Michigan IT Newsletter: September 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 or feedback about the newsletter? Please let us know! Or use our submission form to send us content and story ideas.

In this Issue

Message from the CIO

Laura Patterson

Each fall, Beloit College publishes The Mindset List, which this year reports that "the entering college class of 2019 were mostly born in 1997 and have never licked a postage stamp, have assumed that WiFi is an entitlement," and have always been able to use Google to find information. While it's not meant to make us feel old, it does provide a view into the variety of perspectives and expectations of incoming students.

It also reinforces the importance of the IT community's role in providing a technology environment that enables innovation and engaged learning experiences on our campuses and beyond. The MGoView project being developed by ITS Teaching & Learning is just one recent example of how Michigan IT is exploring technologies that support aspects of engaged learning. MGoView aims to immerse students in their education, and at the same time, highlight the value of the U-M community.

University groups such as the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) are leading the way in developing and supporting ways to leverage large quantities of data to help students succeed in college and in their future careers.

Use of the new Canvas learning management system on campus has already begun to show success in the classroom, and at the Medical School MSIS is going beyond IT in support of student learning. I look forward to seeing more examples of how our IT community is supporting engaged learning at the next Michigan IT Symposium.

As we near U-M's third century of educating students, teaching and learning will increasingly take place beyond traditional classroom walls. The support and innovation by members of the Michigan IT community will play a big role in making that possible.

— Laura

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

MGoView: Exploring Engaged Learning with Mobile Technology

by Zachary Scott, ITS Student Intern, UM-Flint and John Diehl, Business Systems Analyst, ITS Teaching & Learning

One of the university's goals for the future is to focus on engaged learning. The MGoView project being developed by ITS Teaching & Learning is our attempt to explore technologies that immerse students in their education while highlighting the value of the U-M community.


MGoView Vision

The core concept of the project is to develop a generalized mobile platform that uses an engaged learning approach to explore U-M residential life. Using smartphones or tablets, students, faculty, and staff will be able to easily explore aspects of the U-M campus and create interactive maps filled with rich media about points of interest. The app is location sensitive, so users can physically explore the area and discover stories about the history, culture, and life of U-M.

Many of these stories are already well-documented. The Bentley Image Bank for example, hosts thousands of photos, from the construction of the Michigan Union nearly one hundred years ago to the campus demonstrations of the1960s. Each story can also have a timeline, allowing users to delve deeper into an event's history.

Locative Teaching & Learning

The MGoView platform has great potential for teaching and learning. Faculty can build stories that allow students to follow the actual paths of events that have occurred on campus. Social movements, political rallies, concerts, and other major events could be seen in the present day context of where they occurred.

For example, a student visiting the Union today could stand on the front steps and, using MGoView, see where President Kennedy addressed a crowd of students on October 14, 1960, when he first proposed his idea for the Peace Corps. A future version of the tool will superimpose these images over the camera in 3D, immersing the user in the historical experience—a technique called augmented reality.

Jill Halpern, a mathematics lecturer in LSA's Comprehensive Studies Program and 2015 winner of the Provost's Teaching Innovation Prize, is experimenting with MGoView to refine her "Calculus in the Commons" concept. Halpern takes students to locations on campus, such as the Museum of Natural History or the Arboretum, and has them practice skills like radiometric dating and the effects of different ecological models in the field. With MGoView, faculty can guide students to specific locations, provide them with rich media that relates to their task, and assess them as they go.

Sharing Our U-M Stories

Content need not be confined to historical events: Our campus is also rich with personal stories that highlight the value of the U-M experience. MGoView will allow users to share their own stories about life at U-M in ways that are immediately engaging. The mobile app will eventually allow students to take photos in their favorite spots, create their own stories, and share them with friends and family.

This project is in the early, developmental phase. We have chosen ARIS, a free, open-source platform for locative learning games, to start building location-based experiences and surfacing new requirements. We are looking for faculty interested in exploring this medium as a dynamic part of their course curriculum. Contact the project team for more information or to get involved.

Future of Education: Data-Supported Advising

by Ken Caldwell, ITS Communications

Data-Supported Advising

How can advisors tell when students need a helping hand? Thanks to a powerful data visualization tool, early warning has never been better. The Office of Digital Education & Innovation and its Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) aim to improve teaching and learning by using data available in the University of Michigan's learning management systems.

At any point in time, the university has a large quantity of administrative information about every student—their enrollment, grades, and interaction with CTools and Canvas. "We're using readily-available institutional data to personalize and enhance the educational experience for students, advisors, and instructors," said Kris Steinhoff, lead developer at DIG.

DIG cultivates educational software found across the research community and scales it for use throughout U-M's digital ecosystem. Its mission: to partner with schools and academic units to create new digital programs, experiment with digital tools and platforms, and assess their academic impact.

Building an Early Warning Dashboard

DIG contributes to a range of projects to drive adoption of digital innovations. Among them is Student Explorer, a dashboard that categorizes academic performance and effort. Its features help academic advisors quickly identify students who are succeeding in any given course, students beginning to show signs of falling behind, or students struggling with their coursework.

First launched as a design-based, implementation research project in the Learning, Education & Design (LED) Lab, the current Student Explorer interface was created by LSA's Management Information Systems. DIG will continue to develop the tool in partnership with the LED Lab and to scale it for the whole university.

Data-Supported Advising

"Building on LSA's work, we continue to collaborate with ITS to gather data, analyze it, and expose it in a way that helps personalize academic advising," said Steinhoff. "This is a great example of technology groups on campus working together to create a very useful tool."

The tool is populated with the Teaching & Learning data set in the U-M Data Warehouse, extracted from CTools, Canvas, and the LSA Mathematics WeBWorK systems.

Finding New Audiences

A primary goal for DIG is to expand the use of applications by making them available to every school and college. Prior to the launch of DIG, the project had been supported by the College of Engineering and the U-M Learning Analytics Task Force. Although advisors are the main audience for Student Explorer, DIG is exploring ways to further broaden its scope.

For more information, visit the Office of Digital Education & Innovation or email digitaleducation@umich.edu.

Going Beyond IT In Support of Medical Education

by Susan Topol, Marketing and Communications Manager, Medical School Information Services

As thousands of U-M students enjoy their last days of freedom before heading back to class after Labor Day, the academic year for students at the Medical School was already in full swing starting in early August.


The start of a new school year is a busy time for the many organizations that support U-M academic units. In Medical School Information Services (MSIS), as you might imagine, we help medical students troubleshoot their laptops and devices, and provide them with access to online tools and resources. But you might be surprised to learn about some of the other ways MSIS supports medical education.

MSIS is one of several collaborators across the Medical School who are helping plan, design, and launch a new curriculum, which the current M1 class will be the first to experience. MSIS is not just supporting technology platforms for the new curriculum, we worked with faculty and staff on content development and delivery modes, and provided learning informatics and publishing expertise. Our teams designed Learner Portfolios, created planning tools for learners and educators, and worked on the design and rollout of the new medical student website.

Once classes are underway, medical students rely on study tools that MSIS helps develop and support. These include mobile apps that allow our busy students to study anytime and anywhere. Two of our most popular are SecondLook, for reviewing histology images, and Professional Skill Builder, for listening to and learning to recognize different heart sounds.

MSIS staff led the A/V planning, design, and integration process for the newly-renovated Taubman Health Sciences Library (THSL). The building now features 85 LCD flat panels, 90 cameras, 171 Crestron controllers, 15 digital signs, and miles of HDMI, VGA, and ethernet cable across several floors. When students need access to A/V resources to enhance their collaboration in large or small group settings, they can choose from a variety of room configurations in THSL, some even with moveable walls. If a student needs to borrow an adapter or dongle, or a need for tech support arises, they can just go to the MSIS "Help Me Now" walk-in service on the 5th floor of THSL.

MSIS supports the sharing of Medical School and U-M educational resources and research results worldwide. Through initiatives such as Open.Michigan, we are sharing learning materials globally and are having a particularly broad impact on higher education delivery in under-served and under-resourced areas. MSIS staff also work with faculty on developing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

MSIS also helps launch and support publishing projects, which can involve assisting faculty who want to self-publish their own books to launching new publications such as Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed, online, open access journal, and the Michigan Journal of Medicine, a peer-reviewed student journal.

Units Share Their Successes with Canvas

by Heather Kipp, ITS Communications

In August, a group of individuals designated to lead the pilot of the Canvas learning management system in their schools and colleges shared some tips and lessons learned. Below are videos of two of the presentations shared at the Canvas Support Forum.

Medical School

Nearly 75% of undergraduate medical education moved from CTools to Canvas in under one year. The Medical School used the Canvas transition to consolidate curriculum materials, employ new LTI integrations, and develop additional functionality using APIs.

Ryan Henyard, Process Improvement Analyst (8:09)

College of Pharmacy

This fall, the College of Pharmacy will teach all PharmD courses and most PhD courses in Canvas. The secret to getting faculty buy-in? Communication, in-house workshops, and chocolate!

Juli Mueller, Senior Academic Technology Specialist (7:17)

Kudos & Campus News

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

Michigan IT Symposium

Michigan IT Symposium: Call for participation

Applications are now being accepted for posters and formal presentations for the Michigan IT Symposium, a two-day event highlighting the expertise, innovation, and personality of the U-M IT community. Fill out a brief Presenter Application by September 23. The event will take place the afternoon of Monday, November 23, and all day on Tuesday, November 24, at the Michigan Union.

IT capital investment requests due September 11

University units seeking information technology investments for the FY17 budget year that are estimated to cost more than $1M—or that will result in a new or significantly changed shared service—should submit a request by Friday, September 11. Requests will be reviewed and prioritized by the CIO and the U-M IT Governance committees this fall. Details about the request process and schedule (as well as an FAQ) are available on the CIO website. Contact UM-IT-Planning-Request@umich.edu for more info.

Unified UMHS IT Service Desk coming soon

In response to input from customers, Medical Center Information Technology (MCIT) and Medical School Information Services (MSIS) will soon be providing a unified UMHS Service Desk and single point of contact for the University of Michigan Health System and Medical School. The objectives for this combined service desk include reducing duplicate efforts, addressing service gaps, and delivering a better customer experience. Read more.

Library Data Grants Program

New Library program funds research data purchases

The U-M Library welcomes applications for the new Library Data Grants Program. Affiliated researchers (faculty, graduate students, undergraduates etc.) can apply for the library to acquire commercially available data needed for research. If your application is chosen, the Library will fund access to the data. Apply online by October 1, 2015. Questions? Contact the Library Data Grants Committee.

Contact Center Operations G+ Community

Attention contact center managers, supervisors and operations staff across all our campuses! Communication Systems and Data Centers (CSDC) is working to optimize U-M's contact centers. Join this new G+ community to stay up-to-date on issues affecting your operations, collaborate with your peers, and help develop a strategic vision for future engagement centers.

Training & Events

Contact us to get your event listed.

Environments for Humans

2015 Web Accessibility Summit

Tuesday and Wednesday, September 8-9; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Gallery Room on the first floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. The 6th annual Accessibility Summit is a free, two-day online conference on web and mobile accessibility, presented by Environments for Humans. Learn about accessibility as it relates to WCAG, PDFs, evaluation tools, and more. Registration is required.

IT4U51: Sneak Peek at BusinessObjects BI4

Tuesday, September 15; 9-9:45 a.m.; Online. BusinessObjects is scheduled for an upgrade in late September. Catch a preview of the changes and enhancements with Jeanne Mackey (ITS). Note: Registration is required to participate in this live webinar.

High Performance Computing

Tuesday, September 22, 1-5 p.m.; ARC Liberty Center, Conference Room 110. Join other high performance computing staff on the 4th Tuesday of every month to work on group projects, solve research problems, share your skills, and build new ones. Meetings are intended for IT staff to work and learn with IT staff in the HPC area.

Urban Informatics

Urban Informatics Ann Arbor 2015

Saturday, September 26; 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Art & Architecture Building. This "unconference" aims to connect people working in this emerging field at U-M and in the Detroit metro region. In the unconference tradition, there will be no set program, and participants are encouraged to bring their questions, problems, or projects to share during participatory sessions. Topics include: mapping and spatial analysis, citizen interaction design, ubiquitous urban information, big data, modeling, and smart cities. Pre-registration is optional, but encouraged.

ITS Innovation Lunch

Wednesday, September 16; 12 p.m.; Boyer 111 and Thursday, September 17; 12 p.m.; Arbor Lakes Building 1, room 1412. Get a sneak peak at MCoverage—a new Android crowdsourced data application to help learn about cellular coverage on the UM-Ann Arbor campus. ITS Innovation Lunches are open to the entire Michigan IT community. For more info, join the ITS Innovation Lunches MCommunity group and read the ITS Innovation Lunches blog. If you have topic suggestions, would like to give a presentation, or want to help plan the lunches, email the planning team.

U-M Google Apps Developers

Date, time, and location TBD. Join the U-M Google Apps Developers G+ Community or MCommunity group to get notifications about upcoming meetings and to participate in group discussion.


The Future of Data Science

Tuesday, October 6, 2015; 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Rackham Amphitheater. Join top industry, academic, and government data scientists for an inaugural symposium to mark the launch of the University of Michigan Data Science Initiative. The event, sponsored by the Michigan Institute for Data Science (MIDAS), will focus on the future of data science and highlight current research, trends, and emerging issues in the field. Learn more and register. Space is limited.

Hadoop Workshop

Friday, October 9, 2015; 1-5 p.m.; B250 East Hall. Sponsored by ARC-TS. Learn how to process large amounts (up to terabytes) of data using SQL and/or simple programming models available in Python, Scala, and Java. Computers will be provided to follow along with hands-on examples; users can also bring laptops. Get more information and register. Space is limited.

Safe Computing

Sensitive Data Guide

Have Sensitive Data? Find the Service You Need

Working with sensitive university data? Check the Sensitive Data Guide to IT Services to find out quickly which options are right for your data type. Choose a data type, such as Protected Health Information (HIPAA) or Student Education Records (FERPA), to see a list of service options. Or choose a service option to see what types of sensitive data are appropriate for that service.

The guide is updated regularly as new services become available, and as services are enhanced. With more than 30 services now listed, there is sure to be one you can use that meets your needs for data security and legal and regulatory compliance.

Project Updates

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



To consolidate information shared during the multi-year, multi-phased project, the MiWorkspace project website now includes updated information for Unit Leadership, IT Professionals, and a streamlined section on Workforce Changes. The Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning began staff migrations August 24 with plans to migrate faculty at a later date, and the School of Dentistry initiated the pre-discovery phase. View the MiWorkspace project website and academic unit implementation status for additional details.

SiteMaker Transition

On August 28, 2015, SiteMaker sites became read-only and the ability to make site edits ended. Note that SiteMaker sites will not be viewable or accessible after October 30, 2015. Sites can only be archived after that date, and SiteMaker will be decommissioned at the end of November. View the project roadmap and read the latest project updates for more information.


Campus WiFi

It has been a busy summer for the WiFi team as they work to complete full building upgrades at Bursley Hall and Angell Auditorium. Upgrades of priority classrooms at Angell Hall, Tisch Hall, Mason Hall, Haven Hall, Tappan Hall, and the Chemistry Building are on track to complete before classes resume in the fall. Work also continues on full building upgrades in Duderstadt, Angell Hall, Tisch Hall, Mason Hall, Haven Hall, and Chemistry. Site surveys are completed in Art & Architecture, Dow Building, Bagnoud Francois-Xavier (FXB), South Quad, and the Chrysler Center. A kick-off meeting has taken place for the Undergraduate Science Building. Visit the project site to learn about the most recent progress on WiFi upgrades across the Ann Arbor campus.

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.


Please review the following regarding the September 26 BusinessObjects BI4 Upgrade.

  • Removal of User-Shared folders is postponed: Due to the accelerated timeline of the upgrade, we will not delete User-Shared folders or content. Instead, the planned removal of User-Shared folders will occur in early November.

  • Purge Report Data: Please purge the data from as many of your reports as possible by Wednesday, September 16. This decreases the length of the system outage and makes the upgrade process more efficient. To purge data, open the report and click the Purge Data toolbar button. Purging removes the data but doesn't change the report.


U-M has recently finalized an agreement with Internet2 and Box to provide unlimited storage to all UMICH users at no additional cost. No action is needed to get the additional storage. All individual and shared M+Box accounts have already been upgraded. New accounts also automatically receive unlimited storage. Learn more.


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