4:00 - 4:05 – Announcements

Ken Rogerson convened the meeting and warmly welcomed all. The attached ITAC meeting minutes from April 20, 2017 and October 19, 2017, were motioned upon, seconded and approved.

4:05 - 4:35 – Virtual Reality Visualization and Simulation Projects and the Duke immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) – Regis Kopper, David Zielinski

What it is: Virtual reality is a technology-mediated environment where user actions and perception may approach or go beyond those of a real-world environment. The Duke immersive Virtual Environment (DiVE) came on-line in 2006 representing a substantial investment in virtual reality technology that provides an unparalleled interface between humans and digital worlds and unites faculty and students from all disciplines.

Why it’s relevant: Recently, virtual reality reached the consumer market and today millions of users have experienced it first-hand. At Duke, we have been working with researchers from across varied disciplines on projects that range from a virtual dig of archeological sites to augmented neurosurgery and psychophysics training. The DiVE offers the unique potential to simulate realistic scenarios with high levels of fidelity to the real world. The DiVE Lab, in addition to being a popular outreach destination for Duke Visitors, has contributed to scientific advances through numerous dissertation projects, publications and patents. No matter what your discipline, virtual reality and the DiVE help attract students, faculty, researchers, and staff to a new world of immersive technology.

The history of AR/VR started in 1968 when Ivan Sutherland invented the first 3D Head-Mounted Display system as a result of delving into custom hardware circuits and molecules in Augmented Reality. VR rose to its peak during the media hype cycle with movies like The Lawnmower Man and The Matrix in the 1990s but lost momentum in the 2000s with the exception of researchers and universities. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus for 2 billion in 2014 caught the attention of the rest of the world and everyone became interested in VR, however, now we may be at a productivity plateau for this emerging medium.

The DiVE (Duke immersive Virtual Environment) came online at Duke in 2005 and with an NSF instrumentation grant completed a large hardware upgrade in 2015. The main facility consists of a gray paneled 10.2’ cube with a sliding door into which the viewer can step in and experience interactive VR all around. The HMDs were not as sophisticated as compared to the Oculus Rift which resulted as a byproduct of the cell phone screen technology modeled on low-cost and high-resolution. The Oculus kick started the recent resurgence of the HMD but there are several VR/AR and Mixed Reality devices and each have its own set of libraries.

Some of the fascinating projects and class visits at the DiVE include:

  • Duke’s Bass connections project team refined a VR system to recreate the archaeological experience using data and 3D models from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, in Anatolia, Turkey.
  • Alternative hypothesis of art history at the Santa Chiara, a religious complex in Naples, Italy, that includes the Church of Santa Chiara, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum, shows how it may have looked like at a certain period of time since it’s been modified throughout its existence.
  • A Bio-Medical Engineering class explored how blood flows through arteries.
  • A Neurobiology class examined molecules to better understand concepts in Neuroscience.
  • Use of a Specimen Box is an Interaction technique, created using a clear box which the user can touch but can’t reach any of the virtual contents since it’s hard to show tangible interfaces in world-fixed systems. The inspiration for the box came from the historical “Specimen Jars” from the late 1700s.
  • Use of a VR Simulator for marksmanship shows time spent training changes in time spent in ballistic vs refinement phases and now includes EEG in which the P3+P4 electrodes show a decrease over training.
  • Several projects used PanoVR 360 Video, Eye Tracking and SQUAD Ray-casting, in which Sphere-casting is refined by a QUAD menu selection technique.

Some trade-offs between HMDs vs. CAVEs (like the DiVE) are as follows:

  • HMDs are getting widely adopted but still have challenges with encumbrance, hygiene, embodiment, and safety.
  • CAVEs are expensive and not highly available, but the advantages include multiple users, collaboration with remote teams, less sickness, and embodiment.

Safety and sickness during a VR experience are concerns and a few recent HMD projects have researched ways to reduce commons side effects of motion sickness via Rest Frames which provide stable scene references. Also motion platforms and inner ear balance procedures may also lessen sickness on follow-up experiences.

Since VR is visually focused, some accessibility issues are being addressed with experts to explore potential accommodations for the blind and disabled, to increase realism of other senses in VR (audio, haptics) and also determine legal rules and precedents.

In conclusion, VR provides amazing opportunities in the fields of teaching, learning, medicine, and research while continuing to focus on the use of cutting-edge technologies to find solutions to real-world problems.


Q1: How is the Box technique being used?

A1: The Box metaphor is a proxy to hold something much larger and uses indirect techniques to manipulate the objects and also works well with Augmented Reality.

Q2: What are your thoughts on other temporary VR devices like pop-up domes?

A2: The pop-up domes can be expensive but are great for shows and are similar to CAVEs.

Q3: Are they examples of projects that explore more abstract concepts?

A3: Yes, we had a visiting Artist who made a collage with photos and also another project from the Documentary Arts class where students created virtual spaces and interacted with different kinds of graph visualization of molecules and complex data.

4:35 –4:55 – Learning Innovation – Matthew Rascoff, Shawn Miller

What it is: Duke has a new organization to support innovative teaching and learning known as Duke Learning Innovation. Learning Innovation combines two previously existing groups, the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) and Online Duke. With this merger comes the addition of a new research and development lab to partner with researchers across campus to experiment with new learning models and approach to scale what works.

Why it’s relevant: Learning Innovation builds on and continues CIT and Online Duke's strong partnerships and collaborations with Duke’s IT staff. Learning Innovation envisions the future of learning technologies for Duke and helping more people learn from Duke through new online initiatives and projects.

The presenter, Mathew Rascoff, opened with a poll for the audience asking “What advice do you give a Sophomore who asks should I become a Radiologist or will it be taken over by Artificial Intelligence?” The audience responses ranged from “hybrid - as in a radiologist with a data analyst partner” to “a medical data analyst since a Radiologist is one type of data analyst”.

One of the co-founders of a leading AI company asks students not to pursue radiology as a profession as it may only have a remaining lifespan of 5 or 10 years which is a very pessimistic view of how AI will impact the labor market, however, a more optimistic view is that menial jobs will be outsourced to machines which will be a lot more productive and humans will have more leisure and move up the value chain of skilled labor thereby creating a huge demand for re-skilling and/or up-skilling the workforce.

A group of design students at Stanford introduced a model of an Open loop University five years ago which is a vision of how higher education is going to evolve. This very inspiring fluid model also called “The Arc of Learning” was surprisingly uninspired by technology as the students were physically returning to the university and reconnecting with the physical community. The online-based model will be more of a personalized curve for the set of careers that apply to an individual and moves from place-based to online-based phases of learning. Three particular audiences will be part of this learning model:

  1. Alumni: There is a tremendous opportunity to reconceive how learning works for retirees as platforms like Linda and/or Coursera will bring people back in the learning community to reconnect and share their skills. The Alumni office at Duke is interested in this model and partnership to satisfy the online learning needs.
  2. Enrolled students: Coursera for Duke and online learning can complement on-campus learning to meet the prerequisites for a course that the student takes at his/her own pace and then comes prepared to participate in classroom discussions.
  3. Prospective students: Blue Bridge, code named for a vison for using digital learning as an access mechanism, piloted last year with a group of High School students and faculty from Tennessee, discovered that most HALO (High Achieving Low Income) students in the US never have a chance of attending a selective college that they would be qualified to attend because they never even applied. Where a student goes to college has a huge life impact on their future and we as an institution of higher learning, have a role in shaping their decision-making process and can also change their own self-perception by opening the funnel wider at the top while they are still in high school and making digital learning an authentic experience with our faculty and in reaching out to these students and this is where the arc of learning is completed.

In conclusion, the Arc of Learning is a very promising model that allows us to choose a digital learning strategy that is mission driven, efficient, and financially sustainable.


Q1: How do we encourage faculty engagement with Alumni?

A: This model will allow alumni to learn with alumni and the faculty will serve as a framework provider and moderator but not an end-to-end deliverer of all the content. During an AP beta test, it was noted that the alumni preferred the longer version of the courses as it offered a wider community perspective. The Duke Alumni Fellows program consists of 6 faculty who are given stipends to participate in face-to-face learning opportunities.

Q2: How does this compare with Open Courseware from MIT?

A: Open Courseware at MIT set the stage for all universities with an incredibly important and mission driven approach in expanding digital learning to the community.

Some significant statistics show enrollments in Coursera to be:

  • 30 million learners across Coursera of which 5 million from Duke
  • We add more than 2000 learners to Coursera every week
  • Last week alone, we added 1004 enrollments for 536 unique users

4:55 - 5:10 – Learn. Duke – Michael Greene, Lauren Hirsh, Evan Levine

  1. it is: “Toolkits” is a somewhat “behind the scenes” system in use at Duke for a number of years that allows faculty, students, and staff to create and define groups and then control access and rights to various online tools. Learn.duke is an evolution and refocusing of Toolkits to provide students with a unified interface for accessing the tools used by their learning communities and to provide faculty a catalog of learning technologies. This allows faculty to administer the membership of their learning clusters and provide the Duke community with information on learning technologies and their management.

Why it’s relevant: Learning experiences in higher education are increasingly taking place in applications outside of the traditional learning management system (LMS). All LMS options on the market, including Sakai, are not the most effective tool for facilitating all components of a learning experience. The Learn.duke project is a starting point for evaluating a way to address the needs of learning communities, with an initial focus on instructors and students in course-based groups.

The toolkits system consists of Tools and Groups for collaboration to create and define online learning communities and provision access and rights to online tools and resources such as Sakai, Box etc.

In the Fall of 2017, Toolkits was reimagined with critical user experience objectives to help clarify the business problem and opportunity, understand and align the goals and priorities of the individuals and groups working on this project and also work with Learning Innovation to provide some initial design direction for a new front-end website for faculty and students.

The Dynamic Dozen includes both Learning Innovation and Office of Information Technology teams:

  • Michael Greene, Justin Johnsen, Chris Lorch, Jolie Tingen, and Heather Valli (Learning Technology Services)
  • Shawn Miller and Matthew Rascoff (Senior leadership)
  • Mary McKee (Identity Management)
  • Charley Kneifel, Mark McCahill, Liz Wendland (Systems Infrastructure)
  • Evan Levine (Academic & Media Tech)

Learn.duke will give students a unified interface for accessing the tools used by their learning communities and allow faculty to manage the people as they will have access to a catalog of technology tools and will be better equipped to provide information on learning technology management and policies.

Some of the driving questions are:

  • How to build a Minimum Viable Product in stages and successive revisions?
  • How might learn.duke accommodate the entire range of (course) learning communities—those that use a single tool like the LMS or email, those using multiple supported tools, and those using their preferred, unsupported tools?
  • How might learn.duke encourage our (course) learning communities to more frequently use the best tools to meet their learning goals while taking less energy to do so?

We can move beyond MVP using the following strategies:

  • Templates of tools
  • Pedagogy-based, guided app selection
  • A.I. for syllabi
  • Designed Learning Experiences to connect all courses in the program together
  • Next level


Q1: What do you want to accomplish with this interface?

A: Toolkits will provide a design learning experience as a launchpad and a single-entry point for various tools. We can also look into creating a single user interface for students with an integrated GUI.

Q2: Today, since a lot of this is already happening inside of Sakai, how do you see this adding value in unifying the toolkits?

A: Since the number of tools keep growing, a disaggregation of LMS may be necessary and since Sakai is meeting our goals as intended, this will allow modern ways to augment other tools.

A timeline is not yet set and we also need a name for this project.

5:10 - 5:30 – Gradescope Pilot – Michael Greene, Evan Levine

What it is: Gradescope is a tool to help faculty grade faster and easier while providing more robust feedback to students.

Why it’s relevant: Now available to the Duke community, we encourage you to see how it might help your course, team, or department. For more information, please visit https://gradescope.com/get_started(link is external).

Gradescope, an online time-saving grading tool for scanned, pen-and-paper based, free-response assessments, supports workflow engines for both individual student assignments and instructor upload of assessments while making it easy and efficient to organize, grade, and provide consistent feedback, and also provides a dynamic point adjustment using a living rubric while you’re grading.


Q1: Do I need to manually configure or does it have an AI?

A: Some things are configurable but most are done in the AI including OCRs.

Q2: Does the system facilitate multiple people grading?

A: Absolutely, and it also maintains student anonymity to eliminate bias.

Q3: Does it have to be paper based?

A: Yes, for now but you can upload bubble sheets or import a pdf.

Q4: Does it integrate with Sakai and Duke Hub?

A: Yes.

Q5: Has the Math department looked at it?

A: We’re working with the Math dept and they are also looking at other tools.