Minutes, March 6, 2019 (Approved)

A meeting of the Committee on Information Systems (CIS) was held Wednesday, March 6, 2019 from 9:30-11a in Bender Library 143. The attendees were:

  1. Nancy Davenport (LIB)
  2. Jen Gumbrewicz (SPA by phone)
  3. Katie Holton (CAS)
  4. Alan Isaac (CAS)
  5. Kiho Kim (CTRL)
  6. Robert Lyons (GRAD)
  7. Joseph Mortati (KSB)
  8. Rick Semitian (SPEXs)
  9. David Spratt (WCL by phone)
  10. Scott Talan (SOC)
  11. Stef Woods (CAS)

The following items of business were discussed.

This meeting replaces the February 20th meeting that was canceled because of the snow day. Chair Alan called the meeting to order. The January 2019 minutes were reviewed and approved.

Alan will confirm that ex-officio members do not have voting rights on the committee, in accordance with what’s listed on the Faculty Senate website, as well as whether a quorum is 50% of voting members.

Further discussion ensued about LMS evaluation and change. The change will likely occur simultaneously, allowing faculty to keep using Blackboard or running the new system.

We discussed whether faculty will feel as though the LMS change is being imposed on them, even if they’re happy with the decision. What steps are being taken to ensure community buy in, and what is the role for CIS?

  1. Take it to our departments/units
  2. Send out a note to faculty through Faculty Senate
  3. Get as many faculty involved in the conversation and Phase 2 evaluation

Alan will reach out to Scott Vanek and determine whether CIS should send faculty an email to mention change and remind them of the LMS evaluation option.

Kiho reported about active learning spaces on campus. How can AU have more active learning spaces (moveable furniture, natural light, writing spaces, monitors, some technology, etc.) and train faculty on how to use it? This is being explored in the early stages by Katie Kassof.

The committee discussed software related to our work as scholars and teachers. Qualtrics went up about $10K with add-on costs for analysis. Now, you can get it a la carte. Should we move to enterprise level so it’s not just for research? The Provost and Housing & Dining also use it. Can we change this so people aren’t paying for individual things like survey monkey? Details will roll out over the next few weeks.

MATLAB used by under 20 at AU. AU pays $21,000 for unlimited services (up from $14,000). We might move to a smaller seat license. That would allow us to save a little bit of money and use it on other software. AU is gathering data right now and talking to users to evaluate demand. Nancy offered to have someone from Library help if faculty needs assistance. Alan mentioned the good, free options like Python and LaTeX. One question was raised as to whether faculty will accept work from free software.

Katie commented that this puts a lot of burden on faculty, and Jen asked if we could be promoting students to continue using software problematically. There are differences between promoting and informing, especially since some people are still paying for software. The Library has this on its radar and will continue to evaluate legal and licensing issues for open-sourced and not.

Alan recommended that the library bring free and open-sourced software to the attention of students on September 21st, software freedom day. It wouldn’t take a lot to promote this via sites and URLs and could raise student awareness for options on campus and after graduation.

Rick asked about whether greater Adobe Acrobat Pro access would help us as a research institution. Kiho will talk to Kamalika Sandell at the Enterprise Meeting. At present, it’s not available to the entire community because of cost. This will be evaluated based on cost, accessibility, what can be done via the free version, and how many features are needed by how many people.

Robert reported that the 4,500 graduate students have a newsletter, the Graduate Gazette, with an open rate of 50-60%. The GLC also received funding to have a website for all grad students. The newsletter and website can be used for surveying students or promoting services and events. The current GLC’s term ends on May 1st.  Alan will check will Scott about possible grad student input for LMS.

Nancy reported that there will be the third-annual conference on high-impact research on May 13th. The conference will feature morning sessions, a luncheon plenary with the Provost, and skills sessions in the afternoon (Zotero, GIS, etc.).  New conference features include sharing books coming out or giving a book talk. There will be lightening talks for people who want to find PIs for co-proposals. AU has invited all special collections librarians at area universities and DC Public Libraries to attend and share what materials they have in their collections (spurred by Dan Kerr) and what we can use (CCNV collection at GW). To show that we’re a stronger research university, we want to call together all those who research in or on DC to share their experiences and provide opportunities for collaboration. More information will be available in the faculty newsletter. Grad students are welcome to attend.

Alan proposed giving faculty who use open-source/or do things innovatively modest funding ($1500). Shouldn’t we recognize value of those who use free software? If it’s a good idea, then the Provost and CTRL can figure out funding. Kiho noted that in principle it’s a great idea, but we still pay for software that isn’t open-sourced and annual licenses. Other incentives were proposed, and Rick suggested tabling this for the next meeting.

Stef noted that SETs are still available to faculty online, but no longer available to students. She is concerned that will steer students toward anonymous sites like Rate My Professor. Is this related to the Fac Senate’s discussion of SETs? Is this just a glitch, or was a decision made? Stef will check with the Registrar.

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, April 3rd.

Posted in Minutes.

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