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I agree with your stance as well.  For a company that is about education, they sure forgot to look at a calendar and should have known that that's right in the middle of summer school.

Good for you!

________________________________________
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Rhodes, Grace [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 2:54 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Cengage/Houghton Mifflin Online Learning System Shutdown/One Faculty Member's Opinion

Doug, I APPLAUD your response!  You are trying to hold the company
accountable to walk their talk about supporting student success, and I
hope they hear you in a way that will eventuate a good outcome for your
students--as well as for any students and faculty using the product.

Thank you for sharing the situation.

Grace Rhodes
The Writing & Learning Studio
Shoreline Community College

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Douglas Wilson
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 12:04 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Cengage/Houghton Mifflin Online Learning System Shutdown/One
Faculty Member's Opinion

Colleagues:

If you are using Houghton-Mifflin College Division/Cengage software,
you'll want to read this.  I just received an upsetting e-mail from
Cengage/Hougton-Mifflin.  After reading the company's e-mail, I decided
to write the company and share my thoughts.   First, you'll see a copy
of an e-mail sent to me by the company.  Then you'll see my response.  I
know everyone won't agree with my position, but I wanted to share.  The
opinions expressed in this e-mail are my own and do not represent the
views of Richland College administration or the DCCCD.
Doug Wilson
Richland College


Dear Eduspace Instructor,

The Houghton Mifflin College Division was recently acquired by Cengage
Learning.  We are moving quickly to integrate business systems and
applications, but do expect a period of downtime for some of our online
products.  As a result, Eduspace is scheduled to be unavailable from
July 2 through July 7, 2008.  We recommend that you make alternate plans
that do not require the use of Eduspace during this period, and we
sincerely apologize for any inconvenience.

We are committed to keeping you and your students informed throughout
the integration. An announcement about Eduspace downtime will soon be
posted in your course and on Eduspace.com. If we are able to shorten the
downtime or foresee a delay, these notices will be updated accordingly.

Please note that Eduspace is being migrated as one entity, and will
remain fully intact and unchanged after the integration.  You will be
able to continue to use it as you do now.

We understand that this will be disruptive to some of our customers.
Please accept our apologies and if you would like to speak with a
representative about this, please call 1-800-XXX-XXXX.

Best regards,

The Eduspace Product Team

Response:

Mr. Buchanan:

Cengage's recently announced server migration demonstrates the company's
callous disregard for students, faculty, and community college
educators.  Cengage underestimates the incredible problems its server
migration is going to cause students and faculty; the company's actions
put my already at-risk writing students in greater jeopardy of failing
out of Richland.

First, Cengage is "unplugging me" from my students and disrupting the
cognitive process of learning. This situation is particularly egregious
because it is going to hurt mostly at-risk minority students enrolled in
Developmental Writing at Richland College. The Survey of Entering
Student Engagement produced by University of Texas makes it clear that
students who are not engaged in their course work disappear from
community colleges at the alarming rate of 50%.   When Eduspace goes
away for up to a week, probability suggests a great many of my students
will not return to their online classes.  At the very least, I think
Cengage owes students a refund for the downtime.  Once again, the word
"callous" comes to mind.

Second, it is fair to say the migration was ill-planned and
ill-conceived.  For example, there is no phone number on your e-mail
alert about the Eduspace shutdown.  And while your courteously worded
and professional e-mail to me promises an upcoming alert about the
system shutdown for all Eduspace students, its impact is still like a
punch to the gut.  With many faculty members off campus for summer or
otherwise scattered across the globe, what are we supposed to do while
Cengage "migrates" Eduspace to a new server?  Why did Cengage wait until
after the start of the summer session to announce the downtime?  What
went into the planning?  When did Cengage know about the migration and
why wait until now to announce it?   Frankly, I find this situation
unconscionable and demonstrative of poor planning and a despicable
indifference toward students.

If this is how Cengage Corporation conducts its business operations--we
have a scant two weeks notice before a major system-wide shutdown of
Eduspace at the height of the summer semester--you have given me a great
reason to look elsewhere for software products, services, and textbooks.
It's going to be tough because I like Eduspace, but there's a lot of
competition out there and the software vendors are all getting better.
We were poised to expand our use of Eduspace to the entire department,
roughly 1,000 students a year; however, I am now going to do my best to
find an alternative to your product.  Perhaps I can use a free Wiki or
other shareware and avoid future software expenses for my students.
It's not a task I relish, but I am going to make an earnest search.

In closing, I am forwarding copies of your e-mail to Chronicle of Higher
Education, the faculty Listserv, and others in my network.  It is my
sincere hope your actions are brought to public light because of the
negative impact Cengage is having on minority and first-time college
students struggling to succeed on my campus.


Doug Wilson
Richland College Community College
[log in to unmask]
972-238-6238

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