The Committee on Computer Services met on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Room 150, University Library.
- Assen Assenov (CTRL)
- Stefano Costanzi (CAS)
- Nancy Davenport (LIB)
- Michael Fernandez (LIB)
- Katie Holton (CAS)
- Alan Isaac (CAS)
- Billie Jo Kaufman (WCL – by phone)
- Sarah Menke-Fish (SOC)
- Joseph Mortati (KSB)
- Rick Semiatin (SPEX)
- Sonja Walti (SPA) and
- Stef Woods (CAS).
Minutes of the March meeting were approved unanimously.
Assen addressed Katie’s concerns regarding the difficulties with statistical software on VCL. There is research support for classes and projects utilizing VCL, and there has been considerable growth in how many students and faculty utilize virtual desktops (1,385 uniques, 200 per day, and 500 per week). There are challenges for the casual or inexperienced user, and efforts are being made to increase access and reliability. CTRL, OIT and the Library IT team are committed to ensuring optimal user experience. Client-based access is the best user experience.
Joseph concurred with the recommendation to access VCL through VMware Horizon Client, rather than through the browser. Client may take a bit longer to get onto initially, but it allows students to save work to their desktops. The browser version does not save work. Assen advised that faculty and students go to vcl.american.edu for questions and troubleshooting. He also noted that graduate students who attend orientation that addresses VCL have reported higher rates of satisfaction with VCL.
The committee noted that faculty need to know what will and won’t be available. For instance, students are unable to download SPSS. Assen noted that En Vivo can be utilized by students. For support, the Library handles matters that are inside the box, and OIT/Library are responsible for design and the server.
Further discussion ensued regarding continued technology needs in classrooms. Nancy reported on the modernization of the classrooms on East Campus. The Library is responsible for the maintenance of eight classrooms on East Campus, and the Registrar handles scheduled. Two classrooms (117 and 219) are under local control through the Game Lab and Kogod, respectively. All classrooms in Anderson have been upgraded, including the lounge. McDowell Hall will be upgraded over the summer with funds through the Registrar. Hughes and Clark Halls have yet to be scheduled for upgrades, as funding has yet to be secured. The Library recommends that upgrades conform with the standards used on East Campus. The committee questioned who will handle problems with the non-centrally scheduled classroom space. We will follow up with this issue in the fall.
Assen informed the committee that CTRL is being reorganized. The committee expressed concern as to what the reorganization will consist of and why CIS was not consulted prior to the reorganization. We will invite someone from CTRL to our first meeting of Fall 2018 to report to the committee about CTRL changes.
The survey responses that Alan collected and the committee reviewed indicated the need for more of what CTRL has been doing. The committee hopes that the reorganization will not impact training and support. We also discussed how special purpose software like Adobe Acrobat is only available via individual request. There was further concern that the lack of a university-wide solution leads to time wasted for faculty, staff and students.
Alan expressed concern that accessibility standards are limiting the ability of faculty to publish their scholarly work on the Internet. Faculty are opting out of posting working papers online, which is a detriment to their scholarship, students’ access to research, and the field as a whole. Stefano reached out to Rachel Weatherly about joining us for the April 18th meeting. Rachel asked to organize a team to join us for a May meeting. The committee agreed to have an informal information session in May to talk with Rachel about our concerns.
We briefly discussed that Michael raised regarding the shift to multi-factor authentication. Stefano commented that it’s easy to install and use statistics and reports. The committee questioned whether access abroad has been impacted by the shift.
For 2018-19, we will implement our plan to have one committee chair with a term ending in 2019 and a vice-chair with a term ending in 2020. The vice-chair will then become chair in 2019-20. We will vote on chair and vice-chair at our September 2018 meeting.
There being no additional business for the good of the order, the meeting was adjourned.
Stefano will email the committee regarding the informal meeting with Rachel Weatherly in May. The next official CIS meeting will be held in September 2018.