Area 51 notes – Jan. 21, 2010

Present: Bernier, Peddie, Rehbach, Roy, Sax, Simpkins
Guests: Chris Norris; Curricular Technologies Team; Sheila Andrus
Chris Norris joined us again this week to review the Project Directory and discuss next steps and future ongoing tasks that we need to pay attention to in order to make this an effective tool.  Chris is going to make a couple of tweaks to the site, specifically: 1) he will make certain fields are uneditable (except by Admin) once they’ve been populated, and 2) he is adding a field for a URL to point to additional information.  A next step for the ADs is to review the complexity and priority of assignments.  These were created at the point of projects being added to the directory, and may not reflect a project’s status within a broad view of what’s happening within LIS.

Next, the Curricular Technologies team stopped by to discuss their recommendations for decommissioning Segue and finding a suitable replacement (or replacements) for that piece of our learning management system (LMS).  They emphasized that we might more profitably consider using a suite of tools as a replacement for Segue (e.g., WordPress for blogging, Drupal or GoogleApps for other functions such as collaboration, discussion tools, etc.).  One advantage to this approach includes the ability to change or migrate individual components over time without forcing users into a complete shift, as would be the case if we attempt to find a single tool to meet all our LMS needs.  The Team stated that Drupal might be among the feasible candidates for replacing Segue; in that scenario, we would most likely investigate using a separate instance of Drupal for course management, as opposed to trying to integrate the course management aspects into the primary college Web site framework.

As part of the process of evaluating and selecting a new tool, the team plans to engage focus groups in a variety of tasks related to using the LMS.  The ADs urged the team to include on these groups a mix of both tech-savvy users and those who are rather disinclined to avail themselves of this technology.  It was suggested that Barbara Hofer from the Psychology dept. would be a good resource to assist with survey design.

We also discussed the feasibility of a fall 2010 roll-out for the new system.  The CurrTech team believes that this is possible, but that it ultimately depends on the tool(s) selected.  Implementing a completely new system within that timeframe might be unrealistic, but adapting tools we are already use may be within reach.  In any event, we should be able to have a more definite answer before end of Spring semester, and, for the summer 2010, the Language Schools will be able to continue using Segue.  We may take an approach of piloting the new system for a semester with early-adopters before rolling-out completely.

We also met with Sheila Andrus to discuss incorporating team performance into the evaluation process.  After discussing various ideas, we settled on having a 360 review where each team member evaluated every other team member, using the 1st two questions from the revised PFDP form (i.e., what went well?; what didn’t go well?).  These evaluations will be collected confidentially through an online survey, compiled, and sent to each team member and their supervisor as additional data to be added to the evaluation and used in assessing the staff member’s performance for the year.

In other evaluation-related questions, we agreed that:

  • LIS will use the new PFDP form as is, with no additional documentation requirements aside from the team assessments. Staff members can be as verbose as desired in critiquing their own performance, but supervisors are not obligated to respond in line-by-line detail unless there are extenuating circumstances that create a need for lengthy exposition.
  • For the summary ratings, the form does not require the assignment of a numerical ranking this year; staff and supervisor will fill out a summary assessment of performance.
  • Pay increases remain frozen for staff earning above a certain threshold, and fixed (i.e., not merit-based) for staff below that threshold.  According to Sheila, the jury is still out regarding the use of ratings from past years (i.e., years like this one in which salary increases are frozen) for the future.

Finally, there was a brief confidential discussion of staffing and the reorganization process. We are aiming to have submit requests for promotion and new hires to SRC by mid-Feb.

Thanks for reading,
Terry

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