Report to ITS Management
From SIGUCCS XXIV
Sept 29-Oct 2 1996
Colleen Bretzlaff, Angela Devito, Peter Marshall
This report is available in its entirety in a
PostScript version suitable for
either viewing or printing or as plain ASCII
First a few common acronyms explained:
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Special Interest Group on University and College
- Special Interest Group on Computers in Education
Peter has joined all 3 groups as part of a special
The 24th annual ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference was held
in Chicago this year from September 29 through October 3 (see
Angela and Peter attended from ITS. Colleen also participated in a
pre-conference workshop: Theory into Practice: Using Information
Theory to Plan and Evaluate Your Web Site.
The Conference is fairly small (272 attendees) but it attracts a good
cross-section of university support staff from across North America
(with a few overseas visitors) -- an excellent peer group. If we had
to make some broad generalizations, we would say that these are people
that are passionate about providing superior services to their
campuses. The attendees are keen to talk about their experiences
(which aren't too different from our own) and include all types of
university computing centre professionals: consultants,
directors, educators, managers, programmers, technical writers,
trainers, LAN support staff and others with a variety of job titles.
The only groups obviously missing were the pure systems support staff
-- they were probably down the street at the Usenix LISA conference
-- and corporate software programmers. The size, the common
interests of the participants and the general organization of the
conference actively encourages informal communication and general
people to people networking.
In addition to the very important informal activities, there were
about 50 papers presented organized into about nine streams. Formal
proceedings are due out by February 1997.
SIGUCCS also holds a documentation competition (paper and Web based)
and provides space at the conference to display a variety of
documentation samples (Service Brochures, Education and Training
Materials and Newsletters). Colleen is acting as "librarian" for
the documentation and handouts that we gathered and copies can be
borrowed from her -- see the list of materials appended to this
SIGUCCS also sponsors an annual management symposium. The report
includes some information about that symposium.
In this report we'll try to give a flavour of the conference and
select a few items that we thought would be of general interest to
ITS management. There are many specific items or pointers that we
gathered and have been either using ourselves or informally passing on
to others at ITS.
These were the topic streams with formal papers that were presented at
the conference. Even with three attending we didn't cover all of
- Classroom Computers and Computer Labs
- Residence Networks: Resnet
- Campus-wide Services (web, e-mail, client-server, video conferencing,
- Learning Technologies (virtual departments, distance education,
classroom technology, web-based examinations)
- Policy/Culture/Privacy, Misuse, Cryptology
- Career/Jobs (preparing for downsizing, leading change)
- Distributed Support (models)
- Help Desk (call tracking, student employee management and training)
- Training (self paced)
At each of the conference luncheons, about half of the tables were
labeled with a topic for discussion at that table. This was
an excellent example of how the conference is organized to
facilitate information and experience exchange. It worked better than
fairly informal Birds of a Feather (BOF) sessions. Topics were sometimes
follow-ons from the more formal presentations but others were just a
place for people of similar interests to find each other and
talk. Topics included:
- Groupware -- empty table!
- Help Desk Software
- Small College Issues
- To PPP or Not To PPP
- Resnet/Ethernet Issues
- Judging Web Page Beauty Contests
- Lab/Classroom Issues
- Working with Departmental Support Providers
- Student Employees
- Printing in Labs
- Webmaster Gathering
- Security and Privacy
- Windows NT on Campus
So what is currently "hot" in the computing area at North American
Universities? These are the topics that people are talking about and
are consuming major resources:
- Computer labs: growing, managing
- Residence networks: everyone has to do it -- NOW!
- Web: effective communication, governance, novel uses
- Compiled 40 organization charts from members to share.
- They'll be gathering acceptable use policies (AUPs) and job
description samples in the coming months.
- Many reorganizations, lots of out-of-date job descriptions and job
titles -- it's a common state of affairs.
- What is our business? Severe budget cuts forcing all to think
about core "basic" services.
- Urged to be dissatisfied with status quo -- standing
still means you are really falling behind.
- Rapid change, huge work loads means that we need more than
ever to recognize staff and encourage a balance between work
and non-work life: "crisis management is not
- Essential to develop a vision, supported by 2 or 3 primary
goals that are in line with the current global University
situation and direction.
- Keeping up with rapid change also means dropping old things!
- "On the fly" means working by example rather than written rules...
- Encourage more networking, looking at how others work and
using the work of others to solve problems.
- Quote from a really dedicated worker at a session "you can't
pay me for my loyalty".
- Merging with libraries seen as a forced marriage (no great win
on either side).
- Many don't/can't provide the sort of support that we do for
numerically intensive computing -- can we?
- We are behind in the numbers of labs (both instructional and
general-purpose) however the way we have set up the labs is
"ahead" of other universities (novell 4.1, windows 95, NFS).
- Clear distinction between instructional (no drop-in, booked by
instructors for teaching purposes) and general-purpose
- Some universities allow instructional labs to be used for
drop-in when not booked for teaching purposes. What we are
doing (booking time for specific courses when no instructor or
TA is available) is very different -- normally labs are
booked only when instructors are teaching in the labs
- Staffing: often 24 hours, mostly using students (constant
training, turnover issues).
- Some universities have "lab expectations and policies".
- Printing is a big issue -- a number of universities don't
seem to charge for printing (historical reasons?) example: one
university whose students pay tuition of about 25k didn't want
to "nickel and dime their students to death".
- Some universities charge students for using the labs (example:
at Northern Illinois students enrolled in courses that use the
instructional labs pay a lab access fee for each course).
- E-mail -- POP3 seems to be handling current needs of most
- The move to IMAP is slow (Simeon client used by several).
- Moving to client-server -- stopping telnet service
(Ohio: Jan 97) .
- Few using Groupwise, little use of Exchange and Notes --
currently little interest in groupware.
- web -- a mega-killer application
- Focus on policy committees (similar to SUWWW) and site
evaluation rather than mechanics.
- Responsibility shifting toward PR/communications people.
- Personal (faculty, staff, student) pages widely
supported: need to develop guidelines first.
- Few charge for space or advice.
- "Just because you have the tools doesn't mean that you're
a craftsman or a designer."
- ph still popular as a directory server (some like UNB layer
operational procedures on top of the ph server).
- Residence Networks -- large push from on-high -
Most aiming for all rooms wired by Sept 97 (if not already done).
- Modems -- some sites running 1000 and others outsourcing --
UNB's arrangement with NB Tel set up particularly slick.
- Kerberos widely accepted as an authentication technology.
- Most sites use student registration information for auto
account set up.
- Use of large numbers of students for Help Desk.
- There's a move toward self directed training.
- PC growth curve is flattening -- we buy and dispose of the
- Numerically intensive computing support models: at many sites basic
(universal) computing seen as more important. Some sites like
Queen's envious of the kind of support that we're able to provide
(as well as one-on-one consulting and custom programming).
- Privacy and liability big issues at least in the USA -- how
different are the Canadian laws?
- Missing topics this year (that were common other years):
- TQM (but we've learned some things from the experience!) and
- computer literacy (most now have a base level of literacy).
In addition to the Conference, SIGUCCS sponsors a symposium each
spring that addresses issues challenging today's computer service managers
Each year the Symposium focuses on "hot" computing topics in
the areas of:
- Career development
- Organizational paradigms
- Effective management practices for managing today's technical staff
- The newest technologies; including the most effective methods for
incorporating and supporting them in a university setting.
The previous symposium, in March 1996 was entitled The Widening Circle.
For more information see <http://www.nd.edu/%7Emoreland/csms1.html>.
Last year's symposium had three tracks:
- Management: How do we manage in a wider circle where
partnerships, alliances and collaboration replace rigid
organizational structures, and the managers' principal
functions are persuasion and team building rather
than pronouncement and control?
- Values: To what purpose does the circle widen? What do we
have to offer that anyone would or should be willing to pay
for? Granting that technology is a means to an end, what
are the ends we seek and how do we stay focused on them?
How do we maintain ourselves as a creative force rather than
a destructive one?
- Technology: What are the emerging technologies; how do they
interface with existing technologies and with one another; and
how can they really help us widen the circle? What's hype,
what's hope, and what's hip?
Next year's symposium, In New Realities, will be held March 19-21
1997 in St Louis, MO.
- That ITS continue to participate in ACM SIGUCCS to exchange ideas
with our peers.
- Attendance at the SIGUCCS User Services Conference and the SIGUCCS
Computer Services Management Symposium should be encouraged
for ITS staff (especially with OUCC currently struggling to
survive). These are conferences of our peers.
Colleen Bretzlaff will be acting as the lending librarian for these
documents that were gathered at the conference. Please arrange with
her to borrow or copy items.
- ACM/SIGUCCS XXIV, The Cyclone of Change: Natural
Disaster or Carnival Ride? Program Booklet.
- ACM/SIGUCCS User Services Conference XXIV, Abstracts.
- Conference Attendee lists: alphabetical and by state/country.
- Daily Clue (newsletter for the conference) with instructions
on joining the mailing list for SIGUCCS.
- ACM Institutional Member Renewal Guide.
- ACM's Member Value Plus Program. (brochure)
- you@acm. (brochure)
- Guide to ACM's Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
- Academic Computing Services Labs at NIU. (handout)
- ACS - Student Access to NIU Computer and Communications
- ATS Computer Labs Handbook.
- Seven Years' Good Luck: Changing the Labs at a Regional
University, Northern Illinois University. (conference paper)
- Wireless Computing Lab Prototype Project, University
of Pittsburgh. (conference paper)
- Wireless Computing Lab Prototype April 1996-June 1996. (handout)
- Wireless Computing Lab Registration and Fiscal Liability Form.
- byteline, summer '96: University of
Notre Dame - mostly on their resnet.
- ResNet at Northwestern, Northwestern
University. (conference paper)
- ResNet: Residential Networking at Notre
Dame. (conference paper)
- Macintosh - ResNet, Get Connected with Bear Access, Cornell.
- Windows 95 - ResNet, Get Connected with Bear Access, Cornell.
- Windows 3.x - ResNet, Get Connected with Bear Access, Cornell.
- E-mail: A Parents' Guide, Cornell. (brochure)
- Electronic Mail, How to Use Eudora for Windows, Cornell.
- Simeon Mail, Getting Started, University of Virginia.
- The World Wide Web at K-State,
Kansas State University. (brochure)
- Using Information Theory to Plan and Evaluate Your Web
Site, University of Vermont.
- Criteria For The Evaluation of Website, Charles
R. McClure, Syracuse University.
- Web site evaluation Lesson Plan Outline, Internet tool
Evaluation Form (2).
- Evaluating Internet Sources. (essay)
- Internet Tools Summary: 36 Popular Search Tools.
- Citing On-line Resources & Search Strategies (for the Web)
How do I...-like notes.
- Internet Hunt (world wide (2 versions) and local to
versions) -- test for students to find information on the Web.
- I.T. Technology Support Program, Information Technology UCDavis.
- Recentralizing: The Pendulum Wobbles Back,
Loyola University. (presentation notes)
- Academic Technology Communications Plan (DRAFT), Cornell.
- Managing Large Communications Projects and
Surviving to Tell the Tale, Cornell. (presentation notes)
- Moving to Client Server Environment,
Ohio State University. (presentation notes)
- Desktop Videoconferencing First Steps
Ohio State University. (presentation notes)
- Windows 95 - Ethernet, Get Connected with Bear Access, Cornell.
- EZ-Remote: your off-Campus Link to the Cornell Campus
Network, Cornell. (brochure)
- Computer Connections, Fall 1996,
University of Virginia. (brochure)
- Dial-In Service at K-State, Kansas State University. (brochure)
- Getting Connected - A Computing Guide for Students at
Northwestern University. (brochure)
- Getting Online, An introduction to computing at
UVM, University of Vermont. (brochure)
- Computing Education Programs, Fall 1996,
- Core Technology Skills (Pre-SAP Training), Student Guide, MIT.
- Core Orientation: Curriculum, MIT.
- DCRT Computer Training Fall 1996.
- MIT Information Systems - Summer 1996 Computer Training Catalog.
- SCTP, Student Computer Training Program, University
of Notre Dame.
- Self-Paced Training, Expanding Educational
Opportunities, UCDavis. (conference paper)
- Training Student Staff: A Conference-Style Approach,
DePauw University. (conference paper)
- byteline summer '96, University of Notre Dame.
- DoIT NOW Newsletter from the University of
- i/s - News about information systems
throughout MIT - May 1996.
- i/s - News about information systems throughout MIT - June 1996.
- ITS@Colgate, Information Technology Services, Fall 1995.
- Information Technology 2000 from Emory University.
- The monITor, Northwestern University
Information Technology, March 1996.
- The monITor, Northwestern University
Information Technology, June 1996.
- @uvm.edu, Spring 1996, University of Vermont.
- Responsible Computing: A Handbook for Students,
University of Virginia.
- User Privacy in a Networked Environment: Legal, Policy and
Ethical Considerations When Responding to Complaints of
Misuse. Presentation Handout,
University of Maryland at College Park.
- ITS@Colgate, Information Technology
Services, ITS in your Hands. (brochure)
- information technology @ notre dame,
University of Notre Dame. (brochure)
- ITC What's New, University of Virginia.
- Notre Dame Computer Store Back-to-School Event, Fall
1996, University of Notre Dame.
- Resource Guide: Information Technology, Computing
Facilities and Networked Information at the University of
- Travelers of the Electronic Highway - A Student Guide to
Bear Access at Cornell, Cornell.
Peter Marshall, ITS, UWO <firstname.lastname@example.org> Last update: 96-10-22 22:43 by peter