Our Customer-focused Vision for Supporting Teaching and Learning
Faculty/Staff Update — February, 25, 2014
As you explore ways to engage students in new and innovative ways, we are committed to providing technology that supports your efforts. This month I’m sharing updates on some of the initiatives we are working on to improve existing technologies and provide new solutions to help faculty and students achieve their academic goals. And because we know that research is an important component of teaching and learning at KU, next month I’ll share some insights on how we are supporting research at the university.
A collective effort last year by KU partners to make improvements and encourage the adoption of Blackboard for course delivery increased the number of courses available to students in Blackboard by 22% for fall 2013 semester over fall 2012 and another 26.6% for spring 2014 over fall 2013 (see more KPIs below). Special thanks to Ann Cudd and to the IT Faculty Consultation group for providing ideas for Blackboard improvements.
A significant upgrade to Blackboard last summer added new functionality and features to KU’s learning management system, including automatic course creation and student enrollment, improved navigation and enhanced grading capabilities. Working with Sara Rosen, Diane Goddard and Ann Cudd, we completed a second major upgrade to Blackboard on Jan. 4. You can find a list of new features and what to expect from them on KU’s Blackboard Learn website. In planning this upgrade, we consulted faculty on the timing to ensure that we minimized any disruption to your work.
In addition to the Blackboard upgrade completed over winter break, you also helped us identify what else was needed to improve Blackboard. We appreciate the insights of faculty and staff who provided feedback who participated in a Blackboard demo last fall. As part of our efforts to improve Blackboard at KU, we will be introducing four new Blackboard modules: Collaborate Suite, Content Management, Community Engagement and Outcomes Assessment. Look for more information later this semester. We expect to launch the new modules for fall 2014. Collaborate Suite provides synchronous and seamless collaboration from within Blackboard, including virtual classroom, messaging, whiteboard, video and application sharing. Content Management provides a file management system for personal, course and institutional document management, sharing and discovery of educational materials and open educational resources. Community Engagement provides online collaboration and communication for campus interest groups, clubs, committees, faculty, students and administration. Outcomes Assessment provides course-embedded assessment, allowing an assessment team to search and view student learning artifacts and detailed reporting on artifacts/performance over time for accreditation.
In the CIO Faculty Consultation Group last fall, faculty members expressed an interest in having a more active role as we upgrade and manage Blackboard. We welcome and encourage involvement by all faculty and appreciate your efforts to help improve our services. If you want to help us improve Blackboard, contact our Blackboard Support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year we worked with KU partners to consolidate several campus lecture recording services and launch Lecture Capture as a university-wide solution. Now you don’t have to remember multiple solutions in different classrooms, and the service is provided for everyone on campus at no additional cost to departments.
Lecture Capture gives instructors the ability to record lectures and presentations in the classroom or at their desk and post those videos online along with course materials and collaboration tools to improve learning outcomes and boost student satisfaction. I appreciate the leadership of the Edwards Campus and School of Pharmacy in early adoption of Lecture Capture at KU, and I want to thank Diana Marrs, Steve Werninger, Al Bauer, Brad Sager and Laura Diede for their active participation over the past year on the project team for the university-wide implementation of this service.
Online Course Catalog
We are currently working with Academic Affairs, the Registrar, Public Affairs and the Provost’s Office on enhancing the functionality of the Online Course Catalog and integrating it with KU’s content management system (CMS). With the new solution’s Web-based workflow, data will feed directly to the course catalog website in the CMS. We expect to launch the new catalog in April with summer and fall 2014 courses. Thank you to Sara Rosen and Tim Caboni for being our executive champion on this initiative.
On the Horizon
We have many other initiatives underway that will support your teaching and revolutionize the way you communicate and collaborate with your colleagues on campus. You’ll be hearing more about these as we get closer to completion:
- Communication — We are partnering with several units as early adopters to help test Lync in preparation for a campus-wide rollout. Lync allows you to communicate and connect with colleagues using chat, voice, video and online meetings through a consistent user experience across computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet.
- Collaboration — Our university is strengthened when we work together, not just within departments and disciplines, but also with colleagues across the university who have similar interests and complementary goals. This year, we will introduce an online platform where you can identify, follow, engage and collaborate with colleagues to enhance scholarship, research and knowledge both within and across multiple disciplines.
- Simplifying access — As a faculty or staff member, you have access to many technology tools to help meet your academic, research, professional and personal needs—from Blackboard to HR/Pay. And, as the number of tools and services continues to expand, remembering how and where to access those tools becomes increasingly difficult. That’s why we are redesigning the KU portal to create a “one-stop-shop” to access all the technology tools you use at KU, including one place to approve the many workflow engines that are common with technology innovation. In addition, the portal will provide access to important information, tailored to you, such as Library and Parking notices, messages from KU leaders, and more.
I am looking forward to sharing more details on these three initiatives as they get closer to completion, and I am confident they will transform your everyday experience here at KU.
Key Performance Indicators
To ensure we are accountable to you and our other campus customers, KU IT tracks 159 key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs provide insights into the services and solutions we manage and how they affect faculty, researchers, staff, students and other stakeholders. For example:
Blackboard KPIs (Lawrence and Edwards)
- There are 1,626 instructors for active courses in Blackboard for spring 2014.
- The number of instructors for active courses in Blackboard as a percentage of all faculty and GTAs is more than 60%.
- Nearly 66% of all lecture courses taught at KU are now active in Blackboard.
- 22,787 students were enrolled in one or more active Blackboard course during fall semester.
- Last summer, we began automatically creating course shells in Blackboard for all courses. This helped reduce Customer Service Center calls related to courses not being populated by 91% from spring 2013 to spring 2014 and helped reduce the number of instructors having roster issues by 96%.
- KU IT protects the academic and research files of KU faculty, researchers, staff and students by backing up an average of 250 terabytes of data each month. This is equal to approximately 500,000 hours of audio or 62 million good quality images. So, if you ever “lose” a file or folder, call our Customer Service Center at 864-8080 to learn the potential for recovering it.
- KU's spam filtering software blocks up to 22 million spam messages each week that are sent to faculty, staff and students. Over the past year, spam filtering has saved more than 43,000 hours in faculty/staff productivity. However, we still have a ways to go because this effort is a never-ending commitment.
- Last year, core services on campus had an average uptime of 99.99%. This KPI measures how often your work is disrupted by services being unavailable. We understand that any outage is an inconvenience and a potential barrier to achieving your goals, so we continually work to minimize downtime through improved systems and processes and greater redundancy.
Our objective at KU IT is to be a trusted, professional, “go to” partner on campus and a leading higher education technology organization, propelling KU faculty, staff, researchers and students toward their goals. Please let me know what we can do to help you succeed.
Chief Information Officer
University of Kansas