Information Technology Committee
Centra Meeting
February 17, 2005

Chair: Fred Piazza, LSU
Vice-Chair: Howard Beck, UF
Secretary: Rhonda Conlon, NCSU (Absent)

Anne Adrian, AAMU
Nina Boston, UA
Michael Bratcher, NCAT
Jonathan Davis, AAMU
Dwayne Hunter, OSU
Larry Lippke, TAMU
Tim Mack, VT
Kappie Mumphrey, LSU
Ken Pruitt, Clemson
John Toman, UT Agenda Items:

  1. Roll CallReport from PLC Representatives of last PLC conference call - Nina Boston and Michael Bratcher

    Nina reported the following from the last PCL meeting: They last met in December in Charleston. Still lots of interest by the group in Centra software. Ed Jones asked that all future PLC meetings to be held through Centra. Their next conference call is on the 24th. eXtension is doing lots of demos, getting personnel hired and in place, almost completed.

    Review Plan of Work (POW) - Currently our POW consists of the following items: (Craig Woods was not present to present items a-c)
    1. CECP Module - Security, Craig Woods, January 1, 2005CECP Module - Office 2003, Craig Woods, January 1, 2005CECP Module - Web Design, Craig Woods, January 1, 2005Finalize recommendation to ASRED concerning web conferencing system - Larry Lippke, January 1, 2005

      Larry was asked again for another demo as extension directors requested more information. Ron Brown set up this demonstration/orientation to the system on March 8 1CST. 7 or 8 states involved in that activity. Arkansas and a few other states (Louisiana, Tennessee) have moved ahead with Centra. Likelihood of getting a large license for the entire southern region is not certain at this time. Demonstrated economic savings is well documented (thanks to Larry and Anne Adrian). The decision is up to directors at this point.Nina gave a summary of license purchased in the southern region. LSU has 10-15 licenses, Arkansas bought some. Centra at last minute reduced price by $100 per seat for Arkansas. Arkansas got 30 licenses at $900 per seat. Need to get up to 100 seats for price break down to $600 per seat. Nina is looking for other potential licensees in Arkansas to bring the cost down.Dwayne said OSU will be participating in the March 8 demonstration and is hoping the Directors and Administrators will find value.

      John said that UT is currently negotiating a license agreement. UT main campus has a 500 seat license for Centra already. The licenses are used heavily in continuing education and MBA program as well as distance course delivery. UT got an excellent price break at 500 seats and are only using 150-200 at any one peak time.

      Recruit reviewers from PSD Committee to evaluate distance education module to recommend continuation or removal - Nina Boston, January 1, 2005

      Nina: Joe Waldrum (head of staff and leadership) to recruit reviewers to look at the distance learning module. Want them to let us know if this is needed and what we need to add to it. Expecting feedback shortly from Joe.

      Review and revise content exchange collaboration standards for e-Extension, Howard Beck, no due date specified

      Howard: Posted message on XML Standards for eXtension on the eXtension IT Forum, received one reply from Tim Stalker of Nebraska. Tim is enhancing the extension metadata standard by writing RDF descriptions of the tags. Other than that, there is not much to report on exchange standards beyond the focus on metadata. UF is developing an ontology in the crop-pest domain including about 700 concepts, which will expand to about 3000 concepts covering all topics in the Florida cooperative extension publication database (EDIS). A facility is provided to cross-reference ontology concepts with terms in the NAL Thesaurus. A paper to be completed this summer plans to discuss the pros and cons of ontologies versus thesauri. Contacts at the NALT are collaborating on this project.


    2. Regularly update the Video Conference Inventory Site, Larry Lippke, no due date specified

      Larry: Asked whether anyone finds TAMU's inventory on video conferencing sites in each state ( to be of any value. It is used to connect to people in other parts of the country, used as a directory.Nina: Has used it for same purpose, very helpful, appreciates TAMU for hosting.
      Fred: It is a valuable resource.

      Recommendation: Should publicize the site better, e.g., send note to extech mailing list, to advertise, remind of presence, how to use.

    Update on CECP - Larry Lippke

    Larry: The CECP steering committee met in December. They talked at length with eXtension staff, discussion on how to integrate CECP with eXtension at some point in time, no specific actions or tasks to be done. Commented that at a point in time when CECP was started that if and when eXtension evolved, CECP would fold into it. What would that mean for content delivery system, course management system, etc?No action taken, nothing decided at present, CECP and eXtension will coexist for some time. In new prototype demo of eXtension there is a link to CECP as partner and collaborator. Another big part of the discussion had to do with whole aspect of review process, who needs to be involved, how does it get done, and bottom line, process has to happen in different work groups putting up content.Technical review - educational technology design - review is needed. A few technical standards, whole aspect of assuring content put up in courses is peer reviewed, quality assessment, different entities and program units are taking that task. At TAMU Family and Consumer Sciences launched an aggressive effort to put up content. They are putting together course development teams, each team doing lots of work now to design content (Sharon Robinson at TAMU nutrition staff is leading up a task force dealing with nutrition guidelines that USDA has announced recently, gotten approval to hire instructional designer to work with that group at TAMU). CECP moving ahead, still struggling with basic issues, from technology standpoint mostly works. Fred: Where does support from IT staff come from (graphics design, flash presentations, etc). Has there been any more discussion on establishing a resource listing of folks in southern region who are available to help on CECP? Larry: Pool of technical expertise discussed at CECP, but volunteers to offer FTEs to help were not forth coming. eXtension support was discussed in December. Dan Cotton sees things moving forward from this point; the prototype has occupied 99% of their thinking time up until now. Dan sees putting together little work groups, pockets of expertise that can focus on specific areas on eXtension. The idea is to basically have a group of people who are very interested in the whole instructional design field, or perhaps a code building team, or a graphics team. eXtension can help sponsor those teams. Tim: (Tim Mack from Virginia, Newest addition to PLN IT committee). Two things of interest: Tim has developed a master on-line educator certificate program, five faulty in it currently, instruction being delivered to faculty by Macromedia Breeze presentation. Topics include streaming audio and video, Centra one symposium, managing discussion forums, Macromedia Breeze, and on-line educational curricula. Instruction is designed for for-credit and is also targeted at specialists and agents. Tim also suggests that Macromedia Breeze is an excellent authoring system that CECP should evaluate for use on their programs.

    Howard: There seems to be two approaches to content development. One requires a highly trained central staff of instructional designers and programmers, the other uses content development tools placed directly in the hands of extension specialists and other faculty to develop content. The best solution combines both approaches and should be the basis for modern content management approaches in extension.

    Update on eXtension - Carla Craycraft & Craig Woods

    Larry: Yesterday in Nashville eXtension made a presentation to extension directors and administrators. The demonstration featured a new prototype software system for eXtension. The prototype worked well, and it successfully pulled much together in a short amount of time (user profiles/state and county branding/facilities/live presentation). Feedback from directors included no negative feedback, directors were very positive, like what they see. A CD was distributed to every directory with presentations summarizing eXtension and the prototype.Next the focus will be to get things running at an even faster pace. In that regards, a group of about 25 people will be getting together in Virginia early March to put together a real eXtension implementation plan. Issues such as how small groups and large institutions will play in the game, available tools, standards, rules, etc., will be receiving very serious consideration. Attendees will include core eXtension people, reps from across the system. Within the next two months eXtension intends to produce 2 RFPs: one for hosting services, one for content teams/communities of practice teams.Fred: Planning meeting in Virginia, should express concerns and identify issues relevant to CECP. Fred suggests contacting Dan Cotton, Kevin Gamble, Carla Craycraft or Craig Wood to get CECP related items on the agenda.Larry: Will be going to that can bring along any suggestions or concerns such as communications from CECP. He will reinforce. Howard: Please elaborate on RFPs, and how will eXtension support things like county web sites.Larry: Regarding the RFPs, for hosting, this won't distinguish between commercial and institutional entities. Regarding content teams, it's a matter of fit more than does it already exist or not. Part of implementation plan will probably get to requirements of the content, community of practice, content development teams to go with that. If there are existing teams looking for new outlets for what they're already doing, that would lead to quicker success in developing a body of content. That might appeal to them.

    For accommodation of county web sites, in the presentation they discussed their New Banner: National Strength, Local Focus. Discussed how a county identity would tie into eXtension. For example, county web can be the default page so that registered users would automatically get their county web site if specified in the user profile. The sentiment is there that the primary interface would be through a county oriented web site that has a number of linkages to state, federal, international resources.

    Additional Items

    John Toman discussed document about basic IT skills (, part of CECP project. This document was circulated around last August. He is planning to start development of a full CECP module on this topic in April. Feedback is welcome.


  2. Adjourn

    Next PLN IT Committee Meeting conference call scheduled for Thursday April 14, 10-11am Central Time.