Strategic Plan for Technology
Charge to the Committee
The committee was charged with the following:
1. Review and assess the faculty’s level of technological skills and develop and initiate a systematic process to upgrade these skills.
2. Develop a 5-year plan to provide adequate technology to the faculty and training in the use and possible uses of technology.
3. Develop a plan to encourage usage and experimentation.
4. Work with UPIT and the Library to develop the technology resources which will be available in the classroom.
5. Project specialized classroom needs to serve as a basis for a targeted fund-raising drive.
Because of the continuing developments in the organization, functions, and strategic mission of IT at DePaul, it was not possible to address charge (4) in specific detail. The committee continues to work with Lorilee Sadler (head, ATD) to formulate and express the needs that Commerce has with regard to classroom technology needs.
Faculty Skill Assessment
A survey of faculty computing needs and usage was conducted during the 1994-5 academic year. According to the survey, approximately 8% of the respondents (n = 52) do not use a College of Commerce PC. Table 1 lists the most highly used software (non users are not included in the percentages).
Faculty Usage of Selected Software Categories
Software category Frequently/Occasionally Seldom/Never
Word Processing 95.9% 4
WP Office 87.7 12.2
Spreadsheet/Database 75.5 24.5
Library services 74.5 25.5
Terminal emulation 63.8 36.2
Math/Statistics 63.1 36.9
Presentation graphics 59.6 40.4
Internet 51.0 48.9
Data resources 39.0 60.9
Most faculty are aware of and use word processing, e-mail, and spreadsheet software, with the least familiarity/usage in data resources and the internet. It appears that the percentage of faculty who would need intensive, basic computing training in the College is less than 10%. Varying percentages would, however, benefit from familiarization with the resources available to them, particularly presentation graphics and the Internet. It was strongly felt by the committee that learning opportunities should be made available to faculty to address technological competence, and the use of those opportunities be left to the individual faculty member.
However, departments should be aware, and take steps to ameliorate, the misuse of secretarial resources through lack of technological competence. Faculty who rely solely on the secretarial staff for word processing place an undue burden on the limited resources of the College.
The College of Commerce seeks to make technology available and encourages its appropriate use to enhance the learning experience. We recognize that the presence and use of technology improves the College’s reputation as a leader in the academic and business community. Technology should be used to cost effectively increase productivity in teaching and research.
- Funding: Financial support for an adequate hardware base in the college should be explicitly addressed in the University’s and College’s long-term plan. This support should recognize an ‘industry standard’, a three year depreciation schedule for personal computers. This will require a budgeted expenditure allocated to computer equipment of at least 35 faculty per year x $2,000 per unit, or $70,000 each year.
- Obsolescence: A new policy should be implemented enabling departments and the college to retire obsolete computer equipment and receive ‘credit’ toward future purchases. The committee recommends that either a clearinghouse (possibly IT) be established to handle this issue or College wide guidelines be written that explicitly provide an avenue for the ‘donation’ of depreciated computer equipment to the next neediest group.
- We recommend that the College devote a continuing portion of its budget to College-specific research related software and data purchases with a clearinghouse that encourages economies of scale.
- We recommend the establishment of a college representative that acts to receive and coordinate research software requests across departments and faculty will enable the college to leverage its software dollars and replace repetitive departmental purchases with site licensing.
- We recommend the establishment of a dedicated fileserver for the collection of College coursework, and beta testing of courseware for all departments within the College. This fileserver should be accessible from all computer equipped classrooms as well as faculty offices and student labs.
C. Classrooms/Student Computer Labs
- No changes are recommended in the current package of equipment in the enhanced AV rooms. It should be noted that the two most popular pieces of enhanced AV equipment are the computer capabilities and the Sony copystand. Thus, a smaller version of the EAV rooms should include, at a minimum, these two capabilities.
- The number of enhanced AV/computer classrooms should be increased. The key attribute in the distribution of enhanced AV capability is flexibility: small and large classrooms, case and non-case rooms, seminar, and break-out rooms should be candidates for some package of AV enhancement. In addition, advances in the basic AV package technology should be periodically reviewed.
- Future expenditures on classroom technology should be distributed so that upper level courses with small enrollments have access to necessary technology. If possible, these smaller classrooms should be outfitted with /identical technology as the larger rooms. A second best, yet acceptable solution, would be to spread our technology expenditures so that a substantial number of smaller classrooms can be equipped with permanent PC s and projection systems that allow for computer assisted instructor presentations. The use of a smaller version of the projector equipment (for instance, the Proxima projector unit or the Sharp Single Gun) should be incorporated physically in the rooms.
- We recommend that the University maintain the current computer lab model of computer provision for students, while concurrently pressing forward for distributed computing through the provision of network hook-ups for portable computers strategically placed throughout the university, particularly the library.
- We strongly recommend that the college increase the availability of dial-up access to DePaul computers, particularly for faculty and students.
- It is recommended that a formalized policy statement on the appropriate use of e-mail should be devised by the College. Such a document will serve to make clear what is, and is not, proper utilization of high-tech communicative media.
- It is recommended that such sharing of documents and other communication would be accomplished through the acquisition of some form of groupware.
- It is recommended that the College investigate the use of video conferencing to be available for traditional courses, professional programs (i.e., certificate programs), academic/business community interfacing, and other scholarly activities. Relatively inexpensive options (e.g.,CUSeeMe) are available to facilitate communication. Future distance learning programs are likely to benefit from such an investment.
- It is recommended that a data warehouse be developed for the College, with full electronic access from faculty offices and classrooms to the data bases that we own.
- As a first step, an inventory of the data we currently own and its location (individual departments, the library, and Irena Kropp’s office) should be made.
- All faculty, current and new, should have at least a basic competence in information technology. The basic skills set recommended for all faculty is summarized on pages 8 to 9 of the main report.
- To accomplish this basic competency, curriculum-specific instructional courses should be made available to faculty.
- Some real financial incentive must be offered at the College level to encourage faculty, current as well as new, to achieve the desired skills.
- While rewarding, experimentation with software can be a time-consuming process, with an uncertain, perhaps intangible, outcome. To encourage faculty to experiment, the process must be made as convenient as possible. It is felt that applications can best be appreciated when they are tied to specific research or curriculum needs. Thus, it is recommended that demonstrations of discipline-specific software and applications be made available to faculty on a periodic basis. These organized demonstrations, in conjunction with a true resource center (see Section below), would allow ease of access for faculty to new packages and ideas and most importantly their uses in the classroom or in research.
- Services that the College recommends be supplied by University IT are listed on pages 11 and 12 of the report.