Sunday, December 23, 2007

Things Are Cookin' and Happy Holidays Everyone

We've had one exciting semester thus far.

Discussions on the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) are underway at BBA. Our reports have generated discussions across campus on how technology is used as well as the current internet filtering practices. Meetings will resume in January '08.

Work on a new building is in high gear here at BBA that combines computer lab facilities, audio and video editing suites, sounds stage/s, a fabrication lab and some ecologically sound practices and monitoring systems. A facility like this brings incredible learning and collaboration opportunities.

Our 'laptop proposal' has gone on to the Business Office for some research on demographics and for some discussions with potential vendors on pricing, warranty and insurance options.

Our proposal on the Google for Domains program posted last April has really gained some momentum in discussions here at BBA and across the State.

All these discussions are cookin' on the Research Lab Wiki and this web site. More and more people will be contributing and we couldn't be more excited. Collaboration makes our ideas stronger.

May The Force be with you over the Holidays. Have fun, be nice and be well. See you in January. AP

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Innovative Architecture

More innovation from

William McDonough delivers a great speech that focuses on design and how it should focus on the principles of "All children, all species, for all time." Ecological sustainability and the design of new cities are on the horizon for McDonough and his design partners. Well worth a look.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Interesting Times

About a year ago Carl Fisch produced a video called '20/20 Vision' that looked into the future as if he were speaking to the graduating class in the year 2020.

Google hit the web today with a major press release which was summarized by a NY Times blog entry.

Interesting ?

The oncoming release / sale of the 700 megahertz spectrum and Google's announcement about about the Open Handset Alliance will change how wireless carriers conduct business and all related services and costs to consumers in the near future. Verizon dove into the fray today announcing "any apps, any device."

Interesting times indeed.

Lucie deLaBruere wrote an article for InfiniteThinking that highlighted our proposal to switch over to Google for Domains here at BBA.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rich Ortiz

Rich Ortiz showed us his stellar musicianship today as part of our Guest Lecture Series. Rich spoke to us about how he's created this great sound, his experiences, the music business and played some great originals and a few requests. Rich's unique act, sound, lyrical music and stage presence filled the room for a great show. Thanks so much to Rich for coming in. You can find more of Rich's music on his web site and by searching on iTunes. A great send off for a well deserved Thanksgiving break. Enjoy !

Monday, November 19, 2007

Guest Speaker Series Continues Nov 20th, 2007

Rich Ortiz, a vocalist and guitarist plays bass keyboard with his feet (no kidding) and records rhythms he taps out on his guitar using a digital looper. Rich blends all this together on the fly, building each song, becoming a 6-7 piece band - by himself. Rich will be talking to us about how he got started, how he incorporated these new tools into his act, all things that went right and wrong as he developed his business and then give us a concert. 1215-230pm in the Riley Center Theater.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Time Mags Inventions of the Year

TIME Magazines latest features the innovations of the year. Worth a look.

Along the lines of Robinson's speech from highlighted in a previous post, students entering high school today will be retiring in the year 2058 (assuming they retire at the age of 65). We really don't have a clue what the world will look like in 2058 do we ? We don't really have a clue what will be on this innovation list five years from now actually. Five years ago even, most all of the innovations in this years TIME Magazine offering were not thought possible. Just imagine what innovations will be out five years from now. With the increase of mobile devices, e-paper and the expansion of the web many newspapers will be all digital by then. Perhaps magazines will too.

Friday, October 5, 2007


Things are cookin' here in the lab. 57 projects are underway at this time. Five students over three classes are working on expanding the visual presentation on the BBA web site. New projects hit the lab this year in farming technology and searching out related related grants, snowboarding technologies and one study in theatrical lighting. We've wrapped in our studies of the OpenCourseWare initiatives and are gearing up for our chats on crafting presentations.

The challenge issued to the lab about 'what education could look like in the future' has sparked some stellar debate in class. As we look at alternative approaches, modern work environments and 'social networking,' ideas on the future of education will no doubt spring to life. One interesting thread surfaced about combining academic areas into one facility (new building!). MIT has been pulling previously separate offices / departments together for a bit now. By mixing the brain trust together new ideas are generating... the lines between previously separate disciplines are vanishing. Discussions on a fabrication shop that incorporated wood, metal, robotics and a new look at energy efficient vehicles ramped up. Hands on design work, testing and building. High-end computer and networking labs, art and design studios, television, independent film and animation as well. Incorporate solar energy, wind energy and related testing gear - integrate the systems into the building. Hydroponics throughout to thread in a more natural environment, air filtration and humidity control to the environment. Many new buildings out and about mix in high tech environments with a more natural approach. The NRG building in Hinesburg, VT is one such model that we'll look at.

On another forward thinking note: Our laptop proposal continues to gain momentum here at BBA. So many students have contributed to this project and it is rewarding to see so much thought provoking work drive forward.

Have a great weekend! AP

Monday, September 24, 2007

Class Project ?

A request has come in this morning asking if we'd consider making a video proposal and follow-up survey about what technology could /should look like in the future at school. Along the lines of the '20-20' video we watched, this fits in with our discussions as of late over OpenCourseWare, Web 2.0 and the listserv conversations we've discussed. Check out the details on the class wiki, dive in and share ideas.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not Your Typical Company: RechargeIT RFP

News from:

" is committed to finding innovative transportation solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Earlier this summer, launched its RechargeIT Initiative to accelerate the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology through technical demonstrations, grant-making, advocacy and investments. As part of this initiative, we are issuing a $10 million request for investment proposals (RFP). We plan to invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2,000,000 in selected for-profit companies whose innovative approach, team and technologies will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and/or vehicle-to-grid solutions. This RFP is global in scope, and we encourage responses from companies anywhere in the world."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Touch Screen Innovation

iPod! Apple shook up the stage with a new line of iPods today. The long anticipated 'iPod touch' complete with wi-fi (browse the internet) was introduced. Offering up a 'classic' version with 160GB of storage for the same price they used to offer the 80GB model was a nice surprise too. Apple is carving out some amazing products. Stylish, innovative design. The Apple web site has more details on the whole launch.

The new touch screens by Apple are drawing a lot of attention. Here are two other products that use touch screen technology. We're on the brink of some major changes with the way we interact with the digital world. Just click on the pictures below to see a glimpse of what's on the horizon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lab Prep Underway

Posted the new web site today and made a few modifications. Likely will make some changes over the next few weeks, tweaking here and there. The new web site was built in DreamWeaver and Photoshop. We created a blog on and syndicated it to FeedBurner which sports some new tools to include feeds in web pages (FeedBurner was recently bought by Google). Including the new feeds here into this web page with these tools was not difficult at all. Blogger also has some new features that allow users to sign up to the blog and have updates delivered via email. We'll be looking at the improvements to the mobile blogging technology more as the year goes on too.

2 Mac Pros Appear in the Lab:
Configured two Mac Pro workstations in the lab today that should help us out with video, sound and animation explorations. These stations are a lot more powerful than the previous models.

Fired up the old lab music server today. This station takes a licking but keep on ticking. These workstations were not only works of art but they keep running! We have a few more of these stations running in and around the lab still for our server tests, networking lab configurations other experiments.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Post test

Trying out the new FeedBurner gadgets to get this underway !

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Student Help Desk and Training Center Proposal

Schools constantly struggle to meet IT support and training needs. One typical response to those needs is to do "basic skills training" in large groups and make attempts to build basic competencies of adults on campus. All too often schools pour resources into training people on skills they will use altogether infrequently. Institutionalized training and "basic competencies" do not work beyond introductions to new grading packages, new mail systems etc. Not everyone needs the same basic competencies.

IT Staff try their best to meet demands and are often are often over run with the number of requests and the diversity therein. User skills begin to grow as technology use takes hold and more diverse demands surface. With the best intentions IT Staff again reconstitute efforts to meet those growing demands. While IT Staff are meeting infrastructure and administrative support demands, educational requests by volume often sit unmet for long periods of time.

More often than not, the next step is that adults on campus do not want to burden IT Staff with questions so they don't call for support. Typically schools then look toward two routes: Only support core applications and hardware or they look to hire more IT Staff or Integration Specialists. Then the discussions on budget constraints usually begin. Next up schools usually look to offer after school training sessions and these are very poorly attended or are not attended at all. That poor attendance usually leads back to the concept of offering large group training and beginning conversations on exploring basic competencies... and the loop starts again.

Sound familiar ?

The bottom line: These typical models lead to the same cycle of discussions, the same support woes and the same unmet demands. Folks want help to do their work, be it adults or students. They also want flexibility to explore interests on their own time frame. They do not have the time or the desire to sit in hours of training that is not relevant to what they have interest in or need to do. If they get to the point where they want to branch out and discover new material they often have specific questions in that area and needs that go far beyond the concept of taking an introductory training class.

"If I need help to change a faucet I don't want to go to a class on the history of plumbing."

There is a time and place for general training, but that too is most often based on individual need and based on time available.

In all these traditional models IT support for students is not part of the equation. We leave support for students up to the teachers for the most part, who we readily state are not as proficient. No basic level of training for adults will bridge that gap. What can bridge the gap though is fostering relationships of mentoring, collaboration and individualized support.

"We'll get further by modeling, collaborating and using technology. A bit like putting the personal back in personal computing."

Based on that thesis, we'd like to propose a Help Desk system to meet the individual needs of students and adults on campus. Qualified students would intern with IT Staff and MAS Department Faculty to mentor individual requests on campus.

If you've heard of the "Genius Bar" model at Apple corporate stores, that's similar to what we are proposing. Our goal is to create a service that can address individual questions on technology. Cell phones, iPods, email, web browsing, whatever "you" need and at your convenience. It a "think tank" approach really. One that helps folks build skills on based on their own interests and aptitude.

Motto: "Train conceptually when it's appropriate."

Students participating in the program would learn the fundamental principles of IT service: Critical listening skills, needs assessment (specific skill based training vs conceptual training). Students would also be engaged in collaborative discussions and participate in a feedback and evaluation system. With those governing principles, the Help Desk personnel would be available to students and adults on campus for support and training. Of course, not all requests for assistance are appropriate to work on with a student in the Help Desk system. Those who wish to work by choice or by needs of confidentiality could work with IT Staff just like they do today.

Proven Track Record:

This Help Desk initiative is an expansion of the very successful IT Internship program that has been running for two years at our school. Based on the demands on the current IT Internship students and mentors this expansion is the next logical step. Additionally the MAS Department has successfully ran this expanded Help Desk model for 9 years at another institution in Vermont with very positive results and can assist in mentoring this program along. As we looked to expand we surveyed students to see if they would like to participate in this Help Desk program. 49 students said they were interested and 113 more said they would like more information before deciding.

Conversational responses to our introduction have been extremely positive with adults and students on campus and we're hoping to get this collaborative program under way.

Updated: Updated November, 14 2008:

Our full proposal was reviewed and a "beta test" model is being considered for the Spring. Discussions will resume over how many students will participate as well as the manner to proceed on the proposed Lab and IT Office location shift. Discussions will resume over the coming weeks.

Updated: January 8, 2009:

Since our presentation at VT Fest on this Help Desk proposal we've received a number of requests form other schools, Supervisory Unions and interest from the State on this new model. We are busy crafting presentations and answering questions we receive to share this innovative model.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Technology Internship Proposal: Summary

In the September of 2005 the newly crafted networking lab provided students with the opportunity to conduct hands on configuraton tests with servers, routers, and firewalls on various platforms and hardware. Demand on the facility from enterening students and the Hardware and Networking class required an investigation in expanding the services.

Mr. Provost ran a student internship program as a Network Services Coordinator at another Vermont school and using his notes and data from other similar programs an official internship was proposed with the BBA IT Department. The BBA infrastructure contains advanced equipment with modern routers, firewalls, email, storage and tape backup systems, administrative consoles, modern computer labs and lab management software. These facilities and experience within the technical support department make a perfect fit to expand into an internship program for advanced students.

In the March, 2006 four students began assisting the IT Department as a pilot program. The pilot program was very successful and in October of 2006 a 'BBA IT Department Internship' was accepted by the IT Department and added to the course of studies.

The intership program is the first step in our quest to develop a true student Help Desk initiatve and to provide paid summer opportunities for advanced students on campus. The student Help Desk is an essential step in our proposal to bring one-to-one computing ( a laptop per student) to Burr and Burton.

BBA Research Lab Report: January 2007.
Prepared by: Ian Gunn, Sam Marvin, Matt Naples and James Lapointe.