Monday, May 18, 2015

Thoughts on Low Carbon IT

I wanted to share a few more thoughts about our Low Carbon IT at Morris. The University of Minnesota, Morris is proud to be recognized by the US EPA for the ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign!

At Morris, we have a campus culture of a renewable, sustainable education. That statement applies to our liberal arts education, and to our commitment to green energy and responsibility to the environment.

When we were asked to commit to low carbon IT, that was a no brainer for us. Just being part of Morris means we think first about how our decisions affect the environment. Everyone I work with at Morris thinks that way. When we purchase new computers, or look at new ways to apply technology, someone always asks "Is this sustainable?" or "Is this green?" It's part of our campus life to be low carbon.

So low carbon IT was something we were already doing. For example, one of the first things we did when Morris adopted Active Directory for computer labs and faculty and staff computers was to put computers into a low power mode when they weren't being used. This makes a big difference in our computer labs; when a computer isn't being used for a while, it just shuts down.

At Morris, we have two wind turbines that augment our electrical energy for the campus. We also have a biomass facility that provides much of our hot water.

Over the last year or so, I've been working on a research project with computer science students and faculty to monitor energy usage. The long term goal is to help our students better understand how they use energy. Our students are the kind that will wait half an hour to do laundry if it means running the machines from wind power.

Eventually, this project will produce an app or mobile website that shows the current energy usage for the campus, how much energy we generate from the turbines, and - most importantly - what our energy footprint will look like in the near future. We also want this to educate people about time of day pricing - how the cost of energy changes throughout the day.

The energy monitoring project is currently looking at energy and water consumption in our Green Prairie Living And Learning Community residence hall. Working on this project, our students are learning a lot and gaining a ton of new experience that they can apply to their lives and careers after graduation.
image: ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign

Friday, May 8, 2015

ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign

I am proud to share that the US EPA has awarded the University of Minnesota Morris in recognition of our commitment to improving the environment as part of the Low Carbon IT Campaign.

Morris is proud to be an ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign Participant, part of EPA's ongoing efforts to help save energy and money. The ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign is a nationwide effort to assist and recognize organizations for reducing the energy consumed by computers. Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint and save up to $50 per computer annually by going to Low Carbon IT.

The Morris campus is committed to renewable, sustainable energy. As partners in technology, we contribute to that. For example, we have been working with student- and faculty-researchers on an energy monitoring project, to examine energy use on campus.

We are proud to be recognized by the US EPA for our commitments to green energy and promoting the environment!

For more information about our sustainability programs, visit Sustainability.

Looking back: DICTION software

This weekend, the University of Minnesota Morris will graduate more than 300 seniors. At the end of the academic year, I find myself reflecting on some of the great things we've achieved at Morris since the Fall.

This semester, I have been working alongside one of our faculty in her classroom, teaching students the DICTION software package to help them analyze rhetorical texts. DICTION is a computer-aided text analysis program for determining the tone of a verbal message. Conceived by rhetorical analysis scholar Roderick P. Hart, the DICTION software analyzes the words in the speech and does a categorization of each word used. We use five "master" variables to build a "fingerprint" of the speech: Activity, Optimism, Certainty, Realism and Commonality. This provides a jump-start in analysis.

This is rhetorical analysis made easy. DICTION can be used to analyze all sorts of texts: speeches, novels, political ads, inaugural addresses, court opinions, etc. DICTION supports texts in Word, ODT, PDF, and many other file formats. If you can put it into a file, DICTION can analyze it!

During the April 21 open house technology showcase, you probably saw Ron K's demonstration of the DICTION software. I also hosted an April 28 special demonstration of DICTION. If you are interested in using DICTION in your classes or in your research, please feel free to contact me.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Looking back: Media collaboration table

This weekend, the University of Minnesota Morris will graduate more than 300 seniors. At the end of the academic year, I find myself reflecting on some of the great things we've achieved at Morris since the Fall.

One major achievement was the installation of a new media collaboration table in Briggs Library. Provided in partnership by Computing Services and Briggs Library, we are proud of this new technology addition to student study spaces. Up to five or six students can use the table to better collaborate in group projects. Connect your laptop to the display so everyone can contribute to the project. Having a large, shared screen makes group learning easier!

The table is located on the entrance level of Briggs Library.

We view this media collaboration table as a pilot project for other technology-enhanced meeting spaces across campus. Our next goals are to implement a similar collaboration table in a more formal meeting space.