Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

April 14, 2010

Minutes of the IRC Meeting, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Present were Lisa Cannon, Rus Fuller, Doug Burke, Eric Jiang, Daniel Lopez-Perez, Sandra Sgoutas-Emch, Erik Page, Indra Bishop, Michael Agnew, Johan Perols, Chris Liepman, Fadi Khraim, Erika Nash, Chris Devers, Rosy Vacchi, Lyon Maher, Jason Marsh, Kenny Bates, Soma Somasundaram, Mary Kowit, Chris Wessells, and Shahra Meshkaty.

Chris Wessells began by welcoming everyone to the meeting. He introduced himself and Shahra Meshkaty, saying that we were going to be hurrying through the program and that Cel Johnson and Sue Lowery would be coming later to give a short presentation on the technology aspects of some student and faculty surveys they had conducted. Chris stressed that the open discussion part of the meeting would be the most important to ITS. Committee members will function as ambassadors to other faculty members on technology matters.

Chris outlined the three main units of ITS: Academic Technology Services, Enterprise Administrative Systems and Services, and Network and Infrastructure Systems and Services. Budget and staffing have been our biggest challenges. We’ve relinquished two full-time positions already, with possibly four to five more to come. The savings are put into the university merit pool for staff salary raises.

Shahra gave a brief portrait of ATS, stressing the need for assistance and input from faculty. Is ITS doing the right things? Do we need to change the way we provide services? She also mentioned the iTeam drop-in center, with hours arranged for faculty convenience.

Shahra spoke about the four tiers of technology ITS installs in classrooms, stressing the need for consistency so that faculty can move easily from room to room with no confusion regarding the technology. Chris stated that the emphasis will be on modernizing technology from this point on.

Next, Cel Johnson and Sue Lowery came to share some of the results of surveys they had designed as part of USD’s WASC reaccreditation, specifically material related to effective learning spaces. The survey foci were three: student classroom, faculty classroom, and classroom pedagogy.

The faculty comments were a mixture of classroom features and technology, such as whiteboards in bad shape or inaccessible to reach, screens covering whiteboards, and too many chairs in classrooms. Faculty want simple and standardized controls and flexible classroom space. Also mentioned were problems downloading youtube videos or other video material due to plug-in requirements and administrator passwords on USD computers.

ITS has been meeting monthly with Facilities to try to prevent some of these problems in the future and Chris has planted some seeds with Len Hering.

There was a discussion about Sympodium vs. SmartBoard. Frustration was expressed at the immobility of some units and also the enormous size of the consoles installed in some classrooms. Soma said that many faculty frustrations are really Facilities issues and also suggested the possibility of showcasing some faculty who are technology superstars. He also mentioned frustration at being stuck with the pricey clickers, which have proven of very limited use.

Sandra said that CEE is trying to do some of that showcasing, there being a workshop going on right now with John Yin demonstrating some of his work with ArcGIS.

Shahra said that unfortunately ITS does have to make major leaps and migrations, such as to Windows 7, so classrooms will never be completely consistent all at the same time. Soma suggested the possibility of no classroom computers, but just a dongle so people can hook up their own laptops. In most classrooms an instructor is already able to connect his/her own laptop.

Ken Bates expressed frustration at having no access to volume controls. They’ve been locked in cabinets to prevent people from making random changes to the equipment. Chris said giving instructors access to controls is important. Shahra raised the possibility of AMX touch control panels. The new laptop checkout stations in Serra 205 & Copley Library have become very popular. ITS has installed tracking devices to address laptop theft.

A need was expressed to remodel Barcelona 217 and Maher 114, both being long narrow spaces. Chris spoke a bit about the ITS 2010 slate of projects. Seven classrooms have 6- to 10-year-old technology. Using various monies, they will be remodeled with a target of level 3 equipment. Chris asked members to call or email him with suggestions of other rooms to do.

Shahra mentioned that scheduling is also sometimes a problem. Faculty express a need for certain equipment and then end up not being scheduled in that room. Jason expressed unhappiness with Grace Courtroom. Chris said that it’s an historical room and would be a nightmare to remodel. Lisa commented on the lack of light for night classes in that room.

Daniel Lopez-Perez raised the possibility or using touch-screen LCDs instead of SmartBoards, which was well received.

Chris said that ITS is considering a 5-year equipment leasing program rather than purchasing everything outright. That could accelerate the pace of equipment replacement. However, the timing of payments would be critical. Also, it would not be the holistic Facilities/ITS model.

In response to a request for larger labs, Chris said we’ll look. In response to a request equipment for behavioral labs, Chris replied that we could choose spaces for that. Two classrooms in the Law School are being outfitted with Echo 360 lecture capture technology and there’s no reason we couldn’t extend that model. Erika Nash said, “We’d use it in SOLES.”

A discussion followed regarding how to get the mid-tier 60% of faculty to learn and use new technology. Suggested incentives included paying them, an “immersion” course for a day or a week, possibly sending faculty to EDUCAUSE and then having them present to other faculty.

Chris mentioned that at his former institution there was a 2-week immersion program in the summer, at the end of which participating instructors received a free high-quality laptop.

Daniel reiterated that no one has the time and that the STA program is a great idea. He suggested broadening it beyond such specific projects and including work study students. Soma said that ITS is doing a wonderful job and disagreed with paying people to do the right thing. He also said that Sam Chung in the School of Business is wonderful. “ITS needs a bunch of Sam Chungs.”

Fadi said training should be needs based and 2 weeks is too long. Arrange for workshops. Erika said that many people don’t even know what various technology equipment is for, what it can do or how to do it. She suggested the possibility of having a student worker on site, like a consultant. Shahra explained that ITS doesn’t really have the funding to make that possible.

Kenny Bates said that in order to market any faculty training programs, ITS needs to focus on the tangible value to the instructor, not just publicize the fact that there’s going to be a training workshop. Shahra said that the only required training was the learning management system, which one can self-select out of. Erika expressed regret that she hadn’t known about that option and spent all that time sitting through something she already knew. Chris said we’ll have to clarify that.

Shahra invited members to view the document camera on display at the back of the meeting room and provide ITS feedback. The meeting was adjourned about 1:40 pm.

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Minutes provided by Mary Kowit
4/14/10