Minutes, February 17, 2016 (Approved)

A meeting of the Computer and Information Systems (CIS) Committee was held on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 1:00 PM in Library Classroom 306. The eight attendees were:

Terry Fernandez (OIT)
Alan Isaac (CAS)
Joseph Mortati (KSB)
Lindsay Murphy (CTRL)
Yana Sakellion (CAS)
Amy Taylor (WCL)
Sonja Walti (SPA)
Chenyang Xiao (CAS)

Co-chair Joseph Mortati brought the meeting to order and the following business was conducted:

1. A motion to approve the draft minutes of the previous meeting was made and approved.

2. The Committee discussed the issue that some student roster pictures (e.g., those in PUAD606-001) show up as distorted in Blackboard (described as “adding several pounds to their faces”). Fernandez explained this is a function of the images being loaded and is not a Blackboard import issue. She provided the following link that lists Photo Submission Requirements for the AU ID Card System (which includes the requirement to be at least 300 x 375 pixels): http://www.american.edu/ocl/housing/auidphotosubmission.cfm. Faculty who notice distorted images should advise their students to submit a revised photograph.

3. Co-chair Joseph Mortati then proposed the committee research the topic of leveraging smartphone technology in the classroom as an aid to teaching. This is not whether or not devices should be allowed – that’s normally left up to the instructor – but in cases where they are allowed, how can faculty best use them as a teaching aid?

This led to a spirited discussion of personal experiences with a prevalent issue of using such devices for non-class use during class time and a few success stories. The Committee agreed this is an appropriate topic for further investigation and discussion and the following aspects were discussed:

Textbooks on devices (which seem to work well).

Photographing project screens instead of taking notes (creates an issue with memory recall).

Syllabus statement regarding recording lectures and content presented.

Lindsay Murphy pointed out that Naomi Baron (CTRL) has already created some guidelines for using technology in the classroom: http://www.american.edu/ctrl/techinclass_resources.cfm and they are organized around the following functional categories:

Presenting Course Content
Facilitating Student Feedback
Annotating Course Content
Delivering Course Materials
Visualizing Course Content
Building Collaborative Environments

Additionally, the Ann Ferren Conference features a session on “Technology in the Classroom”.

All that said, it would be useful for this Committee to provide the larger AU Community information on best practices without regard to specific technology. To that end, the Committee agree to the following steps:

Amy Taylor will do a literature research review.
We will look at crowdsourcing lessons learned from the community
Legal implications of such technology (e.g., social media guidelines) need to be considered

4. Chenyang Xiao raised the issue that some department websites have outdated content with respect to registrar prerequisites. For example, the following Sociology courses list incorrect prerequisites:

Sociology Course Prerequisites
This remains an open issue and was tabled to our next meeting.

5. There is an issue of some faculty email addresses being incorrectly identified as spam and the sender may not be aware of this. Terry Fernandez provided the following information showing that OIT is aware of this issue and has a fix:

In March of 2014, the Office of Information Technology undertook a professional services engagement with Sophos, the vendor of our anti-spam solution, to perform a health check of our system. This process was thorough and productive; and we have implemented several suggestions from Sophos to improve our detection of spam and phishing messages. One of these suggestions was to improve our existing detection rule for incoming messages that originated outside of our network, but had forged sender addresses so that they appeared to come from AU (spoofed email address.) As a result, a long-standing anti-spam rule, the spoofed email check, is now much more effective. Customers will no longer be able to send email from outside providers using their AU email address, a practice that only worked previously, due to poor spoof detection.

Customers who use Gmail can configure an alternate address to send from, specifying that the mail is sent through the AU outgoing mail server, mailout.american.edu, to avoid this problem. To do so, please follow the instructions found here: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/22370?hl=en

We regret and apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause, but look forward to continued improvements in the detection of unwanted email. Please contact the Help Desk at x2550 or helpdesk@american.edu if you have any further questions.

There being no other business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be held Wednesday, March 17, 2016 at 1:00 PM in Library Classroom 306.

Posted in Minutes.

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