Online Committee Final Report, 2004-2005



The Online Learning and Digital Initiatives committee met six times throughout the course of year.The committee focused on four main issues:

  • Integration of ACIS and AIS;
  • Agora., the student web portal initiative;
  • The delivery of computing services; and
  • New directions of digital media.


In its efforts, the committee met with:


  • Jim Neal, University Librarian
  • Todd Hardy, Digital Knowledge Networks
  • Robert Kasdin, VP Administration
  • Pat Moholt, Information Systems at the Medical School
  • Frank Moretti, Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning


Its members included:

Clifford Siskin, Coilin S Parsons, David Magier, George Hripcsak, Herve Varenne, John Scanlon, Kate Wittenberg, Mercy Davidson, Noah Raizman, Sharyn O'Halloran, and Stephen Negron

State of computing services


The committee began the year with a deluge of complaints from every quarter of the university regarding the failure of the network to deliver email, allow for remote access, and generally perform during peak-load periods.After a series of meetings with key personnel, the problems seemed to have been abated.We closed the year, however, with another round of discontented users: CourseWorks discussion groups failed to function properly, email was again disrupted, and little gains had been made in providing timely and adequate support.Much of the necessary maintenance has been put off, in anticipation of the reorganization.††

Integration of ACIS and AIS


A formal announcement has been made that many of the functions of ACIS and AIS will be merged under a single entity.Currently, a national search is underway to hire a VP for Information Technology.The Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, along with EPIC, will remain with the libraries, while network systems and the technical support component of ACIS will migrate to the combined entity.The intended goal of the reorganization is to renew the universityís commitment to helpdesks and faculty support, to reduce redundancy in the system, and, hopefully, make the network and utilities more stable.



The committee vetted the student initiative for a research portal and worked to bring DKV and AIS together to help in its development.The proposal is currently under consideration by the provostís office.


Directions of digital media


The Online committee also looked into the ongoing activities of CCNMTL, Digital Knowledge Networks, and other providers of digital medial at Columbia.The largest anticipated change will be replacing CourseWorks with Sakai.It is hoped that Sakai will provide scholars with a much more flexible superstructure than has heretofore been available.