Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

November 20, 2007

Minutes of the meeting, November 20, 2007

In attendance: Ed Starkey, Karen Reed, Doug Burke, Nancy Carter, Miranda McGowan, James Perry, Bart Thurber, Indra Bishop, Jeremy Kua, Tom Herrinton, Steve Schissler, Jack Pope, Chris Wessells, Andrew Woodbury, Simon Koo, Shawn Strande, Shiva Ayalasomayajula, Rosy Vacchi, Shahra Meshkaty, Cyd Burrows, Bill Roecker, Kathleen Kramer and Mary Kowit.

Chris welcomed everyone to the meeting, the first since last March. He introduced the new members of the IRC: Shawn Strande, Andrew Woodbury, and Miranda McGowan. Minutes of the last meeting were approved.

Chris announced that today’s presentations would be available on the IRC website: He suggested that our next meetings be scheduled in January, April, and September of 2008.

ITS is a very large organization. The Network unit has 20 employees, Academic Technology has 38 employees and the Administrative Information Services unit has 22 employees. Chris presented several slides listing some of the ITS achievements during the past year.

In addition to those listed on the slides, ITS is also in the process of upgrading CBORD for Dining Services, assessing possibilities for off-site data storage, assessing our AIX infrastructure (the large administrative systems), and assessing providers for digital and HDTV services. Chris introduced Steve Schissler, Director of One-Stop Student Services Center.

Steve gave a presentation on the concept of a one-stop center, explaining how students used to have to go to separate physical locations in order to register for classes, make payments, discuss their academic records, change a meal plan, etc.

The MySanDiego portal is an example of a “virtual one-stop center,” providing users links to handle many of these functions from a single centralized location. Each department can provide frequently asked questions for their own area.

Eventually a one-stop center has a goal of having 95% of all issues handled by one-stop counselors. USD is presently in the process of hiring the physical one-stop staff.

Next, Indra Bishop was introduced to speak about how some of the Bliss Project features will benefit faculty. The virtual one-stop center is based on Bliss, an integrated and reliable information management system. The Bliss Project was launched in August of 2006. It’s the largest collaborative project at USD, comprising more than 100 team members on more than 20 teams.

The Admissions module went live in September 2007. Next in line are Financial Aid and the Registrar’s Office.

One of the wonderful features of Banner is its reporting function. To get to the Banner login, a user must go through the USD portal page (MySanDiego). Indra showed several sample screens and spoke about the self-service benefits for faculty. The portal provides channels for faculty members and channels for student, according to the user’s log-in.

USD data will be housed all in one location, making interaction among different administrative units easier. CE6 will still be supported.

Jack Pope wondered whether faculty will have to enter their grades in CE6 and then go back into Banner. Kathleen Kramer mentioned that in DARS, you can’t really see a student’s transcript, but just the degree audit. Tom Herrinton stated that in “academic history,” you can see all classes the student has taken in chronological order. The advisor’s name is not in the legacy system so therefore it will not be immediately available in the Banner system either, but eventually it will be there.

Next, Shahra Meshkaty provided a presentation highlighting the improvements in Academic Technology Services, beginning with a new website:

ATS has enhanced faculty support and services. The “iTeam” has been formed, a group of instructional technology consultants with overlapping expertise. This is a dedicated group, to the point where they even made a “housecall” for a faculty member. They’ve made it a point to work a bit with each director, to get an idea of some of the problems encountered in each area.

Shahra mentioned that Blackboard wants the term “WebCT” dropped in favor of the term “CE6.” Online training will be available soon. Wimba is providing USD the capability for voice and classroom presentations. In terms of implementing the STA program, at first ATS had to train the student applicants; it’s also a delicate balance between faculty projects and student availability.

Video, audio and 3-D modeling capabilities are three exciting new features in ATS. A number of classrooms are also being renovated. Shahra remarked that Chris Wessells has been bringing ITS into the Major Capital Outlay (MCO) process earlier in the planning so that we’re not caught unprepared for projects involving teachnology. Improvements are pricey: Ten to fifteen new Sympodiums a year at $15,000 to $20,000 each.

Barcelona 221 presented a big problem. The lab was still not ready when classes began in the fall and ITS had to provide properly prepared laptops for all students registered for classes in that lab.

Other ATS improvements include “Smart” technology, doubled videoconferencing capabilities, and the addition of a new streaming media server. The latter has been a work in progress. USD needed a server immediately but at the outset, QuickTime wasn’t available. But it has since become available on the server.

A Web Services unit has also been established. Chris remarked that the USD website is going to be redone by the college and schools, not by fiat from the top down. Nancy Carter endorsed the idea of websites being free from centralized design controls. Contribute is going to be the CMS tool for campus. The Law School is just beginning the redesign process. The redesigns in general will reflect the tastes and needs of the schools. The Web group will also be addressing emergency preparedness issues and e-commerce for online services.

ITS will continue improving services of the ITS Help Desk, which remains extremely busy, and improving software and hardware tracking of university resources. An ITS open house is being scheduled for the first week of February 2008.