Minutes of the March 26, 2008 meeting of the
Committee on Information Technology
Present: Luis González, Jeff Muday, Hugh Howards, Jolie Tingen, Paul Escott, Ching-Wan Yip, Rick Matthews, Anne Bishop, Jonathan Christman, Delphine Masse, Erik Mitchell, We-chin Lee
The first agenda item was a report on the Blackboard Survey (Jolie Tingen). There were 131 respondents to the survey comprised almost entirely of faculty. Respondents said they primarily use Blackboard because it eliminates photocopying and enhances communication. Many faculty use Blackboard as a repository. The most common areas used in Blackboard are Assignments and Course Information (to post syllabus). The most common file format posted to Blackboard is Microsoft Word. Not many faculty post rich-media content to Blackboard. The survey data reflects that in general people think it is easy to use. Survey respondents seem willing to switch to another management system. The majority of survey respondents agree that Blackboard does help their teaching. The survey also reflected that users appear to be happy with support and training. Other solutions that faculty use instead of Blackboard include coursepaks and departmental servers. The committee briefly discussed copyright and fair use as it relates to coursepaks and reserve items. Erik Mitchell said that regardless of where the work is located (either Blackboard or the Library), if the copyrighted work will be used for more than one semester a user should be paying royalties or obtain permission. Some Blackboard respondents had problems with the testing/quizzing features. Other frustrations included: Blackboard is not user friendly, has confusing navigation, has “too many clicks”, and is too time consuming. Jolie mentioned that Blackboard is not being effectively managed. She said we need someone dedicated to keeping the university’s Blackboard utilization policies/procedures at a professional level. Jolie wants to form a group that is dedicated to Blackboard issues. Jolie has also looked at open source course management systems. In her research she found problems with Blackboard support being responsive to problems. She said that there are some institutions using both Sakai and Blackboard.
The second agenda item was CMS (Course Management Systems) alternatives (Jolie Tingen). Jolie has looked primarily at two open source CMSes: Moodle and Sakai. She found that Salem is using Moodle and that Brown, Tufts, and Cornell are using Sakai. RSmart is a vendor that supports/implements Sakai and is worth investigating.
Rick said that if we bring in Open Source solutions, that we could advance the use of this product. Jolie mentioned that there is an issue with the usability of Blackboard and the default navigation. She would like to form a group to consider changing this at the global level if it is supported by the majority of users. Jolie would like to form a group committed to managing our CMS resource (currently Blackboard) and investigating and piloting alternatives. The committee recommended that a group should be formed to study Learning Management Systems (what is out there, piloting alternatives, support).
The third agenda item was keeping the tablet as an option (Hugh Howards).
Hugh was concerned that the tablet may not continue to be an option. The tablet is very useful for teaching math. The tablet computer is extremely functional, but very expensive. Muday mentioned the Faculty Development Institute at VaTech which offers computer choices including tablets to faculty (computing selection matrix, training, software selections, etc). Rick mentioned how easy it is to do Camtasia captures using pen captures. This saves time and enhances the value of the captured material. Hugh and Rick were in favor of offering computing alternatives for Faculty who need tablets. Matthews suggested the April Computer Budget as a funding source. Muday suggested perhaps the TLC might be a way to control distribution. The option of keeping the laptop for a third year is being explored
The fourth agenda item was updating keyed software during the school year (Anne Bishop). The Matlab keyserver license flex-server allows us to run only two versions simultaneously. IS received a request to get MatLab version 2007B, but IS can only have two versions. Anne had concerns regarding IS honoring this request when it compromises the ability of current users to stay with an older version. She asked if the CIT would agree to a software policy that would make the summer (to be in sync with the load) and January the implementation time for new versions. In addition, this policy would stipulate that there would be no new versions ever implemented during the semester. The committee unanimously agreed to the creation of this policy. Jolie and Jeff will write the CIT opinion memo.
The next CIT meeting is April 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm in the ZSR Library Director’s conference room.