The next stage in the evolution of the CS-Can|Info-Can website and support infrastructure will be rolled out over the next few months. The following ten steps provide department chairs (etc.) advance notice of what will be happening and instructions for how your department can participate.
1. The current website has a list of Canadian departments. The list is updated “live” from a database that is maintained on the CS-Can|Info-Can Forum website. Each department has a link to a page with additional details for the department. Most of those details are missing for most departments. Some of what follows explains how we hope you will provide the missing information. Check out the list, and click on the link for your department to see what we currently have for you (probably all we have is the name of your department and the name of your university).
2. If you click on the UBC or UVic entries, you will see a more complete set of information (university logo, department photograph, link to the department’s home page, link to the university’s home page, links to the undergrad and grad program home pages, full mailing address and other contact information, buttons for the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube pages for the department if they exist, and a modest description of the department. Your department could also have this! Read on to find out how your departmental profile can be updated.
3. The intent is that this list will serve as a ‘portal’ to Canadian computer science departments. Eventually, we envision having a limited search capability that will allow prospective students to find (for example) departments in the Prairies that have undergraduate programs with co-op options, or prospective faculty members to find departments in the Maritimes that are hiring in particular areas such as machine learning. This would be driven by additional information that departments will be able to (optionally) provide in the future. We are not yet to this stage, but this is where we are heading.
4. Keeping this information up to date is probably next-to-impossible if we try to do it through the organization because we do not have resources for this and it is not clear how central staff would be aware of changes that need to be made. So we have chosen a self-serve model where departments can update the information themselves, when it needs to be updated. We expect that there will be annual reminders sent out by email, but otherwise departments would decide when to update if (for example) a new chair or an acting chair is appointed, or new programs are added, or the department’s website is restructured and that causes links from CS-Can|Info-Can to break.
5. The self-serve feature uses User Accounts on a second website, the CS-Can|Info-Can Member Forum. Currently, the Forum only supports creating user accounts and updating the user profile for the accounts and the profiles for departments. Departments do not have accounts, only individuals have accounts. But each chair (dean, director, head) has an account and that account will be able to update the department’s profile. We will also create staff (admin) accounts at the request of the chair to enable support staff (or faculty members authorized to do so) to maintain the department’s profile. We hope that this is a reasonable approach that will allow each department flexibility in deciding who manages the department profile. Multiple admin accounts are permitted, but only one chair account (although we will be putting in support so acting chairs can be identified for specified periods because we know that chairs do go on leave from time to time).
6. The Forum pages are currently public. We believe all of the information now visible on the Forum is already available to the public (the email addresses for chairs are usually on a department’s website). We will soon be making many of the Forum pages private (they will require a User Account to access them) — as soon as we have most of the departments participating. We have chosen to show these pages now so that chairs (and their staff) can see what we are doing. Look at the UBC or UVic departmental profiles to see the information we are currently collecting. Forum list of Canadian CS departments (for data entry)
7. Before anyone can edit the profile for a department on the Forum, the chair (or an authorized staff member) will need to activate a user account. This is by done entering your email address (the one we have for you) into the Username field and then clicking “E-mail new password” to invoke a standard password reset protocol. You then have access to the Forum. You can update your user profile (if you wish), but you do not need to do that to update your department’s profile. Here is a bit more of an explanation about User Accounts and the login process.
8. All of the faculty members in your department will eventually be offered User Accounts. These will be generated from the lists that we have requested from you. So far, about half of the departments have provided us with lists of their faculty members. We hope that all departments will follow through so those faculty members who choose to activate their user accounts will be able to do so. Right now, only chairs and few staff members have accounts.
9. We are hoping that each chair will take a bit of time to update the department profile, or will have one of your staff look do this, so we get most of the departmental profiles set up prior to the 2019 elections. If you would like to have a staff member obtain a User Account with admin authorization for your department, email firstname.lastname@example.org the full name, title, and email address for the staff person and your department and university. In future, you will able to do this using your Forum account, but that feature is not yet available.
10. Once we have the basic functionality in place, we will be adding features to the Forum that will allow departments to provide job postings (using a custom form so the data can be captured in a database to allow for searching), news items (such as awards or other distinctions your department has attained), conferences and other sponsored events, and (for all users) a capability to manage mailing list membership (yes, no, or digest-only). Find out more about Forum mailing lists.
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