Michigan IT Newsletter: May 2015

Michigan IT Newsletter from the Office of the CIO

This newsletter is sent to the Michigan IT community to provide updates, answer questions, and spark conversation about campus-wide efforts to improve IT services and invest in technologies that support U-M's current and future needs. Have questions, feedback, or news to share in an upcoming newsletter? Please let us know!

In this Issue

Message from the CIO

The University of Michigan has a long history of innovation in learning and discovery. The Office of Digital Education and Innovation was created by the Office of the Provost to help redefine the residential education experience through the creative use of technology and digital programs that promote engaged, personalized, and lifelong learning.

These efforts have resulted in the ongoing implementation of the Canvas Learning Management System, part of the university's pioneering involvement in the Unizin Consortium. As a founding member of Unizin, U-M is collaborating with other research institutions to build and influence the evolving digital learning landscape of higher education. Unizin's evolving digital technologies are designed for sharing and storing faculty-owned content, as well as for analyzing actions and outcomes—all in service to improving learning. (Watch the video below for more information.)

The Michigan IT community is on the front line of all these efforts and their success will hinge, in large part, on how well we are able to support them.

— Laura

Laura McCain Patterson
CIO and Associate Vice President, University of Michigan

Canvas Pilot Continues

U-M & Canvas

Moving Course Content from CTools Now Easier

UM-Ann Arbor is continuing to pilot the Canvas learning management system during the spring term. Since the pilot began in fall 2014, each school and college has determined which courses participate. Interested instructors work with their unit lead and ITS to get started.

Beginning spring term, all courses are created in Canvas; however, they remain unpublished unless the instructor chooses to make them available to students. To combine classes or sections into a single Canvas course, instructors can contact the ITS Service Center. Instructors can also request Convert2Canvas assistance to have materials from CTools migrated into Canvas.

The winter pilot included 117 courses, 127 instructors, and more than 7,000 students from 16 schools and colleges. In a pilot evaluation, 72% of instructors reported they preferred Canvas to CTools and 73% used the pilot as an opportunity to change their teaching approach.

Earlier this year, the faculty-led Digital Innovation Advisory Group (DIAG) concluded there are no major barriers preventing U-M from adopting Canvas. DIAG is expected to release a second report this summer with a recommended timeline for moving to Canvas.

While the Canvas pilot is focused on course sites, CTools is also used for collaboration purposes, including project sites. An analysis of CTools project site usage and identification of possible alternatives is underway.

IT4U: A Digital Learning Space for Staff

By Jeanne Mackey, ITS

Good pace, easy to follow, personable hosts.

— IT4U webinar participant

IT4U is a monthly series of 30- and 45-minute interactive webinars hosted by ITS. Sessions are free and available to all U-M faculty, students, and staff. "This is a form of digital learning that's particularly geared to U-M staff who use Google, BusinessObjects, and other ITS-supported tools and software," says IT4U host Jeanne Mackey.

Recent IT4U episodes have focused on Blue Jeans video conferencing, M+Google, and M+Box. (The Blue Jeans webinar was held within a Blue Jeans virtual meeting room, where participants took turns introducing themselves via web camera in a low-risk setting.) Presenters have included staff from ITS, LSA, U-M Library Operations, and the Ross School of Business. "Our presenters are Michigan IT experts who offer demos of how-to tips and techniques that people can immediately put into practice," says Mackey.

IT4U typically delivers its webinars with Adobe Connect, which allows participants to easily interact with presenters via chat pod and real-time polling. Session recordings are available as closed-captioned YouTube videos. "I really like the webinar format," says Tiffany Purnell, program coordinator for LSA's Barger Leadership Institute. "Especially during the Google rollout, I appreciated being able to ask questions and view live demonstrations of the tools—all without leaving my desk."

You can register for a webinar or view links to all IT4U recordings on the IT4U web page in My LINC. Join the IT4U-announce group in MCommunity to learn about upcoming webinars. Contact Jeanne Mackey if you have a request for a presentation, or are interested in being a presenter.

Campus WiFi Gets New Round of Funding

WiFi: Where You Are

In a recent survey conducted by University Housing, over 94% of students said that access to reliable WiFi was extremely important to them. Thanks to a decision reached by university executives, that soon will be the standard on the Ann Arbor campus.

Laura Patterson, associate vice president and chief information officer, announced that University of Michigan executives have formally approved a capital project to upgrade the WiFi environment in 275 academic, administrative and residence hall buildings across the Ann Arbor campus.

Andy Palms, executive director of ITS Communications and Data Centers, stated, "The project is designed to bring the network to a consistent standard of coverage, capacity, and capability that permits our students, faculty, and staff to connect anytime and anywhere in the facilities where they teach, learn, work, or live. It also delivers a consistently positive WiFi experience for our prospective students, parents, alumni, and guests."

The proposal includes one-time funding to upgrade electronics and infrastructure to provide wall-to-wall, basement-to-penthouse WiFi coverage.

This project is in addition to the two previously funded projects that provided WiFi upgrades to university libraries and public facing buildings. For a complete list of the facilities included in these projects visit the WiFi Upgrade project website.

Students, faculty, and staff have an increasing need for mobile access to information, as teaching and learning continues to become more interactive. U-M will now be able to ensure that the university has the WiFi infrastructure to allow for quality connections to devices anywhere on campus.

Work on this $24 million, three-year project will kick off immediately. Residence hall upgrades will begin at Bursley Hall and South Quad, and project teams will complete upgrades on as many classrooms as possible before the start of the fall term.

Stamps & MiWorkspace: 5 Steps to Success

Stamps School of Art & Design

By Mahendra Kumar, Chief Administrative Officer, Stamps School of Art & Design

[Editor's note: Many Academic Units are in various stages of implementing MiWorkspace, the university's new IT support service provided by ITS. Here, Stamps School of Art & Design's Chief Administrative Officer, Mahendra Kumar, shares his perspective on the factors that made Stamp's transition to the new service a success.]

When it comes to introducing change, let alone one that affects every faculty and staff within an active school community, communication is critical.

At Stamps, we worked with the MiWorkspace project team to develop a communication plan and engagement strategy from the outset of the project, which was key to our success. The plan included goals to build awareness of the project benefits, articulate the pros and cons, and maintain an open dialog throughout the process. We built support of the project by recruiting sponsors, initiating a pilot, offering flexible and joint planning of the timeline, addressing concerns, ensuring technical support, providing periodic updates, and providing numerous opportunities for feedback.

Another important factor to success was building the right team. The executive sponsors at the School, the MiWorkspace implementation team, and the communication leads from both the Stamps School and the MiWorkspace team played an integral role in the success of this project.

Some factors in our successful implementation were due to the size and focus of the school itself. Stamps School is a small school with about 40 full-time faculty and about 30 adjunct faculty. Stamps School faculty generally are not involved with highly sophisticated research software and platforms needing specialized transition, which helped the faculty transition more smoothly.

Important Factors in the Successful Implementation of MiWorkspace

While there are many important factors for units to consider to help ensure a successful partnership with ITS and implementation of MiWorkspace, the following items were the most critical for the Stamps School.

  1. Hold periodic meetings with executive sponsors and MiWorkspace team to build support, address concerns in a timely manner, and reduce anxiety.
  2. Build awareness of the goal and objectives of project.
  3. Use online communication for a messaging platform.
  4. Hold presentations in smaller groups to build a good rapport with the community.
  5. Plan for faculty transitions on a one-on-one basis. This helps to address individual faculty needs and concerns and plan accordingly.

Those interested in discussing the Stamps School implementation of MiWorkspace are welcome to contact Mahendra Kumar. Visit the MiWorkspace project website for more information.

Communities of Practice in Profile

Communities of Practice

In January we introduced the Communities of Practice (CoPs) pilot—groups of peers that share information, experience, and ideas around topics relevant to their work. We featured several CoP groups in our March and April issues. Read on to learn about the final CoP in the pilot.

Digital Education and Online Learning

Digital Education and Online Learning (DEOL), currently with 63 members, meets once a month at the School of Public Health, with an option of attending via BlueJeans videoconference.

Meetings usually include a presentation and discussion of DEOL initiatives in other units. "In addition to these general interest meetings," said facilitator Vlad Wielbut, "we are planning to launch focus groups—smaller meetings devoted to one specific topic each." The group also recently opened a Google+ community where members can interact between meetings.

Michigan IT Newsletter Update

Michigan IT

Back in January, we launched the inaugural issue of the Michigan IT Newsletter to replace the NextGen Michigan Newsletter. The reason behind this transformation was to expand the focus of the newsletter to better reflect the work, interests, and accomplishments of the greater Michigan IT community.

As part of that effort, the past three issues of the newsletter have encouraged readers to fill out a four-question survey. You can now view the summary of responses to date. (NOTE: We are still accepting responses. You must be logged into your UMICH account to access the form.) We have already begun to tailor newsletter content and organization to incorporate this initial feedback.

In addition, we have formed an editorial liaison group who will help guide our efforts. We're grateful to the following volunteers for their time and expertise:

Please feel free to reach out to them if you have suggestions, comments, or feedback regarding the Michigan IT Newsletter. You can also contact umit-cio-newsletter@umich.edu.

Kudos & Campus News

Got some news to share or know someone who deserves a shout-out? Let us know!

Ted Hanss

Ted Hanss elected chair of the AAMC Group on Information Resources

Ted Hanss, Chief Information Officer for the Medical School, was elected chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Information Resources (GIR) steering committee. Effective June 4, Hanss will provide leadership and guide the strategic direction for information resources in academic medicine, including medical education, clinical care, and health sciences research.

According to Hanss, "The AAMC provides an outstanding forum for community engagement among academic medical centers. Currently, medical schools are seeing dramatic changes in curriculum design and delivery that push us toward ever more innovative applications of technology." Currently there are over 900 GIR members representing medical schools and teaching hospitals across the U.S., where they hold positions as CIOs, associate or assistant deans, and IT directors.

ITS aids UMPD in stalking case

Jim Caldwell and his team at the ITS Service Center worked closely with the U-M Police Department (UMPD) and Information and Infrastructure Assurance (IIA) to help resolve a criminal investigation that involved stalking, identity misrepresentation, and unauthorized access to a U-M user's account. The ITS Service Center and Data Center Operations collected data, including date stamps and logs showing attempts to access or change the victim's account information. The evidence led police to identify a suspect who has since pled guilty to multiple misdemeanor charges. Will Rhee, IT User Advocate, was also instrumental in providing information that allowed UMPD to process the case. "When we come together, we can be our customer's best advocate," said Caldwell.

M+Box 50K Contest First Place winner, Dan Bruell with MaryBeth Stuenkel

M+Box 50k contest winners

The M+Box team received 39 outstanding entries to the M+Box 50K Contest and is happy to announce the following winners:

  • First Place: Dan Bruell, School of Dentistry. Implemented an improved process for event poster print orders. (Shown here with M+Box service manager MaryBeth Stuenkel.)
  • Second Place: Kara Suzuka, School of Education. Created a secure, low-cost video and document sharing platform for an elementary teacher professional development program.
  • Third Place: Amy Puffenberger, U-M Medical School Office of Research. Developed a secure, easy-to-use collaboration space for a faculty mentorship program.

Case studies of the winning entries and honorable mentions will be posted to the the Case Studies section of the M+Box site over the next several weeks. In addition to bragging rights, the winners received some great Box SWAG and a Computer Showcase Gift Certificate. Congratulations to our winners and a sincere thank you to everyone who took part in the contest!

What kinds of cool things are you doing with M+Box? Let us know!

IAM partners with SI students to improve Shib service

Identity and Access Management (IAM) recently partnered with students from the School of Information (SI) to analyze and improve the configuration request process for the IAM Shibboleth service. The effort was part of an SI program that offers student assistance on outside projects. The students conducted interviews with the IAM team and customers of the Shibboleth service, and also investigated how other institutions handled the Shibboleth configuration request process. They presented a final report of their findings and recommendations, many of which IAM will implement this summer. "This was a great opportunity for the IAM team to engage with the students that we serve and give them an opportunity to learn about a very small component of ITS," says DePriest Dockins, assistant director of IAM.

Google Glass for medical education

U-M explores use of Google Glass for medical education

Imagine a group of medical students, gloves on, instruments in hand, deep in concentration during a dissection in the anatomy lab. Without having to put down their instruments, or even look up, the students can pull up reference materials to support their learning. This scenario was the shared vision of faculty members in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, who hope to use Google Glass and innovative technology to enhance the medical education process at the University of Michigan. Read the whole story at UMHS Headlines.

Training & Events

IT community training

Contact us to get your event listed.

IT community training returns

Information technology is notorious for its incredibly fast pace of change. No one knows that better than IT staff trying keep up their skills and knowledge. "There is a long tradition going back to the 1990s of 'grassroots' training for IT staff at U-M," says Mark Montague of LSA IT. "Groups such as MacSIG, Windows Administrators, and the Academic Computing Support Forum would meet periodically to discuss technical topics and learn from each other."

In that spirit of peer-based information sharing, Montague is reviving an IT community training program he originally launched in May 2012. Sessions, which are free and open to everyone, take place on the third Friday of every month. The next presentation is June 19, 10–11:30 a.m., room 2001 LSA. (See a list of past and upcoming trainings.) Anyone interested in presenting or who has a topic suggestion should contact it-community-training@umich.edu. Montague is also seeking people who can contribute a couple hours per month to help with organizational support.


U-M to host XSEDE boot camp

XSEDE, along with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois will present a Hybrid Computing workshop June 16–19. The four-day event will include MPI, OpenMP, OpenACC, and accelerators. This workshop is not available via webcast but can be viewed via telecast at 2255 North Quad. Registration is required. For more information and registration details read the announcement on the Advanced Research Computing site.

New Google Apps developers group hosts first meeting

Google Developers

Ridley Jones from the School of Information and Rob Carleski from ITS hosted the first meeting of the newly formed Google Apps developers group on Friday, May 8. Topics included a brief overview of Google Apps Script (GAS) and a review of the Collaboration Services Shared Account Request Form, which demonstrates a practical application of GAS. Meetings are free and open to everyone. For more information, contact Jones (rajone@umich.edu) or Carleski (carleski@umich.edu) directly.

Safe Computing

Safe Computing - It's Good for You

Guidelines to harden your Windows server

If you run a Windows server that accesses or maintains sensitive institutional data, you can follow guidelines provided by IIA to make sure it's properly secured. Check out the newly revised Windows server hardening guide on Safe Computing, now with more detailed how-to instructions. IIA also provides hardening guides for Linux/Unix servers and databases—see Server and Database Hardening Guides on Safe Computing for all the guides.

IIA asks that you not connect devices running out-of-date, unsupported software to U-M networks or systems. Please be aware that Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003 after this July so start planning now if you need to upgrade. See Upgrade Windows Server 2003 Before July 2015 for details.

Project Updates

Working on a project you'd like share with the Michigan IT community? Let us know!


In May, the MiWorkspace teams began migrating faculty and staff in both the School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) and Ross School of Business. The School of Information, School of Natural Resources & Environment and the College of Pharmacy begin migrations in June. View the MiWorkspace project website and May monthly update for additional details.

SiteMaker Transition

The SiteMaker Transition team is preparing the SiteMaker environment for the next major project milestone, which happens at the end of August 2015. At that time SiteMaker sites will become read-only and the ability to make site edits will end. Review of the service transition and operational readiness plan for decommissioning SiteMaker is also in progress. View the project roadmap for more information.

Campus WiFi

In the past month work was completed on the WiFi upgrades at the Campus Safety Service Building and the Power Center Auditorium. As the project draws to a close, work is nearing completion at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Towsley Children's Center, and Hill Auditorium. With the announcement of funding for the Campuswide WiFi project work will begin soon on residence halls and classrooms across campus. It's going to be a busy summer!

Shared Service Updates

If your unit or group provides a shared service to campus, this space is available for short news items and updates to the Michigan IT community. Send us your information.


Join the Collaboration Forum to receive news and updates about M+Google, M+Box, and other collaboration services.



Desktop Backup

On July 1, 2015, the ITS Desktop Backup service, powered by CrashPlan, will change from being a MiWorkspace and legacy customers-only service to one that is available to all campus departments. The July 1 release will include revised Desktop Backup web pages and improved tools for departmental admins to manage their accounts. Please check back there after July 1, or contact MaryBeth Stuenkel, the service owner, directly if you have questions.

Teaching & Learning

Join the CTools Affiliates email group to receive news and updates about CTools.


The ITS Teaching & Learning team released CTools 2.9S on Saturday, May 16. Version 2.9S contained minor bug fixes, an updated banner for the CTools gateway, and the restoration of the CTools dashboard to everyone's My Workspace. (Note that the release also contains fixes for the privacy concerns that led to its temporary removal. The Dashboard itself was re-enabled for use on Monday, May 18.)

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