Online Steering Committee
March 8, 2002
The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. in the Carriage House
with committee members Melanie McClellan, Kathy Kral, Matthew Clay, Tom
Padgett, Janet Gubbins, Tom Beggs, Barbara McKenzie, Melanie Clay, Diane
Williamson, and Elizabeth Bennett, in attendance.
Melanie Clay started the meeting and briefly reviewed the Agenda. Clay
(Melanie) stated that were two main items on the agenda for today’s committee
Develop a set of institutional distance learning goals that are comparable
to the university's goals and mission, per the UWG DL SACS committee self-study
Review the results of the faculty's DL Course Evaluation Summaries for
Fall 2001 and address any issues that arose within the results.
Discuss options for increasing online student-testing security.
Melanie Clay led the group in brainstorming a set of DL institutional goals,
beginning with listing the DDEC's mission and functions as a starting point.
Ms. Clay also read off some other institution's DL goals, as examples.
Dr. Bennett clarified the exact SACS "must" statement that the goals should
fulfill. Mathew Clay typed and edited the DL goals on the projector screen,
as the committee suggested edits. The following DL goals were drafted,
voted on, and approved by the committee:
Plan and create distance learning
environments that encourage and support excellence in a personal environment.
Maintain the human and technical
resources and network infrastructure necessary to successfully support
and deliver distance and distributed learning.
Provide academic and student services
appropriate to meet the needs of distance and distributed learners.
Conduct continuous evaluation of
distance and distributed learning and support services to ensure the advancement
of the university’s mission.
Support research, scholarship, and
creative endeavors which promote knowledge of distance learning.
Melanie Clay handed out a document summarizing the results of the faculty's
DL Course Evaluation Summaries for Fall 2001 (linked
Under the "What was problematic or should be improved"category,
firewall problems (noted as item 1) were discussed at length. Kathy Kral
and Matthew Clay explained why many K-12 school networks use firewalls
and why the school's administrators may refuse to open the ports necessary
for their staff to access our WebCT and HorizonLive ports. Elizabeth Bennett
noted that last term, while we were using the BOR server, there were less
firewall problems with the BOR WebCT port 80. Kathy Kral explained that
our WebCT server can't use the more user-friendly port 80, because the
UWG central server is already on 80 and two servers cannot use the same
port and be on a redundant system. Thus, the only way that we could use
WebCT on port 80 would be to do away with the redundant system or set up
an entirely separate redundant system, at a cost of around $20,000. In
addition, even if we chose to do the latter, the firewall problems with
the WebCT chat port and HorizonLive would still persist.
Dr. Bennett and Ms. Clay discussed the necessity of warning students
ahead of time, through the bulletin, in the course syllabus, and through
any other means possible. Janet Gubbins verified that there is a "Vital
Info" page located at http://www.westga.edu/~distance/vitalinfo.html
that warns of firewall problems and that this page is now linked into every
distance course, is linked on the login page, is printed in the bulletin,
and is sent out to faculty to be given to students.
Matthew Clay suggested that we seek out regional libraries, ensure they
provide access, and list them as alternate sites for students who cannot
access through their own networks. Dr. Bennett offered to explore that
Clay's idea, since she has many connections within the state library system.
Bennett suggested, similarly, that we could look to establish partnerships
with the county board of education's, theorizing that if we get the superintendent's
office on-board then their IT people will open their ports for our courses
- possibly this could be a grant project.
Bennett also noted that students in North Georgia often have ISPs that
will not or cannot handle the access needed for HorizonLive. Gubbins suggested
that as a last resort, faculty burn a CD of the archived presentations
and mail them to the students. Committee agreed on the latter, as a last
resort only, due to administrative costs. Tom Beggs agreed to make multiple
copies if necessary.
Under the "What was problematic or should be improved" category, item 2
"Some students aren't taking advantage of available WebCT training sessions,
help guides, or support" was discussed. Gubbins suggested that students
be required to take a pre-test of basic vital WebCT info, before being
allowed to enter the course. Dr. Bennett explained why this would not be
a good idea for her course. The committee did not have any other suggestions;
all promised to help "get the word out." Melanie Clay noted that the Student
Services sub-committee is coming up with lots of ideas and perhaps they
will have some suggestions on how to address this item in the next meeting.
Under the "Biggest adjustments required for distance instructors", item
1 "Finding ways to test students securely" was discussed. The idea of setting
up regional testing center agreements with libraries was offered as one
solution, by Melanie McClellan. Janet Gubbins noted that there is an online
service that does this already and that students pay for the service directly,
when they arrive at the testing center. Gubbins also introduced the possibility
of online secure testing, using a new software application called QuestionMark.
Gubbins promised more info at a later date.
Under the "Biggest adjustments required for distance instructors," item
1 "Getting students engaged and participating in the GSAMS" was discussed.
Gubbins suggested that experienced faculty mentors teaching the newcomers.
Melanie Clay said that Stacey Rowland in the DDEC, would work with faculty
to develop a HorizonLive demo illustrating good interactive GSAMS behavior.
Since all "Level of student services, DDEC, and instructor support" items
were generally positive, the topic was discussed only briefly. Barbara
McKenzie noted the success of the College of Education's DDEC "Teach from
the Beach" gala and asked if more would be planned in the future. Melanie
Clay said that the DDEC would be happy to work with any college who wants
to sponsor a similar event. Ms. Clay also noted that in the future the
DDEC would like to sponsor some type of event to recognize all distance
faculty for their contributions. Melanie McClellan suggested that the DDEC
set up a booth outside of the all-faculty meeting that occurs at the beginning
of every term.
Melanie Clay adjourned the meeting at 11:20am.