Minutes of ACEC Meeting via Zoom (1 pm Feb. 22, 2022)
Attending: Philip Wedge, English (Chair); Zsolt Talata, Mathematics; Andi Back, Libraries; Hong Vu, Journalism; Jila Niknejad, Mathematics; Scott Cossel, Libraries; Adam Mansfield, Legal Services for Students; Mary Walsh, CIO IT Services; David Day, KU IT; John Rinnert, Director of KU IT; Jen Anderson, Director of Policy and Compliance; Scott Hanrath, Assoc. Librarian and Assoc. Dean, Research Engagement
Wedge opened the meeting by asking for approval of the minutes for the Nov. 18 meeting. Unanimously approved. Wedge then invited Scott Hanrath to discuss the Libraries’ Excessive Downloading Policy (Specific Charge 3).
Hanrath discussed the Acceptable Use Policy and updates the Library has made to their process. Hanrath shared a PowerPoint overview of the Library’s policies. Part of the KU Policy states, “Systematic or excessive downloading or printing of content is not permitted, including downloading or printing of whole journal issues.” This references the Library’s agreements with third-party publishers and use of language referencing “systematic or excessive downloading” which the publishers see as “key” to the process going forward. Hanrath explained that systematic downloading could also degrade the publisher’s service to the academic community.
In practice, vendors will notify the Library when they see possible violations of Acceptable Use, through systematic or excessive downloading. Hanrath stressed that the Library does not actively monitor for this, unless it’s in conjunction with a disruption of services, such as if a proxy server for off-campus access goes down. In terms of resolution, the publisher may seek assistance from the Library, but oftentimes, the Library is able to point out the publisher is in error. Other times, they may have to contact an individual and explain why doing something like downloading a complete run of a journal is in violation of the Accessible Use policy.
Hanrath referenced earlier data collected by Angela Rathman that prior to 2021 there had been 31 cases of Excessive Downloading in a four-year span (approx. 8/year), involving 12 different publishers. There have been zero cases in the past year. As a comparison, in 2020, the Library served 2 million full-text article requests, so compared to that overall number an average of 8 cases a year is fairly rare. The Library has a template e-mail to notify users of possible violations of the policy intended to educate as well as notify users that appear not to be complying.
Hanrath reported that the Library did have a “particularly upset” faculty member a couple of years ago meet with them about one of these template warnings, that it turned out that user had not violated the policy, and the Library modified its template language to more clearly notify users that a publisher is concerned and inviting the user to help the Library clarify or resolve the issue. So far, they have not needed to send out this revised notification to any user. In Hanrath’s view, some of the things we’ve been asked to do in the ACEC Committee’s charges are not really necessary at this time.
Hanrath then discussed the possibility of Computational Access, where researchers can access subscribed content for computational access, using a run of journals as a dataset, for example. He shared an example of this from the “MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.” He also discussed ways Text Data Mining might be authorized use. The KU Library has also sought to provide such service via membership in the HathiTrust Research Center. Hanrath reported ProQuest, JStor and other publishers are beginning to offer TDM services as an additional feature of their services, at an additional cost, of course. Hanrath then invited questions.
Wedge asked if the Library subscribed to these additional services, and Hanrath said at the moment “it’s on our radar” but cost is an issue. Mansfield asked what is the benefit of using such products if TDM is allowed under current agreements. Hanrath explained that it would take a lot of work and time to set up what the subscription service mediated and can provide a more streamlined service. Returning to the Acceptable Use policy, Talata raised the issue that a whole lab might be unable to access services due to one person’s excessive downloading, so is there another way to handle that? Hanrath said it is difficult to isolate on-campus users because they are automatically allowed to access the Library’s services without having to log-in individually as they would have to do for a proxy server from off-campus.
Vu said that there is now more interest in researching social media data and asked if the Library has considered providing services in that area. Hanrath said the Libraries have tried helping the University Archives with a couple projects in this area, but looking into subscription services in this area is something that should probably be higher on their radar. As there were no further comments or questions, Wedge thanked Hanrath for his presentation and insights on the topic.
Wedge then invited John Rinnert to give an update on the transition from Blackboard to Canvas based on surveys from Fall 2021 as well as the Portfolium function in Canvas. Rinnert said they surveyed instructors in the fall rather than students. The survey was sent out in December to all Canvas instructors (1, 021) and they received a 12.5% response rate. Most of the questions targeted whether instructors found Canvas useful, and high percentages responded positively. Rinnert acknowledged that most of these instructors were “early adopters,” which might have skewed the results a little. Canvas users seem happy with how straightforward and clean the platform is, though some features of Blackboard are not available in the new platform so far. The questionnaire also surveyed users on the Canvas mobile app, but only about 20% of those surveyed responded to those questions, so that data may not be very useful. There was also an open-ended question about Canvas at the end of the survey. Rinnert encourages everyone to plan to move over to Canvas. 60% of courses in Spring 2022 are now on Canvas.
Rinnert then discussed the Portfolium on Canvas, which is an e-portfolio tool, built around featuring and reporting on student progress. Blackboard never had a good tool for e-portfolios, but it is built into Canvas. This gives students and faculty the opportunity to showcase their work produced in Canvas, including establishing a portfolio of work for students moving into the work world. But the main driver for the University’s purchase of this tool is to aid in the Assessment and Accreditation process. Portfolium should allow instructors to label an assignment that fits a given goal or outcome to identify it through a “one click” process. This will be a framework that should allow instructors, departments, and schools to match assignments to outcomes in an efficient manner. Wedge asked whether this platform would allow ungraded, anonymized essays to be pulled for assessment, and Rinnert assured him that can be done. Rinnert said they’ll have their first test of the system next year with the Core Goals.
Niknejad then asked a question about “merged” courses in Canvas, that student evaluation surveys were difficult to separate by section. Rinnert said he’d be happy to follow up on that issue with her. She also asked whether problems with Canvas can be addressed by KU’s tech support rather than having to go back to the developers of Canvas to solve the problems. Rinnert said their goal is to develop solutions that are in the LMS, “so that students have a single place to log in and expect a pretty standardized look and feel of their experience.”
Wedge then asked Mary Walsh and the committee in general if she had suggestions about what we might discuss in another meeting, as we seem to have addressed the Specific Charges for ACEC. Talata raised several potential issues, including regarding emailing of personal information by HR, and Walsh said she would look into that and report back. Walsh also said she would like to talk about a new project KUIT is initiating with the Libraries regarding data archiving, data support but also different types of data: digital assets, emails, and other things that we need to archive going forward. Mansfield also asked if e-mail encryption could be made available to faculty and students as a way of solving some of the problems with e-mail security.
The meeting then adjourned with a plan to meet again in late March,
Philip Wedge, Chair ACEC