February 2014 IT Activity Report
Each semester, students in hundreds of University of Delaware courses appreciate UD Capture's value to "Record. Review. Retain." When classes are canceled due to snow and ice, several faculty members have found that UD Capture is a good way to recoup lost time.
Christopher Penna, associate professor in the Department of English, said "I think the self-service studios are a wonderful resource when classes have to be canceled for things like snow days. During the recent school closing, I was able to record a couple of short presentations. The quick turnaround time meant that students had the material that I wanted them to have well ahead of the next class meeting."
Some faculty members have found that their UD Capture recordings from previous semesters make a good substitute for a canceled class session. By taking advantage of UD Capture's options for duplicating recordings or for opening previous semesters’ archives, faculty can easily request that a previous recording be made available to current students.
Lesa Griffiths, professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, took advantage of this option: "I have a few years of classroom recordings to draw from and was able to assign a suitable substitute for a canceled class. This allowed me to easily keep the syllabus and schedule intact," Griffiths said.
Other faculty members have created new recordings in one of the two self-service recording studios in the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab (ISE Lab) and Gore Hall to replace a canceled class. Faculty can schedule studio time and initiate their own recordings.
Jennifer Buckley, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, produced a session that students could use to make up a missed class. Buckley said, "The Pearson Hall studio captured everything I wanted to do: I made drawings during class, some students attended and demonstrated their own sketches, and I had a computer presentation with videos. The packaged recording was made available online as a makeup session."
Some faculty have used the UD Capture Video Dropbox service to submit recordings they’ve produced themselves using software like Camtasia or PowerPoint for inclusion in a course’s UD Capture directory.
David Coker, associate professor in the School of Education, used this service: "I recorded a presentation on my own computer that I submitted to UD Capture. I received a Web link where student access was limited to my course roster. The whole process was completed before classes resumed," Coker said.
Faculty interested in any of these options can
- Schedule a session in the Gore 309 or ISE 208 self-service UD Capture studios.
- Request UD Capture recording for a course this semester.
- Contact IT Academic Technology Services (IT-ATS) to release a previous semester’s recordings to current students or to request more information about UD Capture by calling (302) 831-0640 or by using the IT-ATS Contact Us form.
A high-tech classroom opened in 110 Memorial Hall on the first day of the spring semester. Originally a problem-based learning (PBL) classroom, the redesigned room incorporates new technologies that will also support project-based learning. The design team's goal was to use successful teaching technologies gleaned from the high-tech classroom in 218 Gore Hall and to add emerging technologies to further enhance PBL and project-based teaching.
A collaborative team of faculty and staff members from IT-ATS, IT University Media Services (IT-UMS), and University Registrar designed a room that would improve traffic flow, reduce sight-line problems, and give students access to a shared monitor at each table:
- The reconfigured classroom has 42 seats with work groups of six at seven tables. Each group’s table has a shared monitor.
- Each table has video input, power outlets, and a wireless projection system. Using a standard WiFi connection, up to four displays from Mac, PC, iOS, and Android devices can be displayed on the shared monitor.
- The front of the room is now "everywhere" as a faculty member can walk around the room using wireless projection.
- 110 Memorial includes a full routing system like that implemented in Gore 218. The system allows the instructor to control what is being displayed on each work group’s monitor, highlight any group's work by showing that group's screen on any or all the other monitors, or display information from different technologies (e.g., PowerPoint and a document camera) on the group monitors and the main projection screen.
- The room also features a SMART™ interactive display and a PC that can be mirrored on any other display in the room.
- The room was "wrapped" in writable glass to give faculty and students a place to write, share notes, and brainstorm.
IT hosted an open house to introduce faculty to the room; then IT staff members were on hand at the start of each faculty member's first class to help them integrate the technology into their teaching.
Initial faculty response to the new room has been positive, and we look forward to working individually with faculty to explore the teaching styles the new room supports. We also welcome feedback on the room and will incorporate suggestions as we improve this and future technology-enabled classrooms.
Second HPC cluster for UD researchers
Building upon the success of the Mills cluster and incorporating input from UD researchers, the University will build a second High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster for the campus research community.
The second community cluster will be built using a shared-cost model similar to that used with the Mills cluster in which UD-IT paid for the shared storage, networking switches, other shared hardware and software, and the cluster’s physical environment (e.g., space, cooling, and power). Faculty and their research groups paid for individual compute nodes and installed their own specialized commercial and open-source software.
We received RFP responses from five vendors the week of February 10 and are reviewing the responses. We expect to place an order for the cluster in late February or early March.
For more information, or to include your research group in this second HPC cluster, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faculty Commons: preview video and survey
A new Faculty Commons is slated to open in 116 Pearson Hall this spring. The goal of the Faculty Commons is to bring together a wide range of University of Delaware teaching resources in one place where faculty can:
- get answers to teaching questions
- develop long-term course projects
- learn about instructional grant opportunities
- explore cutting-edge teaching technologies
- participate in workshops on best practices for teaching
- have a quiet space for other activities
Staff from several campus support units will be on site to work with faculty individually or to determine the best course of action and the appropriate team for larger efforts. The commons will also be available if faculty need a place to work or meet with colleagues outside their offices. You can get a preview of the Faculty Commons by watching the introductory video. Let us know what the Faculty Commons can do for you by answering a one-question survey.
Transformation Grants: what's new this year
University of Delaware faculty members are encouraged to apply for 2014 Transformation Grants to transform education with the support of innovative uses of technology. Pre-proposals are due March 1.
This year's grant program combines resources from the Center for Teaching and Assessment of Learning (CTAL) and IT-ATS to accommodate funding requests for faculty time, graduate or undergraduate student time, software, and equipment.
Applicants are encouraged to think big, add new instructional models that are not currently available, eliminate barriers they have identified in their teaching, and help define the next generation of education and technology. Suggested themes are provided for guidance.
UDataGlance financial report application improvements
Over the past few months, IT Web Development (IT-WD) completed several enhancements to UDataGlance—UD's financial report application—including those requested by campus clients.
- The Financial Summary screen now displays end dates for UNIDEL purpose codes. Scroll to the end of the row to view.
- Project ID information has been added to the Speedtype information available on the Purpose Code summary page.
- The statement view now allows 2-character fiscal year data (e.g., "14" rather than "2014"). The University community can now enter a value of 14 or 2014 and not encounter errors.
- You can now change a purpose code's information display from Fiscal information to Project-to-Date information. This is particularly useful for purpose codes that are tracked over multiple years, but which are not externally funded, such as General University Research (GUR). If you have a need for such a change, please contact Marsha Lockard.
IT-WD collaborated with General Accounting, the UD Research Office, and University Finance to define and implement these improvements. To recommend further improvements, please use the "Feedback" link available within UDataGlance.
Storage of Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
As part of our ongoing efforts to identify and remove confidential PII (e.g., name + SSN), IT scans data supporting the University's core (non-PeopleSoft) business applications. IT-WD is working with campus data owners to remove confidential PII when discovered. Based on the scanning results, we remind all staff and students that confidential PII should not be placed in open comments or other text areas within Web Forms or any other core business application or unencrypted storage, including IT-hosted storage services such as WinDFS or Samba. If confidential PII must be stored or processed on a system or in storage not administered by UD Information Technologies because of operational or business requirements of the unit, it must be secured using required protections and best practices, including encryption. See the Privacy and Confidentiality site for more information.
New HR Onboarding Web Form
The "Bayh-Dole Agreement Web Form" is now available online and replaces the previously used PDF paper form. Text from the Web Form reminds us that for UD to be in compliance with federal law and regulations, individuals involved in research must complete this form: "Under the terms of the Bayh-Dole Act, a federal statute, University employees who engage in federally funded research must disclose inventions that have been conceived or first actually reduced to practice in connection with their work at the University. This disclosure must be in writing so that the University can file patent applications on such inventions. The University's intellectual property policy, Number 6-6, requires the cooperation of the inventors to define and establish rights to the invention and to make an assignment to the University of inventions and discoveries, which are and may be patentable. Most third party funding agreements also require written assignment agreements from individuals engaged in funded research. We appreciate your cooperation in assuring that the University of Delaware is in compliance with federal law and regulation." IT-WD collaborated with HR, the UD Research Office, and the Office of the General Counsel to implement this form. The new version has been used as part of UD's Onboarding process for hires since January 2014, and every new hire is required to complete the form. In the near future, the UD Research Office will reach out to individuals who need to complete the form with the new language so that UD is in compliance. Questions regarding the new Web Form may be directed to Records Management at (302) 831-8677 or email@example.com. Questions regarding the language included in the form may be directed to the Research Office at (302) 831-2136.
New course evaluation reports for Faculty Appraisal
At the request of faculty and as approved by the Office of the Provost, two new report types have been added to UD's online course evaluation system. Faculty may now choose to generate a brief summary or detailed summary report in PDF format that they may download and attach to their "Faculty Appraisal and Planning Web Form." You may see how this works by logging in to the course evaluation system. Click the "Reports" tab and choose one or more terms, then choose a Report type as either "PDF brief summary for Fac. Appraisal" or "PDF detailed summary for Fac. Appraisal." Try both reports to see the difference in the results and determine which format you prefer or which format your Chair requests. These reports are always available on demand for any term where online course evaluations were collected. Submit any questions about course evaluations using this form.
- IT Management Information Services (IT-MIS) installed another round of Financial Bundles (25-28) on February 22. In all, there were 2119 patches from Oracle. This brings UD up-to-date in PeopleSoft Financials, with bundle 29 only being released in February. Our clients are already benefitting from the bundles. For example, we encountered a problem this winter with the General Ledger interface from Accounts Payable for closed payments, and Bundle 25 corrects this.
- A process to allocate Student Financials "Deferred Revenue" went into production in January. This complex programming benefits the Budget Office and provides overall accounting accuracy for academic departments.
Patches to our Accounts Payable process that produces 1099s for 2013 were implemented in January. This procedure included changing the production of the printed forms from a Crystal process to an XML process. (Oracle's support for Crystal has decreased while their support of XML has increased.)
- In December, we added a "PO Scrub" process to speed up chartfield changes (i.e., changes to the accounting configuration) specifically for existing Purchase Orders. The Procurement Office benefits from this process.
- IT-MIS has designed and implemented storage of vendor attachments within the Procurement Office database. This is a security improvement.
- We also patched UDSIS with bundles 29-32 over the weekend of February 15. These bundles are critical for Financial Aid to be offered to incoming freshmen in a timely manner.
- Major upcoming projects include the implementation of the XML transcript through the National Student Clearing House and a major security overhaul within UDSIS (which can be undertaken now that the system has been upgraded to PeopleTools 8.53.07).
PeopleSoft PeopleTools upgrade
The Database Administration (DBA) team worked with the PeopleSoft Student Administration team in the successful upgrade to the latest PeopleSoft PeopleTools software (version 8.53.07) in February. This effort involved testing the upgrade in the QA environment and coordinating with the programming staff and clients to ensure a smooth implementation in Production. The upgrade provides new features and enables the application of recent patches and fixes from Oracle.
Oracle database software security
The DBA team is reviewing the details of the latest Oracle database software security patches, released in January, to bring the software up-to-date and tighten security where appropriate. The patches are typically released once each quarter.
Oracle database access security
- The DBA team has been working with IT Network and Systems Services (IT-NSS) to significantly tighten the firewalls between the production and test database servers and the outside world to prevent unwanted access. This is being done primarily at the OS level with filtering software that locks access to specific ports and is opened on an as-needed basis.
- Separately, the DBA team is working on a few additional filters at the database level, also via software and database configuration changes, to limit access and in some cases to totally block malicious software attempts to gain access.
Now that LearnIT@UD has merged with the Office of Human Resources, we are pleased to be able to offer and report on a significantly wider range of learning opportunities for the campus. For example, the number of workshops involving UD Financials has dramatically increased—20 sessions between December 1 and February 15. Topics included financial fundamentals, basic accounting concepts, query creation, and using more UDataGlance features. We also offered many technology-related sessions on topics such as Microsoft Excel PivotTables, WordPress, Google Docs, and Writing for the Web.
4th IT UnConference
Nearly 70 employees from 25 departments attended the 4th IT UnConference on January 23. The day opened with a briefing on IT security news, followed by discussions of 14 topics, including server/desktop security, mobile device management, and virtual desktop infrastructure.
CS&S will schedule follow-up sessions in the spring to continue the conversations and explore solutions to questions that arose during the UnConference. These topics are in the queue as follow-up sessions:
- Shared software licensing
- Password managers
- Data archiving
Session topics and notes are available on the UnConference Web site.
In late January, the FootPrints incident tracking system was upgraded to the latest version (11.6). IT began planning for the upgrade early last fall when a trial system was put in place for staff to test workflows, scripts, and the interaction with local databases. Because of this planning and close communication with the vendor, the upgrade went very smoothly. The system was only down for a few hours, and several minor issues were resolved quickly. System enhancements will allow us to be more efficient in serving the campus community.
Shyamala Athaide became a member of IT-WD as an Applications Programmer I in February. Shyamala recently graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters in Computer Engineering. Previously, she worked as a software engineer in industry. She will work as a Java programmer in the Technical Resource Group on Web applications.
Jonathan Li joined IT-WD as an Applications Programmer I in December. He had been employed in IT since June 2013 as a student intern in the IT-WD Technical Resource Group. Jonathan will use his Java programming skills to work on Web applications that support the University's core business systems.
Kelly McLaughlin began work in IT-NSS in January as a Telephone Services Representative. She provides customer service to the campus, including provisioning phones, making configuration changes, troubleshooting phone problems, and helping coordinate phone repairs. Kelly first came to Telephone Services in September in a temporary capacity and helped the group with the VoIP transition. Prior to that, Kelly worked for a non-profit organization as a Customer Service Representative.
Julie Stewart accepted an IT Resource Consultant II position in IT-CS&S in December. Julie will provide technology support to faculty and staff. She comes to IT-CS&S from the Biological Sciences department where she worked as a Computing Support Specialist. Prior to working at UD, Julie had over ten years of experience providing technical computing support in commercial IT services companies.