Notes from the AVP – Leveraging Technology
October 30, 2019
Greetings, TLED team!
Nineteen years ago, I started working at ACC as Director of Instructional Technology Training. In this role I worked with instructional designers and other faculty and staff to develop in-person and online training for a variety of instructional technologies with a particular emphasis on Blackboard®. At that time, workshop registration was handled by phone and email – a time-consuming and inefficient way of tracking the hundreds of workshops and participants who registered for professional development. To improve this process, I initiated conversations about developing an online tool for registration and tracking. Along with a team of IRT (Instructional Resources and Technology) staff, we determined elements/fields that were needed and the structure of the system. That original database was programmed by Seth Wilkerson who now serves as Sr. Manager of Learning Management Services at ACC. The Workshop and Event Registration database was eventually transitioned to IT for management and maintenance, and over the years has morphed to encompass additional features that we see today.
Technology helps us do things in a faster, safer, or better way, but the advantages of using it are only as good as the implementation. In order to leverage technology to support our work, we have to consider the use of each tool, as well as ongoing support, funding, review, upgrades, training, and when to retire a product for the next best thing. Whether we are considering instructional technology for the F2F or virtual classroom to help us teach, or administrative technology in the virtual or F2F office to help us with daily work, technology and related considerations for implementation should always be a key component of any strategic or master plan.
One of the TLED strategic plan goals is to establish process efficiencies that increase and improve collaboration. To support that goal, we will be documenting use of current administrative technology tools, and also researching, testing and adopting new administrative technology tools in several different areas. Each area responsible will be writing clear and concise procedures on the use and application of each tool to meet the goals of our plan by year end.
Here is a sampling of technology tools currently used by TLED:
Project Management/Coordination: Asana® is a College-wide solution that is slowly rolling out across the District. TLED was chosen as one of the early adopters. In order to ensure that there are standard processes and to gauge the resources available when taking on new projects, Asana is being introduced in TLED departments to build processes and templates, standardize the project intake process, forecast upcoming projects and availability of resources, and provide transparent communication in the status of all projects. (IT ACC enterprise license)
Course Scheduling and Facilities Use – AdAstra Platinum Analytics® predicts course demand, minimizes registration conflicts, and creates more eﬃcient schedules, which leads to improved graduation rates. Platinum Analytics utilizes dynamic data points from our student success ecosystem, Student Information System, degree audits, planner, and program maps to model schedules which are both optimized for our students, and more efficient for our campuses. We are in the next phase of this launch and currently offering training for Instructional Deans and other instructional leadership as we move forward with a larger deployment next year. (ACC enterprise license)
Reference Management System – Deskstats® is a web-based instructive reference management system. This software manages the intake, assignment and response development for each request at library instructive reference desks. We map responses and detailed service statistics to ACC’s general and discipline-specific Student Learning Outcomes. (departmental license)
24/7 Chat – Chatstaff® offers a platform for 24/7 online reference. Library Services contracts with the company to provide the delivery platform and the use of professional librarians hired and trained by Chatstaff and using our web content, etc. to support our unique student needs. This is particularly helpful as some peak times for Blackboard are outside of college hours. (departmental license)
Email and Online Promotions – Constant Contact ® is an email marketing tool used to cut down on electronic communication clutter. When TLED was first formed as a division, each individual department determined their own communication strategy. Faculty were receiving information about resources and programming in piecemeal, with no structured format or timing for the release of that information. We often heard the complaint that faculty were “inundated with emails” to the point where they would disengage. In June 2017, we began work to create a comprehensive communication plan to alleviate those faculty concerns and more. TLED’s weekly newsletter combines all professional development opportunities, ACC news, teaching resources/services, and articles about teaching & learning champions into one place. Additionally, Constant Contact provides analytics so that we can target our messages to faculty who are truly interested in learning more about our services. Example: We will share general OER information with all faculty, then follow up with specifics to faculty that Constant Contact notes as “interested” in the topic. This means we’re “blasting” emails to ALL faculty less and less. (departmental license)
Internship Tracking – This fall we launched a new ACC Internship Agreement Repository. The automated internship agreement system was developed in house using the Salesforce® platform to allow the development of a comprehensive database. This database will help address THECB requirements to track not only all ACC internship students each semester, but eventually all ACC external learning program participants. Our goal is to expand the number of students registered in internship courses to over 1000 during 2019-20 while maintaining our 100% placement rate for all ACC students registered in an internship course. (Developed in-house by IT in Salesforce®)
Document Storage – Box ® is a cloud computing business solution that provides file sharing, collaborating, and other tools for working with files that are uploaded to its servers. It has greater storage capacity than Google Drive and offers perpetual use. Users can determine how their content can be shared with other users. In addition to administrative uses, this tool is being piloted to store content for Faculty Portfolios. (IT ACC enterprise license)
This is a sampling of technology tools TLED is researching or planning to research for process improvement:
Faculty Evaluation Repository and Resources – Through recommendations from last year’s Task Force on Faculty Evaluation, we will be looking at tools that support faculty in tracking their activities for integration in teaching portfolios and the potential for an online student course evaluation system that provides faster and greater access to data analytics for individual faculty and department chairs. We will be working closely with IT and instructional stakeholders to initiate the process for review.
Curriculum Management and Catalog – The process to submit courses and programs for approval through the Curriculum and Programs Committee has many parts. From the forms with detailed descriptions and justification for changes, to meeting coordination, to various levels of approval, to the development of the college catalog…the steps are many. We currently use an in-house system developed by our IT department, but find that new tools and systems would enable us to improve our timelines and processes significantly. We will be working closely with IT and instructional stakeholders to initiate the process for review of a new Curriculum Management System and Catalog feature that expedites and supports the various layers of this process.
Media Check-Out – One of the processes we will be improving this academic year is the inventory of media tools that faculty can check out for use in their teaching & research. As we continue looking at the tools requested by faculty, we also need a system that allows us to track inventory and check in/out of tools. The tool that will be adopted will include inventory records, check-in/-out of tools for faculty and students (ex: iPads for semester-long use), and more importantly, provide us with analytics of the frequency that tools are requested at each of the campuses. Drilling into the usage of instructional technology and media tools allows the division to make strategic decisions on what to replace/discontinue, and potentially what may be on the horizon for us to explore.
Statewide Degree Audit – MapMyPath leverages technology to improve the post-secondary transfer process by providing increased transparency and clarity to students regarding the courses required for particular degree plans, highlighting recommended course sequences. MapMyPath is an initiative led by the Post-secondary Innovation Network, led by UT Austin, to establish a framework for institutions of higher education that informs, empowers, and supports students through clear and efficient pathways to completion of undergraduate certificates and degrees, including transparent and accessible recommended higher education degree course sequences.
College stakeholders are working in partnership to establish clear processes for technology adoption and integration that will help us further leverage technology tools. We also want to ensure channels for administrative technology and channels for instructional technology adoption are defined so the appropriate stakeholders can provide input. More on that in a future message.
Thank you all for your work in supporting the use of technology in teaching and learning, and thanks to Raymond Tomlinson, the credited father of email, for making this electronic message possible.
|Susan M. Thomason, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, TLED
Austin Community College District
5930 Middle Fiskville Rd. Austin, Texas 78752
512.223.7796 / 512.223.7667 / firstname.lastname@example.org