Mary Washington is a four-year public liberal arts and sciences college with an enrollment of 3800 that is highly committed to continuously refining approaches to teaching and learning. The College is extremely eager to participate in this network assessment project.
In just the past few years, the College has experienced revolutionary technological changes and we are prudently initiating self-assessment efforts at this time. While just two years ago students did not have access to dormitory telephones, the internet, or computers, today, every office, classroom, and dormitory room has an ethernet connection, a phone line with voicemail capabilities, and a video jack for both local cable and campus channel broadcasts. While these tremendous advances have been made in a short time to overcome limitations to access, we continue to face new challenges of implementation and integration of the technology within our academic mission. Most recently, our extreme interest is self-evaluation has led to arrangements for an outside consultant from Educom to assess our campus use of technologies. His visit will take place in mid-February. This network assessment project is a perfect extension and continuation of these self-evaluation efforts. As project participants, we anticipate being able to more readily accomplish our own self-assessment goals as well as being able to more directly share our results with other colleges and universities.
Reflecting the economic growth of the region, Mary Washington College, has several significant initiatives underway. To preserve the traditional atmosphere of a small liberal arts college and yet fulfill the lifelong learning needs of its area citizens, the College is constructing a satellite campus approximately eight miles away in Stafford county. A critical component of communicating between the two campuses will be remaining technologically current with voice, data, and video networks. Although the Stafford campus certainly is receiving much attention, improvements on the main Fredericksburg campus include a new science building and continuing upgrades of networked computing capabilities. These physical changes are augmented by several bold curricular changes. Various agencies are working cohesively toward these common objectives.
Computer and Networked Services
Prior to April 15, 1994, relatively few technologies existed on the Mary Washington College campus. On that date, the College formally committed to providing a campuswide academic networked environment (42 buildings). The goal of moving the College into the information age was quite ambitious, but fully supported by the Board of Visitors, the President, other administrative officials, the faculty, and students alike. Through this effort, the College became the single largest ATM network in existence at the time. While the cost of such a project was formidable, the College is currently completing its $8.6 million technology restructuring initiative that has provided a state-of-the-art ATM network and upgraded computer capabilities campuswide.
As a result of networked access, new administrative software has been procured and installed that is capable of distributing information campuswide. later this year, students, faculty, and staff, through the campus network and the World Wide Web, will access their course schedules, transcripts, budgets, and conduct registration for classes (with proper authorization).
A Networked Development Committee, comprised of ten members, has been established to facilitate communications pertaining to campus technologies. The committee meetings provide a medium for sharing concerns, identifying global issues, recommending improvements, and setting priorities, to provide the highest levels of quality in information technology resources and services. This group includes representatives from a variety of key campus agencies and it is this group that will serve as liaisons for this network assessment project/
While the network is now essentially complete, the campus continues to upgrade faculty, staff, and student lab computers so that all of them are fully capable of utilizing this network. In just the past two years, more than $1,000,000 has been invested in this upgrade effort. As the physical aspects of the project near completion, attention is more intensively turning toward how we plan to utilize the network and equipment to achieve our educational goals and objectives.
Center for Instructional Technology
To address the technological training needs of faculty, staff, and students, the College established a Center for Instructional Technology in 1995. In spite of its small staff, the Center works closely with other campus agencies and has accomplished several important objectives. First, the Center established a Faculty and Staff Technology Training Center in which faculty and staff receive training in state-of-the-art networking technologies as they apply to the teaching/learning process. Faculty are increasingly enhancing their curricula with technology so a forum for sharing these experiences was created. The CIT developed an annual three-day Faculty Academy focusing on examinations of pedagogy and technology as a method of facilitating communication regarding these experiences. The Academy differs from typical conferences in two important ways. the very definition of academy distinguishes it as an association for the promotion of literature, science, or art. Being a liberal arts college, it is important that we focus primarily on these academic goals rather than allowing our faculty to be side-tracked by new technological innovations and the appeal that they offer. Moreover, the Academy capitalizes on the small liberal arts college atmosphere that allows faculty from a variety of disciplines to communicate directly and informally with each other the experiences that they have had using technology in their teaching. The result is that the event is a learning experience for all who attend. Initially established with a focus on our own faculty, in just its first year the Academy attracted participants from several nearby colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and corporate agencies with some coming from as far away as Maryland, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Planning for the second annual Academy is well underway for May 23-25, 1997.
The intent of combining access to networked computers and these training efforts, is to establish a faculty development program that will provide faculty with the means and opportunities for learning how instructional technologies might enhance their teaching. The logical extension of this is the implementation of these new skills within their own courses. Other initiatives underway on our campus include:
1. the development and implementation of campuswide computer proficiency requirement so that all graduating students are assured of possessing a minimal foundation of experience with networks computer technologies
2. the integration of technology, where appropriate, within 56 new required-by-all-students general education courses to be implemented in Fall 1997.
3. the creation of instructional technology equipped classrooms in every academic building and then every department
4. development of a comprehensive plan to provide the necessary skill-based training for all staff
5. continuing participation as a member of a NSF funded consortium project to develop math,science, and education courses that integrate technology
The College’s library now has an electronic bibliographical record for every document they hold. Most recently, the library has become accessible through the World Wide Web (using Virtual) and searches the library holdings can occur from any networked computer. Over the past six years, the library has significantly expanded its collection of indexes and periodical materials on CD-ROM. More ambitiously, two years ago, the library became a participant in a statewide VIVA (Virtual Library of Virginia) project aimed at acquiring collections of materials in electronic formats and making them accessible to all participating state libraries. While ultimately the project may last years or even decades as thousands of documents and pieces of literature are coveted to digital format, notable progress is already being made.
Simpson Library is fully automated under the UNIX-based, VTLS integrated system which includes cataloguing, circulation, OPAC (public access catalog), acquisitions, and inter-library loans. Although the library’s catalog has been remotely available by dialup for many years, the Virtual WWW gateway, installed in the summer of 1996, provides easy international access for anyone with an internet connection. The gateway now allows for multimedia links to our own catalog, which points researchers to materials which can be found anywhere in the world. Automation plans call for a migration to VTLS’s new Virtual client/server software in the summer of 1997. This year, in addition, the library will be installing a 21-drive networked CD-ROM server which will service (depending upon license agreements) both the library workstations as well as campuswide connections.
The Simpson Library has has a vigorous bibliographic instruction program for several years. Librarians have been very successful providing course-related instruction to students on the VTLS online catalog, CD-ROM indexes, and print sources, teaching more than 150 classes a year. Since the arrival of the campus computer network, the initiation of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA_ Project, and the advent of the World Wide Web graphical interface, the librarians have found that the demand for teaching students the fundamentals of database searching has increased dramatically. Students and faculty are eager to learn how to use FirstSearch and other databases that VIVA has made available, such as the ones provided by the Information access Company, Chadwyck-Healey , and Gale research. With the increase of full text journals in the World WIde Web, there will be an increasing interest in knowing how to access these as well as Virtual, networked CD-ROM databases, and other resources on the WWW. In the coming year, the librarians at Simpson will be building on their already solid experience of teaching research skills to find new ways to use the networked environment to enhance students’ information literacy.
Several key people form Mary Washington that will be involved in this network assessment project have already begun to disseminate and share information of our recent experiences. Evidence of this is available through two textbooks, one centering on learning with the internet (Ackerman, 1995) and the other focusing on learning with the World Wide Web (Ackerman, 1996). Participants have presented at professional conferences including CAUSE (Martin & Law, 1996a), Educom (Martin & Law, 1996b), ASCUE (Ayersman, Ackerman, & Zisman, 1996) and an upcoming conference on College Teaching and Learning (Ayersman & Joyce, 1997). Additionally participants have published in a variety of professional journals (Ayersman, 1996a; Ayersman, 1996b, Ayersman & Hines, in press). Each of these scholarly works has centered around our new technological capabilities. The College is very much interested in continuing this information sharing through participation in this Networked Assessment Project (see the References section for complete Bibliographies).
- Dr, David J. Ayersman, Director of Instructional Technology
- Dr. Ernest C. Ackerman, Professor and Director of Academic COmputing
- Dr. Philip L. Hall, Provost
- Ms. Carol H. Martin, assistant Vice President for Computer and Networked Services
- Mr. Tim law, Director of Computer and Network Services
- Mr. Robert Grattan, Systems Librarian
- Dr. Ayersman directs the Center for Instructional Technology which provides leadership, direction, and assistance to faculty in the use of technology within the context of the instructional program of the College. This includes working with faculty to develop materials/facilities to be used in the instructional program; assisting faculty in the choice, procurement, and use of instructional technology; scheduling and conducting training for the faculty; and providing direction so that the instructional program may take best advantage of existing networks and delivery systems. He is an ex officio member of the Network Development Committee, the Restructuring task Force on Instructional Committee, Camous Academic Resources Committee, and the Web Development Committee.
- Dr. Ackermann advises the Provost and Dean of the Faculty on matters related to the use of computing facilities as part of the academic programs of the College, and on matters related to the ethical, legal, and secure use of computing facilities at the College. He assists in the development of policy regarding the use of computing facilities related to the academic programs at the College. He administers the Unix computer systems in Trinkle Hall and performs the functions of Webmaster for the Mary Washington College Web site. He serves as the technical point of contact to the InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) for the College. He is a member of the Network Development Committee, the Web Development Committee, and the chair of the Restructuring task Force on Instructional Technology.
- Dr. Hall is the chief operations officer of the College in all areas of academic affairs, and he has executive authority in the absence of the President. Relative to this network assessment project, positions that report directly to the Provost are the Dean of Faculty; the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education; the Dean of Academic Services; the Library Director; the Vice President for Planning, Assessment, and Institutional research; the Director of Career Services; and the Director of Instructional Technology. The Provost is an ex officio member of key campus committees including the Network Development Committee, the Campus Academic Resources Committee, and the Restructuring Task FOrce on Instructional Technology.
- Ms. Martin is responsible for administrative computing including the systems development staff and operations, and for the overall direction and operation of the campus network and its components. Additionally, she is responsible for campus telecommunications, support services, maintenance contracts, and information technology procurements. She assists in the development of policy regarding the use of computing facilities by students, faculty, and staff, and is responsible for the institution’s annual Information Technology Plan. She is chair of the Network Development Committee, ex officio member of the Campus Academic Resources Committee to the Council on Information Management, and a member of the state level Century Date Change Committee.
- Mr. Law manages the computer and network operations and support services. As the network administrator, he manages the systems software and equipment, designs new configurations, reengineers configurations for specific capabilities, researches upgrade products and services, manages support services, and provides recommendations for improved systems and services. Mr. Law is a member of the Network Development Committee.
- Mr. Grattan manages all library automation applications. He provides maintenance, training, and consultative expertise pertaining to the Library’s integrated library automation system (VTLS). Working with other librarians, he is responsible for various computer applications in the Library. He troubleshoots computers, maintains an accurate inventory of the Library’s computing machinery, and provides recommendations for acquisitions of new technologies to the Library Director.
Ackermann, E.C. (1995). Learning to use the internet. Wilsonville, OR: Franklin, Beedle & Associates.
Ackermann, E.C. (1996). Learning to use the world wide web. Wilsonville, OR: Franklin, Beedle & Associates.
Ayersman, D.J. (1996a). Effects of computer instruction, learning style, gender, and experience on computer anxiety. Computers in the Schools 12(4), 15-30.
Ayersman, D.J. (1996b). Reviewing the hypermedia-based learning research. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 28(4), 500-525.
Ayersman, D.J., & Hines, V. (in press). Gaining insight into K-12 educators’ telecommunications learning experiences via qualitative inquiry. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 2(4).
Ayersman, D.J., Ackermann, E.C., & Zisman, P.M. (1996). Creating a computer competency requirement for Mary Washington College students. In P. SMith (Ed.), Proceedings of the 1996 ASCUE summer conference,(pp. 24-30). Myrtle Beach, SC: ASCUE.
Ayersman, D.J & Joyce, M. (1997). Constructing computer-based video: Facilitating or limiting undergraduate students’ creativity? Paper to be presented at the 8th annual conference on College Teaching and Learning, Jacksonville, FL, (April 16-19).
Martin, C.H. & Law, T. (1996a). Turnkey campus network installation: Voice, video, and data. Paper presented at the 1996 annual CAUSE conference, San Francisco, CA, (December 3-6).
Martin, C.H. & Law, T. (1996b). Turnkey campus network installation: Voice, video, and data. Paper presented at the 1996 annual Educom conference, Philadelphia, PA, (October 8-11).