Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee  (FITAC)

(Appointed Committee)
Annual Report

                                              

March 22, 2002

 

                                                    
Members: Bill Balthrop (Department of Communication Studies), Chair (2002); Terms Ending in 2002:  Bob Adler (Kenan Flagler School of Business), Anita Farel (Maternal and Child Health), Ed Neal (Center for Teaching and Learning), Richard Whisnant (Institute of Government); Terms Ending in 2003:  Bonnie Angel (School of Nursing), Idris Assani (Department of Mathematics), Karen Metzguer (School of Medicine), Jocelyn Neal (Department of Music) Terms Ending in 2004:  Daniel Anderson (Department of English), Robert Berger (Medical Informatics), Skip Bollenbacher (Department of Biology), Wallace McLendon (Health Sciences Library), Aaron Moody (Department of Geography), James Noblitt (Department of Romance Languages), Richard Redman (School of Nursing), John Smith (Department of Computer Science), Diane Strauss (Davis Library); Ex Officio:  Sue Estroff (Faculty Council).
 
Report prepared by: Bill Balthrop (Chair)
 

During its third year as a committee of the Faculty Council, FITAC continued to build on its previous activities and worked to complete a broad exploration of Information and Communication Technology (IT) on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  The Committee usually met twice a month during the fall and spring semesters addressing a variety of issues and projects.  A summary of activities follows.

 

1.       Submission of FITAC Resolutions to the Faculty Council
 
Following its presentation to the Faculty Council of FITAC’s Report on Information and Communication Technology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in April, 2001, the Committee submitted a Resolution to the Faculty Council in September, 2001.  After discussion, that Resolution was referred back to FITAC for revision and resubmission.  A subcommittee comprised of FITAC members and a representative from the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars (Celia Hooper, Speech and Hearing Sciences) revised the document and it was resubmitted to the Faculty Council in December, 2001.  The Resolution passed and was forwarded to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Shelton. 
 
The first part of the Resolution called for the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost to “revise, or create, University statement(s) regarding teaching such that the University promotes both excellence and innovation in teaching, which may include the use of information and communication technology.”  A committee was formed, comprised of the Chair of FITAC, Chair of the Faculty Council, and President of the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, with the charge of submitting a draft statement to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost by early April.  The committee is in the process of drafting that statement, and has solicited information and recommendations from the ADTS, Center for Teaching and Learning, Center for Instructional Technology, and other faculty and administrators.
 
The second part of the Resolution calls upon the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost to “establish an Information Technology Strategic Planning Council with substantial faculty representation which will, in collaboration with Faculty Council, develop a strategic plan for information and communication technology covering policy, infrastructure, application, adoption, and fund-raising priorities.”  That Council has been established with wide representation from administrators and faculty members and will commence its work later this spring.
 
The final portion of the Resolution calls upon the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, “in consultation with the Information Technology Strategic Planning Council and FITAC, to continue the successful faculty summer workshops and grants that promote excellence in teaching and learning through innovative applications of information technology.”  Efforts are on-going by Provost Shelton and Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Marian Moore to explore possibilities for funding these workshops and grants.
 
Other components of the Report addressed the issues of faculty recognition and incentives, professional development, scholarship, and curricular and programmatic matters.  FITAC has continued to work on these over the year, including discussions with Paul Farel, co-chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure.
 
FITAC appreciates the discussion that occurred during consideration of the Resolution from members of the Faculty Council, the ADTS, and others, and expresses its hope that the on-going conversation envisioned by the Report will continue across the University.
 
2.       Continuing Activities
 
  1. IBM Curricular Innovation Grants:
 
As part of the Carolina Computing Initiative, IBM agreed to provide $250,000 per year for four years to support curricular innovation using new technology.  FITAC assumed responsibility for establishing the guidelines, criteria for evaluation, and announcement of proposals.  This year, grants were designed to appeal to faculty members with a wide range of experience using instructional technology.  One grant track is designed for instructors who have not used instructional technology and are interested in exploring how technology can be used to support instructional goals.  A second track is directed toward faculty members ready to begin integrating technology in a specific course or curriculum or who wish to build on previous experiences using instructional technology.  A third track supports faculty interested in working with advanced and emergent technologies. The RFP was distributed early in the Spring, 2002 semester and proposals are currently under review.  Announcements will be made in late March.  All those receiving grants will participate in a comprehensive assessment of IT in the learning and teaching process during the 2002-2003 academic year, building on the assessment currently in progress of those who received grants for this academic year.  This will be the final year of these grants under the initial support from IBM.
 
B.       knowledgeWorks@Carolina
 
knowledgeWorks@Carolina, emerging from conversations with Vice Chancellor Marian Moore, explores the publication of “e-books” to develop materials for undergraduate education at Carolina and, potentially, beyond.  FITAC created a working committee to explore this possibility, ultimately joining with other faculty and administrators from across the campus to form a  Steering Committee.  After receiving unanimous endorsement from FITAC in December of 2000, a RFP was distributed across campus.  A review of those proposals resulted in two projects being selected, with one moving into full development.  Direction of that project has shifted from FITAC to the Vice Chancellor, and she has appointed Professor Bollenbacher (Department of Biology) as Director of knowledgeWorks.  A new steering committee has been established, with representation from FITAC. 
 
C.       Support for a Laptop Option under The Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI)
 
Building upon a recommendation from Professor Patrick Conway (Department of Economics), FITAC explored the desirability of including the option for faculty of selecting between a desktop and laptop as the replacement cycle for CCI machines proceeds.  It is believed that such an option, combined with the increasing numbers of MC1 and MC0 classrooms that allow the use of laptops for in-class instruction, will help spur the integration of instructional and communication technology into the University’s teaching mission where it is pedagogically appropriate to do so.   After reviewing data on the increasing use of IT on campus, FITAC supported this recommendation and forwarded a letter to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Shelton supporting this option.  Provost Shelton has responded supportively, but indicated that any decision on the issue would have to be addressed within the constraints of the University’s overall fiscal situation.
 
D.  UNC Digital Library Services
 
During the first year of the UNC/IBM Curricular Innovation Grants in 1999, FITAC funded a planning grant for a digital library project.  This decision was based on the belief the University needed to begin shifting departmental media (images, audio, video, etc.) databases toward a common infrastructure that would facilitate resource-sharing across disciplines and institutions. More than twenty courses in six departments are piloting first-generation digital library services at UNC-Chapel Hill during the current academic year.  At least fifteen departmental collections will be placed in the new digital library system by the end of this summer.  FITAC created an advisory committee to oversee the planning grant, and will continue to play an advisory role for this project until an alternative governance structure is created.  Additional information on the project is
available online at:  http://www.unc.edu/projects/diglib/
 
E.       Technology in Context Consortium:
 
FITAC continued to coordinate the “Technology in Context Consortium.”  This Consortium was created to include as many service organizations and providers for new technology across campus as possible.  This resulted in a website (COMPASS; www.unc.edu/faculty/tic) that identifies providers, access, and services.  This website is continually updated and is designed to provide “one-stop shopping” for the University community.  The Consortium has resulted in greater collaboration and less duplication among service providers.   The number of service providers participating in TICC has increased during this year and includes members from across Academic and Health Affairs.  FITAC will continue to review this effort and provide feedback and direction for a more comprehensive strategy to facilitate professional development.
 
 
Charge to the Committee:
" 4-26. Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee. The chair of the faculty appoints the committee. It shall consist of (i) faculty members, who shall constitute a majority of the members; and (ii) one or more students, serving one-year renewable terms. The committee represents to the chancellor and the University community the concerns of faculty and others with regard to information technology. The committee's functions include:
 
1.   considering issues pertaining to the use of information technology in teaching and learning, research, and other professional activities in the University; and
 2.  advising University officers and offices of administration on faculty needs and interests relating to information technology."