Team 5: Information Technology Initiatives

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This space has been created for the exclusive use of Davidson College employees and students working on:

Team 5: Information Technology Initiative

Goal Setting

Grants and Contracts Topic

Digital Literacy

Science-Math Overall

A growing number of schools are teaching their students how to write code on one language or another. Interdisciplinary training is growing and writing code is part of this training. The language does not really matter as much as the ability to think logically and write scripts to accomplish tasks. Currently, such courses are offered in Math and Physics. Laurie Heyer offers one course that is cross-listed in biology. All of these courses are populated by upper level students majoring in one of these few disciplines.
See this workshop as an example.


  • clickers for in-class use
  • iPod for bird call ID
  • podcasts for news and protocols
  • Tablets for field work
  • It is worth noting that medical schools use PalmPilots (or equivalents) for all medical students when they go on rounds to track medications, test results, etc. The goal is to remove the burden and possible mistakes made when human memory is required to make diagnosis and prescriptions.


  • clickers for in-class use


  • MatLab and Mathmatica are popular software tools.
  • Programing in Java, R, STELLA, Phython, Perl, etc.

The Math Dept. would like a computer lab with 28 stations for a variety of classes. Having two computer labs with only 16 stations and students limits their ability to teach math and CS courses.


  • clickers for in-class use

Physics education research is the most advanced in the sciences and math. They have led the way in many areas of education and assessment. Wolfgang and Mario are two world leaders in this area.
In two papers, Dancy and Henderson (2009) measured the extent of physics higher ed faculty's knowledge and use of research-based instructional materials. About 80% knew of these methods but only half used at least one, and very few used more than one. The most common reason given for not using these methods demonstrated to improve student learning was time it takes the faculty to learn and adapt the method to his or her classroom.
I think these two papers make an important point with regards to IT and learning. Just because we make something available does not mean faculty will use it. Furthermore, faculty time is the rate-limiting step, not technology or money. No matter what we do in this area, we need to make sure time is alloted for implementation.


  • web development and design using Dreamweaver/Photoshop
  • video and audio creation of class materials and original student work
  • video and audio system for collection, analysis, presentation and management of observational data (Noldus lab)
  • podcasting student research in collaboration with others


Humanities and Social Sciences

  • iTunes U for collaboration on creative writing (Poetry)
  • video and audio creation of course materials & original student work (multiple disciplines)
  • gaming - analysis and tool (Music, Classics, English)
  • blogging as a writing tool and for peer review
  • websites for on-going faculty & student research projects as well as one-off projects, using WordPress as a CMS

Foreign Languages

  • streaming audio and video for language examples
  • video and audio creation of course materials & original student work
  • web 2.0 technolgies as teaching tools (blogs, wikis, social networking platforms, etc.)
  • teleconferencing in the classroom to enhance intercultural communicative competence
  • corpora to improve student writing

Entire Campus

VOIP Telephone System

The campus telephone system, a Nortel 81C PBX phone switch, is nearing end of life. The phone system provides telephone service to all campus buildings, excluding off-campus student housing and the Lake Campus. Much of campus telephone service is still provided by copper cables and some of these cables are direct-buried. The copper is aging, unreliable and is a source technical problems and great maintenance expense. Voice over IP (VoIP) is the next generation of communication service. VoIP phones plug into a network port instead of a phone port. Some of the benefits of a VOIP include:

  • No need for separate phone wiring – significant savings
  • Much easier to install & configure than a proprietary phone system
  • Easier to manage because of web based configuration interface
  • Allows users to hot plug their phone anywhere in the office - users simple take their phone, plug it into the nearest ethernet port and keep their existing number!
  • Feature rich including “find me, follow me” calls can be diverted anywhere in the world
  • Peer to Peer video
  • Scalable

Enable VPN for all faculty and staff

Upgrade campus wireless to new "N" standard

Upgrade Campus Backbone from 1GB to 10GB

  • Support the convergence of data, phone and CableTV into one common backbone to reduce cost

Robust Video Conferencing Facility

  • Support campus goals of increased connections locally, nationally and globally
  • Potential to reduce travel - guest speakers, interviews, meetings

Tiered Storage

  • Tier 1 - high speed, highly resilient feature rich & expensive storage for high transaction systems such as email, Banner, data warehouse - reporting system, etc.
  • Tier 2 - mid speed, highly resilient, medium cost storage for fileservices etc.
  • Tier 3 - RAID only but (low cost) storage for backups, including desktops.
  • Tier 4 - Tape - offline but permanent storage.

Digital Asset System

At the present time, there are multiple digital collections holding tens of thousands of images spread across academic and administrative departments. This includes images created and used for classroom use, photographs taken by College Communications staff and used by multiple departments, and historical images. The management of these requires significant staff time. Additionally, these collections exist largely in isolation, making it difficult to share, recover and preserve valuable images. A digital assets management system (DAMS) consists of both a workflow process and software application to manage the storage, retrieval and distribution of digital assets. The assets are typically images and related data, but also include audio, video, and documents. Ideally the system would provide centralized and scalable storage for unlimited images with the flexibility to create multiple collections, each with its own access controls and the capability to search across all campus collections.

Student Life

The following is a link to a chapter in The Handbook of Student Affairs Administration By George S. McClellan and Jeremy Stringer. The chapter is a pretty good summary of the type of concerns and interests for the student life area. A number of professional organizations have technology discussion groups which will be posted here when reviewed.

The Association of College Unions - International lists a page of core competencies for union professionals which probably translates pretty well to all student life staff. The link below will take you to the page. It is organized by Technology Resources: knowledge required and skills and abilities required. And then Technology Application and Administration: knowledge required and skills and abilities required.
In the section of knowledge required for technology resources, I thought the following three were particularly helpful:

Understanding of technology’s potential to create round-the-clock, self-service experiences for students interacting with campus administrative functions

Understanding of how students best receive marketing and promotional communication and the role technology plays in delivering these messages

Understanding the role social networking technology plays in community building and student development

The Association of College and University Housing Offices - International maintains a blog which occasionally has articles related to technology on campus and in student life. The link below is to an artilce in their bi-monthly magazine, Talking Stick, about trends in computing as they relate to residence life.

Highlights include living/learning spaces which are technology rich which seems to be the residence hall version of Duke and Emory spaces we have talked about. A few schools are using TeamSpot software to allow students to share visual workspace. The article also spends a chunk of space looking at FaceBook and it's impact as a social networking tool.