Duke ITAC - March 27, 2003 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - March 27, 2003 Minutes

Minutes: March 27, 2003

Ed Anapol, Mike Baptiste, Pakis Bessias, John Board, Dick Danner, Angel Dronsfield, David Ferriero, Tracy Futhey, Billy Herndon, David Jamieson-Drake, Scott Lindroth (represented by Robert Zimmerman), Roger Loyd, Melissa Mills, Caroline Nisbet (represented by Kyle Johnson), George Oberlander, Lynne O'Brien, Rafael Rodriguez (represented by Bob Currier), Molly Tamarkin, Robert Wolpert, Steve Woody

Ginny Cake, Rob Carter, Chris Cramer, Heather Flanagan, Phil Lemmons, Dan McCarriar, Jen Vizas

Call to order
Meeting called to order 4:04 p.m.


I.   Annoucements
II.   CIT activities and thoughts about the future
III.   Draft guidelines for responding to requests for information
IV.   Proposed OIT computer lab updates
V.   Other business: new Web search utility




I. Announcements

NCNI fiber ring upgrade
Tracy Futhey, regarding the North Carolina Networking Initiative (NCNI) fiber ring upgrade: I will start, and ask John Board if he has anything to add to this. We're working with the other universities (NCSU, UNC) and the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina (MCNC) to upgrade the link in the Research Triangle Park to make sure we have enough capacity to work with the national light rail project.

John Board: This is a phenomenal system. It has a 32-lambda wavelength switch with 4 lambdas dedicated to each campus and the ability to cross-route them. You can pump a 10-GB link over any one of these. For example, we can set up a 10-GB connection to UNC and back, and it won't be long before we can do that with somewhere like Colorado.

ITAC meeting locations
Angel Dronsfield, regarding alternate ITAC meeting sites: You may have heard or read about changes in on-campus security. This building (the TelCom Building) is a major communication hub for campus and the Health System and as such, we are usually affected by these kinds of security concerns.

Robert Wolpert: [aside]: Apparently the Allen Building has no such security problems.

Angel Dronsfield: As a result of this and the construction, we have discussed how long this building would be viable for this kind of meeting. For the rest of the year we have rescheduled the meetings in the following locations:

April 24, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

May 8, 2003

Carpenter Board Room

June 5, 2003


June 19, 2003


July 3, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

July 17, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

August 14, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

August 28, 2003

Breedlove (Perkins)

September 11, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

September 25, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

October 9, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

October 23, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

November 6, 2003


November 20, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

December 4, 2003


December 18, 2003

Allen Building Board Room

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II. CIT Activities and thoughts about the future

Presented by Lynne O'Brien
Related url: http://cit.duke.edu

The card I am passing out is a reminder about our upcoming CIT showcase of faculty projects on April 11. It will be a mixture of faculty presentations in the morning and then a poster session in the afternoon. Between the two sessions we have a speaker. This year it will be Franziska Frey from the Rochester Institute of Technology, speaking on "Creating and Sharing Digital Collections in a University Environment."

This is the third or fourth time that we have done the CIT faculty incentive program. As for the requests, we got everything from “I want to update this Web site” to “I want to change the way medicine works in the world.” This year we had 9 people who turned in pre-proposals.

Three final proposals were submitted February 3, 2003. All three final proposals were funded. The three final proposals are:

1. "Distinctive Aspects of US Law Video Project," Duke Law School, $38,000
This project will develop web-based video teaching materials for 15 critical issues in American law. The materials will be developed in modular format so they can be used with multiple courses.

2. "Use of Web Based Instruction in the Organic and Advanced Chemistry Laboratories," Chemistry Department, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, $4,258
This project will develop digital video and web software to help students better understand concepts in lecture and laboratory courses in organic and advanced chemistry.

3. "Integrating MATLAB and programming across the Engineering curriculum," Pratt School of Engineering, $17,500
Funded through Faculty IT Fellows program.

We wanted projects that were innovative and would have an impact on the largest number of people. Next year we’re looking at ways of trying to better define what we mean by “innovation” and “impact.”

As for the fellows program, we are finishing up the first year. We had 31 people who applied—double the number who applied last year. This year, there are two different tracks within the program.

Track One: Integrating online materials and activities into your course
Individual faculty will use basic instructional technologies to enhance teaching and learning in at least one class.

Track Two: Supporting curricular change with technology
Groups of faculty from one department or one school will use a particular technology strategy in conjunction with a planned curricular change.

We’re trying to work hard this year on getting people to use general technology tools that are widely available and easy to support before they tackle other things.

Last year people had very creative ideas, but not a lot of technology skills. We found it is hard for people to go from 0 to 60 so we tried to set things up more moderately.


David Jamieson-Drake: Do you get teacher course evaluations at the end of the term that compare traditional teaching of one class and new methods of teaching with technology?

Lynne O’Brien: We don’t have a lot of that. And if you look at the literature, trying to evaluate the effectiveness of classes in that way is difficult because it is not easy to get faculty to engage in the data collection you need to do that kind of comparison. We asked faculty to use some kind of assessment, and we ask what they are focusing on. Are they focusing on student achievement? Motivation of students? Right now the evaluation form people fill out doesn’t have anything about technology on it.

John Board: It looks like cash grants are around $60K. If you add up all the offerings and support, where are we? Embarrassing? Respectable? What category?

Lynne O’Brien: This year I think has been fine. We ask for suggestions for an alternative approach. For example, we ask if a student helping them for a semester would be sufficient to accomplish their goal, rather than applying for a full grant. This year I think the funding has been adequate. But you have to consider that people have another source or money already. If they don’t have money other than what I give them then just our funding is inadequate.

Robert Wolpert: Are there other resources to direct them to?

Lynne O’Brien: Yes, there are several. We could help write grant proposals and we have in some cases. We do this less than most programs. Some programs provide services through grants of cash and others through hours of help. Tufts and Cornell have shifted from cash grants to a staff hours model.

Lynne’s ideas about the future faculty use of information technology

Lynne O’Brien: I have no idea where things will be in 10 years, but in the next four or 5 I think I have an idea.
I see a trend where students are using tools that previously had been considered too expensive or too complex. Video graphics and sound have already become the most common request for help. I think it will move toward being less of an illustrative effect and more integrated into programs.

Hybrid courses are another area. I see more courses taught with an online component. Already there are courses that require students to do a screening activity to determine if they have the necessary skills to participate. If they don’t have required skills, they do some training and move on from there. I would be surprised if most professional schools did not have some kind of online offering. We’re almost there now, but that is a current trend that will continue.


Robert Wolpert: This is exciting. It sounds like you have a wide range of offerings. Any other questions or comments?

Melissa Mills: Do these groups interface with professionals outside of CIT that might be involved in the same kinds of things? How could we in A&S plug into what you’re doing and use your expertise? Some of these are areas where we are doing research.

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III. Draft guidelines for responding to requests for information

Presented by Chris Cramer

You’ll notice this handout is clearly marked as a draft. The reason this is labeled as a draft is that it was put together fast! I thought I would note first of all that there is no new policy that needs to be written. What I heard from Kate Hendricks was that everything goes through Paul Stirrup.

Here are some highlights:

  • Duke obviously has to obey the law.
  • We need to keep track of requests that are made.
  • A lot of people are concerned with what they can do with requests for information.
  • There are two broad classes of requests. One is from external law enforcement and the other is from Duke police. External law enforcement can ask for directory information (defined as name, address, telephone number, information that is already in the public domain.)
  • If you get a request for non-directory, confidential information where no life is in danger, contact Paul.
  • If you get an emergency request for confidential information and someone’s life is in danger, give it to the requestor, then contact Paul.
  • If you get a request from Duke Police for confidential information, give it to them.

Molly Tamarkin: So if Duke Police come to me and ask for confidential information, I give it to them? But if someone else from Duke asks for confidential information then I don’t give it to them?

Dick Danner: What prevenst a law enforcement official from saying "This is an emergency and I need the information"? What defines an emergency from a non-emergency?

Chris Cramer: A system administrator should not have to determine what needs a subpoena. The idea of what Kate and Paul meant was that your basic system administrator or librarian is not an expert in the law and should not be expected to be an expert.

Dick Danner: The thing that troubles me is the non-emergency vs. emergency distinction. I think that the policy should be that whenever the request is made, the staff member should call University Counsel immediately.

Robert Wolpert: This document has the implicit assumption that no request will ever come from someone other than external law enforcement or Duke Police. This policy should be broader to cover more.

Dick Danner: The final paragraph in the introduction says Duke has a policy already. Is that true?

Chris Cramer: My understanding was that after the USA PATRIOT Act was enacted, it was decided that the policy was “Go to Paul.” The point of any of this is that a system administrator or librarian cannot authorize the release of confidential information. It would be nice to have something for them to point to when this comes up. Even under the USA PATRIOT Act, authorities are not coming to, say Molly, as Molly but as a representative of Duke University, and as such Duke University has a right to be contacted.

Dick Danner: So the answer is that we should contact the university counsel's office when PATRIOT Act requests are made. I think that the policy should direct staff to the counsel's office generally, rather than specifying individuals in that office who should be contacted, and may not be available at the time.

Tracy Futhey: Maybe the point is that we’re not ready to have this discussion.

David Ferriero: But at this point it would help if university counsel took a look at this and said whether we’re going in the right direction or not.

Dick Danner: Change it to say something like, “Duke’s policy is to contact the office of the university counsel.”

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IV. Review of proposed OIT computer lab upgrades

Presented by Jen Vizas

Jen Vizas: The packet I handed out was distributed via email. Today I want to go through what is scheduled to be upgraded and changed, and I want to get your input on some proposed changes.

Trent will no longer be used as a residential hall so the equipment and the furniture are going to Crowell quad.

We’re looking at the operating systems we use— Windows XP, Mac OS X, Solaris 8—and whether they need to change.

Here some things we want ITAC input on:

First, we have a Linux lab, but it is not used much. It is also not in a very good location. We want to move it. And we want to know what you think about the move.

Second, what is the future of the Sun workstation? What we want to know is what would it take to build a robust platform similar to Solaris? What we’re proposing is taking the psychology lab and making it a 50/50 Linux/Solaris lab.

Robert Wolpert: Right now Sun makes Solaris boxes at a very good price for the education market, but it is very expensive to the rest of the world. The fear is that down the road we will eventually have to pay a lot of money for it. The proposal is to see if we can put all or nearly all the software we need on a Linux cluster or move in that direction over the next few years.

Heather Flanagan: Our primary image is Redhat. Free versions of their software will not be as stable as commercial versions of their software.

Molly Tamarkin: I encourage you do this because I feel like you took this step last year, but you didn’t get the support you needed then.

John Board: We bought a new Sun cluster last July that is not installed be cause the CAD software we have won’t run on Solaris 8. I have been a Sun user forever and it pains me to say this, but I don’t think Sun is viable software anymore. I think Heather’s and Rob’s job will be a big one inventorying what needs to run on Linux and what actually will run.

Melissa Mills: I’m worried about moving the lab to the psychology site. We’re picking another area that is not heavily utilized. If we really want to test it, maybe we should pick another site that is heavily utilized.

Chris Cramer: Talking about Solaris 8 breaking things, what I hear is that Redhat 9 is going to break even more things. If you did move to highly used clusters, some of those have classes taught in them and we wouldn’t want to split them.

Robert Wolpert: There was some discussion earlier about trying to trade the room we have in West Duke for a room that was more popular. What is the status of that?

Jen Vizas: You just have to tell us to go forth and investigate. Another issue is that 61% of Unix boxes are remote usage. We talked about investigating the creation of a remote cluster.

Robert Wolpert: Is the proposal to rack mount and build a virtual cluster?

Rob Carter: It would be similar to what we have with Godzilla now. We will probably go in that direction anyway because the Godzillas are reaching the end of their life.

John Board: In the same time frame there will probably be a university cluster computing resource so we can probably deal with that.

Jen Vizas: We also had discussion with GIS. Is it time to create a prototype public GIS lab? Molly has offered to help us with the technical side. With that comes the problems of “Can we find space?”, etc.

Tracy Futhey: So proposals are things you want to go off and explore, given encouragement from this group?

Molly Tamarkin: One thought we had was to use some of our graduate students for help in the GIS lab, but one issue is location. If we are to supply graduate students, we want the lab close to us. Right now our policy is that undergraduates enrolled in GIS classes can use our clusters.

Melissa Mills: There is a shift toward more teaching in the clusters. Now OIT is supporting more classroom activities.

Jen Vizas: A couple points to highlight on usage stats. Last year we put in couple of residential computer labs. They are heavily used. That was a good investment.

Another interesting thing is that Old Chem O1 is used heavily for course instruction. You can’t get in there. It is basically no longer a public lab.

Another thing is the Macs. Walk into Perkins and the Macs are often empty. But that is misleading because the stats show that they are used very heavily.

Robert Wolpert: So we know how many sessions are started on the Macs but we don’t know how long the sessions last?

David Jamieson-Drake: Last year we had some information on what applications were being used, but we couldn’t see that on the Macs. Has that been resolved?

Robert Carter: No. We haven’t moved to OS X yet.

Jen Vizas: I envision that next year we can have that information across the board. Another related piece of information is on the last sheet, the increase in usage of Macs.

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V. Other business

Robert Wolpert: We have a couple minutes left and Dan wanted to make an announcement.

Dan McCarriar: If you go to Duke home page and enter something in the search box you notice we’re using a free Google search utility and it does not work very well. We are looking for something that will let us crawl maybe two or three times a week. We have purchased an enterprise search product by Google. We're targeting to roll it out some time after finals.

Robert Wolpert: Is it available on a trial basis for brave souls?

Dan McCarriar: Not yet because we are working on installing a bigger one.