Minutes, January 24, 2019 (Approved)

A meeting of the Committee on Information Systems (CIS) was held Thursday, January 24, 2019 from 1:30-3:00 PM in MGC 328. The attendees were:

  1. Robert Adcock (SIS)
  2. Stefano Costanzi (CAS)
  3. Nancy Davenport (LIB)
  4. Christine Dulaney (LIB)
  5. Terry Fernandez (OIT)
  6. Jen Gumbrewicz (SPA by phone)
  7. Katie Holton (CAS)
  8. Alan Isaac (CAS)
  9. Kiho Kim (CTRL)
  10. Joseph Mortati (KSB by phone)
  11. David Spratt (WCL by phone)
  12. Scott Talan
  13. Stef Woods (CAS)
  14. Guest: Scott Vanek
  15. Guest: Teresa Valais

The following items of business were discussed.

Chair Alan called the meeting to order. The November 2018 minutes were reviewed and approved.

Scott Vanek, Assistant Director of E-Learning & Instructional Design Services, spoke on the LMS pilot. Phase one is underway. In this phase, eight faculty teaching 100 students across the university (CAS, SIS, SOE, SOC and KOG) are piloting Canvas or Brightspace Desire2Learn (D2L). The general feedback from the pilot thus far is that students don’t care whether Canvas or Brightspace is selected. They care more about how faculty implement it.

The second phase is open to all faculty likely in early February. When faculty receive that email, they can login to the LMS, dig around the site in a mock class, and send ATSC a survey about their experience.

Over the summer, ATSC will prepare a report and make a recommendation to Provost. There is no official timeline beyond the summer due date for the report. It’s not official that we’re moving away from Blackboard. The School of Education has indicated that it will move to Canvas, regardless of the university’s decision.

The president’s strategic plan indicates that there will be a new digital department. LMS evaluation is on that department’s agenda.

Scott and his colleagues have evaluated LMS options over the last year. Universities are almost evenly split between Canvas and D2L. AU has talked with Vanderbilt and Cornell about their experiences with the new LMS, inquiring about why they switched, the timeline for the transition, and their experiences with the new LMS. Georgetown ran Blackboard and Canvas for a number of years to see which LMS faculty gravitated toward before switching.

Surveys about Canvas and D2L are pretty even for faculty. Brightspace is Canadian, and clients and customers have loved working with the staff. Students seem to like Brightspace more, and faculty liked Canvas slightly more. Brightspace is more hands on during the process, while Canvas is more hands off. Canvas is better for faculty via phone support. AU can pay Canvas to convert rubrics for faculty. It’s easier to migrate into Brightspace.

Blackboard hasn’t been redesigned since mid 1990s. It has the most tools and functionality, but it’s cumbersome. From Scott’s perspective, the D2L student interface is better, and Canvas is better for faculty interface. Canvas is modern looking with technology that seems more like Facebook. Brightspace is just an improved version of Blackboard and was developed as a Blackboard competitor before Canvas was on the radar.

Everyone loves Canvas and how the administrative side is clean and modern. But, the faculty side is very different and not flexible enough, and there’s the potential for lots of complaints. Canvas isn’t hard, but you have modules and can’t change what’s on your homepage. That could make it potentially difficult for faculty to change their courses, but Scott is looking into templates to design the homepage. Brightspace forces a look similar to Blackboard.

Before any transition, AU will need to look at how many faculty members are active on the site. Then, once we choose LMS, we’ll need an accounting for complicated courses, medium and no-use courses. 60-65% of faculty use Blackboard during the semester. But, what they’re doing with it needs to be analyzed.

Having some transition time from Blackboard to the new LMS would allow for training and the staffing of extra people to lead the training. Another option that some universities have done is to rip the band aid off.

For the transition, there will need to be one-on-one training that enables faculty to work through the LMS with a staff member. At UMD, it was simple to do from Blackboard to Canvas with graduate students. Vanderbilt hired 10 part-time employees to help with migration.

Canvas is open sourced. Users can download and access Canvas without going through system. Brightspace requires a license with software. There’s no journal tool in either LMS so faculty will need some solutions to use Canvas or Brightspace like they’ve used Blackboard. For conferencing, Blackboard has Collaborate. Both Canvas and Brightspace have open-source software for free basic versions. Can bundle things like Zoom and Kaltura and jettison components.

Alan asked why we wouldn’t choose open sourced and about the risks of a closed model. Scott noted that if we install Canvas, we pay for support. AU isn’t going to tinker and lose support from team and host on our own servers. Canvas support is Instructure out of Utah.

When faculty receive the LMS survey email, they will be asked to look at well-designed courses on both Canvas and Brightspace and add a few things to both. ATSC wants to know how easy the LMS is to figure out. Faculty will have perspectives as faculty and student.

The Committee agreed to look at the model courses on both Canvas and Brightspace, discuss our findings in our April meeting, and provide recommendations to ATSC.

Terry Fernandez shared that OIT is working on its next roadmap/strategic plan. There are four main objectives, and OIT would like feedback from CIS after that’s finalized.

Given the number of password reset requests that the Help Desk received last year, there has been a full-time position for password resets. On August 20, 2018, everyone was switched to a new self-service password reset tool, using four questions. Since then, there has been a 300% increase in password reset requests from people that aren’t setting questions or have set it but forgot them. The Help Desk is fielding 60 requests a day.

OIT is in crisis mode because of this and is evaluating what’s acceptable from a user experience and security. There’s a prototype with info that’s on your colleague record (AU ID, cellphone, and DOB). If it’s matched, you’ll get a text and have a pin to reset password. We discussed possible security concerns with SMS and user design flaws, while noting how banks and other entities are using SMS. OIT is evaluating whether people will provide this basic info, even if cell phones are only used for password resets.

Teresa Valais, Instructional Designer for SOC, spoke about how we ensure that our content is accessible. She started to forage on campus for guidelines, until she found the December 2017 web content policy. 2.0 guidelines and communication with Rachel Weatherly provided further context, and then she collaborated with folks on campus who are partnering with online partner programs and instructional designers. Who other than instructional designers should be trained? How do you remedy this? CTRL works with faculty. What do we do in working with partners? What do we do if we build internally?

We need to build internal capacity who are working in instructional design/tech and working with faculty. There’s a lot of room for improvement if we adopt the AA standard for Web 2.0. She’s looked at adopting that aligns with public-facing websites. There’s quite a lot of room with growth hopefully with the president’s learning theme. Teresa has worked with UMD and visited the GMU Digital Learning Office. GMU is like an Apple store in terms of how instructional designers work with faculty in a way that’s empowering.

Kiho reported that CTRL will be hiring an accessibility specialist soon.

Scott commented that the web side of accessibility takes a long time because his office needs to correct every element.

Alan discussed how the background presumption is that cost-benefit isn’t really under consideration. The object is to satisfy these aspirations regardless of the cost or whether there are actual accessibility issues.

Teresa and Scott discussed the challenges for institutions. Fines are imposed on schools that aren’t compliant — $55,000 for the 1st violation and $110,000 for each subsequent violation. EEOC and DOE are enforcing ADA requirements.

The AU website was already done, but whatever a faculty uploads (power point, etc.) needs to be formatted. There are so many steps that the faculty don’t know about so we need to give faculty the tools they need to grow in the online space.

There’s no university guidelines, but technically, faculty are supposed to accommodate every course regardless.

There being no additional business for the good of the order, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be held from 9:30-11a on Wednesday, February 20th.