Minutes – April 13, 2023

Allen Building Boardroom


All times below include presentation and discussion time.

4:00 - 4:05pm: Announcements (5 minutes)


Victoria Szabo:

  • Welcome and approval of minutes for 2/16/23 and 3/2/23.
  • Welcome Randy Arvay who is taking the role of interim CTO for the Health System following Shamyla Lando’s departure (Arvay not present at meeting)  


Shawn Miller: Dr. Ashkok Goel, Professor of Computer Science and Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, will be the main guest for that.  It should be really interesting. Because we are having it at the (Karsh) Alumni Center is the reason it’s being waitlisted.


Victoria Szabo

  • If you have colleagues who want to serve in ITAC, you can tell me, or Tracy, or anyone in the ITAC group.
  • Next, we will hear from David Zielinski about eXtended Reality in OIT,



4:05 - 4:35pm: eXtended Reality in OIT – David Zielinski (20-minute presentation, 10 minutes Q&A)

What it is: eXtended Reality (XR) is a catchall for virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and related technologies. We will discuss our recent efforts in OIT to provide XR hardware access, tours, instruction, and app development.

Why it’s relevant: XR technologies have a wide range of applications in higher education, including simulation and training, research and experimentation, virtual field trips, and student health. We’re interested in hearing from ITAC what you’d like to see in this space.


After introducing himself and his various roles at Duke over 18 years, Dave gave and update on VR/XR activities in OIT:

  • Before I came on board, facilities were dispersed, single-person VR suites—the main one at the Technology Engagement Center, with other small setups at Multimedia Project Studio (MPS), American Tobacco Campus (ATS) and Bolt (Edens.)
  • In the last two years, we’ve centralized most everything around the MPS.
  • There are also other related spaces, including Classroom 6, Pratt Game Lab, and XR studios. These spaces are a little more restricted, in contrast to MPS, which is more open—open to every major, every student, every staff member.


Steffen Bass: Where is MPS?


David Zielinski: MPS is in Perkins/Bostock library, right around the corner from Link Service Desk and Classroom 6.


As far as these other spaces I mentioned, Classroom 6 is currently booked up with a lot of academic classes.  XR Studio in Smith Warehouse is mostly used for AAHVS projects, not broader public.


Ernesto Escobar in Pratt is developing a Game Design, Development and Innovation master’s degree.  It will be coming online in Fall 2024.   I am going to be working with them to setup a physical game lab for them in their space.


Dave next shared information about hardware at the OIT facilities:

  • High end workstations:  Dell Alienware, with 38” Alienware monitors
  • VR Headsets (Vive Pro 2)
  • AR Headsets (Magic Leap 2)
  • 360 Video (Insta360 Pro)
  • Scanning (Revopoint Pop2)---We are trying to tool back up into the area of scanning to capture real world objects into the digital domain.  There is a lot of overlap in the scanning world with both the VR simulation and also the physical fabrication world of the 3D printer.
  • VR Loaning Pool—We have 20 Quest 1s to loan to faculty/staff/students, but they are reaching end-of-life. These devices are all-in-ones, in contrast to the Vive Pro 2s, which require a separate device.


Next Dave described MPS reconfigurations:

  • The space is 1000 sq ft and was originally was setup to support Adobe Creative Suite at a time when students needed the facility for video editing. Things have changed, now that student laptops often have the horsepower required for editing.
  • Fall 2022: We installed high-end workstations.
  • Fall 2023: Steve Toback’s group relocates to Bryan Center, freeing up our side rooms.
  • We now have VR Movement Suite at MPS in partnership with Duke Recreation


MPS Tours:

  • We have 8 student workers who work Monday-Saturday, 12-8 p.m., at MPS.
  • Another thing the tour guides help out with is “Experience VR Class Visits.” This includes guest lectures and visits from classes.  A couple of examples are Sarah Pourciau’s “Virtual Realities: Collective Dreams from Plato to Cyberspace” and Victoria Szabo’s “Digital Storytelling and Interactive Narrative” classes.
  • We’ve worked with David Stein (Office of Durham & Community Affairs) for DSA High School Student Visits
  • We’ve worked a lot with folks in Languages (Ciro Incoronato, French, Eileen Anderson Spanish) on Google Earth VR for Virtual Field Trips.


Now to move on to Instruction:

  • I have been providing co-curricular Roots Workshops. These include Introduction to Unity; Coding in Unity (C#); Introduction to Social VR and World Building in Mozilla Hubs; and Creating WebXR Experience with BabylonJS
  • I also provide academic class support. This includes giving guest lectures, helping students with their final projects, and helping them utilize the MPS space.
  • I’ve also been a technical mentor for Masters/PhD thesis projects with VR/AR/XR.  This includes the MAs in Digital Art History and Computational Media (AAHVS) and the Interdisciplinary PhD in Computational Media, Arts & Culture (CMAC.)  Will also be involved with Pratts new program in Game Design, Development, and Innovation (GDDI) coming in Fall 2024.

Now to talk about Application Development:

  • We have student workers who develop XR apps for faculty and staff.
  • For example we have been working with BME this semester on a project for visualizing blood flow models. We plan on having a VR Kiosk over at Karsh Alumni Center that will highlight this project in a promotional video.
  • We have been working on projects with Duke Libraries. We have different imaging targets that trigger 3D objects to pop up.  This is our “magic window” into an augmented reality. There is a current exhibit on the first floor of Perkins. We’ve been using Lens Studio via Snapchat for our AR projects…


Evan Levine:  Can you give the group a very quick explanation of AR vs. VR?


David Zielinski: Sure. With VR, you are blanking out the outside world.  With AR you are maintaining the “real world” space, but you have additional information popping up.


Will Sexton:  Why the focus in the library?  Curious.


David Zielinski: Partially because we are located there but they are also great partners for our projects.


Steffen Bass:  I understand the gaming side, but companies are burning billions of dollars in development. They must have something in mind, but I feel like I’m missing something.  Where is the killer app that will make this a transformative technology?


David Zielinski: Good question, I think they are hoping that the cell phone isn’t the final human interface. They are looking for a business case.

Evan Levine: It’s an interesting area, not new. It’s failed to launch a little bit but everybody believes it is coming. That’s why you see investment. There are innovations now that are changing things.  Since you took over this program and started building things out, we’ve been doing more academic support and development.  My question to you, David, do you think at this moment it is changing more quickly than it has been?


David Zielinski:  I think a lot of the business and educational propositions were based on the idea that we had to use Zoom….and no matter what changes you make to Zoom, it can still feel like you are on the Brady Bunch where we are looking at squares on the screen. You have these meeting experiences where you couldn’t move hands, see eye movements. There are some technological barriers to making it feel co-present. How do you read peoples’ body language?

With latest headsets, they are looking at eye and hand tracking among other features. These weren’t in full deployment during Pandemic.  Social VR can have added value to meetings.


Prasad Kashibhatla:  I’m with NSOE, wondering how we can connect with you. We have drone labs at NSOE on Duke’s campus as well as the Marine Lab.  I wonder if there’s some connections there.  For example, setting up virtual trips to the Marine Lab.  We have courses on marine animals and mega fauna which could be enhanced by using this technology. Are you swamped?


David Zielinski:  We are always looking for new areas, and we haven’t done as much as we’d like to with NSOE. Same for the medical school. Your describing these field trips meshes nicely with our current work in academia.


Victoria Szabo: Let’s move to your last 2 slides---show last examples of current projects.


David Zielinski: Yes:

· Slide 1: Project 1 is Pima County AR.  This is Augustus Wendell’s (AAHVS) art project.  In Pima County, NM, are the remains of thousands of deceased migrants. The project will project virtual monuments to these migrants within the desert landscape, using the augmented reality tools.

· Slide 2: Project 2 is Virtual Black Charlotte. We will be reconstructing demolished neighborhoods through VR experiences. It has led me into developing an open source mapping project through BabylonJS with funding from National Archives.  There are a host of collaborators on this project.


Victoria Szabo: There is this idea of digital twins—the virtual world that meets the physical world—which is big in VR and GIS right now. Interested in this overlay element that David has been talking about, and adding a time dimension and perspective dimensions of different people’s histories. It intersects with a lot of other things going on in technology right now.


Prasad Kashibhatla: Yes, we want to do this for Climate Change too. What will Climate Change feel like?


Victoria Szabo:  Model for future development

David Zielinski: I’ve often felt like VR might actually BE a time machine, especially if we do reality captures at significant levels.  Imagine if our scanning technology was better. Historians 100 years from now could plop into some of these environments…like the beach that won’t exist 100 years from now.


Evan Levine: Is mpslab@duke.edu still best way to reach you?


David Zielinski; Yes.


Victoria Szabo: We have time for one or two more questions….


Preston Nibley: Have you done any collaboration with Biology or Biochem here?  For example, being able to see inside a cell?  So much 3D data in these databases….lots of potential for translating into a more interactive space.


David Zielinski: Yes, not in the last year, but previously there was a lot of work with Dave and Jane Richardson lab. They did a lot x-ray crystallography, as well as work visualizing molecules. In the DiVE era with Rachael Brady we did a lot of work on data visualization, stacking images. More recently we did work with the Eye Center, same type of thing, building up stacks.


Steffen Bass: Yes, these apps exist, such as apps for visualizing molecules. There are definitely real opportunities there for enhancing our educational offerings we have in those areas.  Maybe we need more investment? Something we should be mindful of.


Victoria Szabo: We are out of time. Thank you. Now for our presentation on Advisor Hub.  Chris Derickson, Dir, SISS.


4:35 – 4:55pm: Advisor Hub – Chris Derickson, Brenda Ratliff, and Kristin Bonifer (10-minute presentation, 10 minutes Q&A)


What it is: DukeHub 2.0 has been a major improvement for the student experience, largely because of Duke's role as a design and development partner with the vendor. Unfortunately, we haven't had the same success with pushing for an improved advisor and faculty experience. After looking at the various options available to us, SISS and OIT-SISS decided to build a new and (we think) much improved experience for our academic advisors and deans.

Why it’s relevant: After detailed requirement gathering with a focus group of more than 50 advisors, our teams were able to deliver a beta version of the Advisor Hub in February, less than six months after the project began. We are hoping to go-live with the new Advisor Hub before the end of the Spring semester and wanted to share our progress and some lessons learned with ITAC before the new Advisor experience is live for all users. 


Chris Derickson, director SISS, makes team introductions: Kristin Bonifer, Senior Business Systems Analyst, Student Records. Brenda Ratliff--partner on the IT side--Director, IT, Enterprise Systems and Support. 


  • We went live with Duke Hub 2.0 two years ago. We had used focus groups for this, including a large student focus group which resulted in an improved student experience. 
  • Areas we knew we still needed to improve on, based on feedback and surveys, were related to advisors and faculty.


This is the story of what we’ve done to make a significant improvement to the advisor experience:


  • We had a group of over 50 advisors from around campus share their largely unpleasant experience with what we thought would be a nice enhancement—this idea of acting as a student. It’s great for isolated situations like troubleshooting a problem.  To have the entire navigation system centered around that was not ideal.
  • Our preference with that tool we use on top of Duke Hub is to have the vendor develop it for us.  His company has developed enhancements at Duke, such as changes to the grade roster.
  • We actually had another tool they developed—it was free—but it didn’t meet our needs.  we decided to build it on our own within the framework of the tool that we have.  Brenda and her developers were behind this.
  • We had the developers at the table with the advisors.
  • The back-and-forth between the functional and the technical highlights what SISS and OIT SISS do together.


Now I will let Kristin demo:


Kristin Bonifer - I will start with the delivered View Advisees page so you will have some context.

  • Once Chris and Brenda gave the team the greenlight to go ahead with our custom page, and we held those folks through conversations, we started working through some of the biggest pain points: the reliance on “Act as User,” the multiple clicks, the challenge of finding information.
  • We had issues with career defaulting---some advisors didn’t realize they had students in other careers.  If I had to find another student who had a hold, I’d have to scroll down, and I wasn’t provided a great deal of info (for some reason the phone number is one they really wanted to keep.)  If I wanted to see arts enrollment appointments, for example, I’d have to “act as User.” It took 4 or 5 clicks to access any info, assuming you know exactly where you were going!
  • We wanted the Advisor Hub to be efficient, intuitive, and to elevate the important information. We wanted robust search and filter options. With the new hub, we think we’ve done that.
  • At the top we are now actually telling you your total number of advisees.
  • You’ll also see the quick access to class schedules.
  • With e-mail, you can select which option works best for your client. There is the ability to copy e-mail addresses.
  • You can now filter by advisor type and you can search on program plan.
  • There is no more career defaulting. It’s your choice to limit that.
  • “Keyword” does a top-level search. For example, if you entered “25,” it would bring back anyone who had a “25” in their id, as well as their accepted grad term.
  • We’ve created other pre-set filters, including new advisee filter. For example, if a student changes majors, the advisor doesn’t always get a new advisee notification.  Now the advisor can go to the advisee filter, and select a date, and they will get the updated information. We also have a filter for advisor hold.
  • We’ve added some context in yellow boxes which explains what the filter is doing.
  • The “grades alert” provides a countdown so that the advisor knows the process is running on the system. The search has been cut down to a quarter of a second per student to review to see if they meet the grades criteria.
  • You can now sort on each of the columns.
  • If you select the student’s name, you can send them an e-mail.
  • We’ve added a visual indicator when the student has multiple plans to declare.
  • We’ve elevated the expected grad term and enrollment window.
  • On right, we’ve renamed “act as user” to “view as student.” Feedback from at least one person in each of the focus groups was that “act as user” is creepy!


Mark Palmeri: Can you show what the comments look like? It’s probably the most non-appealing visual.


Kristin Bonifer: That is still on one of our old pages, but it’s on our radar.  I haven’t taken out some of the identifying information there so I can’t show you right now. 


Mark Palmeri: So functionality for comments is still the same, it opens in a new window?


Kristin Bonifer: Correct.


One of the best parts of the new interface is the snapshot of the student. From this snapshot you can see all plan info, snapshot of class schedule. We have the hover for easy access to class schedule. We’ve also added a visual queue for waitlist positions. 


Prasad Kashibhatla:  Orange is waitlist number?


Kristin Bonifer: Yes.

We’ve also provided easy access to the student shopping cart.  You can see their selected classes if they have been selected and saved in cart. You are also able to see all the advisors and counselors assigned to a student.  We’ve added GPA for term plus cumulative.


We hope this hub benefits the advising community.  We’ve received very positive feedback so far!


Chris Derickson: This goes live tomorrow. We will send out a communication on it. This has been a partnership between us, OIT and the advisors on campus. Thank you for our patience.  We did our best to get the vendor to make changes, and when we had no other options, we built It out.


Zoe Tishaev: Where is info stored for student groups?


Chris Derickson: It’s in the system (Duke Hub.) Student groups is type of functionality. One is used for student athletes, the other one is for writing 101.


Kristin Bonifer: If you’re designated to take writing 101 as a first-year, we actually tag you with a student group, so that’s how we know your eligibility.


Victoria Szabo: Any chance we could we expose NetIDs? I find that I’m always looking at them.


Kristin Bonifer: Good question. We can take It back.


Colin Rundel:  I’ll just reiterate, having name, NetID, student ids, the more those are shared across systems makes it easier. This is fabulous improvement!  One petty thing-- the main landing page with the dashboard and the widget—can we kill that?


Chris Derickson: We’ve shared the uselessness of that widget!


Colin Rundel:  Can you open up the left-hand tool bar. That hasn’t changed?

Kristin Bonifer:  This will stay the same.  You’ll still login to your Duke Hub account.


Colin Rundel: I have a department center rather than a faculty center.

Chris Derickson This is all custom to what access you have.


Colin Rundel: So this will all look the same—department center, search functions….


David Zielinski: Yes.


Victoria Szabo: Thank you. This has been great.  Last topic for today: Third party integration strategy in Canvas.



4:55 – 5:15pm: Third Party Integration Strategy in Canvas – 20-minute discussion led by Michael Greene, Chris Lorch, Ashley Walker, and Chris Meyers

What it is: We’ll discuss integration strategy with Canvas, what tools will be integrated with the platform, and some examples of how Canvas integrations are expected to work.

Why it’s relevant: Third party integration is a key component of our learning technology strategy. The transition to Canvas brings with it several improvements to what is currently possible with Sakai.



Michael Greene: Introduces Chris Lorch. and Ashley Walker from LI.

They are the experts and the folks who do the majority of the work around integration. They are an example of us investing in an integration-first approach. Chris has a new role as integration and pilots lead and Ashley is our STEM leading technology analyst.

  • Integration was a key driver for the shift from Sakai to Canvas. Because Canvas is the number one LMS on the market, there are already a lot of tools that have integrations.  We will dig into that.

There are three pieces that I’d like to talk about at a strategic level.

  1. LMS is meant to provide a foundation of tools and features complimented by external applications. It’s not meant to serve all possible teaching and learning needs for all disciplines. There is common ground that works for the majority of these spaces, but there’s always going to be something better in a specific tool for a specific course. That’s why we have an integration-first approach.
  2. We prioritize tools using the open LTI standard over custom API integrations.
  3. Our ability to augment Sakai vs. Canvas. Sakai was open source, while Canvas doesn’t accept change requests from external parties. We look at what our other options are. Because LTI is an open platform, but more restrictive, you know what you are going to get---because of the standardizations in LTI.


  • SSO integration adds complexity but also benefits (will talk about that more.)
  • We are also doing enterprise integrations (which aren’t the focus of today’s presentation.) These integrations are Shibboleth SSO (done), DukeHub and DKUHub Integration (in progress) and Grouper and Kits (not started.)  

Chris Lorch: The biggest question we hear is what eternal tools will be available in Canvas to users across the university?  One benefit is that we can deploy tools at school level or at course level.  This may be easier than with Sakai. 

List of tools that will be available in Canvas:

  • Panapto
  • Zoom
  • Gradescope
  • Ed Discussion
  • Warpwire
  • Hypothes.is
  • PlayPosit
  • Voicethread
  • Library Course Reserves
  • Matlab
  • Box
  • Office 356

Tools that are currently under investigation for potential integration with Canvas:

  • wooclap (audience response tool)
  • cidilabs
  • Google Drive
  • GitHub Classroom
  • Microsoft Teams (working wth OIT on this—will integrate roster with Teams and provision a Team for your course)
  • Simple Syllabus

I’m excited about cidilabs for accessibility—optical text recognition.

Evan Levine: Have you shared? (with disability management folks)

Chris Lorch: Yes. We were talking with Joel in accessibility office.

What do LTI integrations look like in canvas? This will be more streamlined.  These are the built-in tools:

  • Calendar
  • Conversations
  • Poll answers to Gradebook
  • Course roster sections
  • Breakout rooms by section

Going back to the calendar….you make a meeting, it shows up in your calendar. Students can click right through.

Victoria Szabo. Could you get the feed from that and suck into outlook also?

Chris Lorch: Let me check on that.

Michael Greene: like iCal? You could do that, I don’t know what data comes forward.

Ashley Walker: Here are more examples of LTI integration (demos from slide presentation)

  • Gradescope. You select the external tool, it’s right there.  You don’t have to click out to go to assignment.  Much more seamless. There is roster syncing.
  • Google Drive File Picker—you choose which file to embed in Canvas.

The external tools are right there. You just select, and when you create your assignment, it’s already ready to go. No clicking out!

What tools would you like to see integrated with Canvas?  Any others?

Steffen Bass:  I saw Dropbox on there—how about that!  How about Slack?

Victoria Szabo:  Are we thinking about things that can be done with NetID, make NetID authentication done more easily?

Michael Greene: Great question. That’s why I pulled out SSO as a parallel endeavor. Going through SSO approval process is its own effort but it doesn’t have to be required. When you sign into Canvas, you authenticate with your NetID and it passes through the appropriate information to let that app know who you are.

Mark Palmeri: What about Duke’s GitLab instance?

Michael Greene: I don’t know enough about GitLab, but we are open to that.

Evan Levine:  A lot of these things are competitors to each other.  How does one see their options prioritized, know which ones to use?

Michael Greene:  Great question. There is a completely different UI for this (app Center.) I don’t have a screen shot. it’s a visual app center…you can click and get info.

Evan Levine: Can we differentiate between “this is Duke NetID authentication” vs other type of integrations?

Ed Gomes:  We have to be careful….This is a teaching solution. We have FERPA data. We have to be careful about what we ask for integrations for.

Michael Greene: Let’s have a follow up session on that type of process. I’d love to talk about that.

Victoria Szabo: We are out time. How can we contact you for more helpful solutions?

Michael Greene: please send questions to lmstransition at duke.edu