Office of Learning and Information Technology
UW System CIO Council
August 7, 2003
CIOs and their Representatives
Dave Faulkner is substituting today for John Tillman who's had surgery.
The Board of Regents and the chancellors have begun high level planning for the new UW System. Included in their efforts, will be consideration of new ways in which the UW System can do business more efficiently. They will set up working groups composed up of regents, chancellors and cabinet level administrators.
Notes from the CBO and vice chancellor planning sessions were distributed prior to today's meeting. Ed Meachen is scheduled to deliver a high level biennial UW System IT plan to the Board of Regents in October. The Office of Learning and Information Technology (OLIT) held an internal planning session that proposed a two-tier approach:
- qualitative stories of the student, faculty and staff IT experiences in 1993, 1998, 2003 and, as a prediction, 2008
- explanations of the IT value proposition in a period of declining financial support
Some untested truisms are:
- technology continues to always cost more, rather than less
- technology always grows as a percentage of total expenditures
- the large scale integration of technology always results in efficiencies
At issue is whether the amassing of technology automatically results in an increase in the quality of education. It may be necessary to bring outside help for measurement, assessment and benchmarking.
Since faculty salaries represents the largest cost to the UWS, it might be interesting to look at how teaching has changed through 1993, 1998 and 2003 as a result of technology. Some technologies, such as course management systems and student administration systems, are expected by students, the public and faculty even though it can't always be claimed that they save money. Technology is necessary for competitive advantage, e.g., Internet bandwidth. Researchers can't even submit grant proposals or articles for publication without using technology. Meanwhile, the government has technology expectations for institutions as evidenced in SEVIS, the USA PATRIOT ACT, the GLB ACT, etc. The expectations of Wisconsin employers and experiences of recent graduates could also serve to put technology expenditures in perspective. Although it is hard to quantify, IT has replaced other costs, e.g., typewriters and some travel.
There are not convincing demonstrations of how faculty productivity in the classroom has improved via technology. However, productivity in their advising and research roles may be easier to quantify, e.g., now faculty can now stay in touch with their colleagues in real time via electronic communications instead of just journals and the occassional conference. A great institution begins with great faculty. A robust technology infrastructure is necessary to attract the best faculty. The resulting increase in the quality of the students can be documented.
Joe Douglas reported that three years ago, a consultant came to UW-Milwaukee and demonstrated that the funding for central IT has not increased over time, but the amount of work done has increased (courses taught, financial aid checks written, etc. - see www.uwm.edu/Dept/Acad_Aff/ITReview/) The review also documented that less than half of the IT expenditures on campus were made by the central technology organization. It's easier to save money by eliminating duplication in the distributed campus units, than in the central IT organization, e.g., centralizing the volume purchasing of standard desktop computers. The report has caused a change in thinking on the campus, an expansion of the role of the CIO, and changes in how business is done. Other UWS institutions report similar savings by standardizing and purchasing desktop computers in bulk.
IT investments should be trumpeted to students and employers, not downplayed. The UW System knowledge model requires high quality communication systems. Asynchronous communication and collaborative work have caused a paradigm shift, e.g., its better for the campus phone system to go down than the email system. Metrics can be found that show how students are able to run the administrative gauntlet more quickly, and perhaps get better grades, via technology.
The student experience is comprehensive, and technology has impacted almost every aspect of it, e.g., registration, dormitories, library, etc. Students are provided hardware and software as part of tuition, without out of pocket expenses for their own computers. Nevertheless, they find computers so valuable they often purchase their own.
A preponderance of metrics may be available pertaining to the staff experience, e.g., the transformation of secretaries into administrative assistants and the elimination of paper-based purchasing workflows. Replacing paper systems with technology doesn't automatically result in saving the salaries of those who were in the middle of the paper shuffle, but when they leave or retire they are typically not replaced.
Perhaps the UW System IT Survey should be modified to get feedback on the above issues, e.g., Do you think that your students are learning more as a result of your use of instructional technology?
The OLIT office will solicit additional information from the CIOs.
David Wirth and a representative from D2L are making site visits to all of the UW System institutions. They are explaining the systemwide D2L initiative, hearing feedback and addressing the concerns of the institutions. They are also discussing the draft of the proposed service level agreement between DoIT and UWSA.
The UWS D2L utility has moved onto its second round of hardware and is ready for fall classes. Estimates of the number of courses that will be running on D2L in fall 2003 are:
- 150 - UW-Milwaukee
- 100 - UW Colleges
- 100 - UW-Whitewater
- 50 - UW-Madison
- 25 - UW-Eau Claire
- 25 - UW-Green Bay
- 15 - UW Learning Innovations
- 8 - UW-Oshkosh
- 5 - UW-Stout
The utility has a quality assurance environment that the LTDC site administrators can access to test patches and fixes. A group is developing learning objects and putting them in a repository. The conversion tools still need some refinement, especially for WebCT.
Benchmark testing has begun, and integrations with PeopleSoft and LDAP are underway. D2L recommended that the integration effort tackle both PeopleSoft and LDAP integrations on a campus by campus basis. They also recommended starting at UW-Madison because it represents the most complex situation. Ben Moore of D2L expects that the integration will be functional at UW-Madison by August 15th, and from there some 90% of the code should be portable to the other campuses. Meanwhile, a number of automated tools can be used to import class rosters at the institutions other than UW-Madison. Annie Stunden said no instution other than UW-Madison should expect to have PeopleSoft and LDAP integration in place before the start of the fall semester. The entire D2L project timeframe has been very agressive, and integration adds another significant risk factor. She wants the technical staff to concentrate on getting D2L running robustly for the fall, and not be distracted by integration projects at other institutions. She would rather have UW-Madison manage the risk of failure locally. In three months, it will be much more feasible to accomplish the integration at the other institutions. There is also the concern of overburdening the staff at D2L
UW-Madison is still soliciting what the other institutions are looking for in terms of support for students from the central help desk, during what hours, for how many classes and for how many students. Of particular concern is how forgotten passwords should be handled. Institutions should communicate that information to David Wirth (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible. The proposed SLA does spell out expectations for both the institutions and the utility. An electronic copy of the SLA draft will be sent to the CIOs.
The bid date for selecting a Microsoft reseller had to be extended until Microsoft could get certain information to them. Those UWS institutions that want to have Microsoft Campus Agreements need to have their paperwork and purchase orders in to UW System Procurement by August 18th. Those institutions that want to go with a Select contract for desktops or servers have until October 20th. However, it would be better if the Select instituitions could respond sooner so there will be no time period where maintenance updates are unavailable. Instructions for preparing the paperwork for both scenarios will be emailed soon.
The issues of contract verification procedures and the payment of the costs of potential audits are still under negotiation.
The Wisconsin Integrated Software Catalog (WISC, wiscweb5.wisc.edu/wisc/) will continue to sell Office and Windows pachages for students via the Select program. For faculty and departmental offices, the reseller will offer multiple licenses but only provide each campus with one set of media. Dana Bunner will send out information about the potential for buying additional media through WISC.
The IAA project enables:
- systemwide identity management without the need for a universal UW System ID scheme
- efficient and economical implementation of Common System applications
- systemwide sharing of expertise, e.g., a SQR for extracting student demographic data from PeopleSoft
The pilot ran from March 2001 through July 2003 and began with four UWS institutions and the UW Processing Center. As of July 1, there were data from eight UW System institutions and the Processing Center. Some institutions provide feeds from multiple systems. Data can be provided by either batch updates or near real time (NRT) transactions.
Although it is currently password protected, the IAA Project is about to release a basic whitepages facility (whitepages.wisconsin.edu) for looking up people by their name, email address or phone number. It will provide contact and role information . If a person has two roles, e.g., as both a student and a staff member, the whitepages will report two sets of information drawn from the two source systems. Expired roles can also be listed, e.g., a student's role in a previous academic term. It is possible to use nicknames in the search, e.g., Kathy for Katherine.
Although there are some 206,000 unique individuals identified in the repository, response time is very quick. The whitepages is a proof-of-concept web application that demonstrates that the underlying registry infrastructure is indeed robust.
Data from the UWS institutions are fed into the relational registry database via linking through a set of join rules. Data from the registry are exported to the LDAP directory. The LDAP can be queried by directory clients, such as the whitepages. The registry database also has the potential to be queried directly by client programs via SQL to produce extract files.
Each "person instance" in the registry is composed of a name, gender and social security number. The registry matches the person instances it believes identify the same individual and assigns them a common key. Only the system that submitted a piece of data can delete or update it.
Although authentication wasn't within the scope of the pilot project, it was kept in mind throughout to empower subsequent applications. Within the UW System, the preference has been for local campus usernames as opposed to the creation of systemwide usernames. The goal is to leverage existing campus credentialing systems and thus reduce the credentialing costs for systemwide applications, such as Kronos, APBS and SFS. For example, Kronos uses the HR personID as its identifier which people aren't likely to know. However, a person will be able to log into a local campus portal with their familiar userID and password. The portal could then contact the IAA authentication hub and registry and get put through to Kronos via a short-lived ticket system. If there is not a campus portal, the same scenario could happen through a front end on the authentication hub. Passwords are not stored on the authentication hub. However, for local authentication to work, the UWS institutions need to include usernames in their IAA feeds.For information on the data feeds, look up the technical packet which can be found on Tom Jordan's web page which is linked from http://www.doit.wisc.edu/middleware/iaa/.
Currently, there is only a test installation of the authentication hub and Kronos authentication using local usernames has only been demonstrated through the UW-Madison portal. The authentication hub is being moved into production and integration with other applications, such as D2L, SFS and APBS will be pursued.
To make the whitepages and the IAA available and useful to the UW System it will be necessary to:
- obtain feeds from the remaining six UWS institutions (four are in the middle of PeopleSoft implementations this summer)
- finalize the feed from the UWPC student payroll system
- obtain the user credentials (usernames) for authentication purposes
- define a mechanism whereby people can report changes and inaccuracies in their personal data
- create a governance structure to develop and oversee acceptable use policies for applications and enhancements
- develop authentication for systemwide applications, e.g., APBS, D2L, Kronos and SFS
- identify ongoing funding for operations and future development
- identify staff resources
Some of the potential relationships between IAA and the UWS Common Systems are:
- authoritative employee data will eventually come from the Lawson APBS system
- SFS version 8.4 will have the capability of using an external LDAP authentication structure
- Kronos authentication with local usernames is being piloted via the UW-Madison portal
- Voyager now has the means to authenticate patrons against an external authentication system
- D2L can easily transition to an external LDAP based authentication model
An unanswered question is whether IAA will be funded by chargebacks to various projects, such as Kronos and APBS, and/or by chargebacks to the UWS institutions. David Hart has the money to fund integration of IAA with D2L in the spring of 2004.
The IAA Committee has made a recommendation for a governance committee. Ed Meachen will look into contacting the registrars and student affairs officers to discuss making the whitepages application public.
Dick Cleek attended the penultimate WENCC meeting prior to the release of the RFI. He suggested a set of global changes to the RFI which precipitated further discussions at higher levels. Katherine Lyall made it clear to DOA that it would be a bad idea for a common carrier to be managing the UW System network. Nevertheless, the RFI was released pretty much in its original form, which included provisions for the vendors suggesting changes to the RFI itself. The WiscNet Board will stay on top of the situation.
The state budget specifies a cut of $40M in IT across the state agencies over the next two years. Reportedly, the IT departments in various agencies have recommended $25M in efficiencies. The Board of Regents' position is that no UWS IT cuts will be volunteered because the issues of UWS budget cuts versus tuition increases had already been negotiated during the budget process.
The fall 2003 joint meeting of the Information Technology Management Council and other systemwide groups is scheduled for September 29-30 at the Heidel House in Green Lake. The leaders of the various groups will have a conference call next week to plan the agenda. Brian Busby of DoIT is creating a web storefront to handle the registrations.