When George W. Atherton, a former Penn State president, first got a telephone in his office, he declared it a nuisance. Little did the he know a hundred years later, Penn State would be heavily dependent on modern technology.
Information Technology Services controls everything, from the Pollock Testing Center to on-campus Wi-Fi to the downloaded apps for iPhones. A few weeks ago, ITS released an annual survey to the students, faculty and staff of all Penn State campuses asking what the community wants to change, said John Harwood, associate vice provost of ITS and associate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology.
The confidential survey takes about 20 minutes and concerns topics from eLion to a campus gaming system. The survey can be found at www.websurvey.survey.psu.edu and ends on Sunday.
Harwood said he partnered with Claire Gilbert, a higher education graduate student and Vicki Williams, Information and Technology manager, to create the survey.
The survey was distributed to 11,000 people within all Penn State’s various campuses, but so far only 13 percent of those people responded. Harwood said he is disappointed with the acknowledgement but not surprised.
He said he knows that students are busy but still believes in the importance of the survey.
“We want to see how well we are doing. Are we meeting your needs?” he said.
The survey does not only question the effectiveness of what is already available but also asks what the students want when it comes to technology within Penn State. Previous surveys resulted in the Pollock Testing Center, the Knowledge Commons and training programs, said Harwood.
“The point of this technology is to maximize the success of each student,” Harwood said as he listed the products of past surveys.
Harwood said Penn State is constantly trying to keep up with rapid changes in technology. In 2001, the campus first got wireless Internet, and since that time, changes have been made so that now, students can access eLion on their phones and take classes completely on the Internet, Harwood said.
With the technology evolving, ITS needs to choose ways to change with it and the time period in which the changes can reasonably happen. Very few of the survey decisions will be seen immediately, and many of the students who participated in the survey will graduate before they can witness the results, he said.
Harwood and his team are expecting the survey data will be used three to five years in the future.
Although these survey results will not go into effect for many years, Patricia Buchanan, senior instructor of statistics, said her technology needs are met in the classroom.
Referring to herself as “old-school,” Buchanan said she likes to still use an overhead projector, yet she takes advantage of the changes that ITS makes. Buchanan said she now uses i>clickers in her lectures, although she does feel large classes limit her in the ability to use new technology.
Some tudents said they are content with the technology available, yet fail to see the improvements that are made yearly. One of the students, Marvin Hernandez (junior-supply chain and information sciences), said the technology that is accessible to students meets his demands since there are vast computer labs available, but he has not noticed the developments. When asked if he would take the survey, he said he saw it in his webmail but just over looked it.
The ITS survey will be online for a few more days, then the data will be collected in December and an agreement will be presented to the president in January, and Harwood said he is looking to help the future students, faculty and staff of Penn State.