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Educational Technologies Advisory Council 
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
10:00 - 11:00AM
Zoom (Please see Outlook Invite for Details)


Attendees:  Kal Alston, Martha Diede, Carol Faulkner, Dona Hayes, Eileen Julian,  Eileen Lantier,  Ralph Lorenz, Michael Morrison, Kathleen O'Connor, Mike O'Mara, and Art Thomas

Absent:   Riyad Aboutaha, Joseph Alfieri, Amber Bartosh,  Alexander McKelvie

Guests: 

Co-chairs: Lois Agnew and Jenny Gluck

Minutes: Christian Jones

Agenda

  1. Welcome & Announcements 

  2. Tracking/Sharing Faculty Questions
    1. In an effort to provide faculty with a platform to provide feedback, address pain points, or share solutions around remote/hybrid instruction, we thought it might be worth experimenting with a blog/online forum on Answers. This would be private to faculty, or at least not open to students (unless you thought it better to make it public).

    2. Martha and Jenny have been discussing “Faculty Conversations.”

    3. The blog could also be used to generate content for a more official FAQ page. 

    4. Regarding the vision, would this be a place for technology discussions?

      • We would want that feedback as it relates to what worked and didn’t work, but we also want to hear about other issues related to teaching and learning on campus. While ITS can’t answer policy questions, it might be a good way to capture them so that others could raise flags through their respective channels and come up with responses. 

    5. Would some of these questions also be asked via the Help Desk portal? 

      • Typically, we see more tactical questions come through help@syr.edu, requesting guidance around specific tasks, rather than addressing larger topics such as theories behind remote vs face-to-face instruction, pedagogical value, etc. 

    6. As we get into June/July, we expect to hear more from folks as they dig deeper into planning for the fall semester. 

    7. ITS held its Summer Institute session last Wednesday (5/20), which generated a lot of very helpful dialogue among faculty which we would like to help continue. It was a great platform for faculty to speak with other faculty and share experiences. 

    8. We suspect many right now are feeling isolated, and not sure where to direct questions. If we could expand this sense that everyone is working together, it would be beneficial to all.  

    9. It was address that many have come forth with questions for which there are not currently clear answers. An FAQ page based on the questions brought forth would be helpful so others can see what is being asked. 

    10. Martha noted that we a large part of coming up with answers/solutions together will be letting faculty know that we are not withholding information, we’re just trying to figure out the best way to communicate it. 

    11. Lois identified a fatal flaw in plan, where folks see how many questions people are asking but none of them are getting answered. It will be important to gather questions and let those seeking answers know that they are in progress. Many have been understanding up to this point but even that will eventually start to wear thin.

    12. The Council agreed to give the blog a try and have a standing agenda item to review as a group. If successful, it might also be worth creating a similar forum for staff concerns. 

    13. There was discussion about the best way to collectively manage the blog and respond to questions. Should it take the form of a scheduled event, or alternating days/responsibilities? And how do we make use of the collective review process? What do we do with the information gathered?

    14. The group decided to establish the forum/blog and discuss management once we have more feedback.

    15. It will be important to look for repeated questions/patterns.

    16. Dona raised the point that something she hears consistently from faculty is the mix of concerns around clear direction/instruction from the University, and she worries that those concerns will come out in this forum. 

      • There will probably not be a central prescription for the path forward; where things can be black and white, we will certainly address, but some areas will be grey and require more case-by-case attention. 

    17. Some faculty want the University to come out and provide clear-cut protocol. (If you cannot teach in a classroom, provide a doctor’s note, for example.)

    18. The Public Health group is working on those reports, which we expect around June 1. Things should be clearer to all after this. In the meantime, you can tell faculty that we do not want to violate anyone’s privacy so we are working with legal on what it would mean for someone who does not feel comfortable to be accommodated (students, faculty, and staff alike). 

    19. We do disability leave agreements now already; the scale may just become quite different. Keeping access to folks’ personal information limited to only those who need to know will be key.


  3. Course Template and Protocol for Support
    • The course template in design was born out of years of expertise and created for summer courses with the ability to revise for the fall. It is almost ready for publicising and you should expect an announcement next week. 

    • The template allows for structure and continuity in a way that makes sense and is easy to navigate for both students and faculty.

    • In addition, we are working closely with Martha and Eileen’s Julian’s team to set up a support structure for all instructors, whether it be getting help to activate the template or using a tool. The main entry way for support will be help@syr.edu where Orange Tracker tickets will be generated and assigned to the appropriate party/parties to address.

    • To the group, is this going to be helpful enough? Are you hearing of other practices that ITS should be considering?

    • Eileen Lantier noted that one area of consideration is quality assurance - how do we know the quality of what we’re doing and is there a system for ensuring quality work?

    • Martha offered to share some key points to any online class that faculty can check. If they don’t meet key milestones, the class is not going to work. It is not clear if there are  individuals going in to review classes, but we can work with you individually or in groups to make it work. 

      • There is additional support for faculty who are stuck putting courses together using the template. Reach out to help@syr.edu. We know what to look for and can provide guidance.

    • One thing we can do is have dept heads contact Martha or Michael to walk through the course and teach them what to look for. We’re not reviewing work to pass any judgement on faculty, we’re simply making sure students get a high-quality education. 

    • Kal noted that in the School of Education, they’re discussing areas for cooperation instead of competing for dollars, and partnering for shared resources to model the idea that teaching should be more of a cooperative enterprise, rather than keeping materials to oneself. 

    • Lois added that if it can be structured in a way like a mentoring exercise instead of administrative oversight, it may be better received. 

    • While we are trying to coordinate at the central level, it will be critical for you all to decide what’s enough and what’s best way to work with your populations. We don’t want to set this up as a central hurdle to clear. It’s at the local level that a lot of these decisions are made about what’s best for each school/college’s students.


  4. Technology Updates
    1. Web Conferencing Tools
      1. We received the final approval of commitment to buy Kaltura, thanks to the generous donations of many of your schools and colleges. Our target date for completing implementation is July15th. 

      2. The tool suite we have going into the fall will include: Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Ally; initially Ensemble, which we hope to replace with Kaltura for video creation and integration with Blackboard; Playposit, a tool that allows you to add assessment overlays to a video; and Zoom. With the implementation of Kaltura, we will be able to store Zoom recordings within Kaltura, and edit them. We are looking at training around these tools. 

      3. We are augmenting with a few other tools to move forward. 

      4. There is a plan for phasing out Ensemble, which includes having those who currently have content in Ensemble put a metadata tag on their content (labeled “Kaltura”) so we know to pull it over. 

      5. Kaltura also offers free captioning. Content with capturing previously moved over from 2U should also move over to Kaltura. 

      6. While migration will be important, the first priority is getting Kaltura up and running for new content to be added. We want to make sure people are building new content in Kaltura instead of Ensemble. Migrating content will happen later in the summer, and there will be an overlap of those tools. 

      7. Zoom is fully rolled out for anyone who wants to use it. There are pockets of people who have not moved over (MarComm).

      8. Jenny will check in with Joel about course enrollments.

    2. Classroom Upgrades
      1. We are on a mad dash to touch all registrar rooms that aren’t ready for web streaming and conferencing, shooting for all 163 rooms. There are 53 rooms left to get through this summer. 


  5. Intentional Technology
    1. Guidance/tools to aid faculty in making the transition over the summer
      1. One thing we thought would be useful (possibly in the blogging space) is sharing resources we and others think would be helpful to faculty making the transition. If there are resources that you know of and that your faculty recommend, we’d like to have a running list available to all faculty. This is a call for data/information resources. 

      2. Intentional technology is available via University Libraries to any faculty who are interested. If there are resources we need, requests can yield a relatively quick turnaround.

Next Meeting:  Thursday, June 11th, 11:00AM

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