Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

September 22, 2012

Minutes of the IRC Meeting, Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Present were Michael Agnew, Ken Bates, Indra Bishop, Doug Burke, Joe Burkard, Theresa Byrd, Lisa Cannon, Chris Devers, Russell Fuller, Eric Jiang, Mary Kowit, Shahra Meshkaty, Kathleen Kramer, Daniel Lopez-Perez, Karen Macauley, Johan Perols, Leonard Perry, Chris Rapp, Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, Soma Somasundaram, Rosy Vacchi, Chris Wessells
Chris Wessells opened the meeting and introduced Nicholas Schiavi of Blackboard Inc. Nick provided a brief presentation on Blackboard NG9, the newest release of the Blackboard WebCT software. Nick spoke about the four key pillars of this release:

  1. Deeper student engagement; what do students really want to do?
  2. Better educator efficiency; a faster way to incorporate all your course material. You can push grades from within your course and communicate with your students via mobile devices.
  3. A more open and extensible learning environment. An echo tool records lectures. A Blackboard icon on the browser toolbar connects to bing, etc. without actually going into Blackboard. NBC is delivering its digital archives.
  4. A better connection between student instruction and institution improvement


NG9 allows the user to incorporate wikis, videos, etc. The user can search online from within the course. Mobility is key. A mobile learning feature is coming.

Nick also did a side-by-side comparison of the last release and the newest one. The grading sheet is more like a spreadsheet: you can scroll across the screen and the student’s name remains frozen on the left.

Lisa Cannon asked whether Blackboard NG9 can connect to Lexis, for use in the law school. Nick didn’t know but thought it probably can. Shahra Meshkaty said that we’re going to use it in a pilot program next semester. You’ll be able to use both platforms side by side. In the past, ITS has done migrations on the server side, trying to make the process as seamless as possible for the end user.

There will be a learning curve, of course. But the migration will also provide a great opportunity to update and revamp courses.

Shahra provided an update on some of the work ITS has done over the past summer: the MS Exchange migration; a classroom crawl, particularly in the College of Arts & Sciences; the launch of a mobile device interest group; the New Faculty Orientation and faculty “boot camp”; iPad and other presentations provided by Apple; the Student Technology Assistant (STA) program; and new devices such as iClickers, Echo 360, and Adobe Connect, which has been used heavily in various departments for internet conferences and video interviews.

Over the summer, ITS changed and upgraded 7 classrooms, a process which involved many, many members of the USD community. Three rooms in Maher and four rooms in Serra were upgraded. Sympodiums were installed. The removal of VHS players provoked some phone calls.

A new architectural studio was created in Camino 43. Daniel Lopez-Perez said how wonderful it is to have all this capability in one room. Students can work on their computers, use a laser cutter, create models and plans, and discuss projects all in the same venue.

Shahra spoke next about the number of online course, which is increasing steadily. ITS is acquiring a campus license for the SPSS software; this will allow users to install it on a home computer as well. Chris said that SPSS will cost approximately $35,000 annually to maintain the software license. The key will expire once a year. Everyone will get a notice and ITS will try to download the new version so as to produce the least possible impact on the users.

A representative from Qualtrics, Inc., an online survey software manufacturer, will be on campus in October to demonstrate their application.

Shahra spoke briefly about online security, urging everyone to use the free Norton Symantec software, both at work and at home, and to visit our online security sites.

Indra Bishop inquired how many of the faculty members present used Banner/Luminis. Few hands went up but then some people realized they use it “behind the scenes,” not even aware that it was Banner. Indra said until now her team hadn’t had access to faculty to solicit input for help in designing some of the online forms.

Chris Rapp indicated that students can now sign up for class waitlists and when a opening becomes available, the student will be automatically be notified and enrolled in the class. Faculty can override prerequisites if they choose to. There are not student photos on class rosters and advisee lists.

Johan Perols inquired whether the photos could be of higher quality. Chris Rapp replied that there’s not much quality control right now since the photos are submitted by the students themselves. Class rosters can now be downloaded as well. Chris revealed some of the upcoming enhancements, such as academic scheduling enhancements, automatic graduation applications, and bookstore links to required textbooks.

Shahra took the floor again to speak about ITS projects coming up, among which are the following:

Windows 7 migration
MS Office 2010
Sustainability tactics regarding printers
Virtual desktop environment (VDI)
USD interactive map
USD website redesign

The cost of the upgraded classrooms was approximately $47,000 per room. Chris Wessells stated that the Provost’s office is setting aside about one-quarter of that amount per year, so now ITS will have $500,000-700,000 per year for technology improvements.

Soma inquired about the possibility of using something like Sharepoint for School of Business projects and also said that they’d been experiencing printing problems with their shared printers. Chris said that ITS would arrange a Sharepoint demo for the School of Business. Rosy Vacchi offered her team to investigate the printing problems.

Daniel Lopez-Perez said that the new version of Blackboard has the ability to access Ereserves across campus and can also access the university image banks. Shahra commented that the current version can already access Ereserves. Theresa Byrd stated that the library is already committed to Blackboard and Ereserves. Blackboard is far more expensive than Ereserves.

Chris said ITS will talk to Blackboard. USD already has a gallery server in place.

Joe Burkard stated that Blackboard does not currently work on an iPad with videos and that there are many Adobe products that don’t run on an iPad.

Leonard Perry wanted to know what most faculty are using. Shahra responded that they’re using whatever they want to use. There is no campus-wide standard. Chris Wessells said that ITS solicits faculty input regarding summer remodeling and upgrading projects. ITS does standardize on the $25,000 worth of equipment in these media cabinets.

Chris said that USD is going to start using Echo 360 lecture capture technology. Kenneth Bates expressed a strong preference to using a Smartboard as opposed to standing behind a podium. Shahra related that the Smartboard had not been updated in recent years so there had been no upgrades. Now they’re being manufactured again and ITS will check out the new models.

Johan Perols lamented the small size of lab classrooms. Maximum capacity is 28 and his largest classes are 35-40. Chris offered to relay the complaint to the Provost.

The meeting adjourned at 1:40.


Minutes provided by Mary Kowit