Academic Computing Committee
Annual Report, 2006 -07

The academic computing committee met five times this year. The committee held three open forums on potential changes to Furman's e-mail system, three forums on possible software for Furman's Digicenter, and a forum on the conversion of the university's course management system.

The most important activity under the committee's purview was the completion of a proposal for the creation of Furman's Digicenter. The Digicenter will serve as a central location for helping faculty create, manage and present digital images, audio, video, and other digital learning objects. In Fall 2006 the committee received approval and funding for the center from the administration. A steering committee has been established under the direction of Nick Schisler, assistant professor of Biology. The administration has approved an alumni fellow for the center who will oversee the technical implementation of the center starting in Summer 2007. The is the culmination of a multiyear investigation and negotiation involving the committee, library faculty and staff, Computing and Information Services, CTEL, departmental computing liaisons and active faculty users.

In March 2007 the Committee considered a proposal from C&IS that Furman switch its course management system from Blackboard to Moodle. After reviewing the cost of the existing system, considering the impact of the changes on the current user community, reviewing the implementation plan and seeking input from active users, the committee's recommendation was to support the switch to the new system.

The committee was also actively involved in the proposal by C&IS to adopt a university web portal and to change the university e-mail system from FirstClass to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Server. After holding extensive discussions on the issue the committee developed a series of recommendations concerning the change. (See the "Interim Report on the C&IS Portal and Email Proposal", posted to faculty notices on 11/13/2006). During the process it became clear that emerging developments regarding Microsoft's future email systems would make a switch impractical at this time. For now Furman will retain the existing email system. The committee was supportive of the portal concept, and C&IS has now begun to implement components of the system.

This has been an unusually active year for academic computing issues. The chair wishes to thank the committee members and Deans Kazee and Bartlett for their diligent efforts this year, as well as our resource members and others who contributed to these initiatives, including Dave Steinour, Susan Dunnavant, Cort Haldaman, Jane Love, Maggie Milat, Amy Blackwell, Bonnie Mullinix, Scott Salzman, Debbielee Landi, Cris Ferguson and Janis Bandelin. We also wish to thank the departmental liaisons and the faculty as a whole for their generous response to our many queries, forums, and other demands.

The Academic Computing Committee:
Tim Hanks, Christopher Hutton, Nicholas Schisler, Alfons Teipen, Jeff Yankow, Lloyd Benson (chair)


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