Tag Archives: technology

educause 2019 mega-post

My annual EDUCAUSE “post of posts.” Any error, omissions, or misrepresentations are completely on me; please let me know if you find anything truly awful that needs editing. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14 (Pre-Conference)

Tuesday, October 15

Wednesday, October 16

AVAILABILITY ON THE SPOT: THE USE OF AWS SPOT INSTANCES TO ACHIEVE COST EFFECTIVE AVAILABILITY

Presenters

  • Lisa Smith, Infrastructure Engineer, CSUN
  • Steven Fitzgerald, Professor & Director of META+LAB, CSUN
  • Jorge Ruiz, Infrastructure Engineer, CSUN

META-LAB experience: provide real-world experience to CSUN students

New project = new problem

  • Create a new environment that is highly available and highly scalable for the lowest cost possible
  • When hosting a new app an IT team needs to determine the best solution for hosting the app
  • We considered: upfront cost, scalability, end-user satisfaction

Cloud Computing

Practice of using a network of remote servicers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server

On-demand delivery of IT resources

Deployment Models

  • On-premise: physical in-house infrastructure
  • Al-in-cloud all virtualized cloud infra
  • Hybrid: on-premise and all-in-cloud

Pricing Models

  • On-demand: pay-as-you-go
  • Reserved: pay in advance and save the most (nothing up-front, partial up-front, all up-front)
  • Spot: savings up to 90%, dedicated (VERY CHEAP)

To Amazon, spot instances are unused “spare machines” nobody is using, and therefore wasting money from Amazon’s perspective.

AWS Terminology and Services

  • Region is a geographical area
  • Each region is made of 2 or more availability zones (achieves fault tolerance and stability, regions are isolated from one another)
  • You enable and control data replication across regions: when you distribute apps across multiple AZs, be aware of location-dependent privacy and compliance requirements.
  • EZ AZ is made up of 1 or more data centers
  • VPC: Networking component; same functionalities of an on-premise network (subnets, route tables, NAC lists, etc.)
  • EC2 and ELB: virtual servers and elastic load balancing (distribute incoming traffic, adjust to rapid changes in network traffic by distributing across multiple EC2 instances in the cloud w/out manual intervention.
  • Lambda: fully managed serverless compute, zero-admin compute platform, lets you run code w/out provisioning or managing servers, pay only for the compute time you consume.
  • Amazon Databases: RDS (MySQL, MSSQL Server, Postgresql, MariaDB, Oracle. High durability and highly available (multiple deployment types).

Availability on the Spot

  • https://calstatepays.org
  • How do we use cloud services to improve our infra and decrease costs for the client?
  • Make sure the infra was highly available and fault tolerant

Challenges of Spot Instances

  • Spot price fluctuates
  • Hourly prices is based on demand
  • 2 minute interruption warning(!)
  • Typically used if you can afford interruptions

Forming Solutions

For calstatepays.org: EC2 Spot Instances, Cloudwatch (triggering a Lambda function if the alarm is triggered), ELB to control traffic. An infrastructure diagram was shared.

Cloudwatch constantly watches our instances, when someone is willing to pay more for our spot instances, it tells us about the 2-minute warning so we can be proactive and do something about it. We call a Lambda function which spins up an additional spot instance for us, and it is configured so that it is registered with and works with our ELB. We use AMIs (pre-built images) that are configured for our application.

Final Thoughts

This solution allowed us to build an inexpensive and fault-tolerant infrastructure for CalStatePays.org.

Q: how often have spot instances gone done for you? I don’t think we’ve changed our spot instance price for three months.

Q: Is there the possibility that both instances could go down? Yes, that can happen but it’s very rare. The 2-minute window is enough notice in our experience. We have an 18-month history of costs, and over 6 months it didn’t actually go up at all.

Q: can you do this for RDS as well? Yes.

Q: where are user sessions stored? Our application was an SPA (single page application); we never wrote to the local disk, it was always retrieved from the RDS instance. Load balancer will help to handle this.

Q: in Lambda, does your rule account for cost increases? YES! It queries current prices and selects the lowest cost one based on a bidding rule that we set, i.e. the least amount of money.

Q: you have used spot instances exclusively for this app, or is anything in “on-demand” instances? Only our RDS is on an on-demand instance. And we monitor that with a separate Lambda function. You’ve found that there’s always a spot instance available? Yes. In our experience, it’s worked well. Prices are pretty steady, but you can monitor that.

Q: how long have you been running the app in this scenario: Feb/Mar.

Accessibility compliance and sustainable business processes for web, instructional materials, and procurement

Presenters

  • Cheryl Pruitt (CP), Director, Accessible Technology, CSU Office of the Chancellor
  • Sue Cullen (SC), Assistant Director, CSU Office off the Chancellor
  • Leslie Kennedy (LK), Director, Academic Technology Solutions, CSU Office of the Chancellor

When you think of Accessibility Compliance and Sustainable Business Processes, What comes to Mind?

  • It’s difficult!
  • Voting
  • Reading lunch menu
  • Viewing sports events
  • Frankly anything!

Does this affect many people? YES

  • 2010 census report, about 56.7 million people – 19 percent of the population – had a disability
  • % of undergrads who reported having a disability was 19.4 percent in 15/16
  • 26 percent of undergrads who were vets reported having a disability
  • CSU students with disabilities self identified and validated: 2016 16,429 verified disability!

Accessibility is a Civil Right

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 504 and 508
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990
  • Campus violations can result in charges of discriminatory practices by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
  • Get buy-in from faculty, staff, and administration on the importance of accessibility as a civil right

Neglecting Accessibility…A Closer Look

  • OCR complaints: student and outsider complaints
  • Lawsuits: National Federation of the Blind, National Association of the Deaf

Sustainable Business Processes to Support

  • Civil rights
  • Students academic pursuits (curriculum, extracurricular)
  • Faculty, staff, administrators and the public
  • Universal Design approach to support goals of inclusion and Civil Rights

ATI Supporting Civil Rights

  • Policy: collaborative development, report development, assessment data – ATI Annual reports, training ATI maturity model
  • Generic sustainable business process development: 3 COPs, Working groups, accessible technology network, proof of concepts, campus exemplar examples shared in COP groups, Sharepoint website.
  • Governed through EO 1111. “It is CSU policy to ensure that individuals with disabilities shall have ewqual access to and the opportunity to participate in CSU programs, activities and services.”

CSU ATI Framework: Policy, 3 priority areas, Strategies

  • CMM: 25 goals and 150+ success indicators
  • Continuous business process improvement with strong executive support
  • Make a campus plan > Work the campus plan > Measure Progress
  • 3 high level priority areas: Procurement, Instructional Materials, Web

ATI Steering Committee

  • Provides support, resources, guides implementation, approves plan and ATI reports.
  • ATI steering committee chair, PM, VPs, Academic Senate, DSS, ADA compliance officer

Determine Impact: ATI Prioritization Framework 5-Step Approach

  1. Assess risk factors (impact, likelihood of significant barriers, probability: likelihood of consequences)
  2. Assign risk level (High, Medium, Low)
  3. Determine campus capacity (What resources needed?)
  4. Set priority level (to determine course of action consider the risk level to campus)
  5. Take action (document decisions, acquire resources needed)

Q: where do success indicators come from? Who created them? CP: no blueprint existed when we started out. We adopted a capability maturity model because of the scale/depth/breadth of scope. Our success criteria ended up appearing in some of our OCR complaints.

Q: is there any data showing student success based on any of this? CP: users are not self-identifying, so it’s tough. We DO have data on students served with accommodations.

Generic sustainable business process development

  • Goals and success indicators provide a roadmap for moving ATI forward: applying status levels, creating generic business processes
  • ATI Prioritization Framework: impact and probability – risk assessment
  • Roles & responsibilities: president appoint ATI sponsor; steering committee

Generic 4 Step Process

  1. Procurement: templates, roles & responsibilities, vendor requirements
  2. VPAT review process and training
  3. Estimated effort to implement process; individual campus: procurement process training and VPAT training
  4. CO procurement product reviews RFPs, MEAs, etc.: Vendor and RFP requirements, document reviews, vendor consultation, vendor demo

ATI Services Network

  • Processes design and template development
  • Library database accessibility documentation critical review
  • Web support for systemwide automated evaluation tool: systemwide shared checkpoints; training

Web

  • Automated and manual systemwide web training: video training & participation assessment
  • For all members of the campus community: intro to accessibility
  • Web Developers: HTML5 accessibility; JS accessibility; Compliance Sheriff Product training
  • Web content creators and web developers
  • Manual evaluation worksheet template and training resource

Instructional Materials

  • AIMHub services
  • Captioning roles & responsibilities 3rd party contract (CaptionSync): training, prioritization, custom video training webinars
  • CommonLook Pilot: tools & remediation services contract
  • Library database reviews
  • Faculty Information Home: navigation of online materials, how-to materials, administrative and planning considerations, shared student work, resources

Cheryl reviewed the procurement working group’s 4-step process development.

CSU Addressing Accessibility Requirements Project (CAARP)

  • Formed to follow-up on the letter to Presidents from Dr. Blanchard
  • Designed to augment/complement and should support the strong foundation of your ongoing ATI projects, ATI staff, and annual ATI self-eval processes that campuses have been conducting for over 10 years
  • Plans should be submitted for review and approval to Chancellor White by September 6, 2019

Who handles issues around CSU compliance?

  • ATI
  • Office of Chancellor, general counsel
  • Audit

NOMI: a tool to secure professor-student connection

Presenters

  • Whitney Scott (WS), Director of Faculty Development, CSUN
  • Tiffany Navales (TN), UI/UX Designer & Front-End Developer, CSUN

What is it like when someone addresses you by your name? When someone, you don’t expect to know you, says your name, what is your reaction?

“Nobody cares what you know until…they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Why is this important?

Higher education is built largely on what we know. Building relationships is important to humanizing the classroom experience…and learning names is key! Names are political, they represent history and experiences before they come to the classroom. Is there a way for technology to help in this process?

  • ISR: Instructor Student Relationships. Higher quality IS relationships is correlated to student success. Are students engaging? Are instructors calling students by name? Some benefits: motivation, attendance, reduced disruptive behaviors, student willingness to take risks, building trust.
  • People who share traits, attitudes, birthdates are more likely to relate better.
  • Development & oxytocin: generated by the frontal lobe when people are interacting and connecting. Using a student’s name in class helps to create a welcoming environment that can help do this. By contrast, cortisol is generated by an activated amygdala, which is anathema to learning and engagement.

Labor Intensive Paper Strategy

  • Use paper strips with student names written on them to learn student names
  • Have students write their names on construction paper, held in front of them, then take a photo. These images were then combined into a Word document…all students in a class in one document. Very labor intensive!

Student Driven Process

  • Why not use canvas? Canvas can upload a photo/avatar. Face recognition could be difficult when a student uploads (avatars, photos that are outdated, heavily filtered photos). It’s also not very mobile friendly
  • What are the challenges for faculty learning their student’s names?
  • Do you think all faculty would use this?
  • How big is a typical classroom?

NOMI: Names Of Matador Individuals (“Know Me”)

  • Class roster automatically imports
  • Easily review students by semester
  • Take photos of students within the application
  • Take private notes to help remember student interests, likes, similarities, etc.
  • Shared photos so that the more faculty use the web application, the richer the database
  • Integration with a student profile manager for students to individually upload their photos for larger classes
  • Test yourself with flashcards to learn student names
  • It’s mobile friendly!

Tiffany gave a demo of NOMI and the functionality

Q: how long did it take to get the app to this stage? TN: It took over a year.

Q: is this used by the campus? TN: it’s not a campus-wide rollout

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
– Maya Angelou

Compass crm Program year 2: completing the 360 degree view of the student (how we did it, benefits, and how much it cost)

Presenter

  • Jake Hornsby, CIO, CSU East Bay

Been on this journey for a year and a half, but the mission is the same: make students successful

  • Academic prep
  • Enrollment mgmt
  • Financial aid
  • Student engagement & well-being
  • Data driven decision making
  • administrative barriers

Roadmap: 2017: Kickoff, build team, select vendor and base tools > 2018 Quick wins > 2019 Branch out > 2020+ endless innovation

Going Big: what are we doing or will with CRM?

  • University Extension: manages student lifecycle & interactions between faculty, students and admin; automated comm via marketing cloud; service cloud (planning)
  • ITS: partner program of opportunity tracking and campus wide, open reporting (Tableau)
  • Campus Wide CRM project (Compass): Marketing automations; service for student success (case mgmt, knowledge, live chat, bots; Advancement (gifts, marcom, volunteers, community, social listening); Student community (OrgSync replacement); other (volunteers for Salesforce campus-wide, internships, scholarships, international/grad/other programs; Mobile app (ModoLabs replacement)

Summary of Current Programs

  • Programs: advancement, communications, student community, expanding service cloud
  • Partners: EigenX, Appirio, UC Innovations, Salesforce (5 campus collaboration

Adoption rate bumps every time we bring on new use cases

How does this all work?

All aimed at nudging individuals through to completion:

  1. Marketing and communications
  2. Student Experience/Case Management
  3. Building communities

And the subtext: reducing legacy debt, reducing costs (sort of), simplifying, making a student experience.

Theme 1: Marketing and Communications

Automated marketing, using real people data; social listening and advertising.. We create user journeys, which can branch endlessly. We want to at least know that when they reach a certain stage in the funnel, are they a “hot prospect?”

Theme 2: Student Experience and Case/Queue Management

  • Case Management
  • Forms & requests
  • Chatbots/AI (auto suggest, case deflection)
  • A real one stop shop?

Theme 3: Building Communities

  • Advancement
  • Student
  • Prospective
  • Parents

Giving Control to the Users

  • Graduate/Intl. programs
  • Colleges and programs
  • Student Life
  • Academic Advising
  • Athletics
  • Police
  • Fixing old stuff
  • Hr?
  • Etc.

Total Costs

  • High for professional services/one-time
  • Medium for total recurring
  • Significant replaced/cost avoidance
  • Net difference (but not real, will be reinvested)

General Issues

  • Culture: how to fix? particularly understanding experiences vs. efficiency. Can we have a student experience program without a staff experience one?
  • Products: classic higher ed or open market
  • Partners: which one? and when?
  • People: hard to find, hard to keep; how can we collaborate?

Getting Involved

  • Power of us hub
  • Cal State collaborative (Northridge, Fullerton, Monterey Bay, Chico and East Bay)
  • Local community groups (non-profits are experts)
  • Ask us for a demo…make sure to include primarily administrators!

Q: some constituents want it, what’s their reception to this that can be viewed as an additional set of work? JH: each constituency knows what they want, they want the data pushed to other areas once they have it.

Q: what role does Salesforce play in higher education? JH: I don’t know how to answer that question.