Update on Summer 2013 Information Technology Improvements

Update on Summer 2013 Information Technology Improvements

August 20, 2013

The Information Technology Services staff had a very busy and productive summer, with a focus on efforts that truly benefit all faculty, staff and students.

Here are some highlights of our summer work ….

High Definition Television available now  —

On July 1st, we migrated to a new Cable Television provider.  The new provider offers more channels, including channels in high definition, and any existing cable connection in your building now accesses the new system.

We are upgrading from 500 megabit-per-second to 2 gigabit-per-second internet speed – which represents a four-fold increase —

Thanks to the new iTech student fee, the campus internet connection is in the process of being upgraded.  When we complete all of the necessary changes over the next few weeks, we will have a 2 gigabit-per-second (2 Gbps) connection to the internet spanning two geographically separate internet connection points (one in Kansas City and one in St. Louis).  If one of the provider links should fail, the other will continue to function.

Faster Wireless Access is coming too  —

The upgraded bandwidth also provides us a platform for a much faster wireless system.  Returning or new students living in Centennial and Missouri Residence Halls will enjoy a wireless system that is 5 times faster than other areas on campus.  We will continue to upgrade the wireless systems across campus, with our initial focus on the residence halls.

Five years of Classroom Improvements —

This past summer marks the 5th year of Truman’s classroom improvement efforts.  In this timeframe, we’ve upgraded the technology in all of our classrooms to a common framework, and we continue to make improvements intended to benefit both faculty and students.

Speaking of new improvements, our Learning Technologies and Classroom Support staff selected 2 new projectors that are brighter and provide for the modern wide-screen display ratio (along with the other necessary features required of our data projectors).  One of the new projectors is a traditional ceiling mount system, while the other is a wall-mounted system.

The new wall-mount projector is an ultra-short throw projector which eliminates shadows and the “blinding light” effect on the instructor when passing through the projected image.  This projector also provides touch-screen capabilities similar to a SMARTBoard, and it displays on a projection-ready whiteboard (which doubles as a traditional whiteboard). All of these features can be used at the discretion of the instructor.  More information will be coming soon on how to take advantage of some of the new interactive board features.

Campus-wide classroom improvements:

  • Upgraded 1 room from A-Level to B-Level for improved audio
  • Completed Audio-visual control upgrades in 16 rooms
  • Completed data projector upgrades in 35 rooms – 16 of which provide for stylus-touch interactivity
  • Replaced 42 consoles/lecterns
  • Upgraded the application software on all of the classroom and lab machines
  • Replaced 35 classroom computers on the 4 year replacement plan
  • New instruction books were made available in all classrooms

Special Projects

  • Upgraded the language program peer tutoring center
  • Upgraded 2 conference rooms to serve as more functional seminar rooms
  • Added permanent lecture capture hardware in 4 more rooms
  • Worked with CMDS on the replacement of their recording/observation system
  • Installed network connections and provided design support for new informal learning spaces in Health Sciences
  • Installed the first Learning Lab on campus.  Baldwin Hall 156 is now a C-level room, featuring 5 projectors, seating for 60 students, and support for small work groups.  Contact the Learning Technologies Team if you’d like to find out more about this room.

Classroom support projects to be completed later this fall:

  • Complete 2 more conference room to seminar room upgrades in BH226 and OP1113
  • Complete projector installs in some of the science labs
  • Upgrade the network connectivity at the Farm, and provide webcams to support instructional activities and remote observations, as well as additional classroom support

Progress on desktop/workstations replacements –

Some of the over 165 planned personal workstation replacements were completed over the summer, but a good number will happen in the early fall semester.  The same individuals working on the classroom upgrades also work on the desktop replacements, and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we complete the classroom upgrades first.

“Pursuing” a new Truman website –

The new website was unveiled at the SPAW conference, and we’ve spent this past summer preparing for the transition to the new template.  We expect the new system to be available for general use in January 2014.

Applications and System Improvements –

Several servers were upgraded over the summer, resulting in better support for DegreeWorks and more disk added to the Blackboard Learn system.  Summer is also a time when many of our applications are upgraded or enhanced, and we’ve improved our procedures for collections processing, benefits enrollment, student application processing, and tracking electrical usage in the residence halls.

Providing support and assistance –

  • Visit the newly updated IT training website  for information guides, online tutorials and other resources to help you with software applications (such as Microsoft products).
  • The Learning Technologies team worked with the Department of Nursing to bring several courses online as part of the accelerated nursing degree program, as well as assisted many other instructors on how to best achieve their teaching objectives through the use of technology.  Click here to register for workshops that offer practical teaching and learning strategies, or to find additional resources.

We hope this update provides you with a bit more information on IT activities over the summer, and we want to wish everyone a great fall semester!