Meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee
22 February 2010, 9:00am, Sci 2555
Present: Katie Barron, Mary Elizabeth Bezanson, Rebecca Dean, Athena Kildegaard, Pam Solvie, Roger Wareham, James Wojtaszek, Timna Wyckoff
Guest: Cheryl Contant
I. online courses at UMM
Wyckoff asked for an update on the direction of online instruction at UMM. Contant reported that Vice Provost Billie Wahlstrom has given UMM resources for the development of online courses for which she sees a “ready-made” market. These include several science/lab courses and a math class that could serve as the fourth year of high school math. The classes that have been contracted thus far are: a fourth year math course and three “science with lab” courses: microbiology, anatomy or physiology, and biochemistry. UMM administration has agreed to have these courses ready soon – the math course by fall 2010, one science/lab course by fall 2011, and the rest by fall 2012. Contant cited two benefits of online instruction: revenue streams and creativity in the developing another mode of instruction. Contant has recently learned that many online courses are developed by two people – a “subject matter expert”, and an “instructional designer/technologist”. Courses will be held to “Quality Matters” standards, with two faculty members on campus trained in these standards. [ Quality Matters (QM)—according to its web site--is a “nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components.”]
At UMM, online courses have generally been developed and taught by a single person, but Contant says that this is not the only model used on other campuses, and would not have to be the case going forward. In all cases, the subject matter experts and instructors will be approved by UMM faculty. They may or may not be current UMM faculty; if not current faculty, new part-time faculty could be hired, subject to discipline/division standard reviews. Several committee members expressed concern that dividing content and teaching is very different from what we pride ourselves on doing here at UMM. Contant responded that we need to look for alternative revenue streams in order to keep doing what we've been doing at UMM. Further, if we don't take this opportunity, someone else will. We asked what would happen if no one at UMM wants to develop these courses. Contant responded that she would look for other subject matter experts to work with instructional designers/technologists in the Twin Cities develop the course, which would remain a UMM course. Several committee members expressed concern about oversight of this process. Contant responded that the courses would remain the intellectual property of UMM, disciplines would vet the instructors, and that UMM may receive royalties for courses that are successful and taught numerous times by various people. We stressed that this is a very new direction in e-education and really needs a larger campus conversation and Contant agreed. However, the venue for such a conversation remains uncertain. At present Contant is still in discussions with disciplines to find faculty to teach these new online courses. Contant also stated that if faculty ultimately do not want to participate in this effort, the money will be sent back.
II. Role of Dean in Campus Communication
*Members of the faculty have noted to members of FAC that they feel left out of the decision making process .
*Dean noted that the committee structure, which she believed early in her time at UMM to be the method of communicating with the faculty, was ineffective in reaching beyond the committee membership.
*A committee member noted that this becomes a vicious cycle—the more disengaged the faculty feel, the more disengaged from decision making the faculty become.
*A committee member asked what the biggest challenge of being the new Dean has been.
*Dean responded that she has felt tremendous pressure to get things done out of the Dean's office since she has arrived. There is tremendous tension between getting things done and communicating with the campus community on what is being done.
*All agreed that the communication on all levels was essential and that the committee structure did not seem the most efficient method to foster necessary communication.