MFA Lighting Projections in the Snite Museum

Skylights digitally recreated in the gallery.

Skylights digitally recreated in the gallery.

Academic Technologies recently assisted student Allison Evans with lighting projections for her MFA project, on display in the Meštrovic´ Gallery at the Snite Museum of Art.

Evans’ project explores the relationship between light, space and perception by recreating the quality of light that existed in the Meštrovic´ gallery in the 1950s. At this time, the space served as a sculptor’s studio, featuring skylights that brought in abundant natural lighting.

Using three projectors, each using a Raspberry Pi as the video source, the skylights and lighting effects of the 1950s are brought back into the space, transforming its atmosphere. The projectors are controlled by the Pi to turn on at sunrise and off at sunset true to the calendar of the 1950s. In addition, each Pi is Internet-connected and syncs its clock to the US Atomic Clock multiple times per day to ensure that each Pi’s time is the exactly the same.

Allison’s project will be displayed in the Snite Museum until May 17th, 2015. To read more and see images from the installation, check out information about the exhibit on Evans’ personal site or in the MFA exhibition supplement and visit the Meštrovic´ Gallery in the Snite.

Arduino Workshops at Notre Dame

IMG_0679 Arduino is an open source physical computing platform that allows you to interact with the physical world from your computer. As an open source platform, Arduino focuses on sharing knowledge and ideas between makers. It is an affordable option that can be used with many operating systems. Experienced hobbyists can extend and improve upon the system as they use it in projects, and beginners have an inexpensive way to start experimenting with the technology. Incorporating electronics and simplified microcontroller programming through Arduino creates a unique opportunity for innovative solutions to real-world challenges.


“With Arduino, communities can come together to solve the problems they are facing,” said Matt Willmore, who coordinated a two-day workshop on Arduino programming basics for the Notre Dame community at Innovation Park. The sold-out event had fifty participants. Each participant received an Arduino clone kit that included the board, breadboard, wires, transmitters, and a remote. The workshop was sponsored by AT&T and SAP, so attendees only had to pay a $20 fee for the cost of their Arduino clone kit.


“The events we have held were very successful, and we are looking to hold additional workshops in the future,” Matt says.

In addition to repeating the Arduino basics class, Matt hopes to have follow up events that build upon the introductory workshop. Future classes may include a workshop geared towards families and advanced classes focusing on programming and hardware. Keep a look out for additional Arduino events at Notre Dame this summer and fall.

Recording with the One Button Studio

The One Button Studio opened in the Hesburgh Library this month. Based on the model developed by Penn State, this recording studio allows video content to be recorded and saved to a flash drive with the push of a button. As a student with no video recording experience, I had to ask: is it really that simple? I headed to the Hesburgh Library to put the One Button Studio to the test.


The Studio: The room setup is streamlined with the screen and projector at one end of the room, and the cart which contains the recording equipment and the computer at the other end. When you plug the the flash drive into the USB hub, the lights turn on and you see a preview of what the camera will record. I was prompted to push the “One Button” to begin recording. Once the button is pushed, recording begins.

kiosksetup Kiosk computer and camera setup in the One Button Studio

You can incorporate presentations into your video recording by using the computer in the room, or by connecting your laptop with the cables  provided. Content is projected onto a gray screen. High contrast presentations and large, readable text will work best. You can also use the system in green screen mode. This lets you record content and then use iMovie to replace the background.

Gray screen  The gray screen in Notre Dame’s One Button Studio

When you’re done recording, simply push the button again and the file is saved to your USB drive. When it’s done copying, you are prompted to either remove the drive or press the button again to start another recording. When the USB drive is removed, the lights and camera turn off automatically. The file is saved in an MP4 format and can be imported into iMovie or Adobe Premiere for further editing.


The Verdict: The One Button Studio makes recording video content easier than I had imagined. As a recording novice, I was impressed with the easy, streamlined process and the quality of the recording. Here are a few tips I picked up during my trip to the One Button Studio:


  • The computer in the room can be used to move your recording to Cloud storage or to display notes.
  • There is a switch that allows the user to change from the gray screen backdrop or to select a blue or green screen effect.
  • Come prepared! Since time is limited, bring your notes and know what you’re going to say ahead of time.
  • USB drives, whiteboards, and projector remotes can be borrowed from the Hesburgh Library circulation desk.
  • If you do run into any issues, library staff will be available to help by phone or at the circulation desk.


Chris Clark created this video for his class using the One Button Studio:

Ready to start recording? For additional instruction regarding the studio, click here. You can reserve the One Button Studio in 30 minute blocks for up to two hours per day here.

Horizon Report 2015: Notre Dame and the Digital Horizon

In February, the Hesburgh Library Center for Digital Scholarship hosted the Horizon Report 2015 Event: Notre Dame and the Digital Horizon, which looked at emerging technological trends and how they will affect teaching, learning, and creative inquiry at Notre Dame over the next three to five years.  The Horizon Report is published annually, in collaboration with the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. The event was a collaboration with the Hesburgh Libraries, the Kaneb Center, OIT, and the Office of Digital Learning. It consisted of a welcome lunch followed by lightening talks that focused on:


Online Learning

The value of online learning is now well understood and set to impact education with its flexibility, ease of access, and integration of sophisticated learning technologies. How can Notre Dame use online tools to enhance the excellent education we already provide?


Badges / Blending of formal and informal learning

Badges allow for reward incentive and progress monitoring with online learning. Incentives like this are increasingly prevalent with blended learning environments. The term flipped classroom refers to a pedagogical model where the in-class time with students is primarily focused on problem solving activities, rather than presentation of information.  The prerequisite information is reviewed by students prior to coming to class.  Many classrooms are being flipped in an attempt to integrate active learning. Blending this with traditional lectures promotes hands on, real world application of concepts that foster curiosity-based learning among students.


Data-Driven Learning and Assessment

Online applications and tools generate a lot of data as faculty and students use them.  Universities around the world are developing tools to help analyze the data in ways that can help us understand and predict student success or failure.  Learning progress can be monitored through data analytics services, providing a more personalized learning experience.



Makerspaces are workshops that offer the tools needed to carry out ideas from start to finish.  These tools often include traditional shop tools used in woodworking, but they also include newer technologies conducive to rapid prototyping such as 3D printers, laser-cutters, and CNC machines. Makerspaces help students develop critical skills in design, engineering, and creativity, preparing for their careers.



Many institutions and organizations are supporting the use of personal devices. Students and educators are bringing their own devices into the classroom and connecting them to the University’s network.


Understanding the findings of the Horizon Report is important for the Notre Dame community.  These trends are set to have great impact on teaching and learning in the coming years. Implementing them properly and understanding their impact will prepare our students for the future.

Exploring Google Tango

Google TangoProject Tango is a line of Google smartphones and tablets featuring the ability to accurately track position in space with a new depth-sensing camera. Tracking position on a traditional smartphone is limited and has a large margin of error, making the technology largely unreliable in this application. The unique camera on Project Tango devices allows them to “see the world in 3D,” taking photos that capture the distance from the camera rather than capturing color for each pixel. Project Tango devices track movement of objects in the camera’s frame. Because of this, they can accurately estimate how the camera must have moved to cause objects to shift in this way. The tracking ability in the Project Tango devices opens up exciting new possibilities in a variety of fields.

“At Academic Technologies, we are very excited about Project Tango. It is extremely promising technology, and quite easy to program for,” says Ryan McGrail. Ryan has been leading the exploration of Project Tango at Notre Dame, and is in the early stages of understanding the device and its potential. “I am quickly discovering how I can apply these new features to the apps we create. It is a very well-built device, and lends itself to imaginative implementations in our apps,” he says. Ryan has also observed shortcomings of Tango. The 3D camera is not effective for scanning objects in the distance, or outdoor environments. If the camera is obscured, it attempts to interpret motion from a black image. This can lead to inaccurate data. “The good aspects of these devices far outweigh their problems,” Ryan says. He believes that the kinks observed in the developer version of Tango will be worked out before the devices hit the market.

Currently, Ryan is using Tango in a partnership with Notre Dame’s architecture program. They are developing a blueprint-reconstruction tool that would allow the user recreate a space inside a Tango device by simply walking around the building. The 3D model created with Tango easily translates into blueprints of the space, and can be imported into architecture programs. Beyond this current project, Ryan sees vast potential for Project Tango at Notre Dame. “Tango can be used as a handheld frame to see the world…We could use the devices to map out buildings on campus, such as the main building. With the models saved to a few Tango devices, Notre Dame admission officers could take them around the country, and allow prospective students to “walk” around the buildings for themselves.” Tango could also be utilized in the classroom, creating an opportunity for instructors to virtually bring students to a museum on the other side of the world, or for designers to see their work come to life. “The possibilities are truly endless, and this is just one of the simplest ways to implement Project Tango,” Ryan says. We look forward to continuing to explore the Google Tango technology, and will keep you updated as we progress.

Active Learning With Echo360

Echo360 is an active learning platform designed for use in higher education. It has many applications for digital learning, including:

  • Lecture Capture: Learning is optimized with lecture capture and webcast capabilities. Echo360 features 1080 pixel, high definition capture with the ability to schedule recordings in advance and publish automatically. These features make the system well-suited for remote teaching. Instructors can record course presentations on Mac or PC from their home or office, or they can capture lessons right in the classroom.


  • Instructional Content Management: Echo360 provides a Learning Library that streamlines the content management process, storing all materials in one place. Instructors can search and filter through their content. Materials are easily shared through the university’s learning management system.


  • Student Engagement: Echo360 allows instructors to cater to different learning styles. Students are able to follow videos, notes, and discussions at their own pace. With discussion threads and an active learning platform, students can ask questions and engage in course discussion in real time. Instructors can also build polls and quizzes directly into their presentation.   


  • Analytics: Instructors can access an analysis of course performance and individual progress. Further, instructors can establish what success metrics are most important to them, and prioritize the metrics they want to focus on.

Digital learning through Echo360 creates a unique opportunity for multi-media student engagement, bringing material beyond the traditional classroom.

Remind App: An Easy Way to Connect


Remind is an app that helps teachers to connect with their students, sharing quick reminders about course related information. With the app, classes can connect:

Easily. Teachers sign up for the app and create a class through it. Students then receive a class code which they use to participate in course messaging.

Safely. Phone numbers are kept confidential in the class messages to ensure privacy. Teachers can only message the class collectively, not individually. They also serve as administrators and can access the message history.

Efficiently. Messages can include scheduling, voice clips, and image or document attachments. The app allows you to see who has viewed attachment content.

At No Charge. Teachers, students, and parents can use the app for free.

This Remind app is an easy way for teachers and students to stay connected about course updates.


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?

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.