Sunken Garden

Technology Task Force

Meeting Notes - November 5, 2015

Present: Marisa Spatafore (co-chair); Michele Lebleu Burns, Susan Cheu, Tom Dolen, Brandon Gainer, Alex Harrell, Cecilia Hui, Heidi King, Sharon Luciw, Lisa Markus, Joe Moreau, Cheryl Owiesny, Joan Peña-Ferrick, Dennis Shannakian; Vanessa Smith (notes)

OEI Update

Moreau talked about the ongoing project to get a common course management system implemented statewide. The OEI team began an RFP process last year that concluded in February. The group chose Canvas as the course management system. Last August, contract negotiations were finished in favorable terms. Now, 27 of 113 schools are using Canvas or are in the process of moving to Canvas as their primary CMS. Twenty-five more schools are in the queue. By fall 2016, 50 to 60 campuses will be using Canvas. 

Dolen asked if schools are running other systems side by side with Canvas. Moreau said yes, for a time. OEI is not forcing schools to move to Canvas. However, if the schools/districts want OEI to pay for it, Canvas must be the primary system. OEI will help migrate content and gives schools three terms to do so. OEI also does all training for staff. 

Moreau projected that by fall 2018, about 90 of 113 colleges will be running Canvas. Foothill already has six pilot courses in production this quarter. Moreau does not know of any plans to increase that number in winter quarter. The Foothill Academic Senate has voted to move from Etudes to Canvas as early as spring 2016, with full implementation by fall. OEI has contracted with the company that makes Canvas to develop an Etudes migration tool available to all Etudes schools in the state. 

OEI is also working on a component called course exchange. If colleges want to have online courses from other colleges be easily available, they join the exchange and can enter into a memo of understanding to make it easier for students to register to multiple colleges simultaneously. This would help more students complete degrees in a timely way. OEI is starting a pilot in fall 2016 with eight schools. 

Online tutoring and student readiness materials are being used broadly and available to any college in the state. Several colleges had noted meaningful shifts in retention and success attributed to those resources. OEI’s online course design standards are being officially adopted by colleges throughout the state. Foothill voted to adopt those standards for online course design. RFPs are out for academic integrity components such as plagiarism detection and proctoring solutions. Responses are being evaluated, and OEI expects to choose a company no later than January. 

Response to OEI is very positive and enthusiasm is high. Of 90 colleges who responded to a survey on current course management systems, most were spending $14-15 million a year on individual contracts limited in scope. The Canvas contract has no restrictions; institutions may use it for any course, non instructional purposes, and there are no limits on students or faculty. OEI expects to save the state $7 million per year and expand student and faculty access to online resources. 

Shannakian asked what CMS De Anza uses. Moreau said De Anza has Moodle, hosted onsite and managed by systems administrator Kevin Metcalf. Owiesny asked about the feedback from people who are transitioning to Canvas from Moodle. Moreau said he had no direct information on that, but Moodle is more similar to Canvas than either Etudes or Blackboard. People migrating from other commercial tools are finding Canvas simpler and easy to use. 

Gainer said he used Canvas at San José State University. If users know tech and can customize, Moodle works well. Canvas is more user-friendly and someone less familiar will find it relatively easy. Gainer said all systems have good and bad qualities. Canvas does not allow for much tweaking and customization. Moodle can be edited and modified. Canvas is the “iOS of learning management systems,” but a good solution. Moreau said that was a reasonable assessment. He added that over the last few years, because of dedication to adopted international standards for integration, the need to tweak has gone down. Low- or no-cost third party apps exist that can easily be brought into a CMS environment based on LTI or IMS standards. 

Introductions/Website Redesign

Spatafore introduced senior web coordinator Alex Harrell, and talked about the upcoming website redesign. The first meeting with consultants VisionPoint is next week. Foothill is using the same firm. The Communications Office will be getting feedback from all groups, including students and prospective students. Mobile responsiveness is a critical component of the redesign. 


Spatafore began the planning presentation by saying she hopes this is a turning point for the group in terms of direction, mission and productivity. She summarized the mission review exercise from the spring. Moreau said from a district perspective there’s renewed emphasis in accreditation standards for district offices to be able to do better job of providing specific evidence of what their role is in supporting colleges. Under previous standards, the colleges carried the brunt of accreditation evidence and the district got a pass. Now, Central Services will also have to “step up” and demonstrate the connections. 

Moreau was asked to speak about ETAC and its mission. ETAC has been around a long time and only recently revised its mission. It was originally formed with ETS and designed to be an oversight body. The committee lingered for a few years, but last year the group committed to examining its mission/vision/roles/etc. One key issue was that ETAC was missing faculty representation. 

ETAC went on retreat, revised the mission and roster, and presented to all governance groups. The new structure is now in place. The first meeting was a month ago with more new people present. Moreau added that the Measure C funds required a lot of projects to be prioritized. Now, most projects are smaller in scope, and ETAC will collaborate more with both colleges on accreditation. 

In response to the slide on the Banner committees, Peña-Ferrick said she attends a Banner Student group meeting every Thursday. The group talks about what can be done to improve the system for faculty, staff and students. ETS staff talk about upcoming improvements. 

Spatafore said little of that information makes it to TTF. Moreau said the Banner Student and Core committees are operational. They do some planning, but have a different role from ETAC or TTF. Moreau said the more information that gets around the better. 

Peña-Ferrick said the Banner group wants to improve the student portals in a way that increases enrollment. Moreau is also on the Banner Core Committee. They meet quarterly or less to review recommendations from ETS or student team stakeholder groups. Owiesny goes to the Distance Learning/Catalyst meeting when she can.

Cheu reiterated that the Tech Prioritization Committee was established with Measure C funds to facilitate processes with ETS. Over time, projects are being completed with other funding sources. Dolen said instructional deans have a strong tie to the Tech Prioritization Committee, and asked how faculty input is channeled into these decisions. 

The role of the committee was further clarified. Luciw said Rowena Tomaneng and Moaty Fayek take information back to the deans’ meeting. Dolen said the assumption is that the deans take it back to faculty. Dolen said faculty have ideas and want to innovate. Luciw asked for clarification. The Tech Prioritization Committee only does implementation and scheduling of multimedia and computers. Cheu added that projects have already been approved elsewhere, and the group doesn’t make decisions on what should be done, more when and how. Spatafore said the project proposal process is more relevant to Dolen’s point. Spatafore said TTF has no budgetary authority, it is really an advisory committee. Spatafore’s presentation on the project proposal aspect included the fact that the Planning & Budget teams have budgetary authority, while TTF, as an advisory group to College Council, does not. She recommended that the prioritization of proposals – as distinct from the prioritization of already-approved projects – be handled by the PBTs, then forwarded to TTF. 

Spatafore also proposed absorbing the Tech Prioritization Committee into Tech Task Force as a subcommittee. Cheu said this would be helpful as a way to know who is doing what and when. 

Dolen said the Library recently purchased open source software that allows students to check out group study rooms. He also said it would be interesting to know how/why Foothill is moving more quickly on Canvas. He would like to hear from their appropriate tech body about what they’re doing. Spatafore said the colleges’ tech groups function differently, and Foothill’s focuses extensively on distance learning. She reminded the group that Judy Baker, dean of Online Learning at Foothill, came to TTF to talk about resources for online courses. In response to the proposal to provide consideration on training needs to the technology training specialist, King said it’s hard to get to all other areas. If there was a representative group to get ideas from that would be helpful. 

Spatafore summarized the proposals. Luciw asked for clarification of third bullet: “Prioritizes implementation of bond measure technology projects for the college (former role of the Technology Prioritization Committee).” TPC doesn’t prioritize projects, more scheduling. Luciw asked if that meant more representation from TTF on that committee. Spatafore clarified it would be more of a subcommittee. Cheu said it’s important for people to know of delays on projects. Luciw asked what she meant by “project.” Spatafore said Lab A versus Lab B, for example. Cheu said this lets people know what we’re doing and what’s going on. She emphasized that the group would be folded into TTF as a subcommittee, not changing in any significant way. Spatafore said it’s to make the ties more explicit and establish closer connections. 

Spatafore asked what others think of the proposal. Markus said it sounds good because a lot of information will be coming to these groups. Gainer asked if there is accurate representation on TTF to take on that charge. Will TTF need more people in the room? Spatafore said there is a need for more formal representation, as included in the “Needs” portion of the presentation. 

Lebleu-Burns pointed out that SSPBT and TTF meet at the same time. Markus asked if possible to flip weeks for this. Spatafore said the group could consider bi-monthly, as the problem with monthly meetings is if one is missed the group doesn’t meet for two months. This impedes progress. King said bimonthly isn’t a bad idea with accreditation coming up. Banner Core meets the third Monday of every month. Dolen said increasing membership and adding more meetings at the same time is tough. 

Gainer agreed with the proposed name change, and said “Technology Committee” is nice and simple. Lebleu-Burns agreed. Gainer asked when the mission should be finalized. Spatafore suggested a working meeting for Dec. 3 in which the group examines those pieces in detail and in light of the proposal. A meeting should also be scheduled for January, although the first week of the month will not work as it’s also the first week of the quarter. 

Markus asked if the documents could be sent ahead of time. Spatafore agreed to do so, and explained where the mission is on the website. She noted that a formal presentation needs to be done to College Council. Spatafore asked for any additional comments to be emailed.

Technology Task Force
Building: ADM 153
Contact: Vanessa Smith
Phone: 408.864.8948

Last Updated: 12/4/15