Project to help CSUN utilize technological innovations

Kristopher A. Fortin

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A digital master plan for CSUN that will dictate campus technology for the next three to five years is halfway complete.

The campus’ digital master plan, or “IT Vision@2015,” will dictate how the campus wants to use and manage technology and what major technological developments will have the greatest impact on campus.

“We have not gone into the plan with any preconceived notions,” said Hilary Baker, vice president of CSUN Information Technology.

The “IT Vision@2015” interim report, released Jan. 31, paints a campus reliant on mobile devices, networks that make software accessible to personal computers on and off campus, and one that is completely paperless.

Though the CSU budget cuts have created a volatile economic environment, Baker said that it would be wrong to ignore comprehensive digital planning.

“It requires discipline,” Baker said. “Even during budget constraining times, it requires thoughtful planning.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011-12 California budget proposal aims to cut $500 million in state support for the CSU system. Cuts to education are a result of a $28 billion budget deficit the state is trying to close.

Although Baker said the “IT Vision@2015” was needed to guide CSUN in the digital world, the plan has many components that aim to reduce costs.

Humanities major, Ricardo Bilbao brings his tablet computer to class. “It’s useful and practical,and I don’t have to carry a lot of books,” he said. Photo Credit: Virginia Bulacio/Staff photographer

The main goals of the plan are to control the number of students that come onto campus, give students the opportunity to learn at their own pace and decrease overall costs for CSUN and the students, said Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president of academic affairs.

There will be a move to increase the number of e-books for students, which would cut down on the costs for the university and students.

“If we want to go into a more paperless environment, we are not going to get there if we continue the same way we have the last five years,” Baker said.

The overall classroom experience will change too. The majority of courses will be spent in classrooms, but one day would be spent in an online class or in labs, Hellenbrand said.

“Business has to go on,” said Stephanie Nguyen, computing system coordinator for the College of Humanities, who participated in the Academic Technology Committee meeting. “In the interest of students we have to have a plan . . . to meet their needs.”

The interim report compiles comments from CSUN deans, department chairs, faculty senate members, administration, IT division staff and campus IT staff.

It does not include specific details on how the plan will be implemented, but provides the goals of the not-so-distant digital CSUN campus.

The digital master plan will provide the roadmap for Information Technology’s future annual plans.

“You know what the main drivers will be in the next five years,” Hellenbrand said.

As of now, the only other public university in California that has a digital master plan is CSU Chico.  Baker said this is because the process is time consuming.

In the IT’s annual technology survey, which will be sent out this week to faculty and 10,000 randomly selected students, a portion will include questions about the “IT Vision@2015.” The survey results will create a revised question set that will be used in class focus groups during the spring semester, Baker said.

The most recent student, faculty technology survey results will be presented at the March 8 faculty technology forum.

The digital master plan should be completed this summer.