CSG Winter 2014 – Digital Campus: IT, Media Management, Innovation, pt. 3: Operational

Examples of Partnerships for a Digital Campus: Working with MSU Global = Brendan Guenther, Michigan State

International Capacity Building – Developing a Knowledge Platform

– Challenge: create a knowledge platform that could be used by experts (within university and abroad in public and private sectors); Allow content to be linked to competencies developed by private-sector. Had to build an engine to store competencies, mapped from pieces of content. 

Digital Campus Innovation Survey

Hackathons seem to be the most popular incubation platforms. Infrastructure – Storage, Code repositories.People find out through how-to guides and documentation. Some developer support services, some API documentation. Two schools have processes to move student projects into institutional services, four schools have made student-developed services available as institution-wide services. 

Innovation support plans

– Hackathons and challenges

– Infrastructure – more guides, campus-wide big data analytic tool, expansion of on-demand VMs, expansion of collaborative tools, bring in outside trainers for developers. 

– Governance – establish joint student IT committee, formal IT governance, IT innovation champions as part of Innovation Alignment team, Innovation training for staff. 

– Student developers and non-traditional apps – establish a  mechanism for ongoing support of student written apps

What have you done (or can you do) to help institutional culture embrace risk and experiments that may fail? Washington has a day per quarter for staff to work on things that don’t happen regularly.

Scotty mentions this book: Creative Confidence by David and Tom Kelley 

Digital Campus: Infrastructure, Agility & Innovation  – Mark McCahill, Duke

Innovation CoLab – 3 year project sponsored by Office of the President, Provost, Executive VP. Connecting students to doing cool stuff by functioning as a creativity incubator. 

Innovation = applying ideas in new contexts or new combinations. Name of the game is speed – speed up the experimentation and sharing ideas and tech with a low friction environment. Promote a diverse software ecosystem. 

Students are different – timeline compression (the semester is short); an affinity for non-traditional toolsets that aren’t even on central IT’s radar; striking sparks: matchmaking & challenges; heroic bursts of energy at 2 AM (so self-service is important); “separation of duties” and “change control” may be alien concepts.

Students might be approximated as autonomous roving mobil-device-enabled eating, printing, and studying units seeking food, laundry, and course registration arbitrage opportunities. 


Central IT’s role? Nurture an innovation-friendly ecosystem; Brainstorming and matchmaking services; Pizza, office hours, expert staff access; Modular app architectures & “wiggle” room; API advocacy; Fast, flexible infrastructure. 

Collab: first steps: VM server space with public IP addresses; student managed servers (have root + responsibility, no central backups, no security patches); 60+ prebuilt images from bitnami.com

VM-Manage – started with “fill out a form and within a day we’ll get your machine”, now have automated on-demand provisioning reduces one day turnaround to 1 minute for the 6 most popular images. Semester-long reservations with option to renew. VMs live on an “Outlands” network segment. 

Source code repository – If my VM-manage server isn’t backed up by OIT, where do I keep my stuff? Shibbolized Gitorioius 

Bug tracker – Shibbilized Redmine task manager. Both Gitorious and Redmine were available from bitnami.

Lessons – A short deadline made it possible to start with “good enough” and run cheap experiments; Mad Max in Outlands fears mostly unfounded; Recalibrate central IT’s instincts – fast and automated are your friends.

Swagger – (live documentation of REST APIs) for public info and JSON coding for Enterprise data. 

New Hurdles: Mobile, APIs, and data access: Students want  more access (personal class schedules, DukeCard meal points and spending balances; what is open and where to eat).

The Registrar OAuth: Registrar agrees that getting informed consent from students via OAuth satisfies his FERPA concerns; DukeCard FLEXspend and meal points balance available to student developers: January 2014; Course enrollment and schedule info: Februaru 2014.

Modular Duke Mobile: Moved to HTML5 mobile optimized web site + in-house developed apps; Central IT developers initially voice concerns about sharing source code with students; Students see performance issued with mobile food app as an interesting challenge. 

Lessons: Central IT can lead by example and publish source code in the campus code repository; Potential for tension between classic central IT and innovation support; Students develop a more responsive mobile food app; OAuth permissions infrastructure is a key enabling technology

How can we scale up? 

What is success? Speed, Service diversity, Self-service/on demand provisioning, Modular architectures to support small quid modules, Lower the cost of experiments so we can afford some failures; Infrastructure and ecosystems that budget the community toward sharing ideas and techniques. 


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