J Seeley, Ravi, Mike Roy, Barbara Jones, Steve Bischof, Andy Szegedy-Maszak, Paula Lawson, Joe Bruno
Ravi began the meeting by both apologizing for holding the meeting in the summer, re-iterating his reason for wanting to have a meeting sooner rather than later (wanting to understand ATAC's role, and to begin the conversation), and promising that going forward, we would hold our meetings during the semester.
Ravi presented the new |ITS organization, highlighting changes that have recently been put in place.
Mike presented an outline of services that a newly-formed unit tentatively called the Media Development Lab might provide, and asked for feedback on the ideas. The list of services was generally well-received. There were questions about how to prioritize the various services. There was a general consensus that we want to support instructional, research, and scholarly communications in more or less equal parts. The question of the sustainability of the higher-end learning object projects remains an open question. A future agenda topic would be to define an agreed-upon process for evaluating this service, and for making a final decision about how the service should evolve so that it serves Wesleyan's interests, and is sustainable. There was also interest in understanding how other schools approach the support of media development on campus.
Mike and Ravi informed the group of the successful grant proposal to NSF that will fund a centralized computing cluster for use by the Wesleyan community, and the hiring of a half-time system administrator for this position. It was noted that this new service will likely result in significant efficiencies within Wesleyan, as faculty who need high-performance computing services will no longer necessarily have to build and maintain their own compute servers.
Mike informed the group that a group has been working for the last year in developing a set of requirements for a media management system that we would like to implement in the upcoming months. While we have the technical requirements and a list of potential vendors, we are still looking to develop a process to engage faculty and students in the evaluation process, and will likely turn to ATAC for advise and support for this activity, planned for this fall.
Mike asked the group to consider the question of how many of our instructional services do we want to funnel through blackboard, as a means of helping to establish a shared strategy for deploying new tools. Should we strive to offer all of our tools via blackboard, or should we continue to offer alternatives for faculty who choose to not use blackboard for a variety of reasons? Despite the obvious added support costs of providing a more heterogeneous computing environment, the group agreed that one of Wesleyan's strengths is its diversity and creativity, and that it was worth the extra overhead of running seemingly redundant services if that choice resulted in a richer curricular environment. This means, for example, that it is okay to offer a blogging service both within and outside blackboard.
We reviewed the proposed A(T)R schedule for Fall 2006, and a list of proposed future topics. The results of that discussion can be found at the A(T)R wiki page .