Campus Technology

 

Holloway Hall

University Technology Plan 2010-2014

 

The 2009-2013 Salisbury University Strategic Plan cites four specific goals:

  1. Provide exceptional liberal arts education and academic and professional programs that are aligned with an increasingly competitive, global, knowledge-based economy (SUSP I)
     
  2. Continue to attract and retain quality students (SUSP II)
     
  3. Promote and develop a student culture that places the highest priority on academic engagement and personal growth by leveraging the SU “small school feel” and strong student/faculty/staff interactions (SUSP III)
     
  4. Continue to build the resources--human, financial, physical, and external--that support student academic and engagement needs (SUSP IV)
     

The 2010-2015 University Technology Plan supports those goals by leveraging the many technologies and services added during the past several years and by identifying trends and innovations most relevant to those goals.

Introduction

Some of the significant trends and innovations affecting teaching, learning, academic research, personal and professional communications, and institutional management in the next five years include

  • Growth in the creation and distribution of digital content, including film, audio, animations, and other academic content.
     
  • The adoption of real time videoconferencing in the classroom and the capture of video and audio for distribution through the internet for asynchronous learning.
     
  • Proliferation of social media/communications tools like Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, YouTube, Skype, as well as blogs, wikis and various instant messaging tools. Although initially these web tools were simply “pop technologies”, they are finding their way into education and business.
     
  • Growing amount of print academic material, formally residing in libraries, moving to the web and downloadable to portable devices. The growing interest in eBooks to help control student textbook costs.
     
  • Mobility technologies, smart phones, laptops and netbooks, scientific instruments, and other wireless network connected devices.
     
  • Large amounts of data storage, both in the cloud (web) and on personal storage devices.
     
  • Many in higher education agree that although students are generally “technologically fearless”, their technological fluency is often spotty. Many career fields are redefining or clarifying basic technology employment skills.  The expectation for technology fluency in all career fields will become a new baseline.  The definition of technology fluency may vary depending on the career field chosen.
     
  • Increasing internet bandwidth capacity and reliability which will allow more data to move faster over the internet, at lower costs.  Advances in small area wireless networks and large area wireless networks (WIMAX) will provide connections virtually anywhere.
     
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) and storage in the cloud, or through the internet.  Services or computer programs no longer need to be run from the campus and data no longer needs to be stored on the campus.  The paradigm of campus centric computing will change for some activities.
     
  • Virtual server technology enables the maximization of server resources by allowing server environments to be created quickly and “live” on the same physical device.
     
  • Virtual desktops will allow the personal desktop to become “portable.”  Users will be able to access their home or business desktop applications and resources from any computer with internet access. 
     

Goal 1: Provide and promote a rich technology environment for the creation of digital media for all academic disciplines. Encourage collaboration among students and faculty.  

The university opened the Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC) in the 2008. In addition to providing exceptional teacher education training facilities, the TETC is home to eight new computer labs, more than 35 SMART classrooms and the Integrated Media Center. Clustered in three areas of the building, labs serve many academic areas including teacher education and training, psychological statistics, social research, journalism, digital photography, new media, music technology, stage set design, audio production, video production and editing, accounting, management information systems, and a variety of writing courses.

While the labs are a hub of teaching with technology the Integrated Media Center (IMC) the IMC is one of the premiere digital media centers on the east coast. Built with the goal of encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration in the digital arts, it houses a professional level high definition video studio, a standard definition instructional video studio, a digital recording studio, fifteen video editing suites, five audio editing suites, two electronic music composition rooms, and two multiple media computer labs. Already, there is early evidence of collaboration.

Recommendations:

1.1 Work with the four School Deans, the Dean of Libraries, and the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research to support faculty who would like to add digital content to class web sites or enhance in-class activities with digital media. (SUSP I)
   
1.2 In collaboration with the Deans and campus departments, develop programs which promote the creation of digital media. Programs may include a young filmmakers summer program, a regional digital media conference for higher education professionals, the creation of a digital archive of undergraduate research, outreach to area high school students with an interest in audio or video recording, and/or a professional development center for K-12 teachers with an interest in media creation and web development. (SUSP II)
   
1.3 Develop a plan for technology replacement of IMC hardware and software that includes the cultivation of external revenues through facilities lease. (SUSP IV)
   
1.4 Support the development of degree programs on the part of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts and Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies in the area of digital media.
(SUSP I)

 
Goal 2: Technology Supported Learning - Provide innovative tools to support a high quality teaching environment

Thirty years ago when the phrase was first coined, academic computing was the province of a few disciplines in the sciences and perhaps social sciences and a campus may have had one or two mainframe computers.

The landscape has changed. In fall 2009, Salisbury University operated 14 computer labs, six specialty research computer labs, and 150 SMART classrooms. More than 1000 course sections use MyClasses (Blackboard/WebCT) in which all or a part of a course is offered over the internet from a campus supported learning management system. Each semester at least 25 course sections broadcast interactive video to four remote sites in Maryland. Several classes in Nursing and Respiratory Therapy are also using class capture systems to post lectures (video and audio) on class web sites for asynchronous learning. Distance learning courses are a very recent development for Salisbury University (2007). With the addition of additional distance learning rooms in the Perdue School of Business we expect the number of web based video courses to increase.

Developments:

In 2011, the new Perdue School of Business will open. This facility will include: a general computer lab; finance lab, enterprise computing lab, and advanced computing lab. It will also provide 23 additional SMART classrooms, a 200 seat auditorium, three video conferencing rooms and two portable video conferencing systems.
Between 2010 and 2012, four residence halls will be renovated and a new 600 bed residence hall will be completed (2011). Each will include one instructional classroom to support living/learning programs.

Recommendations:

2.1 Enhance the current funds for computer lab and SMART classroom refresh. By 2011, the number of SMART classrooms will have doubled since the fund was established in 2002. (SUSP IV)
   
2.2 Recreate a desktop computer refresh fund (faculty/staff). (SUSP IV)
   
2.3 Upgrade from the WebCT 8.0 learning management system to Blackboard’s Learn 9.0 . (SUSP I)
   
2.4 Develop a student self-service course evaluation module in GullNet (PeopleSoft). Develop standard and custom reports for faculty, departments, deans, and the provost. Adoption would be the decision of the deans. (SUSP I)
   
2.5  Implement Microsoft SharePoint to enhance collaboration and communication in instruction and between academic departments, campus committees, share governance groups and administrative units. (SUSP I)
   
2.6 Expand campus support for Linux and UNIX operating systems to address the needs of students and faculty in the schools of science and business. (SUSP I)
   
2.7 Add video/audio conferencing to each SMART classroom to enable remote guest speakers or collaboration sessions. This can be accomplished through the addition of PC based conferencing systems. (SUSP I)
   
2.8 Identify a secure web development platform for faculty and students that enables them to create and maintain sites from off campus. (SUSP I)
   
2.9  Increase the amount of data storage available to students, faculty and staff utilizing a combination of offsite “cloud storage” and campus managed storage systems. (SUSP I)
   
2.10 Make class capture systems available to faculty who would like to record lectures (audio or video) and post them on the web for distance learning or class enhancement. (SUSP I)
   
2.11 Add one additional technology support specialist for the Perdue School of Business. (SUSP I)
2.12 Add an academic computing coordinator to support faculty/student research, grants, and web and server based software systems. (SUSP I)
   
2.12 Add an academic computing coordinator to support faculty/student research, grants, and web and server based software systems. (SUSP I)
   
2.13 Work with faculty and the Office of Instructional Design and Delivery to provide faculty development training in instructional technology tools. (SUSP I)
   
2.14 The 2009-2013 SU Strategic Plan identifies “Maximizing student’s competency in an information based economy, ensuring their understanding and use of information resources and information technologies” as a key recommendation. The need for a technology literacy requirement or program has also been noted in the preparation of this document. All areas of University Technology Services will support the Provost, Deans, and Faculty in achieving this goal. (SUSP I)

 

Goal 3: Administrative Computing - Provide a growing array of web based services to students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Administrative computing has focused on the business systems of the university: student information system, Human Resources, and Financials. Between 2002 and 2004, SU replaced old legacy systems with PeopleSoft 8.0 enterprise systems. The Contributor Relations system was also brought online in 2004 to support the SU Foundation and Alumni Office. The student and HR systems were upgraded to the newest 9.0 version in late 2007, while financials was upgraded to 8.9 in 2007. Most software systems are now web accessible and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Although these are the major systems in use on campus, other systems support specialty areas including the Gull Card (debit, identification, and building access card), the internally developed parking management system, course evaluation software, student judicial management, and other services. One goal is to reduce the number of third party software tools hosted on campus by developing similar applications in People Tools. There will still be some externally hosted specialty tools in use for years to come.
In 2012, the university’s maintenance contract with Oracle/PeopleSoft will expire. The university, and other University System of Maryland campuses, will need to start considering their options in the 2010-2011 timeframe.

Recommendations:

3.1 Electronic transcript distribution system. SU has received transcripts from Maryland community colleges for several years. SU plans to develop a system to allow SU student transcripts to be distributed electronically to other colleges, graduate schools, and employers. (SUSP IV)
   
3.2 The university does not currently use a business intelligence software tool. Reports and requests for ad hoc information are accomplished with extract files, departmental queries, or IT generated reports. The university will consider the adoption of a product that will enable end users to complete ad hoc reports and have “dashboard access” to key performance indicators. (SUSP IV)
   
3.3 SU administrative computing staff will move from Fulton Hall to Building B-1 on the east campus. (SUSP IV)
   
3.4 As cell phone applications become more prevalent, SU will experiment with cell phone applications for GullNet functionality, daily campus news, and alerts. (SUSP IV)
   
3.5 Evaluate the use of Customer Relation Management (CRM) software in student services and business/finance. At this time only Admissions is utilizing CRM. This technology can also be used to enhance student retention, graduation rates, provide alerts or automated “to-do” lists for students and faculty. (SUSP IV)
   
3.6  Enhance student advisement by providing screens in GullNet that consolidate student information from a variety of files. Add the ability for advisors to add advising notes with GullNet.
   
3.7 Identify ways to automate office information processes through business process analysis.
   
3.8 Evaluate the need for a web portal to assemble web based applications and services in a easy to find and use space.

 

Goal 4: Network Infrastructure - Provide a secure network that operates with great efficiency and reliability utilizing the latest technologies to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile campus community.

SU operates a data network with more than 8,000 network ports and 300+ wireless access points. All buildings on campus are now wireless enabled with either 802.11g or 802.11n wireless. Even the Wayne Street parking garage is included in the wireless network. Within the next five years the new Perdue School of Business will open, the Physical Plant department will move to the east campus, Caruthers Hall will be demolished, a new 600 bed residence hall will open, and the data center will move from Fulton Hall to dual locations in the Wayne Street Garage and the Perdue School of Business. The network will expand to meet the demand. The overarching theme is more connectivity, less downtime, and greater redundancy. All have implications for staffing and costs.

Trends that will guide the evolution of the network will be the growth in university facilities, a desire for more mobility (Wi-Fi and cell phone applications), and growing expectations for security. We are also seeing a very rapid growth in the number of video security systems, off campus Gull Card vendors, expanded use of the Gull Card for access control and other needs.

Recommendations:

4.1 The wired SU network includes hundreds of data switches located in wiring closets across the campus. Many of these switches are 8 to 9 years old. Although they have performed well, they are starting to fail in some cases and they lack the security/management features of the new devices. The older switches are also not capable of providing the network speeds needed and expected today. A comprehensive plan for this upgrade will be provided to the executive staff in early 2010. (SUSP II, IV)
   
4.2 The older wireless access points which provide wireless network service in most of the academic buildings need to be upgraded to the latest 802.11n (155MB) to increase speed and security. (SUSP II, IV)
   
4.3 Exterior wireless access points must be added to complete the “curb to curb” wireless goals for universal access. The spring 2009 survey revealed that almost 80% of SU students own wireless laptops and there is a growing expectation for wireless connectivity in every location. (SUSP II, IV)
   
4.4 There is continual need to increase the speed of both the wired and wireless network. This is mostly brought on by the development of new internet services, increased use of video and audio, and internet based games. Current maximum internet throughput is 200MB. Within a few years this needs to be increased to 1GB. (SUSP II, IV)
   
4.5 SU is growing with new facilities and adding to its land mass. This is very positive for university programs and services. It will, however, require that IT staff appropriately. For example, adding 600 additional resident students in the fall 2011 will add to service calls and overall support for internet and cable television services. Attachment 1 provides a list of new technology staff required. (SUSP II, IV)
   
4.6 SU currently holds licenses that the FCC includes in the Educational Broadband System. These licenses can be utilized by the university or subleased to a commercial provider of wide range wireless broadband services (WiMAX). SU will seek to make use of this licensed spectrum to provide wireless access to the internet for up to five miles from the campus. (SUSP IV)

 

Goal 5: Insure that the SU network and campus information systems are secure and can stay in operation in the event of a campus based or regional disaster.

College campuses rely on technology to support almost every major campus activity. Teaching, research, student support services, residence/dining services, recreation, communication, business functions, fund raising, and campus safety. Technology is so ubiquitous that is almost invisible to many people.

Recommendations:

5.1 Enhance and test the IT disaster recovery plan. SU devoted a great deal of time and effort to enhance and refine its technology disaster recovery plan in 2009. The plan is a roadmap for IT personnel to identify how and when technology services are to be restored following a disaster. More than 40 academic and administrative departments completed Business Impact Analysis and Business Continuity surveys in order to develop an effective disaster recovery strategy. The initial plan, including a major systems restore, was completed in December 2009. This will be assessed and tests will be done annually in the future. SU must plan to appropriately update the related disaster recovery documentation and procedures. (SUSP IV)
   
5.2 More diverse location of critical system servers on campus. In 2011, SU will leave its current data center in Fulton Hall and move equipment and services to two locations, the Wayne Street parking garage and the new Perdue School of Business. The goal is to distribute server resources to multiple locations to limit risk in the event of a disaster. The server support team will move to building B-1 in 2011. (SUSP IV)
   
5.3 Security education needs to be a focus on campus. Personal and office computers are increasingly at risk of attack by external Trojan software, other malware and spyware. The attacks can affect system performance, but can also lead to damage to computer systems and the theft of personal or business information. Although the university does provide free anti-virus and spyware software, this does not address all potential problems. IT will take a greater role in providing computer security training through various means. IT will continue to monitor network activity and campus security policies and make changes where needed. (SUSP IV)
   
5.4 Virtual computer labs. Very recently there has been early work done on the creation of virtual computer labs on college campuses. This technology allows an individual’s PC software and profile to be stored centrally on a server. This enables them to log onto to any computer or network terminal and see their personal desktop. Virtual computer labs could lead to the replacement of lab PCs with less expensive terminals. In some cases, lab software that is currently only accessible in the computer labs could be made available, after authentication, outside the labs on personal computers. SU will research this technology to determine whether or not it provides value for the university. (SUSP II, V)
   
5.5 Green IT initiatives – virtualization, blade servers, updating network switches, and virtual labs all present opportunities to save both electricity and funds. The Department of Information Technology will research all of these new technologies in an effort to reduce energy use and conserve funds. (SUSP IV)

 

Summary

Salisbury University provides technology services that rival those most colleges and universities in the country. Very gradually, and almost without notice, technologies have changed the way we teach, learn and work. We can communicate and collaborate with lightening speed. Most business functions are now available on the internet and more than 1,000 course sections have significant web content each semester. IT excited by the new opportunities and a little overwhelmed at the constantly steepening learning curve.

As a university we need to remain competitive with our peers and lead where we can, while keeping data safe and secure. This will involve constant learning on the part of all and a strong effort to cope with the increasing costs. The human and financial investment has already been significant, but the price of not continuing to invest could be even more costly.