A Penn Newbie Experience

Lahari Uppuluri

Lahari Uppuluri is an international student from India, working towards her masters degree in nano-technology. As a graduate intern at the WIC and EC, Lahari teaches workshops on Google Tools and PowerPoint. This is her first PennWIC post.

It is admissions season again and quite a few people have been getting in touch with me to know what Penn is like to be at. I thought I should document my experience as a newbie here before it gets too old. So here’s what I went through in my first semester:

Mid-august has harsh sunlight that not all would be used to, with the low humidity here. I ended up walking thirteen miles back and forth the first day I was here!

As I dropped by the ISSS for student registration, I saw a large room full of overwhelmed graduate students (foreign nationals) brimming with excitement. I could sense the competition that there is to come, determination to perform and a slight hint of fear, probably for the unexpected. The first striking aspect about Penn is the sheer size of the university; it is unlike any other academic institution that I have seen. The overwhelming size of resources available to any student studying in this place is just ridiculously large and beyond my imagination. Penn took extraordinary efforts to provide to all students a world-class establishment of literature, technology, health and medical attention besides the academics. In my opinion, research at Penn is second to none. Socializing and networking with the high-quality peer group instilled a renewed sense of seeking and exclusivity in my circle. In short, the quality of life for students here was certainly elevated.

Faculty and program advisors were extremely helpful. As the semester proceeded on full speed, I could spend all my day at Van Pelt at the two library commons without regret.

I did not use Google search much after I came to Penn. I looked up information at Van Pelt with the millions of online books that Penn provided access to. WIC and EC were the tech and design-savvy study areas. Here I indulged my hobbies like learning poster design, learning and teaching software that makes life easy and having group discussions. Best part about being at the two Commons was study breaks during the finals weeks with coffee and hot chocolate.

To boost myself up to the speed here in the United States, there were resources like the Marks Family Writing Center, the Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL), Career Services and CAPS. In addition, Penn Safety and Penn Transit were two tremendously helpful resources that I had.

There were tons of stress relief events like networking, social hours, happy hours, paint nights. Knowledge sharing seminars happened every day; it was the best way to find out what happened everywhere else at Penn, including other schools. We had guest speakers from other universities, corporations, start-ups, entrepreneurs, student achievers and more.

I mostly regretted that there were just 24 hours in a day, spent all my waking hours with in Penn and only ever returned to my home to sleep.

Now I’m completing my second semester here and continue to appreciate what Penn gives me. How do you feel about being at Penn?

Categories: Pedagogy

Lightning Round on April 22

Lightning Round 2015 – April 22, 10:30 AM

As part of our Engaging Students Through Technology series, we’re glad to announce Lightning Round 2015 on April 22, 10:30 am to noon, upstairs in the Kislak Center. Join us to explore creative ideas to engage students in a fast-paced format. Each presenter will share a favorite technology tool or idea with a three-minute time limit enforced by our gong. The event is designed for faculty, graduate students and staff with interest in educational technology. Videos will be shared afterwards on the Penn Libraries YouTube Channel.

Our presenters will need to talk fast!  Maybe a chat with a friendly CWiC advisor will help  shave a few seconds here and there. We have seven presentations confirmed to date – on NVivo, Storify, Palladio, E-Draw, 3D printing (two types) and Scholarly Commons. We hope to include up to twenty topics – so please step up if you have an idea to share!

This format worked great at our last Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium though the time limit was even shorter, at just two minutes. Our playlist below includes twelve videos on topics from Annotation Studio to  CAMRA to Timeline:

We look forward to the 2015 lightning round talks!

Categories: Pedagogy

Faculty Active Learning Showcase

FACULTY ACTIVE LEARNING SHOWCASE Friday, May 1st, 12:30-2pm Lunch-and-Learn Van Pelt Collaborative Classroom Come enhance your teaching.  Click here to register today.
Categories: Pedagogy

Senior Research Spotlight

The gong will strictly enforce the two-minute time limit!

Are you a graduating senior? Have you been working hard on a senior thesis or project lately? Does your project involve new media? Can you talk fast?

If all of the above apply to you, we welcome you to submit a proposal for our Senior Research Spotlight. Together with co-sponsors CURF, CWiC, and Weingarten Learning Resources Center (VPUL), we invite twenty graduating seniors in any of the four undergraduate schools at Penn to share their work that involves new media (audio, video, image collections, software, 3D printing…) in a collegial atmosphere in front of peers, faculty, librarians, and administrators from around campus.

Presentations will consist of two-minute lightning talks, with time strictly enforced by the gong pictured above! The event will take place on Thursday, April 29, 2015, at 3pm in the Class of 1978 Pavilion, Kislak Center, 6th Floor of Van Pelt Library. The room will be set up theater-style, and students will stand at the front podium to deliver their talks.

For more details, please see the event website. If you are interested in participating, submit a registration form by Monday, April 22, 2015, by 5 pm. To consider your submission, all we need by April 22 is the registration form. If you’d like to attend the event, please register here.  We hope you’ll join us on April 29th!

Categories: Pedagogy

PennWIC Blog Turns 4!

Hard to believe it’s been 4 years! To celebrate, we’ve made an infographic detailing our blog’s meteoric rise in popularity and highlighting some blog statistics we found interesting. For instance, we were delighted to learn that our most popular posts are increasingly about undergrad projects. We built this graphic using Adobe Illustrator, and styled it after a modern variant of the Penn colors and modal user interface schemes.

It’s great to look at where we’ve been, but this also gives us some insight into where we’re heading. What would you like to see more of from the WIC blog before it turns 5? Let us know in the comments down below.

You can get a PDF of the infographic here.

Categories: Pedagogy

Screen Jam! Screenwriting Contest

The Underground Screenwriting Guild (a new student group on campus) is having a screenplay writing contest, ending Monday. You have the weekend to write a short film from 5 to 22 pages and submit it by Monday at noon.  The first place winner gets to have their screenplay made into a short film, which sounds pretty freaking cool to me.

Click on the flyer for more details, then fill out the form below and have fun!

Categories: Pedagogy

Academic Impressions at Penn Libraries

Academic Impressions group at EC (Click to view all photos)

This past week Anu Vedantham and I had the opportunity to share thoughts on library service with a broad collection of higher education professionals – from librarians and architects to administrators and consultants – at an Academic Impressions conference here in Philadelphia. With guidance from Patrick Cain, our conference director, we brought the group to tour spaces at Penn Libraries: the Education Commons, the Weigle Information Commons, the Collaborative Classroom and the Kislak Center.

Anu and I led a pre-conference workshop, discussing thoughts on how to effectively provide a suite of services in a library, with examples from the WIC and EC. We discussed the Hoesley and Seltzer programs, equipment lending programs in both Commons, and the EC’s new 3D printing service. We led a discussion about philosophical principles that led to our successful programs: student-centered programming, participatory design, “broken, not dusty” facility management, effective risk-taking and improvisation.

The Mary Idema Pew Library at Grand Valley State University.

Over the next two days of the conference, it was exciting to hear these principles echoed by librarians and administrators from around the country, who said they found the same principles at the center of their work. Lee Van Orsdel described the new library at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and Mary Somerville described the ongoing Auraria Library renovation at the University of Colorado Denver. Joe Fennewald shared innovations from Penn State University including their One Button Studio.

We brought everyone to the EC and the WIC to explore our facilities as we discussed some of our own successes and challenges over the past 3 or 9 years, respectively. Everyone was very impressed, and also had good feedback for how we might be able to improve what we do. Catrice Barrett demonstrated the capabilities of the new Collaborative Classroom, and David Toccafondi shared details about the Vitale Digital Media Lab.

Catrice Barrett facilitates tour of Collaborative Classroom

The conference ended with a wonderful panel discussion celebrating the WIC Program Partners. The panel included Kim Eke from Penn Libraries,  Valerie Ross from the Critical Writing Program,  Sue Weber from CWIC, John MacDermott from SAS Computing, and Lahari Uppuluri, one of our very own interns! The participants commented later on how friendly, informal and relaxed Penn seemed to them.

The discussions at the conference not only made us feel excellent as everyone was so excited about our own spaces, but also led us to exciting ideas on how we might improve. Our visitors noticed aspects of our spaces that I wouldn’t have thought of after living in this space for a few years and becoming used to its quirks. I am looking forward to how I can improve the EC – both with quick projects, and more ambitious ideas that might take just a bit more doing.

Categories: Pedagogy

Hello Dolly!

When you carry a video camera and walk around while filming, the resulting video is often very jerky and can be annoying for the viewer if you don’t follow good technique.  Ideally, we’d all like that smooth camera motion you might get from a SteadyCam, but SteadyCams can get very expensive, they need some customization for the camera you’re using, and they take a long time to learn to use effectively.

So we’ve added a new heavy duty Tripod Dolly to our equipment lending program.  Basically, you can rest your tripod on the dolly, and then wheel it around to get that professional look and feel in your final video.  For obvious reasons, you’ll need to use it on smooth surfaces, so grass, gravel, thick carpets, uneven sidewalks, etc. probably won’t give you the best results, but it works like a dream on regular flooring or low carpeting.  (And even on a slightly bumpy surface, you can always use something like Adobe Premiere‘s Warp Stabilizer to remove most of the shakiness after the fact–just ask a lab consultant if you need help with this!)

Wes and I made a 90 second video on how to use it, which you can view at

Right now we only have one dolly, but if it proves to be a hit, I’ll get more to meet the demand.

Reserve the dolly online at (you’ll find it located in the Tripods category.) If you’re new to borrowing from the Vitale Digital Media Lab, check out our overview of How to Reserve Equipment.

p.s. Thanks to William for the perfect title for this post.
Categories: Pedagogy

Planning better study spaces at Penn

When it’s time to get work done, the right kind of space can make a real impact on your productivity.   We want to know what you think makes a good study space – both for individual and group work.  Where do you currently go to study?  What works well, and what could be improved?

Penn Libraries, College House Computing and SAS Computing are hosting a series of focus groups for students so we can hear your opinions. Your input will help guide the development of new study spaces and improve existing facilities.

Please register by clicking on the link next to a session below. These sessions are designed for undergraduates and we plan to record audio of the discussions.

All sessions include the same content and refreshments will be provided. Please join us in the WIC Seminar Room, Weigle Information Commons, First floor, west side in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

Categories: Pedagogy

That’s One Sharp Monitor

I’ve been wanting 4K monitors in the Vitale Digital Media Lab for a long time.  Most of the machines in the library aren’t powerful enough to drive a 4K display, but our new Mac Pros are, so I figured they deserved a display befitting their abilities.

We now have a gorgeous new 32” 4K Sharp Monitor, pretty much one of the best available as of this writing. (It’s on the workstation right next to the paper cutter.) The lab consultants, some lab users, and I gathered around it last week oohing and ahhing as we watched some beautiful 4K footage we downloaded to put the monitor through its paces.

Please enjoy it, and let us know what you think! If it works out and we’re happy with it, we may upgrade the rest of the monitors later this year.

Categories: Pedagogy

Screening Scholarship Media Festival 2015

CAMRA Festival Poster

We are looking forward to camra‘s annual media festival on March 27 and 28. Our partnership with camra has brought us fun times exploring audio and video. Past festivals have featured student-created videos including the Rubber video from Lisa Mitchell’s class and the great work of our own Lindsey Martin (after two years, we still miss her at WIC!). The Screening Scholarship Media Festival is a great place to meet colleagues interested in new media. As they describe:

"We explore the affordances and challenges of multimodal representational strategies in research, and we interrogate their social implications. SSMF is a hybrid between a traditional academic conference and a film/media festival."

We hope you will join us at the 2015 SSMF – check out the Festival Schedule

Categories: Pedagogy

Lending New Nikon and Canon DSLR Cameras

At the suggestion of a lab user, the Vitale Digital Media Lab recently added some brand new Canon 70D and Nikon D7100 DSLR cameras to our equipment lending program.  These are a significant step up from the Nikon D3100 cameras we’ve had up til now.  This brings us up to 8 DSLRs, which remain the most popular items that we lend.

The new cameras provide significantly better image and video quality, higher resolution, less noise, more dynamic range, better color depth, longer battery life, faster and more accurate focus, and better performance in lower light situations without a flash.  The Canon 70D also has a very useful flip-out LCD screen that you can tilt so you can get better shots when you’re shooting at unusual angles.

The cameras are identified by model number in our lending system so you can reserve the ones you like. If you’re new to borrowing, check out our overview of How to Reserve Equipment.

I hope to add more of these in the future, so please let us know what your experiences with the new cameras are like.  If you have additional suggestions for purchases, please let us know and we’ll do our best to get it.
Categories: Pedagogy

Italian Madrigals on WIC iPads

Image from event website

When Professor Mauro Calcagno submitted a request to borrow 5 WIC iPads, I figured it was for his students to use for coursework, which is typically the case with our iPads in the Classroom Program. However, I was intrigued to find out that the iPads would be used by the Penn Madrigal Singers to perform digital editions of 16th-century composer Luca Marenzio’s work. I was lucky enough to attend the event last week, which was organized by the Penn Music Department, the Center for Italian Studies, and the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center, and co-sponsored by the Digital Humanities Forum. It was so fascinating to see both the digital humanities project that Mauro and his colleagues are working on and the fantastic performance by the Penn Madrigal Singers!

The event kicked off with Mauro explaining the evolution of the Marenzio Project, or MODE – Marenzio Online Digital Edition. The project, which brings together an international team of collaborators and is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University, aims to digitize the secular music of influential Renaissance composer Luca Marenzio for many to use and perform. Mauro and his colleagues who spoke, including Dr. Giuseppe Gerbino of Columbia University and Laurent Pugin of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales – Switzerland, explained how complex of a project it has been to not only find all of the different editions and parts of Marenzio’s music (each part was published separately during the Renaissance, so think: alto, soprano, tenor, baritone, bass), but also to deal with musical scores as digital objects.

Laurent Pugin, describing digital online editions of music. Photo credit: Mauro Calcagno

Unlike texts, which can be scanned and digitized fairly easily these days with optical character recognition (OCR), there are several steps involved in making readable digital copies of musical scores. With new digital tools and encoding schema, including MEI (a community-based music encoding initiative) and the software Aruspix, it’s now possible to perform digital recognition of scores, superimpose them so that multiple editions can be incorporated, and compare different copies and editions to find variants. This creates a digital object where all scores are together in one place and can be annotated and commented on live, so that various performers can interpret the music in different ways.

Putting these editions on tablets means that the musical scores are responsive, or that they adapt to whichever size interface they are viewed on. Performers can also change clefs with a simple swipe or click, and can directly annotate, comment on, or change languages very easily. The Penn Madrigal Singers did an excellent job with both the difficult music and using the iPads to perform it.

Penn Madrigal Singers performing Madrigals by Luca Marenzio

Overall, the MODE project is an excellent example of how digital humanities scholarship is really advancing research in many fields. This project embraces, as Mauro said, “digital technologies as conduits of culture,” especially in the field of early-modern culture. The MODE project certainly also made innovative use of our iPads, and we always encourage you to experiment with them if you have a similarly interesting project. Many thanks to Mauro, the Madrigal Singers, and all the presenters for an excellent event!

Categories: Pedagogy

New Poster Printer Prices

Due to rising costs, we’re changing our poster printing prices here at the Penn Libraries from 2.5 cents per sq. inch to 3 cents per sq. inch ($4/32 per sq. foot), effective March 7.

A 36″x48″ poster, for example, will now cost $51.84. (The very same poster would cost you $100 at Campus Copy or Kinkos/FedEx Office.)  We continue to accept only PennCash as a means of payment. For more exciting information on printing posters in the lab, be sure to check out our Poster Printer FAQ.

If you need help designing your poster, feel free to stop by the Vitale Digital Media Lab.

Categories: Pedagogy

March 4 – Spring 2015 Majors Dinner

We welcome undergraduate students to join our March 4 Majors Dinner (register now!) here at the Weigle Information Commons. The Commons thrives on student voices. We learn from your experiences, your ideas and your comments. So please share!

We’ll be talking about the Hoesley Digital Literacy Fellows Program (open to current sophomores and juniors) and the Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards (open to current first-years, sophomores and juniors). We’ll also discuss our Ready, Set, Succeed series and our Senior Research Spotlight and highlight ways to share your voice through Spring 2015 activities at the two Commons.

Categories: Pedagogy

Fair Use and Vampires

In honor of Fair Use week, this week, I wanted to respond to a blog that quoted one of my posts recently. In the article, the author, Anthony Hogg, discusses some takedown notices he received and the ensuing legal battles. He also makes an important point: “Fair use is an invaluable safeguard against over-protective and malicious complainants. It’s not just useful for articles like Erin’s ‘Seeking Vampires in London,’ it’s beneficial for all writers, journalists, artists, teachers and students.”

Case in point, take a look at this picture:

From Jason Edmiston

This is a drawing used in one of the PennWIC blog’s own posts. Clearly it is a fair use, mashing up various monsters and in this particular instance used to advertise Halloween programming at WIC. If one had to ask the permission of the Stoker and Shelley estates, or Universal Pictures, this kind of picture would never be created. Additionally, PennWIC’s mashup contest, or even the phenomenon of mashups themselves, would be equally impossible.

Fundamentally, fair use is an essential safety valve protecting our ability to free speech. As Rebecca Tushnet says in Copy this Essay “Sometimes a copy is just a copy; other times it is vitally important speech.”

One of the great advantages of the internet is the open and free commentary that it allows. I am gratified that Anthony Hogg, a person whose work I would likely never encounter in my work as an academic librarian, was able to find my work about fair use helpful and that he was able to quote my work (utilizing fair use) in order to make a point about his particular situation. Though fair use may not be a stake in the heart of copyright, nor should it be, it should remain an important tool for all people who need to use it for the purposes of “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research” on an open internet and within a free society.

Happy Fair Use Week to all!

For more information:

Fair Use Week –

Copyright Office –

Penn Copyright Guide on Fair Use –

Stanford Fair Use Site –

Categories: Pedagogy

3D Printing at the Education Commons!

The Education Commons has just acquired a few 3D printers! We have one 5th generation Makerbot, and 2 Makerbot Minis. We’ve been testing the printers and our procedures over the past week, and the printers will open for campus use on Monday, February 16. We’re excited about offering the printers for all Penn students, faculty and staff. Penn’s campus has a number of 3D printers already, including the School of Engineering’s AddLab. The printers at the Biomedical Library and here at the EC are open for any use you might be interested in.

We’ll start with printing objects and then move to training people on how to use the printers. There are a number of sites with pre-made 3D printing objects set up on them that you can check out, such as Thingiverse, 3D Warehouse, and Smithsonian X3D. We’ll offer workshops soon where you can learn the basics of the software to create your own 3D objects for printing. Keep an eye on our workshops calendars at the Education Commons and Weigle Information Commons to find out about workshops.

Aside from these nuts and bolts about the printers, we’re very excited to see how people will end up using the printers. We certainly expect a good number of academic uses, and I can’t wait to see some of creative uses you all will think up for these machines. Whether you want to make yourself a Penn logo, something for your club or athletic team, or just anything else you can think of, we’re happy to help you out. Most of us have heard of 3D printing in some form or another by now, and while we’re not quite ready to help you print a lawnmower or replicate some of the Ben Franklin statues on campus (though maybe in miniature?), these printers can definitely help you with rapid prototyping, printing out your own art, making floor plans, or anything else you can think of that fits in the Makerbot’s build volume (about 11x6x6 inches).

This is a new service so please let us know what you think as you start to work with the Makerbots. If you have comments you can email us at or just let us know right at the EC desk. We’ll definitely be paying attention and improving our process over the coming weeks. For more information about how to request a print job on the Makerbots check out our 3D printing page.

Categories: Pedagogy

New NVivo Resources

Demand for NVivo has grown quite a bit in recent years. We find it is a great tool for analyzing video and audio interviews, surveys, journal articles and even tweets. We first wrote about NVivo in 2012, and our lit review post from 2013 is in the top-five list with over 2,000 views. In 2014, we wrote about Charlene Wong’s research and Rosie Frasso’s teaching with NVivo. Lately, we receive requests each week for NVivo training, and then we really miss Shimrit Keddem, our former presenter who created our wonderful NVivo guide.

We’re glad to announce that staff from QSR International, the makers of NVivo, will present a NVivo for Literature Reviews webinar just for Penn on February 19 – register now!

QSR will also hold a two-day fee-based hands-on workshop here at Penn on March 9 and 10. Since Penn Libraries is hosting the workshop, QSR has provided a few complimentary seats. (To be considered for one of them, please complete our online form.)

Categories: Pedagogy

Hoesley and Seltzer Programs: Apply now!

We are accepting applications from undergraduate students for the Hoesley Digital Literacy Program and the Seltzer Family Digital Media Awards through March 16.

We accept a cohort of about 15 students each year to the Hoesley program. We welcome applications from all current sophomores and juniors. The program aims to demystify technology, provide hands-on training and a website building project, and foster career connections. You can browse related blog posts.

We select five to six students each year to receive Seltzer awards. Each student has the ability to purchase $1,000 worth of equipment (both hardware and software) for use on an academic project for one year with a faculty supervisor. At the end of the year, the equipment is made available to all of campus through our equipment lending program. You can browse related blog posts here.

Please feel free to stop by to ask us questions about the two programs and join us on March 4 for our Spring SAS Majors Dinner.

Categories: Pedagogy

Voice-over PowerPoint for Beginning Japanese

Back in November, some of us WIC staff members found ourselves listening intently to a room full of Japanese speakers in Goldstein Electronic Classroom for an entire day. No, we weren’t there to learn beginning Japanese. Rather, we were teaching students in JPAN 011 how to use voice-over PowerPoint to present themselves and their interests in a new final video project for the class. Although we’ve assisted many other classes with video projects, this was the first large-scale language class we’ve supported working solely with voice-over in PowerPoint. It was a great success for all involved!

The whole process began in fall 2013, when Suyu Kuo, the course coordinator for JPAN 011, took a voice-over PowerPoint WICshop to improve her skills for using technology in the classroom.  This academic year, she received a grant to develop a new multimedia project, called “Japanese Self-Introduction Video Clip thru Voice-Over PowerPoint,” and called upon WIC to help develop the assignment and teach both the course instructors and students how to do voice-over PowerPoint.

After teaching Suyu and the other faculty members, Sachie Koizumi and Kenji Endo, how to do voice-over in October, we discussed the assignment parameters: how long each video should be, what should be included in the videos, and where students could upload and view each others’ work easily while keeping their work private. WIC created a Google Doc tutorial explaining the voice-over process and uploading videos to each class section’s Canvas discussion board.

In mid-November, we met with each class section for a total of 50 students. For the first part of class, we taught students how to make a voice-over PowerPoint and let them practice with sample slides. The instructors had prepared an excellent example presentation in Japanese to model what a successful end project should look like; students practiced on this sample, using a well-developed script in Japanese. They were then ready to get working on their projects, with both WIC staff and their instructor there to help.

At the end of the semester, students uploaded their final projects to a Canvas discussion board for their section and were able to view and comment on their classmates’ projects. Students also completed a Google Form survey with questions including: how they liked this assignment, how the technology did or did not improve their language skills, and whether they had known how to do voice-over before this class, among other questions. Many students enjoyed the assignment and thought it was a good way to enhance their speaking and listening skills, while also learning a new feature of PowerPoint that many had not known about before this class. We even got to view an exemplary student video, which we’re hoping to add to our Student Work Showcase.

This experience with voice-over PowerPoint provided a valuable opportunity for both faculty and students to engage with technology for language learning. In Suyu’s words, “This video project allows students to compose their messages in a creative way through ‘multimodal’ communication that includes the textual, aural, and visual resources.” Working with the JPAN 011 faculty and students also provided an excellent example of how WIC fits into library course support from beginning to end.

Here at WIC, we’re seeing more and more video projects crop up in language classes and are excited that we’re building a bank of projects and ideas in this area for all faculty and students to share. If you have an idea for a project involving new media and need a sounding board, we are always happy to help! Feel free to fill out a training request or get in touch with us at and we would be eager to work with your class. Thanks to the JPAN 011 faculty and students for a great fall semester project!

Categories: Pedagogy
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