CIS minutes for 2020 01 22 meeting

CIS meeting • 2020-01-22
The meeting was called to order at 10:06am.

Stef Woods (former Chair, non-voting), Brian Yates (CAS, Vice-Chair), Rueben Jacobsen (SOE), Stefan Kramer (University Library), Mauro Tiso (CAS), Alan Isaac (CAS), Kiho Kim (CTRL, ex officio non-voting), PTJ (SIS, note-taker), Rick Semiatin (SPEX), Joseph Mortati (KSB), Jennifer Gumbrewicz (SPA), Terry Fernández (OIT, ex officio non-voting), Nancy Davenport (University Librarian, ex officio non-voting)

The committee had no objections to Stef leading the meeting.

Rick moved, Joseph seconded, the approval of the minutes of the last meeting, with one minor spelling amendment.

Bylaws have been approved by the Committee, but then it then goes to the Faculty Senate EC; some discussion about how leadership changes, and whether someone newly on the Committee would be ready to take over the Chair position if the Chair had to resign. “Staggered terms” are the key thing that the Senate requires, both for members and for leadership. Length of service term on the committee set by whom: major teaching unit? Deans? VP for Academic Affairs? Also people have different contracts, so requiring that a V- Chair accede to the Chair position discriminates against those on 1-year contracts. On the other hand, the Senate liked the rotating model. Maybe we don’t need formal rules on this? Amendment to the bylaws to say that the V-Chair will serve as Chair if willing and able, and not making this a fixed and absolute requirement:

The committee elects, from among its faculty members in the first year of their term, one member to serve as Vice-Chair. The following year, if willing and able, the Vice-Chair will serve as Chair. If the Chair or Vice-Chair can no longer serve in that role, the committee will elect, from among its faculty members, a new Chair and/or Vice-Chair for the remainder of the academic year.

Amendment passed with general acclamation.

Election of new officers. Brian to be Chair, Mauro to be Vice-Chair, for Spring 2020. [Note that Brian, having been elected Vice Chair for AY 2019-2020, automatically accedes to Chair for AY 2020-2021, unless he is no longer “willing and able.”] Alan moves the slate, PTJ seconds, approved with 2 abstentions (the candidates themselves).

Mike Piller working on online learning stuff, under the auspices of the Provost’s office. There will also need to be a faculty rep on the university’s enterprise systems committee. Some discussion of the scheduling and responsibilities; apparently there is always lunch provided. Interested committee members should contact Brian directly.

IP grades have been changed, now changing IP requires a change of grade form. That’s been resolved, IP is gone, now there’s just Incomplete. Some discussion of whether the IP grade served a useful function, especially for grad students. Maybe SP/UP take that place? PTJ will ask OUR whether the IP grade is entirely gone, or what. It’s still in the regs. Why are only some courses IP-eligible, and who decides that?

FARS alternatives. Possible pilots in 2020, possible use also in the reappointment file process overseen by Mary Clark’s office. Symplectic is being considered. Whatever system we get has to be rolled out properly, since to make a system like this work requires changes in practice and process. We need to eliminate rework and retyping, so automatically harvesting data from FARS and from other sources (like Google Scholar) would be important as well.

Rick reported on DACA implications of photo rosters. Seems like it’s okay if the photos are used only by instructors in the class, even though the university gives no official answer related to DACA. Even students who opt out of directory information have to have a working e-mail address that is known to instructors in the class. Currently no photos in Blackboard, because of bottlenecks as students add and drop classes, but also some gap between the OneCard office and OIT, and a bug in Blackboard which has yet to be fixed…no information about when it will be fixed…Also, no communication from Blackboard about this to the faculty, except a notice posted on the Blackboard login page which many people may have missed. Joseph will contact Scott Vanek to find out what is going on, and to encourage communication with faculty about it.

Brian, reporting on Recruit: needs to be reinstalled. Disasters this year are worse than disasters last year. Workarounds are being created on the fly, and in the past people could download PDF versions of applications for evaluation. There is a need to get everyone together across campus who uses Recruit, so that all the issues can be clearly presented. Currently using three Ellucian systems: Recruit, Advise, and Advance. General faculty dissatisfaction with Recruit for being clutzy, hard to work with, and improperly configured for admissions filtering/screening processes rather than the marketing tasks of tracking prospects. Brian will reach out to everyone on campus who uses Recruit, or use his judgment on who precisely from different programs to reach out to. It was also suggested that we include offices in UEAS that use Recruit too.

LMS. There is an offer out for a new COO. The assumption is that we need a new COO in place in order to move ahead on the LMS switch, but that process remains unclear. Some discussion on timeline. Possibly to be completed by 2022…definite need to run systems in parallel for some time. We need to start the transition as early as possible. Committee should reach out to Mike Pillar to a future meeting to discuss this; Brian will draft a letter. Running multiple systems might produce some confusion for students and faculty, but we see no real way around this. Some faculty don’t give a lot of feedback on student work through the LMS, which is not really a technical problem — although there are some technical barriers that a new LMS could solve. Microsoft Teams? Nope. Default to POLS (plain old listserv) for committee communications for the moment.

There will be further e-mails. Meeting adjourned 11:34am.

CIS minutes 2019 11

A meeting of the Committee on Information Systems (CIS) was held Wednesday, November 6, 2019 from 12:30-2p in Library 143. The attendees were:

  1. Stefano Costanzi (CAS)
  2. Nancy Davenport (LIB)
  3. Terry Fernandez (OIT)
  4. Reuben Jacobson (SOE)
  5. Kiho Kim (CTRL)
  6. Stefan Kramer (LIB)
  7. Patrick Jackson (SIS)
  8. Joseph Mortati (KSB)
  9. Rick Semitian (SPExS)
  10. Scott Talan (SOC)
  11. Mauro Tiso (CAS)
  12. Stef Woods (CAS)
  13. Brian Yates (CAS)
  14. Bobby Zitzmann (AUSG)
  15. Guest: Mike Piller (Senior Director, Academic Technology, Library)

The following items of business were discussed.

General: The October 2019 minutes were approved. The Committee elected Brian as Vice-Chair.

Upgraded Classrooms: Mike Piller briefed the Committee on the problems and potential solutions with respect to information technology and physical plant issues in classrooms, event spaces, and other meeting and performance spaces across the university.

There is interest in establishing a single, central entity for reporting and solving problems in teaching technology and physical plant issues. The Library noted that it is not equipped to handle specialized spaces such as theaters (Katzen and Greenberg) and labs built for specific purposes (SOC).

There also is interest in standardized hardware available in AU spaces for teaching, learning, and meeting.

Funding for maintenance of technology was reviewed several years ago by the then-Provost and Registrar. Funding is not a base item, but instead is established separately in each budget. Funding is now on the order of $200K annually, although it used to be several million dollars. Partnership with Sony helped contain costs for East Campus and the Hall of Science some, and that may or may not continue.

One strategic imperative is how to improve space across campus. This is led by KSB’s Maureen Breslin. There needs to be a reasonable picture that looks at the issues through more than just what’s centrally-scheduled. A suggestion was raised to include Laura Ragusa and Jim Merrifield in these discussions.

Mike noted that WCL is completely independent, and the Library has two full-time and two part-time staff in SVB to handle classroom concerns.

Mike supported having CIS make recommendations in the coming months related to this and how classroom issues can create disparate experiences for faculty and students. The Committee discussed the need to improve communication between campus offices and schools, establish baseline funding to cover maintenance and replacements, consolidate some processes, and impose some standards. CIS does not need to wait for a new COO before making these recommendations. We can work online to draft recommendations for discussions at future meetings.

CTRL Request re Faculty Software Budget Allocation: Kiho explained that CTRL now has control over a considerable budget for software allocation for faculty teaching and research. He said would appreciate guidance for specific responses to faculty recommendations for software purchases. He wondered whether CTRL was the best entity to make decisions on faculty requests for software, given how CTRL’s mission has changed. This does not fall within OIT’s purview since OIT doesn’t handle academic technology. Mary Clark and Kiho would like to shift the decision-making out of the hands of one or two people, establish a clear process, and increase transparency. They thought CIS might assist with this.

Kiho shared that schools contribute $19-20K to the faculty software budget with an additional $138K coming from CTRL. On average, CTRL receives 10 requests a year for $15-20K. CTRL would still write the checks, but asked if CIS would be willing to establish some general rules or suggestions.

There ensued considerable discussion of both recommendations for specific types of software and of the possibility of developing general policies, principles, or rules for CTRL to following in responding to faculty requests. These included possibly prioritizing open access software, faculty software vouchers, learning how other universities make these decisions, determining which software is integral to a course or department, deciding if the standardized suite is sufficient; and favoring software that could be installed on VCLs.

Discussions ensued as to whether this responsibility falls within the Committee’s purview and if it does, what the Committee’s role(s) should be. In previous years, CIS received applications for faculty software requests and issue grants up to $10K. Karen Baehler, Faculty Senate chair, believes that this does fall under CIS’ mission. Some members agreed, while others feel as though this is beyond CIS’ scope. Additional concerns were shared about the changing membership, how some schools and departments have greater representation on CIS, and how accepting this role could prove difficult and time-consuming for future members.

The Committee voted in favor to continue these discussions and decide whether CIS should help CTRL respond to faculty software requests.

Recruiter: Brian will meet with Ann Parambil, Associate Director of CRM Product Management, about the Psychology Department’s concerns about Recruiter. He will report back and will schedule meetings involving user representatives from major teaching units.

Slack/Teams: The Committee discussed the need to work outside of our monthly meetings as we prepare possible recommendations regarding upgraded classrooms and brainstorm approaches to CTRL’s request. Brian demonstrated the functionality of the channels that he set up on Slack, and members shared their thoughts on the platform. We also discussed the listserv’s strengths and limitations. Kiho shared that Teams is free, supported by Microsoft 360, integrates Skype, and has worked well for CTRL. Teams also is the platform that AU has chosen and supported. Brian offered to set up Teams and channels for the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


Upgrading and upgraded classrooms

This is, hopefully, the start of a between-meetings-of-the-CIS conversation about upgrading classrooms.

At our most recent, 10/16/2019 meet, we discussed several classroom characteristics that could fall under the category of “upgrades,” including:
a) physical plant upgrades such as sockets not coming out of walls and carpet not pealing up from floors,
b) projectors, screens, and WiFi working consistently,
c) computers and computer-projector communications working consistently, and
d) standardized integrations of computers and projectors built into classrooms.

I’m wondering what I’ve missed in the above list, who is responsible for each, who has the budget for each, and the priority each should have relative to others in terms of attention from those responsible.

But your thoughts?
– Brian