Duke ITAC - January 13, 2022 Minutes

ITAC Minutes – January 13th, 2022

 

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

 

Ryn Nasser is now the ITAC backup coordinator and will fill in Logan’s position next year.

 

November 11, 2021 minutes are approved.

 

4:05 - 4:30 p.m. - Introduction to OIT's Creative & User Experience Team, Barbara Puccio (15 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)

 

What it is: The Creative & User Experience (CrUX) team provides strategy and expertise in user experience and visual/user interface design for websites, applications and services being developed within Duke. The CrUX team's goal is to help meet the business vision and objectives of our Duke partners, while improving the experience for the end-user.

 

Why it’s relevant: When consulted at the onset of projects, the CrUX team assists Duke stakeholders in articulating and aligning their functional priorities for those sites, apps and services into the interface design to solve problems and deliver a positive end-user experience. The result of prioritizing audience needs can include: building features that support the greatest possible user benefit, potential cost-savings in ongoing support, and an improved reputation and trust in Duke's digital services.

 

David MacAlpine introduces Barbara Puccio, the manager of Creative & User Experience (UX) (CrUX). Other members of the team are Joel Crawford-Smith, Jen Hubbard, and Bendte Fagge. Barbara begins by providing an overview. The definition of User Experience (UX) is how a product operates and how users interact with the product. The goal of CrUX is to help solve client needs in an intuitive, streamlined, and accessible way. Many disciplines and skills are under the umbrella of UX, and the team will choose tools that best meet the customer needs. The team also focuses on Duke Accessibility to ensure that technology at Duke is accessible to individuals with a wide range of abilities, sensory impairments, or disabilities. The UX team’s focus is at the intersection of user needs, business goals, and technical constraints\feature building.

 

Barbara then explains how the CrUX team provides support for these goals. The CrUX strategy involves:

1. Defining problems before deciding on a solution – this involves converting the product strategy from building new features to solving critical customer problems.

2. Incorporating the customer’s voice throughout the project cycle.

3. Using UX best practices including goal-based decisions as opposed to habits. The CrUX team collects data through interviews, research, and user testing so that goal-based decisions are possible. Finally, most decisions involve emotion and feeling which is why design is so important: to trigger the emotion that this is a pleasant experience.

 

Q. John Board underscores the many aspects of technology that Barbara’s team is involved in beyond websites including various products, apps, and services. Charley Kneifel thanks Barbara and the team for their help with the SymMon app.

 

Barbara continues describing the learning opportunities that the team has provided for:

1. Winter breakaway

2. Co-lab roots UX/UI track

3. Code+ student teams

4. Class presentations

 

Balance, unity, and contrast are some of the foundational aspects of design. The team has also provided one-off consultations.

 

Barbara lists some recent UX Projects which includes:

1. Alumni – assist in simplifying search pages and groups during a transition to Drupal 9.

2. Web Gifts & Donor Portal – collaboration between CrUX, Office of University Development, Administrative Systems Management, and OIT’s web development group.

3. STINGAR – collaboration between Security, OIT System Administration, and Identity Management to gain consensus on Minimum Viable Product deliverables. (STINGAR is used to catch people who are trying to break into the Duke network.)

4. SITES@DUKE PRO and OIT Enterprise Drupal Website Service – Drupal 7 is going away, and everything must be moved to Drupal 8 or 9.

5. Sakai – to revamp QA and Forums.

 

Barbara, then, speaks to the focus of Accessibility at Duke which is to ensure that accessible technologies benefit all users. It is important to understand the spectrum of disabilities. For example, someone may only have one arm; someone may have an arm injury with an arm in a cast or sling; someone may have a new baby with the baby in one arm frequently. Another example is visual impairment vs. not being able to read one’s cell phone in bright sunlight. The role of CrUx is to increase awareness and provide remedial assessments; this includes in-person training, assessment, and training videos. CrUX’s current projects include remediation of Tier 1 and Tier 2 sites, ensuring inclusive online classes, events, and activities, and updating the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG.)

 

One common practice that CrUX is hoping to change involves being asked to participate in a project after the request and requirements are already established. Instead, a coherent project plan with CrUX Services should be part of the process from the outset. This means that CrUX involvement needs to be accounted for in the project timeline and money needs to be set aside as CrUX is cost recovery (i.e., CrUX charges fees for its services). However, Barbara stresses that time and cost invested are more than recovered by the benefits provided. Using CrUX can ultimately save money and provide a better product/app/website/service. Benefits include:

1. Prioritizing features to support the maximum benefit to the majority of users.

2. Saving in ongoing support costs.

3. Providing faster times to complete tasks.

4. Changing intangibles: improvement in the experience benefits.

 

Q. David MacAlpine – User experience differs for undergrad, grad, and alumni; is this taken into account?

 

A. Barbara – Yes, there are always various audiences. We must tailor our products to meet the audience's needs. In this case, each audience would be directed to what they need, and the product would make it clear where they need to go.

 

4:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Update on Duke Sakai and Integration with Related Systems, Brenda Ratliff, Chris Derickson, Michael Greene (20 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)

 

What it is: Duke Sakai is a flexible learning management system for hosting sites that support learning, teaching, research, and collaboration. The platform connects students and faculty at Duke to support education-related activities.

 

Why it’s relevant: In response to feedback from faculty looking for a more integrated experience between Sakai, Gradescope, and DukeHub (particularly with the process of grading), the teams that support those solutions worked together for almost a year to improve the overall experience for users. This presentation will highlight the progress that we made and also point to the collaborative effort as a model for future efforts to improve integration between the systems we support.

 

Chris Derickson states that this “Working Better Together” presentation is about the improved integration between Sakai, Gradescope, and DukeHub. The project came out of a well-written detailed email that documented a faculty member’s frustration.

 

The objectives of this project were:

1. To develop a shared understanding among OIT, DLI, and SISS staff on how these department’s 3 systems integrate.

2. To document improvements to the technology ecosystem relating to EdTech integrations.

3. To create an implementation plan for high-value, high-impact improvements.

The project started on January 10, 2021, and will continue into the foreseeable future.

 

Michael Greene states that this has been an incredibly fruitful partnership and has provided much value to the Duke community. Sakai had a major upgrade on December 20, 2021. The changes are described here: https://duke.is/556s7 and include lesson improvements, and dark theme and dashboard betas. Threaded discussions and notifications have been added as well which helps with the Piazza replacement. Finally, course name & URL formatting has been improved. (E.g., COMPSCI 201-001 Intro To Programming And Data (Seminar); also, new URL format https://sakai.duke.edu/prtal/site/COMPSCI.201.001.F21)

 

Some issues are being fixed:

1. DUID not displaying in gradebook.

2. Names not displaying in lastname, preferred firstname format – there are some technical blockers in trying to use kits; LI will shift strategy to find a fix.

 

Michael talks about the Gradescope update. https://duke.is/ne9qc This update provided a new integration with Sakai and was deployed in December 2021. Students can now access Gradescope assignments directly from Sakai. This update also includes anonymous grading, an extensions tab, and the ability to duplicate.

 

Gradescope issues being fixed include:

1. The student ID field not populating - LI is gathering feedback and Gradescope is deploying a fix this summer.

2. The Sakai TA role is not syncing properly – LI is investigating this issue with Gradescope.

 

Chris Derickson concludes by speaking about changes on the SISS side. The DukeHub 2.0 grade rosters have been updated which changes how grades are delivered; Save and Submit buttons are available. Also, SakaiConnect has been updated which improves grade transfer from Sakai to DukeHub.

 

The remaining issues include:

1. Needed improvements to “top-level” information on the list of grade rosters.

2. Still can only upload grades for the final grade roster (This is for those who want the ability to turn off mid-term grades at the semester's end.)

 

Next steps include:

1. Convening quarterly meetings with Sakai, DukeHub, and Kits.duke.edu teams.

2. Continuing commitment from the vendor to improve faculty experience. 4-5 changes have been requested for class and grade rosters.

3. Piloting a new advising tool (ARM) which is planned for Spring 2022 release.

 

Q. Mark Palmeri – I had all sorts of problems with submitting grades and the Registrar’s Office ended up having to help with grade transfer.

 

A. Chris Derickson – This was due to a problem on Oracle’s side; anything with a message that pops up was subject to this bug and a case has been logged with Oracle.

 

A. Mark Palmeri – What made this worse was that I thought I had successfully submitted the grades and 5 days later found out that they hadn’t been submitted. There is this intermediate period where we don’t see the information. I had no way based on the lack of feedback of knowing. It would be good to have feedback on whether the grades were posted or not. I tried both classic and newer grade rosters and neither worked.

 

A. Chris would like to talk with Mark more offline. Chris also appreciates Mark’s feedback via the feedback button.

 

Q. John Board – Embedding one heavy tool like Gradescope in another heavy tool (Sakai) is complicated so I close out and use one at a time.

 

Q. Colin Rundel – I use gradebook on Sakai and love it. This can create problems though due to different dates for grade cutoffs.

 

5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. - The Growth and Development of Duke Web Governance, Evan Levine, Blyth Morrell, Logan Roger (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)

What it is: Duke Web Governance is a working group consisting of representatives from across both the University and health system, that lead efforts in standardizing and improving upon Duke's Web-related technical requirements and guidelines. Focusing on everything from the procurement process to the assurance of accessibility standards, Web Governance maintains a growing list of responsibilities directly benefitting Duke's continually growing digital footprint.

Why it’s relevant: With Duke's highly decentralized environment and our consistently expanding digital landscape, Web Governance is evolving alongside these efforts. Improving upon the process for reviewing and approving the technical pre-requisites of contracts with third-party vendors, maintaining Duke standard guidelines and policies, and educating units to provide them with future autonomy in negotiations, is an ever-developing endeavor.

Blythe Morrel from University Communications begins with a timeline of the evolution of Duke Web Governance. Duke web governance began in 2008 with the creation of DART (Duke Administrative Reform Team, aimed at achieving cost savings amid the 2008 recession). In 2009, OMSC (Office for Marketing and Strategic Communications) was created. In 2014, Digital & Strategic Communications was created and, in 2017, it evolved into Web Governance.

Web Governance consists of 17 individuals from OIT, UComms, DHTS, the library, each of the schools, and various other groups across the university. The group meets quarterly but also uses Microsoft Teams for more immediate needs.

The need for Web Governance initially grew out of a need to control cost but the need has expanded along with the decentralized digital landscape to include:

1. A review process for proposals and contracts.

2. Web security vs accessibility.

3. Standardization based on common needs and areas.

4. Responsible utilization of outside vendors and resources.

5. Representation across campus that provides unique insight, specific pain points, and opportunities for improvement.

Evan Levine addresses “What does Web Governance do?”:

1. Works with procurement to ensure web contracts include necessary Duke standards.

2. Assists with domain ownership, retention, and renewal.

3. Identifies gaps: project management, content vs. development, vendor management, etc.

4. Reviews scope of work (price, process, considerations, technical prerequisites.)

5. Maintains Duke requirements regarding security, hosting, accessibility, long-term maintenance, and improvements.

6. Creates and annually reviews related guidelines, policies, and other relevant documentation.

“What Web Governance doesn’t do” is just as important:

1. Tell a unit how much they can spend on a project.

2. Bar a unit from collaborating with outside vendors or force a unit to work with in-house web resources.

3. Dictate the scope of any given project.

4. Interfere with the relationship between the unit and vendor.

Additional benefits of Web Governance include:

1. A better understanding of what to look for in a vendor, the requirements that Duke demands, and how to navigate the procurement process.

2. A greater financial opportunity for Units to implement “nice to have” and enhanced capabilities for projects.

3. Standardization and university-adopted guidelines.

4. Open communication between Units that may have the opportunity to address similar needs.

5. Assistance in the selection of an appropriate vendor which sets the unit up for greater success and the potential for a long-term partnership.

6. Transparency into the vendor acquisition and engagement process which allows for increased understanding surrounding typical costs for specific technical requests and long-term SLAs, allowing Units to better position themselves during contract execution.

Finally, Logan Roger, a project manager at OIT, outlines the project approval process:

1. A Unit submits a working vendor agreement and a survey for Websites/Hosting, apps, or software development to the IT procurement office.

2. Collaborating with IT Procurement, a Web Governance representative performs an initial review and documents red flags and potential obstacles.

3. The documentation is presented to the Web Governance group for additional input and expert opinion.

4. A summation of the findings is provided to both the Unit and IT Procurement with either a green light to proceed from a technical standpoint or a list of items that needs addressing before an agreement is executed.

Logan concludes with the Spring 2022 Priorities which consist of:

1. Finalization of repeatable scope of work/contract review processes.

2. Update to WCAG 2.2 AA accessibility standard.

3. Annual review and update of policies and guidelines.

4. Preparation for an expected post-Covid uptick in Web/Digital project requests.

Q. John Board – How is the external vendor landscape changing?

A. Evan Levine – Duke works with fewer vendors than in the past. Joel has trained external companies a lot. Improvements have been made in not using local accounts (i.e., using Duke credentials to provide access) and in keeping the externally managed sites up to date with security patches, etc.

A. Blythe Morrel – We have fewer problem vendors. We have now built relationships with the vendors that we work with. There are not a ton of new vendors coming online.