WHY WE WANT TO PARTICIPATE
There are two primary reasons why Dartmouth College is eager to participate in CNI’s assessment project. The first is to determine what impact Dartmouth’s long history of campus networking has had on its academic environment.
Dartmouth has provided a range of network-based applications and resources for many years and has been fully networked since 1984. In the seventies and early eighties, these networked resources consisted of campus-wide access to local mainframe systems, which utilized a locally-developed operating system (Dartmouth Timesharing). With the move to desktop systems, local development work continued, such as the development of an on-line campus name directory, our own email system (fondly called BlitzMail), our own implementation of AppleShare on a UNIX host, Fetch (the standard FTP application for the Macintosh), as well as many others. Since 1989, Dartmouth has been at work on its information system (Dartmouth College Information System or DCIS), which provides access to a variety of on-line content as well as navigational assistance for accessing both local and remote content resources in a variety of formats. We have recently completed work on a Web interface to DCIS.
Having provided such a rich variety of network resources, we are eager to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the CNI’s call to assess these resources. The outcome of this assessment will be critical to our planning future efforts. In addition, we feel that our efforts would be substantially leveraged by the opportunity to work in conjunction with similar efforts at other campuses.
The second reason is our library expansion project. In 1998, Dartmouth will break ground on a $50 million project to expand our existing library by some 80,000 square feet. The program for this building currently calls for Dartmouth’s academic computing organization to be housed in this facility. The academic computing support group includes the help desk as well as support for curricular development and research computing.
A project of this magnitude has caused us to think carefully about the role of network-based resources in scholarly work. The results of the assessment as outlined in the CNI’s assessment project will be vital to our planning our new facilities. As the assessment is conducted, planning on the internal schematics for the new library will also be proceeding, with the former closely informing the latter.
SPECIFIC AREAS OF ASSESSMENT
- Following the suggestions in part II of the McClure/Lopata document, Dartmouth proposes to undertake assessment of these areas listed below. We anticipate using primarily qualitative techniques, with quantitative data providing a framework or context in which to understand more fully the results of qualitative investigation.
Network and Help Resources.
- As do most institutions, Dartmouth provides end user assistance via a variety of channels (the primary ones being the help desk, documentation, training). Our focus here will be ways in which users find networked-based resources (such as our FAQ, on-line documentation, and requests for help via email) more or less useful than person-to-person assistance (classes, phone and walk-in assistance). In short, the assessment here should help us answer the question: in which alternative should Dartmouth more heavily invest, in networked-based, self-help resources or in help delivered person-to-person?
Network and Teaching.
- This assessment will focus on the faculty. We will focus on specific network-based vehicles and assess their usefulness to the faculty in curriculum development. We will also have the faculty speculate, based on their understanding of the network, on what aspects will grow in importance over the next several years. In both this area and in the area of learning, we will focus heavily on usage of the World Wide Web.
Network and Learning.
- This is the flip side of the teaching area, with the focus on students. Again, we will assess what aspects of the network are the most useful and why. Our focus will be on the Dartmouth requirement for a “culminating experience,” which is a significant independent project students are required to complete during their fourth year in their major discipline.
Network and the Library.
- Here we will focus on the ways in which DCIS has contributed to and, indeed, altered teaching, learning, and research at this campus. What impact have the resources in DCIS had in curriculum development? What kinds of use do the students make of the content available via DCIS? To support our involvement in the assessment project, Dartmouth will endeavor to devote the equivalent of an FTE to the assessment effort for the duration of the project. This assessment effort will be lead by Dartmouth’s Computing Services division, with active participation by the Dartmouth Library.
- Dartmouth has conducted a modest amount of assessment research. As early as 1976, during the days of Dartmouth timesharing, assessment research was conducted (“Computing as a Matter of Course: The Instructional Use of Computers at Dartmouth College”). In the mid-eighties, Dartmouth completed assessment studies on the distribution of personal computers (1984) and on the impact of the Macintosh (1985). In the late 1980’s, another assessment project measured the use of personal computers in the humanities disciplines. In 1993, Computing Services conducted an in-depth assessment study of its classroom technology infrastructure. Article length studies on computing at Dartmouth have also appeared (“Computing across the curriculum: Academic Perspectives,” EDUCOM, 1989; “Campus Computing Strategies,” McCredie Ed., 1990).
- The principal contact for the Dartmouth assessment effort is Malcolm Brown (email@example.com). The leaders of the assessment effort include two staff from Computing Services (Levine and Brown) and two staff from the Library’s Information Resources group (Brentrup and LaMarca).
Robert Brentrup is the Director of the Information Systems department, providing technical leadership and management of the development team. Information Systems is a group reporting jointly to Dartmouth College Library and Computing Services. Information Systems is responsible for the Dartmouth College Information System (DCIS) project and the library’s automated systems. Robert earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Technology University and a Master of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Boston University. He was on the faculty of Northeastern University in Boston teaching programming languages. He worked for Raytheon Company and Lotus Development Corporation before coming to Dartmouth.
Malcolm Brown is director of Academic Computing at Dartmouth College. He received a doctorate in German Studies from Stanford University with a dissertation on Nietzsche. While at Stanford he started and directed the Academic Text Service, including the development of one of the first network-based text analysis tools and an on-line, full-text library. Among his current projects at Dartmouth are participation on the library and computing building committees and chairmanship of the subcommittee on classrooms. He has been active in several CNI endeavors, including facilitating the CNI’s “Working Together” workshops.
Mary LaMarca is the Assistant Director of the Information Systems department, a joint unit of the Dartmouth College Library and Computing Services. Mary leads and develops library and campus information system projects. Mary earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Clarkson College and a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. She worked for Academic Computing at Brown University before coming to Dartmouth.
Lawrence Levine Ph.D. has been at Dartmouth College since 1984, serving as director of social science computing, director of academic computing, and director of computing since 1990. Previously Dr. Levine held various computing positions at Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Levine’s doctorate is in research methods, and, counseling psychology from the Indiana University (Bloomington) School of Education. He has written a number of articles and made numerous presentations in the field of statistical computing and higher education computing services. Dr. Levine is a member of EDUCOM, CAUSE, and ACM. He has served as a proposal reviewer for NSF and other agencies and foundations, and as a consultant to various institutions of higher education and to computing vendors.
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