ACEC Meeting Minutes October 18, 2021

Attending: Philip Wedge, English (Chair); Zsolt Talata, Mathematics; Andi Back, Libraries; Hong Vu, Journalism; Jila Niknejad, Mathematics; Scott Cossel, Libraries; Adam Mansfield, Legal Aid for Students; Kenzi Parsons, Grad Student Rep; Mary Walsh, CIO IT Services; David Day, KU IT; John Rinnert, Director of KU IT; Jen Anderson, Director of Policy and Compliance

Wedge opened the meeting by inviting everyone to introduce themselves. He then thanked the members for being willing to serve on the ACEC Committee. Wedge directed the committee’s attention to the Standing and Specific Charges for the Committee, asking if there were any questions or concerns regarding specific charges, and if so, whether the Committee wished to recommend changes to the Charges before proceeding further.

Wedge summarized the Specific Charges and noted that Specific Charge 1 includes preparing a report, including instructor comment, on KU’s transition from Blackboard to Canvas. He wondered if Mary Walsh might have suggestions as to how we might address Specific Charge 2—to seek inclusion in IT Governance decisions regarding academic computing and electronic communications decisions before they are made rather than after.

The Chair then opened up the meeting to discussion of the ACEC Charges.  Walsh encouraged the Committee to provide their support in the efforts to transition the campus from Blackboard to Canvas. She said she had specifically invited John Rinnert to this meeting so that he could fill us in on the details of this transition.  Regarding IT Governance, Walsh said she would be happy to have the committee participate in IT Governance by inviting Tom Roderick to come in and explain the structure and service experience councils of IT at KU with a view to the ACED and IT Governance finding ways to collaborate going forward.

Talata said he would like the Committee to receive clarification regarding the Standing Charge regarding “intellectual property rights and responsibilities,” citing examples of students posting materials from courses to the web without permission.

Wedge said he might need to seek guidance on how to implement Specific Charge 3 about involving the ACEC Committee in any revision process of rules governing “excessive downloads” by discussions with the IT and Libraries Working Committee. Wedge also said he would contact the Libraries Committee Chair regarding the fourth sub-charge: “consider how/if the Libraries Committee can be involved and provide an annual update.”  Andi Back suggested Wedge consult with last year’s Chair since she would have further knowledge regarding the aim of this particular charge.

After discussion of the charges ended, Wedge invited Walsh and Rinnert to discuss the progress in migrating instructional courses from Blackboard to Canvas. Rinnert acknowledged that Learning Management System changes are “a big deal” and a complex process. When they decided to make this change, it was because they would have to shift from a “hosted” solution (at Price Computing Center) to a cloud-based solution. Based on an assessment of the options, they decided to move to Canvas and transitioning began in Spring 2021 (with an “early adopter program”) to familiarize instructors, students and IT staff with the new system. Rinnart reported the Educational Technology Team surveyed instructors about their experiences with converting to Canvas after Spring 2021 semester and they will do the same at the end of the Fall 2021 semester. Those results will be made available to the ACEC Committee. Online and Distance Learning has resources to help with instructional course migration and design for Canvas. Rinnart reports about 38% of courses are now using Canvas in Fall 2021 semester. They had projected that by Fall 2021 Canvas would have around 25% of LMS courses, so they are pleased with the conversion rate so far, but this will need to accelerate in Spring 2022 since Fall 2022 is the last semester Blackboard will be available. January 2023 Blackboard will move to maintenance only. Currently, 63% of students have courses in both LMS systems, which is not ideal, and any negative feedback they’re getting from students is about the frustration of having to deal with 2 LMS systems in their course work. So far, he reports they’re where they need to be right now in terms of accomplishing the conversion goals.

Discussion and questions ensued regarding Rinnert’s presentation. Rinnart reports some instructors are using Teams rather than Blackboard/Canvas to disseminate information to students, but he suggested students really “need one portal for their academic journey at KU.” In response to a question from Vu, Rinnart said IT will continue to retain courses for 5 years, as has been the policy with Blackboard, going forward, so that courses not currently converted to Canvas could be retrieved at a later time.

Wedge then asked if members of the committee wished to share their own experiences with Canvas. Several reported they had switched over without too many problems. Their impressions were that faculty found the switch stressful but that students seemed satisfied with Canvas. Talata found it technologically more advanced than Blackboard and that students found app use easier. Niknejad found some mathematical problems were not easy to transfer over and found it difficult to change settings and use folders as she did in Blackboard. She also found Gradebook calculations to be more difficult than in Blackboard. Rinnart encouraged her to seek more help from IT assistance. Walsh also complimented the tech support staff for their work in the transition.

Walsh encouraged committee members to give feedback and collaboration regarding improving the transition to Canvas. Rinnart added that they plan to continue doing survey-related activities to learn how the transition would go and that they could give ACEC updates regarding these surveys. Talata suggested Canvas should also be promoted to those instructors who have not used LMS in their classes previously. Wedge asked Rinnart to pass along the survey results from Spring 2021 to the committee to help them address Specific charge #1, and then the committee could visit with him again next semester regarding results from the Fall 2021 survey(s).

Wedge proposed the next meeting could address the IT Governance charge (Specific Charge #2) by meeting with Tom Roderick, as Walsh had earlier suggested. The meeting was then adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Philip Wedge, Chair ACEC