VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 21 POSTED ON: 11/2/2011
REQUESTED OIT ANECDOTES #1 We recognize the current OIT requirements for computer purchase are adequate for computers used primarily for word processing and/or tasks that use Microsoft Office programs. However, in light of the position of Turning Toward 2011, where an increase in research is expected, we would like to advocate for more flexible, broader standards for specialized computer needs and for a more service-friendly OIT department. Research groups, particularly faculty performing basic science research, are penalized by the current program. For example, recently, an instrument designed to image fluorescent and luminescent biological samples was purchased by QCOM. The instrument cost close to $22,000 and required a computer interface to image the samples. In keeping with our current OIT purchasing policy we sought to order the approved Dell Optiplex computer; however, the imaging manufacturer would not honor their service contract if the OIT-approved Dell was interfaced with this imaging system since the Optiplex did not have the sufficient capabilities to run the instrument. Consequently, we purchased a higher performance Dell Precision T1500 computer that would properly interface with the imaging instrument. In doing so we were forced to forfeit any OIT-service support on this computer, because it was not on the approved list. This is counter-productive to our research efforts and certainly does not demonstrate a service-friendly OIT. This is only the most recent such event that impacts negatively on the research efforts at the QCOM. In addition, research often requires instrumentation that costs anywhere from $50K- $100K. These instruments are well built and can last 20-30 years with routine maintenance. These instruments are often interfaced to computers that have certain specifications to the instrumentation to which they are interfaced with and cannot be upgraded every six years. Some instrumentation software is operation-system-specific and upgrading the computer would render the instrument inoperable. When up grading is possible, the cost of upgrading the software to run a high end instrument in compliance with OIT specifications can be $10K. NIH grant funding will not cover such extravagant spending for something that is operable as is. Again, we are in a bind and left to find computer hardware to keep the instruments running so that we can be competitive in our research efforts. Recently, I upgraded a high end instrument computer, with the OIT mandated computer. Data from this instrument is stored on QCOM Server. Within two weeks of having the new computer, the Ethernet card had to be replaced, the DVD ROM quit functioning and now the serial port that serves as communication between the instrument and the computer works only intermittently. This computer probably has a bad motherboard that causes all of the attached boards to work intermittently or not work at all, but I have to date been unable to get satisfaction from OIT, because when they come to look at the computer, the serial port works or the DVD ROM is working. This has not cost me down time, but only because I refused to surplus an older computer that is currently running the instrument until I can resolve the matter. This leaves me feeling like ―you can‘t win, you can‘t break even‖ because even when in compliance with OIT standards, service to research instrumentation computers is not forthcoming. Further, labs have numerous computers that interface with instruments that require internet connection to update software. Most of our labs were set-up with an ample number of internet connection sites, but not all are turned on. We are told to turn them on and make them serviceable will cost the department in the neighborhood of $200.00/connection. Again, this seems a bit extravagant for one internet connection. I am not sure that the cable company charges this much. This over all attitude does not seem to be demonstrating a service-friendly OIT, but rather demonstrates that OIT wants us to pay to perform our jobs. Each department on this campus should be helping each other to perform their jobs, rather than obstructing each other. A new faculty member in our department received an OIT-sponsored machine, a service that we greatly appreciate; however, the computer was set up without any communication with the new faculty member. As it turns out, from the time the computer was ordered and the faculty member was hired, the location of the new faculty member‘s office had changed such that the computer was delivered to a lab. The faculty member who was to receive the machine did not know where the computer was and the faculty member who did receive the machine was very miffed because the laboratory radiation safety documentation was moved and in complete disarray upon setting up the new machine. It seems to me to be common courtesy to check before you deliver a machine to make sure that it is the correct location and that it is being set up in a place that is not currently designated for other operations. Finally, I would like to stress, that the all the OIT support staff who have made the repair call to me desire to be helpful, but must adhere to these guidelines as they are instructed to do so and some are fearful that if they go out of their way to help us, they will be reprimanded or lose their job. A solution to this recurring difficulty in purchasing and supporting research-level computers needs to be developed as QCOM and ETSU strive to enhance education and competitive research activity and it clearly needs to come from a change in the policies and mandates made by OIT. #2 OIT policies do not support research. 1- OIT takes back desk top PCs and refurbishes them to give to local schools. While this is nice to do, I have PCs in my lab that are very old and I could use 4 year old OIT machines to up date lab computers. Lab computers are used by students to keep data, write papers and search of information. Why should a local HS come before ETSU students? Computers are also used in the lab to operate equipment. PCs are disposable items and we should be allowed to purchase them from the cheapest source for research. 2- OIT should provide automatic backup of all our files. I have this service at home via Carbonite. Why not here? 3- OIT does not communicate with the faculty when replacing an OIT sponsored machine, they come in remove the machine and if they do not replace the machine that day, the do not leave any information as to when one can expect a replacement. #3 The main problem I have seen from OIT is refusing to let departments use their money to purchase current and emerging technology that our peers at other TBR institutions can and do purchase—E-readers, netbooks and IPADs have been the most significant items we have been denied. In the past, OIT has raised all sorts of objections based on alleged security concerns. I actually have been told that I could acquire and use these supposedly vulnerable items as long as I didn‘t purchase them with university money because that would relieve ETSU/OIT of liability if something went wrong!?!? Amazing! Is education being adversely affected? Yes, of course. In the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, one of our main goals is to keep up with developments in technology and its instructional applications. It is embarrassing when our local P-12 school districts are ahead of us in the technology they have available and how they are using it in classrooms. Failing to stay current puts our graduates at a disadvantage in the job market, as well as reducing their ability to teach effectively in modern settings. Right now, we have a mandate from TBR to increase the time teacher education students spend in schools, to move more of their education out of campus classrooms, and to use current and emerging technology to accomplish these objectives without increasing resources such as faculty members. A major sticking point within bureaucracies is that much of the emerging technology, for example, many IPHONE and IPAD apps, is actually fun to use. Some folks can‘t handle the idea that game culture is radically changing how and what children and adults learn or that work and non-work no longer have clear boundaries. What I have heard from OIT folks has not made much sense to me, and the TN law they keep citing as justification pertains to identity theft, not overall security of technology. I cannot understand why our TBR peers can buy current and emerging technology that is forbidden to us. There is a feeling among faculty that the obstructionism from OIT comes from hidden agendas—unwillingness to change, reluctance to learn (or lack of confidence in their ability to learn) how to support new technology and then staff that support function, personal investment in old paradigms, and a strong desire to control and standardize technology decisions for people they regard as idiots. Our department now has been permitted to purchase IPADS for faculty members, but it was a long, drawn-out story of refusal, stalling, dodging, and delaying. Now, for some defense or understanding of OIT: I believe that they often don‘t or can‘t communicate their ideas very well and so often may actually be doing the right or best thing for the university and, of course, they always staunchly believe that they are doing the right thing. Example: The recent business about requiring mobile devices to have password protection was, in my opinion, communicated moderately poorly to the university community prior to and at the point of implementation. I suspect it was probably a good thing to do. They do have to fix messes made by idiots; some faculty members are very rude to them, and their standardization of equipment and software over the past 15 years really has increased efficiency, reduced cost, and moved ETSU forward technologically. Hope this helps. I have no personal animosity toward OIT folks. I just want to see ETSU survive a profound conceptual shift in our society. Tomorrow happened yesterday. #4 For the research that I have conducted, OIT has been helpful in providing technical answers about software. At one point we had a temporary website set up which now has become permanent and is not as accessible as we would like it to be. I would like more assistance in setting up websites for special projects but realize that time and personnel constraints may preclude full OIT assistance. Also would like to be able to set up temporary email addresses for special projects. We had some trouble with mailbox capacity but that does not seem to be an issue anymore. I wish we could have more assistance with data management software. Sometimes portable AV equipment has been hard to come by for presentations but we have been able to find backups through local rentals. Sometimes software limitations made transfer requests difficult for transcribing one media to another but the reasons have been timely and understandable. All in all I have not placed many requests to OIT nor had many problems. They seem to be trying to do what is asked and have been polite and helpful. #5 I work with large picture, music and video files as a teacher in Dance at ETSU. It is impossible for me to readily email those files because of the limit on attachment size for emails at ETSU. I am often sending these files from home, or emailing to people and places outside of ETSU, so using the dropbox is not a realistic option. Here is an example of a scenario: I am booking a guest choreographer to teach master classes or perform at ETSU, and need a poster and promotional video or picture from that person, and am not able to get or send video, poster, or picture files through my ETSU address. Second scenario: I am trying to send the tech folks a file of the music to be used in the ETSU dance concert, and cannot do that because even if I send it via my aol address, I am still sending the file to someone at ETSU, and they cannot receive the file. We might use the dropbox in this case, but it is YET ANOTHER step one has to go through during fiendishly busy times. #6 I wanted to let you know that one OIT policy should definitely be changed. OIT will no longer work on computers that are more than 6 years old. The majority of our computers are connected to lab equipment that is older than 6 years. There are two problems with this OIT policy: 1) Programs to operate old lab equipment will not operate with new computers containing the most up to date operating system and 2) Each lab does not have funds to purchase computers connected to lab equipment every six years. #7 OIT consistently responds to my requests for assistance or a report of a problem quickly and effectively. Some of the computer equipment we are required to purchase causes the problems, I am not sure if that is a purchasing decision or if OIT has a hand in it. For example, the only laptop available for me to purchase on my grant that met my needs has been plagued with problems. I wish we had a forum to describe the REAL problems, both with people, specific departments, and policies that hinder research at ETSU - with Grant Accounting, Human Resources, and the IRB. ETSU wants to be a more major research instiutution, but if that is ever going to happen, these departments in particular need to be more responsive to the needs of grant funded projects - procedures need to be in place for things to happen more quickly (like I know they do at other institutions), and people in these departments need the knowledge and willingness to be truly useful and effective. #8 The following letters were sent to OIT ITGC, but never received a response. Dear ITGC: The letter below was sent to the ITGC committee over one year ago with no response. Since OIT will not support many of our perfectly functional 5/6-year old computers, we have recently been forced to use research funds to purchase five new computers that were interfaced to scientific equipment. These new upgraded computers use a new operating system that is not compatible with much of the software/hardware used in our perfectly functional scientific equipment. It has taken two OIT personnel about two full days to install the new computers, uninstall the new operating systems and downgrade the new computers to the old operating system. Personnel in my laboratory have spent the last two weeks calling an ever-shifting cast of vendors who supply the software for our instruments in an attempt to get our instruments functioning once again. In addition, we now have a pile of perfectly functional monitors (some very new) since OIT policies insist that we purchase new monitors with the new downgraded computers. We have also discovered that we need to replace perfectly functional printers. Although it is difficult to estimate, I would think this effort has cost ETSU about $25,000, not counting the time lost from our funded research projects and the operation of our mass spectrometry core facility. We have an additional ten computers that are aging and we may not have the funds for an additional round of buying and downgrading new computers. I would hope that minor software and hardware issues could be fixed (by OIT) on old computers interfaced with expensive instruments. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in helping to solve these critical research issues. Dear ITGC: The purpose of this letter is to request a change in the OIT policy with respect to support for computers used primarily for research. In particular, I request that the 5- year and then ―no support‖ policy be reconsidered for research computers. My laboratory has about 15 research computers that have very special software packages installed: some with very expensive site licenses (e.g., $5000). These computers are often interfaced with specific instrument systems such as our Proteomic Mass Spectrophotometry Facility and their software cannot be updated to a new operating system due to hardware/software incompatibilities. Moreover, these are high end computers with very robust hardware configurations that have a ―shelf life‖ of more than five years. These computers do, however, periodically suffer from minor glitches that would benefit from OIT support (which is excellent). The cost of replacing my computers would be 15 x $1500= $22,500 per five year period: not including the time, money and effort to deal with license and incompatibility issues. These funds would have to come from grants or departmental sources and would not increase research productivity. Please let me know if any additional information would be useful. #9 There may be some OIT policies and procedures that have reduced our effectiveness I don‘t know what you are talking about since there was nothing specific in your email, however, getting put on hold for 45 minutes is ridiculous when a person needs to have their computer problem solved ASAP!!!!! #10 The laptop I purchased on my grant less than a year ago has had several problems, not all of which have been solved. One of them was a problem with typing within emails - apparently it was some conflict with the BIOS and the particular version of Windows. When I reported the problem to OIT they first thought my hand was touching down on the touchpad while I typed (I disable this feature as I use a mouse). Anyway, the person from OIT that I dealt with finally decided that we might be able to remedy the problem if the drivers were updated, and this was done remotely with the laptop set up in my campus office. This did correct the problem for a time, but last week the problem reemerged after an automatic software update. I went out and updated all of the drivers again (myself as I was out of town), which has resolved the problem for now. Another issue has been with wireless access on campus. I have never been able to get the laptop to hook into the ETSU server wirelessly, and while I can get internet access if I hardwire in from my office, Microsoft Outlook has never worked properly no matter how I access. OIT has dealt with this more than once - always remotely with me wired in. They have gotten it working, but as soon as I take the laptop anywhere else where I connect to the internet wirelessly, I can no longer access the ETSU system wirelessly once I am back on campus. I have done some research and apparently this particular laptop is prone to this type of problem. OIT has not been able to fix it permanently, and I don't have time to keep dealing with it, so I have resigned myself to the fact that when I am on campus I do not have wireless access to the internet from my laptop - I have to resort to my smartphone to access email when I am not in my office. Finally, while minor, I had no color choice when I ordered my laptop - it arrived a bright blue color. To me it doesn't look very professional, although obviously this has nothing to do with functionality! #11 I have had a mix of positive and negative experiences with OIT. There are times when their response has been very timely and helpful. The overall theme of any problematic issues with OIT has been in terms of (a) reaching someone at OIT in order to receive assistance, and (b) getting that assistance in a timely fashion. For example, I recently had a connection problem specific to accessing my e-mail remotely (it was not a simple internet connection issue). As an instructor for online classes, I need to access e-mails in the evenings when exam deadlines are coming up (this is when students contact me about problems either with accessing the exam or extraneous problems that need to be resolved). However, OIT was closed and so I could not resolve the problem that evening. I managed to eventually resolve the problem on my own; however, I never did receive a reply to my emergency e-mail (sent from a private account) requesting assistance – even the next day. I am also aware that OIT is reluctant to assist with the increasingly diverse hardware (e.g., Apple products) that is available to students and faculty out there. Although I understand that helping with more and more technology is burdensome, I think it is short-sighted to not help those who use it. This means that we are discriminating against some students (and faculty) based on their personal consumer choices. We shouldn‘t limit anyone‘s education on this basis. #12 I have contacted the OIT regarding my office phone (other party can't hear me loud enough) twice, but it has not been successfully fixed. I'd also like to have the administrative privilege in my lab computer so I can use it more efficiently. Contacting them every time I need to install some free science software is just not efficient. #13 An incredible event happened on March 24, 2011. Someone from OIT went into a faculty member‘s office and removed her computer. The faculty member was out of town. The staff objected to no avail. They were told we were lucky to have benefitted from OIT‘s forbearance in waiting until March 24; it was OIT‘s computer and they could take it away whenever they wanted. What precisely was so important about re-claiming the computer is not clear; it was sufficiently old that it had an internal floppy disk drive! The computer was partially disassembled and the internal hard drive was left on the Faculty member‘s desk. A bit of background: OIT determined several months ago that some of the computers that they had installed shouldn‘t have been installed, due to the fact that the division is financed in part through a contract with the counties, and some of the employees‘/faculty members‘ salaries are paid via that mechanism. They informed us that new ones would not be provided at the next upgrade interval, and they would require the old ones back. We indicated that we understood that no new computers would be forthcoming, and we would attempt to fund new computers via the next budget request to the counties (which was communicated to the mayors recently). We also indicated (Mr. Wilgocki discussed this problem with and made a proposal to Mr. Bragg) that we wished to retain the old ones until we had replacements. That was the last I heard of it until the raid was made on this Faculty member‘s office. In my opinion, this raid on Faculty member‘s office raises serious questions about OIT‘s policy, attitude, and commitment to the support of our mission in the College of Medicine. #14 A few observations / suggestions: 1. Our University should have two separate units : Administrative Computing and Academic Computing. This will help resolve the conflict and confusion between supporting Banner / Ebucs, and other activities specifically related to administrative functions from supporting academic/research functions such as smart classrooms, D2L, specialized servers and technologies for research activities, library servers, etc. 2. Basic infrastructure such as network installations, additional drops for connectivity as needed in offices and labs should be paid for by some central fund rather than from departmental budgets. Some departments operate with bare minimum budgets and when we expect them to pay for such basic infrastructure needs, it puts a heavy burden on the departments to function effectively and efficiently. 3. Too much wait for the help desk assistants to respond. The automated answering system should be changed or more staff should be added to help avoid the lag time. 4. We seem to be too much cautious about security. I am by no means belittling the need for security. However, we need to realign the balance between security and implementing new and innovative technologies. Too many road blocks in the name of security dampens our desire and enthusiasm to try new and exciting ideas in our workplace. This may be a TBR related issue but our leadership should speak up and change such outdated policies. These comments DO NOT in any way a negative slap on the good work OIT administration has done in the last few years. They do have their own reasons and limitations to improve their services. I guess we should help set up a de-centralized system where various the University level OIT can work on the system-wide infrastructure and Division/College level OIT can use that infrastructure and implement services as appropriate at these Division / College levels. #15 I use a smart phone (Blackberry) so that I can access my outlook calendar and email. This is not a requirement for my position as a faculty member or for my position as program coordinator, and I am not reimbursed by the University for the expense. I find that I am MUCH more productive (responsive to emails, able to set appointments when not on campus, etc.) when I have access to this technology. My complaint with OIT policy is that they ―push‖ a password to my phone which locks the phone after 30 minutes of idle time (at least I believe that is the timing). In order to unlock my phone I must enter a 4-character password. I can receive calls while my phone is locked, but I am not able to make calls or use any other function of the phone until I unlock the phone. This is problematic on many levels and means that my intent to be able to perform my job better costs me the ability to use my phone without the hassle of unlocking. Here are two examples: - I am driving and want to call my child‘s daycare to let them know I am running late – even using voice activation technology so that it is safe – I must first unlock my phone by typing in the password … very unsafe - Someone calls and wants to schedule an appointment – I am unable to switch over to my calendar if my phone is locked, which means that I must hang up, unlock my phone, access my calendar, and call the person back While I understand the need to secure email access, I believe this policy goes too far. Maybe locking the email function would be a good option, but locking my phone is unreasonable. I know others who have dropped their access to email/calendar for this reason – which will mean they are less productive at work – and I am considering doing the same. The policy hampers my ability to work efficiently and also limits my ability to use my phone for personal use, all at my own expense. Thank you for looking into this policy. #16 The email system is very ineffective at ETSU. I cannot work remotely with etsu.edu account and as a researcher who has to do research at multiple locations (home, abroad, at the library of congress and at other research libraries), I find it impossible to use webmail. So I have to keep 2 email accounts for work so I can download my work emails on my laptop computer. I think the student‘s account with google (goldlink) is probably much better for researching faculty – I wish we had this. I understand that the students had a choice in determining their email client server, I wish we had some more input in this so I didn‘t have to check two accounts for work. #17 I don‘t really have an ―anecdote‖, but I did want to say that every time I have requested OIT help, their response has been prompt and helpful. #18 I'm responding to your request for information about how OIT helpsor hinders research on campus. In general, I think OIT is very good, for Windows-related problems. However, all of my research requires a LINUX/UNIX based-operating system, and OIT provides very little support for LINUX/UNIX. We (meaning faculty in Astronomy) are essentially on our own, computer-wise. We must do all our own system administration, which can take up a lot of time, taking time away from research. I am currently using an 8-year old computer for my main research computer, mainly because I do not have time to do the considerable amount of work it will take to select a new computer and set it up (I do have grant money to buy one, if necessary, but no time to do the necessary work to set it up). I can understand OIT not wanting to get into involved in installing user software on LINUX machines, but help with setup, maintaining the machines (i.e., setting up backup disks, fixing problems, etc), would be extremely helpful. #19 I have recently received a number of emails from members of the Faculty Senate requesting information that the sender insures will be ―held in confidence.‖ According to the ETSU OIT Code of ―Ethics‖: Electronic records sent, received, or stored on computers owned, leased, or administered by ETSU are the property of ETSU. As the property of ETSU, the content of such records, including electronic mail, is subject to inspection by ETSU personnel....ETSU is able and reserves the right to monitor and /or log all network activity of users without notice, including all e-mail and Internet communications. Users should have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the use of these resources. Moreover, the OIT help desk has informed me that all ETSU business must utilize an ETSU email account rather than a private email account. Also, keep in mind that: (1) we often use the ETSU internet to provide private medical information (e.g., the required health questionnaire) to the ETSU health insurance company; (2 ) ETSU physicians often communicate with their ETSU patients via the ETSU internet. I am not a logistician but: HIPPA requires ―safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information‖ including emails ( http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/privacyrule/index.html0) All ETSU email is not private ETSU email can contain private medical information ....suggesting (to me) that ETSU is in violation of HIPPA. I am also of the philosophical opinion that the relationship between ―ETSU‖ and faculty has a dimension beyond that of ―employer and employee‖ and also involves well established principles of academic freedom (see http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/Academic-Freedom-Privacy.html ) which includes a strong expectation of privacy. #20 I have had outstanding results from OIT. Without exception they have been timely, courteous, professional, and competent. I am not sure if my experience is generalizable or not. I am quite comfortable with you using my name or requesting further information from me on this matter. #21 For the most part, the OIT representatives I contact have been professional, knowledgeable, and considerate in my dealings with them, and I have had the good fortune to work with the same people for a number of years. I think my main problems with OIT come from the lack of support for popular platforms and from a lack of explanations about changes. In the past few months, for example, those of us who access our ETSU accounts with our wireless devices have had to go through an extra step of offering a password to do so, every time we turn on our device while it is set up to access that ETSU account. While this situation creates a minor inconvenience, one of my colleagues complained that it adversely affects his use of his device. In truth, I have the same device, and it causes only a couple-of-second delay with no noticeable change of performance. However, we did not learn until well after this policy started just why OIT instituted it. Had OIT offered this information beforehand in a manner pretty much unavoidable by the ETSU community, it could have avoided some hard feelings on the part of my colleague and perhaps others (although I must allow the possibility that my colleague can be oversensitive about such things). The matter that most affects me is the lack of support of some formats. For example, while OIT supports the Blackberry, it does not support the iPhone, although I see a number of iPhone users on our campus. I have not yet seen an explanation why this device and the iPad have not gotten OIT support. It makes it appear that OIT is attempting to influence our choices as consumers rather than accommodate users in this particular decision. After all, the majority of the correspondence I have on my iPhone is business related. I could use a bit more support in this area. #22 First, I came to ETSU in 2003. At around that time, several changes had taken place in the operations of the OIT. I have the impression from some colleagues who have been here longer that OIT service was close to abysmal at times prior, but that things had become progressively better at around my arrival. Although I have not always agreed or understood some OIT policies, I can say without reservation that OIT staff have ALWAYS been professional, helpful, and accommodating. In my experience the OIT unit has bent over backwards to do what could be done for my own special requests. Indeed, I have the impression that OIT is understaffed but does an outstanding quality job of support for the campus in spite of this challenge. Having said that, here are a few things that could be adjusted or considered to improve OIT's service to the mission of ETSU. * ETSU now has over 15,000 students. I believe it qualifies as a doctoral institution. We have a Med College, a Pharmacy College, a Business School, and even a High- Performance Computing Cluster facility. We are not far in enrollment from the University of Iowa, which is the smallest of the Big Ten universities with around 21,000 students in fall 2010. With growth in student enrollment, faculty numbers, and research and service to the community, it seems less and less viable that the idea of one-size- fits-all for OIT can continue in the future. Specific to my concerns is the perceived need of a Linux administrator for the math and sciences. Although needing to use Windows for many ETSU specific reasons, the Department of Physics and Astronomy is strongly linux oriented in research, but the faculty have to support their own machines in large part, both for ourselves and our students. We even have to manage our own printers. This can be time consuming and inefficient in relation to the research goals that we aspire to (namely, competing for grants and publishing scholarly papers). I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa, and they had a dedicated computer administrator on staff. I was a graduate student and later a Scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin, and they had a dedicated computer administrator on staff. I was a postdoctoral researcher in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, and they had a dedicated (part time) computer administrator just for the astronomy group! Although perhaps such a position might not reasonably be assigned to our department alone, there is enough critical mass between the math and various science departments to justify a dedicated linux administrator. * Why is authorization still needed to purchase computers? * Why can't routers be used? We recently had to stop using routers and have new wall internet ports installed. The rationale appeared to be that if a computer were causing a problem (such as being hacked) and was on a router, OIT could not limit the machine's connectivity. But they would certainly be able to track the problem to the right port (that was the whole point), so just shut down the port and all the machines on the associated router. This policy is annoying because it means that any expansion of computing capacity may entail expensive upgrades to the number of ports in a room. Just seems unnecessary. * The Microsoft mail exchange tool is generally fine, but a few features seem lacking. Mainly, it is difficult to copy contact lists, or easily drag-n-drop names on a list. Also, it appears that when using the tool in the 'light' mode, contact lists cannot be edited when working from a web browser. Note that these are all high level administrative policy issues. In closing I want to reinforce expressions of respect for and satisfaction with OIT staff and performance. #23 About a year ago, the faculty server ("faculty.etsu.edu") was modified so that FTP would no longer work (as a security issue, as I recall). We were told that we could still transfer files using Filezilla. Filezilla works fine with the suggested settings ON CAMPUS. However, the suggested settings for OFF CAMPUS did not work. I contacted OIT several times about how to deal with this, and it has not yet been resolved. The inability to modify my webpages hinders my instructional performance in terms of maintaining websites for my classes, my research performance in terms of keeping my latest research results posted online (my list of publications and preprints of my work), and in terms of advising (I am advisor for the math honors society Kappa Mu Epsilon and for the math Honors-in-Discipline program). In addition, I post any seminar presentations or conference presentations on my website. I have muddled along for the past year, but I am much more capable of keeping everything up-to-date if I can work from off campus. Afterall, isn't that part of our larger agenda concerning doing things online these days? #24 In my opinion, issues relate to the management style of OIT, not so much the individual workers and the job they do. What they are ―allowed‖ to do [or not allowed to do] is part of the issue. The current structure / approach is based on the old ―mainframe in the basement‖ world where end users never had access to, nor interacted with the staff / management. In those days, the technical staff did not need to have an in depth understanding of the ―users‘ world.‖ In the modern age of information technology, and at many campuses across the nation, there have been shifts in how services are delivered. The integration with library services, access to online information and use of multiple data systems by the end user creates a need for more focused customer service, with the intent of finding a way to streamline the workflow, rather than be just the ―police of policy‖ and what can / will be used. It is the needs of the end user that should serve as a framework to adapt OIT‘s approach / strategic plan. One example is that the need to use Adobe PDF reader / writer as an industry standard required by NIH and other grant agencies. Instead of this being included with the OIT purchase specifications for desktop PCs, OIT instructed users to purchase software licenses on an individual basis. Also, sometimes focus on incorporating the use of the latest product / hardware seems to take priority over the fine-tuning of our existing infrastructure. Working on staff and faculty development in the appropriate use of technology within the classroom and for office management / workflow efficiency will be critical in our current state of doing more with less. Another component that adds complexity are the multiple calendar systems across all of the educational programs. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is quite a challenge. #25 Since my time at ETSU I have encountered several problems with OIT, primarily during encounters with Steve. Interestingly, when you OIT needs are not resolved you do not have an opportunity to complete the online survey. I believe this is one problem with the current system for getting feedback to OIT. All of the encounters that have been problematic resulted in no opportunity for feedback because my need was left unresolved. During more than one occasion I have contacted OIT for help and spoken with Steve. During many of these instances he has been degrading and disrespectful by making me feel like I should know/understand what he is talking about or treating me like an idiot or expecting that I should have the knowledge skills to address things on my own. For example, I have told him before that I am trying to get to my e-mail through internet explorer when away from the office and he responded something like I don‘t work on Internet Explorer. On two occasions I have been working with my ETSU laptop on research projects off campus at Earthfare and have called for OIT support. Steve has told me that he is unable to help with my requests and that I could ask Earthfare if they have technical support to assist with my issues because ETSU does not provide support off campus. This is problematic in that I do much of my research collaboration with physicians and other health care providers away from campus. We frequently need access to statistical programs, etc., during our off campus meetings. Thanks for soliciting these requests. Let me know if you have any questions. #26 I just want to mention that OIT‘s new ―security‖ measures restricting access to faculty email accounts hinders my research and professional service. In the past I‘ve always been able to access my email from my home computer using Outlook Express. This fall OIT restricted this so that the only way faculty can access email from off campus is via webmail. I collaborate with many researchers internationally and we are constantly exchanging files concerning our research. The limited storage on the webmail as well as the awkwardness of storing and attaching files costs me extra time when doing this work. Similarly, I‘m on the editorial board of two international journals. Papers are submitted to the journals via email to me. I work from my home computer on nights and weekends handling the demands of these submitted papers. The extra work of having to access the email via webmail instead of a more convenient program like Outlook Express is hindering my work, especially considering the number files that I handle each day. I called OIT to request that I be allowed to use Outlook for email from home. They said that I could not because of securing privacy of student records. They offered me a student account on gmail, and at first I thought that might help. But it is my faculty email address that my collaborators and the journals use, so the student account is of no use to me. I don‘t see how the webmail is giving any more security than other forms of access, but even if it is, my home computer is private to me (extremely secure) and the trade-off is costing me time and effort. #27 I am a professor who is performing clinical research. I have obtained a grant to perform the research. In order to collect the data, a specialized data base is required. One has been designed and can be implemented by hiring the data-base programmer on a temporary basis through the grant funding obtained to do the project. OIT would not allow the hiring of a database manager, it was said that the management of the program must be performed through OIT, even though the OIT personnel do not have the expertise do manage the database. Further, I opted to purchase a laptop from grant funds. The one OIT deemed I purchase was $1100, while the one I wanted to purchase was $600.00 and was satisfactory for the job that needed to be performed. I had to sign a contract agreeing that I would not expect OIT to assist with service and maintenance should they become necessary. In hard economic times, we should be fiscally responsible and try to help each other out. OIT does not seem to consider this. #28 I have mixed feelings regarding OIT. On the one hand, they have been very responsive and effective at maintenance of my office computer, which is an Apple computer. Specifically, Erik Stigler is the ‗point‘ person on the maintenance of Apple computers on campus. He is excellent. Typically, if I email him directly, he will at my office within half an hour. It is rare that there is a problem Erik cannot fix. So, many kudos towards him and I hope that OIT is able to hold on to him. There is another OIT staffer, Brandon,(I forget his last name) who is also excellent. He recently fixed the hard drive on my laptop. He responded promptly and returned it to me within a couple of days when I had convinced myself all was lost. He has also been very helpful with the Department‘s computer lab. However, my primary issues with OIT is with the response of the help desk, specifically, Steve at the help desk. I do not know his last name. I had a password issue last year in which I would be logged out of my email account almost ‗randomly.‘I would have reset my password each day, and a user can reset their password only once every 24 hours. I sent this problem to the help desk several times, always responded to by Steve, and he essentially told me I was either typing in my password wrong or I had a device, such as an iPad/iPhone (which I do not own) was logging in with the wrong password automatically. After many, many rounds of this, I finally was able to get in touch with Erik Stigler, who promptly diagnosed the problem and it has been fixed ever since. I am an active researcher on campus, and overall, I think OIT is reasonably effective although they could always do a better job. I think there are specific places this can be remedied, namely, having Steve removed as the response person at the OIT help desk. #29 I was very happy with XP; I had all my research and two chapters on XP; I knew the system fairly well. I Still do not know Vista! OIT informed me that I was getting a new computer and that I had no say in the matter. SO I got the damn thing. Now my lazier printer won't run on it, I have trouble with power point going back and forth from my XP at home to the Damn Vista at school, and I have misplaced research. Of course the footnoting and end noting systems are totally different. Recently I learn that some fortunate few were able to have their computers upgraded to Windows 7 but not me and it would really do me no good. I'd love to have the XP system again! It might be helpful if those at OIT who make decisions based on convenience had ever written a book or published an article. They then might better understand!!! #30 Most of my experiences with OIT have been positive results and I‘ve always been able to count on and receive help from the help Desk (Dustin and Steve) and from Daniel McLellan. I really appreciate their willingness to sometimes go above and beyond to help out. That being said, there is an item worth mentioning that likely other departments have experienced as well that needs to be addressed. That is the problems with ―New User Accounts.‖ The time from which a person is hired and their ETSU email account is created can vary from days to sometimes weeks. In the meantime, the new hire has no computer access (unless someone volunteers to log-in a computer for them, which as we all know is not a good idea). This is the information age and it is amazing to me that something so simple takes so long to get done. I‘m not sure what the current process is for generating a computer account. I do know that it begins with an HR signed contract. One-two weeks later, the employee has access. The delay in generating an account is frustrating; both for the faculty and staff especially when so many of the required training sessions are on-line and require computer access. This is a problem that could be easily fixed if it was taken seriously. COMMENTS REGARDING OIT FROM FACULTY SURVEY #1 need instructional designer for online class support #2 far as OIT goes, the fortress mentality fostered by this "organization" is unhelpful, intimidating, and, frankly, rude. Isn't OIT supposed to "serve" the campus?? Help us do our jobs? The disdain that comes out of OIT is quite tiresome. #3 Dismissive attitude toward calls for tech support with erring (Microsoft) software #4 OIT policies and practices have hindered my ability to educate students more than any other single factor on campus (although there are other issues, OIT policies are number one). I am actively seeking ways to get students access to computational facilities and software via private vendors off-campus because OIT policies have been so damaging. If I were back in the private sector and the service provided by OIT were provided by an employee or independent contractor, they would be fired and replaced immediately. This group has proven to be the least helpful group of computer service providers that I have ever seen anywhere - public or private sector. #5 The current policy takes used office computers and gives them to local schools. I could use these computers for my students. I have 2 desks in my research lab that undergraduate and graduate students used for their research. Due to this policy I have to purchase their computers from research grant funds. I also use several computers to run equipment and collect data and these machines are much older than the OIT one just removed from my desk. Additionally, when we purchase computers for the lab we are forced to buy Dell with service agreements that double the cost. Computers are expendable supplies. The last one I purchased at home was a nice lap top for $550. We should have automatic backup for all our computers. We have Carbonite at home that automatically backs up our files. Why not at ETSU?? #6 1. OIT refuses to support Acrobat which is the program that the GRADUATE SCHOOL uses to review theses. Had my department not provided a copy of Acrobat to me, I would not be able to actively comment on .pdfs of theses. I acknowledge it may be the case that the grad school may be willing to provide other document formats, but in my actual experience with thesis review, .pdf was the preferred format. That said, either OIT needs to support the program (which it won't because of security risks) or the Grad School needs to work in a different doc format. 2. OIT refuses to provide adequate mail- forwarding from Outlook. Faculty email recently moved to a new server and upon the move, all forwarding rules were negated. My rules haven't changed, they just no longer work. This, then, can only mean that OIT has constrained that particular affordance of Outlook mail. This irritates me because students are provided a Gmail-based goldmail account whose searchability, conversational management, storage capacity, consistency of the UI across Outlook and Webmail (by virtue that there is only ONE gmail UI) and integration with other related services like calendars, groups, etc. that is vastly superior to Outlook mail. As a participant in ETSU's Faculty Technology Leadership initiative, I was enrolled as a student and thus given a goldmail account. It is my preference that I use that email address than my Outlook faculty mail, but because of OIT's refusal to change my default email in Banner to my goldmail account and because of OIT's constraining of Outlook mail forwarding, I am refused the opportunity to use the email platform that works best for ME. I am forced, then to manage two different ETSU mail accounts because my students contact me via goldmail as does the majority of my department but administrative and D2L mail still arrive via Outlook. OIT is basically paranoid and utterly ridiculous in terms of some of it's technology support decisions, especially with regard to email. This is ridiculous and is the third most significant factor contributing to my lack of complete satisfaction with my job following my failure to receive any kind of a raise since I've been here (the annoyance of which has been exacerbated by an increase in my medical premiums) and the challenges of managing a recently changed administration in my department (which is unavoidable). #7 OIT has been a constant source of obstruction for all computing needs other than standard office computing. #8 OIT needs to be forced to be more transparent and responsive. They are like some giant ghost sucking money from students and not accountable. They do not service peripherals; that puts an enormous burden on my department which uses many expensive, complicated, technological printers and scanners. Technology is technology, picking and choosing what part of that they support unfair to students in our department and our programs. #9 Please separate ELearning staff from OIT. ELearning staff are wonderful and so helpful. OIT is not service oriented and behind the technology curve. They have set up a "kingdom" and need to be removed from the castle. #10 Maybe the university as a whole should look at how we are organized and do some serious rethinking about how to maximize our curriculum, and structure, and opportunities for cost savings, to suit the world we've shifted into. Start pulling together scattered programs that can support each other in both curriculum and infrastructure needs. Think about how technology needs for the campus as a whole may need to be restructured. #11 A basic example is the OIT - they have overdone the security so much that I can't get to some medical sites without a special release. Who has time to keep doing these requests. Also the basic log on security is based on frequent changes of password rather than quality of more secure passwords. #12 OIT problems are mainly caused by: 1) subcontractors during replacement cycles, 2) OIT specifications of what equipment will be purchased and/or supported, and 3) OIT withdrawing support for recommended equipment after it is purchased. #13 I would like to expand a little on the OIT question. While at times, OIT policy has proved troublesome, individual OIT personnel have always responded rapidly and efficiently to address my difficulties. #14 The main problem OIT has is that it is extremely understaffed. Also, their religious policy of pushing Microsoft software on the faculty hinders some faculty from carrying out their research. They should support all operating systems including McIntosh OS and Linux/Unix. #15 I just returned from annual leave today to find that OIT consficated my computer. This department obstructs my work. I am disgusted with the level of "support" from OIT. #16 I would like to see OIT support the use of linux software. Or, as an adjunct, I would like to be able to purchase computers with university approved software. #17 OIT help desk people are extremely helpful. However, this past fall, OIT suddenly began prohibiting faculty from moving files to the faculty web server from off campus. So we basically threw out a great advantage of the internet, which is that you can use it from remote locations, during snow storms, etc., to communicate with students. I tried to find out why this policy changed, and I couldn't find anyone on campus who was advocating faculty access to technology--other than D2L, which is not the same as the internet. #18 The only saving grace in OIT is Erik Stiegler. Otherwise, need a whole new OIT. Fire Bragg. Banner is the worst accounting system ever; needs changing. #19 OIT tend to take the position that it is "a few of them" AGAINST "a bunch of faculty and staff." 9. OIT staff are not held accountable for actions that are damaging to the teaching and research performance and success of the faculty. 10. Mark Bragg is not qualified to lead an organization such as OIT 11. OIT and some higher Administration officials (e.g., David Collins) have no good understanding of the REAL e-risk to university computers and machines and as such enforce ridiculous rules and make decisions that interfere with University business (teaching and research). #20 I teach a technology intensive course through which I need to demonstrate content specific software. According to OIT policy, I have not been allowed to load the software on the instructor's computer in the classroom (which is connected to the presentation system). Also I was not allowed to purchase an ebook or ipad through my grant funds because these devices were said to have no educational value. Faculty at other universities are winning large federally supported research and teacher personnel preparation grants to investigate the effectiveness and application of these devices in K- 12 classrooms and in higher education.
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