Chapter 3: SMSU as a Future-Oriented Organization
Integrating New Technology
The Information Technology Council
Criteria and Core Components supported in this section include 2a, 2b, 2c, 3b, 3c, 3d, 4b, 4d, 5c, 5d.
The Information Technology Council (IT Council) was created by the University’s Administrative Council to be responsible for planning, coordinating, and reviewing major strategic information technology initiatives for the Missouri State System. The IT Council serves as the University system’s “strategic clearinghouse” to ensure information technology initiatives are appropriate, sustainable, and funded in the most effective manner. The organizational structure surrounding the IT Council was developed to give order to the process of IT decision-making. While the IT Council does not coordinate all IT funding, it establishes guidelines for system-wide IT expenditures and prioritizes, controls, and monitors expenditures from a few central budgets. The primary charge to the IT Council is to “ensure information technology initiatives are aligned with the University’s mission, the Strategic Information Technology Plan, and approved division plans.”
Improving student learning is a consistent emphasis of the IT Council. The Instructional Technology Advisory Committee, which reports to the IT Council, consists of a representative from every academic college, as well as other constituencies. The charge of this committee is to advise the IT Council on ways technology can be used to improve student learning and teaching effectiveness. Missouri State is currently developing new policies and procedures to ensure learning environments (classrooms and labs) are updated on a lifecycle basis to promote student learning. Distributed User Support Specialists have been hired and assigned to specific academic colleges. These technology support positions are designed to provide discipline-specific expertise to the students and faculty within a college. In preparation for their arrival on campus, an Online guide is provided to help students and their families evaluate the University’s information technology use and infrastructure.
Additionally, the Student Computer Usage Fee (SCUF) Committee, which also reports to the IT Council, helps ensure that funding is available for student-related information technologies. Paid by all Missouri State students, the amount of the SCUF fee varies based on the number of hours taken and on which; this fee has funded many projects critical to the academic success of students, such as hardware, software, support staff, and assistive technologies.
In planning for the future, the IT Council coordinates the work of a set of forward-looking advisory committees that both provide input and offer recommendations regarding various information technology issues.
In planning for the future, the IT Council coordinates the work of a set of forward-looking advisory committees that both provide input and offer recommendations regarding various information technology issues. Also, the IT Planning Task Force and a number of committees are developing the Information Technology chapter of Daring to Excel. The committees involved in the planning include the Instructional Technology Advisory Committee, Missouri State -West Plains Information Technology Committee, Information Systems Advisory Committee, Network Infrastructure Advisory Committee, Web Advisory Committee, Information Security Advisory Committee, Technology Accessibility Committee, and User Support Advisory Committee. These committees are composed of representatives from three campuses in the Missouri State System.
Strategic Information Technology Plan
Technology is the focus of the Strategic Information Technology Plan, as well as the Information Technology chapter in each of the long-range plans. The list of committees working with the Information Technology Planning Task Force, included in the previous paragraph, indicates that attention is being paid to a wide variety of technology-related issues.
Educational Technology Center
The Educational Technology Center provides assistance and support for instructional technologies in a multi-campus environment, offering training, production, technical support, and consultation. ETC exists to help faculty realize their educational goals through the application of instructional technology and media resources. With services that extend beyond merely handing out equipment or producing media materials, ETC staff assist in determining the most effective use of traditional and/or new technology to support and enhance classroom presentation. For Missouri State students, ETC provides media equipment, multimedia workstations, and open computer stations to be used for developing and completing educational materials and assignments. Whether it involves software, hardware, strategy, or support, the ETC tries to take an instructional design approach to systematically address the teaching, learning, and research needs of the University.
As a component of the University’s mission to develop educated persons, the ETC’s mission is to provide, train, and assist with teaching and learning activities across the University on a daily basis. ETC services directly impact instructors in their ability and methodology to teach and therefore to implement the University’s mission. For example, ETC:
Obviously, all higher-education institutions must constantly take a broad perspective when planning for, implementing, and maintaining information technologies. Demographic shifts, and the technology-related expectations that accompany them, are constantly monitored by the various information technology support staff who directly serve students, faculty, and staff throughout the year. Members of the Office of Information Technology, Computer Services, and Telecommunication Services host campus technology information/sign-up booths and present informational classes for parents during Student Orientation, Advisement, and Registration (SOAR). These events allow the technology support staff to consistently monitor ever-changing student and parent technology-related expectations of the “next generation” of students (and their parents) before they arrive for classes.
The University’s information technology professionals regularly attend national/international conferences, participate within national/international professional organizations, and participate in international online discussion lists. In addition, the University’s technologies have been used to link Missouri State’s faculty and students with classrooms internationally for the purpose of increasing multicultural awareness.
Missouri State is very supportive of innovation and change. In fact, innovation, change, and information technologies are tightly integrated. To serve the technology needs of its faculty, staff, and students, the University in 2003 received a five-year, $1.8 million federal Title III grant. The major activities funded via this grant include training for faculty, staff, and students. These training initiatives focus on improving use of the online course-management system, Web-based student services, and assistive technologies. Some of these funds were used to upgrade Computer Services’ centralized training center for faculty and staff.