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IRC News

Minutes provided by Sue Ellen Richey, Recording Secretary*

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December 20, 2005

VOTING MEMBERS PRESENT:   PHILIP TURNER, ELIZABETH HINKLE-TURNER, JUDITH ADKISON, PATRICK PLUSCHT, JENNIFER LAFLEUR (for GUILLERMO OYARCE), TIM CHRISTIAN, UWE ROSSBACH, CENGIZ CAPAN, SCOTT JOYCE (for CHUCK FULLER), JONEEL HARRIS, MARGARET AMBUEHL, RAMU MUTHIAH, ROBERT NIMOCKS, CRAIG BERRY (for MAX KAZEMZADEH) NON-VOTING MEMBERS PRESENT:  MAURICE LEATHERBURY, JOE ADAMO, JAMES STRAWN, PHILIP BACZEWSKI, SUE ELLEN RICHEY (Recording Secretary) MEMBERS ABSENT: JOHN HOOPER, BRUCE HUNTER, CHRISTY CRUTSINGER,  DON GROSE, LOU ANN BRADLEY, RAY BANKS, JIM CURRY, JON NELSON, ABRAHAM JOHN, TOBYE RAE NELSON, DOUG MAINS, BOBBY CARTER

The minutes of the December 20th meeting were approved as distributed.

There was no report from the IR Steering Committee, since that committee had not met since the last IRC meeting.

DCSMT**

Philip Baczewski reported for the Distributed Computing Support Management Team that DCSMT met November 18 and December 16. The November 18 meeting included a presentation by Shane Jester, of the CITC Central Web Support team, regarding plans to phase  out FrontPage extensions on the central web servers. Microsoft no longer supports FrontPage extensions for the UNIX platform and they have numerous known and unknown un-patched exploits. The Central Web Support group will help develop alternative tools, provide training, and provide extensive assistance in website conversions. The goal is to begin the conversion away from FrontPage on January 2, 2006, and hopefully have the project completed by May 31, 2006.

Also at the November 18 meeting, representatives from Intel Corporation presented an overview of the latest multicore technology, which will soon become the standard for Intel desktop and server platforms.  Multicore technology is meant to provide additional performance in the face of limits reached in extending processor speed.  Intel provided an overview of their processor roadmap which included the present-day release of dual-core processors and planned processors with 4 or more cores.

DCSMT met again on December 16. A discussion of EAZ-fix versus Deepfreeze desktop restoration software resulted in a consensus that there is no reason to pursue adoption of EAZ-fix as a campus standard, based on the considerable expense of that software. The meeting was mostly devoted to a presentation by VMWare representatives on their virtual server software environment which allows multiple OS images to run on one hardware platform. At that meeting Joe Adamo provided an update on the campus firewall project and estimated that the Firewall could be in production by late Spring.

Dr. Turner asked if the Firewall will be tested with WebCT Vista, and Philip responded, and Joe Adamo confirmed, that the Firewall will not block anything more than is already blocked at the router; it will just provide more flexibility so that further protection can be provided for the future as expansion is needed.  Joe further explained that before any new rules are put in place in conjunction with the new Firewall, Network Managers and others will be involved to make sure departments are not impacted by this change, and the Communications Planning Group will develop policies, with input from all areas of the university community.  Any policies that are developed will be brought before the IRC for approval. Uwe Rossbach suggested that more discussion is necessary regarding the Firewall implementation, and that a whole set of questions need to be answered. He further suggested that a high level group look at policy regarding a Firewall.  Maurice Leatherbury stressed that anyone who is interested in working on this issue is encouraged to join the Communications Planning Group. 

Robert Nimocks, when asked about how the Health Science Center went about implementing their Firewall, stated that HSC went from having nothing at all to having a very tightly controlled network.  All implementation decisions and policies went through their Information Resources Council and most are modeled after UNTís network.  All of the HSCís communications will come through CITCís Firewall.  They have set up gates which allow people to work away from campus the same way they work on campus, so these gates allow traffic to pass through the Firewall.  He said that they copied UT Southwestern in that development.

Learning Enhancement Planning Group

Patrick Pluscht reported for the Learning Enhancement Planning Group that 20 proposals for learning enhancement grants were received and reviewed.  Recommendations for award of the $146,000 in grant funds were sent to the Provost today.  Seven proposals were given full funding, two additional proposals that are part of the honors initiative were also given full funding;  six were given partial funding, and five were given no funding.

EIS Planning Group

Joneel Harris reported for the EIS Planning Group that they continue to focus their efforts on planning a future upgrade path.  What had been called the Higher Education Usersí Group and is now called Alliance, will be holding the next conference during Spring Break.  More information will be available at that time regarding the planned upgrades of the PeopleSoft product.  There is some uncertainty about the timing of upgrades to the system and therefore the schedule of future projects has been affected.  Due to the delaying of one of those projects, Human Resources has had to move forward with an alternative software for applicant tracking purposes that will not interface with PeopleSoft because they simply canít wait for the PeopleSoft upgrade.  Similar situations are arising in other areas, also.

The EIS project planners have looked at other vendorís Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) products to replace existing silo prospect/recruitment systems, and interface with PeopleSoft.  The decision was made that UNT should just go ahead with CRM implementation plans, rather than switch to another vendor's product.  Joneel reported that they continue to work on data warehousing development and are making good progress, and that a project management tool is being purchased to aid in managing future upgrade paths and post-production project tasks.

Standards & Policy Planning Group

Tim Christian reported that the Standards & Policy Planning Group has not met since the last IRC meeting and he asked members to submit items for discussion prior January 6, 2006.

Student Computing Planning Group

Elizabeth Hinkle Turner reported for the Student Computing Planning Group that all but one of the General Access Labs have picked up their new signs and will be having Facilities install them soon.

Joneel announced that anyone who has not yet had their new ID cards made should do that very soon.

WebCT, WebCT Vista, Distributed Learning

Dr. Turner reported that June 1, 2006 is the deadline for switching over all courses from the Campus Edition of WebCT to WebCT Vista because after that date, the Campus Edition will no longer be supported.  Since the merger of WebCT and BlackBoard looks certain, plans are for an upgrade to Version 4.0 of Vista, then to a fusion product which will be a combination of Vista and BlackBoardís product sometime within the next 2 years.  Dr. Turner stated that they plan to stay with Version 3.0 of Vista and be very cautious when considering any upgrades to the product.  In the interim they will consider and evaluate other technologies so that they will be prepared when the time comes to make the big decision of whether to stay with the new BlackBoard fusion product or change to an entirely different product.

Cengiz Capan asked about the direction they will be taking in the use of video in distributed learning.  Dr. Turner reported that there are a number of products available which they will be looking at and talking about.  He encouraged anyone looking at purchasing any kind of video product for course development to contact the Center for Distributed Learning before making a decision.

Dr. Turner reported that a group will be here in April for the Southern Accreditation Committee and they will be looking at distributed learning with two aims: 1) compliance to their standards; and 2) a quality enhancement plan for enhancing the learning outcome in large enrollment classes.  They have identified five courses from which to collect baseline data, which are:  1)  BCIS 333; 2) 2nd semester US History; 3) 2nd semester Art History, 4) Chemistry I for Psych majors, and 5) Introduction to Computing.  Faculty are voluntarily working on this project. 

In answer to a question from Joneel about whether these newly designed classes will be the property of the faculty who design them, Dr. Turner explained that they have set up some rules about the design of the courses, which are: 1) that the course must be sustainable; 2) it must be replicable by teaching fellows or anyone else; and 3) it must increase the quality of education.

CITC Move to Research Park

Maurice Leatherbury reported that progress is being made at the Research Park to make it ready for most of the CITC staff to be relocated there.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:00 p.m.

 


* For a list of IRC Regular and Ex-officio Members click here.

**DCSMT Minutes can be found here.

IRC Meeting Schedule

The IRC generally meets on the third Tuesday of each month, from 2-4 p.m., in the Administration Building Board Room. From time to time there are planned exceptions to this schedule. The schedule can be found here. All meetings of the IRC, its program groups, and other committees, are open to all faculty, staff, and students.

 

 

 


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