Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

Minutes October 30, 2013

Minutes of the ITAC meeting Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The meeting convened at 12:00 pm.  Present were Chris Wessells, Doug Burke, Avi Badwal, Michael O’Brien, Shahra Meshkaty, Jonathan Mack, Karen Macauley, Afarin Dadkhah, Johan Perols, Michele Magnin, Veronica Galvan, Colby Edson, Lisa Cannon, Nori Inoue, Marcy Darby, Eric Jiang, Perla Myers, Daniel Lopez-Perez, Kenneth Bates, Karl Gruben, Laura Turner, Liza Peterson Gary, Susana Martin del Campo, III Representative Marjorie McLaughlin and BlackBoard Representatives Liam Ferris and Chad Kainz (via conference phone). 

Chris opened the meeting with a brief introduction of the ITS Senior Directors as well as an overview of their departments.  Chris also gave a short overview of the topics that would be covered in the meeting as well as introduced the two vendor representatives.

Network Infrastructure Systems and Services Highlights. (Doug Burke) Described as the “guts of the University” this periods major advances had to deal with virtualization.  Primarily, the implementation of the VCE Vblock which is essentially a data center in a box. The vblock would allow a ratio of 12.5:1 on a single host as opposed to the 1:1 ration of several years ago with an option to go to more if needed.  The vBlock has an N+1 redundancy, which means if one fails it can move to another server without any interruptions.  One of the main benefits to the virtual server is the set up time.  A regular server would take up a month to purchase and set up, where as a virtual server can be set up in a matter of hours.

 In the areas of storage and backup technologies there have been significant advances in de-duplication of files as well as an expanded and upgraded storage system.  Currently it is at 190 TB. There is there are 7240 controllers in USD’s wireless presence. At present, Aruba networks is supplying USD with the latest in wireless technology.  The wireless network currently has 10G capability.  AC is the next wave of in wireless technology and USD is bringing in ClearPass which provides better on-boarding to faculty, students and guests as well devices.  ClearPass will also help with classrooms identified for mobile technology.  In its Pilot stage serviced by Microsoft Link, the telephone system is testing a voice mail to email system.

The Oracle Identity Management (OIM) Project (Phase II) is the biggest project being taken on by the Systems team.  It involves on-boarding and off-boarding for USD credentials.  It is also aimed at synchronizing passwords across all systems such as Oracle, Exchange, LDat, etc.  Instead of each needing the creation of an individual password, one would synch with all USD systems.  Complex passwords are also available now. 

Stemming from the recent campus-wide power outage and system failure, ITS has been given new capabilities and facilities to move more things, such as USD websites, Exchange, etc. to a cloud environment.  NISS has been looking at cloud for 3 years now and have DNS and Exchange Node.  Moving our email Exchange, for example, to the cloud will keep and although may not be delivered to desktop computers, email will still be available on mobile devices.

Enterprise Resource Planning Technology. (Avi Badwal) TargetX on Salesforce.com is a product designed to consolidate the current 6 CRM platforms we are using into one CRM Platform.  ERPT is also planning to centralize registration and implement a system that would allow targeted follow up emails and notifications to be sent during a USD event through ID swiping technology.  A Luminis 5 upgrade was done in September upgrading the MySandiego.edu portal making it more user friendly.  So far there has been good feed - back from the students.  A project under development currently involves messaging when students first log in to the MySandiego portal.  ERPT has faced some challenges with the portal crashing during student registration.  In an effort to avoid these crashes, 3 different portal servers will be supporting the website.  Evisions/Cayuse was implemented allowing administrators to manage the lifecycle of grants.  Facilities Management TMA system went live which allows work order requests to be submitted via their website.

Upcoming projects include an upgrade to the MySanDiego Mobile App.  There will be some light registration as well as a push notification system.  There will also be a program that will send messages to students depending on their geographical location on campus. Event Management System (EMS) will be replacing the R25 scheduling system we currently have available.  This will allow for the creation of different templates for each specific organization that uses EMS.  It will also allow those trying to schedule rooms to see availability as well as be able to book several different events at different times and dates.  Parchment/AVOW will allow for transcripts to be received electronically with a method of tracking when it is received and read.

Academic Technology Services. (Shahra Meshkaty) Number of students in Hybrid/Online courses has gone up along with the quality of the courses.  There was a need to shift BlackBoard presented classes/materials leading to new faculty and student tabs available in BlackBoard as well as the addition of short clips and increase to the number of boards.

Over the summer ATS held the Summer Innovation Institute, which was a two-week session designed to engage faculty in online course development as well as other technologies available to faculty, to phenomenal reviews.  The hope is to hold 2 more of these sessions over the summer of 2014.  The Student Technology Assistant (STA) program, which was started in 2007, has become an important resource in developing classroom projects through the technology available to the faculty.  This year the STA program completed 85 classroom projects benefiting curriculum related technology based projects.  The STA has proven effective in classroom support as well as project management.  The summer proved productive for the Mobile Project Initiative/iPad Classroom Project with 31 classrooms being included in the project.  This project has proven to engage the students in the classroom through the use of technological creativity.  Classroom and Learning spaces were upgraded or modified to include lecture capture technology as well as other technological improvements including a Help button that can be found on the AMX devices.  Help Desk support services have seen an increase with 20,080 tickets closed between January – October 2013. IT Training workshops boasted 777 registrants with 150 workshops available.   There was a Mac OS upgrade to 10.9 version, Shahra warns not to try doing the upgrade without the aid of a desktop technician since information could be lost in the upgrade.  Windows XP migration was completed.  The trial process for Mobile Printing has been successfully done in one of our ITS Labs with LRC and Law School trials beginning this semester.

Library and Web Services. (Michael O’Brien)  Sierra Integrated Library System (ILS), a new system that allows more open access to our library systems as well as highly improving the experience.  There is now an online catalog integration of full text articles through Encore ES.  This allows for a single click, full text search that will bring you right to the information you are trying to access as opposed to the old system where you had to search extensively and had to physically retrieve the article.  This is also available on mobile devices for both Copley Library and the Legal Research Center. The Electronic reserve system is failing currently, but ARES the top contender for remedying this failure, will likely be under way soon.  Through JSTOR, Alumni are now allowed access to over 2,000 journals and 15,000 books through Copley Library.  USD’s partnership with the Franciscan School of Theology (FST) has brought along the availability of 13,000 theological journals through the Copley library.

On the web services side, the migration to the new management system, Cascade, has already begun.  SOLES and Law School website have been fully redesigned and migrated to this new system.  The School of Business is under way and should be completed by December.  Redesigns for KIPJ and Engineering kick off on Friday and should be completed by August 2014.  The MyPostings website has also been revamp and has already had over 500 postings with the new features.  WebDam has taken over for the Image Gallery and is accessible to anyone with a MySandiego account.  Currently, over 17,000 images accessible already.

Chris adds that there is a project under way to replace firewalls that will cost $500,000 and will take place over a 4 year period.  There is also an effort to move the wireless system into the new generation and will cost $3.5 Million over the next 2 years.

BlackBoard Presentation: Outcome Assessment (Liam Ferris, Chad Kianz via conference phone) How can we leverage the data collected to improve student outcomes?  Through Blackboard a large amount of data is collected.  Outcome Assessment Data board can align any data submitted and transform it into an artifact to improve system.  Blackboard Analytics pulls data from SLS BB Learn to see if tools are effective and what tools are being used in the easy to use dashboard.  The Service Pack has new features such as online integrated grading tool.  It also is starting to integrate the use of student specific location for test taking, also allowing you to see student activity on tests.

Daniel Lopez-Perez raised the question of how AROS integrates with Blackboard.  Liam mentions that Blackboard has partnerships with several vendors which allow Blackboard to integrate with these vendors quite easily.  Liam continues on to inform that there are two levels in the Outcome Assessment Data board, one which produces student specific reports and another that produces general performance.  This database can target specific courses to pull data when needed.  Chad (via conference phone) adds that this is an analytical tool geared toward outcomes if there are accreditation or certification issues as well as to produce a more accurate analysis of institutional goals.  Chris Wessells asked if it helped address high level accreditation such as WASC.  Liam stated that it was easy for reviewers to collect data therefore making information collection for WASC accreditation easier to manage.  Chad added that it is easy to set markers in the database to specifically tag artifacts that are essential to these types of accreditations without adding any burden to the students. 

Q&A

Q. Lisa Cannon – Is the data dependent on faculty use?  Do all faculty have to use it in order to get a proper outcome?

A.  Liam confirms that faculty would need to use it to get the most accurate data.  It would be possible to begin with “baby steps”.  Align with goal or couple of goals then grow from there.

Chad also mentions that it is possible to form a template and edit in information so that new users would not be overwhelmed with setting up their system.

Q.  Daniel Lopez-Perez – Is there a way for a department that is going through a program review to modify the data so that the end user produces page that is could lead to a program overview rather than just a course specific result?

A.  Liam answers that through Outcomes you can pull from a specific system by using Orbs to build an organization in Blackboard that would help to pull information from several sources, not just one course.  Chad also mentions that Outcome is not all or none.  There are various tools that are able to pull information from artifacts and feed it into how you are doing the assessment.

Q.  Michele Magnin – Is interested in learning more about the Specific Location Tests and how these would aid in accrediting online courses for a degree.

A.  Liam responds that there is a trend toward this.  Blackboard is offering support where needed specific to individuals who are interested in testing these methods out to further the process of accrediting online courses.

Chad states that there are many institutions in the Midwest that have shown significant online course retention.  The challenges faced with online courses are the quality of the course as well as the student experience and virtual presence of the student.  In these areas as well as through the UC online system there is a strong focus developing online courses and they have been rather successful at it.

Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (Sierra) (Marjorie McLaughlin) Sierra is a library system that has been around since the late 80’s.  Until last year it had been running on an interface that was created 25 years ago.  It was essential to revolutionize Sierra for both the librarians as well as the patrons.  Two years ago a project was started to migrate the flat, closed database to a more modern open database.  USD successfully went through this process this summer.  The change to Sierra has not been so much a physical change as the data and business structure was kept the same, but now there is mobile technology compatibilities as well as the ability to interact with vendors.  Query searches are much more evolved and simplified through a one click search.  It also allows for full text articles to be viewed online instead of having to go through the stacks and pull it off the shelf.  Now you can even access the information from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or any other mobile device.  You can now create accounts online for the library and even check out books online.  It is a faster more fluid way of working.  An example of the new evolving library technology is the Cincinnati library that allows patrons to indicate “Hot Authors” on their profiles and as soon as the library has a book by that author in stock it holds that book and notifies the patron.  The ability to connect and interact with other vendors such as EBSCO – eBooks for example now can be pulled into one place instead of having to search on different sites for the information. 

There were no questions for this vendor.

Open Dialogue

Michele Magnin – How can we gain mobile access to the USD library website?

A. To gain mobile access go to Encore on the USD library website and this will allow you mobile access to the website.

Shahra Meshkaty – What is the difference between a virtual server and a physical server?

A. Doug Burke answered that the vBlock, which is the virtual server, takes up much less space than a physical server with higher capacity of 2.2 TB of just RAM.  It also functions better than the physical server.  A physical server also takes exponentially more time to set up due to the configuration, purchase, install time, connection to network, etc.  It would take months to set up a physical server, where as a virtual server can be set up in a matter of hours if necessary. 

Afarin Dadkhah – Many new international students coming into USD are not familiar with blackboard and other online services that students may use while at the university.  Would it be possible to offer a service like the Student Technology Assistant program or a condensed version of the Summer Innovation Institute perhaps during orientation so that these students can get familiar with these systems?

Is there a way to set up a faculty/student appointment system similar to the Exchange system used by staff to set up meetings? 

There is an issue with the Graduate Student Association email account.  There is no alias email set up or functioning that would allow the use of one email that would be received by the members of the GSA.

Colby Edson – MySanDiego mobile app has also been a challenge for the Associated Students.  It takes too long for updates to come out and now the Associated Students have launched their section in the app but they can’t do anything with it.  It is falling behind so quickly that students will stop using it.  There is definitely student concern about staying up to date.

The final area of concern that the student representatives raised was the fact that many of the university websites including the AS website were not responsive on mobile phones and other devices. This is due to the fact that the websites are being migrated to Cascade, but the migrations is slow and going to take place in the schools first then in the area of student affairs which may not be completed until 2015. At present the SOLES, School of Business, and School of Law websites are responsive on mobile devices.  Chris Wessells and the other directors expressed interest in their concerns and will look into the issues that can be resolved quickly and take their suggestions into consideration for future projects.

Chris Wessells closes the meeting announcing that there will be a Data Center tour taking place in the early weeks of December. 

Minutes provided by Susana Martin del Campo