Information Technology Committee
November 2, 1998
Present: Alison Baker, Lowell Ballard, Arnold Bradford, Carol Sinwell for Gen Chu, Suzanne Hintz, Robert McGrory, Neil Reynolds, Dan Riley, Steven Sachs (chair), Judd Sage, John Sener, Lionel Sylvas, Tony Tardd, Barbara Wyles
Absent: Max Bassett, Gail Kettlewell, Charlotte Wilhelmi
Guests: Fred Hecklinger
  1. Minutes Approved
Minutes of the September 14, 1998, ITC Meeting were approved.
  1. Report on Technology Spending Plans
Dr. Sachs reported that the VCCS approved the College's Technology Plan on Friday, October 30. He also gave an update on technology spending plans he has received to date. The plans cover Classroom of the Future, Application Development and Lab Support funds. Campuses and staff units cannot spend the funds until plans have been submitted to Dr. Sachs and approved.
  1. Confidentiality issues related to student e-mail
The current student e-mail system allows for easy mailing to all students in each class because the mailing lists are automatically set up. However, this also makes it possible for anyone with an NVCC e-mail account to determine a student's e-mail address and class schedule. At the September ITC meeting, the Committee recommended changing current College policy governing the release of student addresses to indicate that e-mail addresses are not considered addresses with respect to this policy and can be made public through directories and distribution lists. The issue of the distribution lists was postponed to this meeting. During the interval between ITC meetings, Technical Support Services found a solution to the way to provide the distribution lists while keeping student schedules confidential. The committee unanimously voted to direct TSS to implement this solution. Class membership will be available by accessing the distribution list for the class, but it will not be possible to use that distribution list to access any other information about individual students in the class.

Dr. Bradford asked if the distribution lists could be updated by faculty, and if faculty members could be added to their class distribution lists. (Note on follow-up: the current program that generates the distribution lists will not allow these things. They can be included when the program is updated in the near future.) The question of whether a student that receives a "W" grade during the semester remains on the active distribution list remains to be answered.

  1. Nominations for Oracle training
There were no nominations for a faculty or staff member to participate in the Oracle training for administrative applications and serve as the College's Oracle trainer.
  1. Free Internet dial-access for faculty
At the September ITC meeting, the issue of whether TSS and OIT should pursue free dial-up Internet access for faculty was referred to the CITGs/TLTRs. The cost of providing this service would come at the expense of other uses of those funds. Three campuses (AL, AN and MA) reported little or no interest. ELI and LO indicated that it would only be worth it for students, though LO felt it would be appropriate for faculty outside the local area who can only access the Internet through a long distance call. ELI indicated it might also be appropriate for faculty teaching web-based courses. At the September meeting it was pointed out that providing free access for students was beyond available funds. Therefore, given the lack of interest on the part of the CITGs/TLTRs, no further action will be taken at this time.

Dr. Sachs pointed out the October 30 Washington Post provided a comprehensive list of Internet Service Providers along with rates and other relevant details.

  1. Acceptable Use Policy
Dean Baker discussed ideas on things to include in the Acceptable Use Policy for computers she is developing. There was discussion of ways to deal with time limits on computers when students were waiting, prohibition of anything illegal, and limiting use to only academically- related activities. There was also some discussion of when staff use of computers (or phones) for non-official purposes constituted "too much" or abuse. Since the cost of accessing the Internet is very low (or free), the primary problem is loss of productive staff time. It was suggested the policy might include a statement, "obey all posted signs." Causing software crashes or vandalizing computers is covered by other College policies, though some additional language in the Acceptable Use policy might be needed. It was also pointed out that students should not attempt to repair equipment on their own. A comment was made that the Policy should focus on positive uses instead of negative or prohibited uses, and should not encourage posting numerous signs. Dean Baker will continue working on a Policy to propose to the ITC.
  1. Technical Support for Students
Dr. Sachs proposed allocating $7,802 of the lab support funds included in the Technology Plan to providing limited technical support for students using their own computers. There has been a great deal of interest in providing some organized support now that student e-mail has been provided and there has been rapid growth in the use of the Internet outside of traditional ELI courses. This recommendation passed unanimously. Dr. Sachs will work with TSS and ELI to develop and implement a plan for this support.
  1. Training Update
Mr. McGrory distributed a handout showing how last year's training/mentoring funds were spent at the College, campus and staff levels. The ITC voted to continue the one CSS&T Trainer through the Spring semester. This trainer will rotate among the campuses. Where training follow-up is needed by the participants, they can e-mail the trainer at the "Trainer" mailbox.

An update from Dr. Sachs indicated that the upgrade to Office97 would begin in approximately one week. Mr. Ballard reported that we already have the CBT for it. The ITC voted not to purchase licenses for printing manuals to accompany Office97. It was felt most features are so similar that it would be an easy upgrade (especially since the CBT is available) and that offices can easily purchase commercial materials if they find them necessary.

Mr. McGrory reported that he is in the process of conducting a training needs assessment with faculty and staff and will report back with specific spending plans in December. Suggestions or training needs can also be made through the "HRDTraining" mailbox. The ITC voted not to pay for certification exams, though the related training is appropriate for support if sufficient funds are available.

  1. Office of Information Technology Update
Dr. Sachs reported on the formation of Year 2000 committees at each campus and staff unit. These committees will do final assessments of potential Year 2000 problems (several assessments have already been done), and will develop contingency plans to insure continued operations if outside events cause service interruptions.

He also reported on the Technology Summit held with technology managers throughout the College. He distributed a list of communication barriers, communication problems and potential solutions that were developed at this meeting. Work is underway to prioritize the information and develop specific plans for improving communication among the technology providers. A similar meeting will be held with a group of technology users in the near future.

Office 97 will available for upgrades within the next week now that the Technology Plan has been approved. The actual licenses will have to be bid and these new ones will include upgrade protection so that Office 2000 can be installed using the same license. Many computers have already been licensed for Office 97. Only enough new licenses will be purchased at this time to insure each campus and staff office has enough (counting the ones they have already purchased) for the technology plan computers. If the campus or office wants to upgrade additional machines, they will have to use their own funds.

It was requested that all faculty and staff test their on-line grading log-ons and passwords during November to avoid last minute problems. A reminder will also be printed in Intercom. Any log-on or password problems should be reported to the IT Help Desk.

  1. TSS Update
Mr. Ballard reported that implementation of the IT Help Desk is nearly complete. E-mail notifications are now automatically sent out with a job number and with updates on job status. When jobs are complete, there is an on-line survey for the person who requested assistance to fill out. In the near future it will be possible for individuals to monitor their job's status on the web. Committee discussion stressed there needs to be a continuing effort to insure language is clear and not filled with jargon to average users since most have little technical or organizational knowledge. For example, the average user may not make much distinction between technical staff from TSS and technical staff from the campus unless it is clearly spelled out for them.

He also reported that full-time pager support for critical functions is being established. This will insure technical staff is alerted if a server goes down. Remote control troubleshoot will also be implemented in the near future to allow the Help Desk to provide more direct assistance to users.


He expects College-wide voice mail to be implemented by the end of Fall semester.

  1. Technology Council Update
Dean Baker distributed copies of the upcoming VCCS Technology Council agenda and indicated she would welcome comments and suggestions on any of the topics. She also indicated that a decision on whether to implement the Administrative/Management Information System tools purchased with the People Soft software or whether to go out with a separate procurement will be made soon. One major issue facing the VCCS that will be discussed at the Technology Council is whether to implement the new Student Administration System and new Administrative Systems at the same time, or whether to stagger them.     12. Next Meeting Monday, December 14, 1:00 - 3:00 P.M., Brault Building Board Room.


Notes prepared by:


                                                 Steven G. Sachs Associate
                                                  Dean for Information Technology
                                                  Acting Committee Chair


pc: Dr. Wheelan