Apereo Foundation Fast Interview with Dr. Lucy Appert

Apereo Foundation Fast April 2022: Dr. Lucy Appert

Dr. Lucy Appert

Dr. Lucy Appert is the Director Of Educational Technology, Faculty of Arts & Science at New York University. She has served the Apereo community in many capacities over the last 13 years holding the positions of Apereo Foundation Vice-Chair, User Reference Group coordinator for the Apereo OAE project, member of the planning committees for Open Apereo conferences, and Apereo Newsletter Editor. 

Prior to becoming the director at NYU's FA&S department, Dr. Lucy served as Associate Director for Instructional Design at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) where she led the CTL’s innovative project partnerships with faculty. Previously, she served as the Director of Educational Technology for NYU’s Liberal Studies Program, where she led the team providing instructional technology solutions for faculty and students in New York and at NYU’s Global Sites. She was also a faculty member in the program and has more than 20 years of teaching experience, having also taught at Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Yale.

Lucy holds a Ph.D. in 17th & 18th c. British literature from Tulane University and a B.A. in Classics and English from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Thank you Dr. Appert for joining us here at Apereo Foundation Fast!


AFF: Dr. Lucy, please tell us a little bit about what you do at NYU as the Director of Educational Technology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

LA: Our office of five serves the three divisions that make up NYU’s largest school: the College of Arts & Sciences (undergraduates), Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and Liberal Studies Program (undergraduates). We support hundreds of faculty members teaching thousands of students and as you can imagine, we’ve been incredibly busy over the past two years helping everyone pivot to remote learning, then pass through an uncomfortable period of hybrid learning on our journey back to predominantly face to face instruction.

Our team trains and supports faculty in the meaningful use of educational technology, which means we lead with instruction and prioritize tools and platforms that are easy to use and don’t detract from the learning experience. Our office does not run any applications on our own, so a big part of our work is developing relationships and processes to coordinate with other units, such as Central IT (where our tools and platforms reside), the Registrar (where important things like Course Offerings, Classroom Assignments, and Rosters reside), Libraries (where all the research and learning materials reside), and departments and programs (where the faculty and students are), to name just a few. In planning and implementing this work, I rely on the lessons I’ve learned from working on projects in the Apereo community: the importance of transparency and communication, respect for the expertise each partner brings to the relationship, and commitment to developing and working toward a shared vision. 

We also emphasize fostering teaching innovation and disseminating the discoveries of the innovators we work with. The past two years of pandemic upheaval have accelerated the pace of change in higher education and we feel lucky that our work in cultivating innovation allowed us to anticipate some of these directions and prepare our faculty and students for them. 


AFF: You’ve worn many hats at the Apereo Foundation over the years, could you tell us a bit about how you got involved with Apereo?

LA: It all started with a search for an eportfolio tool! I was teaching in a program at NYU, Liberal Studies, that was launching a four-year Bachelor’s program for students interested in spending one or two years abroad at another NYU site. We needed to make sure that students had access to the same digital learning materials in their courses across the NYU Global sites and that they also had a platform for collecting materials from courses and experiential learning activities for their senior thesis and sharing them with their faculty advisors. We started by working with an Apereo vendor, Unicon, and then our Central IT unit became involved in the Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project as a founding stakeholder. For that project, I coordinated the User Reference Group, liaising between the user needs and development sides of the project. NYU ended up adopting Sakai CLE as our learning management system, which we stayed on from 2012 to 2021. Although I went to Columbia from late 2013 to early 2018, my work on the Open Academic Environment shaped my career in educational technology and remains my ideal in terms of how academic technology projects should be conceived, funded, developed, and governed. 


AFF: What various Apereo committees, projects and initiatives are you involved with right now and what do they do? Any committees or boards that you are involved with that especially need volunteers in 2022?

LA: I am thrilled to be working with the Apereo Incubation Group right now. This group is re-grouping after the pandemic, when many were pulled away from new project development to support emergency remote efforts. We need volunteers to be mentors and we need projects to apply for incubation. One area of incubation I’d really like to see grow is partnership with engineering, design, and computer and data science programs in higher ed institutions so that we can bring in more campus and student projects and encourage a new generation of developers to go open source with their work. Community support and professional development for student developers and designers has a long history in the Apereo Foundation and I hope we can bring in many more students and instructors.

AFF: You are the Apereo Foundation Newsletter editor in chief. Please tell us what types of content you are looking for in each issue and how folks can submit and subscribe. What should folks know about the Apereo Newsletter?

LA: The Apereo Newsletter is our community’s “push notification”! We share content from our website and social media accounts directly to your inbox. One of our chief tasks is to make the Apereo Community visible – open source software and the people who create and maintain it are often a dependable but anonymous crowd. We love to have stories about what’s happening in projects, new adoptions, project contributor profiles, testimonials, recommended uses, anything that will help give more information about and insight into the people and projects that make up our community. 

In terms of content format, we especially like videos, screencasts, or screenshots that show off software features or otherwise visualize product functionality.  

People can sign up for the newsletter by sending an email to announcements+subscribe[at]apereo[dot]org or by going to this link, https://groups.google.com/a/apereo.org/g/announcements and clicking on Join Group. 


AFF: As someone who has been part of the Apereo Foundation for over a decade and an active part of the teaching community, could you give us a few words on the Value of Open-Source in Higher Education and even more specifically what you view as the Value of Apereo as it relates to Open-Source in Higher Education?  

LA: Some of the best values of higher education – preserving, promoting, and growing knowledge for use in the world – are also the values of Open Source. But in spite of our expansive mission, institutions of higher education can be very insular, small (or even large) worlds to themselves where individuals often are the sole representatives of their area of expertise. The Apereo Community provides a unique space for collaboration and sharing across higher ed institutions, a space where institutions and individuals benefit from the open environment for growth and development. 


AFF: Dr. Lucy, you are everywhere! You are also serving on the Open Apereo 2022 planning committee, tell us about something you are particularly excited about for the conference that is coming up in June. Sneak peek!

LA: It’s hard to choose! There are a couple of presentations on building open organizations and especially how to build an “open mindset” on campuses that I think are going to be particularly amazing!


AFF: Dr. Lucy Appert, thank you so much for spending time with us at Apereo Foundation Fast. We appreciate you and everything you do for the Apereo Foundation. 


Fast Reminders: 

For more information about the Apereo Incubation Group please join the list at: https://groups.google.com/a/apereo.org/g/incubation and click on Join Group.

To receive the Apereo Newsletter please send an email to announcements+subscribe[at]apereo[dot]org or by going to this link, https://groups.google.com/a/apereo.org/g/announcements and click on Join Group.

Open Apereo 2022: The Value of Open Source will take place June 14 & 15 Online
Registration is open. Save the Date on your calendar!

Want to nominate someone to be interviewed for Apereo Foundation Fast? Please email your suggestions to michelle.hall[at]apereo[dot]org