Duke ITAC - August 13, 2009 Minutes

Duke ITAC - August 13, 2009 Minutes

ITAC Meeting Minutes
August 13, 2009 4:00-5:30
Allen Board Room

  • Announcements & Meeting Minutes
  • Duke homepage redesign - Mike Schoenfeld, David Jarmul, Denise Haviland, Ben Riseling, Samantha Earp, and Blyth Morrell
  • IT cost savings efforts - Ginny Cake


Announcements & Meeting Minutes

Terry Oas opened by asking ITAC members present at the July 16, 2009 meetings if they had comments on the minutes. Terry encouraged ITAC members who spoke at previous meetings to review the minutes to ensure there contributions are accurately reflected.  Noting no objections to the previous minutes, Terry accepted the minutes and stated that they would be posted on the new ITAC web site.  http://www.duke.edu/services/itac/.

Terry announced that Molly Tamarkin has returned to Duke University.  Molly is the new Associate University Librarian for Information Technology. The four departments in her area support the integrated library systems, core services department, digital projects, and end user support. Several issues have come up, one of which is storage. Institutional repositories, information architecture, and general interfaces to library systems are some other items of consideration.  The future of Lotus Notes is also an existing concern.  Molly said she was very happy to come back to Duke University. 

Terry asked what the expectation is for faculty to store work in these institutional repositories.  Molly said that there would likely be multiple repositories, some focusing on institutional content and others as just “a place to put things.” Faculty scholarship is an area where there is lack of clarity.  Molly described some of the implementation concerns that may need to be addressed, such as infrastructure and metadata support.  Molly said she would defer to the owners of the data to best determine where they will store their data. She added her area of focus might be in the systems themselves.  Lynne O’Brien said that some pilot efforts are coming from faculty-driven projects, like the Global Health Institute.  These projects provide use cases that the library can then consider as a model for scaling.

Paul Horner announced that the port 25 closure on ResNet and wireless occurred over the weekend.  Some possible minor issues may have surfaced, but Paul said Bob Johnson is investigating.  Terry asked how this was announced.  Steve O’Donnell said there was an announcement on the OIT home page and Duke Today.

Angel Wingate announced that OIT will no longer offer wired telephone service in the dorms.  There will still be 911 service for analog phones.  Another change will be to only activate one data port in each dorm room.  Last year only 15% of data ports were utilized, she said.  Debbie DeYulia’s team is working on flyers to distribute; however, wired data port utilization is expected to remain extremely low.  In addition, there are some rate changes for wireless services, Angel said.  International students have some challenges acquiring wireless services in the general marketplace due to Social Security Number and credit history requirements.  This will be the last year that OIT offers student cellular services.  Angel said her group is working with the International House and Student Affairs to develop a viable alternative for this subset of users.  This effort is to minimize the non-insignificant administrative billing overhead with this service. 

Angel said one additional change is taking place with cable television service.  Cable Television service will be billed for an entire semester at a time. This will also help reduce administrative collection costs.  The rate will also be adjusted to reflect Duke’s cost.  Robert Wolpert asked what percentage of dorm rooms uses the cable service.  Angel said 23% of rooms had cable television service last year.


Duke homepage redesign - Mike Schoenfeld, David Jarmul, Denise Haviland, Ben Riseling, Samantha Earp, and Blyth Morrell

Mike Schoenfeld introduced the core team working on the Duke home page web site redesign, including David Jarmul, Ben Riseling, and Denise Haviland from Public Affairs, and Samantha Earp and Blyth Morrell from OIT.  Mike said the current Duke University homepage launched in March 2006.  He said http://www.duke.edu is the front door to Duke University.  There are over one million unique visitors per month to the Duke University homepage.  In addition, Duke University is evaluating how it presents its information to the world, he said.

Mike said some of the things that will change will be “under the hood.”  Specifically, the goal is strengthen the web site architecture through improved infrastructure, creating standards and guidelines for the home page and second level pages, and to present the variety of interesting tools across the institution, such as maps, DukeMobile, and rich media.  Beyond providing timely information to visitors, the framework is designed to be dynamic and flexible that will allow people to get where they are going quickly.  The site will present a wide array of content to visitors. Mike said the framework might be attractive to other groups that seek their own web-activity framework.

Mike said another core effort is to frame the second level pages.  These pages are very important from a navigation perspective. The second level pages have been re-architected to be present navigation and content in a more useful and attractive manner.   Finally, the web site should be flexible enough to incorporate future innovations that may be unknown today.

Ben Riseling provided a review of the Duke home page over the past 10 years.  The first Office of News and Communication (ONC) led redesign was in 2003.  Part of the design effort of current web site launched in 2006 was to introduce Duke Today. (http://www.duke.edu/today) This enabled the home page to focus on institutional matters and not on daily news.  In addition, the latest re-design introduced the back-end content management system.

Mike described some of the key features of the new design.  First, the site highlights Duke’s theme and visual identity.  The site is not designed as a “brochure”.  Second, the site aims to pull fresh and dynamic content whenever possible. The content on the home page should be frequently updated.  Mike said one of the challenges is not generating content, it’s filtering the volume of information and making decisions about what “makes it to” the home page.  This is especially true for video and other rich media, he said.  Third, subpages are moving beyond navigation to highlighting content.  These pages will appear to have the largest makeover in the new environment.  Lastly, the site will showcase tools such as the Event Calendar, DukeMobile, a Map service, and a forthcoming A-Z service directory.  The new site is a very collaborative effort between ONC and OIT, he said.   Mike said that this effort might serve as a model for other groups to look internally for resources.

Mike demoed a sample page of the new web site. (http://dn.duke.edu/dukeredesign/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/duke-home-small.jpg) The new site has a new top navigation bar with subtle, Duke iconic images.  The search bar remains prominent.  Mike noted the main navigation and architecture is not radically different than the current site since the current information architecture works well.  The reason for that is that the current configuration works pretty well.  Mike noted that the Libraries are now a primary element.  Jim Siedow asked if the directory was accessible from the home page.  Mike said it will be integrated with the search bar as it is today.

Dave Richardson asked if the “Medical” listing in the top navigation bar was a link to the Health System or “all things medical”.  Mike said conversations are currently ongoing to make that decision.

Tracy said that the current search field has text below it that says “People, Places, Things” that set some expectation for visitors.  Robert W. said that “search” may give some a different expectation of what they can use the search function for.  Blyth added that Search field itself will have descriptive information.

Mike said the area below the top navigation bar will be an expanded version of the current 3-phot panel area.  This primary navigation area will link to nine separate, rotating slideshows with audio narration.  These slideshows will focus on a variety of themes.  Terry asked if the slideshows will launch automatically.  Mike said users will have to initiate the activity though the rotation will be on a refresh cycle.  There will not be any automatic sound or motion on the main home page.

The next section of the web site has three columns: an Events@Duke feed, Duke Today news, and specific Duke Spotlights.  The last column will highlight content from other departments, institutes, and schools that can be highlighted on the home page.

The final section is an additional navigation guide.  It lists resources for faculty, staff, alumni, visitors, and students.  Each of those links will be to second level pages.   In addition, this section has a variety of tools, such as mobile, maps, calendar, audio, and video.  In addition, the center area of the third section, which is still being developed, shows video and podcasts.  This will be an emphasis on the video content available throughout Duke.

Terry noted that the aspect ratio of the demo is different than the standard computer monitor and asked if all the content would appear on a standard monitor.  Blyth said the fold tends to appear below the news messages, thus the final section may not be seen.  Tracy suggested the majority of users are using laptops and that the aspect ratio may be changing than what has been the traditional screen.  Terry said that aspect ratios on screens are becoming increasingly landscape.  Blyth said the new page is based on a 960 grid rather than the 800x600 and that the page resizes with width.

Brian Eder asked what the cutoff was on the existing site.  Ben said that the current site is a “liquid design” that reduces the possibility of a fold; therefore, there is no “cutoff”.  Brian suggested that some of the content in the proposed design may be overlooked since they will be below the fold. Ben added that usability testing will also help to refine the current page.

Mike demoed a new sample sub page. (http://dn.duke.edu/dukeredesign/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/duke-academics-small.jpg)  Selecting a top navigation topic will bring customers to a newly designed sub page.  The new pages have rich content, improved navigation, and live feeds.  Robert W. encouraged Mike’s office to work directly with faculty to refine the usability of the sub pages.  Mike showed a mock up of the new Duke Research page.  (http://dn.duke.edu/dukeredesign/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/duke-research-small.jpg) This page will have a range of tools and links related to research in addition to new rich content, Mike said. 

Alvy Lebeck asked if there is a specific model being addressed for internal versus external customers.  Mike said the goal of a site like Duke Research, with a primarily internal customer focus, will be to quickly get the audience quickly to research services and other kinds of internal resources.  Robert said that faculty will likely have pages and content they know of that Mike’s group might not know about.  Mike welcomed those conversations.

Terry said that visitors may not necessarily know how to access a specific individual because they may not know exactly who they are looking for.  Mike said the new site will have a much better A-Z service directory. Terry suggested the most important visitors to faculty are people with the potential to become new collaborators.  Blyth said that there is also a new faculty page that will come about as part of this project page. Terry suggested students may intentionally avoid “faculty pages” since they may assume they are not the intended audience of those pages.  Samantha Earp suggested that usability studies should help to flesh out some of these issues.  Robert W. said Mike said the goal is to make it better for everyone. 

Klara noted that the new Google Search Appliance will help provide access to content in new ways.  Mike said the search function generates the most feedback; therefore, the search functionality is being enhanced. Jim Siedow asked how the search will change.  Blyth said the new appliance will have improved metadata; therefore, a lot of the desired content will rise to the top. Jim said that he often gets better results on Duke searches by going to google.com than using the Duke search engine.  Alvy said that google.com builds its index based on the world’s web sites where as the Duke search site indexes just Duke pages.  Denise Haviland said that the new site has call out sections to search via subject.  That is, you can narrow your scope based on your subject.  In addition, the “resources for…” section is broken out by audience.  These groups can then get content that is pertinent to them.

Mike spoke about the nine themes that Duke University web site slideshows will be highlighting.  This will be the successor to the slide shows and art currently on the Duke home page. 

Another feature being added to then new site is the ability to highlight Alert/Urgent information.  This enables Duke to quickly announce Urgent information. 

Mike said they are currently looking to develop a holistic “Hulu for Duke” that would pull all the video and audio content from the institution.  All this data would be aggregated in one place.

Mike said one of the goals was to create a stronger visual identity for Duke.  The new scheme and design resemble the new Undergraduate Admissions material.  In addition, a new tool will be made available to schools and departments to allow them to voluntarily create visual coherence with the Duke University web page.  The “Brand Bar” will be a bar that can reside at the top of a web site.  (http://dn.duke.edu/dukeredesign/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/brandbar.jpg) The bar will have a suite of tools for web developers.  It provides visual coherence for the Duke University web space.  It also provides an option to free up space on other pages.  It is essentially a “mini-version of the home page.”  Mike also showed a palette of colors that work well with all of the content.

Blyth said Blackwell is doing much of the development.  There will also be a number of tools and templates. The site is being built out in a system called drupal.  The A-Z directory is pulling from the existing phonebook data set.  The upgraded maps project will launch around this time.  The search functionality will be upgraded.  The hosting environment for this site will be in a high availability space since it is part of the emergency communication strategy.  Information about this project can be found on the Project Blog: http://dn.duke.edu/dukeredesign.  Mike encouraged everyone to visit the blog and submit feedback there.

Terry asked how the blog had been publicized.  Mike said the blog was announced in Duke Today and they have met with the web communicators group, ECAC, and departments.

Jim Siedow asked when this was planned to be deployed.  Mike said they aim to implement it by late September.  Mike added that there will first be a period of usability testing.  Blyth said this testing is scheduled to be done in the month of September.  Mike said the first issue of the Duke Chronicle will have information about this.  Ben said this was also announced via the university’s Facebook page. Tracy said the web site looked really good.  Mike said that this project has been a breakthrough in organizational collaboration as much as the technology.


IT cost savings efforts - Ginny Cake

Ginny Cake said her presentation was a collection of reports based on the various IT cost savings groups.  This presentation builds on previous conversations at ITAC. There were five working groups with school, departmental, and ITAC representation.  Each group had a documented scope, deliverables, and timelines.  Focus was IT cost savings for Duke as a whole, not OIT.  OIT has different internal teams working on operational cost saving initiatives.

Ginny introduced some of the global findings and noted that, as expected, there were some common themes across working groups, noting for example that decentralization is a valuable asset across Duke.  Though economies of scale can be gained in some areas it might not be in others.  In addition, trying to measure how much IT spending occurs across all of Duke is a challenge. Ginny said having the flexibility to meet diverse departmental needs is key to Duke’s continued success.

The status of each of the five working groups is listed below.  Reports are initially submitted to the CIO (Tracy Futhey) and then submitted to DART.  More detailed information will be provided once all reports are complete and have been reviewed by DART. 

  • Computer Standards Recommendations (final report submitted)
  • Desktop and Device Management (final report submitted)
  • Consolidated IT purchasing (preliminary report submitted)
  • Public Computing Group (preliminary report submitted)
  • Virtualization (preliminary report submitted)