see below for more about this) and other such original audio and video content.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for your job at the U? One of my favorites has been the School of Music ensemble performance collection in the DCL. This encompasses most of the University of Minnesota large-ensemble performances that have taken place during the past nine years (plus a smattering of older ones), and consists of nearly 5000 pieces to date, all carefully and thoroughly cataloged.

What is your favorite place on campus? The Memorial Union Terrace (in Madison, WI). Oh, did you mean this campus? ;)

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy hiking (when we have the time and opportunity), running (ditto), and ongoing home improvement projects and garden-related activities. Also (at least partly) under this category I could note using my (electronic) red pen while performing the duties for my freelance editorial proofreading business.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? Trail Blazer, Superior Hiking Trail staff.

People may be surprised to know: That I have completed 10 marathons (most recently in 2012) and 30ish half marathons.

I’m happiest when: Hiking in the woods, ideally with my sweetie.

Before I die, I would like to: Hike many more trails.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Improved Performance on Windows Terminal Server (WTS)

Faculty, instructors, staff, and students in CLA should notice better performance during WTS sessions this fall. LATIS worked throughout the summer to add additional servers resulting in faster logins, app sessions, and increase user capacity.  WTS provides remote access to many specialized applications for research and instruction.

The speed improvement is the first in a two stage project designed to update software and improve performance so that CLA's capacity can support the growing number of users and apps active online at any given time.

The second phase of the project will happen in the spring. More details about how that will affect and improve service for CLA in early 2016. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Get to Know LATIS'S Ginny Larson

Name: Ginny Larson

Current Position: Assistant Curator, Digital Content Library, LATIS

What brought you to your current job? Prior to working for LATIS, I worked briefly at the University Gallery (now Weisman Art Museum) and then for many years at the Slide Library/Visual Resources Center in the Department of Art History. Initially, I worked with their analog slide collection, and then later with the conversion of the slide collection to digital format. In 2003, the Visual Resources Center became part of CLA-OIT (now LATIS), and the Digital Content Library was started at that time. In 2008, the services of the Digital Content Library were expanded and made available to all departments and units in CLA, thus making it an interdisciplinary resource.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? First of all, I love images, and most of my job involves working directly with images. My primary responsibility is cataloging images for inclusion in the
Digital Content Library for the purposes of teaching and learning.  Recently the DCL began concentrating more specifically on archiving original content. It’s exciting to work with faculty
collections and preserve years of research for posterity.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for your job at the U? For the last several years, I’ve been photographing the exhibitions at the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, including MFA and BFA exhibitions and faculty retrospectives.  The images are then archived in the Digital Content Library and made accessible to the University community. This has been a challenging but rewarding experience. It’s important to have documentation of these exhibitions, as they are unique and change on a regular basis, and the Digital Content Library is glad to be a part of the process.

What is your favorite place on campus?  I like to wander through Ferguson Hall and listen to all the sounds emanating from the practice rooms.

I’m happiest when: I’m outdoors.

Favorite author: My current favorite author is Henning Mankell.

Favorite food and drink: Green tea and dark chocolate.

Favorite source of inspiration: The natural world.

If I could do it all over again, I would: Be an ornithologist.

People may be surprised to know: I attended a one-room country school in rural Minnesota for eight years.

Favorite memory: Sitting in the dark and looking at the blue lights on our Christmas tree when I was a child.

The top three highlights of my life: Snorkeling in Hawaii, hiking in Switzerland, walking through the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and experiencing the sense of time and history embodied in this space.

Before I die, I would like to: See more of the world.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Invite LATIS (formerly CLA-OIT) to Your Dept Meeting

As LATIS (Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services) transitions to its new way of work, experts on our team are available to attend any faculty or grad student meetings during the academic year. A brief 10-15 minute overview of LATIS services specifically designed to assist faculty, staff, and grad students can be customized to highlight helpful LATIS services, including:

  • Teaching Enhanced Learning (TEL)
  • Research Support Services
  • LATIS Consulting (formerly Relationship Management)

Latis.umn.edu is also now live and will serve as a valuable resource to learn more about LATIS services and our team of experts.

Email latis@umn.edu to book our team and learn more about how LATIS can help your department.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

All Active Directories (including H:, S:, and P: Drives) Unavailable During 8/16 Maintenance

All Active Directories (including H:, S:, and P: Drives) Unavailable During 8/16 Maintenance

On Sunday, August 16 from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm., all Active Directory drives (such as H:, S:, or P:) will be unavailable due to maintenance.

Windows users will be able to log in, but will be unable to access any documents in “My Documents."

Mac users will not be able to access the CLA drives (or shares) during this time.

Users will still have access to all docs and applications associated with Google Drives.

This is a University-wide event and necessary so the University can build capacity for future data storage. Additional information is available at it.umn.edu/news/storage-maintenance.

It you have questions during the outage, please contact 1-HELP.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Get To Know LATIS'S David Ullman

Name: David Ullman

Position? I am the Video Producer on staff for LATIS Video Services. 

Where can we find you online?  

LATIS-wise, I am the main contributor to our Video Services YouTube  and Twitter  pages. I’m  online @ davidullman.net, thefuriouslight.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube -- however, all of these are centered around my music.

When did you start working at the U? February 2013

What brought you to your current job? My wife landed a tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Social Work at St. Olaf College in Northfield, so we moved to Minnesota from Cleveland, Ohio. I had been happy working as a Digital Video Specialist at Case Western Reserve University there, so I started contacting people working in video-related jobs at colleges and Universities in the Twin Cities area nine months before we made the move. Fortunately, within six months of living here, I landed this job, which I feel is an excellent fit for my background and strengths.

What is your favorite aspect of your job?  My favorite aspect of this job is the opportunity to be of use to other people.

Tell us about one of the coolest projects you’ve worked on for your job at the U?  The 103-video-strong suite of faculty, alumni and undergraduate profiles for CLA 1001/1002 The First Year Experience tops my list. The interviews we conducted and the narratives we highlighted are meant to move students towards a major (and hopefully a career path) in a faster and more meaningful way. I love the idea that a student might uncover an academic trajectory they hadn’t intended or give themselves permission to follow a secret passion because of something touched upon in the videos. It was also really nice to work on a project which served every department equally.

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I come from a small town in Northeast Ohio called Rittman. The first place I lived after that was Raleigh, North Carolina.

What do you do for fun? For the last ten years or so, I’ve been writing, recording and performing music under my own name. My most recent album is coming out on August 11th (Preview & Pre-Order @ http://bit.ly/iTunesFuriousLight - CDs @ http://davidullman.net), and I’ll be playing a tour-ending CD Release show at The Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul on Sunday, August 16th. Admission is free, and all are invited (21+). More info @ http://www.amsterdambarandhall.com/events/swallows-david-ullman-the-furious-light-midland-uprising/

What was your worst or most unusual job? My first job out of college was supposed to be in video, but it turned out the guy (a very small business owner) really wanted me to be a telemarketer for his video business.

I’m happiest when: I’m happiest when I’m feeling motivated, creative and productive.

Motto or personal mantra: “Do what you love, and love what you do.” My dad always said that to me while I was growing up. I think that is one of the greatest gifts he gave me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Rarig 640 Now Open and Ready for Laptop/Audio/Video Checkouts

Following a remodel on the sixth floor of the Rarig Center, LATIS (formerly CLA-OIT) video, audio equipment check out and loaner laptop pool is NOW OPEN IN RARIG 640.

All eligible CLA faculty, staff, and graduate students can reserve and pick up equipment and laptops during the summer business hours of Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Equipment checkout is closed weekends during the summer and University holidays. If it is your first time reserving equipment, please review the brief “How to Make a Reservation with WebCheckout” tutorial.

In addition to the new checkout area, select support staff will also be based out of 640 Rarig.

There will be an open house celebrating the new space closer to the start of fall semester. Details to follow in coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

LATIS Loaner Laptop Pool Checkout Still Available During Move

While the LATIS (formerly CLA-OIT) video and audio equipment check is closed until June 29 due to a move within Rarig, the loaner laptop pool is still available to all eligible CLA faculty, staff, and graduate students. Should you need a laptop during the move, please call 612-626-5881 and leave a message stating your name, preference of PC or Mac, and date and time of pickup or drop-off. A LATIS team member will return your call. The new pickup location for loaner laptops and video equipment will open on June 29 in Rarig.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Mobile Studio Brings Lectures Anywhere There is Wi-Fi

While the technology to record and upload a lecture has been available for years at UMN, room and equipment limitations hindered its growth. Hauling and setting up equipment was a time consuming process and limited the number of courses that could be captured. To better meet the needs of students and how they learn, LATIS worked with the Psychology department to manufacture a custom mobile media unit that allows faculty and staff to move the self-contained assembly to any classroom. The mobile studio includes an HD camera, wireless microphone, and audio mixer. A staff member captures the lecture and any digital presentations during class and then immediately uploads it for viewing.
Any registered student in the class can access the lecture online. The resource proved especially helpful for international students for whom English is a second language as it allows them to pause and re watch any section of the lecture again. During bad weather, students can also remain at home and not worry about missing content. In addition, high school students participating in Minnesota’s Postsecondary Enrollment Options program but who have difficulty getting to campus from their high school can enroll and get the majority of their instruction online and physically attend class only for exams. Faculty can also use the videos to adjust their teaching style as they can monitor what topics students skip, watch multiple times, or when they close the application. No surprise, there are significant upticks in lecture views prior to mid-terms and finals.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Get To Know LATIS'S Cristina Lopez

Cristina Lopez

Current Title? Educational Technologies Consultant, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team

When did you start working at the U? 2005

What brought you to your current job? I jumped at the opportunity to work in CLA. I’ve always admired how people in LATIS are not only innovative, but also generous about sharing what they know and create. And I wanted to work in the liberal arts, which is my intellectual home.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love that there are so many opportunities to learn and to contribute. But one of my favorite aspects is providing consultations. Whether the person I’m meeting with is frustrated because something isn’t working or they’re about to start an exciting new project, it’s very satisfying to help them solve problems and imagine the possibilities.

What advice do you have for LATIS constituents who are intimidated by technology? The first step is to figure out why people might feel apprehensive. Maybe it feels that things are moving too fast, or there are too many choices, or the learning curve is too steep. I also find that it’s not always intimidation, but that people have too much else on their plates, or maybe they feel (healthy) skepticism. My advice: be purposeful about trying things out. You don’t have to try something just because it’s new. Make sure to learn and experiment at the right time, when you have breathing room and time to plan ahead. (Trying something new in the middle of the semester is generally not a good idea.) Technologies rarely are entirely new, and you can often apply what you’ve learned from using other tools. The learning curve will be just a little less steep when the next new thing comes along. And actually, I’d give everybody that advice, regardless of their attitudes about technology.

What do you do for fun? Cooking (vegetarian food), going to the farmers market, and reading about cooking and food, including food politics.Travel: lately have spent most of that time in Colorado (with my partner, visiting our immediate family) and Spain (visiting my dad’s side of the family). Watching my dog lose his mind from happiness at the dog park, doing all the joyful things dogs do.

What was your worst or most unusual job? My first job after college was at a commercial art gallery near Ghiradelli Square. I worked in promotions. The art was mostly bad, but the people were great--some were artists, and many of them were characters. We hosted art openings at least once a month, and though we were working it was fun to dress up and watch clients drink a lot of wine and buy a lot of art. For one of our company parties we all got on a boat and spent the day tooling around the San Francisco Bay. The rumor was that the owner traded a Leroy Nieman painting for that time on the boat.

Motto or personal mantra: “Give it time.” I keep learning that lesson.

Favorite book/author and do you prefer paper or e-book?
Technology does many great things, but I prefer books that are made of paper and bound. I love a well designed book, and like that books don’t run on electricity. It’s easy to hand off a book to a friend, and a well made book can be preserved for centuries. Two of my all time favorites are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Recent favorite authors are China Mieville and Nalo Hopkinson.

Favorite source of inspiration?
Photographs, all kinds. I especially love looking at photos that give me a sense of how people have lived in different places and at different times. And of course great photography creates new perspectives on the most familiar people, places and things.

Favorite food and drink?
A cold glass of sherry (fino or manzanilla) with olives and almonds. Perfect on a hot summer day.

Favorite TV show and movie?
TV show: Rome (HBO), movies: Pan’s Labyrinth, District 9

I’m happiest when I’m:
in conversation over a nice meal at home; standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables and herbs; wandering around the farmers market.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

UNgrade Tips, Tricks, and Advice

As mentioned in last week's CLA NOW meeting, we created an UNgrade Tips, Tricks, and Advice sheet available for all CLA NOW members and other CLA staff to utilize as a forum where people can ask questions about the Upgrade and fellow users can answer them.
This platform allows for a quick turnaround for answers if everyone checks it regularly. If you feel comfortable with the Upgrade, please remain engaged as your  knowledge can benefit your colleagues and the college.

Answered questions will be archived on a separate tab after a few weeks. Should a question arise that the community does not know the answer, we will work with the central Upgrade team to find it. Larger or commons issues may also be highlighted in future CLA NOW sessions as needed.

Thank you in advance for your engagement and support.

Get To Know LATIS'S Alison Link

Name: Alison Link
When did you start working at the U? 2013

Current position? Educational Technologies Consultant, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team

Where can we find you online? @linkalis

What excites you about working at the U/LATIS? I have an undergraduate background in liberal arts, so I'm excited to work in a college that is committed to providing a solid liberal arts experience within the University. I believe a liberal arts education gives students incredibly practical skills for global citizenship, critical- and constructive thinking. These skills are highly nuanced, and aren't easy to reduce to metrics or summarize in news headlines, which is why they sometimes fall out of favor in popular culture. But they are deep, subtle, and support life-long growth. I'm excited to work in a space where we encourage students to grow their respect for diverse ways of knowing--from qualitative to quantitative, artistic to prosaic, observational to abstract, and everything in between!

What do you consider to be a best kept secret about the U? The UMN Department of Food Science and Nutrition runs a Dairy Salesroom on the St. Paul Campus that is open on Wednesday afternoons from 2-5pm.  Or, just head to the St. Paul Gopher Spot (in the basement of the St. Paul Student Center) to get a scoop of campus-made ice cream anytime. The corn flavored ice cream is my personal favorite. Try it with a dash of salt and it tastes just like corn on the cob!

Is there a technology trend that you think constituents should embrace? What is it and how could it be used to make their work/person lives easier? Can you help? I was the lucky winner of a Pebble smart watch at a local tech event a few years back. While I inititally started out as a "smart" device critic, my Pebble watch and I have grown into a pretty good partnership at this point. I started by turning off all of its e-mail notifications to quiet it down a bit. Now, my watch just alerts me to incoming calls and breaking global news events. And one of the coolest things about Pebble watches is that they let you write your own apps to use!

For example, I recently wrote an app that lets me keep track of my congressional representatives and see how they've been voting on current bills going through Congress. So now, I can give myself my own mini legislative briefing every morning right from my watch. And if anyone out there in the CLA community has some other ideas for watch apps, I'd love to hear them and brainstorm new ideas together!

What is your dream job? Back in middle school, we took a career profile quiz that suggested I should be a civil engineer. I had no idea what a "civil engineer" was at the time, so I didn't take it too seriously. Now, I realize that my middle school self probably had some good character insights...

What was your worst or most unusual job? I was a camp counselor for two summers at an English immersion camp in a tiny town in Switzerland. (And when I say "tiny", we're talking a population of about 500 people.) I later found out that that tiny town was in the same valley where my great-great grandpa grew up. I looked out across the valley at his family's farmhouse every morning without even realizing it!

Pet peeves: I'm not a big fan of acronyms, and the University of Minnesota is full of them! It's a losing battle.

Motto or personal mantra: "It's better to be half-baked than burnt."

Your favorites: 
  • Favorite book/author: I remember reading "Babbit" back in high school and loving Sinclair Lewis's snarkily elegant prose. (And he's a fellow Minnesotan!)
  • Favorite website? I love http://www.howtogeek.com/ for fun tutorials that are accessible to geeks of all ilks and experience levels.
  • Favorite brand? Trader Joe's makes the most amazing frozen foods. I don't know how they do it, but it's wonderful for someone like me who doesn't have a lot of confidence in the kitchen.
  • Favorite food and drink? The Germans have a breakfast spread that involves what they call "Weisswurst" (white sausages) and a half-liter of hefeweizen beer.  It. Is. Miraculous.
  • Favorite TV show and movie? I love The Mindy Project and pretty much any musical film out there.
  • Favorite musician or band? I spent some time in Montreal, where I got really into Quebecois folk music.  Lots of cool drum beats and down-to-earth fiddle sounds.
  • Favorite place on Earth? Budapest and Montreal are two cities that have really stuck out for me on my travels. They both share a kind of "European humble chic" feeling that I love.