Information Technology Services at The University of Iowa

Archive for the ‘Service/Project news’ Category

ITS plays key role in transition to all-in-one ID cards

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Iowa One card

Information Technology Services is playing an important role in the transition to new university identification cards that will also serve as proximity cards to access buildings or rooms on campus.

“Prox cards” offer higher security than keys because when they are lost, or when the cardholder leaves the university, the cards can be deactivated remotely. The Directory and Authentication (DNA) team in ITS-Administrative Information Systems is heavily involved in the project, working in partnership with UI Police, Facilities Management, and the Treasury Office.

The new Iowa One Cards converge electronic identity (HawkID) and physical identity (ID card and prox card). DNA Team leader Chris Pruess co-led the identity convergence project and participated in planning the Iowa One re-carding project. She was also instrumental in the redesign of the card and reviewing the request for proposals for the banking relationship aspect of the card.

Last summer, the DNA team accepted technical support responsibilities that had previously been provided to the ID Card Office through the College of Engineering. As part of the transition, DNA upgraded the Iowa One Card management system to contemporary technologies and performed Social Security Number remediation. Since then, the DNA team has been steadily adding needed features and functionality.

To fully utilize the prox functionality integrated in the new Iowa One plastic card, multiple upgrade projects are planned in the ID Card system, electronic access control systems, and identity management tools and processes. The ITS DNA and Server Support Team (SST) and Facilities Management Key and Access Services are working hard on upgrades to the access-management systems, Millennium and AMAG. Going forward, DNA will continue to add major new support responsibilities for the data management in the access control systems.

“ITS and the University of Iowa appreciate the skills and expertise the DNA Team is contributing to the Iowa One Card project,” says ITS-AIS Senior Director Mike Noel. “This project accommodates the growth in use of electronic access control and is important to the security of our campus. The change should also add convenience for UI students and employees, who will now have one less card to carry.”

Read more about the Iowa One Card’s new look and functionality in this Iowa Now story.

UI joins global wireless network eduroam

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Woman uses an iPad in front of the Old Capitol.

If you’ve traveled to other schools to visit friends, collaborate in research, or take part in a conference, you’ve probably had to track down a guest ID for wireless service. You’ll have to do that less often thanks to a recent enhancement to the University of Iowa wireless network. Find the full story here.

ITS seeks courses for e-textbook pilot project

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This fall, University of Iowa students in participating courses will have a chance to try out electronic textbooks free of charge as part of a pilot project to examine the effectiveness of etexts.

Information Technology Services (ITS)-Instructional Services is teaming up with vendors Courseload and McGraw-Hill on the etext pilot project. The Courseload electronic reader and McGraw-Hill textbooks will be made available to students in participating courses at no charge during the fall semester. Students also have the option to purchase a print-on-demand version of the e-textbook.

ITS-Instructional Services, in collaboration with the College of Education, will investigate the relationships between etext usage and student learning, as well as whether etexts are more convenient and economical for students. The team was awarded a $20,000 CCUMC Donald A. Rieck Research Grant in support of the study.

The UI is one of 50 institutions participating in the pilot, which is sponsored by two higher education technology consortiums, Internet2 and EDUCAUSE.The benefits of the project include:

  • Free etext access for all students enrolled in the course
  • Full text available through print on demand (additional fee required if ordered from the vendor)
  • Easy access to the etext through ICON
  • Online or offline access to the etext
  • Availability of the content on most browsers
  • Ability for faculty and students to annotate or take notes within the textbook and to share with others in the course
  • Opportunity for the UI to assess use of etexts on our campus and help set direction for future use of etexts

Participation in this pilot is limited. Instructors interested in having their courses participate should contact Maggie Jesse, senior director of ITS-Instructional Services, at maggie-jesse@uiowa.edu by July 1. 

UI Wireless is now part of eduroam

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The UI-Wireless-WPA2 network will still be available through the summer, so you can re-configure your wireless device anytime before then.

To configure your device for eduroam, visit the following site when you are on campus: http://wireless.its.uiowa.edu.

NOTE: In order to connect to eduroam, you will need specify your wireless username as “hawkid@uiowa.edu.” Just using your Hawk ID will not work.A list of Frequently Asked Questions is available at: http://its.uiowa.edu/apps2/support/article/3876.For more information on eduroam in general (including a list of participating institutions), please check out the following URL: http://eduroam.org.

If you have any issues configuring your device to connect to eduroam, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 319-384-4357.

UI recognizes ifolio and e-COI teams with IOWA Awards

Friday, May 11th, 2012

The IOWA award logo.The University of Iowa honored Information Technology Services and Research Information Systems staff members with Improving Our Workplace Awards this spring. IOWA Awards recognize UI employees who demonstrate initiative and innovation that has a positive impact in their workplace.

ITS recognized the recipients at a reception April 19. Associate Vice President and CIO Steve Fleagle thanked and congratulated the winners, noting that ITS and RIS are proud of the staff and partners involved with the projects, and that their hard work and accomplishments will benefit many people.

The ifolio team created an electronic portfolio for students. The University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa partnered on the project, and the efficiency of this collaboration saved the state thousands of dollars. The UI had developed and deployed ifolio just as UNI was looking to replace its vendor-supported product. UNI found that ifolio was customizable, included more features, and saved the school about $20,000 per year in licensing fees. The two universities worked together to provide appropriate integrations to identity management systems, training for support staff and faculty, ongoing support for students, and local branding for each of the schools and departments.

The members of the ifolio team.

Members of the ifolio team were: Annette Beck and Sue Almen-Whittaker of ITS-Instructional Services; Andrew Rinner of ITS-Enterprise Services; Chris Pruess, Nick Roy, Gary Rogers, Greg Nims, and Rebekah Ahrens of ITS-Administrative Information Systems; and UNI staff members Aaron Thompson, Lori Seawel, Jason Vetter, Jeffrey Ries, and Donna Vinton.

“The ifolio project involved collaboration within the university community and across boundaries to UNI,” said ITS-Instructional Services Senior Director Maggie Jesse, who nominated the ifolio team. “This was a nice way to start that collaboration. It exemplifies cross-Regent communication, careful long-term planning, and measurable results. Congratulations to the staff from both universities.”

The eCOI Applications Team developed a consolidated electronic system to disclose potential conflicts of interest. Many faculty and staff face internal and external reporting obligations, and a new regulation increased the time involved with meeting federal-level reporting requirements. The Conflict of Interest in Research Office reached out to other university units responsible for complying with the reporting obligations, and together the team developed eCOI. The solution will eventually impact about 10,000 faculty and staff members by standardizing the process and saving them time.

The members of the eCOI team.

Members of the eCOI team were: Charlotte Talman of the Conflict of Interest in Research Office; Jose Jimenez, Gayle Elliott, and Ashok Vijayendra of Research Information Systems; Denise Krutzfeldt of UI Hospitals and Clinics’ Conflict of Interest Office; Diane Finnerty of the Provost’s Office; and Susan Zollo of the Continuing Medical Education Office.

“The award is well deserved, and I am thrilled that the group won,” said nominator Jim Walker, an associate vice president for research. “It’s a challenge to coordinate IT and personnel components of a project of this scope at a large institution. We were under a tight time frame, and I was impressed by how smoothly the team moved forward to create a consolidated system that meets diverse needs.”

Walker noted that the project could not have been successful without contributions from many other employees in Health Care Information Systems, ITS, and RIS. He thanked them for their efforts.

IOWA awards are given out each fall and spring. A committee of staff members from across the university reviews the nominations. Many excellent people and projects are nominated for IOWA Awards, and the nomination process is rigorous. Two ITS efforts won in the fall. Chris Pruess won an individual award for her work developing campus IT communities at the UI, and the Bus on the Go (Bongo) project won a team award. A campus-wide IOWA Award reception will take place May 22.

Debunking the Myth: Macs Don’t Get Viruses

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

An iMac with an image of a virus onscreen.

For the second time in the past year, the Mac operating system has been the target of widespread malware attack.  (See Debunking the Myth Part 1 from May 2011.)  A recent article from the Sophos Security Blog asks and answers the question “Are Macs safer than PCs?“, in light of the recent “Flashback” malware outbreak.

Read more in the Help Desk pages…

Learning Commons to provide ‘intellectual hub’ for UI students

Saturday, April 14th, 2012
Layout of the proposed Learning Commons

The layout of the proposed Learning Commons

In fall of 2013, University of Iowa students will have a tech-infused, 24-hour, comfy study space and one-stop academic help center … with good coffee.

Designed with significant input from students, the new Learning Commons will provide an “intellectual hub” with space for 500-plus students. The 37,000-square-foot space in the UI Main Library is the product of a unique partnership among Information Technology Services (ITS), University Libraries, and the Office of the Provost.

“The Learning Commons is focused, first and foremost, on furthering the academic success of students,” says University Librarian Nancy Baker. “The staff will provide students with a ‘concierge’ experience. They’ll answer common academic, library and technology questions and point students to the resources they need to succeed, like help with their research, writing, or tutoring.”

Features of the project include 18 group study spaces, 200 desktop and laptop computers, a 45-seat TILE (Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage) classroom with glass walls and sliding doors, printers and scanners, TVs and projectors, and multimedia resources.

“Our design team spent a lot of time watching how students study, and particularly noticed how much they leveraged technology in their daily work habits. This space, with its multimedia resources, collaboration technologies, and wall-to-wall wireless, is reflective of the way today’s students integrate technology into their lives,” says ITS Learning Spaces Director Chris Clark.

Of course, the design team also considered students’ stomachs, because students can’t concentrate on their studies when they’re hungry. The Food for Thought café will offer an expanded menu that includes hot Panini sandwiches, fruit, and other snacks as well as espresso and gourmet coffees.

“We want to create an ambiance that welcomes students,” Clark says.

According to Associate Provost Beth Ingram, the most important feature of the space is its flexibility.

“The Learning Commons is many different kinds of study spaces and services rolled into one,” she says. “With technology, information, and expertise combined in one location, it’s a space where students can study with a group or by themselves; where they can have a coffee with friends and then go to a workshop on stress management; where they know they can get answers to questions about information resources, technology, or tutoring services.”

Of course part of the challenge in creating such a massive space for students is minimizing the impact the construction process will have on daily student life. Associate University Librarian Hope Barton says the impact on current study spaces will be minimal. The area being remodeled was office space, and most of the construction will take place during the summer.

The total project cost is estimated at $14.5 million. The primary funding source is the UI General Education Fund, but that doesn’t cover the entire cost of the renovation. Private support is also critical to creating learning spaces for students. For more information about how private support benefits students, contact Randy Rumery, UI Libraries liaison for the UI Foundation, at randy-rumery@uiowa.edu, 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973. You also may visit www.uifoundation.org/libraries.

“This will really be a fantastic resource for University of Iowa students,” Ingram says. “We’re excited to see the project come to completion so students can start making the most of the new space.”

ITS connects artists in transnational theatrical performance

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Information Technology Services recently partnered with the University of Iowa’s Department of Theatre Arts, International Writing Program, UITV, and the Moscow Art Theatre to present a live transnational theatrical performance. Technology and the expertise of ITS staff members brought together actors for a collaborative bilingual performance – despite the fact that they were on two separate stages, 5,000 miles apart.

The first performance took place on March 9, and more events of this kind will be arranged as the three-year Book Wings project continues. Funded by the Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Book Wings is a creative exchange among American and Russian writers, actors, directors, and new media professionals in a virtual environment. The project aims to foster a cross-cultural conversation, spark new literary and dramatic ideas, and create an enduring body of work.

Les Finken, innovation strategy manager in ITS-Instructional Services, is leading the tech aspects of the project, utilizing high-speed IP networks, high-definition video projection and cameras, professional-grade microphones, and external audio and video mixing consoles. Audio and video signals are captured into DV format for web streaming, and videoconferencing brings performers together in a virtual environment.

“High-speed IP networks are creating opportunities for new types of real-time applications that connect artists and audiences across the world,” Finken says. “These networks were initially used almost exclusively by researchers to collect, process, and share large data sets. Now, more and more academic institutions are using professional audio and video technology integrated with high-definition videoconferencing to create high-performance virtual learning environments.”

Test video call in progress.

Finken says projects like these have significant implications for teaching and learning. People who are not directly involved with a videoconference can still benefit by accessing the live stream to observe the learning exchange. During the March 9 Book Wings event, UI students were able to witness the performance at the Theatre Arts Department’s Theatre B while classes at Towson University in Towson, Maryland, and Columbia College in Chicago watched online.

Other fine and performing arts fields are taking advantage of HD video conferencing as well. Much broader audiences are able to participate in public lessons or classes in a concert hall setting. The technology also opens up opportunities for musicians and dancers who can audition affordably from their home state or country. ITS implemented this capability for the UI Department of Dance in 2011.

For more information on the project, contact les-finken@uiowa.edu in ITS, or nathanael-brown@uiowa.edu in the International Writing Program.

New web-based survey tool fuels spike in usage

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

A new web-based survey tool deployed by Information Technology Services last summer is proving to be a successful solution for the University of Iowa. Using Qualtrics, over 130,000 people have responded to more than 4,000 surveys since last June. Since the transition to this new online survey software, the number of web survey users at the UI more than doubled, from 600 to nearly 1,500.

The UI uses online surveys to conduct research, evaluate faculty and staff members, and gauge customer service. Event organizers create Qualtrics surveys for registration, and service managers use it to gather information from customers as they assess demand and preferences.

Ben Earnhart, who handles technology for the Department of Sociology and the Iowa Social Science Research Center, has worked with Qualtrics on a dozen or so projects, including one that garnered about 1,400 responses.

“For the most basic functionality, it’s really simple to use. For more advanced users, the flow control, randomization capabilities, and presentation of questions can be incredibly powerful,” he says.

Earnhart says Qualtrics meets researchers’ needs for security and compliance, and that collaboration capabilities allow them to easily edit surveys. He can maintain control over the technical aspects of the survey but still allow clients to view results in real time. Another plus is the presentation options, which range from built-in templates to custom colors, spacing, and graphics.

UI technology experts say in most cases, people can create, test, and deploy a survey in less than 30 minutes. Users can log in using their Hawk ID, and Qualtrics is hosted and fully supported by the vendor. Users receive help directly from Qualtrics by phone or e-mail, Qualtrics provides a wealth of support information, and training is available in a number of formats at no additional cost to users.

Prior to Qualtrics, the UI had used WebSurveyor since May of 2005. The Survey and Desktop Applications Group in ITS-Enterprise Services investigated what the market had to offer and guided the transition once Qualtrics was selected. The Directory and Authentication Group hooked Qualtrics into the university’s Shibboleth to allow enterprise authentication. By January of 2012, everything was shifted over and ITS was able to retire the old tool.

Campus IT partners such as Earnhart complimented ITS on keeping clients informed and seeking feedback about users’ needs. Qualtrics staff members were impressed by the smooth transition.

“I have never worked with a university that more effectively and efficiently rolled out a university-wide solution,” says Bryce Winkelman, a Qualtrics representative. “It has been an absolute pleasure working with your university.”

Qualtrics is one of the first cloud-based services ITS has deployed for the entire campus. In evaluating future cloud possibilities, the UI will look at this as one of the successful transitions for campus.

For more on Qualtrics, including training and support information, visit http://its.uiowa.edu/apps2/support/qualtrics.

ITS upgrades webcam to provide live HD view of Pentacrest

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

HD thumbnail image of the Pentacrest.

If you’re curious what’s happening on the University of Iowa Pentacrest at any given time, you can now tune into a live high-definition view at http://webcam.iowa.uiowa.edu/. Information Technology Services upgraded the camera to HD this month. It features a wide-angle view of the iconic Old Capitol and neighboring buildings, with west-campus structures in the background.

The UI installed the first Pentacrest webcam on top of Phillips Hall in 2000. Alumni, prospective students, and others check in to see what’s happening or to get a feel for the campus. It’s also used to view rallies and other events. Weather events are a big driver of traffic to the site; on Feb. 1, 2011, a record 2,692 people logged on to view a major snowstorm. Thousands of people followed the feed on Nov. 20, 2001, the day of the Old Capitol fire.With the camera upgrade, ITS also changed the behind-the-scenes technology so the site will be able to handle more traffic. The feed typically attracts 300 hits per day and more than 100,000 per year.