APRIL 14, 2014


Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Technology-Enhanced Education, Final Report and Recommendation (D 11499-11503).

Michael White (committee chair, Graduate Assembly chair, and professor, religious studies and classics) presented legislation that proposed the creation of a new General Faculty Standing Committee, the Technology-Enhanced Education Oversight Committee. Professor White explained that the ad hoc committee had been empaneled to address two primary goals: to determine 1) the charge and function of the new committee, and 2) it’s membership. The membership of the ad hoc committee included two student members, Andrew Clark (president, Senate of College Councils) and Omar Al-Hinai (vice president, Student Graduate Assembly); two representatives from the Faculty Council Executive Committee, Liz Gershoff (associate professor, human development and family sciences) and himself; an Educational Policy Committee representative, Patricia Roberts-Miller (professor, English), an Information Technology Committee representative, Chang Liu (associate professor, communication sciences and disorders), and Lynn Westbrook representing the Faculty Council. In addition, Harrison Keller (director, Center of Teaching and Learning) represented the provost’s office and would be the presumed chair of the Technology-Enhanced Education Steering Committee once formed.

Professor White presented the ad hoc committee’s recommendations for the function, composition, reporting and consultation, and the review of the new committee’s function after the first and second years as it had been outlined in D 11499-11503. Professor White noted that the proposal had been endorsed and amended by the Faculty Council Executive Committee and by the Committee on Committees. He quoted President Powers as having said

Our faculty and academic units control the curriculum. Our faculty and academic units are responsible for ensuring that online resources, courses, certificates and degrees reflect the content and rigor appropriate for a leading national university without compromising our deep commitment to the academic freedom of a world class faculty. We should recognize that these technologies amplify the visibility and impact of individual faculty and staff as representatives of the University on a global scale.

Professor White then opened the floor for questions and discussion. Professor Linda Reichl (physics) asked if the committee would be a watchdog committee, and would it make sure that “everything is done with integrity?” Professor White responded saying that it might play a role of watchdog if the need were to arise. It was for this reason the ad hoc committee found it desirable to create as much dialogue as possible between the various groups that would be involved. He further explained that the present administration envisioned a strategic committee that would look into a variety of projects, a steering committee that would oversee the infrastructure at the level of platforms, technology, implementation, etcetera, and the new committee would take on an academic role and would be the third voice in that conversation so that the University would have strategic policy infrastructure, technology policy, and academic policy in that conversation. Professor Beckner added that the committee would engage general faculty in the ownership in new technologies being used in the classroom and would ensure faculty involvement in the process. Professor White concurred and further clarified that early technology-enhanced education discussions focused on the development of MOOCs, which are not aimed at our students and could be considered export elements and are more about branding the University on a national and international scale. Because students are now able to take advantage of many more online resources, he said it would be imperative that faculty engage and have an overall discussion on how to bring these online resources into our credit-bearing courses and to think about how credit-bearing courses relate to the degrees offered at UT Austin, and finally, how they relate to our export elements. Professor White stated, “We’re inventing an elephant or a camel or something; we don’t know exactly how it’s going to look yet. That’s why we built into this a review after the first and second years. We are trying to establish something that will give serious academic oversight to the process from the word, go.”

Hearing no further discussion, Chair Hart called for a vote. The proposal passed unanimously.

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