4:00 – 4:30 – Special Guest: Provost Sally Kornbluth (30 minutes)
What it is: Each year the Provost attends an ITAC meeting to answer questions and share her perspective as it relates to technology and other topics; ITAC members are invited to pose questions of the Provost.
Why it’s relevant: As the university's chief academic officer, Sally Kornbluth has broad responsibility for leading Duke's schools and institutes, as well as admissions, financial aid, libraries, and all other facets of the university's academic life.
Provost Sally Kornbluth begins by talking about Duke’s reaction to the Covid 19 environment. In terms of residential student life, Sally Kornbluth credits Duke’s success to: an amazing surveillance testing program, a strong data modeling program, the required symptom monitoring app, and the student affairs and undergraduate education commitment to addressing behavioral issues.
Provost Kornbluth continued speaking about the success of the creation of a culture at Duke where people are trying to protect the community.
Duke is waiting on surveys for more information on how the pedagogical piece of the equation went but she thinks the students were appreciative of the in-person classes that were offered and the faculty who taught in person had a generally good experience. There was no Covidtransmission in the classroom. While Provost Kornbluth was hoping to get more people into the classrooms next semester, this may not happen as many faculty have kids at home and other responsibilities. However, people are getting savvier with online and remote education. Provost Kornbluth hopes this technological savviness and learning will continue after the pandemic.
Next semester, the plan is to have 3,800 undergraduates on campus. There are also many students living off-campus as part of the Duke community. Provost Kornbluth says we will have to see how it goes because the virus is surging right now. The Pfizer vaccine should be here next week. The frontline healthcare workers will be vaccinated first. By mid-January, the hope is to have all the health system folks vaccinated. Duke may be getting Moderna and some other vaccines down the line although this is to study vaccine efficacy and not to give the population a choice. Provost Kornbluth has been using the New York Times vaccine searcher which reports that she has about 2 million people in front of her before she receives the vaccine and that is probably the case for much of our community. So, she is not holding her breath—and urges all of us to be patient—but she hopes that the community will be back to a much greater degree of normalcy this time next year.
Duke is working on other new initiatives as well including race, the history of the south, anti-racism, and climate change. Cost-saving measures are also a big undertaking; this includes pausing Duke’s 403B contributions, a hiring freeze, and curtailing non-staff spending. The long-range budget reduction is on-going including consolidation of overlapping departmental efforts and purchases and providing faculty retirement incentives. Significant cuts have been made from the strategic funds that Provost Kornbluth office uses. Duke is also looking long term at the large number of classes that are offered. The same scrutiny is being applied to graduate schools. Duke is looking to reduce the size of some of Duke’s signature programs so that they can be fully supported by the endowment. Student Affairs received the biggest financial hit due to the Covidvirus because of the reduction in housing and food revenues. Throughout Duke, jobs are merging where possible. Tallman Trask made some significant savings.
While all these cost savings measures are underway, Duke wants to maintain its strategic academic priorities. “We don’t want to cut to the point where we can’t do the things we need to do.” But Provost Kornbluth says Duke’s goal is the consolidation of core efforts; a good example is about half of Trinity Technology System staff merging into OIT. Other administrative units areworking on the centralization of shared services like data management, reporting, and publication. Provost Kornbluth repeats that “We are not in a situation where we are going to be jeopardizing the core mission of the university.” For example, financial aid, particularly in these economically difficult times, may become our next fundraising or capital campaign focus so that we can raise the financial aid endowments; this has the dual effect of preserving Duke’s commitment to socio-economic diversity across the student body while increasing university revenue.
Q. David MacAlpine - Academia has been slow [technology adopters] until this year. And the transition to remote learning and people working at home happened incredibly fast, and it seemed to be productive. So, what steps do you think we got right? What did we get wrong? It also sounds like given what you said, the beginning of the fall semester might also be impacted by Covid.
1. Provost Kornbluth – We do not know. I am talking to Mark McClellan, the Director of the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, about what he is hearing in terms of vaccination timelines and it seems the vaccinations may not be available to students until the end of summer.
2. Provost Kornbluth - It was remarkable how quickly the faculty adapted to the remote environment. In the spring, the faculty quickly adopted the talking head model and have since moved beyond that. As we entered the fall semester, there was a lot of feedback from Learning Innovation, and the faculty had adapted. Faculty teaching in both modalities proved most problematic so there was a shift to choosing only one or the other. Daniel Ennis (Duke’s new Executive Vice President succeeding Tallman Trask) came from Johns Hopkins and notes differences in Duke’s approach and magnitude for online relative to that of Hopkins. An opportunity for Duke would be the revitalization and elevation of continuing studies. A bigger presence of remote offerings could generate more revenue for the Duke campus. A year ago, it was rare to take online-only courses. Last summer, was the biggest enrollment for summer that Duke has seen and 100% were online. The winter break-away for undergraduate and graduate students has 1,000 students signed up for remote classes. This indicates a huge opportunity for online programs.
David opens questions up to the rest of the committee.
Q. David MacAlpine – Has the hiring freeze impacted our ability to recruit?
1. Provost Kornbluth – No, because everyone is in the same boat. In some specific places, Duke is continuing to hire in science and technology. There are not retention problems because no one is hiring people away. Provost Kornbluth does think the remote experience of recruiting online presents a more effective and diverse way of recruiting.
Q. Michael Green – What is the biggest teaching and learning challenges you would like worked on?
1. Provost Kornbluth – A sense of community, the intentionality of what remote office hours look like, the commonality of members within a classroom - especially, when the students turn the video off. This makes it hard for classroom interaction and for the professors to get feedback. The faculty did a really good job though.
Q. Randy Haskin – What is the future of TIP?
1. Provost Kornbluth – It is being reconfigured under Jennifer Francis and is in the early planning stages. We’re going to have to think about what Duke’s youth programs look like going forward. But TIP had 80 employees and there was no TIP last summer and there will be no TIP this summer, so the program was unsustainable. TIP was created as a pipeline program. We have been passed the need for a direct pipeline program for a long time.
Q. Jackson Kennedy – How do you see online learning interfacing with studying abroad?
1. Provost Kornbluth – I think we could do a lot more collaborative learning aside from students studying abroad including collaborative learning with other institutions. Online learning would be great for students who would otherwise have trouble traveling abroad so that they could still make progress in their major.
David thanks, Provost Kornbluth, who in turn thanks OIT.
4:30 – 4:35 p.m. – Announcements (5 minutes)
- David MacAlpine calls for the approval of the November 12th meeting minutes and they are approved.
- Congratulations to Tracy Futhey who had been reappointed for her 5th 5-year term as CIO and VP for Information Technology.
- Kayako Yamakoshi a graduate student in engineering management and ITAC representative will be joining VMWare in April. Congratulations Kayako.
4:35 – 5:05 p.m. – Brainstorming and identifying additional technologies desirable for the Spring (30 minutes)
What it is: Duke has deployed and employed a wide range of technologies over the past 10 months in support of remote and hybrid teaching, learning, and working, and to help limit the spread of the pandemic. Some of these efforts have been highly successful, others somewhat less so. Some desired tools, especially 3rd party cloud tools, have been blocked from use on campus based on security and privacy concerns; others have been experimented with despite some risks. There are almost certainly technology gaps to be identified from our fall experiences; what are they and how could we plug them? We hope to surface ideas based on local experimentation, what we have heard from colleagues at other colleges and universities, and any other source we can draw on.
Why it’s relevant: Feedback and ideas directly from the community will enable Duke to collectively consider and evaluate options rather than have multiple and separate trials (potentially duplicative or at cross-purposes) unfolding around campus.
John Board started the discussion by saying that he would like to hear everyone’s feedback regarding the pain points they faced during the semester and things that worked well during the semester. To kick off the feedback, John Board mentioned the difficulties faculty faced when trying to teach hybrid classes. A few of the schools at Duke had what they called “producers” to assist faculty during these hybrid classes. The main role of the producers was to aid the faculty in the technology aspect of interacting with the students.
From the learning innovations perspective, Shawn Miller mentioned that they tried to encourage people to commit to teaching fully online. However, difficulties arise in different classes that need that hybrid teaching experience. Shawn said that it is a challenge, but it seemed that the best way right now is to have that hybrid class experience.
David MacAlpine invited students to comment on the challenges they faced.
Chase Barclay commented on his experience with an asynchronous class. Chase mentioned that the teacher recorded their lectures actually in person the past few semesters in the math department. The teacher also posted the videos on YouTube after the lecture. The teacher posted the videos on YouTube. The experience here felt like a normal class, said, Chase.
Mark Palmeri reciprocated the previous comments about the challenges faced while teaching hybrid classes. Mark mentioned one pain point he had was using the Zoom breakout rooms. Mark said that it was hard to navigate the breakout rooms because he had to go in and out of each breakout room. Mark suggested having a dashboard of all the breakout rooms where he could see what was going on in each of those rooms. Mark praised the usage of collaborative tools. One of those tools is Mural, a digital space for visual collaboration. It allows students to interactively work on things. It’s a good tool for a brainstorming live session. The only pain point here is that when this tool is used in conjunction with Zoom, it tends to be heavy on consuming bandwidth and CPU usage.
Victoria Szabo posed a question to the group to see if there were any conversations regarding the usage of VR chat platforms for office hours or informal gatherings.
Steffen A Bass mentioned a paint point regarding the scheduling of meetings. Steffen said that if anyone knew of a tool that aggregated calendar information from various participants.
The consensus on this comment was that it is a hard problem to solve due to many people having different calendars for work and different aspects of our life. Some of the suggested calendar scheduling tools from everyone, when2meet, Calendly, doodle, Microsoft bookings tool.
Jackson Kennedy commented and appreciated that no professor is advocating for the usage of proctoring software. Tracy Futhey commented on this and said that this has been a conversation with a great deal of tension on campus. Tracy said that there has not been anything offered institutionally and that the goal here is to enable the things that are thought will work broadly across Duke while avoiding things that will cause more pain.
John Board brought another issue to the discussion regarding professional software available in different operating systems. John mentioned that some software programs are available in Windows and Linux but not available for Macs. On the other hand, some software professional programs are available for Macs but not for windows. The pain point here is how to solve that issue, perhaps a VM machine, but the memory for that is too low.
Shrey Majmudar brought an interesting point regarding the number of applications being used, which can be seen as too many applications to handle and can make students feel exhausted. Shrey posted a question to see if there was an intention of consolidating all these applications that are being used.
John Board mentioned that this is also an issue for faculty since faculty have been using many applications to fulfill their everyday tasks.
Chass Kissic brought up some good points. When it comes to doing the poll of the student body, Chass mentioned that staff and faculty think of topics in advance. Chass said that this year is important to get a range of perspectives due to the circumstances the pandemic has brought upon us all.
5:05 – 5:15 p.m. – Emerging video interaction tools Debbie Suggs, Logan Roger (10 minutes)
What it is: A brief overview of a number of emerging video interaction tools (Glimpse, AirMeet, Engageli, etc) that are seeing an uptick in popularity and usage throughout Academia over the course of the past year.
Why it’s relevant: With regularly increasing opportunities and needs for additional avenues of support and ability, we want to ensure that we're providing the Duke community at large with the most versatile software to support events/engagements geared towards students, alumni, and faculty usage.
5:15 – 5:30 p.m. – Celebration (15)
**UPDATE ZOOM CLIENT**: During the ITAC meeting on December 10, you are invited to participate in an informal time of celebration and fellowship with your colleagues. We will be hosting themed breakout rooms for you to meet in a smaller group around a topic of interest and you will be able to move freely between rooms. You are encouraged to bring food and beverages and embrace the theme. Please check your Zoom client for updates to make sure you have the latest client version to ensure you can move between Breakout Rooms. For assistance updating your Zoom client, you may contact the OIT Service Desk by phone at 919.684.2200.
John Shaw introduced the committee to the Zoom room feature and the committee can break out into self-selected rooms on the following topics:
• Scifi Shows & Books
• 2020 / Holiday Memes / Jokes
• Holiday Decoration Hacks
• Holiday Culinary Aspirations
• Techie Holiday Gifts
John Shaw stated that at any time, the committee members could choose to change rooms. At the end of the meeting, John Shaw brought the committee back into the main Zoom room. This demonstrated the newest feature of Zoom.