Minutes, May 4, 2015 (Approved)


A meeting of the Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Committee was held on Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10:30 AM in the Library Conference 306 Room. The 9 attendees were:

Sonja Walti (SPA), Chris Simpson (SOC), Amy Taylor (WCL), Alan Isaac (CAS), Nancy Davenport (Library), Stefan Kramer (Library), Brian Yates (CAS), Terry Fernandez (OIT), and Joseph Mortati (KSB; took minutes)

Agenda & Notes

Co-Chair Joseph Mortati began the meeting by reviewing the following agenda:

1. Approval of minutes (see https://blogs.library.american.edu/cis/category/minutes/)

Minutes were approved via a voice vote.

2. Hails and Farewells, constitution of new co-chairship

The Committee welcomed new member, Stefan Kramer, from the Library, taking over for Elaine Mundt. Welcome, Stefan. Brian Yates will be stepping down as a CAS Representative and we thank Brian for the great ideas and energy he brought to this body.

The Committee had previously-agreed to maintain its three co-chairperson structure. Current co-chair Sonja Walti stated her desire to remain a CIS member but wants to step down as chair. Current co-chairs Chris Simpson and Joseph Mortati requested to run for reelection and Amy Taylor requested to run for the vacating co-chair seat. All three were elected unanimously.

3. Update on the student roster pictures

Co-chair Chris Simpson explained that a request for larger photos than the current thumbnail-sized ones that can be manually uploaded in Blackboard was made to the Faculty Senate but was not accepted because it conflicts with the original wording for the requirement. It appears that the smaller photos will be used but this is significant progress on an issue the Committee has been shepherding for almost a year.

Additionally, Terry Fernandez gave the following update from the Blackboard Project Manager on 4/21/15:

A meeting was held on 4/7/2015 to discuss the best means to extract the photos from cCure [student photo database of record]. It was confirmed from IST that there is a built in manual functionality to extract the photos needed. Once explained, we were able to extract the photos necessary (just OIT members for now) for testing purposes. A script has been created to map the photos to their respective AU ID and Blackboard primary key. We are currently waiting for the translation file from Blackboard to be created. Once completed, we will started testing.

4. Update on software options

Joseph Mortati briefed the Committee on the work Brian Yates and he did on providing a set of draft principles for faculty members to use when determining which software options are available and appropriate for their situation. This led to a lengthy (30-minute) discussion on the following:

Current Course Standards: can courses be more device-agnostic
Preferences (student and faculty): how much should faculty software preferences dictate student hardward choices
Instruction Effectiveness: e.g., what is most important – instruction on a specific application or learning to work with multiple apps and Operating Systems?
Future Growth

A discussion of the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL; https://vcl.american.edu/Welcome.html) was also done with the caveat that the Lab was originally intended to be a virtual substitute for Computer Lab space.  Alan Isaac asked whether the use VCL can remove the need for teaching units to impose OS requirements on their students (esp., Windows vs Mac). Likewise, Alan Isaac pointed out that perhaps course standards requiring a specific application for all students might be limited to introduction courses but higher-level courses might have more flexibility for file types.

Time did not permit a final set of principles but two steps were agreed-upon:

a. This is issue is one that is potentially useful to the entire teaching community and should be picked up again in the Fall 2015.

b. Perhaps an Ann Ferren Conference Panel could be added on this subject (note: while this conference routinely has panels that discuss new technologies, it does not have a panel to address the software options specifically).

5. Review draft of annual CIS final report (assign responsibilities for drafting)

Co-chair Chris Simpson circulated a printed draft of the Annual CIS Report of activities for the current academic year. He listed the following as key items:

a. Participation in AU Budget Planning
b. Participation in Social Media Planning
c. Advancing Faculty Priorities
d. Faculty Senate Tasks
e. Liaison on AU Computing and Information Services Policies and Procedures

The expiration of time prevented a complete discussion of all these items but Chris will provide the draft report via the CIS listserv for additional committee input.

There being no other business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 AM. The next CIS Meeting is TBD but will be early in the Fall 2015 Semester.