Technology white paper released

SGA recently released its first Technology white paper, a report on the incorporation and utilization of technology into the learning environment and general life on campus, and several proposals for future development from students.

“We are in a technology intensive world today, and we have a student population who has high standards regarding technological resources…and SGA wanted to take a closer look and make sure we are addressing these issues, and make sure that student views are represented on these aspects that are integral to our culture,” said John Semmens, Institute wide committee chair of SGA.

The Technology White Paper task force surveyed a cross section of the student body through its various apparatuses including open forums at the undergraduate house of representatives, and the advisory board that included members from different student organizations. The report details several areas of technology related programs and issues on campus, including the Virtualization Lab, information systems including T-Square, classroom integration, the campus wide calendar and student representation in IT governance.
Specifically, for campus wide information systems, such as T-Square, the report advocates a number of changes.

“T-Square is such a ubiquitous tool right now; every undergraduate uses it to access their grades, to contact their professors and download resources for their classes, but it’s somewhat antiquated. The user interface is not always easy to use… our second point with T-Square is that every professor is supposed to use it, and every student is supposed to use it. That’s not always the case; we would like to see every professor use T-Square by changing the culture,” Semmens said.

Some of these issues raised are already being addressed by the offices in charge of these services. According to Jim O’Connor, Associate Vice President of the Office of Information Technology (OIT), T-Square is in the process of transitioning to a newer version of Sakai, which is the underlying management system. T-Square will also be receiving an interface update.

According to Ron Hutchins, Associate Vice Provost for Research & Technology and Chief Technology Officer of OIT, the amount of demand for service and traffic on Tech’s IT infrastructure has been increasing in a Moore’s Law pattern, doubling approximately every 18 months.

“One of the concerns we have is that we need to be able to keep up with the demand for service. There is a lot of innovation on this campus, and we try to provide those services we have to make sure we are providing them in a secure and efficient way,” O’Connor said.

Another issue raised in the SGA white paper is a potential overhaul of the campus wide calendar system. Currently, students must email one of the specific users of the Mercury system with their event information in order to update the calendar.

The report suggests a more streamlined way to add events to the calendar with the formation of a Calendar Committee that consists of representatives from various student organizations. Another update to the calendar is that it will separate categories of events by individual sub-calendars that can be subscribed to by each student.

“Our doors are open. I applaud the folks who put the paper together. This is great input for us. We might not be able to implement everything, but we gotta have the input, then we need to talk about it and prioritize as a community,” Hutchins said.

Other proposals of the report include adding a Technology Day to the current curriculum, and a consolidation of the current classroom interaction systems such as PRS and iClicker.

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