Information Technology Task Force

Dec. 4, 1997 meeting

Attending: Davids Howell and Punia, Mark Fitzsimmons, Geetha Ramanathan, Joe Patlak, and Deborah Shenk (recording)

The group agreed to continue moving forward with revisions despite the absence of many members from the meeting because all members have been kept up to date via e-mail.

The group discussed the need to balance our charge to make specific recommendations with the danger of being overly prescriptive; the goal is to give the president, provost, and CLIO a blueprint for making investments in information technology. The group wants to include additional recommendations without tying the hands of those who will be charged with implementation or having the document shelved because it is not doable.

David had sent, via e-mail, a suggestion about re-ordering some of the document and fleshing out certain sections. Joe said he believes the weakest part of that section is that it is based on the assumption that more technology is good. He said that for a course he taught recently, only one of the 30 students checked the Web site for the syllabus – and she commented that there was no more information there than he had handed out in class. Joe said that technology must bring special new content for it to be value-added. Deborah said that we must be willing, over the long term, to assess and evaluate the impact of technologies on teaching and learning if we are to have a sound basis for investing institutional resources and attracting external funds. David said that such an approach would fit with our desire to be a learning organization. He volunteered to revise the Teaching and Learning section, including pilot projects that are evaluated, as a potential model for the rest of the document.

David asked whether the document would be too watered down if we do not make far-reaching suggestions. The group agreed that a process that calls for implementation over time would be effective and, perhaps, more likely to be adopted. The group suggested that test projects be established and evaluated; that will allow for experimentation with new ideas and for smooth implementation and development of funding models for tested ideas.

David asked how/whether the group wanted to add specifics to other sections, such as Web management, budget process, technology floor, leadership/experimentation/evaluation, financial efficiencies, electronic workflow, and training (who will provide it, and how?). A discussion followed about the need for additional training and support, but no specific suggestions were put forth for the document. Mark said he likes IBM’s attitude, which is that the company and the employer share a responsibility for training; employees make a personal investment (of time and money) in their professional development. The group agreed to encourage development of that culture at UVM.