December 2016 Communicator masthead

December 2016 Communicator  

Vol. 24, No. 5 [pdf version]

‘Robot’ is resource for MTSU aerospace students who miss lectures

In the video clip above, MTSU Department of Aerospace Professor Nate Callender is tracked by the Swivl Capture Robot as he gives a recent lecture. The moveable camera holder follows his movements using a neckpiece that includes a microphone and infrared tracking devide. Students can then access the video if they missed his class.

The days of trying to decipher a classmate’s notes to catch up on a missed lecture are over in Nate Callender’s classes at MTSU.

And if students are a little too groggy at 8:30 in the morning to fully comprehend the Continuity Equation, they can review it again later.

Because every note is being tracked and every word picked up by a Robot.

For a year and a half now, Callender, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace, has been using a Swivl Robot Capture system.

He wears a neckpiece that includes a microphone and infrared tracking device that allows his iPad Air 2 to move side to side and up and down to record his lectures.

Students who either missed a class, or just wanted to review it, can watch it online. Callender said the video lectures have been a huge benefit for absent students, including athletes, those in military service, and non-traditional students.

“I have a single mom in my class and she has to take care of her kids. When one is sick, she has to miss class. This allows her to watch it online,” Callender said. “And some in the military have to miss weeks of class.

“Used to they would have to borrow notes from someone in class and it is often difficult to read someone else’s notes.

Even if they took clean notes, they don’t get every word.

“This allows them to get the content and the discussions.”

A smaller percentage of students request the videos to review a class they have attended, he said.

But whatever the reason, they all have something in common—those who watched video lectures passed the class more than those who didn’t, he said. That is based on a review of final grades of students who requested the video links.

“It may be they were already motivated students anyway, or it could be that the video helped them,” he said.

Taylor Linton, a senior Aerospace student, said she has watched a video lecture after missing class due to being sick.

“I emailed him and got a link to the lecture. It’s a great idea,” she said.

An active lecturer, Callender said a fixed camera just would not have worked because he would move out of the frame too much, and it would not have picked up all his notes on the whiteboard. A button on the neckpiece allows him to lock in the view of the camera, for example on his whiteboard notes.
Swivl Robot for Dec 2016 CommunicatorCallender learned about the Swivl Robot while evaluating new technology for the Tennessee Board of Regents Mobilization Team. He was provided the Swivl, the neckpiece, and unlimited storage to the Cloud and began using it in May 2015.

It is compatible with someone’s preferred device, in Callender’s case the iPad Air 2.

Lectures are automatically uploaded to the Cloud after he shuts down the device. Then if a student emails him a request to watch the lecture, he sends them a link.

There have been a few bugs to work out, he said. One early issue was that the tracking was a little too slow. He said that was by design to keep the video smooth, but added that it has improved somewhat.

“I’ve had to calibrate myself to walk a little slower so that it can follow me,” he said.

He also has had to work around glare on his whiteboard that prevented viewers from reading his notes.

He currently carries and sets up the system in his classrooms, but envisions the Swivl becoming standard equipment in University Master Classrooms, along with other technology. He said it can help professors meet MT Engage and Student Success initiatives.

“I solicit feedback, and with the students who choose to give me feedback everything is positive, ” he said. “I had one student who said, ‘I wish every class had this.’

“If they benefit from it here, think about any other class a student has to miss—particularly those student populations I talked about. There is really no way to capture being in the classroom like being in the classroom, and this gets you close to that. ”

He touts the benefits of the Swivl to his colleagues every chance he gets, one-on-one or in meetings.

A native of Halls, Tennessee Callender earned his undergraduate degree in Aerospace from MTSU, and a master’s in Aviation Systems and Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He has been on the MTSU faculty for 12 years and is a private airplane and hang-glider pilot. 

More info on Swivl

Anyone with questions about the Swivl can reach Callender at

For more info on Swivl visit access popular in first months at MTSU
Lynda graphic

“Lynda” made quite an impression when she arrived on campus back in September.

Faculty, staff, and students now have access to thousands of tutorials on the website

Topics include writing, publishing, graphic design, animation, and audio/video programs; career fields like marketing, filmmaking, game creation, IT security, and web design; and even job skills such as time management, and project coordination.

As of late November, 1,813 people had regularly used the MTSU site and viewed 27,372 videos, according to site tracking data. If you haven’t yet checked it out, here is a reminder of how to access the site:      

Accessing, using

  • Log in to the access portal at: You will see the Microsoft Azure sign-in page. (Students: If you are already an Office 365 user, you can access from
  • Faculty/Staff Startup: Under “Work/School Microsoft Account” credentials enter your FSA (For example, if you sign in to your work computer with the FSA username jjones, then you would enter Then type in your FSA password.
  • Student startup: Under "Work/School Microsoft Account" credentials enter your MTMail email address. (For example: If your MTMail email user name is zzz3z, you would sign in as Type in your MTMail password.
  • From here you can click on and be automatically signed in. If you have a previous account, you will be prompted to migrate your old profile.        
  • Access via app
    iOS app—download the app from the Apple Store
  • Choose Already a Member
  • Choose the Organization tab
  • Under Web Portal—enter and click on Log In
  • Choose your account
  • Choose Work or School Account
  • Enter your FSA (for faculty) or MTMail (student) password
  • Click on Sign-In

Find these instructions along with resources for learning and using at

ITD systems analyst made 'escape from New York' winters

ITD Ryan LauA professional problem-solver at work, ITD Systems Analyst Ryan Lau found a solution to three personal goals in his move to middle Tennessee.

He escaped the brutal upstate New York winters, got closer to family, and furthered his tech career.

A native of Marion, New York, near Lake Ontario, Lau earned a degree in Computer Information Systems from Buffalo State University in New York in 2012.

He said his first real information technology job was with HSBC in Buffalo as an associate analyst II business systems. He worked with the AS400 i-series midrange server, which was designed for small businesses and departments in large enterprises and works well in distributed networks with Web applications.

“I implemented, tested, and analyzed the functionality of the systems programs,” he said. “After staying for a little over a year, my wife and I decided we wanted to move closer to family and escape the New York winters, so I took a job at Eco-Energy.”

At Eco-Energy in Franklin, Tennessee, his main duties included documentation of systems processes and procedures, resolving daily incidents, and adding new users and granting them privileges/authority to systems corresponding with their job title, he said.

He joined ITD at MTSU in August 2015 as a systems analyst I. At the University, his main tasks are to convert all existing Business, Finance, and HR reports from Access to Argos, provide automation of reports, create new reports upon request, and work with users to test and release their requests into production.

“The best part of my job is being able to work with the users and assist in any way possible to help make their jobs easier and more effective," Lau said. "The most challenging part about my job is being able to identify the best possible solutions to some of the issues that occur during test or the actual building of the report."

“There are a lot of ways to tackle a problem and some are better than others. It’s not always easy to determine the best one.”

He met his wife, Taryn, at Buffalo State. They live in Murfreesboro with their 7-year-old son.

“We really enjoy the area. We’re definitely staying here. My family is here now, which is nice,” he said. One of his brothers already lived in the Murfreesboro area, and now a third one has joined them here.

Away from work he likes to hunt, fish, go camping, do metal detecting, and collecting coins. He said those last two hobbies often intersect—he’s found some old coins with his metal detector.

Lau said he had enough of ice and snow while growing up, through college, and into his early career. Now he likes getting a little winter weather to enjoy, then have it go away.

“It’s fun when you’re a kid, but not when you have to scrape your windshields and shovel it,” he said. “And up there, you’re not going to get of work—you’re going to go in.”

New ITD employees 

Stevenson joins ITD as web developer

David StevensonDavid Joel Stevenson joined the Information Technology Division on Sept. 1 as web developer in Academic and Instructional Technology Services.

A native of Henderson, Kentucky, Stevenson has lived in middle Tennessee for 14 years after transferring from the University of Kentucky to MTSU.

He graduated from MTSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Recording Industry and minors in Computer Science and Mathematics.

“I’m still learning everything the position entails,” Stevenson said. “We’re just now starting the process of tying the front-facing website to the Banner database, so that we can automate a lot of things.

“If it involves code and can be accessed through, I’m probably in the mix somewhere.”

Stevenson is a “creative” in every sense of the word, whether providing web development solutions, writing and performing music, or acting.

Stevenson is a solo singer-songwriter and also frontman for the band Manic Bloom, which has gained exposure on the Jim Rome sports talk show for its song “Lil Alvie D: King of the Jungle,” and also had its music featured regularly on the YouTube trick shot show Dude Perfect.

He has published two books: The Surface’s End and The Dirt Walkers. But perhaps his most interesting job was working a summer as a “pirate” character on a replica ship in Clearwater, Florida, he said.

Stevenson was a web developer with King Easy Records/Full Light Records 2006-09, and MMA Creative during 2009-12, among other companies. He also was a self-employed web designer, publisher, and site developer with Look Dad!

“I love problem-solving. Perhaps the most fun thing about programming is when someone says, ‘Can we’ and says something they assume can’t be done. Those things that can’t be done are when the creative part of me jumps up and down, then loses track of time when I’m coding,” he said.

“The biggest challenge is that technology changes at a break-neck pace, and keeping up-to-date with it can be difficult and stressful.”

 Pool new system administrator for Unified Communications at ITD

Michael Pool

Michael Pool came to ITD on Sept. 30 as the systems administrator for Unified Communications.

A native of Farmersville, Texas, he and his family have lived in McMinnville for 24 years.

Pool earned his Bachelor of Science degree from MTSU in Professional Studies (Information Technology) and recently completed a Master of Science degree in Information Security and Assurance from Western Governors University of Tennessee.

“I have really just about done it all. Right out of high school I went to work as a repair technician in a small computer store in North Dallas, working on the old Apple II+ machines, among others," he said. "Shortly afterward, I worked for three years for Diebold, Inc., working on automatic teller machines, and that is where I began to get involved in large financial computer networks, which were still a fairly new idea at that time."

Later he became a telecommunications specialist for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Plano, Texas.

After seven years, he pursued some management opportunities in Denver and then in Louisville. He came to McMinnville in 1992 to take a position with Bankpak Inc. He was the ATM service and technical support manager until coming to MTSU.

At ITD, he is primarily responsible for the Skype for Business systems.

“So far, the best part of the new job has been getting to know the great group of people working in all the various areas of ITD. Everyone has been astonishingly friendly, helpful, and supportive of me as I begin to adjust to life and work here at MTSU,” he said.

He and his wife, Patsy, have been married for 31 “wonderful years” and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

“I have played the guitar all of my life, but just recently have become fascinated with guitar building and repair, and am currently in the process of developing a small shop for myself,” Pool said.

Draude, Heidt attend FWI conference

Barbara Draude Barbara Draude and Alecia Heidt attended the FourWinds Interactive Forward conference in Denver Oct. 20-23.

The conference brings together education and industry leaders to discuss the role of digital signage in the realm of visual communications.

Draude, pictured left, is assistant vice president of the Information Technology Division and Heidt is specialist-web designer with ITD.

Both attended a Power Users Session of industry specialists to explore the present and future of the FWI signage products.

Draude presented a breakout session titled: “Middle Tennessee University/Managing a University’s Signage Network: Lessons Learned Along the Way.”

For more information on FourWinds Interactive visit

  LT&ITC Faculty Fellows 

Faculty Fellows 2016

The annual MTSU Faculty Fair was held Oct. 26 in the Learning, Teaching, and Innovative Technologies Center (LT&ITC) in the Walker Library. At this open house event, participants learned about grant opportunities, innovative strategies, student success initiatives, support for faculty professional development, and more. The event also recognized MTSU faculty members who earned the LT&ITC’s Faculty Fellows designation for 2015-16. Pictured above are, from left, front row: Richard Tarpey, Zhen Wang, Heather Dillard, Echell Eady, Gloria Green; back row: Ryan Korstange, Kevin Krahenbuhl, Kate Pantelides, Lauren Rudd, and Eric Oslund. Not pictured: Kristin Naylor, and Catalina Palacios.

New Year's Resolution: Finish Skype For
Business migration process at MTSU

To date, approximately 1,500 telephone users have been migrated to the Skype for Business unified communications system.

Projections are that all telephone users will be on the Skype for Business system by Summer 2017. Below is tentative building-by-building schedule for the final migrations:

Fall 2016

  • Housing (all dorms)
  • Davis Science Building
  • Wiser-Patten Science Hall

January 2017

  • Alumni Memorial Gym
  • Boutwell Dramatic Arts Building
  • Bayer Travis Maintenance
  • Central Utility Plant/Cogeneration Plant
  • Central Utility Plant
  • Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia
  • Forrest Hall
  • MTSU Blvd Garage
  • Hastings Maintenance Complex
  • Holmes Parking Garage
  • Haynes-Turner Maintenance
  • McFarland Building
  • Project Help
  • Soccer & Track Complex
  • Science Building
  • Satellite Chiller Plant
  • Storage Warehouse
  • Woodmore Cybercafe

February 2017

  • Holmes Building (Maintenance Complex)
  • Student Services and Admissions Center
  • Floyd Stadium
  • Student Union Building

March 2017

  • James Union Building
  • James E. Walker Library
  • Stark Agribusiness and Agriscience Center
  • Saunders Fine Arts Building
  • Andrew L. Todd Hall
  • Wright Music Building

April 2017

  • Midgett Building
  • Peck Hall
  • Parking Services Building
  • Public Safety
  • Stephen B. Smith Baseball Clubhouse
  • Tennessee Livestock Center
  • Internal Audit (Wansley House)
  • Warehouse (Maintenance Complex)
  • Women’s Softball Complex

May 2017

  • Kirksey Old Main
  • Ned McWherter Learning Resources Center
  • Murphy Center
  • Voorhies Engineering Technology

June 2017

  • Cope Administration Building
  • Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building
  • Keathley University Center
  • Printing Services Building

    For training on Skype for Business, sign up for a workshop at

During the recent Employee Gving Campaign, the CAB digital sign served as a “call to participate,” and as a reporting tool. Using the visual communcation abilty of signage can increase the impact of your message.

For more information about MTSU’s digital signage network, or for content suggestions, contact

 Telephone Tidbits
Telephone Tidbits Nov 2016


 Skype for Business offers Exchange Unified Messaging

Skype for Business users experience a new way to manage voice mail with Exchange Unified Messaging (UM).

Exchange UM routes voice-mail messages to email, allowing for easy retrieval through embedded playback controls.

In addition, Exchange UM provides a speech-to-text transcription of the voice message, allowing you a quick preview. This is especially helpful if you are in a situation preventing you from listening to audio. Forwarding the voice message has also never been easier--voice messages are forwarded just as any other email would be forwarded.

For additional information regarding Exchange UM, please visit