Faculty Technology Advisory Group (FTAG)
FTAG Meeting Minutes
Jay Beam provided information on upgrade to Black Board v13.
Upgrade will happen this spring. V13 has a new GUI with substantial changes. The interface in version 13 is more like a social media format/facebook format than previous iterations.
V13 will be in pilot this spring and faculty can set up courses in it during the pilot phase. They will need to go to “BB Test” to access the new version this spring. Version 13 will go into production in summer 2014.
OIT is willing to come out to departments and demonstrate how to use the new interface. Faculty should contact BB Support (Michelle) for on-site demos.
Deb indicated that a “crosswalk” is coming out of eLearning.
Jay noted that BB releases two new iterations every year. OIT adopts the second annual release because by then most of the bugs in the initial release have been exterminated.
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Tim Cain gave a presentation on Heritage College of Medicine regarding the evolving classroom.
There is significant growth in the medical school and technology has a significant role in that expansion. The growth was precipitated by a $105 million gift.
One of the major initiatives is the establishment of an extension campus in Central Ohio. The aim of that initiative is addressing the shortage of primary care physicians. 50 to 60% of HCOM graduates elect to become primary care providers.
HCOM will be welcoming their first class to the Columbus campus in July 2014.
HCOM has also been approached about establishing an additional extension campus at Cleveland Clinic. Roll out of that campus is slated for July 2015.
Larry noted that the extension campus is a “beachhead” in Columbus and it is already expanding beyond HCOM. Other units OU may also base from that new campus.
Tim noted that HCOM is sensitive to the other institution in Columbus.
Tim put forward the question of how can HCOM insure that faculty will be ready to address the new technology that is being incorporated into the new facility.
HCOM is tracking progress and establishing milestones. As “data informs planning” they are developing metrics to monitor effectiveness. They are looking a more than infrastructure changes and are evaluating faculty comfort level with the new tech, and attitudes toward technology changes.
HCOM has two discrete populations – the residential community of students during the first two years at the Athens, Columbus, and coming Cleveland campuses, and the population of students in their third and fourth years who are doing their clinical work.
HCOM is collecting data over time using web surveys and other instruments. They will be running these evaluations annually.
Tim showed survey results related to academic technologies. The results indicate that Power Point is heavily used as well as recorded lectures. E-learning modules and mobile computing are also heavily used.
Jay pointed out that from an IT perspective HCOM is a narrow context because only one major is being served by the school.
Tim indicated that HCOM is working on new active learning strategies. The “one minute paper” approach is heavily used.
He noted that there is some grumbling among faculty about all of the new technology, however faculty are clear that technology is part of te future of curriculum delivery.
In terms of institutional alignment, 45% of faculty are comfortable with the institutional vision of the role of new technology. 42% agree that they’ll have time to develop new skills related to that technology. On the issue of intellectual property, very few were satisfied with institutional policy.
In regards to incentives for faculty adoption particularly regarding tenure and promotion, only a third of faculty are satisfied that these changes ad the time associated with them will be figured into P&T policy.
They value the proposition of incorporating developing technology. Buy-in is not a problem. The faculty get it.
Priorities of concern are: faculty time, incentives – how will application of new tech be valued for professional future, and availability or resources to smooth adoption.
An issue of concern is closing the comfort level with technology relative to a technologically sophisticated student body.
There is also concern regarding bolstering institutional value of effective teaching as opposed to the value placed on research.
An additional concern is that while technology is glitzy it can reduce the amount of faculty/student contact.
There’s also concern about the time it takes to implement new technology in the curriculum.
Common technology use, according to their survey is Power Point, recorded lectures, and use of the web i.e. Youtube. There has been a low adoption rate for the “Flipped Classroom.” Differential Diagnosis is a heavily used approach.
In summary, the survey showed that 75% of respondents feel they are witnessing a natural evolution of technology in the curriculum. 55% are concerned about a misalignment of teaching to recognition. 50% are concerned about decreased faculty/student interaction engendered by new technology.
Tim noted that the new campuses are not branch campuses, but extension campuses. The same courses will be taught across multiple campuses by the same faculty. That’s the challenge and the requirement of the implementation of new technology.
HCOM’s proposed next steps are to mitigate the impact of its growth on faculty, alignment of institutional goals with the expectations of faculty, and close the comfort gap with evolving technology and evolving instructional models. The bottom line is insuring that educational objectives drive technology decisions.
Evaluation process is meant to benchmark progress over the nest three to five years.
Greg noted that faculty across OU are changing. It’s not all about technology. It’s about technology and people and faculty. Peer/colleague assessment and pressure have a big impact on adoption of new technology.
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Becky brought up the topic of new building block applications for BB. The issue is requests for new building blocks incorporation into the system. Apparently there are faulty requests for several building blocks currently on the table.
Since v13 is going into pilot/test mode, new building blocks can’t be integrated into version 9. The soonest the new building blocks will come into the system is this summer. They will be tested in the pilot this spring, then moved into production during summer 2014.
New building blocks can be integrated into the pilot and will reach students as long as the course is being taught in the pilot.
Sam indicated that OIT is working to formalize a building blocks adoption process, probably through an online application mechanism.
Jay reiterated that some building blocks are like free puppies. They require care, feeding, and maintenance which requires OIT resources after adoption.
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The next FTAG meeting will be held Wednesday October 30 at 1pm in Baker 240.
Greg Kessler, Chair
Greg announced that the new Faculty Senate website contains a link to the FTAG website. FTAG minutes will be available through that site.
Greg indicated that FTAG had discussed the group’s relationship with Faculty Senate (F/S) and is interested in Prof Sayrs view of the relationship.
Elizabeth indicated that she felt that there is a loose affiliation between F/S and FTAG.
Ruth Ann noted that she was not clear about the relationship.
Sam layed out some of the history – when Phyllis Burnt was heading F/S she got into discussion with OIT and came up with the idea of FTAG. Phyllis was also chair of FTAG at the start so there was an organic relationship with F/S.
Ruth Ann queried how much say FTAG has regarding tech policy and implementation.
Greg noted that Standing Committee status for FTAG was discussed a year ago and committee dimured pursuing because there was consensus that FTAG already had the ear of the right people.
It was noted Roger Varner that there is a new governance structure ITGC that includes the FTAG chair. FTAG role is evolving, and he offered to share power-point of new governance structure. There are seven committees tied together with ITGC.
Elizabeth referred to the Administrative Advisory Group and noted that there appear to be some communication issues, for example the response to student evals going online.
Greg queried whether FTAG representative should take technology issues to F/S.
Elizabeth felt that it would be better to take issues to smaller committees in F/S as F/S meeting agendas leave little room for ad hoc discussion, and most issues have been vetted by smaller committees prior to meetings.
Ruth Ann expressed a desire for a more formal way for FTAG to know what F/S is doing and vice versa. She used the example of copyright policy.
Elizabeth noted that the copyright policy wa a good example of cooperative engagement between the two bodies but that was informal and lucky in some sense.
Greg suggested that perhaps FTAG needs to present the basics of FTAG activity to F/S.
Elizabeth asked how FTAG would like to formalize the relationship with F/S.
Ruth Ann noted that it would be a good idea if a member of FTAG is consistently on F/S and wondered exactly who the members of FTAG are right now.
Greg noted that the members are indicated on the website.
Sam indicated that the dynamic of FTAG membership is changing. Apparently the Provost will be appointing members to three year terms in the future.
Elizabeth noted that the new Executive Director for Instructional Technology & Research will need some guidance on the composition of the committee.
Greg noted that historically FTG cut people who didn’t attend – simply stopped inviting non-attenders to meetings.
Tom noted that the FTAG website will be helpful in communicating FTAG information and issues to faculty within our units as opposed to the current unofficial channels.
Elizabeth indicated that F/S also has a Facebook page.
Greg stated that when the new copyright policy proposal goes to F/S, FTAG would benefit from feedback.
Elizabeth noted that when she became F/S President, Greg reahed out to her regarding FTAG, and that she had previously been unaware of the group. She stressed that maintaining communication with F/S is important.
Greg queried whether FTAG should establish its own Facebook page to create an opportunity to gather information about how other istitutions are dealing with the raft of tehnology related issues.
Ruth Ann wondered if FTAG could get on the F/S Facebook page – to increase the presence in F/S. She also indicated that she is going to be on the copyright policy committee.
Greg noted that our link will be on the F/S site, and that FTAG mintes will be available there.
Elizabeth was thanked for attending.
Deb reported on Starfish, the student engagement tracking building block for Blackboard. It provides the ability to receive flags on student progress from BB and is linked to student’s advisors. It is also helpful in setting up advising schedules and tracking attendance at advising sessions.
She noted that Starfish has a new represent and that person would like more faculty input before going before the administration. Perhaps feedback could be posted to te F/S Facebook page.
She also indicated that she would like the Starfish rep to come to FTAG and make a presentation.
Greg wondered if that should perhaps be a larger event to draw faculty who aren’t on the committee. Perhaps a brownbag to encourage participation.
Ruth Ann asked it the Starfish presentation could be taped so those who can not attend could still garner the information. She suggested that taping be a consistent part of these vendor presentations.
Sam noted that sometimes app-makers promise things that they cannot deliver, or that don’t integrate into our IT environment.
Deb noted that there will be tec issues, but that faculty need to have buy-in before the resources of OIT are used to address them.
Deb indicated that work on drafting new policy is going well. Ownership of video has been a big issue.
Also, setting parameters on the definition of “Significant University Resources” relative to ownership issues has to be better defines.
Once that’s settled the policy can move forward.
Greg indicated that content created with out the use of “Significant University Resources” will result in 100% faculty ownership.
It was also noted that the broad faculty ownership of content creation technology has a bearing on how the policy is formulated.
Ruth Ann attended EPSA yesterday and a professor brought up a faculty issue relating to the creation of Ecourses. Apparently faculty members have been asked to develop Ecourses, and asked to sign releases on property rights before they start. If the faculty member is not willing to release the rights another faculty member is asked to create the course (and release the rights). This has particular bearing on vulnerable, non-tenured faculty.
Ruth Ann also pointed out that currently, developing an Ecourse doesn’t have bearing or weight on tenure decisions.
Greg added that perception is changing but relative to tenure decisions, online publication has historically been seen as second class, or less noteworthy than hard copy publication, regardless of whether it is refereed publication.
Search for Executive Director for Instructional Technology & Research
Sam requested feedback on candidates through Survey Monkey. The search committee wants to go to the Provost with a recommendation as soon as possible. Probably a week after the survey closes.
iBook Event Recap
Becky indicated that the event went well and was well attended. Substantial projects were underway before participants left the session.
There is a Black Board training day coming up with three sessions available.
Deb reported that Quality Matters certification sessions are coming up. She is being asked to formulate a quality assurance program for online education offerings.
There will be a quality Matters session for Academic Technologies which will be taped. There is a certification process to becoe a reviewer of online course content. Deb is a Master Reviewer, and she indicated that faculty can get a lot out of the certification process in terms of “best practices” by looking at a variety of existing courses.
Deb wants to bring this certification process out to the regional campuses. Kim Hadden is trying to get another session at the Athens campus.
Deb indicated that there are lots of opportunities tied to this certification – it’s all about peer review.
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BB Building Blocks
Sam noted that if a faculty member wants to put in a new building block the process is a burden to OIT. A “tax” to the building block provider has been contemplated for this vetting/integration. However, McGraw Hill has building blocks in the system and it doesn’t pay.
The question arose of how to avoid favoritism. Giving other publishers the same access as McGraw Hill has been discussed.
TAG has a thumbs up/thumbs down on BB building blocks. OIT would like more FTAG participation in reviewing building blocks.
Deb pointed out that building blocks are consistently problematic when they come from publishers.
Notes by Tom Hayes
Update: Search Executive Director for Instructional Technology and Research
Candice provided information on the progress of the search.
Candiates have ben selected and interviews begin 9/9 and will proceed through 10/7. Each candidate will be making a presentation in Alden 319. The presentations will be streamed via Adobe Connect.
Ruth Ann suggested that the presentations be archived for faculty who are unable to attend or connect at that time and asked about access to candidate’s cv’s.
Vic asked for a list of the finalists.
Jay suggested that the web elements might be created in some alternative application than Adobe Connect.
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Deb Gearhardt reported on the progress of the Copyright Task force.
The Task Force has been working with OU General Counsel John Biancamano. Also working with Bob Silva on patent issues.
The new policy statement is drafting out at two and a half pages and will offer a clean copyright and intellectual property policy.
The new policy statement must go to the Provost, then into the Faulty Senate. The overall sense is that the policy is moving in favor of the faculty.
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Greg provided information on an iBook event coming up in Gordy Hall on 9/18. It is a workshop on how to make interactive ibooks that can include web content and crowd sourced materials.
Sean requested the particulars so that the information could be included in Compass.
Demand/ sign-ups have been good and there is the possibility of a second session.
Vic inquired about the difference between an eBook and and iBook.
Greg indicated that an ibook can embed web content and can be interactive, unlike other eBooks.
He also indicated that it is Apple product dependent, so the additional interactive content would not be available on other products like Kindle.
Ruth Ann wondered if there is an ethical question about developing content that is brand-dependent, requiring students to purchase a specific product.
It was pointed out that several units already require students to purchase specific technology, or provide it to students.
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Recent Blackboard Outages:
Duane Starkey, Deputy CIO was present to discuss recent BB outages. He noted that last year the bar was set pretty high. The academic year started out with few glitches.
Recently there have been problems at the “front door” and multiple service outages. Duane apologized for that and indicated that an Incident Review is underway.
The recent 8/31 outage had been escalated by 7am and went up the engineering chain at BB to their “Guru.” It was thought that an auto-install of a Linux patch had created the problem. It turns out that the outage was actually related to BB changing it’s “No-Lock” messaging functionality in an earlier upgrade. That change had not been documented in BB’s release notes.
BB acknowledged the incorrect configuration and fire-walling issues that were also not included in their release notes.
Since the fix the BB server cluster is running much faster now. The newly discovered problems may have contributed to earlier outages and sluggishness in the server cluster.
Duane indicated that OIT would ontiinue “leap froggong” on upgrades from test environments to the production environment.
He pointed out that the recent outages point to the need for BB staffing enhancements as well as additional test servers.
Jay is going to get BB to come in and discuss accelerated access to BB engineers. There are apparently a whole series of things that need to be improved upon. OIT is developing an action plan to restabilize the environment.
Mike was curious if the latest outage problems were going to impact future upgrades.
Jay stated that OIT is trying to figure out if, when a pilot upgrade is running well, can the move to the upgrade be executed more quickly.
It was noted that there is a level-of-service question related to this. Many hundreds (at least) of students were affected by the outage. The question of the viability of a hosted solution was put forward.
Jay pointed out that had been tried before and the level of service from the hosted solution was terrible. OIT is working to strengthen structures to accommodate the extended/expanded use of BB.
Ruth Ann pointed out that the outage had created a PR problem for OU, particularly since the bulk of online students do their work during the weekends.
Jay was emphatic that the outage was not taken lightly by OIT. There were some load issues, and undocumented issues that came after the upgrade. They are still unbraiding the problem to see if the repair is conclusive.
Ruth Ann complimented OIT for placing the red service disruption banner on the site so that students and faculty did not waste time thinking that their computers were the problem.
Jay recognized Sean’s continuous email updates of BB status.
Vic wondered if OIT should be alerting faculty in advance about possible or planned outages.
Jay note that there are no plans for an outage, though scheduled updates occur on Saturday mornings. He wanted to know if that scheduling should be changed.
Ted noted that the most inopportune times for disruption of service is right before students have to turn things in.
Jay asked if Wednesday mornings would be a better time for the update/service period. He pointed out that there is virtually no time that some students aren’t turning something in.
Vic suggested checking load records to determine when demand is at its lowest.
Sean suggested that faculty should be informed of an planned service outage so that they don’t set assignment deadlines that fall during updates.
Ruth Ann re-requested that software upgrades be scheduled so that the outage does not fall during an active instructional period and that Christmas to New Year interval would work best.
Jay noted that last year OIT was not allowed to work during the Christmas to New Year interval and that the system has to be upgraded which makes the system unavailable.
Ruth Ann noted that faculty had not had a say in scheduling the summer outage which was an inconvenience to students and faculty.
Jay indicated that OIT would work on improving scheduling for upgrades.
Ruth Ann reiterated the position that the week after Christmas would be an ideal window for the service outage.
Duane noted that OIT is working with BB to make these upgrades smoother and faster.
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Greg indicated that invitations to future FTAG meetings would be extended to:
L.J. Edmonds Vice Provost for Global Affairs
Greg mentioned that eTutor, 3rd party BB modules are being evaluated.
Jay voice the concern that OIT does not have the staff to implement every app widget requested by every faculty member.
Christine asked if requests should be sent via footprint requests, or to FTAG.
Greg indicated that they should go to Jay, and asked how many students/units would be affected by the by the new software apps. Some of them require funding and the provenance of those funds would have to be figured out.
Candice noted that a student evaluation software package is under consideration.
Jay requested that a footprint ticket be put in. Then it would go to FTAG.
Jay indicate that BB does run Q/A checks, but BB doesn’t check them in configurations with all the other building blocks that may be in a system. He oted that faculty need to test/vet building blocks in a test system.
Scribe: Tom Hayes