High Tech Center Training Unit
Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
Friday, September 10, 1999

Present

Myra Lerch, Carolyn Fiori, Carol Toppel, Janice Emerzian, Laurie Vasquez, Ray Lovell, Skip Berry, Frank Post, Carl Brown, Steve Sellitti, Scott Hamilton, Peggy Tate, Karen Topp Goodwyn, Judith Hosking (for Karen Andersen)

Absent

Sherry Goldsmith, Karen Andersen, Rod Brawley

10:00 AM Meeting Opened

Review/Approve Minutes

The minutes from the April 30, 1999 meeting were approved with minor adjustments to typos and content clarification.

Review status of Distance Learning Guidelines

The Distance Education Access Guidelines has gone through final review and is now complete. Around 700 copies have been dispersed to High Tech Center specialists, DSP&S coordinators, senate presidents, distance education coordinators, administrators within the Chancellor’s Office, and to all those who have contributed to the Guidelines from various committees. The document is posted on the HTCTU website.

At this point, the priority of the contributing committees has been to complete the Distance Education Access Guidelines and demonstrate to OCR the progress that has been made in accomplishing one of its objectives. Ultimately, the Guidelines will be embedded in the regular processes.

Myra suggested coordinating two statewide meetings—perhaps one in northern California and another in southern California—with various representatives, as an opportunity for those interested to discuss the implementation of the Guidelines. Peggy suggested submitting a proposal to discuss the Guidelines to the Mega Conference Committee. Laurie recommended that the HTCTU put together a one-day workshop, discussing the basics of the Guidelines.

Steve emphasized the importance of the collective responsibility of the institutions and the districts in making certain that the Distance Education Access Guidelines are implemented—that implementation of the Guidelines is not the sole responsibility of DSPS. He suggested this as a topic for discussion when the Chancellor’s Office holds any instruction related meetings.

Status of CVU Web Accessibility Grant

In order to implement the Distance Education Access Guidelines, a concomitant level of training and support must be provided. As a mechanism for providing that support, funding has been identified through TMAPP, which will provide for a full-time position to work directly with the four CVC training facilities, @One, teaching resource centers, and the High Tech Center Training Unit.

The Technology Training Coordinator position is primarily based on a "train the trainers" model. The trainees, in turn, will work with faculty in what it means to produce accessible web pages, using a variety of web authoring tools. The Technology Training Coordinator will spend a great deal of time working on location with the CVCs, but will also establish a help desk at the HTCTU. The position will create a web site resource and have web authoring tools running on a server so those who attend trainings at the HTCTU can work with the tools directly and see what are the issues concerning accessible design.

The HTCTU was awarded the TMAPP grant. As soon as the award letter is received, Carl will start the hiring process. Currently, the position is funded for two years, with a future possibility of permanent funding. If the hiring committee is unable to fill the position, Carl will look into the possibility of doing an IJE (Inter Jurisdictional Exchange) to see if he can "borrow" someone from another campus.

Review/Comment HTC Student Access Study

The Advisory Committee received a draft of the Distance Education and Students with Disabilities study that the HTCTU conducted late last winter. The purpose of the study was to assess whether students with disabilities have and can use computer resources at home, and whether they’re interested in taking distance education courses.

The survey findings indicated that the majority of the respondents have a computer at home, including email and Internet access—all critical elements in using distance education. The majority were also "interested" to "very interested" in taking distance education courses, primarily in "basic skills." Projecting the figures across the whole system—where there are about 70,000 students with disabilities—it is very likely that about 17,000-20,000 students with disabilities are capable and willing to take distance learning courses. This adds credibility to the importance of making certain that distance education courses are accessible.

One of the drawbacks to the survey is the lack of a baseline comparison of computing resources and students with disabilities to all higher education students in general. Carl found that no research has been conducted in this area and suggested that individual campuses compile its own data. There is also a legal issue to consider—whether campuses will be responsible for providing access technologies to students who choose to take courses from their homes.

A draft of the survey can be found on the HTCTU website. When the report is complete, Carl will send it as an email attachment to all DSP&S program directors and HTC specialists. Carl suggested that the Chancellor’s Office distribute the survey findings to the broader community college audience.

Review/Revise HTCTU Training Offerings

Carl discussed his intention to put together a survey instrument to determine the usefulness of HTCTU trainings and services. He would like to execute the survey as electronically as possible (using survey generation software), in light of the overwhelming number of student survey responses that had to be manually keyed in. Carl will draft the survey and disseminate to the Advisory Committee for final review. The survey will be posted on the HTCTU website for about one month. Carl plans to complete the data analysis by the end of the fall quarter and to implement any recommendations by the end of the budget year.

Scott Hamilton responded to the HTCTU Advisory Committee’s letter requesting an augmentation to the High Tech Center Training Unit’s budget. He was informed by Catherine Campisi and Vice Chancellor Ed Gould that an augmentation is not possible primarily for the following reasons: 1) The HTCTU grant is a line item in the state budget and cannot be adjusted outside the state process. 2) The grant was a competitive process and awarded for a fixed amount. However, the TMAPP grant does allow some budget flexibility, as the HTCTU is able to share some of its operating and salary and benefits costs. According to Carl, the TMAPP grant will ease HTCTU budgetary constraints for the next couple of years.

To bolster the number of people who come for trainings, Janice Emerzian suggested that the HTCTU inform the individuals in charge of the staff development and staff diversity dollars at each district of the trainings being offered. She suggested contacting the academic senates as well. Scott Hamilton will check for distribution lists that Carl can use to inform these groups of the HTCTU quarterly trainings.

Discuss Access Issues Regarding Distance Learning Course Management Tools

There are several courseware developers that are creating distance learning authoring tools used to generate web based instructional materials. Larry Toy and the Foundation at the Chancellor’s Office are developing relationships with several vendors of these tools.

Courseware authoring tools have essentially the same function, but there are differences in "bells and whistles," ease of use, and cost. They all are capable to greater or lesser degrees of generating web pages that are accessible.

However, many campuses are buying these tools without considering accessibility. Laurie suggested that the Chancellor’s Office outline the accessibility requirements necessary for courseware developers to do business with the California community college system. Janice recommended the involvement of other district/campus areas such as purchasing, business, deans of instruction, etc., in defining the parameters of accessibility before any major purchase is made.

The Distance Education Access Guidelines identifies Priority 1 BOBBY as the "acid test" of accessibility for instructional web pages. BOBBY is a web based accessibility evaluation tool that gives a detailed analysis of what is and isn’t working, and tells how to fix what isn’t. BOBBY can be found at http://www.cast.org/bobby.

Carl suggested to Scott that LeBaron send a letter to all distance learning personnel, indicating that no matter which courseware authoring tool is being considered, it must pass the Priority 1 BOBBY test. He also suggested that Tom Nussbaum write a letter to the CEOs, advising them that, in accordance with ADA Title II, any courseware authoring tools they purchase must be accessible. Carl will draft a letter to Scott outlining his suggestions. Scott will do the follow-up.

For its part, the HTCTU is conducting a new training this fall, which reviews each courseware development tool for accessibility. The four CVUs around the state will also deal with accessibility issues surrounding courseware development tools.

General HTCTU Update

New Fall Trainings

The HTCTU is offering more web based accessibility trainings for the fall quarter, in anticipation of the opening of the CVC sites.

Status of OCR Response

The second update to OCR has been sent, indicating where the California community college system is regarding the 9 issues. The report includes a copy of the Distance Education Access Guidelines and a status of the BCP. The Chancellor’s Office is required to give an update every six months.

Status of BCP

Scott Hamilton gave an update on the funding requests that provide for a position on each campus to offer technical assistance for distance education and accessibility, a Braille printer on each campus, and a regional center for Braille production. All of these items came out of the OCR issues and have gone through the Chancellor’s Office process. The next levels include the Department of Finance and the Governor’s budget. If the request makes the Governor’s budget in January, it will go to Legislature and through all the hearings. If the request makes the final process—the state budget—the items will be funded in next year’s budget.

Status of Alternate Media Workgroup

If AB422 goes forward, the next step involves developing procedures. The decision for AB422 will be made by the end of today.

Other Agenda

1:35 PM Meeting Adjourned