the Associate Vice President for IT and CIO
Saving faculty time supporting students in undergraduate statistics: RStudio is a free, open-source development environment software used by UChicago students to analyze and visualize data for the programming language R. Senior lecturer Linda Collins, responsible for the undergraduate curriculum in the statistics department, previously spent most of the first two weeks of every quarter helping students overcome technical hurdles to install the software on their computers. Through the work of ITS developers an RStudio environment was created in the cloud-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) that runs the software via a web browser, requiring no computer installation of the software. It can now easily be used by students and scaled to satisfy demand. A total of 300 students in two Spring Quarter courses successfully piloted RStudio in AWS. Lecturer Collins said, “The technology start-up burden on instructors and students shrunk so much more than anticipated. The ability to set up the environment to include all our favorite R packages is a giant step forward.” ITS and the statistics department plan to expand RStudio and its support in the Autumn Quarter, 2017.
Clinical telephone service gets an overhaul to prepare for future expansion: IT Services and Chicago Biomedicine Information Services (CBIS) have partnered to coordinate a major upgrade this month (May) of the existing clinical VoIP system that delivers phone services and secure messaging for over 1,200 existing Wi-Fi phones. These phones largely support the nursing staff who rely upon them for mobile communications and messaging from clinical systems. This upgrade will support the next generation of mobile Wi-Fi phones and prepare for the integration of software-based voice and video applications on Apple iPhones. Replacing the retired hardware and software will allow The University of Chicago Medicine to provide an environment that can support the current software and underlying hardware while integrating with the next generation Wi-Fi phones, allowing the iPhone to be used as an alternative device for 5-digit calling and secure messaging. The introduction of Apple iPhones into this service allows CBIS to ensures a sustainable service while expanding the variety of devices that can be integrated into it.
Security concerns addressed for International Association for Tibetan Studies annual seminar in France: IT security collaborated with Matthew Kapstein, a scholar of Tibetan religions and Buddhism in the Divinity School, to gain a better understanding of the security exposure of their annual seminar. Given the subject matter, there is great interest in preventing unauthorized access to the research and communications produced by the seminar organizers. IT security devised a strategy to protect the conference-related communications, computing devices, and cloud-based file storage. The recommendations provided by IT security’s assessment of risks are guiding conference organizers to work with the responsible parties in France who will be hosting the conference’s website and other associated resources.
New document management capabilities available: The University of Chicago imaging and archival solution, OnBase, was upgraded on April 29. Although most of the University uses OnBase for imaging and archival of slightly over two terabytes (TB) of data, it also is the system behind eLedgers (the electronic ledger delivery process), ePayment (the non-purchase order reimbursement facility), and other document management applications. There have historically been limitations in the browser support by the University’s vendor partners but, for the first time, the upgrade included support for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari 10. OnBase has highly visible student and faculty facing users in departments across campus, and the work accomplished through the upgrade enhanced the team’s ability to pursue new document management projects with the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, Housing and Dining Services, the Bursar’s Office, and Shared Services.
Experience Canvas Day provides useful information and builds confidence among instructors: The recently held Experience Canvas Day event engaged nearly 80 faculty, instructors, and support staff to learn more about Canvas, the University’s new learning management system. Short one-on-one consultations, Canvas demos, and a breadth of documentation were offered for instructors. During the lunch program, five faculty members from the University of Chicago Medicine, Biological Sciences Division, Public Policy Studies at the College, and the Division of Humanities spoke on how they leveraged the features of Canvas to organize course sites. One goal of the event was to build awareness for instructors who will use Canvas for the first time to teach courses starting summer 2017, the first all-Canvas quarter. Roughly 40% of all the expected summer course sites have been requested in Canvas to-date. The event gave important insight into the questions instructors have around the transition which will help to further tailor documentation, workshops, and communication in support of faculty transitioning to Canvas.
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Updates from the Associate Vice President for IT and CIO – May 2017