Office of Information Technology (OIT)

Defining Moments 2011

One IT

"One IT" at the University


Working as "one IT," in partnership with information technology (IT) directors and leaders systemwide, we continue aligning our efforts to advance excellence, efficiency, access, and innovation in all IT at the University. Together, we deliberately lean toward the obstacles ahead, including the economic environment and the need for transparency and alignment of "one IT" across the University.

Shared purpose; shared vision; shared leadership. One IT.

Learn more on the Defining Moments 2011 page.



Access to IT Products and Services

President Kaler and several students having a discussion in Walter Library

As President Kaler stresses, "Even as we work to attract academically exceptional students, we must also strive to keep the U accessible to all qualified Minnesota students, regardless of their family income."

OIT faces the same challenges and opportunities to keep leading-edge technology services and products accessible to the entire University community. In addition, we must be forward-thinking and be ready to offer the technological future when our constituents need it. This remains a difficult challenge for IT providers systemwide during a time of diminishing state investment.

Just a few examples of ways in which OIT helps to keep information technology products and services accessible and available to the University community:

Use of Mobile Devices

three CEHD students with iPads

In 2011, Office of Information Technology (OIT) websites were accessed nearly 4,000 times per month by people using mobile devices, doubling the number of visits from the previous year. The most popular devices used were Androids, iPads, and iPhones, each accounting for more than 1,000 visits per month.

Learn more on the Mobile Use on the Rise article.

Media Management Initiative

still from a Kaltura video showing videos delivered to different devices

The University of Minnesota, the Learning Network of Minnesota (LNM), and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) have signed a contract with Kaltura to provide a statewide media management platform for public higher education in the state of Minnesota, enabling them to integrate the platform into their own IT systems.

In addition, OIT has formed a media management implementation group to help facilitate the University's transition to the new platform, scheduled to begin in summer 2012.

Learn more on the Media Management site and Media Management Project Update blog or by watching an overview video on the Kaltura site.



Google Apps for the University of Minnesota

We're sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

In addition to the initial core suite of Google Apps for Education implemented in 2010, OIT continues to release additional apps to enhance the collaborative Google experience for the University community. With the decommission of UMCal in October, Google Calendar became the University's official calendaring system. And, in November, the University became one of 22 institutions worldwide to offer Google+, Google's new social networking platform, on its launch date.

Learn more on the Google Apps for the University of Minnesota site.



High Definition Video Conferencing

photo of B12 Morrill Hall with two video displays

Video conferencing is globally recognized as a practical means to save travel expenses, and improve the efficiency of business and education processes, by enabling face-to-face interactions across distances.

In 2011, select conference and classroom spaces were upgraded to provide high definition video conferencing in a standardized configuration.

These technology upgrades offer significant improvements, but more importantly, these upgraded spaces are much easier to use. Faculty can operate the technology themselves, or video staff can operate the technology remotely.

Learn more on the Video Conferencing Current Projects page.

Technology News and Events

OIT News and Events title under spotlights

In an effort to improve technology communication at the University of Minnesota, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is implementing more dynamic communication methods. For example, the once-monthly Tech Brief enewsletter was replaced with a new web page to which readers may subscribe. Technology news is posted as it happens and subscribers receive an email notification the next morning. Topics generally include:

  • Updates on applications such as Google or NetFiles
  • Technology events on campus
  • Technology initiatives
  • Technology training courses

In addition, OIT is making better use of social media. We invite you to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Learn more on the News and Events page.




still from ITIL Explained Simply ∓ Visually video on YouTube

IT services at the University have been managed through a highly distributed approach with diverse processes. The objective of the IT Service Management (ITSM) project is to create efficiencies and improve IT service delivery, support, and management through shared processes and methodologies.

The framework for the ITSM project is based on the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the most widely adopted approach for ITSM in the world.

Phase 1 of the ITSM project, including selecting and implementing a new ITSM tool; defining IT processes and workflows around Incident, Problem, Knowledge and Change Management; and training OIT staff, has been completed.

Work to achieve the long-term goal, to make ITSM toolset available for all IT at the University, is underway.

Learn key concepts of ITIL in the ITIL Explained Simply & Visually video on YouTube.

Common Solutions Conference 2011

Common Solutions Conference 2011 attendees at a session

In June, IT leaders from more than 25 colleges and universities attended the Common Solutions Conference on the Twin Cities campus to discuss strategic technical and policy issues affecting IT at research universities.

Learn more from the Common Solutions Group site.



Change Approval Board

graphic of working gears

The Change Approval Board (CAB) oversees the processes by which upgrades, fixes, patches, and other changes to IT infrastructure and applications are reviewed and approved by the Office of Information Technology (OIT). For each change that comes before them, the CAB considers rationale, risk, user impact, timing, communications, and feedback from stakeholders such as the IT Leadership Alliance and the Enterprise Planning Group.

The CAB exemplified its effectiveness in 2011 when it approved a mandatory, planned outage to the University's primary data center only after the CAB was satisfied that risk was mitigated, stakeholders were consulted, and the scope and timing were negotiated and communicated.

Learn more about the features of Change Management on our website.

Environment Management

servers connected by arrows to a filing cabinet

Environment management encompasses a set of best practices designed to provide effective management for test software platforms or development environments throughout the project lifecycle.

As part of a data center shutdown and upgrade in October, environment management staff upgraded more than 100 databases to Oracle 11g, coordinated the recovery of the database systems, and notified the University community about the status of the systems before, during, and after the shutdown and upgrade.

Learn more from the IT Service Disruption: October 1-2, 2011 article.

Server Virtualization/Virtual Server Hosting

two grids converging into bright light

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provides virtual servers to the University. OIT systems administrators maintain and manage the server infrastructure, operating systems, storage, backups, security, and patching for all University systems that are hosted through this service.

In 2011, the University saw widespread growth in virtualization. More than 45 percent of all services are hosted on virtual servers, and approximately 80 percent of units at the University use some form of OIT virtual service. There are plans to move approximately 650 more servers to the virtual environment.

This standard simplifies the support needs for the entire University: a group of dedicated staff can provide consistent, quality support for these virtual servers.

Learn more on the Virtual Server Hosting site.



Folwell Hall Renovation

photographs of a room in Folwell Hall before and after renovation and of the outside of the building

The renovation of Folwell Hall, built in 1906-07 and named for the University of Minnesota’s first president, was completed in July. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) contributed to this effort by updating obsolete classrooms to accommodate digital technology. Working in partnership with the Office of Classroom Management, OIT made it possible for each student to have wireless Internet access in Folwell's classrooms.

In all, OIT revamped the main communication infrastructure from the ground up, supervised horizontal wiring, moved approximately 180 phones, and activated more than 450 data connections.

Learn more about the Folwell Renovation Project.

OIT Events

OIT staff member presenting to participants at a 20 by 20 event

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) hosts events for members of the University of Minnesota community and beyond to discuss technology in higher education. In 2011, OIT planned or participated in more than 100 events. These fostered conversations, built community, and motivated action on key technology initiatives.

Many OIT events combine in-person and virtual components. For example, during 20 by 20 Pecha Kucha events, we explored on-the-horizon academic technologies. These hybrid events enabled attendees to participate via Twitter and ChimeIn.

Learn more about our events on our News and Events page.



Moodle Course Management System

We're sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

The University system began transitioning to Moodle as its sole course management system (CMS) began in May 2009 and will be complete when WebVista is decommissioned August 31, 2012.

In conjunction, the University implemented a major upgrade from Moodle 1.9 to 2.0. This transition is being carried out collaboratively in the spirit of Moodle’s open source approach. Throughout 2011, OIT worked alongside representatives from governance groups, colleges, and departments to determine the transition path and priorities.

In Moodle, instructors can create course websites that include learning resources such as text, links, activities, and media. A rich set of tools and features facilitate student learning, collaboration, and group engagement.

View a video of students sharing their thoughts about Moodle above and learn more on the Moodle site.



Minnesota Analytics

a One Stop staff member advising a student

In partnership with the Office of Planning and Analysis and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU), OIT created the first Minnesota Symposium on Analytics in Support of Advising (PDF). More than 85 participants represented higher learning institutions from across the state of Minnesota.

“Minnesota Analytics” leverages data measurement resources to stimulate visioning and collaboration at public and private Minnesota colleges and universities.

This conference was made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.




two students studying together with a laptop and books

Students study whenever they can and wherever they find themselves. The University of Minnesota provides the Internet access that enables them to get the online resources they need from wherever they are on campus. During the first two days of fall semester 2011, nearly 400,000 wireless sessions took place.

University affiliates and guests on the Twin Cities and Rochester campuses, as well as at University Extension Services and Research Outreach Center sites, can access our wireless network.

OIT installed more than 1,000 additional wireless access points this year, bringing the total to more than 4,300. Additionally, nearly 180 of the existing access points have been repositioned to ensure maximum output.

Learn how to connect, review coverage maps, and about the future of wireless on the Wireless website.



Advancing Excellence in IT at UMN

drawing of human figures representing shared leadership

University President Eric Kaler has challenged us all to contribute in whatever ways we can to become “a game-changing, global university for the 21st century, in everything that we do, from teaching to research to community engagement to operations.”

It is imperative that OIT remains a leader in providing a more efficient, effective, and innovative IT model that advances academic priorities. We will continue to work diligently with all faculty/staff/students/citizens to adapt IT and increase the value it brings to all those we serve.

The Advancing Excellence in IT at UMN working group recommended a highly-coordinated IT organizational model systemwide and endorsed the following principles:

  • alignment with academic direction and coordinated oversight with academic units;
  • highly-coordinated deployment of IT across the University system;
  • transparency and oversight, commitment to standards and best practice strategies, standardization in support of interoperability, and disciplined innovation;
  • focus on outcomes and analytics;
  • alliances for shared infrastructure and inter-institutional collaboration; and
  • use of “above-campus” viable commercial services whenever and wherever possible.

Learn more about Advancing Excellence in Information Technology at the University of Minnesota (PDF).

Enhanced Computer Management

hands of two people at a desk typing on laptops

In 2011, the Active Directory (AD) team partnered with academic and administrative IT professionals to provide University AD administrators with the ability to initiate system wake-up on computers that they manage.

This enables administrators to shut down computers that they manage each night, saving money and reducing our carbon footprint. In addition, administrators can use this feature to wake computers during off hours, apply patches, and shut them back down. When staff and faculty get to their desks the next morning, they find their computers already patched, thus eliminating the need to interrupt them during the work day.

Learn more on the Computer Management site.

Technology Training

We're sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

The OIT Technology Training staff is committed to empowering University students, faculty, and staff to make effective use of campus information technologies.

Nima Salehi, an instructional designer in the School of Nursing, commented:

"… we depend on your expertise throughout the semester and what thoughtful responses you have provided us for the many different complex questions we've thrown at you. This workshop was another example of how you go above and beyond when working with faculty and support staff at the University of Minnesota."

In 2011, trainers kept a strong focus on increasing their knowledge of leading edge trends in the training profession and continued to enhance their design, development, and delivery of training and performance-support resources.

Learn more on our technology training site.



Network Upgrades

Network Upgrades

photo of network cables attached to equipment in the data center

In 2011, OIT implemented technologies that enable the University to, in essence, extend the University network anywhere it’s needed, even off campus and beyond traditional network borders.

When University staff are required to work at an off-campus building, such as a hospital or extension site, they often are required by policy to remain on the University network.

In those instances, OIT provides what is essentially a copy or duplication of the University network for off-campus partners to deploy across their infrastructure. In turn, we deploy their networks over our own campus infrastructure, enabling their staff to access their own networks within our borders.

This technological flexibility and partnership enables staff to remain compliant with OIT security rules that govern campus networking, regardless of geographic location.

Learn more on the Network site.



Business Intelligence (BI)

graphic of a yellow puzzle with a red piece being put in place

Business intelligence (BI) tools and techniques enable improved, evidence-based decision making by collecting, analyzing, and leveraging data. BI can provide decision makers at all levels of the University with relevant, accurate, and consistent data, as well as the ability to analyze them.

A three-month pilot focusing on financial content began September 2011 with volunteer participants from a number of different employee groups, colleges, campuses, and departments.

Scheduled to launch in early 2012, the toolset, branded as “UM Analytics,” will enable users to create standard reports, ad hoc reports, alerts and analyses, forecasts, and predictive models.

Learn more from the Business Intelligence article.



IT Governance Framework

graphic showing Institutional IT Governance relationships led by the VPCIO's Office of Information Technology

The University of Minnesota's IT governance framework consists of enterprise-level processes and relationships that lead to reasoned decision making in the use of information technology. This framework is used to ensure that IT is aligned with University strategy; delivers value to the University; and manages risk, performance, and resources.

The University’s vice president and chief information officer (VPCIO) leads the implementation of the IT governance framework and its associated processes, working in tandem with University leaders:

  • Academic Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC)
    Key faculty and IT directors who provide insight and input on the University’s academic technology directions and priorities.
  • Enterprise Planning Group (EPG)
    Technology leaders from the University's core administrative management functions who collectively have responsibility for managing core administrative business processes and systems.
  • IT Leadership Alliance (ITLA)
    IT directors representing the University's coordinate campuses, collegiate, and large administrative units who have responsibility for leading their individual units, and who also collectively help set institutional technology direction.
  • Senate Committee for IT (SCIT)
    Faculty, academic professional, civil service, and student representatives appointed by the faculty senate, who provide guidance and direction for the University's information technologies.
  • Chancellors, Deans, and VPs (PDF)
    Leaders with whom OIT senior leadership regularly consult in an effort to align IT with coordinate campus, collegiate, and large administrative unit priorities.
  • Executive IT Oversight
    Institutional leaders who provide the highest level of executive IT oversight to systemwide IT priorities and investments.
  • Budget Group
    Institutional senior executive leaders who provide the highest level of oversight to the University's systemwide overall priorities and investments.
  • University President and the Senior Vice President for System Academic Administration
    The two senior executives to whom the VPCIO is directly accountable for the University's IT investment portfolio, prioritization, and performance.

The VPCIO is responsible for:

  • Aligning IT strategy with University strategy
  • Facilitating sustainable technology-related institutional investments and resource prioritization
  • Providing organizational structures that facilitate the implementation of strategy and goals
  • Managing the adoption and implementation of an IT control framework
  • Measuring IT performance
  • .



Collaborative Environments

Blegen 90 before and after remodelling

Office of Information Technology (OIT) and its partners have remodeled an existing training and collaboration space in Blegen 90 to provide a unique atmosphere for both individual and group work, as well as a variety of services offered by OIT and its partners.

The space is called “Tech Stop: learning. support. research.” It is a pilot for OIT as we begin to rethink the design and purpose of traditional OIT computer labs on campus. The remodel is a research-based design intended to foster education and innovation through state-of-the-art space and services, including tech support, training, managed printing, and collaborative work areas.

Although students are the primary clientele, the redesigned space is different than traditional computer labs in that it’s more campus community-focused, and serves faculty and staff, as well.

Learn more on the Computer Labs site.



Special Events

We're sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

OIT and University partners welcomed Google Executive Chairman Eric E. Schmidt to campus in November for his presentation, "The Future of the High-Tech Economy: How Technology is Changing Business, Education and Government."

Schmidt said,

"I love the hospitality here, and I wanted to come visit partly because you guys were among the earliest and strongest adopters of a lot of our technology, but also because I've learned a lot by watching what you guys do with what we've been able to build."

At the time of his visit, the University of Minnesota had migrated more than 90,000 accounts to Google Apps for Education, the second largest number in higher education.

Learn about upcoming IT events on the News and Events page.



Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

graphic of the student lifecycle:discover, inquire, engage, apply, enroll, retain, educate, graduate, donate

In fall 2011, the Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) project was initiated to help academic and administrative units across the University to:

  • be more effective in communicating with internal and external audiences,
  • improve the quality of the services they provide, and
  • deliver additional services to contribute to student success.

Once fully implemented, the new CRM tool will document interactions individuals have with the University. The information collected can be used to help the University make better decisions, for example, by informing how we market to prospective students.

Check the current status of the project on the FY2012 Q1 Status Report (PDF) and find future updates on the IT Project Portfolio Status Reports page.



Academic Technology Innovation

photograph of a CEHD and two OIT staff discussing an educational technology card sort

OIT's Collaborative for Academic Technology Innovation fosters inter- and intra-institutional partnerships with colleges, campuses, central units, and other institutions to define and pursue major initiatives that aim for strategic and innovative uses of academic technologies.

Learn more on the Collaborative for Academic Technology Innovation page.

IT Leadership Alliance (ITLA)

circle with IT Leadership Alliance in the middle and Admin IT, College/Campus IT, and OIT around it with arrows from each pointing in

The IT Leadership Alliance (ITLA) brings together IT leaders from colleges and administrative units across the University to contribute to the University’s strategic technology plan.

In 2011, the ITLA began to reorganize its subcommittee structure to match specific University service categories identified from a recent services inventory. The committees are:

  • Academic Technologies
  • Customer Support
  • Applications
  • Security and Compliance
  • Infrastructure

Learn more from the IT Leadership Alliance site.



Active Learning Classrooms

students around round tables in an active learning classroom with several projection screens and video displays in STSS

The University of Minnesota is at the leading edge of learning space innovation as exemplified by:

OIT's Research and Evaluation team has partnered with faculty and staff from across the University to conduct systematic research on these spaces, centered on the question, "To what extent do formal and informal learning environments shape teaching and learning?"

Learn more on the Learning Environments Research page.

Walk-in Technology Help Services

Tech Stop consultant helping two students

During the year, the Office of Information (OIT) expanded the number of walk-in technology help locations to five:

  • 103 Walter (new)
  • B60 Coffman (new)
  • 50 HHH (new)
  • 101 Coffman
  • 50 Coffey

All locations provide face-to-face technology consultations and support for students, faculty, and staff.

Learn more on the Tech Stop and Technology Help sites.



IT Rationalization and Optimization

drawing of a computer with an arrow to a filing cabinet drawer

IT Rationalization and Optimization is a University of Minnesota effort to create a highly coordinated, efficient, effective, and innovative IT model that advances academic priorities. This involves:

  • assessing the University’s IT function to determine the best source of services and reduce inefficient and redundant services systemwide;
  • striking the right balance between IT capabilities and costs;
  • investing in IT growth, innovation, maintenance, and productivity; and
  • aligning IT governance.

NetFiles Online File Storage Upgrade

drawing of a computer with an arrow to a filing cabinet drawer

The online file storage tool, NetFiles, was upgraded to version 7, and includes several new features and improved functionality in a new, easier-to-use interface.

Learn more on the NetFiles site.

Usability Services

We're sorry, you need Javascript enabled to view this video.

Usability Services helps user interface design teams better understand users' perspectives by consulting with design teams about usability evaluations, accessibility reviews, terminology reviews, card sorts, and focus groups.

The Usability Services team has begun changing its services from a fee-based to a common good funding model.

Learn more on the Usability Services site.