Recommendation 5: Student Experience
The University of Maryland should provide and support plentiful information technology resources in the living and learning environment that enable and enrich the broader experiences of students' innovation when used effectively and profusely.
Action Item 5.1 - Wow Factor
The university must provide a top-quality IT-enabled living and learning environment, complete with ubiquitous wireless and support for the use of IT where we live, study, and gather on campus. The Division of IT and the Division of Student Affairs should be charged with working to establish a seamless, safe, and secure IT environment across all parts of campus and with ensuring that when students arrive at UMD, their IT experience equals or exceeds that of their prior educational environments. In short, there should be a "Wow!" factor associated with coming to UMD in terms of the pervasiveness and impact of the IT experience.
Many students live on campus and have their IT needs provided by the institution (Division of IT or Division of Student Affairs). Students expect to have consistent, ubiquitous service across campus, seamlessly provided between their living and learning environments. Expectations that students have are increasingly for very robust IT-enabled environments featuring rich network connectivity (wireless, wired, and cellular-networked) and services (voice, data, and digital media). UMD must strive to ensure that students coming to the university find at least an experience equal to very robust environments they have in their homes or in their previous scholastic environments (high schools, community colleges, other institutions) - and in many cases, they should experience a step up in the IT experience.
The Division of IT will convene the named stakeholders from the action item who will meet to evaluate the current state of the student experience along with input from a cross-section of UMD students. A process for periodic evaluation of student experience will be developed to continue assessment of fulfillment of student needs. The group will develop a detailed plan for achieving a campus student IT experience, which accommodates the recommendations and action items documented in the plan and the means to assess progress and success toward achieving the "wow" factor will be developed and measured.
Update March 2014
No progress to date.
Action Item 5.2 - Student Technology Refresh
Recognizing that IT plays a key role in the student life experience beyond academic aspects, the university should continue to work closely with students to evaluate new technologies and IT-based services not only to improve the academic aspects of student technology use, but also to support support the overall student life experience at UMD.
The life experience of a student at a prestigious flagship university involves more than just their academic experiences. Technology - and information technology specifically - is an underlying component in nearly every aspect of the lives of today's (and tomorrow's) students. While the adoption and support of IT in applications discussed throughout this strategic plan - in classrooms, broader online learning environments, research, and university processes - are critical to students' experiences with college life, there is also significant value to "living and learning" and even recreational aspects to college life that are IT enabled. The Division of IT should explore new and creative uses of technology that improve the overall (traditional) college life experience, including forms of recreational technologies. It will always be the case that students will need to elect which such college-life-enhancing technologies they adopt as individuals or as members of the UMD community - and elect how such technologies are provided and funded. Students should continue to engage with the Division of IT, and also with other university leadership, in exploring new technology options, present an attitude advocating their adoption, and support such adoption in line with student interests and prudent and safe use of resources.
Using existing student groups and governance structures, work with students in evaluating and selecting technologies to aid in their academic and personal endeavors. Incorporation of feedback mechanisms, such as surveys, will also be used to determine technology needs at UMD.
Update March 2014
- A student advisor group is used to advise the Vice President of IT on expenditure of technology fee dollars. The procedures for submitting tech fee proposals were streamlined with an online process led by the Division of IT.
- The division participates in the annual EDUCAUSE ECAR survey of students and their experience with information technology. Data from UMD and other participating institutions sheds light on basic institutional IT services and pedagogical practices and helps the university to understand which innovations students value the most.
Action Item 5.3 - Provisioning Student Tech Needs
The university should continue to offer programs and services which facilitate student ownership of IT devices and make possible the acquisition of technologies (hardware, software, and services) at discounts and in convenient locations or in a convenient manner.
UMD represents a large population of IT consumers, and this is especially true with the student population. Students coming to UMD should expect to find that their status as "new members" of this great community has benefits when it comes to the acquisition of information technology tools - hardware and software specifically. Nearly all students own multiple forms of such devices - desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, game consoles, and more. Where the university - and specifically the Division of IT - can help is in ensuring that excellent programs for group discounts are available for hardware and software, and that useful outlets for acquisition (such as the Terrapin Technology Store) and service are available and easy to access and use. The institution should pursue, on behalf of students, special pricing bundles from vendors and make known any and all relevant discounts available to students for software and peripheral products (printers, scanners, etc.). And through Action Item 1.9 regarding software licensing, the university should continue to pursue, with student support, broad software licensing available for "free download" or other means described in that action item.
Tied into implementation of action item 5.1 and 1.9, the Division of IT will collaborate with IT governance structures and student-oriented bodies (e.g., Student Affairs, the tech fee advisory committee, student government), to continually determine student IT purchasing needs and user demographics. This data will drive a strategy for purchasing, whether for enterprise licensing, more local bulk licensing, or ad-hoc purchase.
Update March 2014
The Division of Information Technology has resources that are dedicated to continually reviewing campus personal technology needs with constituent groups and working with vendors to bring the latest hardware and software that provide significant broad based benefits to the community at minimal price.
Specific steps taken and under way are:
- An Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) for Microsoft Windows and Office products for students was completed during the summer of 2012. To date, there have been more than 53,000 Microsoft downloads, representing savings over educational pricing of more than $4.5 million and over retail pricing of more than $12.75 million.
- Adobe creative software was made available for download to faculty, staff, and students at no cost. As of December, 2013, there were 29,528 Adobe downloads, representing savings over educational pricing of $11.75 million and over retail pricing of $31.75 million.
- The Division of IT, in cooperation with University Libraries, opened a new facility in McKeldin Library. This space includes the Academic Computers for Terps warranty repair facility, Help Desk operations, and a Terrapin Technology Store display area where campus community members can explore, learn about, and purchase the latest technologies.
- Site licensing was negotiated for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Operating System software, which is now available to all campus constituents at no cost.
- The Division of IT is working with departments individually and collaboratively on broad-based software license agreements that are applicable to various disciplines. One example is Lynda.com, which is a collaborative effort of University Human Resources, University Libraries, and the Division of IT. Lynda.com provides online training with thousands of courses, spanning a wide range of disciplines.
Action Item 5.4 - Student Tech Proficiency
Recognizing the importance of the use of technology in learning environments, in conjunction item with Action Item 2.6, the university should ensure that all students either have the necessary skills or can acquire them through non-credit, university-offered training programs so as to ensure their success in the pursuit of scholarly achievement.
Today's students enter UMD much better prepared in the use of most forms of information technology - including the fundamental basic applications used for personal productivity (word processing, email, etc.). However, some limited number of students may be arriving on campus not as well trained or skilled in the use of these tools, and this presents them with a challenging form of "digital divide." The Division of IT, working in cooperation with the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Academic Affairs and in consultation with student leaders and representatives, will examine the need for basic, fundamental skills training in IT use and build programs to address shortfalls. When new tools are introduced into the environment that are beyond basics (but not at levels usually taught in the for-credit curriculum), training and education programs (either traditional classroom or online/computer-guided) should be provided.
In the same manner that the student technical resource page was created to support the new ELMS system, a Web page that collates information concerning UMD technology resources will be created. This Web page should reflect technical resources and training that are available for all students. Additionally, the Division of IT service catalog will list training resources for a service if such a resource exists, and the Knowledge Base will enable self-help.
Update March 2014
The Division of Information Technology, in collaboration with University Human Resources and University Libraries has procured Lynda.com, a service that provides access to online training for UMD faculty, staff, and students in order to learn software, design, and business skills to achieve their personal and professional goals.
The IT Knowledge Base is a growing resource where students (and faculty and staff) can find how-to articles on the spectrum of technologies used at the university. Its development is an ongoing effort, currently with more than 800 entries.
Action Item 5.5 - Physical Computer Lab Consolidation Strategy
In 2012 with the knowledge that nearly all (if not all) students have at least one personal computing device available for their use, the Division of IT in collaboration with academic departments should engage students (and faculty) in an analysis of the value and purpose of traditional "fixed" computing facilities (such as computer labs and clusters), and determine their future at UMD.
Since the advent of the personal computer, universities - including UMD -- have invested heavily in providing computing devices for student use in clusters, labs, and other locations. In early days, these clusters were there because most students did not own a personal computer, and thus in order to make use of computers in support of learning, it was an institutional responsibility to provide them; a responsibility nearly always supported by students through the use of their technology fees. As student ownership increased in the early part of the past decade, these facilities retained their value to students who found the convenience of a well-supported and readily available device on campus to be desired and even necessary (in a day when their computers were back in their residences on their desks). And, even after the arrival and more pervasive use of laptop and mobile devices, students still found these fixed location facilities of value to aid in the ergonomics of use (easier to write a 2000-word paper on a desktop than on one's lap) or the deployment of special purpose software. However, with the evolution in the use of these devices changing each and every year, the question(s) should be annually posed: Does UMD still need fixed-location computing facilities to support student use; and is there a better use of that funding to enable broader software licensing or other forms of IT-enablement valued by today's student? The Division of IT should work with the Campus Student Technology Fee Advisory committee to address this question each academic year (as each year the membership of this committee changes) and to involve faculty and others in this important question.
Using existing student groups and governance structures, work with students and academic departments in analysis of the value and purpose of physical computer labs to determine if they best meet the needs of UMD and take action to make improvements as determined by this analysis.
Update March 2014
No progress at this time.