Michigan IT Newsletter: July/August 2016 | Office of the CIO

Michigan IT Newsletter: July/August 2016

Michigan IT Newsletter from the Office of the CIO

Message from the interim CIO

Dear Colleagues,

Since I took on the role of interim CIO and AVP for Information and Technology Services, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many IT staff to learn more how you support our great university. As a member of the VP-CIO search team, I recently spent two full days interviewing candidates for the position, and I was truly impressed by the quality and diversity of candidates. I am very optimistic about the future leadership for IT at U-M.

I’ve also been thinking carefully about how to enable ITS to be the best campus partner it can be. To that end, I’ve announced a handful of organizational changes that align ITS’ structure with its core responsibilities. Ultimately, I want to deliver to U-M's new VP-CIO an organization that can appropriately respond to the needs of its customers and that has a balanced budget.

As IT providers, it is important that we understand the university’s budget, which was approved by the Board of Regents last month. (You can read more about the budget in the University Record.) The Board conversations stressed the importance of continuing to maintain the affordability to attend this great institution while delivering world-class education and research. We do our part by being efficient in how we support academic, research, and medical excellence, from closely managing the cost of our services to identifying creative ways to solve problems.

We also do our part by going out and stepping in our colleagues shoes. I encourage everyone to find opportunities to better understand what happens across our campuses, from touring a museum or facility to exploring the online resources from a school, college, or unit outside of your own. Physical and virtual exploration can help us understand what it is we do here and how our work is foundational in making that happen.

Best regards and Go Blue!


Kevin P. Hegarty
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
University of Michigan

UMHS works to unify IT organizations

by Ted Hanss, UMHS Associate CIO

In the April Michigan IT Newsletter we announced Dr. Andrew Rosenberg as the interim health system CIO and me as the associate health system CIO, both new roles for UMHS. Since that time, we have been working on what we call the UnITy effort, creating a new organization to support the information technology and information services needs of all three health system missions: research, education, and patient care.

There are multiple factors propelling this change. First, Dr. Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs and medical school dean, has restructured health system leadership to closely align all three missions to better meet new opportunities. Second, MSIS and MCIT have already combined efforts in many areas and thus it is a natural step to complete the unification. For example, building off the base of a single data network, MCIT and MSIS have in the last four years converged data centers, storage systems, device engineering, systems administration, database administration, security, and service desks in order to improve value and enhance efficiency in operations and support.

Our current priority with unification is establishing a new leadership team. We are interviewing candidates drawn from university-wide postings and we aim to announce the new leadership by early August. In September, we will launch the new organization with a new name and a new, unified identity. September will not be the end of unification, though. We have ambitious goals to develop new services, to more closely integrate how we support all three missions so each will see increased benefit and opportunities for data and process integration, and to mature our processes, such as demand and capacity management across the missions, not in silos. 

Informing our unification efforts are seven principles developed by Dr. Rosenberg:

  • Leverage existing strengths
  • Create a lean and efficient divisional structure
  • Build and maintain balanced divisions
  • Define different levels and types of leadership
  • Establish standard definitions for IT leadership roles
  • Promote clearer pathways for individual advancement
  • Develop a UMHS “Office of the CIO”

Each of these principles is further described at the site unity.medicine.umich.edu, where you will also find status reports and FAQs.

With all that is occurring, we want to reassure our colleagues within the health system and across campus that we are committed to the services upon which you currently rely and the collaborations we have underway. Many of our existing people and teams will continue in their current roles, providing a wide range of services from personalized support to strategic partnerships. Our #1 goal throughout this process is improving what we do, and how we do it, so we can better serve our institution, our partners, and the faculty, researchers, patients, families, students, and staff we support. There are several articles in this issue that highlight some of the innovative and creative ways UMHS is working to reach that goal. If you have any questions, please contact me at ted@umich.edu or Dr. Rosenberg at arosen@umich.edu.

Anatomage table provides 3-D digital cadavers

by Chase Masters, Enabling Technologies Informationist, Taubman Health Sciences Library; photo by Leisa Thompson Photography

Many students in health science programs at U-M study and learn human anatomy. While human cadavers work well for advanced courses, it can be difficult to teach anatomy actively to undergraduates and introductory classes as real cadavers are expensive and can be damaged by early learners. To overcome this obstacle, the U-M Library and Schools of Kinesiology and Dentistry purchased the Anatomage Table, which was funded through the Transforming Learning for a Third Century Initiative.

The Anatomage Table is a life-size digital anatomy visualization system that displays interactive, three-dimensional models for exploration and learning. It enables users to interact with over five hundred clinical examples (including male/female, diseases, implants, animals, and more), perform virtual dissections, label anatomical structures, export images, and load their own patient scans for exploration on the 85-inch multi-touch surface.

Since its fall 2015 debut in the Taubman Health Sciences Library, faculty have begun creatively integrating the Anatomage Table into their curriculum. Kinesiology’s Professor Melissa Gross and lecturer Karen Guerin introduced it in their Movesci 230 and 231 courses with great success. Their optional assignments required students to explore, export images, create annotations, and provide written comments on their experience with the table. Over half of their students elected to complete the Anatomage Table assignments and the vast majority provided positive feedback.

Dr. Alex DaSilva also integrated it into his dentistry courses by providing live demonstrations with the table’s image mirrored on a large external display in the library’s Multipurpose Room. Rather than loading the full body model, DaSilva uses a high resolution regional scan of the human head and neck to visualize structures and highlight potential areas of pain during procedures.

The library also has a license for Anatomage’s Invivo software which, along with many other use cases, enables users to prepare their own scans for use on the table. It includes high quality volume rendering, implant planning, and a variety of tools to manipulate patient scans. Once the medical image is ready, it can be loaded on the Anatomage Table via a USB flash drive.

The Anatomage Table is located in the public space at the Taubman Health Sciences Library and is available for use outside of reserved hours. To submit new reservation requests, you may use the online form and see the online calendar for current reservations. Additional information is available in the new overview video. Contact the library with any questions or to schedule a demonstration.

M+Box: HIPAA, HIPAA, hooray!

by Rita Girardi, ITS Communications; photo by Jason Engling and Aki Yao, Medical School Information Services

August marks the two-year anniversary of a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) between U-M and Box that cleared M+Box for storing protected health information (PHI) governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Since then, M+Box usage by health-related units, programs, and services has grown significantly.

“M+Box filled a unique niche for users in places like the health system, medical and nursing schools, and public health,” says MaryBeth Stuenkel, who runs the M+Box service for ITS. “Unlike like local server-based storage systems, M+Box is cloud-based, very easy to use and access, and provides unlimited storage...all at no cost to the user.” Plus, says Stuenkel, M+Box provides a wide array of collaborative tools, apps, and APIs that greatly increase the service’s functionality and customization options.

For Dr. Martina Caldwell, M+Box was a perfect fit for her health services research in emergency medicine. Her work, sponsored by the Veteran’s Administration and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, includes colleagues and support staff from U-M, Yale, and Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “I needed to share data across several institutions while maintaining the proper compliance with patient data regulations,” said Caldwell. Caldwell consulted with the M+Box team, which set up a secure account for her. She then created several master and subfolders for her projects, giving varying levels of access to team members based on their roles. For example, a transcriptionist might only get preview access while a fellow researcher can view and upload files. A student might only get access to a specific subset of data within a certain time period.

“It has been incredibly handy and I’m really happy with it,” says Caldwell, who first started using M+Box just four months ago. “I was able to hit the ground running. I love that you can edit online with Box Edit, and also open files in Office and M+Box saves the different file versions automatically.”

M+Box has also become an integral part of instructional workflows for all medical school courses. Students wanted digital access to their curricular materials and faculty wanted to replace the approximately 200 printed syllabi for each course sequence. Both needs were met using M+Box as a storage and collaboration platform along with the Notability and iAnnotate apps to increase efficiency and reduce waste. Photos of whiteboard sessions can also be saved to the Box folder to create a rich collection of class materials. The folder containing these materials is then synced to a folder on the student’s computer for offline access. M+Box is now the primary method of distributing curricular materials for the medical school and is also integrated into Canvas.

“Box represents a leg in the three-legged stool analogy,” says Roger Burns, a business systems analyst for the medical school. “By providing robust and agile storage capability with ease of access, we could focus on the content and delivery legs. Each leg can be customized to suit a particular need, but institutionally, the Box component is something we can just use, and not have to focus our attention on.“

Ted Hanss, associate CIO for UMHS, was part of the BAA negotiating team that included U-M, Internet2, and the other universities that use Box. “It’s very satisfying to see how our researchers, faculty, staff, and students in the various health fields have embraced Box so quickly,” he says. “The service does a great job of supporting our shared missions of research, teaching and learning, and patient care while providing a flexible, cloud-based solution that also appropriately safeguards PHI.”

Med school uses Qualtrics to automate article submissions

by Ken Caldwell, ITS Communications; illustration by Rachael Wojciechowski, ITS Communications

So, your unit wants to streamline an electronic submission process. What next?

Take a cue from the Medical School Office of Research—they’ve partnered with editors from biomedical-focused newsletters across campus to create a centralized form for newsletter submissions.

The form was built with Qualtrics, U-M’s online survey system, to serve the needs of content creators and editors. With features like automated email triggers, file uploading, custom templates, and submission archives, the process has never been more efficient. See a poster with more detail.

“Prior to creating the form, we received countless content requests by email,” explained Ann Curtis, director of marketing communications for the U-M Medical School Office of Research. “But people were asking to be included in only one publication—it didn’t translate to other newsletter opportunities out there. Using Qualtrics allows us to better serve our customers and fellow communicators while reducing duplicated effort. What’s not to love about that?”

The coolest part? Articles can be submitted to up to 15 newsletters simultaneously—with one form. Just click the newsletter(s) to which you want to send your piece, and voila! The system takes care of the rest. Of course, it’s up to the editors of each publication to publish or not. Imagine how this submission process could prove useful for similar business workflows.

“With thousands of faculty and staff spread across 19 schools and colleges, it can be challenging to know what newsletters exist and how to share news with your target audiences,” noted Constance Colthorp, communications manager for the Office of Research & Sponsored Projects. “The ability to select from various channels at once is a time saver and allows you to spread the word about an important funding deadline or a policy change quickly and efficiently.”

To learn how a custom Qualtrics solution can work for you, visit Qualtrics University for tutorials, webinars, and online training.

Michigan IT helps campus prepare for July 20 switch to Duo

by Jessica Rohr, ITS Communications

On July 20, those who currently log in to MToken-protected systems through Weblogin will stop using their MToken for two-factor authentication and begin using the new, more flexible options from Duo Security (see Systems that Require Duo Two-Factor). Across campus, Michigan IT staff have provided critical support to help MToken users with Duo’s online enrollment process. Amy Armstrong is one of them.

Armstrong, Student Life’s client server operations manager, has introduced dozens of people in her department to Duo. Armstrong focused on demonstrating the Duo Mobile app for smartphones, which uses push notifications that many people find faster and more convenient than entering passcodes. Initially, she says, some people don’t want to to use their personal phone for work. “But once people see how easy it is to use the app, and how little space it takes up, a lot of them change their minds,” Armstrong says. Those who don't want to or can't use the app have other options to choose from.

The efforts of Armstrong and other dedicated Michigan IT staff like her are paying off. Since late May, more than 9,000 individuals on the university’s campuses have enrolled in Duo, and more than 400 people have attended one of the many drop-in sessions on campus hosted by ITS and campus partners. Please encourage your colleagues who use MTokens to enroll in Duo so they are ready for the switch. While you’re at it, get yourself enrolled so you can show them how easy it is!

Which systems are affected?

The July 20 change applies to these Systems that Require Duo Two-Factor. Some unit systems may move on different dates. Users of those systems will be notified by units. For example, the U-M Health System is providing information to users of the MiChart Electronic Prescription for Controlled Substances (EPCS) system, which is transitioning to Duo in a phased rollout throughout the summer. Later this year, individuals will have the option to use Duo to further protect their personal information, such as W-2s and direct deposit forms, when logging in to self-service options in Wolverine Access.

How do I maintain access?

To maintain access to systems that will switch to Duo at 6 a.m. on July 20, current MToken holders must:

  1. Enroll in Duo option(s) between now and July 20. Individuals may select the option(s) they prefer, though departmental policy may preclude use of a specific option. Select a primary and a backup option.
  2. Continue to use MTokens until July 20.
  3. Begin using a Duo two-factor option (in place of an MToken) on July 20 or follow the log-in prompts to sign-up for Duo and gain access to the protected systems.

What do I do with old MTokens?

After July 20, return unneeded MTokens to ITS Access & Accounts—2019 Administrative Services Building (ASB), campus zip: 1432—so they can be disposed of in an environmentally appropriate manner. Some units will have buckets available for unneeded MTokens or will collect them for bulk returns.

How do I switch my departmental system to Duo?

Check out this documentation on how to implement Duo on U-M systems, then email 2fa.project.contact@umich.edu to have your system listed at Systems that Require Duo Two-Factor.

Is training available?

We have conducted several informal training sessions on campus recently and recorded this one to share. The first 15 minutes are overview. Demos start at 21:30.

More Resources

Questions? Contact the ITS Service Center at 764-HELP.

Canvas Large Course Institute graduates first class

by Tanya Madhani, ITS Communications Intern; photo by Elizabeth Fomin, LSA Instructional Support Services

With more than 54 participants from nine different campus units, the Canvas Large Course Institute (LCI) successfully completed its program on May 23. The Canvas LCI comprised three half-day sessions: one at the start of Enriching Scholarship, one directly following Enriching Scholarship, and one two weeks after the second meeting. It aimed to provide participants—instructors, GSIs, and teaching team staff members—with the information and resources to set up courses for classes with large student enrollments.

Meg Bakewell, assistant director for the Center for Research on Learning & Teaching (CRLT), believes the LCI went well. The most common challenge, she said, was understanding the perspective of faculty members who were disappointed by the functionalities they would lose by switching to Canvas from CTools. By listening to feedback from faculty, Bakewell said she was able to focus on the big picture of Canvas and how it can continue to improve. “I had a couple of moments during the first day, where faculty were raising issues,” she said. “It gives you a chance to go down the rabbit hole of one particular issue where we really wanted to focus.”

Bakewell said the LCI staff sympathized with faculty and their frustrations with adjusting to a new learning platform, but also saw it as an opportunity for collaboration. “It allowed us to provide some reassurance that we get it: It is frustrating, and something you depend on is not going to be available anymore, so let’s work together to find a way we can make this work for you,” she said.

In a survey administered by the LCI team, most participants indicated they were not very confident or not confident at all using Canvas before attending the workshop. However, after attending LCI, most indicated they were confident or extremely confident they would be successful using Canvas.

Marion Perlmutter, a professor in the department of psychology and a participant in the program, said she appreciated the efforts the Canvas LCI made in helping faculty adjust to the new learning platform. “The Large Course Institute was terrific for me,” Perlmutter said. “I moved from being quite reluctant to convert from CTools to being quite enthusiastic about Canvas. I found the switch to Canvas was actually easier than the fine tuning required each term to use a repeated CTools site and found quite a few advantages to Canvas. The support the institute provided was really terrific.”

Due to positive reception of the program and suggestions made by participants, ITS will make modifications to the Canvas Groups module and is considering a similar workshop in August to gear up for the fall semester.

LASI comes home to U-M

by Tanya Madhani, ITS Communications Intern

U-M Dean of Libraries James Hilton delivers the opening remarks at LASI '16 on Monday, June 27.

Over 100 learning analytics and education researchers from all over the world gathered in Ann Arbor from June 27 to 29 for the third annual Learning Analytics Summer Institute (LASI). The event was organized by learning analytics researchers from U-M and the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SoLAR). On each of its three days, LASI featured keynotes, panels, and workshops for learning analytics enthusiasts featuring topics such as social network analysis, gamification, and ethics and privacy.

James Hilton, U-M’s dean of libraries, and vice provost for digital education and innovation, delivered the welcome remarks. He discussed the power of learning analytics and its role in the future of education. “Learning analytics has the potential to transform education, especially at large research institutions,” he said. “It fits with our culture. Essentially, it’s about taking a translational approach.”

This approach to enlighten and enrich the lives of students is important, Hilton said, because much of the discourse surrounding education is about job security and salary. “Now, to be sure, jobs are important, but college should be about much more than that,” Hilton said. “It’s about introducing habits of mind. It is about giving students tools of reflection and analysis. It is still fundamentally about enlightenment.”

In his talk, “Avoiding Loopy Learning Analytics,” Barry Fishman, professor at the School of Information and the School of Education, echoed Hilton’s remarks and emphasized the importance of innovating traditional classroom structures to provide more challenges for students. “If you’re especially successful or reached a high level at an elite institution, you’ve probably never failed a class. You’re never gotten a terrible grade,” he said. “But, that doesn’t set you up very well for actual success, which is learning from the things that go wrong.”

Fishman endorsed gamification as an emerging learning method. Gamification adds game-like elements, such as points and leaderboards, to everyday environments. “Games allow players to make multiple choices along the way. Good learning environments also have multiple pathways,” he said. “In the learning analytics world, we talk a lot about personal vision. This is one way we incorporate personal vision, by allowing multiple pathways for groups. In this way of teaching, the goal is not to solve the problem, the goal is to unpack the problem.”

Stephanie Teasley, a research professor at the School of Information and a LASI program chair, said she was pleased with the energy and enthusiasm of participants. “The overall feeling of the conference was high energy and high investment, and that feels very good as an organizer.”

The year’s conference returned as a part of SoLAR’s event schedule after a year-long gap. LASI conferences were held at Stanford University in 2013 and at Harvard University in 2014. Last year, SoLAR did not host LASI due to the lack of a central location. LASI ‘16 was hosted at U-M, Teasley said, due to its extensive research programs in learning analytics and as a potential regular hosting site.

Teasley looks forward what LASI has in store for the future and said SoLAR is still deciding if U-M will host the conference again. “I got a lot of positive comments about the organization and the structure and the coherence of the conference,” she said, “from the keynotes to the panels to the workshops.”

Kudos & Campus News

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

Application inundation

Enrollment for both undergraduate and graduate/professional students and freshman applicants has increased to an all-time high. Kudos to the Recruiting and Admissions and Imaging Enterprise teams for assisting in these historical numbers. There were 55,500 applications for admission in the freshman class that will arrive this fall, up seven percent from last year. M-Pathways Student Administration and Human Resource Management System and ImageNow enterprise imaging system play critical roles to receive, organize, and enable evaluation of admissions applications and supporting materials.

UMHHC “Most Wired”

For the second straight year, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers are a standard-bearer for excellence in information technology. UMHHC was recently named one of 2016’s Most Wired by the American Hospital Association Health Forum. The winners were recognized for their performance in adopting and implementing information technology to better serve patients and employees within the health system. “This recognition is a tangible example of the quality work our IT staff does on a daily basis,” said Andrew Rosenberg, M.D., UMHHC’s interim chief information officer. Read the story in UMHS Headlines.

Under pressure

What if you could dial 911 by squeezing your smartphone in a certain pattern in your palm? A different pattern might turn the music on or flip a page on the screen. ForcePhone, new software developed by engineering professor Kang Shin and doctoral student Yu-Chih Tung, could give any smartphone the capacity to sense force or pressure on its screen or body. The enhanced interface offers new ways for people to command their mobile devices. "You don't need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be realized on any phone," says Shin. “ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user."

Sneaking in the backdoor

Security flaws in software can be tough to find. Hidden “backdoors” created by spies or saboteurs are often even stealthier. Now imagine a backdoor planted in the hardware of the processor that runs a computer. And now imagine that silicon backdoor is invisible not only to the computer’s software, but even to the chip’s designer. And that it’s a single component hidden among hundreds of millions or billions. And that each one of those components is less than a thousandth of the width of a human hair. U-M researchers haven’t just imagined that computer security nightmare, they’ve built it. “Detecting this with current techniques would be very, very challenging if not impossible,” says Todd Austin, one of the computer science professors who led the research. “It’s a needle in a mountain-sized haystack.”

Mapping Detroit

Property Praxis, a new online mapping tool, aims to identify property speculation and show how speculative property ownership is actively shaping the conditions of Detroit neighborhoods. Developed by Joshua Akers, a geographer and assistant professor in social sciences at UM-Dearborn, and his colleagues Alex Hill and Aaron Petcoff, the tool reveals that speculators own nearly 20 percent of all land parcels in Detroit. “All speculation isn’t necessarily destructive,” Akers said. “But many types of speculation that we’re seeing affect the city’s neighborhoods are detrimental. Not only does the condition of the property decline over time, but the property is essentially extracted from the community—it’s owned now simply for its exchange value.”

Game of thorns

A U.S. court recently upheld federal rules mandating network neutrality—the concept that all internet traffic should be treated equally. The decision was hailed as a win by civil-rights groups, entrepreneurs, and tech giants like Google, as well as the Obama administration, which had proposed the rules in the first place. Under them, internet service provider companies are prevented from giving speed boosts (or delays) to traffic of certain types or from certain sites. But thorny technical questions remain for net neutrality. Harsha V. Madhyastha, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, examines the pro and cons of the current law.

Energy saver

As you make plans for a long weekend or an extended vacation be sure to consider how you manage your electronic devices. Doing it correctly will save energy and money. A 2015 study by National Resource Defense Council, shows that “idle load electricity”—computers in sleep mode, digital video recorders, even certain kinds of electrical outlets—account for 23 percent of power consumption in the average household and represent roughly about a quarter of your electricity bill, paid for no good reason. Think about how much money you could be saving by adopting energy saving principles! You can conserve energy through using power strips, adjusting your power save settings on your devices and simply unplugging electronics that are not in use. For more tips on taking charge of your power, visit Sustainable Computing.

Small talk

Does a parent’s education influence their child’s exposure to electronic media? Yes, say U-M researchers. Unlike previous studies that relied on self-reports by parents tracking their children's media usage, the U-M study used enhanced audio equipment to track the home environment of preschoolers as they interacted with parents. The study showed that children of mothers with graduate degrees had less electronic media exposure than kids of mothers with high school degrees and/or some college courses. The kids whose moms had advanced degrees often watched educational programs. In addition, these highly educated mothers were more likely than other mothers to discuss media with their children, said Nicholas Waters, the study's lead author and survey specialist at the Institute for Social Research.

MIDAS touch

Four research projects—two each in transportation and learning analytics—have been awarded funding in the first round of the Michigan Institute for Data Science Challenge Initiatives program. The projects will each receive $1.25 million dollars from MIDAS as part of the Data Science Initiative announced in fall 2015. The goal of the multiyear MIDAS Challenge Initiatives program is to foster data science projects that have the potential to prompt new partnerships between U-M, federal research agencies and industry. The challenges are focused on four areas: transportation, learning analytics, social science, and health science.

Eye in the sky

A U-M student startup is attempting to modernize the process of safely getting home alone with a peer-to-peer app called Companion, which allows users to connect with family, friends, or public safety officials to keep an eye on them virtually as they walk home. Co-founder Lexie Ernst said she and her colleagues created the app after realizing other options for getting home safely could be problematic. After a stint last year in U-M’s Desai Accelerator, Companion is now looking for different ways to partner with universities, organizations, and cities to deliver data about where users are feeling particularly unsafe. “Right now, we’re trying to hammer down customer retention and making the best product possible,” Ernst said. “After that, we’ll focus on how to monetize.” The free app has approximately 1.2 million users in 194 countries.

Security score

FICO, know for its consumer-credit scores, waded into online security with its recent acquisition of Ann Arbor-based cybersecurity startup QuadMetrics. The company plans to use QuadMetrics’s predictive analytics and security-risk assessment tools to develop an industry-wide “enterprise security score” for businesses. QuadMetrics, which leverages technology developed at U-M with funding from the Department of Homeland Security, collects more than 250 data points from a company’s IT network, such as spam traffic or the configuration of servers and routers. It then runs the information through predictive risk models based in part on a database of past security incidents. QuadMetrics claims to predict the likelihood of a company being breached with greater than 90% accuracy.

Fantasy futbol

Soccer’s popularity in the U.S. has grown remarkably over the last decade. But why? Professor Andrei Markovits has one answer: video games. According to Markovits, a professor of comparative politics and German studies, the popular video game FIFA has been a catalyst in popularizing soccer. Among many factors, such as the success of the U.S. women’s national team, changing social demographics, and the availability of streaming live games—the video games have precipitated the sports unprecedented growth. "The video game has created a major cultural reality that reinforces the growing discourse and awareness about soccer in the United States," Markovits said.

Next Gen learning

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) explored the gaps between current learning management tools and a next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE) that could meet the changing needs of higher education. Consultations with more than 70 community thought leaders defined the principal functional domains of NGDLE as interoperability; personalization; analytics, advising, and learning assessment; collaboration; and accessibility and universal design. Because no single application can deliver in all those domains, the report recommends a “Lego” approach in which components (such as Canvas, for example) allow for learning environments tailored to specific requirements and goals. Read the full report (PDF). As an ELI member organization, UMICH staff have access to all ELI programs and resources on learners, learning principles and practices, and learning technologies.

Send us your stories!

Grab some canned air and a Q-tip! It’s time to dust off U-M’s technological history for the Bicentennial celebration. A cross-campus team is digging into U-M’s past for stories and milestones to illustrate the university’s IT heritage. Submit your unit’s stories, artifacts, and ideas to the IT Bicentennial team. We also need video producers, coders and app/website developers, writers/editors, and graphic designers. The project, funded by a U-M Bicentennial grant and sponsored by the Michigan IT Steering Group, will focus on transitional periods in technology to spotlight U-M’s technological heritage, success, and occasional failure. An interactive timeline will show how U-M has been on the forefront of creating and inventing technology that shapes not only daily experiences in higher education, but also long-term change in the world.

Information Quest

Last September, President Schlissel announced a new Data Science Initiative that will enhance opportunities for students and faculty to tap into the enormous potential of big data. As part of that effort, a new  ITS department called IQ: Information Quest will focus on campus needs related to business intelligence, learning analytics, predictive analysis, research, and strategic planning. “The name reflects our promise to the U-M community to deliver data as a service and to help create a culture that uses analytics to improve processes and services,” says IQ Executive Director Vijay Thiruvengadam. One of IQ’s first projects is the design of a “master dashboard” of key institutional data for President Schlissel.

“Social” science

For a child with autism, there can be challenges to learning and engaging with the world. Sean Ahlquist and Leah Ketcheson are part of of a U-M team developing exciting new technologies called "Social Sensory Surfaces" to help autistic children tackle those challenges. Ahlquist, an associate professor of architecture, designed a fabric screen that changes colors or projects images when touched. "The idea is to be as engaged as possible with that environment, so instead of being just a backdrop, it's actually ... a tactile, a sensory experience, and something which can also trigger and encourage social interaction within that space," he said. Ketcheson, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Kinesiology, is researching if daily interaction with this screen could have an impact on a child's fine motor movements, including penmanship and fastening buttons, tasks children with autism can struggle with.

Mobile meets big data

There’s a transaction that happens every time you load a website, send an email, or click “like” on a friend’s post: You get something you want in exchange for some data about your actions and interests. Entire business models depend on the premise that the data we generate in this way have value, and massive databases have been assembled with this in mind. Can we harness data collection of this kind for research? Olivia Walch, a doctoral candidate in mathematics, examines how mobile apps could be the future of data collection for academic researchers.

Training & Events

Contact us to get your event listed.

Community of Practice meetings

Visit the Communities of Practice page for more information and to subscribe to the CoP calendar.

  • Agile Development: Tuesday, July 19, 3:30–4:30 p.m.; location TBD.
  • Cloud: Thursday, July 21; 3:30–4:30 p.m.; location TBD.
  • Contact Centers Summer Social Event: Thursday, August 11, 4–7 p.m.; Dominick’s. RSVP requested.
  • Agile Development: Tuesday, August 16; 3:30–4:30 p.m.; location TBD.
  • Cloud: Thursday, August 18; 3:30–4:30 p.m.; location TBD.

Duo: State of Security

Tuesday, July 19; 5–7:45 p.m.; Duo Security; Duo Security and the Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) will host a State of Security event on July 19. Duo Security is U-M's new two-factor authentication provider. The event will be hosted at Duo's office in Ann Arbor where Steve Edwards,  security operations manager at Duo Security, will discuss today's security. Free for MCWT members; $5 at door for non-members. RSVP and see the schedule.


Wednesday, July 20; 7:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.; The Westin Southfield Detroit Hotel. One of the largest technology events in North America is coming to Detroit. Angelbeat is an industry seminar that brings together thousands of IT professionals with global technology leaders from sponsors like Microsoft, VMware, Google, and Dell. The half-day seminar covers topics like security and compliance, network infrastructure, storage and backup, cloud platforms, and more. There will be Microsoft and VMware keynotes, plus expert speakers who deliver concise, technical, and educational talks. There is no charge for university IT professionals to attend. Register for a free pass and view the event schedule online.

IT4U64: Getting Access to U-M Administrative Data with OARS

Thursday, July 28; 9-9:45 a.m.; online. Kristen Jackson (ITS) demonstrates the new Online Access Request System (OARS), including how to request access, track the status of your request, and check what access you have. Register in My LINC. See the IT4U YouTube playlist for recordings of past webinars.

Michigan IT Symposium: Call for Participation

Friday, August 12; deadline for proposal submissions. The Symposium Committee will send notifications of acceptance for posters and presentations on August 22. The Michigan IT Symposium is an annual event aimed at creating connections between Michigan IT community members while showcasing the innovation occurring across all U-M campuses. The 2016 event will take place November 21-22 at the Michigan League.

Completely revamped IT Security Policy

If you haven't looked at the proposed new IT Security Policy (SPG 601.27) and related standards yet, please set aside a little time to do so. The policy has been almost completely rewritten, and it will have a big impact on how all of us contribute to IT security at U-M.

The rewritten policy establishes a single, comprehensive, university-wide information assurance and cybersecurity risk management framework and program, based on an enterprise security architecture that makes utilizing secure university-provided services straightforward and readily accessible to faculty and staff. The policy will be supported by more than a dozen operational, procedural, and technical standards.

The policy was originally issued in 2008, soon after U-M first established a separate information security group and program. Given the significant increase in cyber attacks directed at higher education institutions—and the attendant costs and risks associated with such attacks—it is important that this policy be revised and updated to provide for 21st century security best practices while supporting and advancing U-M's core missions.

Faculty, staff, and U-M governance groups are reviewing the policy as it moves through the process of being incorporated into the the Standard Practice Guide. If you have comments or suggestions, please submit them using the online feedback form.

Don't use your UMICH password outside U-M

To keep U-M data and assets secure, we urge you to use your UMICH (Level-1) password only for U-M services. Using your UMICH password and email address to establish other accounts (for example, on LinkedIn or other sites) places your UMICH account at risk if any of those sites are hacked. If you have used your UMICH password for non-university services, change your password, and do not re-use it elsewhere.

New look for Weblogin page coming July 20

The Weblogin page for many U-M websites—including Wolverine Access and the MCommunity Directory—will get an updated look on July 20, 2016. The streamlined look is designed to work consistently and well across all devices—from smartphones to computers. It also accommodates the university's switch from MTokens to Duo for two-factor authentication.

Project Updates

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

Canvas Crew providing support this summer

Faculty and staff can contact the Canvas Crew to schedule an in-office consultation any time Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop-in hours are available throughout the summer from Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hatcher Library Scholarspace, and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Duderstadt Center.

MiWorkspace project wraps-up as service grows

A 2010 survey revealed that there were 189 different desktop support providers on the Ann Arbor campus. Today, MiWorkspace is the university's primary desktop support service with 101 full-time employees and 30-40 students who provide desktop support for more than 16,000 individuals in 80 units. While June 30, 2016, marked the official close of the project, the positive results of the ongoing service are unfolding more each day.

MiWorkspace achieved several of its primary goals:

  • Provide computing essentials we all need and use everyday as a shared service.
  • Allow each unit to focus more resources on technology solutions that advance their unit mission.
  • Ensure technology continues to be an enabler of innovation across campus.

To achieve these goals, the Michigan IT community worked closely together and built strong ties that have endured beyond each unit’s implementation. See more MiWorkspace and other strategic accomplishments on the Office of the CIO website and find ongoing MiWorkspace information on the ITS MiWorkspace support site.

WiFi upgrade project reaches one-year mark

This month marks the one year anniversary for the Campus WiFi Upgrade project. Over the first year, over 4 million square feet in 38 buildings on campus have been upgraded. Visit the project website for additional information.

  • Recently completed upgrades: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building (EECS), Lorch Hall, Stockwell Hall, Mosher Jordan, Couzens Hall, Alice Lloyd Hall, Dana Building
  • Buildings currently under construction: Henry Frieze Vaughan Public Health building (SPH 1), South Quad, Hutchins Hall, William Cook Legal Research Library, Francis Thomas Jr. Public Health (SPH II), School of Education, Weiser Hall (Dennison), Mary Markley Hall
  • Network design underway: Revelli Band Rehearsal Hall, East Hall, West Hall, GG Brown, Stearns Frederick, Gorguze Family laboratory, Burton Memorial Tower, Alumni Memorial Hall (Museum of Art), Earl V. Moore Building, Perry Building, North Quad, Weill Hall (Ford School)
  • Site surveys scheduled/completed: Walgreen Theatre, Health Management Research Center, and Stamps Auditorium, Randall Labs, Betsy Barbour, Newberry, Dental School

Service Updates

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

ARC Connect

Users of ARC-TS computing resources can now use desktop versions of popular software packages like Matlab and R while accessing the Flux shared computing cluster. The new service, called ARC Connect, provides an easily accessible graphical user interface that simplifies doing interactive, graphical work backed by the high performance and large memory capabilities of the Flux cluster. Learn more about ARC Connect.

Contact centers transition to Cisco Finesse

For the past several months, ITS has been working with contact centers on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses to upgrade from the current Cisco Agent/Supervisor desktop, which is at end-of-life, to the Cisco Finesse web-based desktop. Cisco Finesse delivers some exciting new features such as call monitoring, automatic fail-over, and web access. To date, the project has completed migrations for over 40% of U-M contact centers using IP (Internet Protocol) telephony. During May and June, a huge effort was made to migrate both the ITS Service Center and the Shared Services Center, among others. Work will recommence this fall to complete the transition for remaining contact centers. Check out the list of contact centers that have transitioned to date. For more information on Cisco Finesse, visit the IP Contact Center website.

New Canvas tool combines course sections

A new Course Manager tool lets instructors combine multiple class sections into a single Canvas course and add external email addresses (or friend accounts). The tool appears in the left navigation of each Canvas course. View detailed instructions by clicking "Help" inside the Course Manager window. Instructors should consider combining sections into a single Canvas course if:

  • Most assignments are the same
  • Most other materials (e.g., files) are the same
  • You want to keep grades for all sections together

(NOTE: If you combine all sections into a single course, GSIs can either grade all students or just their assigned sections.) LSA's detailed documentation contains more information on the pros and cons of combining. The Canvas Crew will also provide hands-on, individualized support to faculty all summer. Subscribe to Canvas at Michigan to stay informed of the latest news, support materials, event information, and feature changes.

M-Pathways financials systems upgrade

ITS is upgrading the M-Pathways Financials and Physical Resources System to version 9.2 on September 19, 2016. Work on the upgrade is well underway and we are partnering with business process owners and units to ensure a smooth transition. Visit the FIN Upgrade website for more information and the latest news. The site will be updated regularly with new information, including key dates (e.g., system outage and transaction cut-off timeframes) and training opportunities.

Up to PAR

ITS recently rolled out the first major group of updates to Personnel Action Requests (PAR), a tool launched in June 2015 to automate HR transactions. The largest of these enhancements includes a “View Only” page for Additional Pay and easier, more consistent, and user-friendly access to other view information. A team made up of user representatives from across campus prioritized a list of potential enhancements to PAR that had been collected since the tool’s launch. User feedback about the updates has been very positive. PAR currently processes over 100,000 transactions a year.



Summer network maintenance

Significant network maintenance activities will be performed this summer by UMnet and Network Engineering. Campus notifications and all change management practices including the completion of ServiceLink change records and status pages will be followed. Summary of scheduled maintenance:

  • July 16: Replace switch (s-MACC-03E-E-1) and upgrade uplinks for this switch supporting MiStorage at MACC data center.
  • July 16: Upgrade the uplinks on the switch (s-MACC-08E-E-1) supporting MiServer at the MACC data center.
  • July 16: Router replacement of Backbone Interconnect located at Arbor Lakes (r-BIN-ARBL).
  • August 5: Router replacement of Backbone Interconnect located at School of Education (r-BIN-SEB).

Network improvement program

ARC-TS has launched an initiative aimed at facilitating uninterrupted data flow to meet the needs of researchers. Fill out this short questionnaire and ARC-TS will help identify the causes of networking bottlenecks and implement appropriate solutions. The initiative includes resources to upgrade as many as 200 labs and offices on the Ann Arbor campus (including UMHS) to either 10Gbps or 40Gbps connections to the campus backbone. For more information, watch this video and review this presentation.

Oracle & Linux upgrades for SA and HCM systems

ITS recently completed infrastructure upgrades for two critical administrative services, Student Administration (SA) and Human Capital Management (HCM) systems. Both systems were deployed on time and within estimated effort. Each initiative took four months to configure, upgrade, test, and migrate in both non-production (in ASB data center) and production (in MACC data center) environments. More than 50 employees across 25+ ITS groups and ~30 unit staff members were involved with testing, configuration, and go-live.

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