Duke ITAC - April 19, 2018 Meeting Minutes
Duke ITAC - April 19, 2018 Meeting Minutes
Start of Minutes
Agenda – April 19, 2018
4:00 - 4:05 – Announcements (5 minutes)
This is the last meeting for our student representatives and we wanted to thank them for participating. It has been wonderful to have this interaction. We appreciate your contributions to the committee. In fact, if we were to do a Faculty IT survey, the same questions would arise and we are also interested in the response on today's agenda.
4:05 – 5:00 – Response to Undergraduate and Graduate Student Feedback - Various presenters (40 minute presentation, 15 minute discussion)
What it is: At the March 8, 2018 ITAC meeting, ITAC undergraduate and graduate student representatives shared presentations derived from surveying their peers regarding IT concerns and perspectives. In today’s presentation, Duke’s IT leadership will provide feedback regarding the student concerns.
Why it’s relevant: ITAC values the input and needs of students, especially as it pertains to our goals of supporting Duke’s academic mission and reviewing the status of information technology. The dialogue between staff and students keeps the lines of communication open to identify and address problem areas, as well as to recognize successes. We invite further discussion of student concerns and proposed solutions, and will share feedback with Duke’s IT leaders.
We have compiled responses from the groups, some of which are not IT groups per se but were still included in the survey.
We have been working with Duke SISS and DukeHub to get a better integration with the Sakai Gradebook and DukeHub. This is now in production and does operate a little differently in that the information is in DukeHub. Instructions are going out shortly and we do believe users will be pleased with these changes. In May, we are going to run queries to identify and remove tools from the default template that are not being used to build Sakai sites. This should help reduce complexity and clutter. We have a new Sakai internal documentation product called ScreenStepsLive.com which should make it easier to link to in Sakai and make it easier for users to find assistance with Sakai issues. We are going to make changes with the syllabus in Sakai and are going to be evaluating this over the summer. We want to create guidance for faculty regarding the best practices in setting up their Sakai sites. Throughout all of next year, we are going to be doing user experience testing to identify where the pain points are so that we can go back to our vendor community and request improvements. Also throughout next year, we've been working on a project with Duke Web Services to improve the overall Sakai interface. This is called the Sakai User Interface Inventory Project.
Q: Regarding Sakai and Gradebook, are the changes active for this semester?
A: yes. It is active now. We hope this will encourage more Gradebook usage.
Feedback: It could be the rendering of the page is still painfully slow and not the registration process itself.
A lot of the comments were directed toward registration itself but we will take this back to the team.
Ongoing efforts to improve class search include vendor delivery of a new back-end tool to help with the search functionality. This has been implemented. The next step is now to develop and integrate this technology into the actual pages. We hope to have this completed before spring registration. Regarding Schedule Builder, this is an implementation of a new tool replacing a product called College Scheduler. Most of the complaints were that functionality was missing or different but the functions are there. Communication has not been what it should be. In some cases, the new Schedule Builder has improved functionality. In the previous tool, you had to go through the entire bookbag process to get from selecting a course to your enrollment. With the new tool, you can enroll directly from the Schedule Builder itself. The Registrar's office has committed to putting out short videos with tips and tricks to get more information to the student users. The vendor that we use is the same one that implements our mobile product and they are very open to feedback. If we could organize a time for a student focus group, we are sure the vendor would participate.
Regarding "direct login", the landing page for DukeHub is necessary for communication including announcements and alerts for all students, faculty, and staff. Students can bypass this page by using bookmarks. For the registration and DukeHub speed issues, the Registrar conducted several meetings with students to discuss the process as it is today and explored many different window options (new windows, current windows, less windows, more windows) and at the end of this engagement, the recommendation was not to make any changes. The report of the study was given to ITAC after it was completed. The input was contradictory without consensus, with the end result being leaving things as they were. This may have had unintended consequences.
As far as the responsiveness, we do extensive load testing for registration. We try to push through 1700 students at the same time to make sure our systems can handle the load for the 7 AM window. During each window, staff from the Registrar's office, from the SISS office, and from OIT gather at 6:15 for live monitoring. Within the first minute, 80% of the students in that window are registered. That said, we could make improvements with navigation. There are also some issues in DukeHub with the user interface and the "back" button. Two years ago, student focus groups were instrumental in providing guidance for designing the DukeHub pages that we have today. However, as users navigate "deeper" into the tool, they will encounter pages that have not been customized resulting in look-and-feel problems and "breaking" of the "back" button. We do want to continue customizations by utilizing student and faculty focus groups so we can identify where development efforts should be concentrated.
Most users are satisfied or neutral with the cellular coverage. There are components that are under our control and not under our control. The distributed antenna system or “DAS” enhances the coverage over Duke buildings. This is been built out for the past couple of years with the vendors AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. T-Mobile will be added by the end of the calendar year. The DAS is under our control so if users are aware of any gaps in coverage, please report this. However, outdoor coverage is not necessarily under our control. This is handled by the cellular providers. In the next year, new cellular towers will be constructed. Central Campus, Swift, and Ninth Street should see improvement. We will also work with Student Affairs and other organizations to communicate to students what vendors have the best coverage on campus.
There is an overall positive sentiment for email but there were some questions for alternatives to using browser-based clients on mobile devices. Users can now use the Outlook mobile app which should address a lot of the concerns that we saw in the survey (the Outlook mobile app was not available at the start of the year during the survey window). There were also cookie issues and changes to ADFS authentication infrastructure this summer should alleviate these problems.
Duke has had Box as a service since 2014. We currently have 366 courses that have folders in Box that were created through the Toolkits application. We have identified about 7200 active student users. Last year, we had a Box awareness campaign in February that was very successful with user engagement around 600 people, most being faculty and staff. We want to continue to raise awareness for Box including TechFairs and during the start of each semester. We will have more awareness opportunities coming up over the next few months including new features and products like Box Drive and we are looking at enabling unlimited storage for users. Finally, we are working on how to clarify and differentiate these tools and help users know which one meets the requirements of what they are trying to do and how to communicate this to the students.
Q: For Box, how do we define active student users?
A: These are students who are creating events in Box including logging in, downloading content, uploading content, etc.
Q: There have "Box"-like features in Sakai for classroom use. What is the thinking on when the storage in Sakai should be used or when Box should be used? My students were having issues with attachments in Sakai that were apparently exceeding the storage limits and generating browser error messages. These were very large media files.
A: We are very aware of this problem and we are looking at Box integration in Sakai.
Feedback: It would be also interesting to note faculty use of Box. I have a lot of content shared with me, and it's becoming hard to find what I need.
We are working on ways to determine who owns the data - specifically when a user goes away. If you are working on projects that matter to more than just you, it's probably best to create a space in Toolkits. Also, if you'd like to learn more about Box including best practices and direct training sessions, please feel free to reach out to us.
It is good to know that our users are generally satisfied with this service. We do need to do a better job increasing awareness of the mobile app. We should also be providing more tutorials for how to use the service. The suggestion for more locations is complex. Four years ago, we actually worked with the DSG to determine many of the locations and active features in ePrint. This resulted in quotas and more environmentally friendly policies. That said, the number of printers has not decreased and it does continue to grow slowly. We would like to revisit this conversation with the DSG to make sure we are meeting needs and verify if dorm locations is a high priority. We do want to remember that students are not the only users of the service. Regarding the queue time, it is currently set to 24 hours but we can evaluate if this could be longer without impacting the service. For communication, we will continue to work on improving that. ePrint stations will soon support contactless/tap devices.
There does appear to be a need to publicize more about these services. Most students are getting Microsoft or Adobe products. We are open to any ideas of how to better communicate what's available. We have heard of issues with Microsoft Office and licensing and we do agree that this can be confusing. We are working to create documentation to list what options are available, the ways you can use the software, and what devices are supported (which may use different kinds of licenses).
Feedback: The old software licensing pages made it easy to browse and see what is available. The new version is driven by "search" which makes it impossible to browse. Software used to be arranged by category which encouraged users to try things. There are tiles with icons but it seems to be a tedious way to get to the same information. This needs to be simpler.
We can look into this.
It may be we need to give more introductory material to first-year students.
In fact, we've already acted on the suggestion from the previous meeting to provide an overview and we've made this available for distribution to new students. It is also included in the Blue Book although the information in there can be overwhelming. We may want to prioritize what's most important and it may be that software needs to be higher on the list.
It is unclear how much of this was interpreted as programmatic Co-Lab activities versus 3D printing at the TEC but we are please with the very high satisfaction rating from those who have used the service or facility. There does appear to be a large number of students who have never heard of the Co-Lab. This again points to doing a better job at communication. One in 17 undergraduates used 3D printing last year and we had 509 unique students in the lab. Compared to our other lab efforts, this is a great number but if you assume the entire student population might be interested in this, this becomes a low percentage. For the timing of offerings, this is always tough. We know that during the day it's much easier for us to find instructors but it is harder for students to attend. We are exploring classes in the evening which may involve external instructors. For more training, we do well with the more complex classes but we may to consider providing very basic introductory information in short clips that is not as overwhelming.
Q: One way to think about the Co-Lab is it is more a space that a service. We think about libraries as a service, but students think of it as a place to go. Getting people to the space could be an area of focus. What is the best way to get that message to students?
A: Events held throughout the year seem to be a great way to attract users. This facility is on West Campus but incentives to make the trip seemed to work. There are also discussions about holding an open house in the facility shortly after the semester begins. We could also remind students there are printers and equipment in Lilly Library on East Campus. This survey was geared toward the Co-Lab as the space. When it first started, the Co-Lab was a program that had no Space. It was a service. Perhaps the survey next year could capture data for all 3D printing across the various locations where it's available (TEC, Lilly Library, the Rubenstein Library). But when it comes to the TEC, the space is more popular than the service.
We are in development on a new version of the app with a release date planned for the end of August. As with many of the services, DukeMobile needs more promotion. Features are being added incrementally in the new version with a focus on maps and location-based navigation. The "dining hours" mentioned in the survey comments is in "Places" but we would like to integrate that with "Maps". For example, users could request to the app: "Show dining places around me that are open and how to get there". It is valid to say that that the app does have links that go to other sites which may not be mobile friendly and which could give the impression the app is slow. As we develop a version that is fully native, we are going to take advantage of the richer experience.
Feedback: For "dining hours", it would also be helpful to alert of closings.
This suggestion has come up. Some facilities do a good job of notifying of closings but not all do in a way that can be captured programmatically.
There are so many more ways in this mobile world to use an app. For example, emergency notifications or authentication. The devices can scan fingerprints or facial features. Make this a virtual DukeCard so I don't have to carry a little card with me. There are a lot of things you could do to propel this app to a position where it is actually useful. Also, it's cumbersome when I use the app and I'm stopped by the shibboleth screen and then have to do the multifactor authentication.
Some of the things you listed are definitely on the roadmap. Part of this is getting some of the underlying infrastructure in place.
The infrastructure is managed by OIT but the question on the survey does specifically refer to the residence halls and how that experience is. The responses from "I don't even know what this is" to "I love it" show there is a wide range of feedback. For the problem with remotes to the devices disappearing, this is been an issue with any system. We need to identify a way to get residence hall staff to include equipment checks as part of their regular maintenance making sure the remotes are there, working, and have batteries. They are researching ways to mount the remotes permanently which is not user-friendly but does protect these devices. There is also work in developing one-page directions for the system which will be placed in each of the commons rooms and will include non-technical solutions.
The Event Calendar was upgraded over the summer and much of the changes came from consultations with users. The focus was helping users find out what is important to them. The calendar is much more visual with a featured event landing page with important events at the top. "Browse" and "search" have been added. Users can download the calendar to personal schedulers like iCal or Outlook. Events can also be shared on social media. There was some feedback in the survey that users were not familiar with the Event Calendar. That could be because the data is being shared to other pages. For example, the Trinity website draws data from the Event Calendar. We continue to work on how to help students know more about events of interest to them and we plan to work with Student Affairs and event planners.
The survey results were that 65% were satisfied or neutral but there was a vocal minority who had frustrations with the application. Survey participants wanted more accuracy and notifications. For the accuracy issue, this information is based on an algorithm and it is not an exact science. Road conditions can have an impact and this should be factored into usage of the app. Regarding outages, there are no "push" alerts but they did encourage users to look at the notifications screen which is where the information is posted. They did encourage checking the website and printing out the schedule in advance. If there is a delay, there is an "out-of-service" bus message that should be posted on the Transloc site. If you are having issues, use the "how is your ride?" feature on the app and enter details in the comments. These submissions go directly to staff who can see these comments in real-time. They should be able to address your issue quickly. That is the best solution at this point.
This service is owned by the Registrar's office but it was included in the survey. People asked for a cleaner interface and faster responses. The management of 25Live changed in the last year which suggests updates or improvements may be addressed. They are working with those who manage the spaces to try and get them to speed up request fulfillment (the delays maybe at the local level). They did simplify the mobile site which is available at the Registrar's office website. They are also going to add helpful tips and tutorials videos. There is a public search to help find available spaces. One of the complaints was that reservations can only be made by approved student groups. This will remain in place because they needs to be a responsible contact.
Feedback: Most users come to the site to find a room or get details about a specific room. The front page doesn't offer this and and it necessary to dig through the site to get this information.
We agree the interface could use improvement but it is under the control of the vendor.
Q: Is the vendor aware of the shortcomings?
A: We have reported these issues but so far there has been no change.
There was a complex issue with wireless access points and the vendor. The behavior was that a user would be connected to a network such as "Dukeblue" only to be disconnected within 10 minutes. Rather than connecting back to the Dukeblue network, the user would select "Visitor" only to experience the same 10 minute disconnect. This was because the user would be on the same access point regardless of switching networks. Users on laptops may have been particularly aware of this as the computer would search for another wifi network once the connection was dropped (it was very noticeable when streaming content). All the status tools indicated the access points were working correctly. However, logs we pulled from the access points and the "Raspberry Pi" devices were analyzed. The graphs from this data revealed the 10 minute disconnect pattern. The vendor agreed that this was not normal and the setting should be 24 hours before a disconnect. A patch was applied to the devices on March 8 and we saw an immediate positive impact. However, this was after the survey and it is likely this issue was a factor in responses. We also looked at the equipment in the library and discovered that some of the access points were in places not ideal and we have been moving the access points to better locations. It is hopeful this will improve things in the library. We also identified and fixed a few issues around DHCP, the protocol used to assign IP addresses to equipment. We interviewed students and most users said their experience was "good" or "great" and that they had noticed a difference since the patch update. There are still areas of concern such as in the dorms and the library.
Users want more outdoor coverage and we are working to address this request. We do have wireless installed between Bryan Plaza and the Brodhead Center, something that was explicitly requested. This is now the most popular outdoor wireless venue by far. We are aware that there is the desire for more wireless connectivity in outdoor areas. The challenges include determining where to place access points and getting permission to put the equipment on the exterior of a building. The "Raspberry Pi" devices have been helpful in troubleshooting the connectivity drops and determining the effectiveness of the March patch and we will continue to utilize these as a resource. Going forward, we have a project with the "Data+ initiative". We want to analyze the data and develop solutions that help people maintain wireless access as they move across campus and identify where there might be issues. We do recognize the problems with wireless networking and we continue to prioritize addressing issues.
5:00 – 5:30 – Celebration (30 minutes)