University Senate

Meeting 539 Minutes

The University Senate
of Michigan Technological University

Minutes of Meeting 539
6 November 2013

The Senate

  • Presentation: “The Evolution of MOOCs” by Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Max Seel and Michael Meyers, Director CTL

1. Call to order and roll call. President Brian Barkdoll called the University Senate Meeting 539 to order at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. The Senate Secretary Marty Thompson called roll. Absent were Senators Peng, Cadwell and Panian and representatives of Army/Air Force ROTC, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Academic Services A, Academic Services B, Administration, Advancement, Auxiliaries, Finance and Student Affairs.

2. Recognition of visitors. Guests included Max Seel (Provost’s Office), Michael Meyers (Center for Teaching and Learning), Ellen Marks (Library), Bonnie Gorman (Dean of Students) and Tom Merz (School of Business).

3. Approval of agenda. Snyder motioned to approve the agenda; Wood seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

4. Approval of minutes from Meetings 538. Wood motioned to approve the agenda; Scarlett seconded; it passed unanimously on a voice vote.

5. Presentation: “The Evolution of MOOCs” by Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Max Seel and Michael Meyers, Director CTL
Seel, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, defined MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and suggested the future of Michigan Tech will require us to stay ahead of emerging trends in higher education. Meyers, Director of CTL, provided a brief background on how MOOCs evolved into their current form noting some of the benefits and pitfalls. He stressed the importance of using online technologies and blended learning methodologies to enhance our educational mission. Meyers suggested the current manifestation of MOOCs is probably not ideal for Michigan Tech and that an approach more like blended learning would yield the student success rates we seek to maintain. He discussed the increased interest for using technology by faculty and the training provided by CTL, which actively supports using technology in the classroom. Meyers concluded by highlighting the strengths of Michigan Tech and made several suggestions about how blended learning can be strategically implemented. Oliveira described taping her lectures for student use outside the classroom. Meyers said CTL is supporting lecture capture but noted the inherent limitations of the approach adding that online content needs to be specifically created for the internet. Seel said that ideally lecture capture will be added to every classroom. Meyers affirmed that lectures should be available to students online. Beck asked about videotaping copyrighted content. Meyers noted the uncertainty in this area and said that presenting materials from a textbook is likely safe for a given semester. Beck said that students are paying Michigan Tech for a course that is using copyrighted materials which a publisher is providing. Meyers said that is true, but the assumption is that the textbook was purchased for the course and not being replaced by the online content. Beck felt copyright holders would seek compensation from us if we make money from the content they provided. Meyers said that if we use the publisher’s textbook and students purchased the textbook that isn’t a legal issue that it would only be an issue if we didn’t ask students to buy the textbook and used copyrighted content. He noted that online courses cost money and to function independent of a publisher we would need to build the content ourselves. Seel said that major publishers are developing in MOOCs in addition to textbooks and will be providing these platforms for student use. Waddell inquired about the HD quality of the camera in the current room; he said that when he tries to read text on the screen in videos of Senate meetings, he is unable to do so. Meyers affirmed the camera is HD but the camera setting need to be adjusted to optimize the clarity. Waddell asked how much money Stanford invested in MOOCs, where that funding came from and how much Michigan Tech has allocated to MOOC development in comparison. Meyers said Stanford and MIT have committed millions of dollars to MOOCs. Seel said $30 million dollars was spent by Stanford and Harvard, which are private institutions. Waddell asked if private investors had provided this money. In reference to Myers’ comment that the Google model for MOOCs might make money, Waddell said that Google makes money by selling ads and data. He asked effect advertising might have on academic freedom, for example, if a course critical of nuclear power were to be sponsored by GE. Meyer noted those models exist and agreed with Waddell’s concern. Waddell said that at an earlier meeting, Meyers had said that MOOCs aren’t making money, have a fairly high drop-out rate, and may not be as effective at teaching as traditional classes; hence, he asked where the demand for MOOCs is coming from. Meyers said from students who spend time online and seek low cost learning opportunities that have comparable quality. He acknowledged the limitations and suggested a blended learning model appears to bridge the gap between cost and quality that MOOCs fail to provide. Caneba shared his experiences in online course development with the senate. Meyer said the issues of time and academic integrity Caneba raised CTL can assist with as they are common concerns. Caneba raised concerns about costs. Wood asked about course sizes. Meyers said the cost to develop a course is independent of class size once created. Wood questioned whether online courses are always a good idea for every course. Meyers preferred a strategic development of online courses. Brown asked about which rooms are preferable for use in conjunction with online content. Meyers said this is a major topic of discussion being worked on right now. Scarlett contrasted the lecture courses with the discussion sections and asked if we weren’t simply revisiting these issues online. Meyers provided an example where blended learning might be well suited to breaking up large lectures into smaller discussion sections.

6. Report from the Senate President
Barkdoll said the senate is hosting a forum to openly discuss the proposed changes to the General Education program and Assessment. Seel said a public forum is a good means to discuss areas of concern and the committee can address concerns. Barkdoll noted this follows the trend set with the benefits forum, which was quite successful. Snyder said the proposal, as written, is incomprehensible. Vable suggested a presentation be organized. Barkdoll said he would organize presenters.

7. Reports from Senate Standing Committees
Academic Policy Committee. Scarlett said his committee is compiling information on intellectual property issues for constituents to review.

Administrative Policy Committee. Vable said the ombudsman proposal is being revised to be consistent with changes to Board of Control policy.  Next, the deans of schools and department chair evaluation revisions are ongoing and expected to be ready for senate discussion next semester. Finally, senate evaluations are ready.

Curricular Policy Committee. Charlesworth said the committee met with Christa Walck because she asked to give a brief introduction to the general education proposal. He noted that the committee will not formally consider the general education proposal for review until after it has cleared the Dean’s Council and is available through SmartSheet. He mentioned several new proposals under consideration.

Elections Committee.  Riehl discussed the status of the ombudsman selection committee.

Finance Committee.  None.

Fringe Benefits Committee. Waddell said that during the first month of the semester, the committee had educated themselves on healthcare related issues possible changes in healthcare benefits at Tech, following which the committee recommended that Tech keep the PPO and avoid adding premiums to the HDHP. He said that following the Sense of the Senate Resolution on Shared Governance, the FBC would submit two additional proposals to the Senate. He said that during the October 9 BLG meeting, an Aon Hewitt representative indicated that Tech might do a better job of informing faculty and staff about benefits; hence the FBC will address this issue as well. Two new proposals, motorcycle parking and SDC membership, were forthcoming.

Institutional Planning Committee. None.

Instructional Policy Committee. None.

Professional Staff Policy Committee. None. 

Research Policy Committee. None.

8. Old Business
Senate Evaluation (Proposal 11-12)
Vable, chair of the Administrative Policy Committee, discussed the status of the evaluation and noted the clarifying changes made to several questions. He reviewed the final version of the survey instrument. Barkdoll asked if there were any additional comments. There being none. Vable said we should move forward with the evaluation process.

“Sense of the Senate Resolution on Shared Governance
Waddell, chair of the Fringe Benefits Committee, said the presidential and executive team surveys have been performed several times and many comments suggest the evaluation does not affect change in administrative behaviors. He said that we need to take our responsibilities in shared governance seriously. Nooshabadi moved for a voice vote. Wood seconded. The resolution passed unanimously on a voice vote.

Comments on the General Education proposal
Scarlett shared with the senate the concerns he and his department have with the proposed general education plan. Specifically, the Department of Social Sciences has voted no confidence in the implementation of this change in general education. Scarlett encouraged all senators to vote against the proposal if it comes to the senate for a vote in its current form. He also suggested senators review the proposal and voice any concerns they have. Nooshibadi said he hope this proposal wouldn’t be delayed but could be resolved soon. Seel commented that the reason for the forum was to raise these concerns and discuss them so we can move forward in a timely fashion. Barkdoll said the forum would be scheduled as soon as possible so everyone has all the available information before we vote.

9. New Business
Proposal 3-14: “Minor in Surveying” presented by Curricular Policy Committee
Charlesworth said the committee discussed this and everything is in order. No further discussion.

Proposal 4-14: “Proposal to Shelve EMPD Product Design Minor”
Charlesworth said this degree has not been offered for a while and seemed reasonable to shelve it. Vable said the minor was developed as part of a distance education program with General Motors. Although it hasn’t been offered in a while there are some constituents who might want to bring it back. 

Proposal 5-14: “Proposal to Eliminate M.S. in Operations Management”
Charlesworth said the degree hasn’t been granted since the 2002-03 academic year. It is currently shelved and there is a request to move it on to elimination. Merz thought the program was already eliminated and found out from the Registrar’s Office it was still listed. No student has been admitted into the program since 1999 and he is seeking the program be eliminated.

10. Adjournment.  Nooshabadi moved to adjourn; Brown seconded the motion. President Barkdoll adjourned the meeting at 6:57pm

 Respectfully submitted
by Marty Thompson
Secretary of the University Senate