Technology Engagement Center Conference Room
Note: ITAC meetings are digitally recorded for meeting minute generation; audio files for each topic are posted to an authentication-protected repository available on request to any ITAC member. Presenters are welcome to request to have their audio program excluded from the repository.
All times below include presentation and discussion time.
Agenda – June 6, 2019
4:00 – 4:05 – Announcements (5 minutes)
Julian Lombardi is retiring on July 5.
Restrictions at the “border” have been put in place for the remote Desktop protocol or RDP. 98 percent of the traffic for RDP was not legitimate. We worked with departments that needed to run this protocol to set up multi-factor authentication.
Q: For your home machine, should you look at the state of this protocol?
A: It’s probably not active on your home machine unless you have done port forwarding.
4:05 – 4:15 – Ivy+ Web Communications, Ryn Nasser (5 minutes presentation, 5 minutes discussion)
What it is: Representatives from top-tier schools meet annually to discuss and share information in various areas. Topics include overall university directions, budgets, projects, online learning tools, and daily operations.
Why it’s relevant: Sharing experiences and discussing challenges with our peers helps provide a collaborative environment where ideas are formed, and problems are solved. Ryn will share her experience at the 2019 conference for the web communications group.
The agenda included organization of teams and cost recovery. There were presentations on dealing with content management, emergency communications, analytics and metrics at the top-level including Google analytics, web governance, and news sites versus university homepages.
Most of the schools who attended have a central web services group and about half have some kind of cost recovery model ranging from 40% to 70% with a median of around 40%. Nearly all of the represented universities have some kind of centrally maintained and managed platform or content management system, the most common being WordPress or Drupal. At Duke, our central platform is WordPress while Drupal sites are standalone. Drupal among the institutions is still predominant, many using this platform for high profile content. At least half have some central platform, with four offering Drupal specifically. At one institution, Drupal sites are as easily requested as WordPress sites are at Duke.
Other content management systems are in use. One institution is working to retire Cascade and move to Drupal. An interesting fact is that most institutions are hosting these services externally. Some peer institutions feel strongly about hosting on-site. One institution is piloting a new Python-based content management system called "Wagtail”.
There was a session on web governance covering areas like domain and vendor management. Three schools reported they had no web governance of any kind. At other schools, anyone can request a domain name which means some users have been able to reserve names needed for institutional pages. Most schools are in the same gray space as we are with vendors.
Q: Regarding cost recovery, what is a department paying for?
A: This might include redesigning websites or upgrading it or creating a website for a new initiative.
Q: Was there any difference in cost recovery between research sites and business sites for our peers?
A: Not really. Both use cases were treated the same.
Q: Did you come back from the meeting wishing there were things that we did here at Duke or were glad that we don't do at Duke?
A: We did come back believing we should continue to press for a central Drupal platform for our community. The customization and flexibility that Drupal offers is a big advantage over WordPress enforcing brand standards and security.
Q: Do a significant number of schools not try to recover costs?
A: Some are not and are free to engage whoever they prefer including third parties.
4:15 – 4:40 p.m. – Technology Accessibility Accommodations, Leigh Fickling (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)
What it is: Duke’s Disability Management System provides leadership to University and University Health System efforts to ensure an accessible, hospitable, working and learning environment for people with disabilities. To support this effort, technology accommodations are in use across campus.
Why it’s relevant: In this presentation Leigh will show the accessibility technologies in action at Duke to give a full picture of how they are being used. Some of them are familiar and others are new.
The Duke Disability Management System oversees all of the accommodations for people who have disabilities, ranging from students to visitors, from the campus to the health system. Our mission statement highlights the word "ability" and we focus on the abilities people. When people hear about the Student Disability Access Office, they may be confused about where this office fits in our organization, especially as it relates to the Disability Management System. The Student Disability Access Office is a part of our organization.
The Americans With Disabilities Act or ADA was passed in 1990. Some of the laws go back to 1973. Some of the things we do today were not an option in 1990 or 1973. When we give talks around campus, some ask where in the ADA does it require captioning for videos. It doesn't say this explicitly, but we can rely on interpretation of case law. The original ADA of 1990 was focused on very visible disabilities such as blindness, deafness, or physical limitations. The definition of disability in the ADA is a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits a major life activity. The ADA was amended in 2008 and the definition was expanded to include other major life activities like reading, communicating, and major bodily functions. People with learning disabilities are now included in the ADA because reading is a major life activity. A lot of the disabilities today may be invisible. Someone may occasionally need a wheelchair but on other occasions is able to walk. The disability is still present but not visible. This does make it more difficult to determine what accommodations are needed.
Section 504 of the Rehab Act was the original disability law from 1973. The laws were updated to address technology. We have a duty to make this content accessible and are recommending best practices for the Duke community. For activities offered to the community or to the public, we suggest including an accommodation statement. By using these statements, we are informing what we can accommodate at the activity and what we can't. Our office is available to work with you provided you reach out in advance of your activity. For example, it would take us 24 to 48 hours if you need a sign language interpreter. By using an accommodation statement either on printed fliers or on webpages you are encouraging people to participate.
For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, we are providing notetakers in the classroom. Another option is CART or "Computer Aided Realtime transcription" which functions similar to a court reporter. We also offer an assisted listening devices and video remote interpreting. We are working with a new vendor for video remote interpreting (VRI). For example, someone is visiting Undergraduate Admissions who needs an interpreter. In the past, we would have had to turn them away or would have resorted to writing notes in order to communicate. In these situations where we don't have a sign language interpreter on call or immediately available, this vendor provides an interpretation service on a mobile device using video. This is ideal for just-in-time situations. This service works best on a device like an iPad or tablet, bigger than a mobile phone. Undergraduate Admissions and Human Resources will have an iPad on-site for this service. This is not just video sign-language interpreting. They also offer spoken language interpretations. Good bandwidth is a requirement. Otherwise, there is video distortion or blurring of video or audio. The display also should not have any cracks. The interpreter’s hands should be visible.
Another best practice is if a microphone is available, it should be used. Participants may believe they speak loudly enough to be heard by everyone, but some individuals in the room may be hard of hearing. For people who have visual impairments such as blindness or low vision, use a large print font which starts at 18 points, especially when converting materials. We do have the ability to print some materials in braille. Visually impaired students also use other electronic materials, and in some cases prefer it. This may be something to consider when providing visual accommodations.
We do work for people with mobility impairments. When considering technology and interactivity in our spaces, remember that electronic bulletin boards need to be at an appropriate height, especially if they are interactive. Mobility impairments may also apply to people of short stature, so operable parts need to be at appropriate height. If you have a lower counter, keep it clear materials for individuals who need to roll up to the counter. People who have chronic health impairment often need parking services. For technology, we suggest using Panopto recordings. This is especially true when the student is unable to go to class. The classroom lecture is recorded which can viewed simultaneously or at a later time.
For people with learning disabilities, it is important to consider the use of a computer in the classroom. Some instructors prohibit electronics in the classroom, but this individual may need them because of a learning disability. However, granting an exception also calls attention to the disability and this is a problem. We don't want to automatically disclose a disability without the student’s permission, but we have to determine a way to support the student while instructing the others they cannot use electronics. We have students who are using smart pens to capture the classroom notes and to play the recording at later times.
While not related to technology, service animals and assistance animals are a big topic on campus. As we think about ways that we are accommodating individuals on campus, we have to differentiate between a service animal and an emotional support animal. Emotional support animals on campus are growing.
As students come into the office, we find that they are already familiar with technology that works and what they wish to try it out. For example, several years ago we had a student who used a smart pen. We had to do research to understand this technology and if it would be able to be used in our environment.
Q: Compared to other institutions, where are we ahead and where are we behind? Are we reactive rather than proactive?
A: With web accessibility, we have been reactive, but this is getting better and moving towards being more proactive. The disability system is unique in that the student disability department is integrated into the Disability Management Office. We are able to follow people through the lifetime of their Duke experience.
Q: We have students who need accommodations during exams but there is no room provided for students who need extra time for exams.
A: These are coming soon and will be available in the fall. They are under construction right now in the basement of Trent and operated by the Academic Advising Resource Center. There will be rooms providing a minimally distracting environment as well as private testing rooms.
4:40 – 5:05 p.m. – Code+ 2019 Summer Projects, Jen Vizas and Project Leads (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)
What it is: Code+ is a 10-week summer internship program available to Duke undergraduates. The program offers students the opportunity to participate on a small project team where everyone is working towards a common goal while sharing knowledge and learning from IT professionals. The program provides the students with the opportunity to apply their education while gaining real-world experience on technology-related projects. Building on the program’s success from last year with six students working on the ParkDuke app, this summer 29 students are working on eight projects
Why it’s relevant: This internship provides an opportunity for students to work with a dynamic team of technology professionals, while making an impact on Duke’s digital landscape. We will give an overview of the projects the students are working on this year to welcome input on how we engage affected communities as the projects progress.
Code+ is a 10-week summer coding experience that runs from May through August. Code+ is made up of project-based teams, 3 to 4 students per team. Last year, one team did manage to produce ParkDuke which they continued to develop through the academic year with assistance from OIT. While it would be nice if there were “products” by the end of this summer, it is not the goal. Our goal is building the skills of students in preparation for best 2020 industry internships. There are eight projects this year. Last year, we had 6 student participants. This year we had 130 students apply and 46 were accepted. 29 are part at the OIT Code+ program and another 17 are part of Computer Sciences program. Our primary participants are freshmen and sophomores. We did have two rising seniors who are new to computer science. Most of the participants are computer science or ECE majors. We have 17 women and 12 men. The projects are led by staff team leads from OIT and Learning Innovation who are experts in their areas. We reviewed what we did last year and took what worked well and changed things based on lessons learned.
During these 10 weeks, our focus is on training. Several participants are taking Xcode training. Some will be doing UIUX, Ruby, Java, and HTML/CSS. The past two weeks have been spent on research and interviewing stakeholders, with the interviews continuing throughout the 10 weeks. We start with a high-level description of the project. The students develop and own the process and the results.
Personal Network Security Device for Home Use
Our task is to design a consumer-oriented device that would help improve your home network security. This has been designed primarily for faculty. This device would sit between a router and some of the devices on your network with direct access to the Duke VPN. We are in the process of adding a DNS resolver as well as adware and malware blocking. Ultimately, we want to make this device easy to use and customize. We are in the process of surveying some potential users.
Issue Reporting App
There are several different methods to submit issues. You can go to the Facilities website or the OIT website. We want to integrate these processes into a single mobile app so you can submit an issue and it will automatically route to the department responsible. We have interviewed our stakeholders and created an app mock-up. We are finalizing our feature set and starting to build out our app through Xcode.
Building the Next Generation of Sakai
Sakai is used by all of the professors and students at Duke to share files and classwork and we are working on visually standardizing so that everything looks the same. As we get more comfortable with HTML and CSS code, we are going to be able to create our own features. We are working with the open source community and learning a lot about software development. The changes we make are going to be propagated to the broader Sakai Community. Learning Innovation is the primary stakeholder.
Duke Event Attendance App
The problem at an event is that you see long lines and unreliable data on who attended. We are creating a mobile app that would sync with the existing Duke calendar. It would incorporate check-in technology utilizing Blackboard RFID Technology and create an attendance report based on information gathered before, during, and after the event. This project is sponsored by Blackboard.
Campus Match Making & Assignment Service
Campus Wayfinding & Augmented Reality app
Our teams have been working closely together for the past few weeks to develop an app that would enhance and improve the Duke visitor experience using augmented reality and campus wayfinding. We've spent the last two weeks surveying the general population, both off-campus and Duke Gardens, to identify the biggest issues and attractions. We found problems getting around and not knowing what to see. In the next few weeks, we will be meeting with more stakeholders and we have decided that we want to focus on helping people to decide where to go. We want to use augmented reality where a user can point the camera to see the names of buildings as they're exploring the campus. Duke Gardens is one of our primary stakeholders.
Practical Use of Computer Vision & Machine Learning
We are trying to develop a low-cost solution to use computer vision machine learning in practical ways along the edge of Duke network. Currently, we are trying to use low-cost devices for security purposes. We are exploring using facial recognition to unlock specific doors depending on the person it recognizes. We have set up a web server to live-stream a video feed now and are exploring how to implement a computer vision module to detect specific faces.
Q: What is the most challenging part so far?
A: Learning Xcode and Swift. This is often a semester-long course.
Q: Is it difficult scheduling and supporting teams?
A: Mentors have made themselves available. Each team has a primary and backup leader so that one person isn't overloaded. The leads are scheduling stakeholder meetings. The teams are working in conference rooms and other spaces that have been provided.
Q: How were teams formed?
A: The applicants were able to self-select the top three projects. We did a rolling acceptance. The first priority was making sure projects of interest were assigned.
Q: Were more experienced people spread among the teams?
A: Not really since the goal was not the product but the experience. Most of our students were first year or sophomores. Our website is codeplus.duke.edu.
5:05 – 5:30 p.m. – Innovation Co-Lab Year in Review, Sandra Bermond, Michael Faber, Evan Levine (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)
What it is: The Innovation Co-Lab is a creativity incubator, connecting the Duke Community with technology resources, programming, and facilities to jumpstart their success. In the past year, the team leading these efforts has had several successful programs and projects: Project Discover, Artist in Residence, revamp to its existing Roots program and more.
Why it’s relevant: The Co-Lab, while popular for its makerspaces, offers more than 3D printing. Additional programming is growing and thriving alongside those efforts. We will learn more about how the Co-Lab team is addressing all of the growth and creativity.
This year in the innovation Co-Lab, we have offered more classes than ever before in our Roots program, with 132 classes total over the two semesters. The Co-Lab is a creativity incubator with a maker space and a program to obtain grants for student projects related to technology. We also have the Roots program which is a series of standalone courses that introduce technology to its participants. The classes in the Roots program vary from design classes to creating a logo to creating a website. Topics include CSS, Python, and 3D modeling. This year, we had 1096 attendees in the fall and 764 in the spring. We had a 55% attendance rate which seems to be a little better than average, but it could be better. We welcome any ideas for improving this percentage.
One of our plans for next year is to offer an annual rather than semester-based schedule, with introductory classes in the fall and deep dive classes in the spring. This will give the participants in the fall motivation to continue attending in spring. We are also going to work on tracks, such as a design track, a mobile track, etc. People who have a specific interest can find all of the relevant classes. We also plan to offer some online content that we do not currently have like an introduction to HTML, introduction to Python, etc. These would be available as refreshers before attending more complex classes. Some of our classes are going to become series. We have observed that with our student attendees, if the student does not understand the material, they will not come back. We hope a series structure can help with that, so that classes can be found more easily with better defined prerequisites, objectives, resources, and exercises after they've taken the class.
Another new offering this year was a “lady’s night”. We provided free food and the participants could see what the Co-Lab does, with activities including paper circuit and conductive thread projects where the participants learned how to build a circuit. We offered key chain engraving and drone racing where the ladies made obstacles for the drones to fly around. This was in partnership with Pratt.
Project Discover is still being developed with more active matchmaking of projects to students. We had our first program in April with our first artist in residency. This was a way to broaden the Co-Lab beyond the STEM approach so that the technology is a tool, not the end. We discovered the artist on Instagram and reached out to him. He came for six days and we commissioned him to design a piece using the laser cutters exclusively. The artists spent time at the Co-Lab interacting with the students and projecting his screen on one of the displays while he was working. The artist explored the campus looking for elements to use in the design including engravings on the doors in the Chapel and the grates in the floor. The final piece entitled "I'm just here for the pizza" has been installed in the Co-Lab. This is a great example of the intersection of art and technology and we have received a grant to do more in this area.
Some of the more interesting projects that are being developed this year include a large “mono wheel” which the student is building as part of independent study. A second project was for a student who had broken his wrist. He scanned his wrist to design a more comfortable brace. The doctor saw the design and approved what the student created. Another project was the “chocolate drone” which went viral briefly. The student wanted to create a gift for a friend and used a cheap drone chassis. He designed a chocolate mold to make the exterior edible. Another project currently under development is a floating speaker system using magnets and a portable Bluetooth speaker and a custom housing unit serving as a dock. All of these projects were done by the same student.
Q: Do you know if anyone from the School of Nursing has joined the Co-Lab or taken classes? My curiosity was if you were looking for more diversity in your projects. Our students are familiar with very specific patient populations and some of the projects could be very interesting and useful to patients.
A: I have seen some nursing students in roots classes. I have not seen too many in the projects. I have seen other students from the health disciplines working on projects. We are a victim of our own success here by making our program self-sustaining and a lot of students work independently. For the Roots courses, we have the data and can follow up with you.
Q: Regarding the Roots classes that are new offerings, how are you determining which ones to do again? Are you able to separate the instructor from the material?
A: We evaluate by looking at attendance, feedback via survey, and personal testimonials. We are trying to move toward the model where the content is separate from the instructor so we can standardize the curriculum. This would allow us to swap instructors based on availability. We also have team members dedicated to teaching. This helps us connect with faculty who need certain learning objectives accomplished for a class such as Git. This is where the Roots program is going, to be more connected with the actual curriculum and responsive to faculty needs to address technical skills gaps.
Q: How can faculty know what the offerings are?
A: We share those at the beginning of the semester, and we do have a listing of the classes on our website (we are still working on scheduling). Now is the time to tell us if you would like for us to work with you on specific need for your classes.
Q: Can we see what's been offered over the years on your website?
A: Not currently at this time. We used to show every class we had ever taught in an archive list, but it became too large. We changed this to the types of classes we taught.
In the past, we also had basic information about a class but we are moving to provide more detailed information so readers can get a better understanding of what will be covered. We also leave the classes on the website even though they may not be currently in the schedule or have already been taught.