The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) covered a lot of ground
in the fall
TAG sub-groups, each reporting up to TAG, were charged in
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 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 existingýand more appropriate email distribution lists and myPlymouthýand
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.