Campus Technology Update

January 11th, 2005 by Adam

New Page 1

January 2005


By Dwight Fischer, Chief Information Officer


The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) covered a lot of ground
in the fall



TAG sub-groups, each reporting up to TAG, were charged in
the following



Standards: Recommendations
are being developed that identify hardware, operating systems and software that
will be centrally supported by ITS.


Allocations: The committee
received more than $700,000 in requests for new and upgraded technology.
Recommendations on how to spend the pool of $420,000 is due to TAG in February.


Security: Reviewing
security threats, good practice and policy.


ITCC: The work of this
group continues from last year. ITCC is reviewing best practices, policy,
support issues and the mechanics of good online instruction.



Topics Discussed by TAG This Year


Rollout of Wireless Computing on Campus: As more
students shift from  desktop to laptop, and as the computer industry continues
to develop  wireless enabled devices, PSU is shifting resources to accommodate
this  growing trend. This past summer, wireless access points (a.k.a.  Hotspots)
were installed in the HUB and Lamson Library. Additional (and  limited coverage)
wireless access is available in some academic  buildings (Hyde, Rounds, Boyd and
Frost). The Network Services group in  ITS is developing a plan that will
provide strategic, secure and  sustainable wireless access points elsewhere on
campus. Until that plan  is completed and funding identified, additional
wireless expansion is  limited.


Central Support for Macs: In an effort to
standardize and control  support and software costs, the President’s Cabinet
made a decision  this past summer to retire central support for Apple Macintosh
 computers after June 2006. This policy was based on the fact that Macs  made up
an increasingly lower percentage of campus computers (18%) and  the need to
prioritize limited support resources toward goals  established in the LRTP
(security, distributed IT support and  burgeoning online coursework) In advance
of that time, PSU is ordering  no new Macs for faculty and staff. The only
exceptions to this policy  are the Graphic Design department and Music
Technology. ITS is working  with those departments to develop industry-specific
support for their  areas.


LanDesk (Remote Desktop Management): ITS has rolled
out LanDesk, a  remote desktop management tool, to nearly all staff and computer
 cluster computers. This tool allows them to maintain application  upgrades,
security updates and a host of diagnostic tools to help  identify support
issues. Users, in turn, worry far less about updating  their major applications,
software incompatibilities and virus threats.  Plans are being discussed for
rolling this software out to faculty in  the upcoming year.


Information Commons: The library and ITS are reviewing the
feasibility  of combining the functions of Help Desk, multimedia support and
 academic technology into Lamson. Many schools are moving in similar  directions
and it would allow our IT support functions to meld with  information, research
and presentation needs of students and faculty.  Elaine Allard and Dwight
Fischer are conducting site visits to other  schools and will present their
findings to the President’s cabinet in  February.


Use of Allemp: The use of this ‘all employee’ email
tool was discussed.  Some love it, some hate it. The fact that it is unmoderated
is a  concern to some. In the fall semester, there was an average of 3 allemp
 emails per day. They were categorized as campus discussions (Red Sox  fracas),
announcements (department and athletic events), lost items  (keys, videos, etc)
and ‘whoopsies’ (inadvertent ‘replies all,’  corrections to earlier posts). It
is clear that our campus values this  communication tool, yet for many the shear
volume of allemp mails are  akin to spam. The TAG recommends that the campus be
alerted to other  existingĂ˝and more appropriate email distribution lists and  myPlymouthĂ˝and
to continue to advise the campus to use allemp  judiciously.


Laptop Requirement for Students? The TAG explored
the notion of  requiring laptops of students. Considering that most (95%) bring
 computers to campus already, and the recent trend of more being  laptops, do we
need to continue funding and replacing all of our 39  computer labs? On the
other hand, why require laptops for all students?  Some may not need a laptop,
per se, but a desktop computer. And, a  laptop requirement will not save money,
only shift costs. Some faculty  would welcome laptops (and mobile technology) in
the classroom, many  others fear computers in the classroom will pose a large
distraction.  This conversation may be moot in a few years as the hardware and
input  devices are changing. Nonetheless, it was felt that if laptop
 requirements were justified, it should be driven by the academic  departments.




Comments, ideas or feedback on any of these topics? Please
send them to

Dwight Fischer at