By Christopher Thrall –
On April 22, the University of Alberta’s Office of the Vice Provost announced this year’s Information Technology (IT) awards. Augustana Campus Web Applications Specialist Dylan Anderson was named one of two winners of an Innovation Award. He is celebrated for his role in the creation of a unique online assessment and survey tool called WASSAIL, which was recently recognized with the 2010 Association of College and Research Libraries Instruction Section Innovation Award.
“WASSAIL was primarily developed to fill a gap in information literacy skill assessment,” said nominator Nancy Goebel, Augustana Head Librarian. “However, Dylan’s perspective on the bigger picture and fine details met this specific assessment goal while creating software that can do so much more, such as questionnaires, tests and surveys. WASSAIL generates sophisticated reports at the touch of a button – no more acquiring and learning expensive and complicated software to achieve the same end!”
The winner of an IT Innovation Award must demonstrate innovative use of technology in support of research, teaching, administration or the campus experience. The selection team considers the impact of the innovation, the size of the community affected and the novelty of the idea. In all ways, Dylan Anderson came out on top.
“WASSAIL was written with two modes in mind, hosted and open-source,” said Goebel. “In the ongoing pilot, Augustana hosts a number of academic libraries of all kinds and sizes. As open-source software, it is freely distributed for installation at other institutions for their further development and customization.”
“The program gave me a unique opportunity to come up with solutions to some interesting problems,” said Anderson, “and it has been surprising to see how many different institutions are using it. When we built WASSAIL, I thought it was just something Augustana wanted – I didn’t realize it was something the world wanted!”
“Dylan is creative in how he approaches design, thorough in his approach to problem solving, innovative in how he applies various technologies to most appropriately meet a need, and diligent in managing details,” said Goebel. “He is conscientious and professional in his approach and contributions.”
“Dylan’s contributions to Augustana have been key in bringing several important services to life on our campus,” said Josh Ryder, Manager of Augustana’s Technology and Learning Services. “It’s great to see those contributions being recognized within the whole University!”
Anderson’s award will be presented on Thursday, May 6 as part of the joint University of Alberta and City of Edmonton Technocon conference.