UW Information Technology

UW-IT Insights — February 2020

Latest financial aid enhancements better reflect students’ dynamic living situations

In the first step towards a substantial improvement to provide students with the right financial aid as their living and school situations change, the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) has moved from annual to quarterly student cost calculations.

OSFA is also expected to switch from annual to quarterly awards for student financial aid later this year, achieving an important milestone for the Financial Aid Modernization project.

The changes give expanded capabilities to OSFA so it can more accurately estimate a student’s expected costs during a school year, said Stephanie Wang, a business system analyst with UW-IT’s Student Program. UW-IT and OSFA are partnering in the modernization project.

“Ultimately, the shift from annual to quarterly costs and awards will allow these student inputs to change and be adjusted on a quarter-by-quarter basis to better match the realities of the student experience,” Wang said.

“In annual costs and awards, only one set of student inputs can be considered, which are assumed to extend through the entire academic year,” Wang said, such as the same living conditions and attending all quarters full-time. But more and more students today don’t fit this model, and when they need to report a change in their situations, OSFA counselors have to manually recalculate the numbers.

“By being able to accommodate these changes through our financial aid system in an automated way, our goal is to greatly reduce the manual effort invested by financial aid counselors today who adjust and recalculate costs and awards by hand,” Wang said.

Kay Lewis, executive director of financial aid, said “this initial step forward will prepare the system so we can automate it to make changes as the student’s status changes, reducing the need for financial aid counselors to intervene.”

“UW-IT and OSFA have put a great deal of effort into this re-structure, and work will continue over the rest of the year to connect the quarterly costs with the rest of the planned modernization enhancements,” Lewis said. “Students may not see the full effect yet, but the implementation of quarterly costs is an important start to our long-term system improvements.”

By reducing manual efforts, the ultimate goals are to increase student counseling hours, reduce compliance risk, decrease the risk of errors, and greatly improve the student experience.

Search for new enterprise content management system underway

A search for a new enterprise content management system to enhance how UW departments and units create and manage their electronic documents is underway, with the goal of providing better support for compliance and better integration with other major systems, including Workday.

An Oracle WebCenter system has supported the University’s document management application since 2012. But integrating it with modern systems such as Workday has been a challenge.

A new platform is expected to support better compliance by meeting HIPAA, FERPA and other regulatory requirements, and integration with major systems such as Workday, Workday Finance, Office 365, the UW’s eSignatures service, Dynamics CRM, and others.

Another goal for a new system is to provide features such as enhanced indexing, search, processing, workflow automation, dashboards and configurability.

About 20 UW departments are currently using the Oracle-based document management system, and nearly 74 units or departments have signed up to use eSignatures. But these systems currently are difficult to integrate with each other, adding extra steps for departments working with both.

UW-IT’s Enteprise Content Management team, which is currently evaluating vendors and software products, wants to ensure that any solution will allow for a smooth and seamless transition for current users, while integrating multiple tools under a single umbrella. These systems are vital to the University’s efforts to automate and streamline its business processes, create efficiencies and reduce manual and paper-based transactions.

The evaluation of vendors is expected to continue through the end of June, when a software solution will be selected and procured. The implementation phase is expected to take place between July and June 2021.

New tool will help boost success of underrepresented STEM students

A new tool for advisers will help them intervene early and provide support to underrepresented STEM students who are at risk of dropping out.

A UW-IT team, in partnership with the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, is developing a dashboard for advisers that displays a risk score for each underrepresented STEM student.

The tool draws data from a variety of sources to estimate when an underrepresented STEM student is at risk of dropping out. This information will help advisers intervene to provide timely, personalized support so those students can achieve their academic and career goals.

Even as the diversity of the US population and workforce increases, the STEM fields remain primarily white, Asian and male. This lack of diversity can bias product development and perpetuate gender and racial disparities.

Underrepresented students entering the UW show similar rates of interest in STEM fields as their non-underrepresented peers, but proportionally fewer of those students obtain STEM degrees. The new tool is expected to help address this discrepancy.

UW reaffirms its commitment to data governance

The UW is reaffirming its commitment to developing a University-wide strategy to manage and protect institutional data by launching a new data governance structure to help oversee and implement recommendations for all three campuses.

The tri-campus governance structure is led by a steering committee responsible for developing a comprehensive data and analysis strategy for the University, and an operational committee responsible for executing on that strategy.

The committees, chaired by Phil Reid, vice provost of academic & student affairs, and Ann Nagel, associate vice provost and institutional privacy official, started meeting in late 2019 and already have established standards for country codes. The committees are currently working on a standard for Classification of Instructional Program Codes.

“My hope is that through the two-committee structure we will be able to improve and better align our operational efforts in support of university-wide strategic efforts,” said Reid, who chairs the steering committee. “Data is a university asset, and data governance will assist the university in realizing the value of data in a variety of contexts.”

The committee structure oversees data governance, data architecture, data resources and data analysis, with a scope that encompasses academic, research administration and business data on all three of UW’s campuses, but excludes patient data.

This new committee structure is vital at a time when demand for data and analysis for decision-making is rapidly increasing across the University, new enterprise resource planning systems such as Workday are expanding the amount of data available, and the University’s current data structures and capabilities are not keeping up with this rising demand.

“The new structure will position the committees to connect the UW’s strategy and operations with its data-related needs in a relevant and timely manner,” Nagel said.

The committees represent an evolution in data governance at the UW, building upon lessons learned from previous structures. Because data is so important, it needs to be effectively managed and protected to ensure its trustworthiness. It is a critical task for the UW, which functions in a decentralized fashion, with multiple stakeholders handling data of all types in different systems.

For more information, visit the new Data Governance website, which explains how the new structure seeks to help the UW manage data assets in a “thoughtful, collaborative manner through an institutional lens.”

New group to help UW become a Smart Campus

Realizing the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) while reducing cybersecurity and other risks is no easy task.

That’s why a new advisory committee at the UW is being formed to develop a framework for managing so-called Smart Campus technologies (often referred to as IoT), and providing oversight of smart technology initiatives to prevent a piecemeal approach that could open the University to significant risk.

At the UW, Smart Campus technologies include networked technologies in the University’s built environment that increase safety, improve energy efficiency, lower operational costs, and enhance the student experience, among countless other benefits, including watering the UW’s lush landscapes.

But if an institution doesn’t have a coherent strategy, the introduction of smart devices linked to the internet could open the door to security risks.

The new advisory committee is the latest step to help the UW chart a clear course for a Smart Campus. It started last year, with the creation of a new Director of IoT Risk Mitigation Strategy position within the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

The Smart Campus Advisory Committee will be comprised of key stakeholders from UW Facilities and UW-IT and in partnership with the new CISO’s Internet of Things (IoT) Risk Mitigation Strategy unit.

The University already has many types of Smart Campus systems in place or on the horizon, said Chuck Benson, the new director of IoT Risk Mitigation Strategy. Anticipating the unintended consequences of these systems is a big priority.

“The built environment and information technologies are intersecting more than ever because of IoT systems,” Benson said. “We need to have a common language, understanding and strategy to ensure systems do what they’re supposed to do, can be maintained, and not get hacked by malicious actors.”

Benson said that because these technologies are so new, there is a limit to what we can know when we implement them.

“Though we can’t possibly eliminate every issue, we’re moving toward being proactive with a strategy and framework to help us make good decisions,” he said. “Universities that manage these systems well will differentiate themselves from other higher education institutions.”

Latest generation of Wi-Fi brings big improvements, but may cause connectivity issues for some users

UW-IT is in the midst of upgrading the University’s Wi-Fi network by installing hundreds of the latest generation of Wi-Fi units in key areas of the Seattle campus to keep up with the ever-evolving needs of the UW community.

The new Wi-Fi units — known as Wi-Fi 6 access points — are expected to bring improvements in efficiency, speed and capacity for many devices, and to the wireless network as a whole. During the 2020 calendar year, the units will be installed in Suzzallo Library, the Husky Union Building, the Population Health building and Oak Hall, among others.

However, the new units may affect certain Windows-based laptops with older Intel wireless drivers, making them unable to connect to the UW’s Wi-Fi networks.

Intel has developed a solution for Windows 10, 8.1 and 7, and recommends using its latest driver version to fix the issue. Download the latest Wi-Fi driver now or visit the Intel support webpage to confirm whether your devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact UW-IT’s Service Center at help@uw.edu with the subject line: Wi-Fi 6 connectivity issues.

Eventually, all of the UW’s nearly 14,000 Wi-Fi units will be replaced as part of routine technology refresh cycles.

New e-book on logic shows traditional courses can be fun and challenging

When philosophy professor Ian Schnee set out to create his own e-book, he was trying to do more than save his students thousands of dollars in book fees. He wanted to make his introductory logic class fun and engaging — and easier for them to absorb the material.

Today, his Logic Course Adventure e-book has become a hit among his students, and the latest tool has turned his classroom into a modern, engaging teaching and learning environment. Read how Schnee, the first faculty member featured in this year’s Innovators Among Us series, made it happen, and how he is encouraging other faculty to use e-books in their classes.

Through the Innovators series, faculty from all three campuses share their experiences, tips, best practices and methods that can be adopted by others. The series is produced through a collaboration of the Office of the Provost and UW-IT.

UW-IT to play major role in finance transformation

As a major partner in the UW Finance Transformation (UWFT) program, UW-IT has created an IT Finance (ITF) program to fully support one of the largest administrative modernization efforts in the University’s history.

UWFT is a major redesign of the UW’s finance policies, processes and systems, and reflects the tremendous growth experienced by the University over the past 40 years — from a $552 million annual operation to about $8 billion today. In December, UWFT received approval from the Board of Regents to move forward with its implementation phase.

The finance program seeks to help the UW reduce risk with more predictable and real-time information for making financial decisions. Workday has been chosen as the best platform to achieve these goals, with a go-live date of July 1, 2022.

The new ITF program is aimed at enabling UW-IT to contribute the significant resources and effort necessary to support UWFT while also continuing to support the University in multiple areas, delivering essential IT services to the University community.

Through its ITF program, UW-IT will be supporting data integrations, data reporting, remediation or retirement of existing business applications, implementation of new applications, data conversion and archiving, and enabling finance transformation with document management, service management, and identity and access management.

“With the creation of the ITF program, we’re building upon the lessons learned from the HR/Payroll Modernization Program,” said Aaron Powell, vice president for information technology and CIO. “The new program structure reflects months of thoughtful analysis and planning within our organization and with our partners in UWFT.”

In brief:

New plagiarism detection tool introduced

There’s a new plagiarism detection tool at the UW. SimCheck is replacing VeriCite, which is being discontinued after the spring quarter. Find out why the UW is transitioning to the new tool.

Avoiding survey fatigue

Surveys can provide valuable and actionable data, but designing and conducting a high-quality survey is not easy. That’s why the Office of Educational Assessment and UW-IT are partnering to assist UW campuses, colleges and departments to create better surveys. If you want to post a survey to MyUW, don’t skip the OEA’s website.

UW-IT helps develop new proof-of-immunity report

A new report makes it easier for Hall Health to track student immunization records and better protect the UW community against measles, mumps and meningococcal disease. Read how it was done.

Continue to remain alert for phishing emails during tax season

Your vigilance and the UW’s two-factor authentication system (Duo) play a pivotal role in protecting employee data. Read how to protect yourself from phishing emails and people trying to steal your W2 information.

How was your experience with UW-IT?

Now, it is easier than ever to provide valuable feedback to UW-IT when you need assistance via help@uw.edu. UW-IT has created a more user-friendly customer satisfaction survey as part of your request for help, so we can learn and improve the support of our services to the UW community. Read how it works.

Hold the date: UW TechConnect Conference 2020 to be held on Sept. 2

Planning is underway for the seventh UW TechConnect Conference, and early registration is now open. The conference was moved from March to September because of space issues and to allow more time for planning.

Indoors or outdoors? We got you covered!

Check out the map below to see where UW-IT is adding outdoor Wi-Fi. For increased security, connect via eduroam, the UW’s preferred Wi-Fi service. Configure your devices now using UW-IT’s configuration utility powered by SecureW2.