ITAC Meeting Minutes

March 1, 2012, 4:00 - 5:30

Allen Board Room



  • Announcements
  • Law School IT Update (Wayne Miller, Richard Danner, Lawrence Baxter)
  • Teaching Innovation & Technology Implications (Stephen Nowicki, Laurie Patton)
  • Quad Demo & Discussion (Mark McCahill, Randy Haskin)


Announcements and Meeting Minutes

Alvy Lebeck called the meeting to order at 4:02pm.

Bob Johnson made an announcement about student's noticing download slowness on Wi-Fi.  There was a routing issue with one of the service providers.  All of the Wi-Fi traffic was going off campus.  A routing change was made and the situation was fixed this morning.

Evan Levine announced that OIT is increasing the aggressiveness of email spam filters on the server to prevent users from getting spam.  He also announced that Dedric Watson is new stenographer for the ITAC meetings.


Update from the Law School - Wayne Miller, Richard Danner, and Lawrence Baxter

Wayne Miller began by displaying a timeline of the merge of the law schools two IT organizations which began in May of 2008.  The helpdesks were combined and repositioned near the library services desk creating a one-stop shop for the students. 

The organization decided in June of 2010 not to replace the local internal storage area network (SAN) that supported a set of services; which lead to a ripple effect causing the following:

  • July 2010, Windows 7 machines were rolled out and used to replace the existing XP machines.
    • This was significant because faculty went from being XP administrators to Windows 7 users. Professors can request an administrator password for the now IT managed desktop.
  • July 2010, a lease was completed with Duke's office products to replace all used HP equipment with newly leased and managed Lexmark printers and multi-function machines. Most individual printers were replaced with shared network printers.
    • The results are, a reduction of overall numbers, higher speed, better managed and better maintained devices.
  • September 2010, there was a transition from Novell GroupWise email system to OIT's Microsoft Exchange and Outlook. This was a culture shock for users who had to be told that their 25GB inbox, would now be reduced to 1GB.
  • January 2011, another part of the (SAN) retirement was the move from the SAN to a NAS storage environment which would now be managed by OIT. Staff members were moved first, and faculty was eventually moved a semester later. The process was completed by July 2011.
  • September 2011, the organization announced that Blackboard was going away and being replaced by Sakai.

As of now, the Law School is completely on OIT's infrastructure and/or services.

Robert Wolpert asked about the Macintosh's presence at the school.  Wayne mentioned that the student level of Mac presence is very high, faculty have some laptops.  In the next phase of system replacements, faculty will have the ability to obtain Macintosh desktops which will be joined to Active Directory.

Alvy Lebeck asked the question of the estimated percentage of faculty that has choose self-managed versus centralized managed machines.  Wayne mentions that the environment is still centrally-managed, but they will have to request an administrator password for the desktops.  As for laptops, everyone gets an administrator password.

The structure of the organization was presented by Richard Danner.

  • Talked about the organization of the law library and the academic technology department.
  • Both the law library and technology department reports into the same associate dean, (Richard Danner).
  • The technology department is a small staff consisting of people that focuses on faculty and student support, web initiatives, classroom support, and video recording. The systems staff is 2 people.
  • Hollie White, digital initiatives librarian responsible for organizing projects, managing the transition to Sakai, and a large project to enhance the content for the law school scholarship repository.
  • The repository is run on the V-Press Digital platform. This houses many student edited law journals and have been available since 1998, (well before many other schools started doing the same thing).
  • We have almost 4000 papers in that repository, and are now in the midst of a project to move many other journals away from printed publication all together.


Q:  John Board asked if there a policy in the law school that all external journals retain a copy that remains locally?

A:  Richard mentioned that most publications from faculty continue to be published in law school journals.  Most of them have repositories themselves, and most of their publication agreements with authors allow them to post a copy in a repository, or password protected site that is under their control. 


Q:  John followed up by asking if law papers were published in copyrighted journals?

A:  Richard mentioned that they are, but there is also an exemption to post them as well, there is not an exclusive right.


Q:  Robert Wolpert asked, who makes IT related decision in the law school and to what extent are they accessible to the faculty?

A:  Richard stated, ultimately the dean makes the more imported decisions at the higher level, there is also a library technology committee through which many of the decision are run.


Introduction of Lawrence Baxter was made by Dick Danner 4:22pm

His bio was read before the entire group.


Lawrence began discussing his background with technology, and discussed his philosophy with the wonders of the internet.  He discussed history with Mozilla and his experience with online banking.  After his return, one of the things he immediately noticed was the technology advancements which were amazing.  Students sitting in areas wirelessly connected to the internet, and it sparked ideas that affected the way he decided to teach his courses.  A hyperlink structure that allows student spend more time thinking.  Media stored in classroom that facilitates learning much faster.  New course materials, casebooks, publishers expect more media rich presentations from students.  Database conversions and systems integrations have been done much more seamlessly during switch to Windows 7, Sakai, and other technologies.  From his perspective, not many valid complaints have been heard during these transitions.


Some of the challenges going forward are to get faculty to use media in more meaningful way. 

Budget issues are a different matter, students expect more for their rising tuition costs, and it seems that the changes made are appreciated. 


Lawrence, now uses a Mac for ease of use, but really didn't have to...  He's recognized that students tend to use a Mac much more than any other device.  Apple has captured the imagination for students in a meaning full way.  Tuition, when you're paying that type of money, missing class matters.  Now with the technology, students can access recordings and can still engage in class.


Sakai was a major conversion.  No one has complained about the transition.  There were a few glitches in the pilot, but all works well now.


Q: John Board asked, do you have a model to help more senior faculty jump in to this...?     Are there structures or support to help someone change their teaching model?

A: It starts with people like Holly White; she's worked with the training programs and customized many of them for the faculty.  Many other faculty members are interested in the pilot for next fall.  Lawrence also mentioned that Holley White helped him as well.


Q:  Susan Gerbeth-Jones asked, how many students per year in a class?

A:  There are typically 205 JD (3-year program) students, 85 foreign lawyers in the LLM (1-year program).



Teaching Innovation & Technology Implications - Stephen Nowicki, Laurie Patton


Dr. Nowicki began by discussing the strategic planning and technological implications.  Last week's update was given by Steve Craig, who spoke about the technology and future innovation.  Steve pointed out that one of the challenges in teaching innovation is an embarrassment of riches.  There are many units and people pushing the teaching of innovation, which means there is a need for synergy.  He mentioned that Peter Lange charged him with creating a leadership group called UTILG, (Undergraduate Teaching Innovation Leadership Group).

This group is not specifically about technology.  It consists of about 15 people including faculty who have a specific interest in teaching innovation.  The goal of the group is to begin taking stock of the technology landscape of innovation and begin making inventory which will lead us to look for where there are holes and where we can find some economies of scale and synergies, with regard to teaching innovation. 

As that group continues to gain momentum, there may be a need for it to interface more with the ITAC group to create a coherent map of the overall landscape.

Q:  Robert Wolpert asked, what was the relationship with CIT?

A:  CIT is an organizational unit, where this group (UTILG) is a leadership group.   This is an umbrella to draw the leaders together into an ongoing conversation. 

Steve also mentioned a second thing that has come out of the landscape.  Driven by Peter Lange, there has been a discussion among several other schools, all approached by a company named "2Tor".  This company specializes in creating support for online course delivery.  They have been successful at the master's level in a number of programs and are now trying to create a consortium that offers an entire suite of undergraduate level courses online.

Peter has asked Keith Whitfield (VP of Academic Affairs), and Steve to begin a conversation with the folks at 2Tor to bring the faculty in to explore how this would work.  At this point, this is very early stage.  There is no business model in place and no certainty that with the nature of the kind of work that our undergraduate faculty performs.  If this does gain any legs, this would be something for ITAC to get involved in and ultimately lend support.

Dean Patton began by mentioning that she would like to work consultatively and have open forums on a number of issues to bring concise analysis with problem/solution focus.

The first forum in December involved pedagogy and technology.  When does technology drive the agenda and when does intellectual work drive the agenda?  The members of the forum argue that once technology enters the domain, that domain should be about technology.  There seems to be concern that technological innovation in teaching is not rewarded. 

The second theme that arose in the December forum revolved around whether there could be more featuring of individuals who genuinely contributed this area, such as an award.  This type of an award could be collectively owned, possibly by this group.

The third theme was the fact that there is still an uneven sense in departments of how digital work is evaluated.  Laurie will ask departments to come up with a set of guidelines on how digital work will be evaluated.

The final thing that emerged from that first conversation was a story told by a faculty member.  It was about a course from heaven where there was someone (tech support person) who happened to be there for them at all times.  She (instructor) realized that this was a fantasy, that is was a pure accident that this person just happened to be available and around at that time.  What was decided was to take the number of participants at that open forum and poll them as to what they would need for their class in the fall.  This would be used as a pilot to see what was needed, and Laurie will work with professors to make that happen.

Laurie then moved to discussion the innovations about team lead.  Laurie mentioned that she is worried about faculty's time since there's a human cost to pursuing such innovation in teaching. 

Laurie also gave an update on the wired classrooms experiment used by Caroline Bruzelius in a humanities course where different cities are virtually portrayed.  This brings up my new and interesting questions like:

  • Why are horses facing one way and not the other?
  • How can I maintain this with a humanistic feel?


There are two extremes to these types of questions, with the answers being somewhere in the middle.  To answer some of these types of questions, humanists and social scientists are being hired, but it is not sure how money will be raised to make something like this sustainable in the long run. 

Another big initiative is collaborative model with other universities focused on lesser taught languages, pay a fee and use TelePresence to discuss ideas.  There is a model at another university in Montana where languages such as Arabic are being taught this way. 

 The final update consists to a group convened with Susan Loft on interdisciplinary values for teaching.  This group could do extraordinary work with creating technological support for teaching courses across the units.

Q:  Robert Wolpert asked, what have you thought about the issue encouraging people to try new technology and not be committed to them forever?

A:  Stephen Nowicki mentioned, the answer to that goes back to the human cost of technology.  As an experimentalist; living by the phrase "Just do it", he found that students would spend an enormous amount of time preparing for the perfect experiment.  However, if you do that, you'll never have time for the experiment.  Just do it, if you fail or succeed at least you've learned something, and now you can do another experiment.  The same goes with innovation. This type of psychology used to encourage innovative programs like Duke Immerse where the startup is just the money.  If you fund the startup and if you're not successful, just you cut your loss and move on.  However, the startup of a type of innovation where the professor is retooling there becomes that human cost. 

Q:  Susan Gerbeth-Jones asked what about graduate faculty?  Is there a reason why they have not been included in this type of initiative?

A:  Stephen that had been discussed in their first meeting.  However, the undergraduates emerged because that's where the big splash stories are, and that's what the provost would like to see.

Laurie concluded by mentioning the development of software by Lance Bennett at the University of Washington.  This software is for voter forums to discuss very difficult issues.  In counter, she believes this school should create software to promote civil discourse.


Quad Demo & Discussion - Mark McCahill, and Randy Haskin


Mark McCahill began a demo of Quad by first explaining, what is quad?  Quad is a social computing/collaboration platform where you can make a community with tools such as: discussions, voice chat, exchange calendar, blogs, news, and live activity streams for people in the community.

The basic platform is single sign on using "shibboleth".

Quad "on-site" is currently used by the Fuqua School of Business and will be demoed by Randy.

QAAS is a prototype from Cisco that is being run on their WebEx platform.

Mark McCahill gave a demo of the "My Duke" site in quad and pointed out some of its features.

Randy - demoed the Fuqua version of Quad and discussed how it had actively been used in the community for the past couple of years.  During the demo he mentioned the following:

1.       First try was with distance learning students in where quad was used at a standalone collaboration platform.  A part of the challenge in this attempt was that the unified communications capabilities could not be utilized.  These students did not have softphones, WebEx or Jabber accounts.  So many of the features left available in quad were similar to what the students already had in their previous environment.

2.       Second try was a quad wrapped learning platform.  This provided loose integration with our existing platform and some of the unified communications features in quad.  Still not a lot of uptick in its use because students complained that they had to first connect to VPN.

3.       The third and more successful attempt was from a staff perspective.  Portlets and gadgets were written to specifically run in quad.  The unified communication and social feeds were utilized much more heavily.

Not sure where this business model was going to end up in the academic arena.  This tool is heavily used in the corporate environment where it is run on premises.  We are working with Cisco on QAAS instead of the on premises solution so hurdles like VPN are not issues.

Julian Lombardi, mentioned that there is also another effort for quad to be used by IT staffs in an attempt to help them better support end users. 

Terry Oas commented, that the issue with social software is that it is not effective until many users are using it. 

Randy also mentioned that Fuqua's Admission Staff is also using this tool.  This group is extremely mobile so many of the collaborative features are found helpful. 

Terry Oas commented that is sounds like this is a top down effort.  Something to consider is going the opposite way, and working with other groups.  Individual research groups may be very useful.  There are opportunities for off-campus groups that had access; this could create cross network appeal like existing social networks.

Q:  Alvy Lebeck asked, what is the time frame..?

A:  As of now, we are running a prototype.  The plan is to have a much better version available by June or July of this year.


Q:  Student representative, Robert Ansel asked, can you look for groups of students that specifically need to collaborate over certain things?

A:  Mark mentioned that this was an eventual goal.  To try to target groups that would have a reason to connect with one another.


Billy Willis commented, so what makes this better that Facebook is its ability to manage security right?  Yes.


Meeting is adjourned...!  5:32pm