ACMS Aces: Kris Formica

Kris FormicaUC San Diego has more than 100 general assignment classrooms and lecture halls. Each of these rooms is outfitted with audiovisual (AV) equipment that enhances learning. This equipment is maintained, supported, and refreshed by members of the Classroom Technology Support team. Kris Formica, Principal Electronics Technician, is part of this expert team.

“We oversee the installation and upgrade of all the technology in all the [general assignment] classrooms and lecture halls on campus,” Kris said. “We’re responsible for making sure they’re operating and functioning at all times.” Accordingly, Kris is involved in the Lecture Hall and Classroom Refresh Project. The project replaces outdated AV equipment in general assignment lecture halls and classrooms with up-to-date equipment. Kris builds the racks that hold new equipment and programs the touchscreen panels added to rooms as part of the refresh project. Kris also uses his skills to perform AV installations for departments, upgrading meeting rooms and other presentation spaces. One notable project that Kris recently worked on was to program the Prebys Music Center’s AV system so it can be controlled by iPads instead of relying solely on the booth controls.

Sometimes AV issues with classroom equipment can be complex. To decrease interruptions during classes, Kris has an audiovisual equipment setup in his office that is identical to the equipment deployed in refreshed classrooms across campus, which allows him to “recreate almost any situation.” Working on these issues remotely allows Kris to troubleshoot problems without interrupting lecture or having to squeeze his work in during the break between classes. He can also swap out a piece of equipment that is not working properly with one from his office so classes can proceed as normal while he fixes the equipment in his office. Kris also uses the AV equipment in his office to test out new ideas without interrupting classroom use.

Kris is an extensive reader of classic literature. He recently read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and is currently working his way through Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole are among his favorite books.

Before coming to UC San Diego, Kris once worked in the kitchen of a comedy club that served dinner to guests before the start of the shows. “It was the East Coast/New York circuit for comedians so we had some huge headliners,” he said. Kris still enjoys cooking even if he no longer does so professionally.

Thank you, Kris, for everything you do to keep the media equipment in UC San Diego’s classrooms and lecture halls in top condition!

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of Academic Computing & Media Services at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

“Flexible” Furniture Now in Mandeville B150


Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) is proud to announce the launch of a pilot project to test new classroom furniture in one of UC San Diego’s learning spaces. The pilot, a collaboration with the Office of the Registrar, is located in Mandeville B150.

Tables and chairs on wheels replaced traditional desk-seat combinations in the classroom. The furniture is intended to better facilitate group-based collaborative work by students. Tables can be easily rearranged into several different combinations as needed for assignments. This furniture is intended not just to facilitate interactions between students, but also between students and faculty.

Professor Lilly Irani of the Department of Communication brought the idea to ACMS as a way of improving the instruction. Professor Irani designed a course that features projects and activities that required student interaction, which the new furniture will make easier. “These sorts of projects are all about thinking through debating with your team, trying things out, sketching possibilities, and tossing out old ideas. How are you going to have that kind of debate, deliberation, and exploration when everyone is sitting in their individual desk chairs, barely able to move?” Professor Irani pointed out. “The movable and pairable tables and chairs in Mandeville are crucial to enabling engaged, project-oriented pedagogy.”

Peter Newbury, Associate Director of the Center for Teaching Development at UC San Diego, points out that thanks to the fact that the tables and chairs can be arranged to create groups of four, six, or even eight students, “there’s no longer a ‘front of the room’” in Mandeville B150. “Instead of students listening passively while the instructor transmits content from the front of the room,” Peter explained, “the students are the center of the action, practicing how to think, talk, and behave in expert-like ways, with the instructor at their side.”

To learn more about flexible classroom furniture and how you can use it to enhance your teaching, contact the Center for Teaching Development at or (858) 822-1992. If you are interested in teaching in Mandeville B150, talk to your department about requesting to teach in the room.

Faculty iPad Reflection Videos

In Spring Quarter 2013, Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) provided UC San Diego faculty in different disciplines with iPads to explore how the tablet could enhance their teaching. ACMS summarized their findings in a research paper released earlier this year.

Three of the faculty who participated in the pilot program reflected on their experiences in short videos. Hear their candid thoughts about the impact of an iPad on their courses.

If you are interested in partnering with ACMS to use new technology in the classroom, contact Instructional Technology Integration (ITI) at

[RESOLVED] Student Email Maintenance July 28

UPDATE: 9:00 a.m. July 28, 2014 – All email accounts should be operating normally again. If you continue to experience problems, please contact the ACMS Help Desk. Have a great day!

UPDATE: 8:36 a.m. July 28, 2014 – We have received some reports that some users are unable to log in to their email accounts. We are currently investigating the problem. Thank you for your patience!

System maintenance to improve performance and capacity will take place on the ACMS student email system in the early morning hours of Monday, July 28 starting at 4:00 a.m. with anticipated completion before 7 a.m. Service interruption for individual users, if any, should be no more than three to ten minutes.

Thank you in advance for your patience.

ACMS Aces: Pauline Nuth

Pauline NuthThe Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) Business Office supports staff in the department in their day-to-day business needs. With such broad responsibilities, no two days are ever the same for the Business Office’s staff. One of the people who nimbly responds to such varied duties is Executive Assistant Pauline Nuth.

Pauline wears many hats in her position. “My duties are split up between assisting Jeff [Director of ACMS] with his travel and scheduling and…business tasks, helping Elizabeth and Tina with travel reimbursements, reconciliation, and assisting them with the budget book and some other special projects,” she explained. When other departments reach out to ACMS, Pauline is often one of the first points of contact. She has a lot of experience in this role from her time as the department’s Receptionist and Administrative Assistant.

As part of her position, Pauline helps improve how ACMS delivers services to campus. To help achieve this goal, she recently she redesigned the quote that customers receive when they order Media Event Support services. “These changes were intended to make it a much more intuitive process for them to read the quote and also ask us questions,” Pauline explained. Her work helped create a streamlined ordering system that generates quotes that concisely breakdown services and charges in a new, modern statement. The system also provides data for all Media Event Support jobs, like frequently rented items and popular services. This helps Pauline and ACMS better understand customer needs and trends in requests so they can provide UC San Diego with the best service possible.

Pauline likes that she gets to work on many different projects. One of her favorite examples was ACMS’s collaboration with faculty who received Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI) funding to create videos for online education. She found it exciting to help the project get off the ground through assisting with initial budgeting and to watch the ILTI videos as they have progressed.

Pauline is a UC San Diego graduate. As a former student, she recommends that more current students take advantage of the GoVirtual computing lab, which enables UC San Diego students to access many of the same software programs found in computer labs from anywhere with a broadband connection.

As the first in her family to graduate college, Pauline is thrilled to be part of UC San Diego’s staff. She was drawn to working at UC San Diego because of the fact her work would support the University’s educational mission. “You’re part of a team,” she said, “and I think that the most rewarding part is to be able to work with others to produce a successful end product. Whether that’s providing customer service or assisting with even one component of producing this new pilot project, I definitely find that rewarding and exciting.”

ACMS Aces is a series of articles that highlights the dedicated employees of Academic Computing & Media Services at UC San Diego. Keep checking back to find out more about the people behind the magic at ACMS!

The New Ledden Auditorium

Ledden AuditoriumSummer means that the Classroom Refresh Project becomes the Lecture Hall Refresh Project. With fewer students on campus the lecture halls can receive updated audiovisual equipment and upgrades. Ledden Auditorium is the first lecture hall to be refreshed this summer.

The free standing lectern in Ledden Auditorium has been updated to include a touchscreen control panel that makes it easy for faculty to control audiovisual inputs, lights, and media volume all at once. Notably, Ledden Auditorium now has preset lighting levels that let faculty choose the right amount of light for each situation. One preset is presentation mode, which turns off lights in the front of the room while keeping lights on above the seats so students can take notes. HDMI and VGA connections are now available at the lectern to make it easier for faculty to connect their laptops to the projector.

Conveniently tucked in a side drawer of the lectern is a document camera. This handy camera replaces the overhead transparency projector. Faculty can write by hand, show photos, or place items using the document camera. All images from the document camera are displayed through the projector so the entire class can see. Additionally, screencasting, available by request in Ledden Auditorium, captures all document camera images.

One of the most noticeable improvements to the 216 seat lecture hall is the new projector. It is brighter and clearer than the previous model while also being more energy efficient. New projector screens complement the updated projector.

At the conclusion of the refresh, the auditorium got a good cleaning to make it ready for summer session classes.

Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) is proud to raise the quality of classrooms and lecture halls throughout campus through the Classroom Refresh Project in conjunction with Administrative Computing & Telecommunications (ACT) and Facilities Management.

More information about the Classroom and Lecture Hall Refresh Project:

Updated Classroom Details Page

Solis 104The Classroom Details page is a valuable tool for faculty and TAs at UC San Diego to learn what equipment is available in general assignment lecture halls and classrooms across campus. The page has recently been updated to reflect the progress of the Lecture Hall and Classroom Refresh Project and reorganized for easier use.

Most notably, new room attributes are listed for lecture halls and classrooms. Chalkboard & projector use can now be listed as “limited” for configurations where the projection screen covers some, but not all, of the chalkboard. Additionally, rooms are no longer limited to listing only one lectern type. Some rooms have both a free standing lectern and a tabletop lectern and previously displayed only one lectern configuration.

Links were added for resources that must be requested in advance, such as podcasting and screencasting, assisted listening devices, and wired microphones.

Classroom information was recently updated for all classrooms to reflect the progress of the Lecture Hall and Classroom Refresh Project. Updates will continue as more rooms are refreshed. More information about the project can be found in this video.

The Classroom Details page is a joint effort between Facilities Information Systems (FIS) and Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS). If you have suggestions on how the page can be improved, please email

Faculty Feature: Amy Lieberman

An example of one of the Media Teaching Lab's cameras available for checkout

Mitchell Wright of the Media Teaching Lab with one of the Media Teaching Lab’s cameras available for reservation.

Dr. Amy Lieberman, Research Scientist at the Center for Research on Language at UC San Diego, had an ambitious idea for her Child Language Acquisition course: have her students experience every aspect of obtaining a language sample, in this case an example of a parent and child communicating. Though she had plenty of subjects that her students could observe to get their sample, she quickly ran into a roadblock. “I couldn’t figure out how to get access to video cameras that the students could use,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman contacted the Media Teaching Lab to see if they could support her course. Adriene Hughes, Managing Producer-Director at the Media Teaching Lab, saw an opportunity to support UC San Diego’s campus goal of improving the student experience. She used Lieberman’s class as a pilot project for the expansion of the equipment checkout service, which was planned for Fall Quarter 2014. “I was thrilled to hear this as it was the one missing piece I needed to be sure I could go ahead with assigning this student project,” Lieberman said.

The Media Teaching Lab purchased three cameras that were easy to operate and provided better quality video and audio than a cell phone video camera could provide. Adriene gave an in-class demonstration of how to use the cameras and check out equipment from the Media Teaching Lab. “There were three cameras and about 20 student groups, yet we have never had an issue with a camera not being available,” Lieberman said, “All students have been able to access a camera when needed.”

The Media Teaching Lab made the equipment checkout process easy for the Child Language Acquisition students. Students made reservations to check out cameras online through the online equipment checkout system. “The student feedback has been uniformly positive,” Lieberman said. “Everything from checking out the cameras, filming the child, transferring the files, and returning the camera has been seamless.”

Working with the Media Teaching Lab enriched Lieberman’s class. “The collaboration [with the Media Teaching Lab] has made all the difference in being able to assign students a project that I feel has been one of the most effective learning experiences in the class, in that it is hands-on and interactive,” she said. “I’m sure that there will be countless classes (including my own) that will benefit from this program in the future.”

To find out how your course can receive support from the Media Teaching Lab, contact Adriene Hughes at (858) 534-1175 or email.

Spring 2014 Survey Winner

Professor Pei-Chia Chen receiving her iPad

Professor Pei-Chia Chen (right) and daughter (lower right) receiving her iPad from Michael Sullivan of ACMS (left) for completing the ACMS Spring 2014 Faculty Survey

Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) congratulates Pei-Chia Chen of the Chinese Studies Program on winning the Spring 2014 ACMS Faculty Survey drawing for an iPad Mini with Retina display. Professor Chen was randomly selected as the winner from 136 respondents.

ACMS’s quarterly survey gives UC San Diego faculty the opportunity to provide feedback regarding classroom media equipment and support resources, Ted (UC San Diego’s learning management system), podcastingclickers, and instructional support resources like computer labs. The data helps ensure ACMS deploys resources that best support faculty in their teaching.

The survey goes out to all faculty with courses scheduled in registrar-controlled classrooms.

Visit the Faculty section of the ACMS website for information about ACMS educational technology and support services.

Peterson 104 Starts Summer Refreshes

Peterson 104The Classroom Technology Support unit in Academic Computing & Media Services (ACMS) stays particularly busy during the summer as the Classroom Refresh Project continues. Peterson 104 is the first classroom to be refreshed this summer.

The 75 seat classroom has two modern projectors, which display a brighter and clearer picture. The projectors use less energy than their predecessors and are part of UC San Diego’s efforts to achieve a sustainable campus. New projection screens were also installed during the refresh. One projector is used to display media from the DVD/VCR player or laptop and the other is used in overflow situations in conjunction with Peterson 110.

Peterson 104 now includes a touchscreen control panel that makes it easy for faculty to control audiovisual inputs, lights, and media volume all at once. Among the new features are several different preset lighting levels that allow faculty to choose just the right amount of light. This includes presentation mode, which turns off lights in the front of the room while keeping lights on above the seats so students can take notes. Wired connections for HDMI and VGA are available on the wall to make it easy for faculty to connect their laptops to the projector.

The classroom also features a document camera installed in the ceiling. This handy camera replaces the overhead transparency projector. Faculty can still write by hand underneath the document camera, but without having to use costly transparencies and special pens. Other items, like photos, can be placed beneath the document camera, allowing everyone in the lecture hall to see them in detail through the projector. Everything projected by the document camera is also captured by ACMS’s screencasting service that can be set up by faculty in advance of class.

After all of the new equipment was installed, Peterson 104 received a full cleaning to ensure the hall is ready for faculty and students to use.

ACMS is proud to raise the quality of classrooms and lecture halls throughout campus through the Classroom Refresh Project in conjunction with Administrative Computing & Telecommunications (ACT) and Facilities Management.

More information about the Classroom and Lecture Hall Refresh Project: