Meeting Notes 2009-09-08

In this meeting we took a step back and reviewed what we have done to date and how to proceed this fall.

Review of charge and priorities

  • Much of our work to date has focused on determining what technologies are needed to replace Segue.
  • Main projects we have started to get at this are the CT feature matrix, the CT Need Knowledge grid, course site platform survey questions and CT usage analysis
  • Other projects we have done that are related are a review of BreadNet and our course site platform recommendations
  • Not much work has been done to date on evaluating teaching spaces and creating a tech incubator
  • We have had discussion of curricular technology documentation and the team is expected to provide this for the new LIS site

Determining one or more replacements for Segue

We all agreed that we need to determine what people need before we can replace Segue and that the primary methods of determining technology needs are surveys, focus groups and discussions with individuals.  We also agreed that we needed more understanding of how to create surveys.  Joy agreed to review her notes on creating surveys fr0m a workshop she did at Dartmouth as well as contact the psychology dept for surveying tips.

Web Redo Project

We compared what we are trying to do with what the Web redo project has done:

  • Both projects need to find out what users want and what users need.  Web redo identified stakeholders from various areas in the college.  We probably ought to cull our stakeholders from academic depts
  • Web redo delegated responsibilities into following groups: 1. Platform 2. Requirements 3. Design IA.  Since our users will be using these technologies to create their own IA and design, we may not need to focus on this in thinking about Segue replacements (other than assuring the platforms we are considering support IA and design needs…)
  • The web redo project focused on identifying a single platform for the college website with ancillary platforms supporting it.  We are not sure whether the same strategy is appropriate for curricular technologies.  Cases can be made for a single primary platform or multiple platforms…
  • The web redo project intentionally did not look at how the college website was currently used, but focused on how people would like to use the college site in the future.  It is not clear whether the same should be done for curricular technologies.  Cases can be made for focusing on survey questions that get at what people want or for focusing on an analysis of how people are currently using curricular technologies. Surveys
    By looking only at survey questions, we might get a sense of what people want but we can’t be certain that what they want is what they need.  However if we ask the questions correctly and avoid buzz words like “wiki” we’ll likely get better answers.

    Usage Analysis
    By looking at how people have used existing platforms like Segue and WordPress, we run the risk of identifying features that people use only because they are the features available and not necessarily the features they want or need.  However, if we identify users of particular features (e.g. online discussion) and then look more closely at how they are using discussions as well get these individuals into a focus group, we’ll likely get better answer.

Technology Needs vs Wants

There was considerable discussion of how to get at what technologies people need and how to confirm that what people want is really what they need…  This came through in the discussion of survey vs usage analysis as methodologies of getting at this information….

Curricular Technology Documentation

Part of the web redo project is creating a new LIS site.  Ian McBride from the LIS website team joined us for a meeting earlier this summer.  At that meeting it was agreed that the CT team would provide the content for the Curricular Technology portion of the new LIS site.  It was agreed by all the a good model for how this is the Tuft’s Spark site.  Here is a comparison of the Spark site to our current documentation:

  • The Tuft’s Spark site presents a list of tools (wikis, blogs, webMeetings, podcasts, mediaMarkup, forums, maps) with a consistent UI for each tool that includes an overview of the tools, a Quickstart guide, FAQs, Suggested Uses and feature use cases.  This site focuses on “web 2.0” technologies and doesn’t include BlackBoard, Tuft’s primary course management system
  • The primary site for curricular technologies that is one the current LIS site is the “Technologies for Teaching, Learning and Research” (TTLR) site (though many on the team were not aware of the existence of this site…).  The TTLR site is modeled on the Tuft’s Spark site in that is tries to give an overview of available technologies including course sites, blogs, wikis & collaboration, audio, assessments & surveys and video.  In addition to this site there are a host of other sites with curricular technology documentation including Curricular Technologies, iPods and 2nd Language Acquisition, Ed Tech Wiki, MiddBlogs, Digital Media Tutors blog
  • Whereas the Tuft’s Spark site focuses on discreet tools, the TTLR site focuses on features of various tools (see: Feature Glossary) or types of media and often describes more than one way to meet a particular need.
  • Whereas the the Tuft’s Spark site contains all the documentation, the TTLR contains minimal documentation (comparable to the Tuft’s quickstart) with links to the LIS wiki for more in-depth documentation
  • Whereas the the Tuft’s Spark site contains easy to use standardized UI for using tools, the TTLR site links out to various other sites for actually using the tools.
  • Whereas the the Tuft’s Spark site has lists examples of usage and recent activity across tools the TTLR site has nothing comparable.

Documentation issues that were identified:

  • How much should be consolidate our documentation into one place?
  • How many level of documentation should we have?
  • How will we coordinate our documentation efforts with those of ACS and the Helpdesk?
  • How much overlap will there be between curricular technology documentation and documentation of other platforms/tools/services that are not used in the curriculum.

BreadNet Review

We agreed we should make recommendations for how to proceed with BreadNet:

  1. Check our license agreement and confirm we have what we need to update.
  2. Upgrade to the latest version we have a license for
  3. Identify a system administrator to manage FirstClass and get them the training they need to maintain the system
  4. Identify someone at Breadloaf who can be an application administrator and get them the training they need
  5. …. other?

2 thoughts on “Meeting Notes 2009-09-08

  1. Ian McBride

    I’ve posted a summar of the discussion I had with Adam after you meeting Everyone on your team (and indeed at Middlebury) should feel free to add comments there if they feel I’ve misrepresented the direction you’ve chosen. I made two points to Adam in response to your team’s decision. Neither, I believe, are “showstoppers” for your direction, but perhaps things that you hadn’t fully considered.

    1. The LIS Website team has encouraged people to keep their documentation in mediawiki, if it’s already there. There is a large Educational Technology section in the LIS wiki already. The front page of this could certainly be refactored to focus on the priorities of your team’s work, but it would be beneficial to all to continue to place relevent documetation in this location and leave the existing documentation in place. We are encouraging LIS documentation, in general, to migrate to this platform as we’ve noticed this process is already well underway and we have no intentions of disrupting a working process.

    2. You’ve chosen Drupal to host the landing pages for Curricular Technology related content. This will given your content a look-and-feel similar to the rest of the Middlebury site and in many ways that’s great. However, you should be aware that Drupal is a Content Management System first and foremost. While there are a lot of neat things you can do with Drupal as a platform, its core function is to manage content: placing it in pre-developed site templates. While we certainly hope these continually evolve, for the launch of the site in January you should expect to be able to use only those templates which are available to the rest of the Middlebury community as we will probably not be able to develop templates customized to the needs of the Curricular Technology team. Therefore, I encourage you to focus on the *content* you’d like to deliver through these pages and less on the *placement* of that content on the actual page, which will be determined by a central template.

  2. Alex Chapin

    Hi Ian,
    Thanks for the information about your strategies for the LIS website. Mediawiki does seem like a good place for most documentation, particularly detailed “how-to” documentation and I think the team is in agreement that this kind of documentation should reside primarily in this location.

    As well, I think we all agree that Drupal is the logical choice for Curricular Technology “landing page[s]” and understand that in choosing this platform, our content will need to fit into pre-developed site templates so that it “looks and feels” like the rest of the college site.

    I do hope that the Curricular Technology team can participate in the development of some of these site templates and we may push the envelop of what is possible, but am sure we can come to agreement on a layout and organization that is compelling and sustainable.


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