By | February 10, 2021
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THE SENATE STANDARD – ISSUE 2.21

ACC Full-Time Faculty Senate Website 

ACC Coronavirus page

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Welcome to this edition of the Senate Standard. Read below for updates on a number of initiatives driven by the FTFS, as well as key announcements from across the college. Find below the minutes from our last FTFS meeting and the meeting link and agenda for our next meeting on 2/12. You’ll find a preliminary report on the Video Conference Summit during which various stakeholder reps shared their positions and supporting data and arguments on the question, “What video conference (or web conference) tools should ACC continue to support as we define the ‘new normal.’” Learn about the upcoming Campus Conversation with the Chancellor on the topic of “the new normal” and the emerging back to campus plans. The FTFS asked for more mental health resources for faculty and staff, and Human Resources responded with a recent announcement about current and enhanced mental health services and resources. The college has dropped Faculty Enlight! for book orders. See the announcement below regarding AIP, the new tool ACC will be using to order Summer ‘21 books and materials. IT is looking for five FTF volunteers to offer feedback on the new faculty portal, so take a look at that call below and consider signing up. The nomination process for the ’21-’22 senate is still on hold, but keep your eyes open for an announcement opening the nominations very soon.

Have a great and safe week!

Wayne

Senate Meetings / Minutes / Agendas

1/22/21 Senate Meeting – The FTFS approved the 1/22/21 minutes: 20 senators voted (a quorum), 1 abstained, 19 approved with slight changes. The change was accepted. The minutes for this meeting are now available here.

2/12/21 Senate Meeting – You can add the event to your calendar by clicking the 2/12/21 Senate Meeting link. Here is the agenda for the 2/21 meeting.

Newsworthy

Video Conference Summit Preliminary Report: On Friday, February 5, 2021, ACC held a two-hour “summit” to discuss in an open forum the future of video conference (web conferencing) software at ACC. The central discussion question focused on what web conferencing programs the college will support going forward. The event was co-sponsored by the Full-Time Faculty Senate, the Adjunct Faculty Association, and TLED. Approximately 115 ACC faculty members and administrators logged into the event. Stakeholder groups (and their reps) included:

  • Adjunct Faculty (Dr. Herb Colemen)
  • TLED (Matthew Evins, Director, Academic Technology)
  • Distance Education (Dr. Erasmus Addae, Associate Vice President)
  • Student Affairs (Steven Christopher, Associate Vice President, Student Accessibility)
  • Information Technology (Sarah Lisenbe, Senior IT Project Manager), and
  • Full-time faculty (Dr. Wayne Butler, President)

Provost Dr. Charles Cook and Instructional Services AVP Dr. Susan Thomason offered welcomes, context, and wrap-ups, while FTFS President-Elect Dr. Samantha Croft served as panel moderator.

Pre-Summit Faculty Usage Survey Results

  • 121 faculty members completed the survey (52.9% full time, 47.1% adjunct)
  • All Areas of Study and +/- 39 departments were represented by at least one survey participant. Liberal Arts, including both Humanities and Communications and Social & Behavioral Sciences, combined accounted for 43%, SEM accounted for 19.8%, and ADMC accounted for 13.2% of respondents.
  • The survey asked faculty to identify all the video/web conferencing platforms they employ for instructional purposes, and thus the percentages add up to more than 100%:
    • Zoom = 74 (61.2%)
    • Collaborate = 63 (52.1%)
    • Google Meet = 26 (21.5%)
    • WebEx = 9 (7.4%)
  • Open responses revealed a wide range of motivations for use. An initial perusal reveals several themes. Collaborate’s benefit is that it’s integrated into Blackboard, but it is perhaps the inferior product in terms of reliability and features. Faculty teaching high school courses noted the high schools often dictate web-conferencing tools. Many noted that they use different tools for different purposes, i.e. Collaborate for classes, Meet for office hours, and so on. Several noted unique disciplinary and student needs. More to come after further and deeper analysis.

Stakeholder Perspectives

  • The faculty associations advocated for supporting and integrating into Blackboard all platforms while keeping open the possibility of embracing new and better web conferencing tools as they become available. Coleman noted “one size does NOT fit all” as Butler noted that “freedom to teach” includes the tools we use, that instructor choice contributes to instructor satisfaction, and satisfied instructors have the most influence on the shared goal of student success.
  • TLED’s Matthew Evins shared a comparative features analysis of the present systems and shared TLED’s position: eliminate Google Meet and WebEx.
  • Distance Ed’s Erasmus Addae offered a short demo about a new service, Class for Zoom, which wraps instructional tools around Zoom to create a more education-centric experience.
  • Student Affairs’ Steven Christopher shared students’ preferences, with Meet first, Zoom second, Collaborate third, and WebEx fourth, noting that students are flexible, and they’ll use whatever the instructor uses. He noted more research on student choices is needed to get a complete picture.
  • IT’s Sarah Lisenbe offered a technical overview of the systems, revealing important security, user experience, and financial issues. IT supports reducing the choices to two platforms.

Question and Answer Period

We employed a “write in” question format instead of taking verbal questions or those typed into the chat editor in the name of equity and clarity. FTFS Secretary Jesse Saunders and Communications Officer Julz Decker shared the responsibility of selecting and reading questions with AFA president Don Morris. We received 43 questions but did not get to all of them. Organizers will share the remaining questions with the presenters for follow up as appropriate.

Next Steps

  • Stakeholders are working with TLED to share the event recording and speaker materials. Keep your eyes open for an announcement with all the details
  • Share unanswered questions with presenters for follow up
  • Continue analysis of short answer responses on survey
  • The Full-Time Faculty Senate will de-brief at the Friday February 12 senate meeting to discuss implications and next steps for full-time faculty
  • Continue discussions with ACC leadership and the stakeholder groups to negotiate a win-win solution for students, faculty, and all those involved in supporting students, faculty, and the technology.

Shout Outs!

Many thanks to all the participants, with a special “Thanks!” going to TLED’s Courtney Grams for serving as back up when Regroup went down, leading us through the QA methodology, and keeping her pulse on the conversation while sharing timely URLs via chat. And thanks to TLED’s  Balan Villanueva, Event Multimedia Services Manager, for keeping the technology running and providing real-time user support. The event offered a great example of the potential of shared governance while celebrating Chancellor Rhodes’ priority to create a culture of collaboration, connection, and caring. Perhaps more importantly, the event highlighted that reasonable, informed people can deliberate and share disagreements without rancor. ACC leadership, then, deserves a big thanks for agreeing to support and participate in this event. May this be the first of many.

Campus Conversations with the Chancellor [Tuesday, February 16 at 10 a.m.] Plan to join the ACC community for the next Campus Conversation with the Chancellor. The topic is important and timely: transitioning to a “new normal.” As ACC continues to monitor the changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, the leadership team provides an update on how the college is adapting and colleagues share their experiences. Join the livestream broadcast to keep abreast of the college’s “back to campus” plans.  

Faculty and Staff Mental Health Resources: Stress, anxiety, social isolation, and financial pressures are all on the rise due to COVID-19 and the current pandemic we are facing. This may have an impact on your mental and physical health. ACC HR & the Employee Wellness Program has put together some webinars and additional resources to help you during this challenging time.

  • Webinar: “How to Manage Anxiety During Challenging Times” [Wednesday, February 10th, 2PM]:  This past year, our world has been faced with a series of difficult and stressful circumstances that have left many of us feeling anxious. This timely session will discuss several practical approaches to dealing with anxiety including managing our self-talk, expressing our emotions, and seeking appropriate support from others.
  • See our list of Webinars and Online Resourcesthat may be helpful during this time. Check back regularly, as we will be adding more webinars, articles, and resources as they become available.
  • We have compiled a list of Mental Health Resources to highlight some of the options available to you. In addition, we’d like to make note that All BCBS-TX HealthSelect participants have access to medical and mental health virtual visits through Doctor on Demand and MDLIVEThese visits are no cost to you at this time.
  • For questions, please reach out to ACC Employee Wellness Coordinator, Mauri Winters at mmiculek@austincc.edu

Adoption & Insights Portal (AIP) – As previously announced, the Adoption & Insights Portal (AIP) is your new source for researching, adopting, and sharing insights about textbooks and course materials. Access to Faculty Enlight, the previous textbook selection platform, is no longer available.

  • Access the new Barnes & Noble Adoption & Insights Portal from the MyACC Faculty Portal (under Course Management)!
  • Summer 2021 course materials are already loaded in AIP. If you have already submitted course materials for Summer 2021 through Faculty Enlight!, all of that information carries forward into AIP. There is no need to reenter this information. If your Summer 2021 sections don’t have materials ordered yet, or if new sections are created, this information will need to be added to AIP.
  • First Day course materials cannot yet be submitted in AIP.If your course uses First Day/Inclusive Access textbooks, do not use the Adoption & Insights Portal, as this functionality is still being built out. Instead, submit your First Day orders using the same form as you did for Fall 2020.
  • Open Educational Resources (OER) cannot yet be submitted in AIP.If your course uses OER content, do not use the Adoption & Insights Portal, as this functionality is still being built out. Instead, continue to funnel your OER content through your department chair and their administrative assistants.
  • Lastly, some departments have processes where course materials are selected and submitted in bulk, rather than each faculty member submitting their own. If this pertains to your department, please be sure to follow the processes outlined by your Department Chair.

Check out these new AIP resources and training opportunities:

2021 Eco Conference [March 29-30, 2021] – This year’s Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability (TRACS) conference will be VIRTUAL (surprise!) and free to all students and employees. This year, we are featuring UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Earth Week [April 19-23] – It is that time of year again! This year we are celebrating the 51st Anniversary of “Earth Day,” VIRTUALLY! We have put together a list of potential SAFE activities to get ideas flowing. Click Here to Host your own event.

New Action Items [please check due dates below!]

Call for Volunteers! MyACC Portal Testers [Deadline Wednesday, February 17]: IT’s John Wilsonmay seeks five (5) full-time faculty members to test out the new MyACC portal designed to offer the functionality of Online Services in a central, more user-friendly portal. This phase of testing will focus on Class Roster functions, including Roster, Certify Attendance, Prerequisites, Instructor Initiated Withdrawal, and Grading. Participants can expect a 2-hour time commitment.

  • The initial group meeting is targeted for the week of Feb 22 or Mar 1 and will last an hour.
  • During this meeting, Wilsonmay will show the testers how to access the testing system and will walk through a few test scenarios together.
  • Wilsonmay will also introduce a tracking sheet for the testers to record their findings, ideas and suggestions.
  • Each person will then have 2-4 weeks (depending on other business priorities) to test their own scenarios and “play with the system.”  
  • Wilsonmay asks the testers spend at least 1 hour outside of the meeting (divided however they choose) to do testing. They are welcome to do more than 1 hour.
  • After this time, Wilsonmay will follow up with volunteer testers to gather their feedback and suggestions. We will prioritize them and start planning for the live launch (date TBD).
  • Interested? Go the Full-Time Faculty Senate Volunteer form to sign up!   

Current Action Items (These are reminders for things I’ve already sent out):

2021-2022 Full-Time Faculty Senate Nominations remain on hold. The Nominations Committee, chaired by Professor Jennifer Brimberry, is close to having a new nominations system in place to account for new bylaws and new technology very soon.  Keep your eyes open for a special announcement when we’re ready to take nominations for the next class of senators.

Nominate Students for The Chancellor’s Student Achievement Award [Deadline: March 12, 2021] The Chancellor’s Student Achievement Award is the most prestigious student award given by ACC. The recipient must demonstrate academic excellence, service to the college and community, and commitment to ACC values and vision. Perks of this award include a $500 check, a plaque, and the opportunity to deliver the student address at commencement. In order to be eligible for this award, students must meet the following requirements (Student Life Staff will verify eligibility upon submission. Don’t worry about checking these yourself): Minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA; Attended ACC a minimum of two consecutive semesters; Graduating in Spring 2021. Nominate your outstanding students by March 12, 2021. You can also find additional information about eligibility requirements and the selection process on the Student Life CSAA web page

Call for Participation [No deadline provided] : The Center for Peace & Conflict Studies (PACS) is working with students in PSYC 2389: Internship in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding to collect data about conflicts at ACC. Specifically, we are looking to interview students, faculty and staff about conflicts in which at least one of the parties was a student. Please note that these interviews only aim to understand your experiences. We will not make any attempts to resolve the conflict (if it’s still outstanding), or to guide you toward a resolution. You can read more about this opportunity and sign up for an interview by completing this form. For more details, contact Laila Taraghi at laila.taraghi@austincc.edu

Best,

Wayne