New technology programs could be implemented at CSUN to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
CSUN must look to the future and compare it to the present to meet the campus’ projected student growth, said Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs at a meeting meant to showcase new technology that will be used by CSUN administration, faculty and students.
“The state will tell us we need to grow again, but without the bonding we need for new buildings, we face a world where we will have more students and the same physical space,” Hellenbrand said.
Hellenbrand said technology could be apart of the solution.
Several pilot programs were demonstrated at the “New Directions in Academic Technology” meeting in the Oviatt Library Presentation Room.
Eric Willis, a library systems administrator, presented Video Furnace, a video-streaming technology. Willis said the program will work side-by-side with the University Video Network (UVN). Currently, video materials from UVN are requested by faculty and must be physically delivered. According to a slide from Willis’s presentation, more than 1400 DVDs and videos were delivered to classrooms last year.
“Things are moving,” Willis said. “They are going to the web. The trend is to access content online.”
Responding to questions about copyright concerns, Willis said he doesn’t think it matters whether the material is broadcasted or physically accessed in the library, so long as a copy is owned. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has faced legal challenges related to copyright issues with a similar video-streaming system, Willis said.
Jeff Wiegley, an assistant professor of computer science, presented a client-server based system, or “thin-client,” that will save CSUN computer costs while reducing its ecological footprint.
Using a thin-client system, multiple computers on campus can be updated from a server rather than in person by CSUN Information Technology (IT).
“We will save on the order of half a megawatt a day,” Wiegley said.
Wiegley said this will be accomplished without becoming a hassle to users and will be practically transparent.
So far the pilot stage is in place in eight classrooms at Sierra Hall, Wiegley said. Manzanita Hall is next in line, he added.
Virtual Computing Labs (VCL) could change the way software is accessed by students and faculty, said Chris Olsen, senior director of infrastructure services.
Olsen said the upcoming pilot program will give students the opportunity to access otherwise expensive software packages at little cost.
“Traditionally, there have been two ways (to use software),” Olsen said. “Either visit a lab or buy the software and install it on your own. VCL is a software library you use to teach your courses via the web.”
Demonstrating the software using a system provided by North Carolina State University, Olsen was able to boot into a remote copy of Windows XP and use SPSS Statistics, a statistics analysis tool. Based on the software package the product runs students between $200 and $700 according to the Academic Superstore.
The pilot program for VCL could start this March or April, Olsen said. Responding to concerns over bandwidth issues, Olsen said the system will have a slow roll-out if the pilot is successful.
Michael Barrett, a reference librarian at the Oviatt Library, said out of all the programs presented, he is most excited about the “smart classes,” or technologically equipped rooms and CSUN Scholar Works.
CSUN ScholarWorks is a web-based, digital collection of scholarly materials. Elizabeth Altman who demonstrated the program during the meeting manages the program.
Still, these technologies aren’t without their concerns, Barrett said.
“I still think that there are going to be a couple areas that will be touchy,” Barrett said. “One is copyright. Just like the internet, there is going to be some concern about peer-review attesting to these things and their scholarship.”