Report: November 30, 2005


Erindale College Council

REPORT OF THE COMPUTING COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 at 3:10 p.m., in Room 3138, South Building.

PRESENT: J. Lim (in the Chair), C. Mejia, J. Sills, J. Tran, A. Vyas, S. Bancheri, J. Seel, R. deSouza, B. Thompson

In attendance: Simone Laughton, Instructional Technology Liaison (Library)

Regrets: Z. Baig, J. Hu, D. Smith

1. Adoption of the Agenda

The agenda was approved. (A. Vyas/J. Tran)

2. Minutes of the Previous Meeting (October 26, 2005)

The report of the previous meeting was approved. (J. Tran/J.Seel)

3. Business Arising from the Minutes

There was no business arising from the minutes.

4. New Business

a) Instructional Technology Liaison Report – Simone Laughton

Ms. Laughton reported that a Student Technology Needs Assessment, (attached hereto as Appendix A) was completed in April and May of 2005. A total of 62 students participated in the needs assessment, a significant drop from the response of 233 students in 2004. Students indicated that their technology learning needs included graphics/art, webpage creation, spreadsheets and presentation. Students identified the preferred modes of communication regarding workshop information as being email, website, and print materials.

Ms. Laughton cited key findings from a recent research in relation to technology and student learning, which showed the following: (Caruso & Kvavik, 2005)

  • curriculum and technology are intertwined
  • students look to IT for convenience and to make it easy to connect with others
  • students prefer IT in their courses but typically to a moderate degree
  • IT is improving learning but that institutions and faculty are integrating IT inconsistently into their courses.

Ms. Laughton continued to summarize the Faculty Needs Assessment, which was conducted in February of 2005. Similar to the student survey, faculty responses were substantially lower than in the previous year. Responses indicated that faculty would be interested in incorporating the following in their teaching: improving course web sites, computer-based presentations (e.g. PowerPoint), using courseware effectively (CCNet, WebCT), online forms, online tests or quizzes, Internet-based, discipline specific software, GIS, scanning or creating images for printing and presentation software, using the wireless features in class, and recent software developments.

Faculty also indicated that although workshops are a valuable learning delivery method with respect to the above technologies, due to time constraints, they would prefer this same information via personal consultations, tailored workshops to specific departmental needs, and good, well written documentation. They would also like access to resource people via phone/email, suggestions about technologies to use in courses, basic information about what technologies do and the names of people who use these technologies.

Respondents also indicated the types of new technologies they would like to introduce to students in for use in their courses, including the following: interactive software to reinforce content, designing webpages/websites, GIS, UTM Submit and discipline related software. The survey indicated a mixed response to students attending UTML Technology workshops, one faculty member noting that the workshops need to be tailored to specific departmental needs.

Ms. Laughton concluded her report by noting that although the survey response was low, a substantial amount of qualitative data has been obtained from faculty who participated. Survey recommendations will continue to be implemented throughout the academic term and more work will be done to promote technology workshops throughout the UTM community.

She further reported on recent projects from the Instructional Technology area. A classroom technology review was presented to faculty, to assist them in how to use different resources in a lecture hall. Departmental workshops were also given to teach users how to define technology needs before selecting it. Work was also done to clarify the role of various staff involved with instructional technology and to acknowledge and ameliorate perceptions and pressures regarding technology.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

In response to a member’s question the CAO explained that currently there is no differentiation between requests for technology that are curriculum versus department based. He added that curriculum based technology needs are to be sourced and serviced from Computing Services office and non-curriculum related requests through the Library. Members agreed that there needs to be more communication between difference departments and their needs so that software that would satisfy multiple needs could be acquired. Mr. deSouza will communicate this through the Dean’s office, so that there is a yearly review of curriculum related technology needs.

b) Pandemic Communications Draft Plan for discussion and feedback – Joe Lim

Mr. Lim reported that he compiled a draft preparedness plan, which was based in part on the WHO Global Influenza Preparedness Plan. In putting the plan together, (attached hereto as Appendix B) Mr. Lim found that one of the issues that needed to be addressed was regarding staffing needs during an emergency. He reported that St. George Telecommunications has acquired an Emergency Response Management System (ERMS). This system is able to send the same message via multicast to over 500 users, who could then choose to receive the message through email, phone or other means. This system will also have a tracking component and a ‘1-800’ number that will allow users to call into the system to receive more detailed information. There will be a meeting of various university staff working on this issue on December 14th. The project is spearheaded by Police Services and a trial version will be implemented in the Facilities areas.

Mr. Lim suggested that UTM could adopt this type of system, as currently much of the campus relies on third-party providers such as Bell. He added that St. George is UTM’s main internet connection.

The Chair opened the floor to questions and comments.

The Chief Administrative Officer commented that Peel Region has requested that UTM have develop a pandemic preparedness plan because UTM is a large institution that has no formal controls associated with people entering and exiting the campus; and because UTM has a large population of students living in residence, who may have nowhere to go if there is a pandemic. Therefore, the information technology area was identified as one area where a plan needed to be developed. Departments have also been asked to identify what at a minimum they would need with respect to information technology to continue to provide essential services.

A member commented that the proposed plan has to be flexible and will require staff training. In response to a member’s question, the Chief Administrative Officer explained that consultation will occur through the departments and added that the Region of Peel has expert staff to help with the development of a pandemic plan.

The CAO stressed the importance of feedback on the draft pandemic communications plan and asked that comments be forwarded through Mr. Joe Lim, Manager of Computing Services.

c) Security Concerns, Viruses and the existence of ‘credit.erin’ and ‘mail.erin’ on the UTM mail server – Joe Lim

Mr. Lim pointed to the memorandum on the proposed deletion of the email addresses of ‘creidit.erin’ and ‘mail.erin’ (attached hereto as Appendix C) and explained that these email addresses were introduced many years ago and are no longer in use with any frequency. They do however constitute 10% of the spam that UTM receives. He noted that their proposed deletion would therefore reduce the number of spam messages. Only approximately 12 users will be affected by this change.

It was duly moved and seconded

THAT Computing Services remove support for the names ‘credit.erin’ and ‘mail.erin’ on the UTM mail server as described in the memorandum from the Director of Computing Services, dated November 23, 2005. (J. Lim/B. Thompson)

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

In response to a member’s question, Mr. Lim explained that a notice will be placed on the computing services web space and that those affected would be informed via email and that an all faculty and all staff communiqué will also be sent. He added that those wishing to keep this old address, can be accommodated on an individual basis.

5. Other Business

There was no other business.

6. Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Computing Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, January 18, 2006.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:29 p.m. (B. Thompson/J. Seel)

Secretary of Council _______________________ Chair ___________________

February 15, 2006