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Technology Planning

The modern era of information technology challenges educational institutions to redefine basic learning environments and the requisite learning tools to accomplish their educational missions. Universities are incorporating new technologies into curricula and administrative solutions at an ever-increasing rate. As a result, learning opportunities are expanding, both in terms of access and efficiency. As new technologies with educational applications and implications emerge almost daily, faculty are increasingly challenged to develop new ways to use such technologies to enhance the teaching/learning environment. Moreover, students who have been raised in a technology rich society are expecting increasingly sophisticated applications to enhance teaching practices.

UNC is positioned centrally to simultaneously influence and be influenced by modern developments in educational and information technology. The growing level of technologically sophisticated younger age groups in our society compels us to achieve a high level of technological sophistication in our educational and administrative environments. In turn, our graduates will need to be prepared to deal with a technology-aware population of school children, clients, and consumers. As a leader in preparing graduates to contribute positively to the education system and to assume the various scientific, artistic, health, and business roles in a modern society, UNC must be at the forefront in developing, implementing and testing constructive applications of new technologies applicable to each profession. Thus, the challenge for UNC is to provide the technology resources, systems and support services that will allow our faculty and students to contribute to and constructively use current and developing new technologies.

Information Technology Plan Executive Summary

The University bears the responsibility of preparing our graduates to participate in an information technology rich society. This society anticipates that well-educated individuals will be knowledgeable and capable in the use of the technology prevalent in their profession. In addition to preparing professionals in fields of health, business, performing arts, sciences and liberal arts, as the state's chartered "Teachers' University", UNC has a special responsibility to prepare our graduates to be able to lead generations of school children in a society that demands competency in the use of technology (see Appendix A - Greeley-Evans School District 6 Technology Standards and Appendix B - Jefferson County Schools, Grade Level Proficiency Expectations for Technology). To be successful in discharging these responsibilities, the University must create an environment that provides diverse opportunities for students and faculty. One essential component in the diverse learning environment is the use of technology that expands the possibilities for creative teaching and collaborative scholarship. Moreover, the University must make use of modern information systems to transform the business processes of the University to make such processes more effective and efficient.

The University's Information Technology Plan outlines a multiyear plan that is designed to create a technology-facilitated learning and administrative environment that spreads across the curriculum and across the campus. As such, this plan identifies short and long-term technology initiatives that are designed, when fully implemented, to move the University to the forefront of a dynamic teaching and learning environment. Each initiative discussed in this plan describes the current status of the technology, the steps required to achieve the initiative, and the costs associated with implementing the initiative. The costs described for each initiative may include multiple or single year budgets.

As this plan is being finalized, UNC has just received $4.5 million dollars to create "Smart Classrooms" on campus. The Smart Classroom project will provide fifty (50) technology-facilitated classrooms across campus that will allow faculty the choice of using information technology to enrich the learning experience for students. This project also provides 250 laptop computers to be assigned to faculty to facilitate the use of classroom technology and to encourage the integration of information technology in the curriculum. The Smart Classroom initiative provides the foundation for a number of initiatives described in the IT Plan.

The Information Technology Plan has targeted two areas for technology initiatives:

  1. Academic and Enhanced Learning Environment. Each initiative in this section seeks to enhance the teaching, learning, and research environment for faculty and students. We believe a robust teaching and learning environment requires that every fulltime faculty member have networked computers that are updated on a regular basis; that research technology be accessible, and that technical support to students and faculty be enhanced. Furthermore, as we incorporate new learning strategies through the Smart Classroom initiative and require technological competencies of our students, it is desirable that incoming freshmen own a computer, that access to computer-enhanced learning is made via improved remote access and that access to wireless networking be made available.
  2. Administrative Initiatives. Initiatives in this section are designed to enhance the efficiency of the functions performed within the various departments across campus. These include establishing an effective means of storing and retrieving data, reducing the number of Local Area Network servers, increasing the availability of information via the Web and Intranet activities, and establishing a budgetary strategy to address UNC's growing technology needs. Reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the information technology infrastructure is a guiding objective in this section of the plan.

In summary, in today's university, information technology is a basic infrastructure requirement for successfully accomplishing its academic mission. The technology infrastructure must support the teaching, learning and scholarly activities that lie at the heart of a university's activities. Faculty should therefore be provided with the tools necessary to take advantage of the capabilities inherent in instructional technology and they should be provided with the training necessary to adopt and deploy such tools. Students must be afforded the opportunities for enhanced learning opportunities - in class, in labs, at home, and in other places of study and exploration. From an organizational perspective, UNC needs to make much more effective use of information technology to significantly increase organizational efficiency, improve decision-making, and improve service to our clients.

Finally, the goals of teaching, learning and scholarship are the basis upon which this plan was created. The implementation of technology should be designed to support the academic mission of the University and we believe that the initiatives outlined in this plan are a means to achieve these goals.

List of Recommendations

1.1 Provide full-time faculty members with a networked computer capable of running core personal productivity, library, e-mail, and Internet applications. These computer resources should be renewed on a continuing, scheduled basis.

1.2 Provide faculty members and students with the access to technology that is necessary to analyze data and conduct research.

1.3 Increase technical support to student labs.

2.1 Increase the number of Technology-Enabled Classrooms and provide Distributed Classroom Technology Support Personnel.

2.2 Establish a web support system for the University.

2.3 Recommend that all new students entering the University in the Fall 2002 have a computer based on the hardware and software standards of the University.

2.4 Pilot wireless networking services where areas require flexibility and mobility for data access when this is the most cost effective alternative.

2.5 Enhance the University's capability and support for Computer Mediated Instruction (CMI).

2.6 Increase remote access to campus networking and computing resources through a combination of University-provided modem pools and user subscriptions to Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

2.7 Provide a full range of information literacy courses at the undergraduate and graduate level to enable students to acquire skills to effectively assess, identify, acquire and evaluate information resources.

3.1 Establish a Data Mart/Data Warehouse to make institutional data available to appropriate persons in an efficient and effective manner.

3.2 Reduce the number of Local Area Network servers.

3.3 Establish web (WWW) interfaces to administrative applications to increase the availability and efficiency of information.

3.4 Develop a plan to deploy an Intranet for internal activities.

3.5 Develop a document archival capability that accommodates and supercedes the aging microform and optical storage systems currently used.

3.6 Develop the capability of distributing reports and processing documents electronically to reduce the paper consumption and increase efficiency of the systems.

3.7 Plan and budget for the renewal and replacement of administrative hardware and software by every campus department.