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BCOM531 Presentation: Academic Technology Support

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  • Thanks for giving me the chance to share an exciting opportunity with you this evening. I know that we have a lot to discuss tonight so I’m going to move quickly. But I hope that in these few minutes I can get you thinking about the way we support technology here at St. Thomas, and thinking about what direction we want to move. My name is Eric Larson. I’m the Academic Technology Support Manager on the St. Paul campus of St. Thomas, working for Information Resources and Technologies (known as IRT). Here’s what we’re going to discuss…
  • We’ll take a look at: The status quo (how things are right now) Identifying the challenges (with the status quo) HINT: We’re going to find a gap in support “ Filling The Gap” The role of Instructional Technologist What will this help? (what benefits can we expect?) Conclusion Questions
  • Right now, three groups of people are involved in technology support. Let’s take a look at each of the three groups – what they do, and what challenges they face.
  • IRT has placed seven Academic Technology Consultants (ATCs) in Minneapolis and St. Paul, housed in academic departments but reporting to IRT. These ATCs serve as a personal “single point of contact” to help shepherd faculty through the variety of technology support options available in IRT. Unfortunately, IRT staff have limited knowledge to become fully immersed in the particulars of academic technologies in each department. On top of providing instructional support, each ATC must serve as a general-purpose technology liaison to dozens of faculty and cannot reliably provide consultative service to meet all the needs of all his or her faculty.
  • Several departments have their own staff performing technology support; many of those staff are working under the job description of “lab coordinator” or equivalent. Roles of academic departments’ “lab coordinators” vary among departments and fail to provide a clear support role for faculty Although it’s unlikely to be this extreme, one department’s “lab coordinator” could be a technology guru while another department’s identical position could be washing test tubes and doing little else.
  • Some departments have provided course-release time for their faculty to serve in a technology support role. (In this system, a full-time faculty member teaches fewer classes than the usual “full load”, and the extra time is spent doing technology support.) Faculty are excellent subject experts but lack the time or support infrastructure to completely fulfill the role of “dedicated instructional technologist” for their departments. (If they successfully achieved such a role, they would cease to be “faculty” as they would have no time for teaching, research or publishing.)
  • You’ve probably noticed that we’re missing something. What’s left to complete the circle?
  • IRT proposes the creation of an “Instructional Technologist” position in the Science Division, and then in other departments or academic divisions as necessary. This position would (primarily) report to the academic division head or a designated representative. The successful candidate for this job would have a master’s degree in a science-related field, with both the necessary technical expertise and considerable experience as a teaching or research assistant in an academic setting.
  • What kinds of projects are members of the Science Division working on? How could an Instructional Technologist position help? Geology works with a real-time quizzing system in an auditorium and remote management software in their labs. Mathematics uses SGI and Alpha machines to run ARPS (storm modeling software). Physics builds a lab software “image” and a process for re-imaging the department lab machines (using IRT tools but its own image). The Chemistry department is using new wireless laptops in teaching, and has set up a webcam so others around the globe can watch the progress of their research. Biology has built a stand-alone research lab (which, for security reasons, has been firewalled off from the rest of the UST network) and uses infrared cameras attached to PCs to monitor the behavior of lab mice.
  • The Instructional Technologist completes the support circle. The goal: provide a flexible resource managed at the academic level Put simply, IRT’s existing support resources (ATCs) are technologists cooperating with academic departments. The support role proposed here will create a position for academics cooperating with the technology department. The difference is subtle yet vital.
  • In conclusion, we have a working system. Learning happens here. That’s good. But St. Thomas can do better…
  • By adding an Instructional Technologist position, St. Thomas can better support our existing investment in the Science Division. AND, we’ll be better positioned to capitalize on upcoming opportunities and new methods of helping the Science Division fulfill the University’s mission.

BCOM531 Presentation: Academic Technology Support BCOM531 Presentation: Academic Technology Support Presentation Transcript

  • Academic Technology Support at St. Thomas Eric M. Larson August 30, 2004
  • Agenda
    • The status quo
      • Identifying the challenges
    • “Filling The Gap”
      • The role of Instructional Technologist
    • What will this help?
    • Conclusion
    • Questions
  •  
  • Academic Technology Consultants (ATCs)
  • Lab Coordinators
  • Faculty
  •  
  • Instructional Technologist
  • Instructional Technologist
    • Geology
      • Live Quizzing
    • Mathematics
      • SGI and Alphas
      • Storm Modeling
    • Physics
      • Custom lab image
    • Chemistry
      • Wireless Lab
      • Research Web-Cam
    • Biology
      • Secure Lab
      • Infrared monitoring
  •  
  • Conclusion
    • Existing system works, but needs improvement
  • Conclusion
    • Existing system works, but needs improvement
    • Adding an Instructional Technologist position will “Fill The Gap”
      • Better support of existing Science initiatives
      • Better positioned to serve future Science needs
  • Questions?