4:00 - 4:05 p.m. - Announcements (5 minutes)


David MacAlpine welcomes Tyson Brown, the Inaugural Presidential Fellow for 2021 and 2022. Tyson Brown is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University and directs the Center on Health and Society.


The minutes for October 28, 2021 are approved.


4:05 - 4:30 p.m. - CBRS Pilot Introduction, John Robinson, Bob Johnson (15 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)


What it is: Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a chunk of the radio spectrum that the Federal Communications Commission has recently opened to new uses.  The characteristics of radio signals at the frequencies covered by CBRS make it an appealing new option especially for a range of outdoor use cases.  CBRS has a range longer than that of a traditional WiFi access point, but not as much as, for instance, a full power outdoor cellular antenna, making it attractive in the campus setting.  Duke is initiating two pilot tests of CBRS services, one on West campus where the infrastructure will be Duke-owned and Duke-configured, and one on East campus where the infrastructure would be operated in partnership with two commercial vendors.  Both open numerous intriguing possibilities, including replacing or at least augmenting traditional WiFi services with “private LTE”, essentially Duke-controlled 4G and 5G cellular telephone infrastructure, which promises a bandwidth and reliability in excess of what traditional WiFi provides.  In partnership with Internet 2, we are attempting to demonstrate to the main-line cellular carriers (AT+T, Verizon, etc) that such privately managed equipment is a good fit to their services.


Why it’s relevant: Duke, and perhaps no more than a half dozen of our peer institutions, have the expertise in both our IT department and our faculty to fully evaluate the potential of this new spectrum to improve wireless connectivity on our campuses for the next decade or so, and to develop prototype solutions to demands for increased bandwidth both indoors and out.  Our partnership with Internet 2 in this promises to leverage our experience to the entire higher education sector.


Tracy Futhey introduces CBRS. CBRS uses the radio spectrum to communicate the types of things that we now communicate via cellular signal and Wi-Fi. This is a set of technologies that we should pay attention to because of potential benefits to the operational and research aspects of the university. CBRS can provide connectivity for edge computing (i.e., between server and desktop computing) as well as provide Duke the opportunity to research and test the next generation of wireless and transfer technology.Bob Johnson and John Robinson will give an overview of Duke’s CBRS pilots. This is a great opportunity to do something great for Duke and to help the higher education community.


Bob Johnson says one of the challenges with 5G is that with very high frequencies like those used by 5G, the distance the signal can travel is shorter which means a lot of hardware is needed around campus. Duke is now looking into CBRS/pLTE.


John Robinson states that historically, CBRS/pLTE was used by the US Navy. This influenced the rules of engagement for CBRS/pLTE which has three types of licenses. This first type of license is the incumbent use license; this is reserved for the Navy. The second type of license is a purchased license; these licenses are primarily bought by big communication entities such as Verizon, AT&T, Dish Net, and municipalities. The expense of these licenses makes them unrealistic for Duke. Finally, there are the General Authorized Access (GAA) users of CBRS which is what this pilot is about. GAA includes any unused or unallocated frequencies. GAA is free and requires reporting for use. The Navy’s Spectrum Access System (SAS) has environmental sensing capacities and also detects what part of the spectrum the Navy is using.


John continues saying that 5G has performance at range and Duke has been looking into the power of various 5G hardware options. This cellular type of deployment does cover a fair amount of the spectrum. However, when looking at a multi-tenant facility like Duke, there could be dirty air. CBRS offers cleaner communications space. CBRS can cover outdoor settings at Duke and can incorporate drones to name a few benefits. The LTE attained through a specific sim card provides carrier-grade security and follows FCC guidelines.


John then describes the two CBRS/pLTE pilots underway at Duke:


1. West Campus Pilot in Partnership with RF Connect – John talks about the needed infrastructure and planned architecture. Duke can test and create scenarios within this test environment as the test environment is Duke-owned and managed. John shows a schematic of the architecture.


2. East Campus Pilot in Partnership with Cisco – Cisco and Cisco’s partners are pushing this as 5G as a service. Their goal is to be the owner and to sell turnkey. Duke benefits by learning from them and helping them get this off the ground. Cisco has two nodes on East Campus that broadcast down a portion of the quad and including the bus stop. They also have a fiber back to the Telecom Building.


Continuing goals for these CBRS pilots include:

1. Extension of outdoor WiFi.

2. Routing security camera data.

3. Utilizing private SIMs.

4. Including research projects in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with Tingjun Chen who is being given SIM cards and Maria Gorlatova who is looking at next-gen WiFi and the AI that goes with it.

5. Expanding the West Campus deployment by adding 2 more nodes toward Duke Athletics.

6. Looking into indoor deployment and transitioning between indoor and outdoor networks.

7. Examining payoffs for Duke both financially and architecturally.

8. Examining backhaul for data.

9. Looking into clean space. Asking the question, “What does this mean for clinical environments? And can clinical environments take advantage of the clean space?”

10. Partnering with I2 for a cloud-based approach and how this can help other universities.


Q. David MacAlpine – Could the spectrum be eventually sold off?

A. Robert Johnson – 7 blocks were auctioned, and 7 blocks were on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A. John Robinson – This is why it is important for Duke to get this off the ground, so Duke gets free access while it is available.


Q. Robert Wolpert – Is this accessible by cell phones?

A. John Robinson – There are some cell phone devices that have this.

A. Robert Johnson – In most cases, cell phones have the needed hardware. The carriers need to turn it on.


Q. Tracy Futhey – If I have a virtual SIM which is an even newer capability which means the phone does not need a physical SIM, do I have to put the special Duke SIM card in when I'm on campus and then when I'm off campus will my phone switch back to the auto SIM?

A. John Robinson – Yes, we don't expect users to pop in and out SIM cards. But SIM-specific is needed as that's how the phone accesses the network.


Q. John Board – Duke is among only about 6 universities to take this on. Duke can benefit from being an early user and can blaze the trail for other universities.


Q. Brandon Le – What is the timeline for this? 

A. Robert Johnson – We are hoping by the end of 2023 or 2024.


4:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Co-Lab Metrics and Investigations Review, Michael Faber (20 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)


What it is: The Innovation Co-Lab will continue a discussion from a September ITAC meeting regarding the Roots program, including updated metrics, preliminary demographic investigations, and continued reactions to back-to-campus student programming.


Why it’s relevant: The Co-Lab's programs continue to be a key part of the co-curricular landscape at Duke, providing supplemental educational programs both in support of self-directed learning and in support of academics.


Michael Faber says the goal of the Innovation Co-Lab is to provide a way for students to learn about and experiment with technology. After the last ITAC presentation on the Co-Lab, questions were raised and this presentation will provide updates and begin to answer some of those questions.


The Fall Semester Co-Lab Roots Metrics are as follows:

• 89 courses were offered.

• 300 unique users participated.

• A third of the users took more than one class.

• There was lower attendance than usual and a steeper drop-off around mid-semester; Michael hypothesizes this is because last year was all Zoom and the year before was all in person and this year is a hybrid between the two.

• Slightly more female constituency between 2016 and 2022 except for 2018. A conscious effort toward inclusivity was made by changing course titles and descriptions to be more project-centric (e.g., Build Your Own Web Site; How to Build a Mobile Application)


However, 3D printing was slightly more male (about 60% male during the same general timeframe.)


Next, Michael pursued information on academic areas. To do this, data from The Registrar’s Office, Identity Management, and OIT Metrics (for Tableau) had to be integrated. Michael used the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of STEM which not only includes the Engineering School but also includes many departments in Arts and Sciences. The following demographics were determined:

• Duke total STEM undergrads – 38%.

• 47% of undergrad Roots enrollees are STEM.

• 34% of undergrad 3D Printer users are STEM.

• 52% of undergrad TEC/Ruby computers (used for high-end tools and 3D modeling, etc.) are STEM.


Michael Faber concludes that the goal of reaching non-STEM students as well as STEM students has been reached.


Q. David MacAlpine asks about grad students and staff.


A. Michael Faber says the focus for this study was on undergrad only.


Michael Faber talks about the hybrid approach to the Roots program. There were 89 synchronous classes. 21 were in person. 32 were hybrid. And 36 were online only.


There were 2 approaches to hybrid classes:


1. Advertised as hybrid from the start – These classes had less in-person attendance but more attendancethan if only in-person.


2. Last Minute Hybrid notification – These classes had more in-person attendance.


Online approaches allow for sharing the recording after the class for anyone unable to attend.


Another focus has been on asynchronous courses - both for asynchronous versions of the Roots courses and for supplemental materials in support of Roots courses and other courses. One example is the EdStem Pilot. EdStem is a platform for self-directed technical learning. Michael demos the Linux and Bash Shell course which is a mix of video content and walk-through content. He shows one browser with course work on the left column and a Linux terminal on the right. There is also an Introduction to Git class and as of last week, an Introduction to Cybersecurity class. Michael concludes by asking, "What else would be a good fit for this platform? What else would the Co-Lab be able to create in support of departmental and learning needs?"


Q. Tracy Futhey would like to hear from the students in ITAC as Michael already works with professors to see what is needed for their courses.


A. Chase Barclay says students other than engineering students don’t know about Co-Lab. These courses are what students want. Advertising and outreach to Trinity students to make them aware is what is needed. Engineers do know about Co-Lab.


A. Evan Levine – Freshman are a huge chunk of who we advertise to and some of this advertisement was muted due to the pandemic. So maybe we have one or 2 years that we haven’t reached out to Trinity students.


A. Jax Nalley – This is the first time I heard about Co-Lab. This interdisciplinary approach is great. Just more outreach is needed.


A. Zoe Tishaev – The Co-Lab is not a space for me not because it’s not welcoming but because of who goes there to study. So maybe programs targeting other groups would be good.


A. Tracy Futhey – We need to try new things like workshops organized around printing Duke devil bobbleheads or keychains—something that would be actionable to attendees and maybe we can get to a different group of students..


A. Chas Kissick – I did try to find resources when taking econometrics. I wanted ggplot but couldn’t get it. I didn’t think about Co-Lab. There is Intro to R but ggplot would be nice. It would be nice if there were a way to request what a class is requiring. Would there be a way to request a class if there are 10 people or so requesting it?


A. Michael Faber – Yes, if we have the expertise and the audience is looking for it, Co-Lab can plug in. This is also why we have developed asynchronous Co-Lab courses.


A. Brandon Le – There are 9 different graduate and professional schools that the Co-Lab would need to reach out to but there is a common thread and that is a newsletter:


This is distributed to all grad students.


Q. Colin Rundel – There is a profusion of platforms for courses. In Coursera, content checks in and never checks out. What about Co-Lab content?


A. Michael Faber – There is not a simple import/export of content. We write content and the content does not change. The videos do not change. This becomes more challenging for hands-on labs.


Q. Colin Rundel – As an instructor, I would love to be able to say, take this asynchronous course before taking my course. Of course, incentive goes a long way towards completion.


A. Michael Faber – I will chat with you. It depends on whether you care if they complete the training or not.


A. Shawn Miller - Coursera also has a VS Code suite available now for courses. (This came about long after the courses you developed but new courses could make use of it). Drop our folks a line if you want to check it out.


Q. Victoria Szabo – That is an interesting question: To what extent can Co-Lab activities be more directly connected to the curriculum? We just did a session with the MPS VR lab today with my freshman class.


A. Michael Faber – We want to integrate what we are doing into academic courses. Please reach out if you might have interest.


5:00 pm – 5:30 p.m. – Sakai Course Retention Policy, Michael Greene (20 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)


What it is: The Sakai Course Site Retention Policy governs how and when University course sites and their data are removed from Sakai. 


Why it’s relevant: Over time Duke, education, and user expectations have changed, offering an opportunity to revisit, discuss, and adjust this policy to better meet the needs of the Duke Community.


Michael Green of Learning Innovation presents on Sakai Course Site Retention. Currently, a course stays active for 5 years although faculty can unpublish content. After 5 years, courses are archived for 6 months. Before a course is archived, faculty are repeatedly notified about how to export data. After these 6 months in the archive, the course is deleted forever.


The rationale behind this retention policy is to comply with university guidelines related to course material retention. Learning Innovation wants to ensure Sakai courses are kept long enough to be useful but not so long as to no longer be efficient. Five years made sense because an undergrad degree is 4 years and the student will be able to refer to the coursework for another year after graduation. A secondary goal is to guide instructors in developing their own procedures for long-term storage of Sakai materials and making this a habit.


There are also legal considerations to keeping Sakai coursework, which were presented to the group and discussed. 


Recently, this retention policy has not been implemented due to staff shortages in 2018-2019 and due to pandemic-related staff and faculty-related stress.


Michael Greene poses the question: How might Learning Innovation evolve this process? A few ideas are:

1. Adopt a self-service implementation where faculty can opt to renew the course for another year or proceed with archiving and deletion.

2. Change the retention length.

3. Change the implementation time. Currently, implementation is October through November. Other suggestions are Pre-Spring term, Mid-Spring term, Post-Spring term, Pre-Fall term.

4. Improve export of non-student submitted content.

5. Use a cold storage solution.


Q. Victoria Szabo would like a semi-automated backup to another cloud system.


Q. David MacAlpine – How much data storage is used per course?


A. Michael Greene – In total, Sakai has 13 TB of storage used. Typically, there are between 2,000 and 3,000 sites per semester. The largest classroom is 100GB.


Q. Colin Rundel – Counting on faculty to be responsible for something like this is problematic. I like the idea of separate departmental-determined retention policies. Also, distinguishing between course content and student content is important as student content is not as important to save.


Q. Victoria Szabo – I was wondering about liability concerns in terms of student work and copying files; are we encountering this?


A. Michael Greene – In Learning Innovation, the liability concern is hypothetical. This is seen more for websites and where someone wants something taken down.


Q. Victoria Szabo – Can we export to Box?


A. Michael Greene – Yes, we are actively exploring using Box and other options as well.


Q. Mark Palmeri – The discussion here of wanting to delete course content for legal reasons is the opposite discussion that we are having about keeping a research data trail.


A. Tracy Futhey – Yes, keeping research data forever so that we know it can be discoverable at any time is a little bit different from on the academic side where how we teach and what is appropriate has changed dramatically.


A. Mark Palmeri – I think that should just keep us to higher standards. If we make a mistake in class, we should not delete it in order to cover it up.


A. John Board – This is the reason I don’t use Sakai. I want grades private. I always need course material from the past and courses are not presently preserved like other scholarly output.


A. Michael Greene – Then, what if we pose the question: “What if we keep course data forever?”


A. John Board – That’s not good either. We don’t want a bunch of unconnected blobs. We need course structure to this data and not just chunks.


A. Evan Levine – Sakai tries not to make changes that will deprecate content. Also, Sakai is more than just course materials. Maybe the line is drawn at student information.


Q. Michael Greene – This is valuable but who else should we take the conversation to?


A. Colin Rundel – I recommend taking it to the DUS (Directors of Undergraduate Study) Council.


Q. Evan Levine – Does actively clicking a renew button work for faculty? Or is a choice better? That way those who need to keep, can and those who don’t, don’t.


A. John Board – Some faculty go on sabbatical and so aren't here to answer by clicking the buttons.


A. Colin Rundel – The more that is required, the harder it is for faculty. Maybe having course content go into cold storage could be the default.


Q. JoAnne Van Tuyl – I am nearing retirement. There were seminars I taught in Sakai which would be great to go back to. If someone retires, can course content be kept for the department? Some things took a long time to enter and there is so much student feedback. Losing things would not be good but maybe I’ll be on a beach and won’t care.


A. Shawn Miller – Departments can't access faculty courses without the instructor's permission or for some legal cause. So an outgoing instructor would have to bless that content to the department.


David MacAlpine adjourns the meeting.