Faculty Computer Discussion
ECC Academic Technology Committee
"Education should not be the filling of a pail -
it should be the igniting of a spark"
Below are messages sent to the Faculty listserv beginning March 18, 2005, regarding the college's decision to not replace aging faculty notebook computers. These messages have not been edited, other than to remove all names.
Note that an account of the history of computers for ECC faculty is at the end.
|So we have a new faculty list serve. Great. It should be obsolete as soon as Windows comes out with a new version (sometime this year) and then the faculty laptops using Windows 98 will not be able to check email. Great planning.
If you are reading this on your own personal computer, get used to it. THERE ARE NO PLANS TO REPLACE FACULTY COMPUTERS. No where: not the Board, not the Planning and Budget Committee, not the Academic Technology Committee.
Replacing faculty computers is not even mentioned in the Technology Master Plan. In fact faculty and computers aren't mentioned together too much in that Master Plan.
Every other district owned computer on campus is on a replacement cycle (I wonder, if the board is given laptops/computers, are they on a replacement cycle too?). Why not the faculty¹s computers? The district wants faculty to move toward a more ³paperless² campus. Online grading, campus communications and administrative forms, email communication with students. But at whose costs? I guess we should start saving our money for markers and chalk. Heck, why doesn¹t the district make us pay for the electricity we use while in class too? It¹s a slippery slope sure, but remember avalanches start with a single snowflake.
Let¹s not forget to mention the marketing of El Camino as an institution that prepares our students for the future. What future is this? Chalk and slate? Recitation? The math and computing department uses the cyber-version of duct tape and paperclips to patch their machines together. In humanities, in order for faculty to read documents sent electronically from students, the students have to jump through figurative hoops (save->file as-> File type_> MS WORD 98) That¹s right, let¹s make it harder for them. Learning how to read and write is easy enough.
Sure the district purchased laptops this year. Around thirty of them. For what, four hundred or so faculty. But they aren¹t replacements. They are ³supplemental instructional tools². We can check them out for a semester.
³Here¹s a textbook you need to use for your class but don¹t get attached to it because it is not yours, the district needs it back at the end of the semester.² Who wants to bother, right? I¹m sure the less faculty use computers the easier it is on ITS and the district.
My frustration should be evident. For the past year and a half, I¹ve been banging my head against the red brick and gray mortar of the administration in regards to faculty laptops. Their lack of response to the faculty¹s technology needs- namely fair and equitable use and support of computers and technology to better prepare our students- is appalling. So now I have a headache.
In my interview when I was hired, I obviously played up the fact I was a strong advocate of using technology in the classroom. But I also told them if need be, give me a stick and some mud, and I can still teach. I didn¹t know then that they would take me literally.
If you are bothered about this issue, let the powers in charge know.
VERY nicely said. As I have said repeatedly, self-serving incompetence (the Peter Principle, no pun intended) has become an art form at EC, starting at the very top, along with hypocrisy, such as giving a hardly part-time Board of Trustees full medical benefits (is that why Lila runs for reelction?) while denying those benefits to part-time faculty who do a lot of the heavy lifting in the classroom. This is a perfect example management doing everything they can to get faculty to "assume the position."
Similarly, it's sad to see our online program - of which El Camino was at one
time at the forefront - fall so far behind. Schools such as San Bernardino Valley,
that began long after we did, are now offering full degree programs online, encouraging
all faculty to teach online regularly and even to teach all of their courses online. Plus
they have adequate technical and administrative support for both faculty and students.
|I would like those in administration to know that __ is not the only one frustrated with a lack of support from administration regarding technology. When we were first given laptops, we were encouraged to embrace technology. Many of us did so. Indeed, we did so to a degree that it has greatly affected how we teach, which appears to be in line with the expressed goals of The Faculty Computer Use Agreement: "The goal in providing this resource is to promote educational excellence through the use of technology to foster innovation, creativity and efficiency" (Appendix K in our contract). Mission accomplished, now what? Do we really abandon everything we created for our classes? Should we only use technology when we are in rotation for the recently dispersed laptops?
I'm one of the fortunate faculty who received a new laptop this semester. However, the laptop is not a replacement for the old one.
Instead, it is on loan for one semester. I suppose I'm expected to clear all my files so someone else can have a turn with it. I guess I won't use a laptop for a year or two until my name is again at the top of the rotation.
I thought it was poor judgment not to have adequate faculty support for technology, but I think it even poorer judgment not to have the technology.
The problem of laptops is not limited to classroom use. We daily correspond with students via email, we provide electronic feedback for student essays, we maintain websites, we conduct research to improve our knowledge base, and subscribe to professional electronic journals to keep us current in our various fields of expertise. The on-campus climate suggests we need laptops as well. We receive electronic flyers for campus events, we participate in committees online, share the minutes from such meetings online, submit progress reports and grades online, participate in various online professional development opportunities, and more. We don't need to do these anymore? Unless budget money is allocated for more laptops, we won't be able serve our students or our college environment in the best, most efficient way possible way.
Do I sense some frustration here? I too am frustrated by ECC's lack of innovation, training and support. When I received my first campus laptop, I enthusiastically created PowerPoint presentations for my classes, lugged the laptop to and from school (since our offices are not secure), dragged an LCD projector cart across campus from classroom to classroom, and showed presentations on walls in rooms where there were no screens. Finally, I got tired.
Then I decided to teach online. What was I thinking?? The first semester my orientation was held in a computer lab with no internet access because the ECC server was down. Last semester I had to go to administrators to beg to get my students uploaded into the Course Management program before the orientation date. This semester students were unable to access the course materials until the second week of class (that's a 14-week semester now).
What happened to the idea that ECC could be an innovator? Why aren't we supporting and encouraging development of an online presence? These classes fill and they don't take up on-campus classroom resources.
|I just purchased a new one.....aw, what's a couple of thousand $$$.....|
I don't think we should expect the college to constantly upgrade our personal computers, so I am not frustrated when it doesn't happen. I bought a new laptop in 2004 for around $800, with much more capability than the laptops we received in 1999.
Personally I am grateful for the quality of equipment we have in the Natural Sciences area and for so many other things we have on campus (email service for copy orders, for example). Although there is always more that we might like to have, it seems that many other colleges don't have it as good as we have it at ECC. I have been teaching some classes at Cal Poly Pomona and I find the technology in the classroom much better at ECC.
|“…upgrade our personal computers”
My argument is that the school should supply and keep current materials needed to do our jobs. The problem the administration has with this issue is evident in your remark. The laptops given to us are not “personal” computers (although some might see them as just that).
However, the new telescope in the planetarium isn’t “personal” equipment nor are the pianos in Fine Arts; accordingly, the laptops for most of us have become essential tools needed to prepare our students for the future, using them for direct student contact or indirect administrative responsibilities. If the school required YOU personally to purchase microscopes needed for your course, would you still have the same response? (I apologize if this example doesn’t fit your field exactly, but I hope you can understand what I mean).
I agree with you that ECC can be seen as a leader. But the thing with leading is that it is a never ending process (and leaders can quickly can get lost). We as faculty have a responsibility to evaluate and challenge- our students, each other, and the administration- this is our role as leaders: in the classroom, on campus, and in our fields. The subtext of my argument is that we are lacking leadership-literally: how many acting vice presidents/acting deans/ acting directors are on campus? (There is a Hollywood joke there but I’ll let the moment pass). In my relative short time at ECC, I’ve surmised that administrators come and go but the faculty are here for the long haul. Therefore, when the administration is in chaos such as it currently, we must accept our roles as leaders by reminding those who make decisions of our school’s long term goals and overall mission. But one voice in the wilderness isn’t effective. We must all speak (just as you are doing) in order for those in administration who ultimately make the decisions to respect and see the right path for our campus that will benefit both current and future students.
I hope you and others understand, I am not crying “mutiny” but only calling for a correction in our campus’s direction.
|I've noticed that all these messages relating to laptops, technology in the classroom, etc are only going out to the faculty listserve. Can all the "acting" administrators hear our frustrations and concerns if we talk only amongst ourselves?|
|I agree that the college shouldn't constantly upgrade our personal computers. Indeed, they should never even supply us with personal computers. However, the laptops aren't personal computers; these are instructional tools.
Administration should not expect us to incorporate technology into all facets of our profession without giving us the wherewithal to do so (this includes proper training, software, time, and yes, computers).
__, a few thousand dollars is a great deal to me, as I'm still trying to close the incredible salary loss I incurred when I took this job six years ago. In construction, the contractor supplies the expensive tools with which to build. You don't seem to agree with this, but would your reaction be the same if you were told you had to purchase the chalk for the track or buy some new hurdles for the team with your own money? If your reaction would be unchanged, you're a richer man than I. If you have a few more thousand laying around, could you slip it into my mailbox in Communications? If so, I'll promise not to bug you again until I need another upgrade.
I can understand why President Fallo is under the impression that nobody uses their "personal" laptops. After all, in the last 26 hours, only 10 emails have been sent to the faculty about the issue. Well, now 11, from 8 different faculty.
Never mind that this issue has generated more response from the faculty than any other in recent memory. Obviously nobody's reading their laptop-gathered emails, and nobody cares about the issue enough to speak to the entire faculty.
This year I've been trying (now without success on my laptop) to communicate via Instant Messenger with my students. I find it too disruptive that my laptop can't open IM and any other application that I might try to use to prepare for classes (or record grades). My students love this kind of live, yet remote, contact. I find it truly amazing what students will say online about class or troubles they're having, compared to what little they say in office hours (if they even bother to show up). Live online feedback like this has been a huge success for my students. It's a shame I can no longer offer this feedback when I'm in my office.
As a member of several school committees, I find it difficult to type up, post, or print out committee minutes while having only a basic email program open at the same time. My laptop (i.e. my office-tool) still works, technically, but just barely. I literally had to close 2 other applications just to write this email.
A sadder story:
A week ago, there was a Planning Summit in the Alondra Room. Many administrators attended, including President Fallo, 2 VPs (the 3rd got sick but she had organized the event), several deans (acting and non-acting), many managers, and several faculty, staff, and students. That is about as diverse a group as you find in one non-classroom on this campus.
My point: there was a laptop connected to the LCD projector in the Alondra Room. It was so old, it didn't have a USB port. (1996 technology?) I don't know who the laptop belonged to, but it looked like mine, and I'm guessing it wasn't President Fallo's. The flash drive that I brought with me, that contained my PowerPoint presentation, wasn't compatible with our main conference room's computer on this occasion. And this was in a room with as many decision-makers as I can recall seeing in one place, including the current and former directors of ITS.
But really, there's no need to upgrade our laptops. These complaints are just the musings of few whiners who want only the latest, most expensive toys for their personal recreation.
*** I'm wondering how many of the "originally distributed" laptops are still servicable for communications....
*** I agree...emailing -- both "virtually instant" and "asynchronous" -- has enabled me to "open" and "expand" my classes far beyond the classroom. And student "participation" in this environment far supersedes that in the classroom -- in quantity and quality.
*** But my laptop is almost useless for this...
|Forget IM. I have just spent 3 hours trying to get my e-mail. Now I am using the web to view it, but it is so very slow.|
|Meant only as simple sarcasm...........arguably, I use email, internet, etc as much and maybe more than most faculty, thus I purchased both an office desktop and home desktop sometime back (needing much more speed than the 433 Toshiba laptop could offer). A "couple thousand" was the pun rather than a "few thousand". Of course one would expect that one dollar more than I/we need to spend could best used elsewhere......in the workplace, at home, my child, tsunami relief.....
On another note, in our sport(s), we oftentimes do have to rely heavily on outside donations as well as our own personal funds to successfully run our program(s) - our budget is very limited. But it is worth it to myself and I'm sure others who enjoy working in a successful collegiate environment. The campus technology received my input sometime back as well as that from others I'm sure. Hopefully, we all will see some positive change in the future.
perhaps this is cynical (or paranoid) of me - but I've always assumed that at least some administrators receive/review these messages. Isn't that what "managers" - as opposed to "administrators" - do? And don't get me started on the historic and academic difference between a manager and an administrator...
This assumption has never stopped me from speaking freely when I choose; I just think it's realistic to make such an assumption. That being said:
1. it makes sense to think of this listserv as a place to "hash out" faculty concerns among ourselves, in the sense that we expect the responding voices are those of our peers, and
2. it makes sense to send such messages as we care to the admin/supervisor listservs, perhaps in the CC field. I would trust my colleagues' judgements on when to do this.
I readily acknowledge that these two points might conflict with each other; as Nietzsche said, life is not an argument.
To clarify: I do not assume that administrators - or anyone else, for that matter - read personal email. A listserv is another matter.
|Subject: Laptops and ECC Technology - A Different Perspective
First, I am almost certain that only faculty receive mail sent to the faculty listserve. I know for certain, for example, that the Dean of my division does not receive these emails.
Second, I will take this opportunity to point out a larger perspective on the state of computer technology and equipment here at ECC. With the exception of faculty computers (laptop or otherwise, yes there are some of us with old desktops), ALL of the computers on campus are continually being replaced with the latest and best. This includes Deans, managers, secretaries, staff, student classrooms and facilities and I'm sure VP's, the President and probably also the Board members. You draw your own conclusions.
Third, there are two (2), and only two, ways for us to get replacements for our virtually useless Toshiba laptops.
1. Quit. Reapply for a new faculty position, although there is not guarantee you will even get an interview. All new faculty are receiving beautiful, new state-of-the-art Dell laptops.
2. Take a one year leave of absence. When you return you will receive a beautiful, new state-of-the-art Dell laptop.
This is creating a situation where many of us are "Second Class Citizens" among full-time faculty. For example, in the MCS Division, there are currently six full-time faculty with new Dell laptops, which are NOT one-semester loaners.
|The issue of lack of computer support has bothered me as my laptop has been getting older and less functional. If we choose to examine the issue from both sides (management vs. faculty), it gets more complicated and worthy of a good discussion.
As a tenured faculty, I sign a yearly contract with ECC meaning that I agree to provide the services at the satisfactory level. Is it a weakness of our faculty union contract that does not specify a laptop or desktop computer as an essential teaching tool? I am not sure but maybe we should look into it. There are two fundamental issues involved here.
Issue one: At the State level, where we are accountable to taxpayers, technology becomes a question of necessity and whether we have the means to do our job at the satisfactory level. We all know this, since nowhere in our pre-tenure evaluations, the management held us responsible to deliver Powerpoint presentations, maintain grades on Excel or use email. Is my satisfactory level the same as the State’s satisfactory level? Definitely not! I am sure that despite the State’s insensitivity to high quality, that had something to do with the reason I was hired.
If we did use a higher level of technology, we did it out of our own conviction that it works better for our students and us. At the minimum technology level, classroom tools are no more than overhead projectors, chalk and blackboard, etc. Ironically, most of us would have never been hired if we gave the impression that we never used a computer before, but that is a separate discussion that I choose to stay away from in this letter. Does a general lack of support stop me from doing what I think is right for my students? I don’t think anyone’s lack of encouragement (or encouragement) would force me to do things if I was not convinced that the idea would work in my classroom. Should I revert back to the satisfactory (minimum) level of teaching expected out me if state does not provide the means for me? That seems to be a personal decision but I know it will not satisfy me. That gets us into my second issue.
Issue two: What choices do I have? Choice one: Complain and accomplish nothing in the spirit of dividedness. Choice two: Satisfy yourself by forking out the money from your own funds and get the technology you need to get the job done according to your specifications. Personally choice two sounds more appealing to me at this time. I get what I consider as “my technological needs” for my classroom and consider it a contractor’s cost (you can write it off against your taxes!). Furthermore, if I understand things correctly, what we develop as faculty are our own intellectual property and not ECC’s. It makes more legal business sense that when I can financially benefit from my intellectual property, it is also expected that I provide the funds for the tools that I need (investment costs).
I think the discussion of “are we worthy of a laptop” or “we can not do our jobs without one” is falling onto deaf ears as the college administration perceives itself as a State-driven entity going for external cost saving measures. When they talk about the value of high technology in the classroom they cannot be taken too seriously. If State funds are provided for a frequently-updated computer, you can bet that they would eventually discuss issues such as “measured” accountability, which makes the issue even more complicated. It was nice to get something from the college as a gesture of appreciation for bragging about our technology in our interviews! The management’s actions do not support the idea that they have any long-terms plans for encouragement and implementation of technology in this campus in an effective and consistent manner.
We have recently gone through a complete building renovation in the Natural Sciences area. We now have a computer and a ceiling-mount LCD projector in every classroom. Every time I use the technology in our new classrooms, It is comforting to know that there were good planning to incorporate better technology into our classrooms. However technology like all good things requires maintenance. Are there plans to update these computers on a regular basis? I hope so. Sadly, we sometimes lack the most basic maintenance issues that threaten the whole structure. For example, last week, janitors did not remove any trash from the building (classrooms, rest rooms, offices) for an entire week! You could smell the trash while lecturing and feel that the whole “nice” technological structure is going down the drain as the newly painted walls are soiled with trash as students kept adding to the pile.
So, given the choice, I would much rather have a clean campus, equipped with the basic equipment such as LCD projectors (overheads should be considered inadequate for most of us now!) and let me fund and decide on the proper level of technology in my classroom.
I do think that on serious issues such as these we are responsible to send our ideas to the supervisors and managers. So I am including them on this email.
|At 03:24 PM 3/21/05 -0800, you wrote:
Thank you for your thoughtful insights. I'm not sure I totally agree with you regarding management's lack of commitment to technology, but on the other hand I can understand why that perception might be out there. I would love to see the contract specify a laptop or desktop, but only if it also specifies that faculty must use those computers for administrative functions like submitting grades, active enrollments, no shows, etc. on-line? What would be your opinion of that suggestion?
I am sure many of us unhappy about our computer situation do all the specific administrative tasks that you mentioned. It seems logical to think that if faculty are using their computers for their classroom work also use computers for their related administrative tasks OR are willing to receive training and eventually utilize them for those tasks. Perhaps, our union contract can link the ownership of a frequently upgraded laptop with ongoing usage of them for administrative tasks as well. I think your suggestion is a creative and practical way to deal with this problem.
I think it is our general perception that management can be more sensitive to our needs. I think when we (faculty) get in that classroom working as hard as we do to reach to every student, we expect the management to understand our situation and support us in an easier way. It seems like there two battles to win; one to get our students to succeed and one to convince the administration why technology is important in our job. If we are to promote good use of technology, we should support and encourage those who are using it (technology) and also make it easier and more accessible for those who are not so sure about it.
What I meant by "complaining in the spirit of divideness" is that there are many who complain about their situation while holding the vision that our management is totally lost and incompetent. I happen to believe that in the spirit of optimism and "oneness" we can work much better together (and produce results!) and that our management is capable of producing good things as it has in the past.
We are already required to indicate online which students are unlikely to pass any class that is a prerequisite. Even if we do submit our grades online--and that is only possible if there are no incompletes--we still have to turn in all the paperwork to back up those grades (something required by no other college where I have ever worked).
I'm sure there are some faculty who won't use their laptops, but their numbers are diminishing. The question is, are we going to base policy on the rare person who would accept a laptop and not use it and thus insult the vast majority of faculty who will gladly use it? That is like assuming that all students are liars and cheats and setting class policy accordingly. That message tends to alienate and demoralize honest, hard-working people.
I am opposed to making laptops part of the faculty contract, for a two reasons.
1) If our union were to try to fight for this, it would become part of the ugly negotiation process. That means the district would probably ask us to give up something in return. That's how negotiations work. I don't think we should have to give anything up to get laptops, so they shouldn't be subject to this confrontational process.
2) While I expect that a majority of the people reading this email do use their laptops for classroom purposes (i.e. beyond Word & email), there are enough faculty that don't take advantage of the technology that is already available to them. We won't be reading emails from them. Putting laptops into the contract means that everyone will get (nearly) state-of-the-art laptops periodically. That's not a wise use of money, and I think it was a mistake a few years ago to give laptops to everyone.
Instead, faculty should get laptops that meet their needs. Not everyone needs one, and not everyone who needs them require the newest models. It doesn't make sense to me to spend $2000 on a top-of-the-line laptop that meet someone's needs for 5 years when we could get one for $1000 that meets those same needs for 4 years.
I think faculty should be entitled to laptops and periodic upgrades, but the computers should be purchased according to demonstrated need. The system that was used last year was a start. While we only got 42 last year, the process made a fair bit of sense. Yes there were flaws, but the key point to me was that people had to ask for a laptop and they had to justify their request. This makes it likely that only people who use the laptops will get them. It also means that people will get them when they're actually needed. The school doesn't have to waste money on people who won't take advantage of the technology, and it can support (and train) those who will. The details of this kind of mechanism should be worked out by a knowledgeable committee, perhaps the Academic Technology Committee. But everyone should be involved.
__ earlier asked me about "my plan." Here it is.
The 2005-2006 budget is in development. I think there should be a line item in the annual school budget for whatever kind of upgrading system is deemed best. As the chair of the planning and budgeting committee, I'll work towards this goal (or whatever we determine is best). But I can't do it alone.
There have been a lot of emails on the faculty email group explaining the need for upgrades and dismay at their unavailability. I think those emails have demonstrated the problem. We've got the VPs' attentions, and, from what I hear, the President's too.
Now it's time to start working on a solution, together
|Let me elaborate on how I perceive management’s lack of commitment to technology.
First, updating and keeping faculty computers current is not mentioned in the Technology Master Plan. This document is used for accreditation and charts our path in terms of technology. Thereby, one can surmise since it is noticeably absent, that there are no plans to keep faculty computers current and up-to-date. Therefore, no commitment to academic technology.
Secondly an example. The student worker processing parking tickets has a more current computer to work on that the math and computer professors to teach with. Is this commitment to academic technology, to student-centered learning?
Webster defines commitment as “an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future date”. Since we had this same discussion last year, I am still not seeing a commitment, at least in terms of this definition. As far as “academic technology” is concerned, what pedagogical study was used to support the idea of “instructional support” laptops? How is loaning a computer for one semester going to help me retain my students? To help me become a better professor? How does this support the campus mission of student centered learning? I can’t see it.
|__… and all others who care about the future of technology on this campus,
We need to stay united and work together to find a solution to this problem. Using the analogy of “students who lie and cheat” to address other faculty who, for whatever reason, do not rely on computers, alienates them and does not help the future of technology on this campus. Creative solutions are rooted in compassion and understanding of the way others think and believe even if we happen to think and believe differently. I invite all to participate and develop this important topic.
Those of us who use technology to our benefit, use it on a on a regular basis. We have grown to depend on technology as an effective teaching and administrative tool for our classes.
I don't understand how our campus supported only 42 laptops last year (according to Dave Vakil). Do we have only 42 technology-oriented faculty on this campus? It would have been far better not to support a single laptop than decide how to divide 42 laptops among some several hundred faculty! I am sure there are close to this number of faculty in the natural sciences division alone that use computers.
Let the management help (Do we understand their language?!) If our campus is to develop a more active pro-technology reputation, we should seriously consider other options such as inclusion of laptops in our contract. It is not enough to take a survey of current use and design policies around it, especially when we are dealing with a highly polarized issue of extreme versus no computer use among our faculty of such diverse backgrounds. The danger in designing policies under these circumstances is that those who use the technology are unsupported or neglected and those who can grow by using the technology are never considered or counted. If ECC does not adopt an effective policy of support (equipment, training, maintenance and upgrading) toward its faculty, it will drastically fall behind other institutions who are doing a much better job serving today’s technology-oriented student. Inclusion of an appropriate laptop policy in our contract addresses this important issue. And as Dave mentioned sometimes you have to lose something to gain something more.
One contract and a highly polarized technological faculty! The sad fact about our jobs is that we tend to work in isolated teaching cells. Students go through a technology shock when enrolling in these courses. There are massive differences between the classes. Some classrooms serve their students with the 21st century technology and some have not changed in 50 or so years. I don't mean to imply that all old class systems are bad and all new systems are necessarily effective. However, older systems can benefit from effective use of technology if we carefully support and train them. Our contract is outdated in that it does not address the issue of teaching quality in specific and effective manner. Many of our top State educational policy makers give the impression that they have never been in a classroom!
If technology is to work for us it has got to get the right amount of attention. It has got to find its way into our contract. As __ rightfully suggested; inclusion of technology in our contract can start by simpler and specific tasks of using computers for grade processing and submission. This approach will represent the laptop issue in a better and more concrete context.
Let me be more specific about how El Camino can benefit from its faculty using computers more often.
Some specific course administration ways in which I use my laptop for.
1) Simplicity, speed and flexibility in grade calculations through spreadsheets such as Excel.
2) Clarity in grading. When student grades are clearly calculated on weekly basis (An Excel spreadsheet makes this job very easy!) and posted on the Internet, students know exactly where they stand at all times and what level of action is needed to pass the course or do well.
3) Save by lowering campus copying costs! Students can print all course handouts from the instructor’s Web page. In additions students have the option of printing all their handouts in color.
4) How well is my class doing? Keep a consistent track of your own course success/failure rates from semester-to-semester and plot the results for quick reference.
5) How does my class compare to other classes at other campuses? Information can be accessed from the Internet and analyzed through spreadsheet plotting.
The list of my laptop use in the area of teaching is even longer and saved for a different level of discussion. I didn't even include the important and efficient way of email correspondence that keeps us connected together.
I have been one of the silent faculty regarding laptops and technology, but __'s question intrigued me. For years I have relied on technology for grant writing, developing curriculum, accumulating grades, and presenting power point lessons in class, and currently, I am developing a new faculty website for my students to download information and link to other websites with activities designed to develop their reading skills. So, I filled out the technology survey and could definitely demonstrate the use and the need for a new laptop.
However, my original laptop was stolen from my locked office in broad daylight in 2002, and although I inherited another after awhile from a colleague who retired, I am very uncomfortable about leaving it hooked up and ready to use when I step out of the office for any reason. Furthermore, since the roof in Humanities 7 leaks on my desk and shelves, water damage is another threat during this rainy season.
Therefore, I find it necessary to do my work at home on a computer that is ready to use whenever I sit down, however, I know I could work more effectively if I could use a reliable computer in my office and classroom.
|You raised some important points. Particularly, If the Technology Master Plan is considered an important document in its content rather than its buzzy title, it has got to address the faculty/computer connection.
When there is an opportunity to save costs or make money (parking tickets) computers become much more clear in their function and serve more as efficient employees! I don't think the role of technology in teaching is considered by our management as a cost saving (or money-making) measure yet.
Can we prove that students who (in general) take courses that utilize computer technology are more successful in their learning and perceive us as a better learning institution?
Does that vision empower and reward the management team at El Camino? Interestingly, we (faculty) are rewarded with true student success when it happens. I don't think that our management and financial decision makers get the same intensity. Can we present our case in a way to be heard and close that gap? I sure hope so.
I think you missed the point of __'s analogy. Assuming all students lie and cheat is the operative phrase. Setting an academic policy on the assumption that all students lie and cheat makes as much sense as setting a district policy on the assumption that faculty members will misuse their laptops. Certainly not all students cheat, and certainly not all faculty member abuse their laptops. I don't think that it's fair to draw a parallel between cheating students and faculty members who don't use technology. That wasn't the point of the analogy. I took it as hyperbole, an analogy directed to underscore the general lack of sense in the district's policy regarding laptop computers.
I don't want to establish a technocracy at ECC, but __ and others are right. Not every faculty member needs a laptop; when we originally gave everyone a computer way back when, it always struck me as a bit of a "chicken in every pot" endeavor--a pie-in-the-sky dream with good intentions and terrible execution. In retrospect, we should have been much more discriminating in passing out laptops to begin with. However, those who currently demonstrate a need and an inclination for technology usage should get a laptom, and it should be for more than one semester. In fact, it should be a replacement for the old laptops that we now have. For faculty who are interested, we should have some kind of list whereby, after three years (at the most) faculty are eligible to reapply for a new laptop. Simply put, those who don't use technology won't go through the application process. The problem is in deciding who's "worthy" and who isn't. If the top dogs are constantly getting their computers replaced, then those who have less than "urgent" needs will never get their computers replaced. And that's wrong too.
Whatever we do, it's clear to me--and, I hope, clear to the administration as well--that a significant portion of our faculty feel that it's unfair to disburse laptops the way that the District is currently using. While we don't know exactly what we have to do, I hope that everyone can see that we have a real need to replace laptops, not just use them on a "rental" basis. We as faculty deserve more than that.
|There is a clear difference between a faculty member who;
1) accepts a laptop in the spirit of never intending to use it. __ labelled it as those who, "... insult the vast majority of faculty who will gladly use it..." Furthermore, she indicated that, "That message tends to alienate and demoralize honest, hard-working people." as if this has anything to do with the issue of our honesty and their lack of hard work. I have a problem with that.
I taught several computer flex-credit classes in an effort to motivate and help the interested faculty use computers for their grade processing and reporting. I even went as far as designing individualized spreadsheets for my interested faculty students. The main problem was that I could see how many would not embrace the technology as there needs to be a period of constant and dedicated support so that these faculty can learn to handle the problems and see the value in the technology. If I was to seriously pursue that mission, I would have had to quit teaching for a full semester and support these faculty through their technology issues. One must be very motivated and see a clear value in hauling 10 pound Toshiba laptop around, in addition to their books and papers!
What if we are dealing with a considerable group of people who;
2) Accepted a laptop in the spirit of intending to use it, but did not use it because for many valid reasons they had a hard time with the level support and the suitability of the training they may had received.
I don't think many faculty would show the same persistent level of technology-commitment as the rest of us technology-lovers who run after the latest technology, embrace it and use it in their classroom despite the difficulties. For 2 years, during our building renovation, I pushed a noisy, difficult-to-steer, cart which held a heavy LCD projector, from one building to another with my heavy outdated laptop on my shoulder (imagine me in a rainy day) because I strongly felt that my students benefited from it. Do you think the averagely motivated faculty should go through all that to embrace the technology?
The only other thing I will point out is that __ did say "rare people" when she discussed faculty members who took computers but didn't use them. And in Humanities, a division where every full-time faculty member took a laptop, there were several people who did just this. Many have retired, but believe me when I say this: it did happen. Were they well intentioned? Probably, but the road to Hell is, after all, paved with good intentions.
We're all on the same team here. We all want to see faculty get the technology they deserve. My point is that we should have been a bit more discriminatory originally; if we were, then perhaps the district wouldn't be pushing such a hard-nosed position now (which, I must reiterate, I am totally against).
Let's not get caught up in the minutiae. All of us--you, __, and I, as well as everyone else who has posted to this listserv (even you, __!)--want to see technology used here at El Camino. The point of this whole discussion is how to best implement it. If we go back to __'s original email, it was the result of the frustration that many faculty members feel regarding the disposition of the new laptops that were purchased by the district. We need to stay focused on that. Otherwise, we can get caught up in other issues that are, frankly, ancillary--such as this one.
"For 2 years, during our building renovation, I pushed a noisy, difficult-to-steer, cart which held a heavy LCD projector, from one building to another with my heavy outdated laptop on my shoulder (imagine me in a rainy day) because I strongly felt that my students benefited from it. Do you think the averagely motivated faculty should go through all that to embrace the technology?"
Well I can answer that question, __. As an averagely-motivated faculty member, technology-wise, I occasionally go through exactly the procedure you describe, with the added difficulty of having to walk from one end of Humanities to Commuications to get a key to the room where projectors are kept, haul the computer and cart to my classroom and then dash back to the division office to return the key, and then do the same in reverse when class is over, and needless to say, this is not something I am willing to do on a daily basis! And as __ points out, the fact that there is no secure place to leave a laptop doesn't add to my desire to actually lug it to campus and lug it from classroom to classroom. At home, I use my desktop computer all the time. Whenever I need to check a fact or do any of a hundred other chores, I just sit down, do what needs to be done, print out the results, and I'm on my way. At school, everything is hard. I used to videotape my students giving their speeches, but the near-impossibility of gathering the camcorder and the tripod and finding a secure place to leave it for the week or two that I needed it finally wore me down. Does it have to be this hard and frustrating?
|Point well taken.
I admire __ and all others for their hard work of battling for us to get the technology we need, when I and many others were so busy with our classroom work and felt that someone(s) like __ were doing the leg work for us. Ancillary or not, let's bring all our issues and voices forward and place it on a table in front of those who care to listen and respond in the spirit of problem solving (like __).
Frankly, forking out the laptop money from our funds will not break most people's backs and I hope the road never ends there. It is an important management gesture, in line with a sound Technology Plan, for the future of our College. More importantly, good things will come about as we work together to pave the road;
I mean not the road to hell :)
Another issue that seems to have been forgotten in this discussion is online courses. Most of us teaching online are still using the original Toshiba's loaned to us several years ago - the one's that are now not working so well. I am now doing much more of my work at home on my pc because my Toshiba is either sluggish - or doesn't work at all if I work in more than 3 windows at a time.
Distance Education seems to be, at best, a foster child for Administration.
FYI.. in Nursing approximately 90% of the faculty use their laptops for powerpoint presentations in class. In our two classrooms we have LCD projectors installed in the ceilings so we are not lugging around portable LCD's as we have done in the past. This is due to the efforts of our Chair, Dr. Townsend.
We are behind the times in our ability to print from our laptops. There is no printer for our use and I do not even know if the cables exist in our building to connect us to a printer. Hence...most work that requires printing is done from home. How is the rest of the campus with regard to a centralized printer for faculty use?
|Are you aware that, at least to my knowledge, that none of the faculty who were reviewers of the drafts of the chapters in the comprehensive master plan ever mentioned a concern about faculty laptops not being addressed in the technology plan chapter? Reviewers included members of the Technology Committee, the Planning and Budgeting Committee and the Academic Senate.|
|I am under the assumption (perhaps wrongly) that these accreditation materials are “living documents”, so now is a good time as any to point out the omissions and rectify the problems.|
| Given the constant buzz about the lack of upgrades for faculty computers that I’ve heard at division meetings and in informal discussions among faculty; given the technology surveys I’ve submitted in which I know I and many of my colleagues have expressed a deep concern (complained and pleaded) about the lack of planning regarding faculty computers; given the anecdotal evidence I’ve heard through the Help Desk and others about how often these Toshiba laptops crash, breakdown or work painfully slowly; and given that these complaints have been going on since I got here in Fall 2000, I have only one word to describe my reaction to __’s claim below:
If __ is correct, then clearly there is something terribly wrong with the process used to draft and review these plans.
Who were the faculty and staff who reviewed the drafts of the technology plan? I hope some of the actual reviewers will speak up. I sincerely hope __’s knowledge simply needs some filling in. Did the Technology Committee, the Planning and Budgeting Committee and the Academic Senate really drop the ball?
Or rather, is __’s lack of knowledge of these concerns (before this email discussion) a symptom of the very real perception that shared governance at this college is mostly a joke; that our opinions and concerns, while requested for the sake of appearances, are largely disregarded by the true decision makers on this campus?
I look forward to hearing directly from these players in this ongoing, healthy exchange.
P.S. Personally, I spend a great deal of my own money (a little more than $2000 since Fall 2000) purchasing specialized software which directly supports my teaching. A year ago, I purchased upgrades for both my Adobe Acrobat and my Scientific Workplace. I found I could not install Adobe Acrobat 6.0 on my machine at all, since I am running Windows 98. At first, I could not upgrade Scientific Workplace, either. I had to get a specialized patch from the software company’s technical staff in order to do so. The technical staff found it a quaint challenge. I am forced to do much of my computer work at home.
|What is the point that you are trying to make, __?
1. They intentionally left it out because they felt it was not important, or
2. They intentionally left it out because they knew that the administration understood that you cannot have any working technology plan that does not include regular updates and upgrades, and therefore the administration would surely “do the right thing,” or
3. They unintentionally left it out because they were incompetent, or
I must say, it sounds like you are saying to us, the faculty, “Got ya!” I look forward to your reply.
This is the most incredible thing I've heard in this discussion. Over the past two years I've seen Division Offices receive new computers, Board members getting new computers, Deans getting new computers, - and no one mentioned that instructors might also need new computers??? No one - administrators - even thought to ask if we needed new computers?
What a great feeling - to be so easily overlooked in the whole scheme of things here at ECC.
|Does the comprehensive master plan, technology plan chapter, even mention laptops for board members? And, if it does, does it say anything about maintenance and upgrades?
Do the board members use them extensively for school business? Do they use them primarily for personal business? Do they use them?
I know these are some of the that are of concern to the administration when it comes to faculty laptop use.
|Just to clarify about PBC's role in this, as I recall (__, correct me if I am in error) we were told that requests for faculty computer replacements had to be included in each Division's technology requests through Q-Builder, although I do not remember seeing anything from Pat or anyone else from management informing us. But then faculty is often left trying to find "the loop," much less get into it.|
|It's a minor little value that is more often conspicuous by its absence at EC-- respect. About two years ago or so the PBC had set aside about $500,000 for technology upgrades and replacements. It slowly but surely got diverted to other priorities, then finally hijacked by __ during harsh mid-year budget times. Long term planning logic all too frequently becomes a casualty of short term necessity, especially when that is a "necessity" determined by __.|
|thanks for the clarification.
This is the sort of information we need to have in this discussion.
Actually, I'd say its pretty status quo that faculty are overlooked at ECC....I don't understand why so many are surprised.
|I am grateful to those faculty members who contacted me privately to explain that __ was most likely correct in her statement that no faculty reviewer noted the absence of any mention of a plan to systematically replace and upgrade faculty compters in the master plan. To clarify, I really was not suggesting she was untruthful, only that I could not believe that something like this could happen against the backdrop of the level of complaint and concern I've witnessed.
__'s emails indicate that faculty computer replacements were at least on the radar at the PBC. In our division meeting today, it was clear from a report from __ and __ that the ATC has also discussed the issue. It comes as a huge relief to me to know that this issue has indeed been raised.
I know that reviewing the master plan was daunting. I want to thank all of the faculty members who worked hard on reviewing the document. There clearly were so many balls to be held onto that some were bound to be dropped. However, that a plan for upgrading and replacing faculty computers was overlooked in the master plan is truly sad. I hope this can be corrected as soon as possible. As __ said, these are living documents, and they can be changed when an omission like this is discovered.
P.S. My earlier email was composed and sent from home. When I got to school today, I wanted to send this reply right away. Unfortunately, my computer froze and had to be rebooted three times before I could even open a window to compose this response. I hope it will not freeze up again as I try to send this.
|Someone asked why weren't faculty consulted when the master plan was written. The drafts were distributed to all members of the PBC, which includes representatives from the unions, the academic senate, and many others.
Here's the sad thing:
Everyone on the academic senate had copies of, and was asked to comment on, the technology plan. To my knowledge NOBODY DID. Nobody said one single thing in Senate. Not one.
Is the process really so awful when no faculty member even bothers to participate WHEN ASKED?
If anyone reading this email had actually bothered to read the technology plan drafts, you'd see that it was, in my opinion, a disaster. There were so many other problems with it, I'll confess that I did overlook the missing laptops when writing a 5 page response with suggestions. Laptops should have gone in there even though __ (correctly, I believe) pointed out that PBC was told to include laptops in a different process.
So, someone asked people who reviewed the plan to stand up. I'm here. Right now I'm standing. As a member of PBC when this was coming down the pipline, I'll shoulder some blame that the laptops aren't in the technology plan. It's not all on the adminstration. Go ahead and hold me accountable. But do the same for the many other representatives who didn't give any input at all.
Right now I'm also doing what I can to actually fix the problem. What about you? Are you standing and admitting your share of the responsibility, or sitting on your hands and complaining?
Do you want to complain about the problem or be part of the solution? You can choose to be active, proactive, or reactive. The choice is yours.
I'm standing up, too. What can I do to help get this addressed in the master plan?
(That question is not directed at __ only, of course.)
|I will take full responsibility for not speaking up. I serve on two of the three committees (as well as others), and I didn’t voice my concerns about the tech plan until now. I apologize.
Moving on, there is talk about the district purchasing another 42 computers (we are unsure if the laptops for the 34 new faculty will come out of this number). So yes this discussion started on Friday might have been fruitful. But it is un-ripened grapefruit- bittersweet- at best. The computers will probably still be considered “supplemental instructional” laptops. In other words, faculty can check them out for the semester or however your dean sees fit.
I think this idea is counter to our student’s needs, hinders student retention, and overall makes teaching more difficult. If you agree or disagree, please let your dean or __ know.
|I disagree __. My original email sent 3/17 stated:
“Replacing faculty computers is not even mentioned in the Technology Master Plan. In fact faculty and computers aren't mentioned together too much in that Master Plan. “
Those are great guiding principles but if you read more under Issues, inadequate Faculty computers aren’t mentioned specifically (we can argue allusions and intent but they aren’t mentioned). If you read even more, under Recommendations, updating and or replacing faculty computers aren’t mentioned at all. In support of my second sentence, I looked at the word count for the entire document: 4819 words. Words that I think relate directly to keep faculty computers: 516. Therefore, I am steadfast in my original statements.
I hope this will be my last email too. (But only if real commitment is made to providing a consistent, equitable academic technology for faculty.)
|Forget IM. I have just spent 3 hours trying to get my e-mail. Now I am using the web to view it, but it is so very slow.|
|I think our Technology Master plan is more practical, helpful and enforceable in areas where its language is clear and specific. __ pointed these sentences in our Master Plan:
1. The most important use of technology is to teaching and learning.
No action is implied here. It is already established that we will be using the laptop technology for teaching and learning.
Let’s review the last statement next;
3. Faculty, students, and staff should have easy, well-supported electronic access to data and information necessary to perform the functions, regardless of their location.
This is not a laptop specific statement. A computer lab equipped with a printer within a reasonable walking distance to anyone office satisfies this statement.
The second statement is perhaps the most important one worthy of our attention with respect to the laptop issue.
2. Funding should be available for purchasing academic hardware and software to utilize the latest technology for instructional and instructional support environments.
This is a vague and unreasonable statement. This statement concentrates on the, “latest (hardware, software) technology for instructional/support environments”. Can I ask our Division Dean for a “smart blackboard” at $10,000 just because I consider it important and the latest technology? I think I know the answer to that.
Does this statement imply that we can get the latest technology for our classroom (instructional environment)? There is an important issues implied and yet unstated here. The latest educational research data supports the idea that technology without a clear demonstration of “effective use” does not necessarily produce learning. This means that I have to show the significance of requesting the technology (computer) that I want. Even if overlook the important issue of laptop accountability with respect to the learning for now, the answer to requesting a laptop is likely to be: “There is a desktop computer and LCD projector in the classroom and you can borrow a laptop from us on a short-time basis”. In fact, this seems to be the cost-saving laptop policy ECC has adopted recently. It is exactly for this reason that I tend to agree with our Pat Caldwell that our contract can specify that if faculty are to process/report their grades electronically, they need their individual and frequently-upgraded laptops because we should be able to grade anywhere, anytime while reducing the paperwork by entering grades directly into our laptops. Linking our laptop use to efficient and clear grading has several other educational advantages we can explore later if many agree to go on this route.
There should be a mechanism in our contract to encourage laptop use and its long-term issuance to only those who choose to do electronic grade processing and reporting. Inclusion of such technology matters into our contract in a carefully worded way, does a better job to close the "accountability loop" and address the occasional lack of planning/specificity in our Technology Master Plan.
Avoiding attacks, thinking practically, having the desire to view and understand an issue from opposing angles (faculty vs. management) and looking outside the box in seeking a creative solution are among the best practices in dealing with a complex issue such as this one.
|Just to provide a little background on the distribution of laptops to faculty:
The Academic Technology Committee began discussing the possibility of the District acquiring computers for faculty in 1996 or 1997. The 1997 College Technology Plan actually recommended that the College "provide full-time faculty and staff with desktop or laptop computers for college-related work." (Goal 1.2, page 77) In the early discussions there was no support for the notion of District-purchased computers being given to faculty as their personal property. That clearly would have been an issue for collective bargaining. If it meant that faculty would have been given computers in lieu of a year's salary increase, as happened around 1990 at Barstow College, it would also have been a very bad idea. Nor did anyone imagine that all full-time faculty who wanted a loaned computer might get one during a single year. We thought in terms of the distribution of computers over the span of several years to faculty who would be asked to provide a written rationale for their requests.
What we didn't anticipate was the generous dot-com-boom state funding that became available, beginning in 1998, through Partnership for Excellence allocations to community colleges. El Camino was not the only college where some of those funds were eventually used for faculty computers. By the time the P4E faculty computer proposal that Susie Dever and I wrote had been approved in 1999, Santa Rosa Junior College was already beginning its own faculty computer purchase program. Our P4E proposal asked for computers for one-third of the full-time faculty, subject to their agreeing to "provide evidence of skill in the essentials of computer usage or to agree to be trained." Participating faculty were to be asked to write a brief report after one year, indicating the ways in which having an office computer available allowed them to better support instruction. We hoped that a continuation of Partnership for Excellence funding through 2001-02 would mean that all full-time faculty who met the conditions would eventually get a computer.
After the P4E proposal had been submitted, it became clear that it would be favorably received and that, in fact, all full-time faculty who wanted a computer would get one in fall 1999! As far as I know, the "evidence of skill" requirement was implemented only in the minimal sense that faculty had to attend an orientation session on the care of their new laptops.
Nearly everyone wanted one, though a small number of faculty preferred desktops and a few declined any computer at all.
Since the original proposal was for a three-year span and since it was tied to P4E one-time funds, we did not include a provision for laptop replacement, though we recognized that the day would come when the 1999 faculty computers became obsolete.
In the years since 1999, various developments have affected this program at El Camino. One of the most important is the California state government fiscal crisis that began during 2002-03 to affect all community college funding. Another would be the occasional reports of faculty who were not using their laptops. They were undoubtedly a minority, but the non-use of the equipment undermined the rationale for its allocation. It also complicated justifying El Camino's P4E funds to the state as money that was having a favorable impact on instruction - something that we had to show every year.
If funds are made available for a new faculty computer loan program, any plan that has a chance of being accepted is likely to include obligations on the part of computer recipients. The Academic Technology Committee and the Academic Senate may well have recommendations in this area, but the ECCFT also needs to be involved. We're talking about working conditions and these certainly fall within the scope of collective bargaining.