Campus Council For Information Technology (CC-FIT) Makes Campus Debut

It's a little-known fact that the Campus Council for Information Technology (CC-FIT) is headed by a soil microbiologist who spends a month every summer in a remote mountain cabin, drawing water from a lake, using kerosene lamps, and generally appreciating life away from television, computers, and email. But Caroline Bledsoe, a confirmed nature enthusiast, is also passionate about technology. She operates her car radio with a small remote control and loops a gigabyte flashdrive around her neck at work so she can easily reuse important files. As chair of the newly-formed CC-FIT, she uses communication skills honed as an educator to engage campus representatives as they discuss information and educational technology issues. She guides the council as it develops recommendations about which issues and projects should receive high priority campus consideration and, in some cases, campus funding.

History of the CC-FIT

CC-FIT is the newest incarnation of the Academic and Administrative Computing Councils (more commonly known as AC4 and AdC3), two groups created in 1998 to advise the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor on matters related to administrative and academic computing. As someone who has been involved with campus IT committees for over a decade, Bledsoe has watched CC-FIT slowly flower from the seed of earlier committees. Under Bledsoe's leadership last year, AC4 and AdC3 members formally acknowledged that information technology did not separate so easily into academic and administrative categories?indeed, they are increasingly interconnected. Following a series of combined meetings held on a trial basis throughout the 2003-04 academic year, the two groups decided last Spring to combine formally into one council, CC-FIT, and to adopt a new charge. ?I think that's a big accomplishment,? relates Bledsoe.

A Unique Role

CC-FIT is poised to play a unique and critical role on campus. By bringing together students, staff, fa culty, deans, vice-provosts, and vice-chancellors in technology-focused discussions, Bledsoe expects the Council will foster ongoing dialogue and encourage the sharing of ideas and perspectives among groups not commonly seen at the same meeting table?groups such as ASUCD, the Graduate Student Association, Staff Assembly, the Academic Senate, the Academic Federation, and key campus administrative units. Dialogue between such entities is becoming increasingly important, according to Bledsoe. In a large and diverse campus, coordination and communication between disparate groups can be very challenging: ?It would be easy for tech projects to progress independently, with little or no communication about what's being developed. But what one group is planning to do might turn out to have an impact on quite a few other users, but they weren't aware of it,? says Bledsoe. ?We're trying to get that two-way communication going more efficiently, with the Council serving as a forum.?

To make it possible for the Council to function effectively as a campus-wide coordination and communication venue, members agreed to revise their charge last spring to include an explicit expectation that each committee member act as a liaison with the constituencies they represent on the Council, identifying issues for Council discussions and reporting Council deliberations back to their constituencies. Bledsoe will oversee the development of an annual report of Council activities that will be available from the CC-FIT Web site. ?I want to close the loop on communication,? says Bledsoe. ?Communications should come in to the Council from various sources and go back out to the campus community so everyone can be informed and have a chance to participate.?

The Council will analyze various technology proposals, issues, and projects starting with the first meeting in October. Part of the Council's thorough deliberation process includes gathering background information, raising questio ns with the project teams, researching answers, and collecting feedback from constituent groups. The Council then comes to a consensus and, depending on the nature of the issue, formulates a recommendation to the project sponsor or to Provost Hinshaw and John Bruno, Vice Provost for Information and Educational Technology.

Past and Present Discussion Topics

Last year the Council recommended that the Provost provide funding for two major projects'the online Faculty Merit and Promotion (FMP) project and the Electronic Research Administration (ERA) project. The FMP will create digital portfolios to support the merit and promotion processes as well as other faculty-related processes. The ERA will support the electronic development, submission, review, approval, and administration of faculty research grants. Last Spring, following the advice of the Council and other groups, the Provost allocated one-time funds to both projects, thereby allowing the teams to move forward with the first phase of their projects.

Coming up for council discussion this year are a number of topics, including computer security issues, a campus-wide effort reporting system, a proposal to develop a travel and entertainment system, improvements to the online course approval system for faculty, and the coordination of document management solutions for campus departments. In addition, a subcommittee will soon conduct a Web-based survey to gauge the concerns and needs of faculty who teach (or wish to teach) with technology. According to Andy Jones, one of the survey co-writers, the survey will help CC-FIT identify some of the campus? priorities for instructional technology in the coming years.

Tapping into Technology Trends

Bledsoe keeps council members in touch with the ?hot topics in technology? by having a demonstrations of new technology tools at every meeting. Some of the tools the Council has explored include a combined PDA/cellphone/digital camer a, and an audience response system, through which audience members using hand held remotes and an infrared sensor respond to group questions (see related story on page 2). ?When the Provost joined us at our June meeting,? shares Bledsoe, ?I used the remotes to test council members? understanding of some basic campus technology facts. Not only were they introduced to this new teaching tool, they also learned a few things in the process. And the Provost did extremely well!?

Bledsoe herself is an educational technology veteran who's been making increasing use of technology in her classes in the Land, Air, and Water Resources Department. She's an enthusiastic user of MyUCDavis, on which she posts syllabi and slides to class Web pages and gives her students immediate access to course materials. In Spring Quarter, Bledsoe worked with a student Educational Technology (ET) Partner to learn how to use the audience response system in her classroom. She and her ET Partner also explored Almagest, the digital imaging system and online media management and presentation tool (see related story on page 2). Bledsoe used Almagest to place all 62 final projects for her Culinary and Medicinal Herbs class into one digital repository, insert it into a PowerPoint presentation, and show off the completed projects to the entire class.

Getting Involved

Campus members interested in CC-FIT discussions and activities can contact their staff, student, or faculty council representative (see membership list at http://ccfit.ucdavis.edu/membership.html) or email Bledsoe directly at csbledsoe@ucdavis.edu.