A meeting of the Committee on Information Systems (CIS) was held Wednesday, February 15, 2017 from 1:00-2:00 PM in Library Room 115. The nine attendees were:
1. Robert Adcock (SIS)
2. Stefano Costanzi (CAS)
3. Alan Isaac (CAS)
4. Billie Jo Kaufman (WCL)
5. Stefan Kramer (LIB)
6. Joseph Mortati (KSB)
7. Lindsay Murphy (CTRL)
8. Sonja Walti (SPA)
9. Stef Woods (CAS)
The following items of business were discussed.
1. Co-Chair Stefano Costanzi called the meeting to order and for the January 2017 minutes to be approved, which was done.
2. Sonja Walti (SPA) raised the issue of faculty (re)engagement with Blackboard. Some faculty use it more than others (recent versions have made significant improvements, particularly in the areas of Collaborate (sharing tool) and usability (e.g., instructors can now drag and drop attachments). However, other faculty use a mixed bag of platforms (emailing files directly, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and others), which presents dramatically different communication methodologies to students. Sonja asked if this was an issue for this Committee and, if so, what should be done?
Stef Woods (SPA) discussed the issue from the perspective of the students (who may prefer a platform other than Blackboard) and Lindsay Murphy (CTRL) from the perspective of the faculty (who may prefer to standardize on a single platform). That said, should there be an effort to encourage faculty to use Blackboard more?
There was further discussion about the possibility of standardizing syllabi verbiage to state what the method(s) of communication, file availability, and assignment submittal should be. Alan Isaac (CAS) raised the question, “Is Blackboard not used more because it’s too hard to use or not useful?” Lindsay Murphy added, “Does it fit the instructor’s teaching style?” Stefan Kramer raised additional questions, “Why should students learn to use something they won’t use in business? I used to use Blackboard but stopped because it’s no longer useful or there is a feature not available or not sufficiently useful?” Alan raised the issue of staying within the secure confines of Blackboard.
The Committee also discussed the proliferation of LMS platforms other than Blackboard. For example, Kogod uses Blackboard for in-person classes and 2U for its online programs (although for students, these are mutually-exclusive – they use one or the other but not both; however, some faculty must be proficient with both). Billie Jo Kaufman (WCL) added that the Law School uses AppointLink for its MyWCL (Blackboard-like) system and Desire2Learn D2L (Brightspace) for our online LMS. They use Adobe Connect for users to see each other.
Lindsay suggested we invite Scott Vanek (AU Blackboard) office to attend the March meeting to discuss the possibility of doing some outreach to the larger campus community.
3. Stefano Costanzi then reviewed the CIS Issues List at the end of this message to update statuses and determine which items need CIS attention. To recap, Items #1-7 and #17 were discussed and their statuses updated during the January 2017 meeting. In today’s meeting, Items #8 and 9 were discussed and their updates are reflected below.
Likewise, a tangential issue arose regarding classroom space that is configured for online learning. The discussion also referenced purpose-built rooms (e.g., at George Mason University) that are a radical departure from the traditional lecture where the focus is on the front of the room (i.e., either the instructor or the screen). It was agreed to table this issue till next month’s meeting.
5. The final item was that Joseph Mortati mentioned he invited Tara Sabbagh, Associate Registrar, Student Information Systems, to explain the room scheduling process at the university-level and what the various “tiers” of classrooms there are.
6. There being no additional business for the good of the order, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 1:00 PM in Library 115.
|1||Participation in 2-year budget cycle discussions.||Closed|
|2||Liaison among CIS, ATSC, and other campus academic technology centers.
Update: This liaison now exists in that CIS has representation at ATSC meetings. Going forward, one of the co-chairs should attend.
|3||Student photos with rosters.||Closed|
|4||Improved access to student and faculty information services offered via www.american.edu (e.g., course information, textbook information, calendars, etc.)||Overcome by Events|
|5||Accessibility management upgrade.
Update: not a CIS issue.
|6||Alternatives to Blackboard Collaborate sharing platform.
Update: the newer version of Collaborate resolved most of the issues associated with Mac users using this platform.
|Overcome by Events|
|7||Cloud strategy campus-wide.
Update: a work-in-progress; not a CIS issue to resolve but one that could benefit from greater transparency (e.g., a tutorial or list of options).
|8||LMS explorations and pilots.
Update: various Blackboard replacements were discussed several years ago. Several open source platforms were discussed but none were deemed sufficiently better than Blackboard to make the transition worthwhile.
|9||Is there a more cost-effective way to host Blackboard?
Update: Blackboard is now hosted in the cloud but it is unclear what the costs are.
|11||Online Learning review and updates.||Completed?|
|12||Big Data Policies.||Discuss|
|14||Allocation of Classroom Technology (“Classroom Modernization Framework”).||Discuss|
|15||Curriculum Management upgrade.||?|
|16||Classroom infrastructure modernization.||Update|
|17||BYOD – ATSC Trials.
Update: A small-scale needs assessment to establish a baseline is necessary but ATSC tabled this and move it to policy level.
|18||AU-wide license to Top Hat or similar (e.g., Pearson Mobile).||Discuss|
|19||Media management systems acquisition.||Discuss|