Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

March 7, 2007

Minutes of the IRC Meeting, March 7, 2007

Chris Wessells called the meeting to order with a welcome to all attending. Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Chris brought to everyone’s attention the recent publication of the Information Technology Services’ 2006 Year in Review. It is a beautifully produced report chronicling activities of the ITS department over the past year. Additional copies are available from ITS.

The next item at hand was the alert letter from David Ward, president of the American Council on Education (ACE), regarding the RIAA’s (Recording Industry of America) pursuit of copyright infringement issues on college campuses. Chris stated that infringement has not been a huge problem here at USD. Only 9 contacts came to light during the past year. But when we are approached by the enforcement authorities, USD will probably be obligated to pass the warnings along to the individual offending students.

Karen Reed pointed out that college students in fact account for only 4% of RIAA lawsuits.

Chris introduced a presentation by Matt Brennan of Administrative Information Services on a new software application called Web Grades. While the Banner Student Systems are being developed, we have been trying hard not to spend a lot of energy on enhancing legacy systems, but we are implementing Web Grades. This new application will replace the Scantron system, which has proven somewhat unreliable. Faculty will now enter their grades via the Web and data will be received from and recorded into the Registrar’s Office.

Matt asked for a volunteer to demonstrate the system and Jim Perry stepped forward. Jim clicked through the sample pages with no problems. Matt also pointed out that an instructor can enter some of his/her grades, leave the application, and return to complete the grading later.

In response to a query from Jeremy Kua, Matt replied that if you make a mistake, you must go to the Registrar’s Office to amend it. Shahra Meshkaty asked what information goes in the third column and Matt replied that it contains the student’s class level.

Next, Indra Bishop and Shiva Ayalasomayajula provided an introductory demonstration of the MySanDiego portal which will go live on April 4. Indra commented that there are now 52 log-ins at USD. Once the portal is completely implemented, a student, staff, or faculty member will be able to access all of the applications they need with one single sign-on.

The behind-the-scenes design of a portal means that a user will see only the information that is tied to their particular log-in. Users will be able to add tabs and customize some channels and tabs on the portal pages. Campus announcements will be visible to all members of the USD community, and personal announcements will be visible only to the targeted populations. The middle of the page contains USD news and events and the “picture of the week.”

The upper right of the portal page will contain links to Mirapoint (with no additional sign-on) and Find People, and by the go-live date, there will also be a link to WebCT.

Jim Perry inquired about linking to XM Radio. Indra said no, that’s not available yet. You can link to the website but you’ll still have to log in separately to that site.

Students from the focus groups have indicated a great deal of interest in the Group Studio feature of Luminis portal, which will provide a group environment for members to exchange information. The go-live date for MySanDiego is April 4, with a “test drive” scheduled for March 27.

Nancy Carter expressed concern about being able to still connect to the Oracle databases. Indra stated that we will still have access to the Human Resources Oracle Self-Service links. Services in general will be coming online one at a time. After a 6-month evaluation period, we will be revising and modifying the portal, according to needs that have emerged.

Amanda Ryan asked about the EMS and CMS systems. Karen Reed explained that the EMS system is being replaced by Resource 25 and that ITS is creating a new web back end for the CMS system. Chris elaborated that Resource 25 is really a facility scheduling software. Eventually, it will be made available even to outsiders, for their campus event scheduling needs.

Jeremy Kua asked where all this data resides. Indra explained that there is a database server that hosts the information, which is backed up daily. USD can set size upload limits, according to university policy, which can be modified. The scheduled test drive will also function as a stress test for the portal system.

Chris stressed the fact that the portal will be a comprehensive avenue for communication within the USD community. John Yin wondered about control over inappropriate content. Indra replied that there is a large content committee in place. She then presented a number of screen shots of portal MySanDiego pages.

In response to inquiries regarding lists, Chris replied that we’re not going to take away lists. We’re not going to constrain faculty or students.

Kathleen Kramer presented Chris with a thank-you gift for extraordinary support. Chris introduced Doug Burke, for an update on infrastructure projects. The immediate project for the systems staff is university support for Daylight Savings Time issues. Time zone settings in Mirapoint should be Pacific Los Angeles time, not Pacific Tijuana time. NETS staff is going through all servers and if they’re not able to target a patch for a particular server, it will be pointed to an update site.

The HVAC upgrade in the KIPJ is complete. Now the room is so well chilled that staff working in that area may need jackets. Campus opinion, in general, seems to be favorable regarding Mirapoint. There have been some issues with it, but now it is running more stably.

Doug reported that after the power outage over Christmas break, the Math/Computer Science server, which had somehow been missed, has now been repaired. Phase One of the Cisco project (replacing all of the old 3Com equipment) is near completion. Phase Two is scheduled for this summer. In addition, some buildings that did not have single-mode fiber (the President’s house, the Hahn School of Nursing) now have it.

The wireless setup is nearly complete, and is now available in all classrooms. Next will be the rest of the administration buildings and during summer, the outdoor areas. Jim Perry inquired about wireless in the parking structures. Doug said he didn’t know yet but that would require more equipment and increased network security issues.

Chris introduced Shahra Meshkaty for an update on Academic Technology issues. Shahra reported that we’re currently interviewing for a Linux support person. There is one promising candidate, who’s meeting with the search committee tomorrow. There are some complicating issues due to dealing with an international search firm. Meanwhile, Mike Somerville and Doug Burke are interviewing some local individuals for possible consultant work.

Shahra also spoke about increasing desire on the part of faculty to implement clicker technology in the classroom. USD would like to standardize a single kind of clicker to use and support and ATS is recruiting a selection committee to do so. Chris said that the selected clickers will be sold through the bookstore and the bookstore will also buy them back. The idea is for students to have a single clicker for all classes for the length of their college career.

Shahra reported that the Student Technology Assistant (STA) program has been funded. Seven faculty proposals have been selected and seven students to become STAs. More training than anticipated has been necessary for the selected students, but they now all have computers and ATS is excited about the program.

Horizon Wimba is now in use at USD. It is a live classroom voice tool, usable within or outside of WebCT, which allows file sharing with students, who can log into the computerized classroom or lecture. The next release will allow video as well. Shahra commented that Horizon Wimba support is great and that it is a hosted situation, maintained by them.

Chris introduced Rosy Vacchi for updates on the Desktop Support Services area. Rosy announced the Footprints pilot program, which will allow faculty, staff and students to track their own trouble-reporting tickets. For now, there will be a knowledge base as well as an external FAQ knowledge base. This is mainly for when the ITS Help Desk is closed, but it will be available 24 hours a day. Users will be able to enter a help request at anytime and view the status of already entered requests for service.

This pilot program has already been in operation for over a month and techs are now in the process of updating their processes based on community feedback. There will be a Tech Support link on MySanDiego. Also, the phone triage system routes trouble calls for USD staff and faculty members directly to a full-time Desktop Support technician.

Nancy Carter expressed considerable frustration with the Help Desk services. A recent request of LRC was routed to a particular individual for solution, and that individual proved to be out sick for days. Doug Burke, who was familiar with the case to which she was referring, replied that there are usually multiple individuals who can help solve a problem. Rosy stated that we’re working on better internal communication.

Rick Seaman provided a report on current issues in the Administrative Information Services area, calling on Indra Bishop for an update on Xtender and Banner in general. Indra reported that the next milestone is the Admissions area, followed by Financial Aid. There will be a demonstration of Xtender on Friday, March 9, to which all are invited.

Rick also reported that the Kronos time-reporting system is being implemented. It will replace e-timecards and 14 time clocks currently in use on campus. The implementation will be in three phases: University Relations, Mission and Ministry, and Student Affairs. Go-live is expected to be in early May.

Resource25 is also continuing in its implementation. Resource25 will replace the EMS system. It is currently live in the Law School and soon will be in the Degheri Alumni Center. Later in the spring, the campus map on the USD website will have links to events being held in each building, based on Resource25 information. Academic events scheduling will be phased in through Banner Student Systems.

Chris wanted to raise one final issue. The Web Services group, which includes staff from University Relations, Branding, and Marketing, is working on concepts for a redesign of the USD website. The group is currently narrowing the list of model websites. Other institutions have also developed pages for very specific reasons, such as capital campaigns and recruitment improvement, an idea which USD may utilize.

Nancy Carter asked about the timeliness of the computer replacement program. Some of the LRC computers have not been replaced after the 3-year interval. Has there been a change in policy?

Chris replied no, there has not. We still want to have a 3-year plan. We’re still catching up from the conversion from the leasing to the purchase program. Last year, $1,000,000 had been allocated for computer replacement, of which $800,000 was due for lease payoffs. This year we will try for $2-3,000,000 more. We will get to the 3-year goal and would prefer to have a direct buy program as opposed to a leasing program.

Rosy said if a particular computer is having problems, please contact her office for accelerated replacement. Amanda Ryan inquired whether every USD  computer is in the database. Rosy replied not yet, but we’re working on it.

John Yin mentioned that his department has a number of computers that are much more complex and expensive than the USD standard systems. Some of them need replacement, but no additional funds are allocated for that purpose.

Chris suggested going through the dean. We would love to replace these systems as well, if funding permitted.

The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm.

Minutes provided by Mary Kowit
3/14/07