March-April 2017 Communicator
Vol. 25, No. 2 [pdf version]
Filling two roles to meet one goal: Improving accessibility at MTSU
The question: How to help MTSU educators become more aware of accessibility goals and resources on campus.
The answer: Melicent “Mel” Homan.
The reason: Someone who is part of the University’s faculty and earning a doctorate in school improvement is well-positioned to help reach this goal.
Homan began this semester dividing her time between teaching Communcations Studies and Organizational Communication classes and working for the ITD Faculty Instructional Technology Center. She said her role as MTSU Accessibility Task Force Faculty Fellow for Spring and Summer 2017 is a temporary “bridge” until someone is hired fulltime.
While continuing to teach three classes, she will be having meetings and workshops with faculty to learn their challenges in providing accessibility and offer solutions.
Homan said her primary strategy for making classrooms more accessible is Universal Design for Learning.
“In a nutshell it means to provide your content in more ways than one, so it’s like a ‘plus-one’ mentality,” Homan said.
“So if you are doing a lecture, you need to be able to provide a transcript of that lecture or videotape that lecture, so that someone who is perhaps deaf or has learning disabilities can go back and access that information in another way.
“It’s providing a variety of learning opportunities rather than just direct instruction, which we kind of tend to focus on in higher ed. ”
She wants to meet with teachers in departments experiencing higher failure rates, to help promote tools for disabled students to better access classroom materials.
Teachers should not be intimidated by accessibility requirements, Homan said. She said it is “easy to make content accessible, ” partly due to technology available.
“It’s not as time-consuming as faculty might think, especially now, ” Homan said. “I don’t really love technology, but you can make it your friend. It might be difficult in the beginning, but it makes your life so much easier. We’re just encouraging people not to be afraid of that moving forward. ”
Desire2Learn (D2L) offers a good basic template that can be used with any subject matter to make it accessible.
Homan said she finds most faculty members have a desire to provide accessibility.
“I think that people are willing; they’re just not clear on the requirement and where we go from here. Most departments have had to make their syllabi accessible, but they don’t know what it means after that.
"I think educators want to help kids, and I don’t think they realize it also helps students that don’t have a documented disability, ” Homan said.
In her “free time,” she joked, Homan is currently completing a doctorate at MTSU in Assessment Learning and School Improvement.
“Life is so fun,” said the mom of two daughters.
A self-described “Army brat” who grew up in Bradley County, Tennessee, Homan has been at MTSU since 2009. A former K–5 and substitute teacher, she moved to teaching at the college level at Northern Kentucky University during 1994–95 while finishing her graduate work there.
Now she’s come “almost full circle. ”
“I consider Tennessee my home,” she said.
Barbara Draude, ITD assistant vice president, said the arrangement is a classic win-win scenario.
“The Accessibility Task Force has been working to develop a plan to help faculty and staff increase the accessibility of MTSU information, ” Draude said.
Homan’s primary focus is reviewing the instructional resources already in place to “help position us for enhancing our support, ” Draude said.
“Melicent brings a passion and excitement about helping students of all accessibility levels be successful. Her working with our instructional support staff will continue the campaign for increased awareness of universal design for learning and be an additional resource for faculty as they implement increased accessibility in their teaching. ”
Accessing Accessibility Help
For help reaching accessibility goals, contact the FITC at mtsu.edu/fitc/fitc.php or 615-904-8189.
The TBR Accessibility Training Course is a very helpful resource.
Register for it and find other accessibility advice and resources—including Accessible D2L Page Templates—at mtsu.edu/fitc/accessibility.php.
ITD Staff Profile: Deena Cruz
Studying together at MTSU gives her family “Blue ID”
For Deena Cruz, saying that Middle Tennessee State University is “like family” is more than a cliché.
Cruz, a technical clerk in ITD’s Blue ID office, graduated from MTSU and is working toward a master’s degree now. She has two sons enrolled here, and even her 11-year-old daughter tags along for classes sometimes.
“I’ve been here since I came to college,” she said. Cruz started in 1988, left for a while, then came back and graduated in 1996 with a degree in Graphic Design.
Her son Patrick is a senior majoring in graphic design, and Joshua is a freshman studying sports medicine. Maddie is in fifth grade.
“I like the fact that all three of us are here and going to school at the same time. It’s good to be close to them. It helps our family to be close-knit, ” Cruz said.
Maddie has gone to volleyball camps and performances here and loves the annual Easter Egg Hunt at the president’s house.
“She said she’s going (to MTSU), ” Cruz joked. “Sometimes she goes to class with me . . . I think she feels a part of MTSU too. I think the university environment really enhances our lives, and even at her age because she gets to be involved in things on campus.”
From Tullahoma, Tennessee, Cruz has worked in the Blue ID office for two years. She said she enjoys interacting with students and employees getting their ID cards.
She is one of the first people new students, faculty, and employees encounter.
“Of course we’re busy the first week of school and stay steady with lost IDs and have been doing a lot of new hires,” she said. “I like talking to the new students and staff; they seem really excited when they come in. ”
Cruz is obtaining a Master of Liberal Arts, but because of work and family can only take one class per semester in the evenings. It may be 2021 before she finishes, but that is fine with her—she jokes that she could possibly graduate with her youngest son.
She and her family live in Murfreesboro and attend World Outreach Church.
Franklin named new director of client services for ITD
Alan Franklin joined ITD at Middle Tennessee State University as director of client services in January.
He said his educational and professional background helped prepare him for the new role of providing tech support for students, staff, and faculty by phone, email, or in-person.
Franklin, from Greenfield, Tennessee, worked his way up in the Information Technology profession after starting as a student worker at the University of Tennessee–Martin.
“My professional career in Information Technology began in 2000 when I accepted a part-time position with Gordon Food Service as a computer technician. I was attending UTM at the time, and this position afforded me the ability to work around my class schedule, ” he said.
“I was offered a student worker position with the Information Technology Services Department at UTM in 2002 and accepted. ”
In 2003, he was offered a full-time position with the ITS department at UT-Martin as an IT Technologist III and worked his way up to manager of Technical Support Services in 2010.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with a Management Information Systems concentration, from UT-Martin.
At MTSU he is responsible for leading and directing the Client Services Department in its mission of providing support for campus technology.
This support is administered through the ITD Help Desk and technicians assigned to specific colleges, academic areas, and administrative offices.
“The best part of the job is having the opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience and work with an incredible new staff, ” Franklin said. “The most challenging part is adapting to a new environment and culture which is both similar and dissimilar to what I had become accustomed. ”
Reach the Help Desk at 615-898-5345 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ITD’s Haupt attends POD Conference in Louisville
Scott Haupt attended the 41st annual Professional Organizational Development Network Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, last fall.
Haupt, instructional design specialist for ITD, said the theme for this year’s conference was “Transforming Relationships: Fostering Cultures of Deep Learning.”
The conference included:
- A plenary session with poet Nikki Giovanni, University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, that explored the power of words and their connection to teaching
- Interactive workshops combining brief presentations/panel discussions with methods designed to engage participants
- Roundtable discussions (in a smaller group setting) of concepts, approaches, issues, case studies, and/or readings
- Research presentations centered on increasing the amount of research POD members are undertaking (relating to teaching/learning and professional networks)
- Opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer learning, collaborative activities, and creative experiences (fashioned as “just-in-time” learning sessions)
“I focused on sessions relating to faculty professional development, graduate student professional development, new technologies for supporting teaching, and organizational development and sat in on numerous research presentations as well,” Haupt said.
“I’ve been revisiting the information I collected at the conference regularly, as my eyes have been opened to new and improved/more efficient ways of doing things.”
New telemanagement system will improve on-campus calling
Telecommunication Services recently completed a nearly year-long project to plan, design, and implement a new telemangement system.
Pinnacle, in partnership with Calero, is the leading communications lifecycle management solution for enterprises and is vital for the day-to-day operation of MTSU Telecommunication Services, serving many roles that allow the office to operate effectively.
- Service Management: Keeps a concise record of all services provided by Telecommunication Services, including voice, data, wireless, and cable TV. Service records are extremely important not only for billing, but also for service order and incident management.
- Service Desk Management: Allows for efficient service order and incident management, from assigning the proper technician groups to a task, to creating appropriate billing records based on services being requested.
- Usage Management: Processes call detail records and rates calls based on call type in preparation for departmental billing.
- Asset Management: Tracks all assets relative to the telephony infrastructure, including cable, pair, and port information, as well as inventory management for phones and other peripherals. Tracking assets creates efficiencies in warranty replacement and equipment reorders. Relative asset information is also displayed on service orders and incidents, providing technicians with the information needed to troubleshoot or make changes to an existing service.
- Reporting: Provides real-time analytics from all areas, including service, service desk, usage, and assets.
Collectively, these roles allow Telecommunication Services to satisfy the telephony needs of the campus in the most effective and efficient manner. Pinnacle opens many doors, and this is especially important as we continue to implement the Skype for Business phone system.
Goal: Complete S4B migration by this summer
Work continues to migrate Avaya telephone users campus-wide to Skype for Business.
To date, the project is roughly 50 percent complete, with a goal of completion by summer.
During January and February, the following buildings were migrated to the new telephone system:
- Alumni Memorial Gym
- Boutwell Dramatic Arts
- Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia
- Forrest Hall
- MTSU Blvd. Garage
- Holmes Parking Garage
- McFarland Building
- Project Help
- Science Building
- Soccer and Track Complex
Next on the list, and already in production, are the following:
- Bayer Travis Maintenance
- Central Utility Plant
- Hastings Maintenance Complex
- Haynes-Turner Maintenance
- Satellite Chiller Plant
- Holmes Parking Garage
- Student Services and Admissions Center
- Stark Agribusiness and Agriscience Center
- Floyd Stadium
- Student Union Building
- James Union Building
- James E. Walker Library
- Saunders Fine Arts
- Andrew L. Todd Hall
- Wright Music Building
For additional information on the Skype for Business project, including the remaining deployment schedule, visit mtsu.edu/itdtele/skype.php.
Learn basic or advanced Skype for Business in an ITD workshop. For information on that and other spring workshops, visit: http://www.mtsu.edu/itd/workshops.php.
Telephone Tidbits: Customizing S4B Options in Outlook
With Skype for Business, missed call notifications are directed to your MTSU email inbox as a way of informing you of the calls you missed.
If you wish to turn off those notifications, follow the steps below:
- Login to https://mail.mtsu.edu
- In the upper right corner, click settings and options.
- Choose phone in the left margin.
- Scroll down the page to find notification settings and uncheck the box next to send an email message to my Inbox when I miss a phone call.
- Click save.
Use Digital Signage to let people know
about new and exciting opportunities
Digital signage is a great way to tell folks about wonderful opportunities. Here is an example from the MTSU Office of Education Abroad, introducing faculty and students to adventures around the world.
For more information about MTSU’s digital signage network or for content suggestions, email email@example.com.