By Linda Beith, Ph.D, Director of Instructional Design
The Instructional Design & Technologies team migrated two major instructional technology applications over the summer. The Bridges (Sakai) course management system was transferred to Longsight Inc., a new hosting vendor located in Ohio in August. In addition to migrating all the content and courses, Bridges was also upgraded to a new version which is now version 10.4. This upgrade contains many new features and improvements to existing functionality. Some of the highlights of the upgrade include:
- Totally redesigned contextual help
- Ability for group submissions in Assignments
- Addition of peer rubrics to Assignments
- Download of specific submissions in Assignment instead of the all submissions default
- Ability to add comments made in Assignments to the Gradebook
- Drag and drop file uploads in Resources (Chrome)
- Audio recorder addition to the text editor
- Ability to send a file to multiple student drop boxes at once
- Addition of “joinable groups” for students to add themselves to a group
- Improved calculated question type in Tests and Quizzes
For a full list of improvements and additions please see What’s New in Sakai 10?
The other major migration involved moving the Panopto Video Capture program from an on-campus server to the off-campus Panopto services. The Panopto application was also upgraded over the summer and removes the requirement for Silverlight to view videos. There is also a new feature that allows videos made in other programs and formats to be uploaded to the Panopto streaming server for distribution. Another big change in Panopto is the direct access through either Bridges My Workspace or through a Bridges course. This change will reduce confusion over access through multiple accounts and streamline logins. More information can be found on the Panopto 4.7 website.
On Wednesday, October 7, 2015 (7:00 PM), author Jim Shepard will speak at Rogers Free Library in Bristol, RI. The evening will be the first collaboration between the Roger Williams University Library’s Talking in the Library Series and the Rogers Free Library’s Jane Bodell Memorial Series.
Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels, most recently The Book of Aron, and four story collections. His 2007 collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Shepard’s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Harper’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, and The New Yorker. He teaches at Williams College.
The following is an excerpt from an upcoming interview with Jim Shepard in Mount Hope Magazine.
Mount Hope: In other interviews, you’ve certainly noted that to write a Holocaust book (The Book of Aron) enters a crowded field, even if Ron Charles of the Washington Post noted you have “produced a remarkable novel destined to join the shelf of essential Holocaust literature.” It seems to me that in many of your other notable historical works, you find the situation nobody much thought about: a French executioner, for example, in one of your well-known stories, “Sans Farine.”
Jim Shepard: I think that’s right. And I think that’s to a certain extent what I was trying to do in this case, as well: to write about the kind of person – the kind of kid – who nobody thought about, whose loss no one memorialized: the kind of kid no one would really miss. Not a hero like Janusz Korczak, and not a young person so thoroughly extraordinary – like Anne Frank – that her story would uplift as well as sadden, and so become part of lesson plans everywhere.
MH: Historical fiction has seemed to be in an extended Golden Age much different than the days of James Michener. What do you think appeals to readers about seeing the past through the lens of present day writers?
JS: It may be that as we become more and more apprehensive about where we’re headed, where we’ve been becomes more and more potentially illuminating. It’s both grimly satisfying and usefully energizing to realize that we have as an imperial state made the same mistakes as previous imperial states, for example.
MH: What is the appeal to writers, or at least you, of writing historical works as opposed to contemporary society?
JS: See above. There’s also the clarifying usefulness of a little distance. Oscar Wilde’s way of putting that was: “Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth.” It also probably feels to the reader a little less as though she’s being preached at.
MH: Research seems deeply important to you in the writing of historical fiction. How much do you feel committed to historical accuracy as opposed to affirmatively discarding fact to tell a better story?
JS: I think we come to literary fiction not only to teach us about our inner lives but also to learn about the world. So that we feel, reading War and Peace, as though we’re simultaneously educating ourselves about our emotions and coming to understand more about Napoleonic warfare. Because of my own desires as a reader, then, I feel a responsibility to the non-fictional aspects of my fictions – the history or the science – and try to make those aspects as accurate as I can. That said, I also recognize that especially in the case of history, historians disagree, and that there are all sorts of gaps, and that as our politicians continually teach us, facts are malleable things. And on top of that, of course, I recognize that I’m constructing an aesthetic object – not a history or a work of science — so I’m free to infer, as long as I’m inferring responsibly, as far as I can tell, and to make minor alterations: to conflate two trips, say, that seemed not so central to the main story, or two characters for the same reason.
The complete interview will run in the Spring 2016 issue of Mount Hope. It can be purchased or viewed online at http://www.mounthopemagazine.com