Faculty Technology Advisory Group (FTAG)
FTAG Meeting minutes 2015
FTAG Meeting minutes 2014
FTAG Minutes January 22, 2015
Greg Kessler Linguistics
Paul Deering Engineering
Jeff DiGiovanni Health Science
Ruth Ann Althaus Health Administration
Candice Morris Academic Technologies
Andrew Byrne Education
Tom Hayes Fine Arts
Larry Witmore Bio Med
Doug Grammer (streamer)
Christine Wolfe Regional Higher Ed, Computer Scinece
Dave Koonce Grad College
Mike Snavely Business
Aaron Wright Business
Dave Alexander from OIT gave a presentation on the CatMail migration.
He felt the biggest news was that the upgrade has been scheduled for CatMail migration. The College of Engineering is the first to migrate. OIT is still analyzing exact dates for individual units to switch over. Dave indicated that the hardest part for OIT is that faculty aren’t there when OIT is onsite. He noted the different comfort levels OIT is encountering among faculty regarding the new interface and functionality. He also noted that Outlook Web App (OWA) Frequent Contacts doesn’t get transitioned.
Tom indicated some printing problems on Macintosh, also that read/not read status display is less clear than on the old interface.
Ruth Ann indicated that she had a lot of questions about the new interface. One was related to fetching addresses.
Dave noted that there are some iteration issues, and from here on, interface functionality is going to reflect whatever Microsoft is doing “behind the scenes.” He demonstrated search options.
Tom commented on clunky aspects of the interface related to accessing folders.
Dave K indicated that there had been some outgoing mails problems in the transition. He had lost a lengthy draft of outgoing mail.
Tom commented that he was having difficulty finding or recovering drafts. He noted the lack of a “save draft” function when leaving a message in progress.
Dave noted illustrated how to get “pop-outs” by clicking the three dot icon in the upper right corner of in-progress mail. He expressed willingness to sit down with faculty to assist the transition.
Ruth Ann thought that training sessions would be helpful. She noted that transitioning mobile devices has been opaque. Apparently there is some critical operation related to “domain user” set-up. She indicated that she had needed to make multiple calls to support to migrate her plethora of devices.
Sean indicated that some Androids put in the wrong domain related to Ohio/username.
Tom suggested broadcast emails to faculty from OIT with links to their new set of youtube videos about the new interface.
Ruth Ann asked about where each bit of information has to go.
Dave announced that there was a change rolling out today from Microsoft regarding “Apps Live Here” which gives access to MS Word online. He reflected on the advantages this would have for collaborative writing. He provided the important note that “One Drive” had to be turned on to be able to access that functionality.
Doug indicated that there is a difference between One Drive personal and One Drive Computer.
Ruth Ann asked about “Apps” and indicated that the term is widely held to refer to smartphone technology.
Dave indicated that documents can be opened and edited.
Ruth indicated that in her experience the protocol was open, save, then edit. She opined that the application is a limited version of MS Word.
Greg indicated that there is a tab that needs to be opened to turn on One Drive.
Dave acknowledged that OIT is lagging a little on getting information on all of the app tie-ins, but that OIT had been providing intro sessions on the new interface’s capabilities.
Dave K indicated that Motorola had just changed something related to their server and migration is clean on those devices.
Doug indicated that additional instructional videos about new interface capabilities are in production. He also announced that One Drive is moving toward unlimited storage from the current Catmail terabyte.
Ruth Ann asked if One Drive is an alternative to Box and Dropbox.
Greg opined that it should be considered an alternative in light of the imbedded collaborative tools.
Ruth Ann expressed concern about privacy and ownership issues and was curious as to status of files on One Drive should a faculty member leave OU. Exactly who owns the files?
Dave indicated that OU/OIT are still working on what happens when you leave OU.
Greg noted that these questions overlap with the important work underway by the Copyright Taskforce.
Ruth Ann queried whether OU has access to faculty One Drive files.
Dave noted that each of these issues effect students as well. He opined that alternative email addresses help in “off-boarding” data. He acknowledged that OIT is playing catch-up on policy questions.
Greg reminded that Ohio sunshine laws require accessibility to faculty data and emails.
Jeff reminded that even faculty paper files are accessible under sunshine laws.
Ruth Ann pointed out that there are a lot of questions related to research where long-term projects are storing substantial data within the system. She wondered what happens to that data if one of the parties to research changes institutional affiliation. She expressed concern for what she perceives as a blasé attitude among faculty regarding privacy and ownership and sought clarity regarding ownership of faculty work.
Dave asked if Ruth Ann would volunteer to lead a taskforce.
Greg indicated that those issues are part of the Copyright Taskforce considerations – patent ownership and copyright.
Larry had a question about storage. He noted that One Drive is new to us. There are a lot of these things out there -One Drive, Box, Dropbox . He was curious about precisely where our email resides.
Dave responded that it is distributed across the U.S. Microsoft is handling that behind the scenes.
Larry queried if One Drive is similar to Box. He noted that many users find Box slow when moving files off campus.
Dave responded that Box is working with OIT.
Doug noted that Box uses Internet2 which is very fast.
Dave indicated that OIT has been mounting monitoring software onto the system to track speed. He differentiated between departmental file shares and what he called enterprise-class file sharing.
Larry opined that Box is too slow for collaborative work and that private Box accounts seem faster.
Dave felt that OIT will be able to address Box speed issues.
Ruth Ann stated that she had renewed her personal dropbox account because of the Box speed problem.
Dave indicated that users must have One Drive active to use new features on mobile devices.
Greg asked Candice to provide an update on VoiceThread.
Candi noted that she had done presentations on VoiceThread across OU and that seven colleges have agreed to share the costs of the technology for three years. The building block is currently in testing. She is putting together a faculty panel to present “best practices” in utilizing its collaborative instructional tools.
She indicated that VoiceThread would be in play sometime in February and ready for full roll-out by summer/fall semesters.
Candi also pointed out that Brad Cohen has been appointed as Senior Vice Provost for Instruction and Innovation has been appointed. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is responsible for academic strategy and will supervise eLearning and academic innovation. He is Deb’s new boss.
Ruth Ann noted that both Deb and Brad ought to be non-voting members of FTAG, but that there is an expectation that they will attend meetings. She indicated that a new draft of the FTAG charter is done.
Jeff asked about the Turnitin application. Aaron tried to respond remotely, but there were technical difficulties.
Greg indicated that he had received the new draft of the charter.
Ruth Ann indicated that she and Christine had tried to incorporate and address issues that were discussed in the November meeting, emphasizing the faculty role in FTAG. She noted that they had not discussed who else should be on the committee but felt that OIT should be invited as needed. She felt that Candi should be specified as a non-voting member. Also, Dave, Doug, and Sean though they shouldn’t be identified by name in the charter but by their positions. Ruth Ann stressed that this is a draft.
Greg suggested that the draft be discussed in the February meeting.
Christine opined that feedback should be sought from Beth of Faculty Senate regarding the draft charter.
Greg indicated that he would sit down with Beth on this.
Aaron responded remotely to a question from Jeff earlier, that Michelle Donald can provide information on TurnitOn.
Scribe: Tom Hayes
FTAG Members: RuthAnn Althaus, Paul Deering, Deb Gearhart, Sam Girton, Greg Kessler, Vic Matta (chair), Mike Snavely, Howard Welser, Christine Wolfe
Guests: Doug Grammar, David Alexander, Charles Cooper, Sean O'Malley, Beth Quitslund, Becky Simons, Duane Starkey
Vic introduced the topic of formalizing the structure of FTAG by explaining his goal of having the legitimacy of the committee recognized by members of the Information Technology Governance Council (ITGC). During a Google search he found past references to FTAG in announcements by OIT in which they noted FTAG’s support of an initiative and felt that FTAG was cited to indicate the OIT proposal was vetted by a faculty group. He found no such references after 2012. He is concerned the lack of more recent citations may indicate a lessening of FTAG’s influence. One way to restore influence and legitimacy might be by asking the deans to appoint or nominate members to FTAG.
The following lists the items noted and questions asked during the discussion. Christine Wolfe and RuthAnn Althaus noted that the mission of FTAG should drive the decision about how members are determined and that the position of the person or group making nominations may influence who they put forward. Currently if a member resigns the member helps identify a potential member from the same college. The membership has historically been of people who have a strong interest. Unlike many other committees, if someone regularly misses FTAG meetings, they are replaced. Last year a lot of FTAG work was focused on filling positions for Athens educational technology positions and working on building blocks. Christine noted that deans would not be appropriate for appointing FTAG members. They may not have the same focus as faculty and carry biases.
In response to the issue of structure, Ruth Ann asked how FTAG can be better tied to faculty senate? There was discussion (Beth Quitslund, Greg Kessler) about our history and discrepancies in different tellings. Sam explained that Phyllis Bernt and Brice Bible were the original collaborators to establish FTAG. Phyllis was a senator at the time and two other senators were included on the committee, which was considered an ad hoc committee of the senate. Beth Quitslund noted that there were two ways that faculty committees got representational authority: a) being on a faculty senate committee in which case nomination is made by senators and b) being on a standing committee in which case nomination is made by the president of the university. She added that the senate can form ad hoc committees. Greg and Ruth Ann thought that having FTAG members put forward by senators may satisfy legitimacy concerns and support the faculty focus of FTAG. Some thought we were still an ad hoc committee of senate. Others say we are not a formal ad hoc committee of senate even though our page is listed on the faculty senate page under committees.
Greg added that in addition to representing faculty concerns, FTAG members are expected to communicate issues and discussion back to faculty. We can discuss a communication plan after we’re organized. Beth asked if FTAG wanted to be written into the faculty handbook.
There was a question about having non-faculty people at the meetings? Vic noted that non-faculty attendees bring a wider viewpoint and body of knowledge and provide important perspective. There is currently only one non-faculty member of FTAG and she does not vote. All others are guests of FTAG. The presence of OIT during the discussions supports more useful communication than waiting until a formal statement is issued.
After discussion, Greg asked if RuthAnn and Christine would be willing to draft a document describing the purpose of FTAG, the criteria for membership, and the duration of membership. They agreed to have the draft available for FTAG to revise in January.
Dave Alexander of OIT described the current status of the pilot migration of some faculty email accounts off of Exchange and onto Catmail.
David shared that most of OIT have already been moved to the new email system and the rest will be moved very soon. OIT is conducting pilot with several faculty, and asked for participation from FTAG. He noted that people who use shared accounts cannot migrate until everyone who uses the shared account is ready to move. OIT is going to have an information room set up during the first two weeks of classes. They want the departments to meet with them there to hammer out any particular needs of the department. They will be on site from 8-5 for two weeks straight in an attempt to be more efficient at anticipating unique concerns of departments than in the last conversion.
FTAG does not have to communicate this to their colleges; OIT will contact the departments using their established contacts. Based on early going in the pilot, it appears that the move to Catmail will be easier for users than the move to Exchange because everything is moving over: folders, rules, calendars, etc. Last migration people had to learn to use Outlook but that interface will be the same for this transition. OU branding of Catmail is coming in late March or early April. There is a video on migration available on the OIT pages.
There are 3700 grad students waiting to be migrated. OIT will move them when they are back on campus in January. It would be helpful to have a time line of when it will get out to faculty. When the date is announced, that is likely the time that the conversion will get the attention of users. During pilots, there has been about 5 out of 88 users who had to delete and recreate their profile but no data was lost.
Scribe: Christine Wolfe
A. Discussion on FTAG Charter
B. Voice Thread – university wide? (Candi Morris)
C. Top Hat Polling System presentation (Deb Gearhart/Top Hat rep
Faculty Representatives in attendance:
Tom Hayes, Ted (Howard) Welser, Christine Wolfe, Sam Girton, Mike Snavely, David Koonce, Deb Gearhart, Sean O’Malley, Aaron Wright (online)
OIT Representatives in attendance:
Candi Morris, Becky Simons, Sean O’Malley
Not in attendance:
Larry Witmer, RuthAnn Althaus, Greg Kessler, Jeffrey DiGiovanni, Paul Deering
A. Discussion on FTAG Charter
1) Term Limits
Vic noted at the start that key members, who had expressed strong positions on membership issues, were unable to attend this meeting.
Vic provided some background on the fall ITGC meeting, noting that several committees had been established: web projects, student tech, small projects, stewardship, among others.
Vic felt that FTAG should be responsive to ITGC goals, but within that context, should keep the committee’s rules loose and un-mired in procedural issues.
He stressed that FTAG needs to be an advisory group that is responsive to ITGC, advisory but not an approval stamp function.
There was consensus agreement with Vic that, since key members were unable to attend, discussion of appointment procedures and terms should be tabled for a later meeting.
- - - - - - -
B. VoiceThread presentation (Candice):
Candice indicated that OIT had received several requests for the BB Building Block (Bb BB) from faculty. She stressed that acquisition is a faculty driven initiative. Several faculty members are using VoiceThread (VT) in their classes. The lack of an institutional license means they can’t integrate it into their class BB. This creates obstacles to both students and faculty.
OIT is gauging faculty interest in this BB BB. The “list” price for an institution is $33K per anum. OIT has been able to negotiate this down by 66% to $33K for three years.
Candi explained that VoiceThread is a powerful tool for creating bridge discussions online. Participants on a thread can post video and audio, and students can see each other.
She has contacted all of the deans to gauge interest in acquisition of the institutional license. Several have responded affirmatively.
Aaron Wright (remote participant) indicated that he uses VoiceThread.
Candice noted that faculty have reported that VT is having a big impact on their online courses.
Brittany Peterson is using it. She provided an example link in which her students in far flung locations were able to introduce themselves to her and each other via VT. She felt that it gives online students a way to get to know her and each other, addressing some of the historical limitations of text thread/chats in online education.
Sam indicated that his students really appreciate its capabilities.
Candice pointed out that VT does not require any software installation. Smart phone/tablet/laptop web access is sufficient. This reduces support issues.
Howard Wesler, inquired if anyone else had noticed a net slowdown on campus recently. There were many nods.
The VT video put forward the limitations of text based conversations and highlighted how VT can augment that.
Candice noted that a single course license for VT is $99 and up. A BB BB license will integrate VT into the classes and eliminate piecemeal individual instructor licensing. She posited that the tool promotes a sense of community.
Mike Snavely indicated that he has been using VT for class intros and also for class presentations. He felt that the challenge is integrating it into BB and Grade Center. The lack of an institutional license means that the elements are scattered around. He is looking forward to broadly integrated accessibility.
Vic queried whether VT is capable of inserting annotation. He felt that the ability to create interactive material for students is important.
Tom reflected that the VT video resurrects the question of copyright policy at OU, as the video contained material that is copyrighted by Warner Bros. He felt that the VT question also brings forward the broader BB BB policy question, as no new BB BBs have been implemented in the last two years.
Candi indicated that OIT is working on a BB BB interim policy right now. Twenty BB BBs are under consideration . The issues are compatibility, cost, legal issues, need, and demand. OIT is working to include FTAG in the process and will suggest a prioritization scheme.
OIT has a test BB server to check compatibility before moving new BB BBs into the production environment. Candice indicated that she has been working with VT since last summer.
Mike requested that FTAG receive a list of the BB BBs under consideration. He underlined the two year period since any new BB BBs have been added. He opined that resourcing and vendor realities require a more systematic method of adopting Building Blocks.
Candice explained that LTI is the BB app that ports VT. She played VT’s video outlining the app’s process and capabilities including the student process and the instructor process. It contained several interesting points: VT tracks who has and hasn’t completed assignments, and has an integrated grading process.
Vic was curious if the question for OIT is LTI or VT.
Candice indicated that the question is licensing and integration.
Vic felt that the question before FTAG is whether VT is of broad enough interest to the institution. Apparently LTI is critical to convenience of use.
Deb indicated that eLearning is very interested in VT.
Candice noted that several colleges have expressed interest in VT.
Deb noted that between six colleges it breaks down to $5,500 from each college for a three year institutional license.
Dave Koonz was curious about other, similar tools.
Mike noted that there are others, and that they are all cloud based.
Candice pointed out that VT can be used outside of BB in case the march of tech leaves BB by the wayside.
Sam indicated that he is using Youtube in his classes right now. He expressed support for VT for online and blended classes.
Candice noted that it has broad application. The college of Arts and Sciences can use it in language instruction as a way for faculty to check student pronunciation.
Deb noted that VT also has strong possibilities in deaf education.
Vic summarized that FTAG has positive feedback on VT. The question is priorities and resources relative to building block acquisition. VT provides enriched experience for non-residential students.
Howard stressed that expectations of students and movement of technology make it important to be competitive in online education.
Sam noted that VT also provides powerful synchronous meeting capability.
Candice indicated that OIT is looking to take the VT decision to ITGC this month.
Vic suggested that Candice send out links related to VT. He noted that he had tried out VT and realized that he needed to create a compact lecture format.
Candice noted that even voice-over for powerpoint presentations is important and easy to do with VT.
Christine urged OIT to evaluate VT on the basis of multi-use/multi-constituency capabilites.
C. Top Hat Presentation
TopHat Presentation: Rok Cop of TopHat and his account director at OU, David Liptrot, gave a presentation on their product which they define as “the leading mobile-1st technology.”
Dave cited an ECAR study on the use of mobile devices in the classroom. He indicated that Tophat is trying to enable integration of mobile devices for academic outcomes in the service of interactive learning experience. He noted that 4,300 students at OU have been on the platform since January 2014 in 32 different courses. He indicated that faculty are switching from Turning to Tophat.
He provided some definition of the tool: accessed by phone, tablet, or laptop. Powerpoint appears on the device and can be annotated in real time. It can be used for attendance, and uses student email addresses. Tophat can be used for a range of questions. It creates “heat maps” to provide instructors with graphic analysis of responses to questions. It has a discussion feature like “an open twitter feed.”
In terms of LMS integration, TopHat can be used for grading, to evaluate student retention, and is actionable, for example, identifying at-risk students. U of Georgia has shown heavy usage growth in the last year.
Vic opined that it provides a richer interactive experience than simple polling.
Tom Hayes, scribe
Present: Vic Matta (Chair), Christine Wolfe, Ruth Ann Althaus Tom Hayes, Sam Girton, Sean O’Malley, Jeff Shira, David Koonce, Mike Snavely, Lawrence Witmer, Paul Deering, Jeffrey DiGiovanni, Howard Walker, Aaron Miller (remote)
Meeting opened with a discussion of revisions to the FTAG mission statement. The following is the language of the current revision of the Statement of Purpose:
[The Faculty Technology Advisory Group provides advice on academic, teaching, learning, and research technologies to the administrative bodies responsible for academic and information technology. The committee’s scope includes advising on technology innovation, directions, strategies, policies, governance, plans, priorities, and needs that are vital to sustaining Ohio University’s excellence and competitiveness in teaching, learning and research.]
David felt that this “Purpose” section currently reads as a charter rather than a mission statement.
RuthAnn noted the absence of any reference to Faculty Senate.
Vic remarked that it also lacks reference to the role of members to advise their constituencies, and he felt that the revised version should include such language in the section on member responsibilities.
David was not sure that members taking the role of informing faculty is necessary, considering the strong role OIT has taken in informing faculty of initiatives and capabilities.
Christine wondered if the group might be better off going with a more generic definition – less [pointed since terminology and organizational titles change frequently. The original indicated interaction with now defunct groups.
RuthAnn felt it should read – advise appropriate administrative bodies.
David felt that a more generic definition of exactly who FTAG will advise is better since we don’t know how things will be structured in the future.
Christine was curious whether the charter needs to be externally approved.
Vic indicated that he would submit the revised charter to ITGC
Tom suggested that some language be included that indicated that FTAG would be absorbing and reflecting technology needs of the units.
Christine expressed uncertainty on FTAG’s standing to pursue charter revision if the charter was not also submitted to faculty senate for approval. Put forward the question as to whether lack of faculty authorization makes FTAG like a rogue group submitting a charter to the ITGC. She wondered where we get our authority if not from faculty senate.
Vic felt that was a good question. He noted that FTAG has been in existence for several years, and thus its authority is drawn on historical presence, and earned through the work it has accomplished over those years.
Tom indicated, in regards to the groups authority, that he had been buttonholed by the his Dean’s office to serve on FTAG.
RuthAnn put forward the emphatic question that, if FTAG is representing faculty, is it clear in the mission statement that the charge is to represent faculty perspectives?
Larry felt that the intent was absolutely to represent faculty on technology issues.
Paul felt that the role of representing faculty is implied in the title.
Vic indicated that representation is one of three issues. He felt that we need to establish comprehensive faculty representation, and proposed single representatives from each (and every) college.
Larry pointed out that some university committees have as many as three representatives from a college.
RuthAnn was in agreement on configuring in the context of representatives from every college.
Vic also favored inclusion of two representatives from Faculty Senate without defining inevitable overlap issues.
David pointed out that the one rep-one college model does not represent online educators explicitly, as a distinct group with its own technology demands and requirements.
Vic pointed out that faculty who have risen to the group have been organically coming from that faculty demographic.
Larry encouraged inclusion of language indicating that membership definition include potential for additional constituencies.
Vic adjusted the idea of one rep-one college to include a representative from RHA (Regional and Higher Education), one rep from online programs, and two reps from Faculty Senate.
Vic also proposed that, following his discussions with deans and associate deans, that the definition of who the group communicates with should be inclusive of deans and associate deans, and that group members be accountable for communication with those administrators. He also felt member responsibilities should include providing information to their constituency or academic unit, and bring suggestions from that constituency to the group.
Larry indicated that reporting to the dean had not been a priority, but contacting designated IT people within the unit provides important faculty overlay to those people.
Vic felt that member responsibility should include providing information to all members of their constituency.
On the issue of member terms Vic noted proposed language indicating that terms would be two years, renewable, and that members be appointed by their deans.
Christine pointed out that putting appointment in the hands of administrators could be problematic, opening the door to “stacking” the group. She suggested removing the reference to deans in the membership section.
Larry reflected that he and several other current members came to the group through succession.
Christine observed that administrator appointed members aren’t necessarily faculty representatives.
David posited that perhaps the language should be adjusted to indicate that deans nominate members rather than appoint them.
RuthAnn observed that there are no limits on Faculty Senate terms. She thought that perhaps we could have the president of Faculty Senate appoint all members on the basis of nominations in an open nomination process.
Vic favored an open malleable process.
RuthAnn was with Christine on removing administrators from the membership process.
Vic noted that FTAG already has an association with Faculty Senate.
Howard suggested that membership be structured through nomination by the unit and confirmation by the group/committee.
Christine queried why we should maintain the specificity of deans and administrators, and suggested that we keep the language broad, tasking the academic units with nominating members.
Vic pointed out that the members are representing the dean’s units.
Christine wondered why the division chairs and division coordinators couldn’t be included as nominators/appointers.
Vic indicated that it had become clear to him in his discussion with deans, that they have been unaware of FTAG. He’s been introducing the deans to FTAG. He felt that we want them to view FTAG as a legitimate body rather than an ad hoc group.
Christine wondered what would be accomplished by putting deans into the position as member appointers, as opposed to being on the receiving end of information and being able to send concerns to the group via their rep. She put forward the question of why administrators should be included at all in the membership process.
Vic posited that it (administrator inclusion) is about legitimacy of the group. He noted that FTAG is uniquely placed between Faculty Senate and ITGC.
RuthAnn opined that members don’t need to be conveying dean’s opinions to the group. Our role is to convey faculty opinions and concerns to the group.
Aaron indicated that he agreed with Christine.
RuthAnn expressed a desire that this issue come to a vote.
Vic pointed out that deans have “reach” into other areas. He wondered what kind of clarification we could add to the membership language.
Christine suggested language that would include FTAG itself, division chairs, division coordinators and/or Faculty Senate members from each unit serve as nominators.
Larry indicated that he was okay with removing deans and associate deans from the language. He posited that FTAG is in fact an ad hoc committee and suggested that perhaps FTAG should become a standing committee of Faculty Senate. He noted that has been on the table for a while.
Vic, parsing the term “nominated by”, noted that it is the equivalent to “recommended by.”
Howard out forward the idea that units might have multiple nominees.
Paul reflected that there hadn’t been a problem of too many volunteers.
RuthAnn wondered if perhaps the members should send drafts of language suggestions on the membership piece.
It was agreed that the membership piece needed to be tabled in order to move on to the terms piece.
Vic noted that the suggested language limits terms to two years, renewable once. He felt that this format would insure a regularly refreshed committee.
Jeff suggested that the language include something to the effect that the term would be renewable in the absence of a suitable replacement candidate from the unit.
Vic advocated for maintaining an infusion of new blood on a cyclical basis would enable bringing in different views, different thoughts.
Howard felt that members shouldn’t have to step down by rule.
Christine agreed that the term limits could be a problem because of the lack of continuity and history on the faculty side
Vic tabled further discussion in order to make time for Jan Scipio, Pearson Publishing rep to present on a building block for Blackboard.
Jan indicated that Pearson would like OU to adopt a free BB building block. She noted that OU has 5,500 MyLAb users on campus/enrolled. The building block would make Pearson content directly accessible through BB. It includes large collections of online homework among other features. The Pearson position is that it personalizes the student experience.
“All students learn differently. Some are using iPads and smart phones – different modalities are being employed. The building block would create a single student sign-on instead of having to manage two different IDs and passwords. It streamlines access for students.
Paul wanted to know the cost.
Jan indicated that the building block is free, but the course materials have a cost - $5 when purchased with the textbook. She noted that the materials can be hard copy or digital. She also noted that the most economical approach is to purchase the BB content with the text.
Jan: If faculty have chosen to use Pearson MyLab resources it’s easy to create new courses, easy to integrate and sync to gradebook, and includes student progress monitoring features.
Her contact information is email@example.com phone: 614- 448-6098 (*Vic – not sure I got this #right)
Sam voiced a concern about testing for conflicts with current BB version, and about the workload the addition puts on OIT.
Jan responded that OU is the only school in Ohio that doesn’t have the Pearson building block.
Sam inquired if Pearson could provide support for OIT.
Jan said she’d check on that. Pearson is trying to be included with other publishers that already have their building block in our BB system. She said that it only takes 15 minutes to load and that there is 24/7 support available to LMS administrators and students.
Sam suggested that OIT put an FTE on this.
Candi thought that Jay or Duane would be the right people for the job.
Sam noted that our concern is how we support this.
Tom paraphrased Jay in expressing a nervousness about “free puppies.”
Jan’s assistant: “We’re trying to extend access and flexibility to students and faculty. Between 25 and 40 subject areas at OU are already using MyLab resources.”
She was curious about the cost of putting the FTE on this.
Sam reflected that OIT has been looking at a “building block tax” to units across campus and publishers.
Jan indicated that she is not sure what Pearson should tell OU faculty that want this BB resource.
Vic indicated that FTAG will have a discussion on this. There are a lot of steps involved. Deployment of BB building blocks is a new process and we are not sure how long it will take.
Jan asked who Pearson should refer faculty to who want theis building block.
Candi noted that OIT is working on its building block policy right now.
Vic reflected that historically acquisition and deployment of BB building blocks was a more random process. OIT needs to know the time and resources required.
Jan noted that OIT reluctance puts Pearson in an awkward position since other publishers already have their building blocks in our BB sytrem.
Tom pointed out that demonstrating a constituency would be important for Pearson.
Candi noted that no new building blocks have been deployed in a year as policy is under formulation.
Jan said that Pearson wants the professors that they are working with to be happy.
Candi indicated that 20 different building block requests are on the table as policy and strategy is being developed.
NOTE: The following is revised language, per group discussion, of the section titled FTAG MEMBERS:
Members are accountable for communication:
Scribe: Tom Hayes
Faculty Technology Advisory Group (FTAG)
IT Top Ten for Faculty (Sean O’Malley)
Future of FTAG (Vic Matta)
Present: Sam Girton, Larry Witmer, David Moore, Jeff DiGiovanni, Christine Wolfe, Ruth Ann Althaus, Tom Hayes, Mike Roy, Sean O’Malley, Becky, Paul Deering, Vic Matta, Charles Cooper
Sean indicated that he has been working with Jean Dimasci (sp?) and Megan Haley doing presentations for students on SOPHOS/Fox, how to get help with IT issues. He wants to carry this forward into presentations for faculty, but they have different issues with IT. Sean came to FTAG looking for direction in developing something that would meet their needs and to ascertain if there would be a desire for presentations.
Christine queried about what kind of event or forum Sean is looking for.
Sean indicated that faculty meetings or unit meetings are venues he had been contemplating.
Larry queried whether he would be doing this with the dedicated tech people in the different units, and pointed out that the technology needs differ from unit to unit.
Ruth Ann suggested developing a generic list of topics for presentation, then customizing for the particular needs of individual units.
Vic asked what the topics of presentations had been thus far.
Sean indicated enumerated.
Christine indicated that OSU students get to keep the software after graduation.
Sean indicated that OU students get to keep it as well and that it includes Office for iPad and Android, iOS, and the venerable Windows phone.
Sean also indicated that the new email system requires Office 2010 or higher.
Vic indicated that Office 2010 or higher integrates seamlessly with the new email system.
Sean indicated that when using Outlook a slight refresh is required and a user settings change is required. He noted that the current Exchange web client is pretty clunky. The new system is more flexible and supports things like right-click attributes.
Sam wanted to know if those who have huge mail archives, will it be accessible in the new system.
Sean indicated that if it’s on CatMail it will move seamlessly into the new system. Deleted messages will be deleted from the system in 30 days. All folders and organizing structures within an account will move across to the new system intact. Testing will begin shortly and the results will determine the upgrade schedule. Migration of grad student email accounts is finished except for a few.
David asked about the persistence of these accounts and their contents. What happens when faculty leave? He noted that our OU email addresses are our personal digital presence.
Sean noted that when faculty leave their account will be disabled after 30 days, but the contents is not deleted right away. When students graduate they are awarded lifetime accounts. He indicated that alumni who have a degree from OU should contact the Alumni office to get a permanent OU email account. There are apparently different levels of access to the system available.
Vic indicated that the policy is that if full time faculty leave their access is revoked but the data is retained. Retirees on the other hand maintain access for life.
Ruth Ann felt that faculty need to know this policy, and that departments need to develop policy, and need to be informed of that need.
Mike suggested that faculty probably would like to be informed of other software options for email like Adobe Suite, etc.
Larry noted that email has come to consume an enormous amount of faculty time.
David added that faculty need to know more about Box, the replacement for Dropbox, for example the utility of the collaborative tools.
Vic noted that Box contains different apps like the ability to synchronize.
David added that you can chose the directories you want to sync in Box.
Ruth Ann indicated that she had kept Dropbox rather than shifting to Box, and that a lot of faculty are unaware of Box.
Christine asked if the 24 hour password lockout had been addressed. Apparently she had encountered a problem with incorrect password entry creating a lockout in Blackboard.
Paul pointed out that many people on campus are unaware of the lockout problem.
Sean described the lockout as “spam jail.” If an account is hacked and is pouring out hundreds of emails it will go into 24 hour lockout on a specific device, not the account.
Sean continued to enumerate the presentation topics.
Larry noted that the BB includes systems for students that faculty are unaware of, that don’t show up in the faculty view. He suggested putting faculty into BB as students would be helpful so that they could see the student view.
Sean indicated that there are multiple BB services available in the student view that would be helpful to faculty.
Sam queried if all faculty should have a student ID so that they can access student view.
Ruth Ann indicated that it would be a great help to have a session on student view for faculty.
Larry noted that DARS are available online through the Advising Center site.
Christine it would be good if program coordinators could see the DARS for all the students who are majoring in their program. She added that she would like the Interactive Schedule of Classes to include an option where the user could filter the results based on their major. For example, my students could enter CTCH or perhaps the program code AA5010 along with the existing filter for term such as Fall 2014. I would like the Interactive Schedule of Classes to then show ALL courses offered that term that are applicable to the CTCH major regardless of the MCF. So for the CTCH code, not only would the CTCH courses offered that term show up but also the MATH 1200, COMS 1030, 2SS, etc without the user having to individually select MATH then COMS, then ENG, etc.
pointed out that faculty can only access DARS for their own advisees. She felt that the best improvement in that area would be to develop the ability to enter a major and see the relevant course offerings for a students specific degree reflecting their current DARS/ progress toward degree. She felt that this would be the best tech tool we could have for advising.
Sean asked if the group felt that presentations for faculty should be done by the GAs he has been working with, or if it should be an OIT “fulltimer.”
The general sense was that a fulltimer from OIT would be best for faculty.
Paul requested a student presentation for one of his classes.
Vic distributed the FTAG Statement of Purpose document (2005 version).
Larry wondered how many faculty senators are on FTAG currently. Ruth Ann was the only one present.
David asked about the original intent regarding faculty senate presence in the group.
Ruth Ann stated that it was about faculty having some representation in technology decisions.
Tom commented that it was about leveraging faculty concerns to the administration.
Vic noted that Greg Kessler had commented on the idea/requirement of four faculty senators in the group. He emphasized that representation helps drill down to illuminate what faculty in different units need tech wise, and what they need to know about existing resources. He noted that FTAG is uniquely positioned to supply that information.
Vic noted that there is currently no representation in the group from the Patten College of Education, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, or Global Affairs and International Studies. He expressed a sense that the College of Arts and Sciences is also under represented.
Larry noted that FTAG has been largely outside of faculty senate.
David asked if the intent is actual representation from all the different units.
Vic indicated that FTAG wants actual representation from the units, active representation that will actually report to the units and provide information about tech developments to their units.
David opined that the unit model may not be the most representative of faculty.
Jeff suggested that representation based on use of technology/application of technology going beyond the college representative model.
Ruth Ann felt that faculty senate and unit representation is important, and that a senate/FTAG interchange is important.
Vic noted that both Ruth Ann and Greg are on the Faculty Senate.
Ruth noted that is just for a year and that FTAG should staff senate seats on FTAG on the basis of senators interest.
Vic affirmed that FTAG can avoid neglect in representation through recruiting from the senate on the basis of interest.
Larry, commenting on the Purpose document, noted that term durations are purposely not indicated in the document. He noted that this wasn’t a criticism, but most current members have been on FTAG for years, some since the document was written in 2005.
David asked how the group should reach out. He suggested that reaching out to the deans for representatie won’t insure faculty representation.
Larry noted that there is no oversight on FTAG terms.
Ruth Ann likes the link to the faculty senate.
David noted that there are two ways to link to the senate; ad hoc committee or standing committee. There are costs and assets to both forms.
Vic underlined that the deans came up as a point of contact to reach appropriate faculty members for the group.
Christine suggested that faculty unit coordinators might be a better contact point than the deans. She also indicated that she felt longer terms on the group is better than short terms.
David suggested that P&T committees would serve as good evaluators of representative as they are familiar with the work of their faculty, and who is applying technology.
Vic was concerned that we might get members that don’t want to serve on the group which lead to their ineffectiveness.
Larry suggested that Associate Deans for research might be good contact points.
Vic noted that on the issue of members he would contact the unrepresented units and recruit members through the associate deans. He expressed an interest in having the deans support of two way communication between the group and the colleges and to facilitate more communication so that group members can effectively report back to their units.
David noted that FTAG also needs to facilitate communication with OIT.
Vic noted the consensus that maintaining communiation with faculty senate should rely on two senators rather than four.
Larry asked who will reach out to the unrepresented units.
Vic encouraged members to contact people in unrepresented units and indicated that he would contact deans in those units as well as inform them about FTAG.
Next FTAG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 15 in 310u Alden at 11 am.
Scribe: Tom Hayes
2.Improving PPACA compliance (Jeff)
3.Faculty Innovation Report (Greg & Deb)
FTAG’s role and the need to improve its advisory function has been discussed since the Spring. The following needs were identified:
There was a comment on increasing communication, collaboration. Duane suggested that OIT services were interested in listing to constituents and nominated Sean O’Malley for handling that. This was tabled for further discussion, when Sean would be available. FTAG is one of the advisory vehicles to ITGC. OIT will review structure and tool sets to provide that feedback.
It is coming in late Fall.
Uncertainty caused by PPACA’s definition of “full time” as it relates to work
David Koonce noted that the student is contracted for 20 hours and that is what is reported back to the state government. It is up to the department/faculty to track the hours and to ensure that their work is appropriate.
Deb updated us about the innovation strategy document and the process that was employed to gather the information. She indicated that academic leadership received the data just a couple weeks ago
Eva Klein has been working with the senior administration since Fall 2013 on Innovation Strategy. They have outlined a broad approach as indicated in the
announcements in OU Compass that invited faculty feedback at meetings on Sep 10th and 16th. There is interest to see if the report captures appropriate niches and what metrics should be used.
At the moment many details are not clear, but we do know that they will be seeking proposals from faculty to create projects that will be eligible for funding. These are likely to focus on interdisciplinary projects
FTAG Meeting Minutes 2013
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