Duke ITAC - September 16, 2010 Minutes

Duke ITAC - September 16, 2010 Minutes

ITAC Meeting Minutes
September 16, 2010, 4:00-5:30
RENCI Engagement Center
  • Announcements and meeting minutes
  • Back to school computer sales and IT support (Jim Rigney, Debbie DeYulia)
  • DMCA and copyright law updates (Kevin Smith)
  • e-Learning roadmap update (Ed Gomes, Amy Campbell, Samantha Earp)


Announcements and Meeting Minutes    

Alvy Lebeck called the meeting to order, asking the council for any objections to the September 2nd meeting minutes as submitted to the ITAC mailing list.  Noting no objections, Alvy announced that these minutes would be posted to the ITAC website.

Bob Johnson announced a projected date of October 1st for turning off authorization codes for long-distance domestic calls campus-wide. According to Bob, long-distance calling service will be rolled into the standard telephone charges as part of OIT’s ongoing efforts to reduce administrative expenditures.  Bob is working closely with Steve O’Donnell in OIT’s communications group to spread the word about these changes.

CIO Tracy Futhey and AVP Billy Herndon responded to some billing-related questions regarding the authorization code elimination effort, explaining that departments will not be financially affected by this change, but that long-distance service may be reviewed in the event that usage reports reflect possible abuse of the service.

Alvy introduced new ITAC member Stefano Curtorolo, who was not able to attend the September 2nd meeting.

Back to School Computer Sales and IT Support (Jim Rigney, Debbie DeYulia)

Debbie DeYulia began with some analysis regarding this year’s back to school support requests.  

According to Debbie, the five most common ticket requests handled by the Service Desk/call center at American Tobacco during this time were NetID/password resets, Blackboard support, mailing list support, networking (typically wireless) questions and problems, and email (DukeMail and Exchange) requests.  Compared to last year, the ATC Service Desk received fewer tickets this back to school season, and were able to reduce the abandon rate of tickets received by several points.

Debbie’s analysis of activity at the service desk at The Link (not including SWAT tickets handled at that location by student-employees) showed the five most common ticket types for that location to be networking/wireless requests, ePrint installations (typically by returning students), NetID/password resets, software installations (such as Microsoft Office and operating systems), and virus/spyware removal.  Walk-ups to this service desk were down this year, she said, with 79 computers serviced compared to last year’s 95.

This year’s student-driven SWAT program, Debbie continued, processed 338 tickets between their East Campus location and The Link.  These tickets included general computer setup, ePrint installs, Internet connectivity issues, and support for wireless devices such as handhelds, iPod touches, and iPhones.  In addition to these tickets, they also addressed 219 questions that did not involve direct technical support.  

Debbie showed the results of the past two years’ customer satisfaction survey, with marked improvement in each area – courtesy, skills, timeliness, quality, and overall experience.  Debbie observed that this year’s back to school support surge went more smoothly than it has in recent years, with no system or service outages, a more mature SWAT program, and better ePrint integration.  In other trends, she noted that the support volume during the summer months is up from past years, and Macs seem to be more popular with first-year students than ever.

Following this analysis, Jim Rigney discussed computer sales during back to school, which he characterized as going very smoothly.  

Jim began with a breakdown of Technology Advantage Program (TAP) vendor distribution.  Mac computers account for 76% of new TAP purchases, up from 72% in 2009.  For the first time ever, Jim said, students are whether they can trade-in PCs for Macs.

TAP purchasing is down this year, Jim explained, and his team is looking into why this might be. CIO Tracy Futhey asked if perhaps the advantage or discount for buying Dell/Lenovo computers through the TAP program is more significant over that for Macs, and thus a surge in Mac purchases may be associated with a reduction in students electing to take advantage of the TAP program.  In Jim’s words, Dell/Lenovo computers sold by Duke are more professional quality machines than what a student could buy in a big-box store, whereas Macs in the TAP program virtually the same units sold in Apple stores, so this may indeed be a factor.

Jim then showed some statistics on other TAP trends.  The most popular screen size among TAP purchases is currently 13.3 inches, followed by a group of 15.4 inch screens attributed entirely to MacBook Pro laptops.  The Blue Devil Delivery program that dispatches first year computers at East Campus’ Lilly Library was more popular this year than last, as were shipped orders, driving down the amount of in-store pickups.  Although TAP sales were down this year, overall notebook sales were up to 849 this year from last year’s 692.

When Jim asked for questions, Stefano Curtorolo asked about iPad sales on campus.  Jim responded that iPad sales are almost exclusively to faculty at this time, and Debbie noted that students are free to borrow iPads from the library system on a weekly basis.

In response to a question from Robert Wolpert about netbook sales, Jim explained that while netbooks are still quite popular on campus, sales of these machines appear to be trending downward.

Tracy asked about cable television subscriptions, which Bob said have decreased dramatically, from slightly more than 700 rooms to slightly more than 400.

DMCA and Copyright Law Issues (Kevin Smith, CIT)

Kevin Smith, director of Scholarly Communications in Perkins Library, gave the council an update on three recent copyright issues of interest to Duke.  Joining him was ITAC member and Office of University Counsel representative Henry Cuthbert.

Kevin first discussed a lawsuit filed by three publishing companies in April of 2008 against Georgia State University.  These companies are seeking an injunction to prevent Georgia State from continuing to upload copyrighted material to their Blackboard website.

According to Kevin, this lawsuit began when the publishers noticed copyrighted titles included in the Georgia State’s electronic reserves.  In the discovery process of this litigation, he continued, the publishers requested Georgia State’s Blackboard contents, and subsequently were able to name specific infractions in the resulting summary judgment motions.  Georgia State has filed for a protective order so as to restrict any judgment to be decided about their actions following the implementation of a new policy.  

According to Kevin, this case is of interest because it encompasses a fair use debate that is relevant to Duke’s educational environment as well.  If Georgia State loses this lawsuit, he warns, universities could expect to see increased costs or massive restriction on what constitutes fair use of licensed material.  If Georgia State wins, he would advise Duke to examine their new policy to make sure that Duke’s is similar.  The judge of this case is currently examining the economic implications of this case very carefully, which Kevin feels may bode well for a fair use judgment.  

The second case Kevin discussed was a potential lawsuit against UCLA by the Association for Information and Media Equipment (AIME) regarding streaming digital video on Blackboard for students registered for a course.  Under threat of legal action, UCLA agreed to stop this practice while the university examined its policies, but reinstated the practice after deeming the screening of digital video to a restricted group within the bounds of fair use.

Though no suit has yet been filed, Kevin says it likely that one will be. CIO Tracy Futhey asked how long Duke should wait for a legal precedent to be established before allowing professors here to digitally stream copyrighted material to restricted groups.  Henry Cuthbert addressed this question with some background on how Duke has typically approached questions of fair use.   

The third issue Kevin discussed was a change to an obstacle for streamed video.  Copyright law forbids the breaking of digital locks and DRM schemes, even if the purpose is fair use, but Kevin added the Library of Congress declares certain exceptions every year including some with important applications for university settings.  So far, exceptions have been made for higher education to circumvent digital locks in a narrow group of videos for a broad range of purposes, such as making a compilation of clips, a parody, or a service advertisement.  While Kevin cautions that these exceptions do not change the definition of fair use, it does mean that the digital lock policy does not apply in those cases.

Kevin then called for any questions the council might have.  John Board recalled an Amazon Kindle e-book pilot challenged by the National Federation of the Blind on the grounds that although the Kindle features a text-to-speech function, the menu was not adequately accessible for blind people.  Familiar with this case, Kevin noted that even the NFB agreed that the e-book pilot did not violate ADA regulation, as the Kindle programs do not replace texts.  In this situation Kevin said, the true agenda of the legal discussion was to pressure Amazon to make the Kindle more accessible. The effort was successful; according to Kevin, Amazon has since modified Kindle functionality to be more accessible for the visually impaired.

e-Learning Roadmap Update (Ed Gomes, Amy Campbell, Samantha Earp)

Ed Gomes began the e-Learning Roadmap update with some background on the e-Learning Roadmap Committee, a group tasked with the ongoing assessment of the e-learning needs of the campus community and identification of the tools, support, and infrastructure that should be centrally provided to that end.

Ed reminded the council that Duke’s license with Blackboard would be up for renewal in the spring of 2012 and that prior to that time, the e-Learning Roadmap Committee would evaluate and make an official recommendation to replace the current Blackboard 8 implementation.  

The e-Learning Roadmap Committee has considered many learning management system (LMS) products and has narrowed the evaluation to three top candidates: Blackboard 9, Moodle, and Sakai.  Ed showed a timeline between April 2010 to October 2010 that detailed various deliverables in this process and projected a recommendation delivery in October.

Ed then showed a breakdown of the factors in the LMS evaluation, which included strategic, functional, technical, and cost/impact considerations.  The committee will submit their recommendation to project sponsor Julian Lombardi, who will review the decision and pass it along to Provost Peter Lange, Executive Vice President Tallman Trask, and OIT CIO Tracy Futhey for final sign-off.

A group discussion ensued regarding selection criteria and LMS maintenance.  ITAC chair Alvy Lebeck asked whether each criterion presented carried equal weight with the selection committee; Ed acknowledged that this it can be difficult to simultaneously compare so many different factors, but said the team is aiming to conduct as robust an analysis as possible.

Robert Wolpert expressed a concern that by restricting course sites to an audience-restricted LMS, Duke misses opportunities for exposure to a larger community that might be interested in research and other academic activities going on at the university.  Robert suggested that this should be part of the strategy component of the LMS evaluation.  Ed responded that this possibility is something the committee has considered in their evaluation, while Samantha Earp suggested that perhaps this is not a problem to be solved via an LMS.  According to Samantha, many university entities are employing the open-source blogging platform, Wordpress, to publish attractive public-facing websites for their courses and campus interests.

Amy Campbell clarified some confusion about functional requirements for the new LMS, and addressed Terry Oas’ concerns about efficiency of the next LMS relative to Blackboard 8.  According to Amy, all three contending learning management systems would provide a significant improvement in efficiency over Blackboard 8.  With regard to technical complexity, Amy acknowledged that there is a difference in ease of installation and maintainability between the three products, but the administrative advantages and disadvantages are not necessarily the most important factor in this selection process.