Monday, March 05, 2012

Using a Course Management System to Manage Promotion and Tenure Review Documents

First off, let's get right to the first question. Gasp!!! Yes, it has been over a year since my last post to this blog! The cob webs have taken over and the number of readers has dropped. While I have a regularly scheduled event on my calendar to create new entries, well, work has gotten in the way. Fortunately, my lame excuse is also a good topic for a post!

As regular readers of this blog are aware, one of my regular themes is related to scholarly communication. More specifically, the broadening of what is considered as scholarship for promotion and tenure purposes. During the past year, I have been serving as the Procedures Oversight Designee (POD) for the Ohio State University Libraries. In short, my role is to help ensure that the P&T reviews follow the procedures as defined the Board of Trustees, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Libraries.

In addition to the normal workload required when taking on such a role, there were many significant changes made to our review process PLUS we experienced a bit of a 'baby boom.'  Until this past year, a committee of tenured faculty consisting of about 1/3 of the eligible voting faculty review all cases. Given the size of the review group and the fact there are normally around 3 cases to review annually, materials were made available in a single paper dossier stored in our HR office. Committee members checked them out and reviewed them on site. Given the scale, the system worked.

Last year, our faculty voted to change the review procedures so that all the eligible faculty would review all the cases. At the same time, the number of cases scheduled for review was 4 times larger than usual. Having almost 40 individuals descending upon HR to review over a dozen dossiers made little logistical sense. This convergence of events required a significant rethinking of the method used to make the review documents available.

The solution was to create an eDossier system using of our course management system.

A 'course' was set up for the review materials with each candidate given their own content tree. All the materials that made up the physical dossier were were scanned and uploaded into the system. The total number of documents for all the candidates was just over 600. All the eligible voting faculty were added as students and were grated access to those dossiers that they were eligible to review. Access to materials was turned on and off as required by the review schedule.

While this approach required a significant time commitment on my part, it really represented a small percentage of the time saved collectively by faculty reviewers since they didn't have to take a trip over to HR to read paper dossiers. Instead, the dossiers could be reviewed online where ever and whenever. I had one faculty member comment that they even reviewed materials on their iPad while waiting at an airport.  There will be additional workflow efficiencies in future reviews since documents from pre-tenure reviews will be added into the system as they are made available.

Based on my experience, one of my new goals is to develop a plan that uses a similar approach to distribute materials to external evaluators. This will require buy-in from the Office of Academic Affairs.

 While the POD role is considered an overload responsibility all the changes turned it into a full-time job at times. Yet, I still had to manage it plus my regular job responsibilities plus keep a reasonable work-life balance. Something had to give, and it was this blog.

So, please accept my excuse for the long time between posts. It's good to see you again

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