Duke ITAC - February 8, 2001 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - February 8, 2001 Minutes


February 8, 2001

Attending: Ben Allen, Ed Anapol, Landen Bain, Pakis Bessias, John Board, Al Crumbliss, Dick Danner, Nevin Fouts, Ed Gomes, Mike Gower, Alan Halachmi, Patrick Halpin, John Harer, Alfred Trozzo, Donna Hewitt, David Jamieson-Drake, Ken Knoerr, Betty Leydon, Melissa Mills, Kyle Johnson, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, Lynne O'Brien, Mike Pickett, Edward Shanken, Robert Wolpert, Roberta Schaafsma

Guests: Molly Tamalan, Billy Herndon, Rob Carter, Jennifer Vizas, Ginny Cake, Missy Pickard, Provost Peter Lange

Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • There were no changes noted for the minutes, and they will be posted as circulated.
  • There were no announcements.

Q&A with Provost Peter Lange


    Q: John Board - Does "all students" means for Trinity College only?
    A: Will not impose requirements on PSE or NSOE that are not appropriate for that school's needs. The requirements will not be announced until May 2002.

    Q: Will there be specific models in the requirements as at UNC-CH?
    A: Probably not. The instinct is that it's better to specify characteristics rather than a specific machine.

    Q:Alan Halachmi suggested that the needs of students in different majors varies significantly (e.g. English and Computer Science) - he himself has a SPARC, having chosen the platform that suited his needs. If someone comes in with a laptop, but then finds that needs are different, what does he do to justify a second machine? Laptop vs. desktop? Is that appropriate?
    A: There are a variety of options - most students do not come to campus knowing major. 90% of students come to campus with computer. The difference in cost is the difference of desktop to laptop. The market is moving very fast - e.g. the UNIX issue on smaller machines. We don't know what the capability will be in 18 months. Will there be benefits of having a laptop vs. desktop at that time? If we create more wireless environment and more opportunities to use the laptop, there will be a tradeoff of cost vs. this benefit. It's hard to create an environment for mobile computing without having the laptop - and that is another stake in the ground. If we find in 15 months that this decision is unwise, it will not be a failure - it will be an adjustment.

    Q: Ken Knoerr - What is the game plan for developing uses?
    A: There are many process questions. Computing decisions have been in the hands of people totally into computing (or ones who are not at all). There are lots of departmental I/T staff who are beleaguered because faculty won't use the technology properly. Many faculty don't want to move to electronic environment. We have a set of process issues, and we need a range of faculty and students to think through these. The Provost will set the list of questions and a process to resolve them across a spectrum of users. Dr. Knoerr noted that faculty who would most use these are in the trenches and are worrying about publishing (and don't have time to work on this). Many older faculty are not with the technology. Who is going to help them through this? A: Preparing faculty is harder than preparing students. This will not go perfectly smoothly. There must be some little incentives such as giving professors a laptop if they are willing to innovate in wireless for instance. We do not want to raise expectations about in-class use. Many faculty don't want students to have laptops in class. We want to phase in plans to not create expectations of needing them in class. We need a game plan - after the Board of Trustees approves.

    Q: Alan Crumbliss - Use of laptop could be valuable in experiment control and data collection. This would require a great deal of preparation to develop laboratories. This needs faculty time, especially in the tenured group.
    A: That is an innovation suggestion. There is money in the strategic plan for more than just hardware - most going for training and development.

    Q: Betty Leydon - There is urgency for people in the room who are the implementers in their schools and departments.
    A: Getting all of the constituencies involved is vital. There are trade-offs, and it will not be easy. If we have to wait till people are ready, it will be too late. There are costs of not doing something. Faculty must work with CIT and OIT for training and for development of instructional technology like CIT has been doing. Lynne O'Brien and Nevin Fouts have had experience in incentives that can work elsewhere.

    Q: (from list submitted earlier) - Now that the plan is developed, how will it be implemented?
    A: We will decide critical dates and working back from there for times to hit those dates - we will be working on that schedule in March. That plan will come back to ITAC - it is important for bringing together constituencies of schools and most functional groups on campus.

    Q: For telecommunications decisions - switch, Voice/IP, etc. - is the Provost involved? Does he need to be?
    A: He is involved at Budget Working Group level to learn about issues of switch, charging, etc. That is the appropriate level for the Provost. The academic side is involved - there are strong communications between the administrative and academic areas, and Tallman Trask is quite academically oriented.

    Q: How do we assess Duke for I/T? What are the burning issues for ITAC?
    A: Innovation. Not major issues, but related to innovation is how schools will pay for it. Engineering had a totally impoverished I/T structure. Dean must put that in place plus faculty, buildings, etc. There are always budget trade-offs. A&S has major costs in inserting technology into its infrastructure (classrooms and PCs). A&S has done this "on the side" budgetarily. There have been serious discussions to get A&S to insert this into its budget, perhaps leading to fewer searches and real trade-offs. We must deepen resources for existing faculty before expanding it. In each school, innovation will not come cheaply.

    Q: Kyle Johnson - What are the plans for recruitment and retention of I/T staff?
    A:Taking people to broad bands for compensation. This is a serious problem and potential bottleneck. Can we find enough qualified staff?
    David Jamieson-Drake - This is the chicken and egg problem - must we keep up the pace and keep it exciting?
    A: True up to a point. We have many exciting environments, but we still can't find these people. We worry about schools that have lots of new faculty, but the support/technical staff will not keep pace with their needs.
    Betty - Another issue is resources. Areas may be allowed to pay more, but they may not have the money.
    A: Provost's role - promoting trade-offs to afford the people we need rather than passing out extra money.

    Q: Melissa Mills - How get do we get technology implemented?
    A: Put a stake in the ground, get technology in schools' budgets, and deal with the trade-offs. To get these costs built into the budget rather than from discretionary money is a major change.

    Q: How is dual reporting relationship working for the CIO?
    A: Very well right now - the CIO and Provost meet every two weeks, Mike Pickett is in his office, and there is some level of technical support planned for his staff. It works well with Dr. Trask too.

    Q: Ben Allen - The problem is with faculty, not the students. For the stake in the ground - he does not see benefit of laptop vs. any computer. Taking away personal choice. There are lots of things you can't do on laptop. Students are being used as a pawn to force technology on faculty.
    A: Mobile computing is not just about classrooms. It's an issue about features. The difference in cost of wiring classrooms vs. capability for wireless is huge. Do we have to anticipate the use of wireless technology? Can we make a decision about laptops?
    Melissa Mills - Target the resource for the need. The idea of mobile cart/wireless is good if that suits the building and the occupants. A laptop and wireless are not good for graphically-intensive use. Need a mix of these. The change in technology suggests that we come up with the application and then apply the technology to that instead of starting with the technology.
    George Oberlander - What is lacking in teaching model that will be better with technology? Match the technology to the need. It's not an end in itself.
    Melissa Mills - It would be good to get some things in place in Fall 2001 so there is some ramp-up. Offer a Blackboard course for each faculty member. A&S then will support the use.
    A: The ramp up is starting. CIT has a greater budget. In the strategic plan there is money to accelerate classroom upgrades in A&S to relieve scheduling issues and frustration. We did not commit to student issues until the year after in order to give time to deal with issues, especially training for students and faculty. Training will ramp up this fall. There are many decisions to make. There are tradeoffs to make and guesswork because of time horizons. If we wait, we will wait forever. Goodwill for deans won't get anywhere unless we push harder.

    Betty Leydon asked the Provost to come back to ITAC and consult the people here.

  • The members of ITAC introduced themselves. Provost Lange stated that they sought in the strategic plan to be more aggressive in use of I/T, and that he wanted explain the aggressiveness. He has spoken with the deans about technology since beginning of his term for Provost. By January 2000 he wanted initial plans, but those plans - with some exceptions such as FSB and Law - had too general a concept for the use of technology. They could not move forward without a strong push from the Provost's office. He brought Mike Pickett in to help in developing plans. The Provost had to make a commitment - what the CITIE proposal is built around - and put a stake in the ground. It is not the perfect stake, but it begins a dialogue. It will be 18 months before these major initiatives are truly up and running. We must articulate requirements and the different needs of different users. They have consulted with the School of Medicine about its experience - laptops were not really needed, but the students wanted PDAs instead. He believes that every Trinity College student needs his/her own computer by Fall 2002 - specifically laptops for freshmen. Why laptops? Generally these are a perfect substitute for a desktop, and the portability gives flexibility for things that we may want to do. The judgment is that it is time to make a statement signaling a cultural change.

    The Provost then asked for questions

Student Computing Cluster Renewals

Jen Vizas, Ginny Cake, Rob Carter

Jen Vizas: The discussion was intended to help OIT plan this summer's upgrades. The first three-year replacement cycle was completed this summer. How and when do we replace the labs going forward? Differentiate between different uses. She proceeded to go over the preliminary plan for this summer.

Rob Carter went over the lab usage stats from last semester. Information is accurate for actual sessions at the clusters, but we can't tell how long system was used each time (now fixed). Think of PCs and Macs as one aggregate and UNIX as the other. The preference is towards PCs and away from Macs (85% vs 15%). UNIX machines are more uniform - remote sessions are possible. (chart passed out)

Scheduled of upgrades: (chart passed out). There are serious support issues with IMACs - after use for 18 months these are unstable, attributable to usage and design. Want to replace IMACs early with G4s in high-traffic areas. Similar usage in other institutions. IMACs used more for kiosk. Move some equipment from lesser-used areas to higher-use areas (especially UNIX labs). Please send suggestions on cluster renewals to Jen

Other Business

There was no other business except the group picture.