Educated persons in the 21st Century will be able to use information technologies effectively and responsibly. The transition from an industrial economy to an information-based economy, made possible by information technologies, demands that 21st Century workers be skilled in the use and ongoing adoption of these technologies. In an information-based economy, any organization’s success will depend in some part on its ability to leverage information and information technologies. As the Coordinating Board for Higher Education’s Commission on Affordability stated in its 1999 report, “Higher education and technology are essential and interdependent building blocks for a robust economy.”
In response to these changing needs, SMSU has developed a strategic information technology plan designed to deliver these applications and services. This plan is based on the assumption that information technologies — computing and printing equipment, software, media systems, and communication networks - have limited inherent value; their real value is based on the effectiveness of their application.
SMSU will use information technologies to enhance the quality of learning, teaching, and research/scholarship; the quality of student services; administrative productivity, quality, and customer service; and the personal productivity of its students, faculty, and staff. These same technologies will be used to recruit potential students and communicate with alumni and communities anywhere in the world. Potential students are increasingly evaluating institutions, in part, by the level of technology infused into the institution. Information technologies will enhance existing relationships and allow new types of relationships to be established - between the university and the student, between the student and faculty member, between faculty members, between students and staff, between the university and its alumni, and between entire institutions. Technology is a tool, just one of many in the university’s toolbox. SMSU will continue to use information technologies to improve quality, increase access, and become more efficient.
Given the rapid pace of change, the university cannot hope to predict future information technologies any more precisely than other organizations. The only thing known for sure is that technologies will continue to change, and probably at an increasing rate of speed. Information technology products, services, and skills will quickly become obsolete if not regularly updated. Consequently, SMSU must plan for change by using life-cycle budgeting and creating a technical infrastructure that focuses on flexibility and scalability. SMSU’s information technology plan is flexible, open-ended, reviewed regularly, and modified as appropriate. The SMSU campuses and partners will continue to work together in a coordinated, “systems” approach to technology planning.
SMSU has undergone significant change as a result of successfully implementing its previous long-range plan. These changes dictate a new set of information technology requirements that must be met. As the Springfield Campus has pursued selective admissions, the technology expectations of its students and faculty have escalated accordingly. The addition of new graduate programs and the new theme of science and the environment must be accommodated with the appropriate technologies, as must the increased emphasis on research. The value of information within the university will continue to grow and SMSU will become increasingly dependent upon information technologies. Additional technologies and technical support will be required to support SMSU’s distance learning programs, including the delivery of services to remote students.
SMSU’s Strategic Information Technology Plan has six goals:
- Improve the linkage between university objectives and information technology products and services.
- Support the development of educated persons by appropriately applying instructional technologies.
- Develop employee technical skills to enhance performance, customer service capabilities, and personnel retention.
- Enable more agile organizational responsiveness, improved efficiencies/effectiveness of business processes, and increased access to university information while maintaining existing systems.
- Improve the effectiveness, capacity, reliability, and transparency of SMSU’s technology infrastructure and operationalize programs and services to ensure they can be reliably maintained/provided over time.
- Provide quality technical support and services to students, faculty, and staff
SMSU will identify methods of using information technologies to better support the public affairs mission, the five themes, and the four goals of the university. The office of information technology will continue to promote university-wide and community-wide conversations about information technology issues and will encourage increased involvement of technical staff in university planning at all levels. Information privacy, security, and intellectual property issues will become increasingly important, and university-wide conversations must occur to address them.
The SMSU Information Technology Council (IT Council) will continue to be responsible for planning, coordinating, and reviewing major strategic information technology initiatives for the entire SMSU System, and ensuring that these initiatives are aligned with the university’s mission and Strategic Information Technology Plan. This entity serves as the SMSU System’s “strategic clearinghouse” to ensure information technology initiatives are appropriate, sustainable, and funded in the most appropriate manner.
SMSU information technology decision-making and coordination structure
SMSU recognizes the importance of information and information technologies in support of learning, teaching, and research/scholarship. In fact, information is at the heart of the teaching and learning process, as well as the research/scholarship and public service activities at SMSU. Appropriate teacher preparation dictates that instructional technologies be infused into all professional education curricula. Instructional design specialists will be required to assist faculty in acquiring and effectively using instructional technologies to improve the learning process.
Technologies will be used to enhance communication between faculty and students. Electronic mail, web-based resources, and course management systems will serve this purpose in addition to classroom contact hours and office hours. Collaboration software will allow groups of learners to work collectively on projects, effectively simulating the way work will increasingly be done in the 21st Century. Students will create electronic portfolios to document their experiences and showcase their skills. Participation in the MOBIUS project will provide SMSU’s library patrons with a web-based interface that will allow state-level searching and direct borrowing from other MOBIUS institutions at no cost to the patron. The renovated and expanded Meyer Library will provide a technology-rich environment for SMSU's students, faculty and other patrons.
Information technologies will continue to be the linchpin enabling anytime, anyplace learning. Whether being delivered via interactive television networks, the Internet, or cable television these delivery systems will increasingly make SMSU's course offerings available to its 24-county service area and beyond.
At SMSU-West Plains, more instructional technologies will be incorporated into the curriculum to serve that campus' seven-county service area. The Center for Academic Technology within the Lybyer Enhanced Technology Center will encourage faculty members from all disciplines to learn how to incorporate educational technologies into their teaching styles. Computing resources at SMSU-West Plains will be replaced on a predetermined schedule to insure those technologies will remain current. Additional distance learning facilities will be created as necessary to support GrizzNet, the interactive television network that provides instruction to SMSU-West Plains' seven-county service area and beyond. Once the new library is built on the SMSU-West Plains Campus, this facility will be infused with a robust technical infrastructure capable of supporting both instructional and general access technologies.
SMSU's personnel are its key infrastructure component. To develop and protect this resource, an employee training curriculum and incentive/recognition program will be implemented. In doing so, expected competencies will be determined by job category, employees' existing skill sets will be determined, and individual training plans will be developed to "fill the gap."
Both classroom-based and asynchronous employee training opportunities will be provided. Training classrooms will be equipped and maintained to accommodate the curriculum. An asynchronous, computer-based training system will provide media-rich, just-in-time training opportunities to SMSU employees.
The recruitment and retention of quality information technology staff will become not only more difficult, but also more vital. An increasing demand for these staff on a worldwide basis has resulted in demand greatly exceeding supply. Amid an increasingly competitive staffing landscape, the IT Staff Recruitment and Retention Action Plan must be successfully executed.
Responsiveness and effectiveness
SMSU will continue to devote time and energy to the ongoing operation and maintenance of its existing mission-critical administrative computer systems. These systems allow the university to create, capture, organize, access, and use information and knowledge. The integrity, stability, and security of these systems cannot be compromised as new systems are developed.
The university will, however, enhance its existing administrative systems to be more responsive to the needs of 21st Century students, faculty, and staff. The university’s “self service” model will continue to be implemented, providing more responsive services to students and employees by migrating selected applications to the web.
In order to support a more agile organization, improve efficiencies and effectiveness of the university’s business processes, and increase access to the university’s information, the infrastructure supporting the existing administrative systems on the Springfield and West Plains campuses must be replaced. Relational database management systems will replace the aging file management systems to develop a more flexible and scalable infrastructure. Appropriate electronic linkages between the campuses will be established to support the completion programs at SMSU-West Plains.
SMSU will continue its process improvement efforts and will apply technologies as appropriate to achieve increased efficiencies and/or improved customer service. The Process Improvement Committee will guide these efforts under an initiative known as “Change@SMSU,” while a variety of individual teams will perform in-depth analysis into existing university processes, design improved processes, and implement the resulting redesigned processes.
Capacity and reliability
The value of information typically increases as it is shared. SMSU’s network and communications infrastructure has become the institution’s “central nervous system,” carrying vital information throughout the organization and beyond. Networks provide the foundation for new generations of applications to serve 21st Century students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. Networks are overcoming boundaries within the university and between the university and external entities, thus providing new opportunities for relationships, cooperation, and growth. Communication technologies such as electronic mail and the web will increasingly be used to provide efficient services to students, employees, and other off-campus constituents via both wired and wireless connectivity.
As voice, data, and video technologies continue their convergence, SMSU will continue to both upgrade and expand its networks and communication services. In other words, the networks will continue to grow both up and out. The information age will require a network infrastructure that is an order of magnitude more robust than the infrastructure in 1999-2000.
Technical and support services
SMSU will continue its implementation of a “federal model” of technical support - centralized staff offering core support for institution-wide technologies, plus decentralized staff offering support for discipline-specific technologies.
The number and types of technologies used to support differently-abled individuals will be expanded. Assistive technology resources will be available in SMSU classrooms and labs as dictated by demand. An assistive technology training center will be created on the Springfield Campus to facilitate small group and individualized assessment and training services. SMSU will reach out to area school systems and the community to offer specialized training and support in this growing area. University web pages will be made accessible to individuals with disabilities.
SMSU’s National Public Radio station, KSMU, is becoming an increasingly important part of the university’s information technology plan. KSMU will become a national model for university-licensed public radio stations. The station will continue to support the university’s public affairs mission through the acquisition, production, and distribution of local and national programming that encourages the exploration of ideas and their application to citizenship. KSMU will create anytime, anywhere access to its outreach and program services through the use of information technologies, including reports from its Capitol News Bureau and expanded use of the university’s audio server.
KSMU will aggressively explore, experiment with, and apply computer-based technologies to all operational and support areas within the station. The station will maintain strong community ties through its Community Advisory Board composed of recognized leaders in business, government, and the arts. KSMU will seek to expand its over-the-air network to cover 95 percent of the southwest district, with a special emphasis on providing service to rural communities.
SMSU will continue its internal investments in information technologies while simultaneously seeking additional funding to support this growing need. SMSU has invested a considerable amount of funds in information technologies. Costs will be minimized as much as possible by standardization and simplification of the technology infrastructure. Due to their short life-cycles, there are no one-time costs in information technology as well as in information technology-based scientific equipment. Most technology components have a useful life of just a few years. Since the pace of technological change is expected to continue or increase, virtually all components of SMSU’s technology infrastructure must be replaced or upgraded every few years. The university views these expenses as operational investments and funding streams will be matched to these ongoing costs.
The university’s technology infrastructure should be funded as a utility. Just as faculty and students expect the electrical infrastructure to power the classroom lights and electrical outlets, they now expect the technology infrastructure to provide data network ports and digital instructional resources. Thus, the network infrastructure will require continuing upgrades each year.
The Student Computer Usage Fee (SCUF) will continue to be applied to life-cycle funding of instructional technologies and related services that directly benefit students. New instructional computing facilities and services will be established only as the university is able to fund their ongoing maintenance and timely replacement.