Toward the development of a strategic technology plan

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a discussion piece in anticipation of a faculty/administrator forum




The objective of the Universal Access plan was to establish a base level of access to technology at Suffolk County Community College. What constitutes a “base” level of access is certainly subjective and, even to the maker of the standard, only valid for one moment of time. In the wake of the successful implementation of the Universal Access plan, and the speed at which technology and its applications to education evolve, it is imperative that the College act promptly to plan for future activity in the technology arena. Failure to do so will again put the College in a catch-up situation.
Perhaps in developing our new plan we should no longer be striving to achieve a “base” level of access; rather, our goal should be to reach and maintain an appropriate level of resources in the technology area. We need to remember where we were coming from prior to Universal Access and that “base” level now was considered nirvana for us just a short time ago. At the same time, we should not get caught up in the hype of the technology purveyors. The Internet and computers and related peripherals and software offer exciting new tools for teaching and learning, and for managing the enterprise. These can be effective at motivating students, and proficiency in using technology is certainly important for students in the workplace and in their lives. These tools are extremely useful, but they are not a substitute for other methods of pedagogy. It should remain in the forefront that the technology plan is not the entire plan driving the college.
The plan should address the needs of academic support, student services and administration, and identify the outcomes desired. To support applications in these areas we will need to address training/support (help desk assistance, courses, computer based instruction), hardware (mainframe, mid-size, desktop computers, projectors, scanners, routers, hubs, etc.), software (commercially acquired standard and customized, in-house developed), communication (bandwidth, interactive video, integration of voice and electronic messaging) and policy (security, homogeneity).
This document was initially drafted by Steven Schrier, Vice President for Legal, Planning and Information Services, based upon discussions held in the College Computing Council and a review of literature, and was presented to the Planning Subcommittee of the College Computing Council. That group discussed the process that should occur to lead to a Strategic Technology Plan. A technology assessment survey was administered to all employees to further inform our process. Michael Weissberg, Vice President for Student Affairs, Gary Ris, Executive Director for Computer and Information Services, and Donald R. Coscia, Associate Dean for College Instructional Technology, working with Steven Schrier, thereupon reviewed the results of the survey (prepared by Anthony Napoli, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment) and assisted in editing this document. Your reaction to the concepts presented and comments on the strengths and limitations of our computing capability, through an open forum and discussion on the listserv, will help inform the Subcommittee on the writing of the final recommendation to the Council. From there it will go to the President and, if approved, will serve as the basis for a consultant to recommend an operational direction for accomplishing the strategic objectives. In this way the plan can result in concrete budget requests.
The pace of change that has been experienced in technology has been so rapid that a five-year time frame may be too great. The Universal Access project involved a one and one-half year implementation period. Perhaps the best we can do is create a vision as far out into the future as reality will allow us, and then we will build an action plan around that vision.
The following ideas are intended as a starting point in the development of this vision. It is meant to elicit a response to the ideas put forward and it is also meant to encourage you to share your ideas and possibly even stimulate your creativity so that new applications and strategies are brought into the discussion.

I. General Issues

1. How can better learning outcomes be achieved? How can students’ individual learning styles be accommodated?

2. Should the pace of change, including re-engineering of curricula, be accelerated and, if so, how?
3. How can technology enhance communication among faculty, between faculty and students, and among classmates?
4. How can technology make the college more efficient and effective?
5. What will it take to achieve acceptance and integration of the technology resources now available?
6. How can we use technology to support a learner centered environment?
7. How can we use technology to support a student-centered approach to the delivery of student services?
8. How can the needs of end users for support best be met? What format for professional development would be most accepted and utilized?
9. Does the organization of the college Web site meet the need for accessing information?
10. Should students have access to technology assistance from home?

II. Training/Support

A. Recent developments in the area:

  • New training programs have been developed through the College Computing Council’s Training Subcommittee. (Note: The technology-training plans can be viewed at the Web site - These can be summarized as follows:

  • A comprehensive technology-training program called “SuffolkStar” is available to all faculty.

  • Comprehensive technology-training programs for administrators and staff have been developed and will commence this summer.

  • A comprehensive technology-training program has been developed for the Professional Assistants who support campus technology initiatives.

  • The teaching and learning centers located on each campus are equipped with the latest technology. Teleconferencing equipment through ISDN-lines will be operational this fall.

  • A comprehensive distance education classroom training program is available for all faculty.

  • A comprehensive CourseInfo training program for faculty will commence during the summer 2000.

  • A library of computer based training (CBT) materials has been licensed and is available.

  • Software updates are being implemented remotely through an on-line software maintenance system.

  • The following positions have been created to support the academic technology initiatives through the Vice President of Academic and Campus Affairs Office - Associate Dean for College Instructional Technology; Associate Dean for Instructional Computing; College Faculty Coordinator for Instructional Development; College Faculty Coordinator for Distance Education; College Faculty Coordinator for Academic Computing; Campus Faculty Coordinators for Instructional Technology Support.

  • The Campuses are in the process of developing Educational Technology Units to expand academic computing support for their users.

  • The following positions have been created to add support for networking, telecommunications and desktop computing: Professional Assistant for Educational Network Services, Office Systems Technician for Telecommunications, Professional Assistant and an Office Systems Technician for Computer Maintenance and Repair.

  • The following positions have been added for server applications and Web development in the Computer Center: UNIX Programmer, Professional Assistant for Web Development.

B. Issues:

1. Do the methods currently in place meet our needs? Why aren’t more faculty and administrators taking advantage of the training currently available?

2. Is the traditional method of teaching changing to such a degree that it is necessary to reconfigure the entire staffing pattern and workload? Are new types of positions needed to support the use of technology?
3. Should candidates for employment be assessed on their technological skills? Should we require, as a condition of employment, that all new employees have PCs and Internet connectivity at home?
4. Does the organizational structure need to be modified to meet the changing role of technology at the College?
5. Will the College be able to recruit and retain the personnel needed to sustain this area? Will other methods of recruiting need to be utilized? Should there be greater reliance on vendors?
6. How can faculty and administrators be encouraged to adopt, and to be creative and innovate in the use of, the resources that have been acquired?
7. How should Web sites be maintained?
8. Is there a need for a “portal” or integrated Web-based point of entry for students to access various services (grades, registration, e-mail, etc.) and/or their faculty and the course management system?
9. How will the College support course revision and development for offerings to be included on the SUNY Learning Network and using CourseInfo? The establishment of media servers (music, art, video)? Instructional design support?
10. If faculty require students to access electronic materials, what kind of support should be provided to students and what kinds of assumptions should faculty be able to make about knowledge of this learning process?
11. How can communication between end users and technical staff be facilitated to ensure integration of new systems?
12. Should the college develop a help desk support system or should there be a distributed network of support? Should an outside service be contracted to provide support?

III. Hardware

A. Recent developments in the area:

  • Every faculty office has a computer capable of running current software.

  • Each administrator and full time staff member has an appropriate computer.

  • “Smart” carts are available in each classroom building.

  • Open access computer labs for students have been expanded both in size and in operating hours.

  • A new central processing unit for the mainframe has been installed.

  • A new mainframe printer has been installed.

  • Additional college and campus servers have been added to support expanded communication and collaborative services.

B. Issues:

1. Should students be required to purchase their own computer? Should they be required to bring it to class, ensuring that computers are always state-of-the-art and avoiding considerable college expense? Should these computers allow for wireless computing?

2. Will the college be able to implement the current PC replacement policy? Should the College reconsider the computer replacement policy? Should there be different policies for different areas? What should be done with used computers?
3. Are there other desktop computing environments that should be considered, such as thin server clients, wireless computers or zero administration clients, where the users desktop is locked and software installation is restricted to a specific college standard?
4. Will all faculty need their own PC, rather than sharing units within their office? Will it be necessary to access work product from home, office and classroom?
5. Will it be necessary to create a wireless environment to permit anywhere computing?
6. How should classrooms be equipped? Should proximas or proximas and smart boards (or the equivalent) be installed in each classroom? Should each classroom be equipped with a computer? Is it necessary for more classrooms to be equipped with student computer workstations?
7. Is there a need for scanners and color printers and, if so, where would they ideally be located?

IV. Software/Systems

A. Recent developments in the area:

  • CourseInfo, a product of BlackBoard Inc., an on-line course management system (CMS) has been licensed for faculty use and replaces TopClass as the CMS.

  • The library has an electronic card catalog and the following electronic research tools: online indexes and full text databases (art, literature, and general encyclopedias; newspapers; government reports; college catalogs; and articles in diverse fields such as business, health, education, and anthropology).

  • Access to library resources will be extended from campus computers to home PCs after EZProxy, an authentication server, is installed this summer.

  • In addition to the library classrooms with Proxima's for teaching the Internet, the Ammerman library has added a classroom with PCs for hands on instruction.

  • A college Web site has been established along with Web pages for many departments. Interactive Web sites have been developed for Admissions, Registrar, and Financial Aid which provide for on-line inquiries, admissions and financial aid applications, access to records, submission of forms, etc.

  • Chat room licenses are available for faculty choosing to use this device.

  • Mediated learning software is being piloted in MA01, MA07, and MA27, and has been piloted in EG11.

  • Accounting ledgers-software is being piloted in AC11 and AC12.

  • Computer Associates Unicenter, TNG enterprise software is being offered in CM70 and 71.

  • SCCC is a Cisco Regional Networking Academy and is offering this router/hub/network training through TE65, TE66, TE67, and TE68.

  • Students can now pay bills by credit card over the phone. The system is also being enhanced to allow students to obtain their grades.

  • College financial systems, including purchasing, are now computer based.

  • Kiosks have been set up on each campus for students to access information and, soon, their records.

  • Asynchronous courses are being offered over the Internet and beginning in the fall 2000 these courses will be offered through the SUNY Learning Network.

  • Software (CARS) has been acquired and is fully operational to manage the processing of potential and new students.

  • Software is being implemented to manage the master schedule of classes.

  • The college has acquired and implemented software to image, store and retrieve documents, which will allow paper student files to be minimized and moved to storage.

  • An upgrade of the mail server, which will allow for workgroup computing to be facilitated, has occurred and workstations are in the process of being loaded with the necessary software.

  • The college print shop, which has been upgraded with a docutech printer, can receive print jobs on-line.

B. Issues:

1. Should the college move towards accessing software on the Web or in a shared environment rather than in each machine?

2. What kinds of software and/or access to data would free faculty from routine tasks or improve their ability to know and serve student needs?
3. The college now has standards selected for Web viewing and office applications. Are there other types of software for which a standard should be selected for acquisition and support?
4. What kinds of applications for bulletin boards and chat rooms, etc. do faculty want to have available?
5. What student applications would make SCCC more customer friendly? What systems need to be reengineered to make SCCC more accessible?
6. Are there devices that can be put into place to reduce attrition, such as early intervention systems, tutorials?
7. What will textbooks of the future look like and how do our faculty want to make textbooks (or some new form) available?
8. What new or expanded systems will facilitate the efficient administration of the college? Clearly, a human resources information system is necessary and will have the benefits of improving data availability and giving employees greater access to information. Are there other applications that should migrate to commercially developed software, like the entire student records, billing and registration system?
9. Should forms be available on-line for completion and transmission?
10. Should software be installed to permit voice recognition and speech synthesization?
11. What licensing arrangements will be most economical and appropriate?

V. Communication

A. Recent developments in the area:

  • Every office and every classroom is wired to the college network and from there to the Internet.

  • The college's Internet link has been upgraded from 384 kb/sec to a T1 at 1.9 mb/sec.

  • Inter campus connections for data have been upgraded from 384 kb/sec to T1 and a capital project is awaiting bonding to increase these lines to DS3s (45 mb/sec).

  • The number, speed and security of the college's faculty/staff/administrator dial-in lines are in the process of being increased.

  • A distance learning classroom exists on each campus with connectivity over leased DS3-lines and synchronous courses are being offered through these facilities.

  • A faculty/administrator listserv is available for communication among these individuals, and listservs in specialty areas are available on request.

  • All faculty and administrators can have e-mail addresses, and students are assigned e-mail addresses.

  • Audix has been made available to all faculty (full and part-time) and administrators.

B. Issues:

1. Are there areas (other than offices and classrooms) that need to have network ports or wireless hubs, such as dining and lounge areas?

2. Should the college network be set up so that any member of the college community can plug in and log on?
3. Is the speed of the network acceptable for the applications anticipated?
4. How do we end the use of paper? Can the Web provide an alternative to hard copy communication?
5. Should the telephone system be abandoned and merged with the computer network for voice communication?
6. Should the College prepare to become part of the Internet2 network?
7. Should the college continue to upgrade its dial-in connectivity or recommend that individuals use an ISP? Should the college provide Internet dial-in services to students?

Should the College partner with local cable and communication companies in order to offer students "fast" connectivity to the College for the purpose of taking classes, accessing library resources, etc.?

8. Should we expect that a single on-line universal access point will be available for the college community, to obtain college information, request services, check personal information, and work with colleagues?

VI. Policy/Other

A. Recent developments in the area:

  • A replacement policy has been adopted to ensure that workstations are current.

  • Policies have been adopted that regulate the use of college resources and conduct in accessing these facilities.

B. Issues:

1. How can security issues be addressed to assure the integrity of the system? Should users be expected or required to be authenticated prior to using a college computer, accessing the college network, and accessing college services over the Internet?

2. Should the college enforce a more strict user desktop (restricting the software that can be installed on college computers) thereby creating a more homogenous environment, allowing for easier deployment of services, more rapid responses to problems and service issues, and a less expensive support model?
3. Are back-up issues being properly addressed to maintain the operation of the College in the face of a disaster?
4. Can the College use the technology to improve its relationship with the community, e.g. Web site, services for H.S. students and teachers, providing recycled computers to disadvantaged students?
5. Should all departments, organizations and committees be expected or required to use an on-line approach to delivering information and providing services? Should "on-line" become the primary method? Should the college mandate the set up of Web pages and require that certain standards be met?
6. Should the college be providing the same access to its information systems on and off campus?
7. Should we be building our own systems or contracting/partnering with outside firms?

8. Should we allow/use advertising supported services for email, Web publishing, on-line courses, etc. to generate revenue or offset costs?

9. Who is to be responsible for the contents of electronic communication?

Please respond to this document by posting your comments in the area indicated in the discussion forum on the governance Web site ( In addition, a forum (intended for faculty) will be held in the distance learning room on each campus on May 9, 2000 from 2-3:30 P.M. A forum (intended for administrators) will be held in the same location on May 23, 2000 from 11-12:30 P.M. Attendance is encouraged at either forum. At these forums and on the Web site it would be helpful if you could also address the strengths and limitations of the state of technology at Suffolk County Community College, and express your vision of the features that would enhance our effectiveness. Indicate the priority to be given to the needs identified, being mindful of the benefit to be achieved and the cost of the proposal.

Thank you for your participation.

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