Duke ITAC - August 19, 2010 Minutes

Duke ITAC - August 19, 2010 Minutes

ITAC Meeting Minutes
August 19, 2010, 4:00-5:30
RENCI Center
  • Announcements, introductions and meeting minutes
  • Fuqua Learning Environment (Tony O'Driscoll, Pete Goldberg, Mark McCahill)
  • Guest wireless network (John Board)

Announcements, Introductions, and Meeting Minutes   

Terry Oas began the meeting by introducing his successor as ITAC chairperson, Alvy Lebeck.  Alvy thanked Terry for his two years of leadership in the position, and the council took a moment to recognize his contributions to the council.  Terry will continue his involvement with ITAC as a councilmember.

Alvy then announced other changes in the ITAC membership for the fall semester.  Bob Nao will be rotating off the council, and two new faculty members will be joining the group. Physics professor Ashutosh Kotwal and Materials Science professor Stefano Curtarolo will begin their ITAC terms this semester.  Alvy also thanked Robert Wolpert for returning to ITAC for another term.  Though DSG has yet to appoint the undergraduate student representatives for the coming year, our prior undergraduate representatives (Michael Ansel, Ben Getson, and Mark Elstein) will remain provisional members until formal appointments are made after the semester begins.  The council is pleased to have two graduate school representatives, Yang Yang and Brian Kiefer.

OIT CIO Tracy Futhey announced that DUHS CIO Asif Ahmad has announced his intentions to accept a position in the corporate sector in mid-September.  The interim CIO, she continued, will be ITAC member Rafael Rodriguez.  Rafael confirmed this announcement and said that he hopes to maintain his involvement with ITAC amid new responsibilities.    

Fuqua Learning Environment - Tony O'Driscoll, Pete Goldberg, Mark McCahill

After thanking Tracy Futhey for inviting the team to speak, Tony O’Driscoll began the presentation by giving an overview to Fuqua’s cross-continent MBA, or CCMBA.  The CCMBA program is comprised of 160 students from 26 countries, and aims to instill “true global competence” in its students by fostering a strong level of engagement with the local regions in which classes are held.

Questions about this program surfaced immediately; Robert Wolpert asked if there were any foreign language requirements for CCMBA students.  According to Tony, all courses are conducted in English, but language camps are available to students to help them make the most of their experiences abroad.  He estimated that on a recent trip to Shanghai, approximately half of the 30 teams featured a team member who could speak Mandarin fluently.  Terry Oas asked if many CCMBA students are already located in their program destinations, to which Tony replied that many are, and many others are interested in making a career move to that region in the future.

Tony described the CCMBA program structure as including two courses in particular that span regional programs for distance learning: Global Markets and Institutions, and Culture, Civilization, and Leadership. For these courses, Tony says that students in different regional programs work together via technological resources that Fuqua has established over the last several months. The three primary tools used by these students, he continued, are the Duke Learning Platform (for calendars/assignments, resources, discussion boards, quizzes), the course blog (for pre-reading/viewing and commentary), and the Course Commons (for assignments, rankings and ratings, and commentary).  Tony explained that every deliverable for every student is posted on the Course Commons and every student is required to review and rank three other students’ deliverables.

Preparing for this year’s new students presented some challenges that had to be resolved on a short time frame, Tony said.  For example, Fuqua had not implemented unified authentication or identity management, did not have a standard approach to online collaboration, used platforms and third-party software inconsistently, and had various challenges with file uploading and editing.  Resolving these problems required a high degree of collaboration with OIT and Cisco.

Tony then outlined Fuqua’s technological accomplishments over the past several months, which includes a WordPress blog with Shibboleth authentication, direct links and authentication from the Duke Learning Platform, and over 4200 page views at the WordPress site.  The Course Commons now features authenticated services such as integrated Cisco Show and Share, a more streamlined upload process, and the ability to jointly edit videos.  The team has also included Jabber integration and a pilot of Cisco Quad.  After providing a brief overview to each of these elements, Tony turned the floor over to Pete Goldberg for demonstrations.

Pete demonstrated three products implemented by Fuqua.  The first was Cisco Pulse, a data mining product that builds dynamic tag clouds around people’s interests and profiles to identify areas of expertise.  Though this implementation is currently still a proof of concept, Pete explained that by pulling data from more than just student bios, Pulse could become a valuable resource for identifying interests and strategically connecting students to each other and to relevant resources.

Pete continued with the console for Cisco’s Show and Share, which allows students to publish, collaborate, and edit videos on the web.  He demonstrated the process of tagging specific parts of a video to provide more detailed feedback to team members, as well as the difference between personal and public spaces in the console.

The third product was the Course Commons, which Pete showed to be easily accessible from the Show and Share console, to allow students to participate in discussions about videos linked from Show and Share.  To help explain how students use these tools in concert, Tony described an assignment wherein students met as groups and uploaded a video explaining their plans for a future project.  Pete then showed where these videos were uploaded/edited in Show and Share and submitted/reviewed in the Course Commons.

Mark McCahill then took the floor to demonstrate Quad, an announced but not yet released Cisco product that allows a user to compile a list of contacts and communicate via chat or VoIP, as well as maintain a personal profile and/or blog.   Mark sent an instant message to a contact from his list, who then called him to demonstrate the VoIP plugin for the Firefox web browser.

John Board observed that this has been a very close collaboration with Cisco, and a group discussion followed regarding collaborative developments between the two entities and the occasional differences of terminology and paradigm.  Fortunately, Mark offered, these products are flexible enough that most adaptation of the products for Duke’s specific needs was achievable with out-of-the-box customizability.

In response to questions about the future of these tools, Tracy reinforced to the group that the Cisco suite is currently limited to a pilot implementation within Fuqua and is not intended as an immediate replacement for any enterprise software being used at Duke.  However, she further observed that the tools show a great deal of promise and flexibility for more widespread use in the future.   Mark agreed that all of these products are still very new to Duke and may or may not become useful to other departments in the future.

Molly Tamarkin asked if Cisco Quad is capable of videochat or screen sharing.  Mark responded that while these are not currently available in Quad, Cisco encourages users to use their WebEx product for screen sharing and videoconferencing.

Robert Wolpert asked whether Duke’s standard MBA program has the same degree of focus on video assignments as the CCMBA program.  Tony responded that it does not, and that the use of video in the CCMBA program began as an attempt to foster more involvement with the local environment/culture.  A group discussion followed regarding whether the standard MBA program could benefit from more focus on video projects.  Tracy cited some Duke Digital Initiative findings that video projects have increased in disciplines across the university, and noted that other Duke programs might benefit from experimenting with the CCMBA video project model.

Guest wireless network (John Board)

John Board provided the council with a brief overview of Duke’s new wireless visitor network.  Currently operating on a hidden SSID, which John expects will be published before the official start of the semester, this network shares the same hardware/infrastructure as the existing private wireless network and is intended for guests lacking credentials with which to connect to the primary network.

According to John, the new network will display a splash screen upon connection to remind users that those with access should use the private network to take advantage of a wider range of functionality.  He also explained that for the time being, the visitor network aims to provide basic web browsing capability to campus visitors and may not support miscellaneous applications supported by the private networks on campus.  Additional support may be forthcoming, he continued, depending on future evaluations of usage and security.

John emphasized that this new network is still quite experimental, and not expected to solve all of Duke’s guest network needs.  The Fuqua School of Business, he mentioned, already has a guest network that will not likely be replaced by the current system, and the library system is expected to develop its own public network with features beyond the network that is currently being piloted.  Furthermore, John believes it may be necessary to disable this network during certain campus events that attract a larger than usual number of visitors to campus, in order to avoid compromising essential networks sharing hardware with the guest network.  Some campus events draw such crowds, he said, that the sheer number of devices searching for wireless access could potentially overwhelm servers even in the presence of bandwidth throttling mechanisms.  

John reiterated that policy decisions pertaining to the new network are still under evaluation, and that he expects many of these questions to be answered shortly.

Other Business

Following these presentations, Tracy thanked Terry Oas for his years of serving as ITAC chairperson and presented him with an etched crystal plaque in appreciation for his service.