SESP Convocation 2016

By Deirdre Lee on 17 Jun 2016 – 4:08 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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Today, we are back at Cahn Auditorium supporting Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy Convocation 2016 events. Every year, we film the SESP convocation as well as provide an overflow feed from our camera for extra attendees on campus. This year, SESP had two convocations we supported: one for the PhD and Master’s candidates and one for the Bachelor’s degrees. Cahn had posters up throughout the theater reminding graduates and their families to share their photos using #SESPLOVE. Congrats SESP ’16 graduates!




15th Annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony

By Deirdre Lee on 16 Jun 2016 – 3:39 pm
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Northwestern IT AMPS is beginning production of events for Northwestern’s 2016 Commencement week! This evening we are at Cahn Auditorium supporting the 15th Annual PhD and MFA Hooding Ceremony for Northwestern’s The Graduate School. We are providing a live stream of the event for those that were unable to be in the theater or on campus. Congratulations TGS ‘16 graduates!





Virtual Reality Demo

By Deirdre Lee on 25 May 2016 – 2:40 pm
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Today, the A&RT conference room turned into a full virtual reality experience over the lunch hour! Ben Williams gave an excellent presentation and demo on several Virtual Reality Devices currently in development use at The Garage including the Microsoft Hololens and HTC Vive. It was a very interactive demonstration that showcases what the future holds for innovative Virtual Reality technologies.









DrupalCon 2016 NOLA

Northwestern developers gather in New Orleans for Drupal's largest annual conference

By Len Brashear on 16 May 2016 – 10:57 am
Location: (29° 57' 3"N x 91° 55' 42"W)
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Alex Miner and Len Brashear in frontof the inflatable Drupal logo

Alex Miner (left) and Len Brashear (right) represent Northwestern IT AMPS at DrupalCon

The AMPS team headed off to New Orleans this week to attend DrupalCon 2016, the largest annual conference worldwide for the Drupal community. Alex and I came representing Northwestern IT, but we weren’t alone. Richard Goodrow, developer for the School of Communication, and John Serafin, developer for NUBIC in the Feinberg School of Medicine, had also joined us to divide and conquer the vast array of sessions down in the Big Easy.

AMPS very recently completed the final phase of our Drupal 6 retirement process, so Alex and I decided to focus our time at the conference on exploring the up and coming Drupal 8 landscape, and assessing its readiness for production sites. With that in mind, we broke down the schedule, and split up to tackle as many sessions as we could on D8 module development, theming, configuration management, and Symphony components.

I’ve put together a roundup of highlights from some of the best presentations we attended, and the lessons we learned below:

Day 1

Dries Keynote

Founder, and Lead Developer of Drupal, Dries Buyaert kicked-off Drupalcon 2016 addressing the current status of Drupal via the traditional Driesnote.  Noting the increased adoption rate of Drupal 8 vs Drupal 7, Dries unveiled several new additions to Drupal 8.1 core including UI Migrations, BigPipe, composer support, and new caching options.  Dries proposed several new initiatives for advancing Drupal as a platform. Utilizing data from the 2016 State of Drupal Survey, these new initiatives help identify areas of improvement for Drupal content creators, site builders, themers, and developers moving forward. Dries commented on the need for advancing customer experience, including cross channel site opportunities and spoken experiences.  The keynote concluded with a demonstration of the new Drupal 8 Alexa Module.  In this Dries exhibits a grocery store order, via spoken experience, utilizing Alexa interacting with a Drupal 8 grocery store site.

D8 Theming – Am I doing this Right?

Presenter Morten Birch Heide-Jørgensen, web designer at geek Röyale & Tag1 consulting, is one of many strong characters in the Drupal community.  His D8 theming session was quite the show, introducing conference-goers to his method for theming in Drupal 8.  The presentation demonstrated how to add classes(via node id) utilizing twig templates, example folder structure using SMACSS, and an overview of d8 template naming conventions.  Morten finished up the session with a rant on his despise for a bloated Drupal core, stressing the near mistakes of the past(960grid), in response to Dries’ call for a preprocessor in core in the keynote.

Amazing user experience with Ember

With the help of D8, ember, and ember liquid-fire; this session, led by developer Edward Faulkner, was indeed “amazing”. Edward walked through a new Drupal 8, ember supported, version of complete with simplified editing interface and pop-out 3D image/link transition effects. The session functioned as a highlight reel of what is now possible with Ember and the theming system in Drupal 8.

Day 2

AMPing up Drupal

Matthew Tift, Karen Stevenson, and Marc Drummond of Lullabot used this session to introduce Google AMP to the Drupal Community. They showcased a trio of tools (module, library, and theme) for adding Google AMP to both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. The module requires some configuration and the session just provided a basic example configuration. The Google Amp implementation for Drupal can be demoed at

Day 3


There was a lot of buzz around the conference, and BigPipe was a big part of that excitement.  Wim Leers, Senior Software Engineer at Acquia, and Fabian Franz, Senior Performance Engineer at Tag1 Consulting, showcased Drupal’s newest caching technology BigPipe. The session provided an overview of the BigPipe module, which introduces BigPipe caching techniques to Drupal 8.  The BigPipe technique, originally created by Facebook, aims to improve the perceived speed of a page load by abandoning the traditional “Single Flush” strategy of page rendering. BigPipe is now included in Drupal 8.1 core as an experimental module.  The module requires zero configuration and an example setup is available at The session provided an overview of other Drupal 8 smart caching techniques including cache tags and auto-placeholdering.  Additionally, Wim and Fabian highlighted other modules, including Refreshless, which implements rails like turbolinks for Drupal.

In Summary

DrupalCon New Orleans was an incredibly experience. The community really utilized the conference to showcase the potential promised by the changes introduced in Drupal 8.  I’m excited about developing in Drupal 8, and I cannot wait to utilize the technologies and techniques featured in the sessions at DrupalCon New Orleans.

2 NU MOOCs Noted as Best for Professionals

By Dan Hoefler on 6 May 2016 – 10:04 am
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A new articled published by Inc. Magazine yesterday titled “11 Useful Online Classes Every Professional Should Take” has named two Northwestern MOOCs (massive open online courses) among the best offered on Coursera.

The list was hand picked by Coursera’s Chief Business Officer Lila Ibrahim, who presumably knows a thing or two about what it takes to make a great MOOC. The two courses are MOOC 2 of the Leadership Specialization, “Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling,” and MOOC 1 of the Social Media Marketing Specialization, “What is Social?” Both of the MOOCs are taught by professors from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

Here’s what Ibrahim had to say about each:

  • Leadership Communication for Maximum Impact: Storytelling–Northwestern University
    • Good communication skills are critical for every working professional to master. Though “this course focuses specifically on empowering managers to communicate in a way that improves clarity, inspires talent, and drives impact,” Ibrahim says, “it will be valuable to anyone who is interested in communicating more effectively and building an authentic, trustworthy, and compelling professional narrative.”
  • What Is Social?–Northwestern University
    • “Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved to be much more than just social networks–they’re major business tools with real impact and power,” Ibrahim says. This course, taught by a marketing strategy firm CEO, provides a detailed overview of the role social media plays in modern marketplaces and guides learners through the process of building a thoughtful professional persona on social networks.

Read the whole article. You can find out more about all Northwestern MOOC offerings on our Digital Learning website, or enroll in the individual courses by clicking on their titles above.


“Showcasing Innovation” at Northwestern

Read about Northwestern's new "innovation in learning" website

By Harlan Wallach on 5 May 2016 – 2:28 pm
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Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 2.25.04 PMThe Digital Learning website is being featured on the Northwestern homepage today. To learn more about the project, its development and aims Bob Rowley has authored a nice article about the project. This Northwestern Information Technology (NUIT) developed website was built in close collaboration with the Global Marketing team, and lead by the Office of the Provost’s Marianna Kepka and Senior Director of NUIT A&RT Bob Taylor. The site is built in Drupal and hosted in the cloud by Acquia our Drupal PAAS provider. All of the photography on the site is original and has been produced by NUIT A&RT staff Nate Bartlett. It’s great that we have a new online destination for educational innovation here at Northwestern.

Digital Learning website launches today!

By Dan Hoefler on 2 May 2016 – 9:47 am
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The Northwestern Digital Learning website launches today! Check it out HERE. The site showcases a variety of the University’s best practices in educational innovation to teachers and students on campus as well as to the outside world.

Digital Learning Homepage

The site launch was a group effort between the Office of the Provost and Northwestern Information Technology (NUIT). NUIT  colleagues Nate Bartlett took all of the photos for the site, and NUIT associate director Harlan Wallach directed a video with Laura Kick and Aaron Dolan to showcase McCormick School of Engineering professor Michael Peshkin’s Lightboard technology. The site itself was built by Northwestern Information Technology staff Alex Miner and Nick Gertonson from the web development team, and is maintained by me, Dan Hoefler.  NUIT Faculty Support Services (FSS) manager Vicky Getis and team members Matthew Aron and Jonathan Diehl have contributed stories for the site, along with contributions from NUIT A&RT senior director Bob Taylor and Daniel Pattley from the Office of the Provost.

The articles on the site are a mix of aggregated content from around the University (MMLC, SPS, Searle, etc.) and original content created and curated by the Digital Learning editorial staff.

We look forward to using the site over the coming months to showcase further innovative stories from around campus and provide a one-stop-shop for any and all Canvas or MOOC-related materials.

Conversations with the President, Evanston edition.

We're in final preparation mode here in McCormick Foundation Center.

By Harlan Wallach on 26 Apr 2016 – 7:55 am
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We’re in final set up mode for the webcast for the Evanston “Conversations with President Schapiro”. Our 2016 webcast is originating from the McCormick Family Foundation. The Webcast will start at 9:45, and it can accessed here.

The whole of the Northwestern Information Technology team is either behind the cameras or in the control room.




Earth Day Collaboration

By Laura_Kick on 25 Apr 2016 – 1:54 pm
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The A&RT Green Committee and the Library Green Committee collaborated to host an Earth Day celebration on Friday!  Both groups have received Green Office Certification from the Office of Sustainability and wanted to continue to raise awareness and support green efforts.  The 3-hour drop-in event consisted of activities, information, and discussions surrounding composting, food, upcycling, biking, and water.



The upcycling station had examples of creative items made of re-used paper, plastic bags, and more.  Here, participants could re-use old sheet music to make envelopes or gift bags.




An engaging mini-lecture on composting dove into the science of composting, provided applicable tips, and outlined many at-home options.






At the creativity with food station, staff sampled bread pudding and banana bread as examples of yummy ways to reduce food waste.






A lively conversation full of tips and stories surrounded the cycling table as many staff members cycle as a primary mode of transportation.






And at the water station, staff conducted a blind taste-test of four different bottled and un-bottled waters and then voted on which tasted the best.  Results were very evenly distributed across all four types.



We’re looking forward to future sustainability projects like the upcoming joint A&RT-Library Green Book Club!

Book Club / Potatoes

Conversations with the President 2016 – Chicago

By Laura_Kick on 21 Apr 2016 – 5:10 pm
Location: (-0° 0' 0"S x 0° 0' 0"E)
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With today’s Conversations with the President event in Hughes Auditorium successfully concluded, we’re now looking forward to the Evanston Conversations event next Tuesday!  We’ll be live switching and streaming this event as well.  Join us!

Conversations with the President