Strategic Directions

Drop Shadow

Information Technology: Open Forum, March 8, 2005

[pdf file for printing]

Facilitators: Tom Herrinton, Bart Thurber

Tom Herrinton introduced the main ideas from the President’s Strategic Directions Workshop and explained that the primary question that participants were brainstorming was how USD might use information technology to distinguish itself from other schools. So far, IT has limited us, and many people feel negative about IT. He hopes that in the next five years these problems will be solved. He noted that things are getting better—this semester, when students returned, the network didn’t go down.

Bart Thurber explained one of the ideas from the workshop—the idea of establishing CHAT, the Center for Humanities and Technology. We can’t compete with MIT or Berkeley, but this center would be consistent with our mission. We could raise funds, establish an experimental classroom, do “black box” experimentation and research on pedagogy. Information science and libraries are a natural combination. We could host a conference, publish a journal, and put USD on the map.

Tom Herrinton asked, “What would the university community support and participate in?”

Comments from Forum Participants

  • There are developed standards for competence that should be incorporated in any planning that involves information literacy for students. [A copy of the standards was given to Institutional Research & Planning.]
  • Some participants have practical reasons for coming, such as a concern with the disconnect between networking and implementation. Router changes in SCST have created connection problems for faculty in the building.
  • In order to get things done, students often have to visit several offices that are spread out geographically. They should be able to accomplish a lot of these things on the Internet without having to walk all over campus.
  • The campus libraries contain over a million books, and they are intimately connected to the technologies that provide access to them. Because of The Circuit, we have access to over five million, and many databases. We need to build on that accessibility.
  • Reference librarians get students who are very confused about how to search. Some kind of federated server would be helpful.
  • Faculty and staff would like to be able to walk into any classroom on campus and have the equipment both working and easy to use. The fewer obstacles to using information technology in the classroom, the better.
  • We also have to think about the permanence of information. We could piggyback on other initiatives to ensure that information produced by our faculty is preserved. The Google project is getting lots of press now. Are there other vendors that can help us with preserving our works?
  • We still don’t have an easy way to communicate by e-mail with our students. Getting a mass e-mail out practically requires an act of Congress. We should be able to solve this problem in less than five years.
  • The Registrar’s Office wanted to send personalized e-mail to graduating seniors about their graduation requirements. They had to request e-mail addresses from ITS because they didn’t have student e-mail addresses in their database.
  • The notes from the workshop mention collaboration. We should have more opportunities to establish collaborative partnerships with IT and develop ideas with a significant IT component—for example, e-portfolios to track undergraduate student learning. We have a standard, but no real IT support for it. How do we move ideas forward?
  • We need to build on existing collaborative arrangements. We need an advisory committee with faculty and student input.
  • Alumni want to be able to navigate our Web site and want to be able to register for events online, request transcripts online, and order more things from the bookstore online. Also, we need some computers for alumni to use when they come on campus. Currently, we have to try to make a staff computer in Alumni Relations available.
  • We need quicker updates to the Web, and training for people who can make the updates.
  • The alumni database is separate from the student and administrative databases, and we need good connections between them. We need a live link so we know who’s here.
  • Faculty who have advisees put on probation don’t have a way of checking their status. When one of these students comes to register, the faculty member doesn’t know whether to give them a PIN or send them to the dean.
  • Alumni Relations needs to know who today’s student leaders are ten years from now to help plan reunions.
  • Is it possible to send out campus voicemail when the network is down, so people know there’s a problem that’s being worked on? [Response: The problem is that broadcast voicemail doesn’t light your phone until the next message comes in; we can’t light all the phones on campus simultaneously.]
  • Technology should be much more useful in emergency management; we’re nowhere near the cutting edge in using IT for emergency management.
  • A lot of the ideas for IT involve updating a little—like putting lectures on PowerPoint. But students growing up now approach learning and interaction very differently than the students we’re accustomed to teaching. We may need to question our pedagogy. Faculty need to have workshops to help them learn to use IT to improve the learning experience.
  • Students expect to have wireless access everywhere—and to be able to use their cell phones anywhere on campus.
  • We need to equalize access to IT. We decided not to require laptops. Are there inequities we should be looking at? [Response: Most students have computers, but it’s not known whether they are comparable in capabilities and capacity.]
  • The students who have laptops can bring them to class—that gives them an advantage over students who have desktop computers and can only use them in their rooms.
  • Can we have a Spanish Renaissance version of our paper kiosk signs? Can we have a laser beam to count cars going into parking garages and post a notice when they’re full? [Response: The Design Committee is looking at electronic signage that’s a little more low-key than the signage purchased by SDSU.]
  • A project is currently underway to establish a master calendar of faculty events and online registration for events.
  • We need better control of spam. [Response: We’re trying to tweak the program that handles spam. It takes a lot of time because the spammers keep changing their techniques.]
  • IT isn’t just a back room server—people have lots of specific requirements, and we don’t have a good way to identify those. This is a fine institution, but we need to encourage faculty to think outside the domain. Students tend to get their IT training by working with campus organizations, not in the classroom. We’re not taking good care of our customers and their IT learning needs.
  • Some here have circled around the idea of “computing across the curriculum”—this would have an impact on students as they enter the working world.
  • What sort of IT should we put in our classrooms? We have 150-180 classrooms, and the budget doesn’t go very far as we upgrade 1-3 at a time. This upcoming summer, 14 more classrooms will be brought online. We’re currently replacing data projectors bought in 1997-1999; next year, we’ll change 37. Changing this equipment is a slow process—plus, we have to have the staff to maintain and repair it. But faculty love IT when it works.
  • We should apply for grants that would provide some funds for upgrading and enhancing our IT.
  • What’s the impact of IT on kids carrying stuff around with them? What happens when the computer goes down? Can we figure things out by hand?
  • Have we looked at retirement of faculty over the next five years? How many new faculty will we have to hire? The ones we hire will need to have the IT capabilities of our incoming students. [Response: Since there’s no mandatory retirement age for faculty, it’s difficult to predict how many will retire over the next five years.]
  • Should all faculty we interview in searches include questions about how they use IT in teaching?
  • In our five-year plan, students shouldn’t have to “go” anywhere to transact business on campus. Everything should be electronic so they can use their home computers for all routin interactions.
  • Speaking of collaboration—in what creative ways could we use Microsoft Project?
  • In order to increase collaboration, we need to be more specific and offer realistic incentives for faculty—and figure out a way to share their results.
  • Create collaboration by creating centers and offering the tools. The perception in the business community is that USD students aren’t tech savvy.
  • Can we define learning objectives for students and what info is available to them?
  • We need to create lifelong learners—people who can take information and know how to use it. These programs have a best practice model.
  • As the new core curriculum was developed, IT competency was considered but not included as a core requirement. The reason given was that our students are already tech savvy, so what’s the big deal? [Response: Some of our students are tech savvy, but most of them aren’t. Their competence tends to be limited to e-mail, music, and messaging—not in activities that are more skill oriented.