Go to the U of M home page


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.

Get To Know LATIS'S Ann Fandrey

Originally appeared on the CLA NOW blog on 3/31/2015
Name: Ann Fandrey
When did you start working at the U? January 2002

Current position? Educational Technologies Specialist

What brought you to your current job? Prior to applying to an instructional design position in CLA, I'd been working in the Medical School for 12 years. I wanted a different view of the University and some experience doing instructional design outside the context of a professional school.

What is your favorite aspect of your job? I love the intellectual challenge, curiosity, creativity and enthusiasm of the TEL team and other staff in LATIS.

What excites you about working at the U/LATIS? LATIS is uniquely positioned to be a technology and innovation partner to the CLA; I can't wait to see what interesting and impactful initiatives we're working on a year from now!

What is your favorite accomplishment with LATIS, so far?  I really loved working on the pilot curriculum for the digital literacy badge initiative; TEL team designed 5 modules as part of a curriculum on digital presentation design. It was written for undergraduates, but we've heard that graduate TAs, staff and instructors are appreciating it too. It's free and open for enrollment--check it out!

What advice do you have for LATIS constituents who are intimidated by technology? Rather than ask, "What new technology solutions should I be using?" we can ask, "What are the current problems that I have?" and then, "Is there a technology solution that can help?" Viewing technology as a tool rather than something that needs to constantly be kept up with can reframe it in a way that is perhaps less intimidating. And, technologies can be both digital and analog.

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?  My work tends toward finding ways to use current and time-tested tools in better, more strategic ways--even moreso than prematurely adopting the latest tools and newest apps. To that end, I love working with instructors on the redesign of instructional materials such as PowerPoint slides, and I'm totally back-to-basics when it comes to Moodle course sites. See the CLA's reMoodle project to learn more.

What is your favorite place on campus? Pedicord Apartments at the Weisman

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? I was born in beautiful Red Wing, MN, and moved to Decorah, IA, to do my undergrad.

What do you do for fun? I like watching lectures on YouTube and doing makeovers of the slides. (Yes, I'm being serious.)

Motto or personal mantra: If you don't scale the mountain, you can't see the view.

Have you had a mentor while at the U and what did you learn from them? I've been lucky to have had not 1 but 3 mentors over the years. From the first, I learned that volunteering on a project is a great way to get valuable experience. From the second, I learned the importance of being pleasant and fun to work with. From the third, that the best team members are those who are willing to do whatever it takes to support a group's efforts and goals. I hope I can pay it forward on mentorship; my mentors have helped me become a better team member and a better person.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Unconference: Technology in the Liberal Arts

Thursday, June 4, 2015
9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
STSS Building

Explore new ideas in technology, teaching, and research in the liberal arts. Share your questions and conundrums, projects, and knowledge. Learn some new skills. Work with others on a project. The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Team, CLA-OIT, invites you to join us at teh Unconference on Thursday, June 4.

An unconference is to a conference what a seminar is to a lecture, what a party at your house is to a church wedding, what a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee is to an NBA game, what a jazz band is to a symphony orchestra: it's informal and participatory.

This Unconference brings together faculty, staff and graduate students from CLA to learn from each other in a highly participatory and collaborative fashion. Participants create the agenda, and lead or participate in sessions. Technical expertise is not required: if you can pose a question or identify a topic to explore, you can lead a session. There is no registration fee, but registration is required. There is a limit of 50 participants. Lunch and some snacks will be served.

If you're interested in participating, please do the following:

1) Register by completing this form.
2) Join the Google Community, where participants will propose sessions.
3) Learn about Unconferences and how to propose sessions.
4) Propose sessions and keep up to date through the Google Community.

If you have any questions, contact Cristina Lopez, clopez@umn.edu

Get To Know LATIS'S Christopher Stordalen

Originally appeared on CLA NOW blog on 2/27/2015

Name: Christopher Stordalen
When did you start working at the U? January 5, 2002

Current position? Assistant IT Director for Relationship Management

What excites you about working at the U/LATIS? Working to support and advance the liberal arts.

What is your favorite accomplishment with LATIS, so far? Beginning a successful relationship management team.

What advice do you have for LATIS constituents who are intimidated by technology? We all start our path to knowledge somewhere. You are not alone.

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? Paperless existence. I can help.

What is your favorite place on campus? Northrup or Ted Mann

Your hometown and the first place you lived after leaving your hometown? Hometown: Enderlin, ND. After leaving my hometown, I lived in Fargo, ND as I attended college and kept residence there during summers.

What do you do for fun? Perform in and lead musical and theatrical endeavors. Coach baseball. Carpentry.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? Music Director for the Minnesota Orchestra.

Motto or personal mantra: You'll get enough sleep when you die. AND If not now, when? If not, me, who?


Author: J.R.R. Tolkein

Favorite source of inspiration? I derive inspiration from music - particularly masterworks.

Favorite word or word that annoys you? Annoys: Fixins

Favorite food and drink? Steak (Ribeye). Red Wine (Merlot or Malbec) and Scotch

Favorite TV show(s)? M*A*S*H and West Wing.

Favorite musician or band? Styx (close seconds in Kansas and Boston). Sara Bareilles.

People may be surprised to know: I narrowly escaped being detained by authorities at the Grand Canyon for "exploring."

DVD/CD Drive Options for Future Dell Computer

Originally appeared on CLA NOW blog on 2/16/2015

The standard configuration Dell computer used by many CLA faculty and staff has changed. All NEW Dell models will no longer have a DVD/CD drive (also known as an optical drive). This is a change at the factory level as technology needs of purchasers evolve.

Faculty and staff who use DVD/CDs in their work or in a classroom have two options with their next computer purchase:
1. Submit content to CLA's DCL3 (Digital Content Library).
2. Purchase a portable external DVD/CD unit when ordering new laptop.
This change does not affect any current computers, only future CLA standard configuration Dell purchases.

Relationship managers are available to assist with questions and solutions.

Get To Know LATIS'S Sean Burns

Originally appeared on CLA NOW blog 2/2/2015

Name: Sean Burns

When did you start working at the U? MLK Day, 1992

Current position? Relationship Manager for LATIS

What advice do you have for LATIS constituents who are intimidated by technology? With the timid I've found that their most common concern is they will break the software or hardware. If I can help allay those fears then they usually make progress using their technology.

What do you do for fun? I ride my bicycle. I've been riding year-round since March of 1996--I very rarely get cold for cycling generates a lot of heat. Since September of 1996 I've ridden more than 73,000 miles. Among my cycling peers this is a relatively low figure.

What was your worst or most unusual job? I cleaned my uncle's calf barn using a small Ford tractor and a blade. It hadn't been mucked out in three years so the manure was 5-feet deep at its deepest. It took about 45 hours. The ammonia smell was nearly over-powering.


Favorite book/author and do you prefer paper or e-book? Currently, Catch-22, but it changes. As for books/e-books, sadly, I prefer my second generation Kindle. I have an attachment to books but the Kindle is a lot easier on my eyes. I've rid myself of most of my standard-sized books by placing them on the ground-floor of Johnston Hall with a post-it attached reading "free to good home". I've kept the large-format ones with lots of illustrations.

Favorite word and word that annoys you? Onomatopoeia is my favorite. I am going to remain reticent about my annoying word--trust me, we are all better off.

Favorite brand? Ibex. If you want to make Minnesota winters easier then buy some. To avoid sticker shock I suggest checking out their closeouts and sales. Wool is expensive.

Favorite food and drink? I don't eat Pho often enough. I like most Belgian beers I've sampled.

Favorite TV show and movie? Favorite movie is The Belly of an Architect. It's a typically uplifting Greenaway flick. Despite all the wonderful television currently available I'm sticking with old reliable Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Favorite musician or band? Hüsker Dü. What can I say, looking at this along with my movie and TV series it is clear, I'm a dinosaur.

Finish the sentence:

People may be surprised to know: I was a national merit scholar.

If I could do it all over again, I would: have done study abroad.

Before I die, I would like to: go to Belgium for the post-Christmas cyclocross races.

Now Free for UMN Departments: Acrobat Pro 11

Originally appeared on CLA NOW blog 1/20/2015

Adobe's Acrobat Pro 11 is now available at no cost to UMN departments. Acrobat is used to convert any document to a PDF or convert a PDF into other formats, edit PDFs, merge multiple documents in a single PDF, and create fillable and web forms.

Available for installation on University-owned computers, the change provides significant savings for the University since Acrobat currently costs $61-$75 for a single license purchased through Technology Products vendors, and $450 for a full license if ordered directly from Adobe.
Installation questions can be directed to

Adobe Creative Suite Delivery and Fee Changes

Originally appeared in CLA NOW blog 1/14/2015
Effective February 27, Adobe Creative is discontinuing all Adobe Creative Suite 6 TLP and CLP licensing programs.
What it means for departments:
  • Depts can continue to use their current CS6 programs

  • Future updates will require a transition to the Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Through the new program, CS6 lives online

  • Users pay an ongoing fee, rather than a one-time license fee

All other Adobe products available under volume licensing, like Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Captivate, will be unaffected by this change.
If preferred, depts may still buy individual copies of CS6 on adobe.com; however, education pricing ends 2/26 and the program has not been updated for three years.
As with any change, you're likely to have questions. For answers, contact visit Adobe's resource page or contact your Relationship Manager.

Get To Know LATIS'S Nicholas Leeman

Originally appeared in CLA NOW blog on 12/1/2014
Name: Nicholas Leeman
When did you start working at the U? October 2011

Current position? Relationship Manager for LATIS

Where can we find you online? @TheMadjai
(My tweets are my own, do not necessarily reflect the views of the college or university, etc. etc.)

What advice do you have for LATIS constituents who are intimidated by technology? That's why you have us! The college has the complete spectrum of tech savviness, and we are here to help every last user. We can provide all kinds of support and help, including training on how to plug in USB devices (I've done this!) as well as how to use high-end statistical software. And we do it without any judgement or guilt. We want you to be happy!

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 think mobile computing is going to continue on the huge trajectory it's on right now. Laptops are eventually going to fade away, giving room to tablets and better and better phones. More and more powerful tech is getting ever smaller, and I think that we're on the cusp of everyone having a single device that does everything. Personally, I'm going to be first in line for the implantable tech. I can't wait.

What do you do for fun? Going to Twins games with my wife is one of my favorite summertime activities. I'm also an avid gamer. Playing board games with my friends is how I often spend my weekends.

I'm happiest when: I'm acting. I've been acting professionally in the Twin Cities for the last 9 years now, working for companies such as Park Square, Theatre in the Round, 20% Theatre Company, and Walking Shadow. I also have been a company member of the ComedySportz Improv Troupe in Uptown since 2005. Performing improvisational comedy for an all-ages audience keeps you on your toes like nothing else I've ever done.

Pet peeves: Terrible grammar and redundant acronyms. ATM Machine, PIN Number and CPU Unit are guaranteed to set my teeth on edge. Also, people who use the term "literally" when they mean "figuratively." Bugs me to no end.

Get To Know LATIS'S Holly Leighton

Originally appeared on CLA NOW Blog on 12/1/2014

Name: Holly Leighton

When did you start working at the U?January 2000

Current position? Relationship Manager for LATIS

What is your favorite aspect of your job? Meeting with faculty and staff.

What excites you about working at the U/LATIS? Working with faculty and staff, and seeing the "light bulb" go on when they understand a technology concept or procedure.
What is your favorite accomplishment with LATIS, so far? Creating the first bonafide Service Desk with Kevin Smith in 2006. That was a BLAST!
What do you do for fun? I love to run with my dog, Max.
Favorite motto or personal mantra? Tomorrow is another day, and you get to start fresh.
Interesting facts:
  • I have both a bachelor's and master's degree in French.
  • My favorite place on earth is Paris and I hope to live there one day.

Now Playing: New Streaming Materials Available For Classrooms

Originally appeared on the CLA NOW Blog on 10/10/2014
The University Libraries have licensed the Media Education Foundation collection and all currently available California Newsreel titles hosted on the Kanopy streaming platform! These include many of our most requested titles that circulate on DVD/VHS. Check back regularly as new titles will continue to be added. Note: This license is a pilot that will run for at least the next 3 years.
Library Media Services has launched a Streaming Video website that highlights most of the Libraries licensed streaming video collections, with tips on how to locate these materials in MNCat and how to embed these videos into Moodle. Please consult the Digital Video Collections Guide to see a comprehensive listing of all Libraries licensed and suggested high quality, freely available streaming video collections.
If you have questions regarding potential streaming acquisitions, how to embed this video content into your course site, or recommendations for finding that perfect video to use in your class, feel free to contact your subject librarian or Media Outreach Librarian, Scott Spicer. Finally, please send Scott or your subject librarian any feedback you may have on the value of this content in your teaching and students' learning. Your feedback is critical as we continue to assess our licensed streaming video collections.

SPSS Installation and Updates

Originally appeared on CLA NOW Blog 10/7/2014
Researchers in CLA currently using or interested in starting to use the SPSS suite of programs can now install the software themselves onto their CLA owned PCs. No administrator rights are needed for CLA PCs managed by SCCM's Software Center to interact with SPSS license server for both initial installation and updates. Mac users will continue to require a manual install of the software.
IBM SPSS Statistics is an easy-to-use graphical statistics package that can be used to perform simple and complex statistical analysis on a wide rang of quantitative research data.
For assistance with a Mac installation or other immediate technology needs, contact 1-HELP.

Unlimited Document Storage Available Through Your UMN Google Drive

Originally appeared on CLA NOW Blog - 10/1/2014

This week Google announced that all Google Apps for Education customers (such as UMN) will have unlimited storage available to them at no additional charge. The program supports individual files up to 5TB in size and will be available in the coming weeks.

Every file uploaded to Google Drive is encrypted, comes with the same high-level security that protects all Drive users, and remains the property of the individual or school who uploads it.  The Google Apps for Education group of services is free to nonprofit educational institutions and will remain free of ads and ads-related scanning.