University President Lee Bollinger met with the Senate Assembly yesterday to speak about global learning and long distance technology.
Bollinger introduced to the assembly the idea of video conferencing in University classrooms. He also pitched the idea of future University involvement with www.fathom.com, an interactive educational website.
The University has an agreement with the website to contribute some academic materials but has not made any financial agreements.
“I have no doubt (video conferencing) will be the reality in some number of years,” Bollinger said.
He added that students should be taught how to use the computers as a learning tool but not the mechanics of how the computers function.
“I”m not a big fan of the idea that students should have to learn about computers. We don”t have mandatory courses of the internal combustion engine,” Bollinger said.
Bollinger also spoke to the Senate Assembly about the Royal Shakespeare Company coming to Ann Arbor next month.
Four of William Shakespeare”s eight historical plays will be performed in Ontario and Ann Arbor.
“We have a response as a University to engage in culture. It”s not just these two weeks. They (The Royal Shakespeare Company) plan to return two times in the next five years,” Bollinger said.
Following Bollinger, Civil Liberties Board member Ann Larimore discussed with the Assembly the contents of the SACUA Civil Liberties Board Report of Privacy and Confidentiality.
“We felt in the Civil Liberties Board that our response is to identify particular areas of concern. We can make recommendations, but to go into details of establishment, we do not feel it is our periphery,” Larimore said.
Larimore added that she does not know the exact number of problems the University community has with the electronic system it uses for data storage and e-mail but complaints, she said, have warranted an investigation.
In its recommendations, the Civil Liberties Board proposes the formation of two groups to monitor civil liberties violations in the University: an Oversight Committee and a Complaint Resolution Committee.
According to the Report of Privacy and Confidentiality, the Oversight Committee would monitor “services on campus which provide services related to electronic and other communications.”
The Complaint Resolution Committee would provide investigation and resolution of complaints sounded by any member of the University community involving violation of privacy.
Cynthia Marcelo, a research scientist in the University Hospitals” Department of Plastic Surgery, expressed concern about availability of medical records.
“I”ve worried a lot about how accessible these files are,” Marcelo said.
Larimore agreed that there is a problem with electronic data because unauthorized people often have too much accessibility.
Attached to the report is a list of student concerns, compiled by student members of the SACUA Civil Liberties Board. They are LSA Senior Beth Bernstein, Public Heath Graduate Student Christopher Godwin and LSA Senior Joshua Sellers.
The student members of the board expressed concerns about the use of students” Social Security numbers, the ability of faculty to monitor student computer usage, the access to student files and the lack of a mechanism for students to see their personal information stored at the University.
“We have not put up any funds. We have said that we are academic partners. We can experiment with the potential uses of this media,” Bollinger said.
Before financially committing the University to any partnerships, Bollinger said the University must consider the amount of funding to invest, whether it will profit from the site, the ownership of the material shared and the control of content shared on the Internet.
Bollinger also spoke about the students” reactions to Internet education and their ability to use the programs involved in long-distance learning.