Duke ITAC - June 8, 2006 Minutes



June 8, 2006

Members present : Pakis Bessias, John Board, Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Dick Danner represented by Wayne Miller, Tracy Futhey, Susan Gerbeth-Jones, Michael Gettes, Craig Henriquez, David Jamieson-Drake represented by Bob Newlin, Julian Lombardi represented by Jess Miller, Dan Murphy, Kyle Johnson, Lynne O’Brien represented by Samantha Earp, Mike Pickett, Molly Tamarkin, Christopher Timmins, Trey Turner III

Guests: Ginny Cake, OIT; Debbie DeYulia, OIT

Start time : 4:00 PM


I. Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • Mike Pickett: Chris Cramer wants everyone to know we’ve started cleaning out old email aliases of people who have left duke. They all will be notified, and if we don’t hear back from them in 10 business days, their email alias will go away.

  • John Board: We have three new IT school people in the pipeline: Dan Murphy of the Nursing School; Susan Gerbeth-Jones, who has a job at the Nicholas School on the same model as Molly’s position at Arts & Sciences; and Pratt’s new IT manager, Michael Goodman, will be starting on Monday.

II. Messaging & event notification & paging update - Ginny Cake

Ginny Cake: Duke is in the process of implementing a new paging infrastructure and call structure for the health system. Previously they were on different paging infrastructures and call handling systems, and the goal was to bring them all under one umbrella. That was successful, and we have two major cutovers: one for call handling, and one for the actual infrastructure of antennas, transmitters, etc. Wide-area paging is vendored-out to USA Mobility. We weren’t able to get a vendor to do the local paging because they couldn’t meet out demands for through-put. Code paging operates the same within Durham Regional and Duke Hospital; Duke Health Raleigh elected not to go with a local infrastructure, and will use their overhead paging system for code calls.

One advantage of the new call handling was testing with eNotify. eNotify allows people to send a message to multiple devices, not just pagers. A message can go to a cell phone, home telephone, or email. We’re doing a pilot of eNotify to see where it works best in the Duke environment. We decided to do 2 pilots. One is on emergency and severe weather notification. We’re meeting with the team dong that process now and working out the details. We’re also working with DHTS on pilot of their critical systems and how they notify people when they are down.

This is probably one of larger and more intense projects I’ve been involved with since I’ve been at Duke. Ninety-six people touch this project from OIT, Duke Hospital, Durham Regional, and Duke Health Raleigh. It has been a major undertaking, but I’m pleased with the outcome. It’s been in existence almost 2 weeks on the new infrastructure, and it’s working great.

John Board: Was there dual system time?

Ginny Cake: We did the switch-over in phases so we didn’t have to do. The only outage was in Durham Regional for 15 minutes during which they had to use the overhead paging system for code calls.

Molly Tamarkin: How long did this project take from the very beginning?

Ginny Cake: Altogether, from when we first got the idea that we need to do this, was close to 2 years. Actual implementation from when we decided what wanted to do was about 10 months. Lessons learned: political aspects and financial aspects lead to a big delay, and a couple things associated with the infrastructure where we had disagreements with vendors about what needed to be.

III. Podcasting and teaching: experiences so far - Craig Henriquez

Craig Henriquez: I started to think about this when I got an email from John after Hurricane Katrina about the prospect of students from the area hit taking classes at Duke and us delivering lecture material to them somehow. That got me thinking about creating podcasts of my class. We never ended up delivering content to these students, but I tried it out anyway.

Why podcast a lecture? This begs the question: why lecture? Some ideas popped into my head: 1) It allows you to deliver a vast amount of information on a subject in a reduced and organized way. 2) To demonstrate your level of enthusiasm for the material. 3) It’s a reason for students to show up for class. 4) To supplement reading material if you have a book relevant to course teaching.

Why listen to a lecture? They can be interesting; they can help you find out what the professor thinks is important, since lecture material is often what you get tested on; and it’s an opportunity to ask questions if provided for by the lecture format.

How can you extract information from a lecture? Listen and remember (worst way); taking notes In information-rich courses, most of lecturing and note-taking involves transcribing notes onto a blackboard, hopefully correctly. Then students transcribe those onto their piece of paper. There are many opportunities for errors. Another problem is that when transcribing information, students often lose what’s being said in the middle. One way to solve that problem is to provide the handouts ahead of time so there is less transcription and more listening and taking additional notes.

The last way to extract information from a lecture is to record lectures. This method has been around forever: there have been tape recorders, etc, but it’s geeky to bring a recorder and set it on your desk. Recording begs the question: why go to lectures in real time? The answer is because time has already been allocated for that activity. Also, others may ask questions that inspire you to ask questions.

Why podcast? The big fear with lecture recording is that students will stop coming to class. I’m not afraid of that. There’s no reason not to record except that for a long time it was difficult to do: if I had cassette tape, I had to make copies. It also used to be a problem finding a place to put podcasts because of the relatively huge files. With a little bit of work I found real-time server OIT manages, so that worked out really well.

With the podcasts, students get more than one shot to absorb lecture material. One problem I have with my class is that I teach seniors: seniors in the fall semester are gone at interviews for their next lives. Some students are really bad note-takers. Lots of students ask questions about lectures at one time in the semester: right before the exam. I can now say: go to x time on the podcast, listen and find the material there. Students do listen to the podcasts before exams. To go back and listen to the material again, that’s a remarkable thing. It keeps a record of what you actually say. So, if you have the stomach to listen to your own lectures and find out why you confuse students on a concept, you can say, there it was. I also used it in an upper-level class in which I had a student who didn’t take a prerequisite for the class. I sent the student to the podcasts of the material from the prerequisite course, and he was able to take two classes at once. The student told me it wouldn’t have been as good if the lectures had been delivered in an empty room: by listening to students ask questions, etc., he felt like he was part of the class.

John Board: Have you considered Lectopia?

Craig Henriquez: I considered it, but my thought process was that it was going to be hard to do it, and I don’t want to lug more than a laptop to class. If I have to set it up, it seemed like too much work to me.

Mike Picket: Do you think if it were really easy, video would be an enhancement to this?

Craig: Perhaps. When you listen, you can do something else fairly easily, but when you start to look, you get distracted. I think it’s an advantage to not have too much presented to them. My hope is that they have gone to the lecture and the podcast is a refresher. To get it a second time I think has tremendous value. I have heard other interesting ideas, like cramming a lot into a lecture: you do half on podcast and the other half in real time so it forces students to come to class somewhat prepared.

John Board: I’m surprised that a class like yours - with so many equations - works as audio.

Craig: I have to have Power Point slides, otherwise it would be almost impossible.

Mike Pickett: If we develop our teaching techniques so that we are more effective, I’m wondering, how we will measure that? Will it be that their grades become better?

Craig: There is that, but to be honest I don’t think about that because my measure for whether some has learned is if they do something with the information. Part of problem is that we spend so much telling, we don’t have time to do something.

Samantha Earp: We’re working on training documentation for the DDI: as faculty member, what do you think would be most helpful for others?

Craig: I think others would do it if everything was very easy: you give them the iPod with recorder, someone showed them how to use it, and gave directions on how to upload content. I thought only handful of people would use Blackboard, but now become ubiquitous, and it think it’s because it is easy. If podcasting is that way, people will do it.

IV. IT@Duke - Mike Pickett

IT@Duke is an idea and an effort. A lot of interesting things happening at Duke emerged out of a department. We’ve been able to uncover some ideas and integrate them into Duke through the Future Forums and other types of committee efforts, and some just happen on their own. We are trying to provide more support around these types of communication efforts, around these collaboration efforts, and provide tools to make this a more successful and active process. These are ideas we’ve been kicking around for 3 or 4 months, and we talked to many people to get a sense of what were good ideas and bad ideas. Out of those comments we came up with a charter.

We are going to put together a set of tools. A lot of those will provide communication channels, such as online communication tools. There are plans for some sort of IT@Duke web presence, which will be a place where people at Duke can find out where services are and share IT news. This will be another way for people outside at Duke to know what’s going on inside. Also, we plan to make it very searchable.

How are we going to do this? To get it kicked off, we invited a few people to help think about it. We had meeting a couple weeks ago, and then decided to bring it to ITAC, and that’s where we are today. The first thing we plan to do is hold meetings of “birds of a feather” groups, e.g. the old ITAC video group. Web application development tools are a hot place now, and are the type of thing need to have group around the university. We’re also looking at collaborative tools: wikis, blogs, and bulletin boards. Other things we can build groups for include learning support, end-user support, research support, and infrastructure, planning and project management. We plan to create these groups, have occasional face-to-face meetings, and provide online support. Kevin Witte at OIT started building bulletin board for us.

John Board: What problems are you trying to solve that CLIC and CLAC don’t?

Mike: I hesitate to answer because some people can answer that better than I

Molly Tamarkin: I got asked a question last week by IT person at a center affiliated with the Biology Department: where can I go to find a list of various technology email lists and meeting times? I hope this will at least provide answers for questions like that. With the Futures Forums, people were interested in continuing conversation and we didn’t even have a way for people to work together on an issue. We’re hoping to create a place where people can continue those conversations. It can be hard to even find CLIC and CLAC if you’re new to Duke.

Mike Pickett: This will be open to anyone at Duke. Our thought is to put as little control around it as possible. We’re going to webauth it, so it will be restricted to people at Duke. The other thing we think about is that these tools are going to evolve. This is a starter tool.

Roger Loyd: What happens to people who created web pages to answer some of these things? Say, the CIT website.

Molly Tamarkin: I don’t see this as developing a knowledge base as much as it is indicating where the knowledge base is.

Mike Pickett: We’re talking about two thins at once: the IT@Duke webpage, that might have a link to the CIT knowledge base; and then there is the more active churn of ideas that are taking place around specific problems. The main target I see is service providers.

Molly Tamarkin: I’d say that right now if I go to Duke, there’s nothing that puts the information in any sort of context. One thing that would be nice is to say here’s where you go for information, and hope that provides an entry point to the wealth of IT services.

V. Early observations on Nursing IT and Duke - Dan Murphy

Dan Murphy: It has been 7 weeks, and my finding is that initially, I’m not really addressing technology issues per se. Early on it occurred to me that I’m really going to be looking at culture and services and the way they were being delivered. There are situations where we find 6 solutions for 6 problems when we really need 1 or 2 solutions for 6 problems. The Dean has a good idea of where she wants to go and has written technology into the plan. We’re looking at ways of starting a cultural shift of researchers looking at technology as a necessary component of research. The reaction I’m getting back is very supportive.

On a nuts and blots level I’m looking at the budget, and we will be moving shortly. Keeping that in mind, it has been history of development. What I’m trying to bring into the mix is to develop when appropriate and purchase when appropriate so that we’re maximizing the funds that we do have. I’m interested in partnering with anyone so we can leverage work that has already been done. A perfect example is Lectopia. That sort of partnering is very important to me. The School of Nursing is continually improving, and we will have more to offer to others, too. I’ll be speaking with Tim Poe next week. We’re looking at bringing the DDI into the School of Nursing in a way it hasn’t been before.

John Board: Can you describe the nature of your staff?

Dan Murphy: Two people are instructional technology experts; one gentleman is our server admin; and there are a couple people who do desktop and basic support. One man is the operating manager.

John Board: It sounds like you’re tying into OIT resources.

Dan: One thing I’m happy about is seeing this group. There are a lot of opportunities for collaboration that already exist.

VI. OIT dCal conversion update & NextHaus agreement - Michael Gettes

Debbie Deyulia: dCal is the calendaring piece of the Oracle Collaboration suite. OIT converted from Lotus Notes to DukeMail and dCal. It’s been up and running for over a month, and things are going well. There are a couple outstanding issues we’re working on, but nothing keeping us from daily activity. One thing of interest to other groups: for Blackberry support, we’re working on that this month and have to have something in place by the end of the month to have Blackberry support with dCal. I think we’ll be ready to distribute it in the beginning of July, but there are some caveats there. We’ve only done the conversion with the Notes environment. We’re taking requests and looking at them. In the near future we will send out to CLAC two mailing lists that will have information about upcoming timelines/events.

Michael Gettes: Oracle created a steering committee for the next release of the Collaboration suite. Rumor has it might be available next summer. The committee includes 13 organizations, of which Duke is one. The good news is we will have some involvement and influence there, and we’re still working with them on further development of a tech advisory board for higher ed.

We have also been working with local company NextHaus. This is the only company we came across that seems to get what synchronization is about and understand SyncML. They are developing a product that through synchronization would be able to interact with dCal. One possible scenario: Kyle sends me an email, and I want to add him to my address book, it’s then added to Thunderbird and shows up on my phone. The good news is that they are very interested in a relationship with higher ed. Their clients normally cost $29, and our deal is $0.85/client. In particular they have a SyncML client for Blackberry 4 and above. They are also plugged into Oracle, and Oracle likes them as a company.

John Board: How substantial is NexHaus?

Michael Gettes: There are about 12 people, and have one sales person. They like doing this deal with higher ed because they would rather concentrate on the technology.

John Board: Going back to dCal, I understand that OIT is using it internally as an exemplar for the rest of campus. No one is pressured to use it, but anyone who wants to can use it.

Molly Tamarkin: We have folks who aren’t using a calendaring system now. For some it’s not a migration problem, it’s simply offering a service. That would be a simple success right there.

VII. Common Solutions Group report - Mike Pickett

Mike Pickett: CSG is a group of 25 universities around the country that share common problems, and occasionally we have found common solutions. We typically pick a long topic and a short topic to discuss 2 times per year, and we rotate locations. It’s a very loose organization; invitees are CIOs and chief tech types. It’s one of the best groups that I go to. I find people who really understand the issues.

The long topic this time was on data center futures. The short topic was social software (wikis, blogs). We also have a policy discussion on identify management, and a very short topic on digital archives. There was also a discussion on Cyrus software.

The basic idea from data center futures discussion is that everyone is out of space, power, and cooling largely because of a change in the density of nodes. 89% of schools that responded need to build or expand in the next 4 years. A common worry was that senior administrators don’t really understand the “train wreck” that’s coming. Disaster recovery and business recovery are going to be major issues related to this.

Social software: A lot of this is driven by the Facebook/MySpace explosion of the last few years, and also concerns things around IM, wikis, and blogs. Folks defined it as “software that enables online communities.” There are a lot of problems and worries that people post things they shouldn’t, put private information up, and get offended if an administrator is reading their blog. People worry about their responsibility in protecting students so they don’t put themselves at risk. There was some interesting talk about new things like online communities that are entirely avatar-driven. My belief is that there is going to be more and more of that. Some interesting tools out there people are starting to use: del.icio.us allows you to keep your bookmarks, etc. online. Tag it: other people have access to your tags if you want them to. More whimsical software: stumbleupon.com. It’s a thumbs up, thumbs down site. Flickr is another one. Trends are moving more and more towards not a static web page but a continuous release idea. We talked about policy and support, and if universities should create their own myspace.com (studies say students are not going to use that stuff). Should we try to restrict it? Answer: probably not.

Identity management is a continual problem area. It’s not an IT problem but an issue of changing the way we do business in terms of how we provision identities. IT tools have gotten ahead of policy and procedures. Digital archives: how do we care for and preserve what we generate in digital forms? A lot of folks are struggling with this.

Michael Gettes: We met for half a day before CSG to talk about Cyrus, an open source mail system. There was talk about how to get better organized. Cyrus is the most popular open source mail program out there, and there are places that don’t even know they are running it out there.

End time : 5:30 PM