Erindale College Council

REPORT OF THE COMPUTING COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, October 28, 2003 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3138, South Building.

Erindale College Council


MINUTES OF THE COMPUTING COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, October 28, 2003 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3138, South Building.

PRESENT: J. Seel (Chair), P. Donoghue, J. Lim, A. Vyas, B. Thompson, S. Hill, N. Collins, J. Hu
REGRETS: C. Capewell, P. Michelucci, D. Smith, J. Sills, F. Montealegre, S. Qureshi

1. Adoption of the Agenda
The Agenda was approved. (A. Vyas / B. Thompson)

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The minutes of the March 17, 2003 meeting were approved. (A. Vyas / J. Lim)

3. Business Arising from the Minutes
4. New Business
a) Report on Initiatives of Computing Services – J. Lim
The Manager of Computing Services reported that the department acquired a new OMR scanner. The department has recently finished developing the software for multiple choice scoring and is currently in the process of reprogramming the existing software for the student opinion surveys. Over the summer, a network storage device was launched, which allows UTM faculty and staff to save files to a system, which will automatically back up these files. He reported that usage of this new system has been slow. He noted that a new server was completed for the Parking Office. As well, the department hired a new webmaster, Ms. Jenny Hu. Over the summer, staff participated in the TechKnow File conference by presenting a paper on web based course calendars. Current work is focusing on incorporating a print version of the calendar. In terms of UTM capital projects and the associated work, the network part of phase 7 was completed. He also reported that UTM is participating in the Faculty of Arts & Science laptop program. Current vendors in the program are Dell and IBM, but negotiations are expected with other vendors. In addition, plans are in place to publicize the program more widely to new students.

b) Report on Initiatives of MicroElectronics – A. Vyas

Mr. Vyas reported that as a result of the academic restructuring, there was much systems work associated with the move of various faculty. In addition, systems were upgraded in the Centre for Athletics, Health Services, CABB and the Greenhouse. There were also major upgrades in the systems of the Biology lab and the new speech lab in Psychology. He reported that during the summer a number of projects were completed.

c) Introduction of White Paper Planning – J. Seel
The Chair pointed to several relevant sections of the White Paper that needed input from members at the next meeting of the Computing Committee. These sections included the use of information technology in teaching and learning in the consideration of curricula; reviewing courseware development; upgrading to smart classrooms; how student portals should be set up and how the university should maintain and improve its research computing capacity.

The Chair asked members to point to additional sections of the Report. A member suggested looking at the ‘Thompson Report’ and ‘Raising Our Sights’ to provide a good understanding of the current status of information technology at UTM. It was suggested that the Committee appoint a special group to report back to the Committee on this issue. This group would consist of a representative from the Library, MicroElectronics, Computing, Instructional Media and the Office of the Registrar. Relevant sections of these two reports will be emailed to all Committee members to aid in the discussion for the next meeting.

A member raised the importance of the issue of connectivity and communication between different systems. In response to a member’s question about technology teaching, the Chair noted that the Library has recently hired a staff whose task is to help faculty and staff with technology related issues such as creating and managing websites. She added that this type of program would likely be expanded to include some student sessions. The member commented that CCIT is in the process of developing an Instructional Technology/IT resource office and asked whether UTM intends to create a technology enhanced learning centre. The Chair commented that the new Library intended to expand this type of area.

d) Computer Security Issues – J. Lim
i) Current services in place and problems
ii) Physical security
iii) Norton Anti-virus software
iv) NAS Backup Availability
v) Discussion of faculty, staff and student involvement in computer security issues

In late August and early September, UTM experienced a series of virus attacks. This had a major adverse effect on computing staff time, which is still ongoing. Mr. Lim reported that the Computing Department would like to develop a plan, which will ensure that faculty/staff/students run their Windows update regularly. It was suggested that because of this problem’s serious affect on the network integrity, the department obtain a list of unprotected users, instruct them in the correct procedure, and have a deadline attached to its completion. If users do not comply, they would be removed from the network.

The Chair noted that the back up system needs to be promoted to UTM faculty and staff. It was agreed that the Computing department, together with MicroElectronics, would make educational presentations to departments in order to encourage the use of the back-up system. During these presentations, the system’s advantages in teaching would be emphasized.

e) Email and large attachments – A. Vyas
Mr. Vyas raised the issue of many faculty and staff sending very large files via email, which tends to slow down the server. He suggested that his department educate faculty and staff on a more effective way of communicating large files, by saving work in a web folder. He will work with departments and frequent senders of such emails to address this issue.

5. Other Business

a) A member commented that some have experienced long waits on the trouble ticket system asked for an update on the system. Mr. Lim responded that in general there are sufficient resources to meet demand; however, there have been several unforeseen events, such as viruses, which have taken up the time of staff. He added that requests are prioritized and they are usually completed within two weeks. The Chief Administrative Officer asked that an analysis of the trouble ticket system be brought to the next meeting of the Computing Committee.

b) In response to a member’s request for an update on the status of the GIS support in Library, the Chair reported that the Library has hired someone with this responsibility.

c) Mr. Vyas reported that during the recent power outage, some faculty experienced major research delays because their systems were not protected. In response to this issue, MicroElectronics plans to do more work in educating faculty and staff on how to secure their systems in case of power outages. Mr. Vyas will have specific recommendations on this issue at the next meeting of the Computing Committee.

d) Mr. Lim reported that Web CT services are being hosted by the St. George campus during this year. UTM may be developing its own web ct software in conjunction with the University of Toronto at Scarborough.

6. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Computing Committee will be on Tuesday, November 25, 2003.

7. Adjournment

The meeting was adjourned at 4:30 p.m. (B. Thompson / P. Donoghue)