Justification for Priority Position

San Francisco State University is in an excellent position to demonstrate leadership in the early implementation of the ITS Initiative, based on a history of campus-wide commitment to the development of an effective information technology infrastructure, on-going, campus-wide planning efforts, and a basis of technology and expertise which the campus can leverage to quickly and effectively meet the CSU’s requirements for an appropriate baseline access, training and support environment. This section describes specifically how the project plans described in this document will meet ITS goals and objectives.

Hardware/Software Access

Among other considerations, this plan meets the requirements for 24-hour student access to a personal computer and network services. San Francisco State University’s plan for meeting this requirement is included in the Appendices. In 1995, the university determined that 74% of its students had access to a computer off-campus, either at home or at work. The majority of these computers had modems. Although more recent data are not available, it can be expected that these figures have increased.

To meet the needs of those students who do not have access to an off-campus computer, or for those who need a computer while on campus, this plan calls for the expansion of the 24-Hour Student Computing Lab, for which there is great demand, and augmentation of college-based computer labs. Faculty workstation access is also a critical issue, which is addressed with a plan to upgrade or replace faculty workstations once every three years.

Remote access requirements are addressed with plans to augment the student modem pool by increasing the number of modems available and providing new technology which offers greater speed and reliability. Campus planners indicate that a modem pool of approximately 285 modems would meet the demand for remote student access. The plan also includes a new faculty-only modem pool of approximately 72 modems to meet the requirements for remote access for the faculty.

Quality of access is a key concern of the university and is addressed in several ways. First, the university is aware that students and faculty are mobile. They need access to files, electronic mail and other resources both on-campus and remotely. A campus-wide data network and a modem pool which supports the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) provides uniform access to all networked information resources regardless of whether the user is on campus or at a remote location. A centralized electronic mail system based on standard protocols allows users to check their mail from any location, and either leave the mail on the server, copy it to a local hard drive, or copy it to removable media.

The university maintains and plans to expand a distributed file system running on a centralized cluster of Unix servers which provide electronic mail, file storage, compilers and other system-based services for all students, faculty and staff. This cluster of servers includes a dedicated network authentication and name server, a dedicated mail server, a Web server, and a cluster of "logon servers" which support the Andrew File System (AFS) distributed file system. Within the AFS environment, users can log into any one of the servers and access their home directory. This system, funded and supported by the ITT, has proven to be extremely effective in providing the highest quality of electronic communication and Internet access services to over 20,000 account holders. It is a scaleable solution which the university expects to augment and enhance in the process of developing the ITS target environment.

The location of a commercial wireless network gateway on campus allows customers to use wireless modems to connect to the campus network and its resources as well. Since the gateway authenticates users in the campus’ centralized authentication database, wireless users can access all of the address-protected information resources on the campus network, such as library databases.

In the implementation of the projects outlined in this plan, these quality factors will be maintained at all times. Further, the university always considers the quality of access for disabled constituents in planning and implementing new systems. For instance, the interactive voice response system offers students access to on-line information which might be difficult for visually-impaired constituents to access using a graphical interface on a Web page or kiosk.

San Francisco State recognizes the challenge presented by supporting a heterogeneous collection of campus and privately-owned faculty and student workstations, specialized servers and applications. In both past practice and in the projects described in this proposal, planners acknowledge this diversity and take appropriate steps to insure that no one is excluded from taking advantage of access, training or support services because of disability, choice of computing hardware, or lack of funds for specialized software. Campus systems and services are based on multiple-platforms, open standards where possible, industry standards when open standards do not exist and client software that is either in the public domain or covered by a campus-wide site license. ADA compliance is a requirement in all systems, including services deployed to accommodate visual, hearing, learning, and other disabilities.

Training

This plan emphasizes the need San Francisco State has recognized to improve and expand its training facilities and programs. Productivity of faculty and staff and the quality of the overall student experience clearly depend on on-going training programs which cover both basic competency and advanced skills in applications software, electronic communications, Internet resources and multimedia.

At this time, CET and Computing Services offer a variety of training opportunities from "How to Build a Home Page" presentations in a theater setting to small tutorials. Nevertheless, the increasing demand for training is straining existing resources of staff time, equipment and facilities, which is why this proposal places a significant emphasis on hiring another full-time trainer and on building three new training facilities - a state-of-the-art Training Center, an electronic class lab, and a Collaboratory for the use of specialized tools for group decision-making, creative collaboration and team training.

Finally, this plan is aligned with the goals of both the Information Competence Workgroup reporting to the Commission on Learning Resources and Instructional Technology (CLRIT) and campus-based recommendations from CUSP and the Library Strategic Plan. Specifically, this plan includes a $95,000 project to replace the Library Skills Requirement for all students with an Information Competence Program. Details of this plan are included in the Appendices.

Support

Technology support groups at San Francisco State have continually worked toward reducing "hassles" and confusion in providing support to campus constituents. To a great extent, support is centralized in Computing Services, although there is considerable communication and collaboration between college-based support staff, the Library, Audio Visual Services and Computing Services staff. "One Call Does It All" when contacting Computing Services, because Computing Services has procedures in place and well-trained staff to route calls internally without asking constituents to place a second call. There is a central dispatch desk for all calls related to consulting, network, systems and hardware support. There is one dial-in number for students, and one for faculty. Electronic mail, Web-based information and an automated Help Desk facility, Remedy ARS, are additional tools used to quickly and efficiently serve support requests.

General

As described elsewhere in this document, San Francisco State University has a comprehensive campus planning program within which technology requirements are identified and related directly to the university’s mission. In addition, the campus has a number of on-going teams and committees to address issues related to the integration of technology in the curriculum, and well as general issues related to the development, implementation and support of technology. Committees which meet regularly to discuss technology issues include: Students are consulted through focus groups, questionnaires, evaluations of training classes, faculty advisors, computer lab managers, questions posed via the interactive voice response system during Touch Tone Registration, and their participation in ad hoc committees, including CUSP. The President of the Associated Students, for example, has reviewed and endorsed this proposal.

The plan presented here clearly leverages an on-going campus commitment to technology which is led by the President, fully supported by the executive staff and enthusiastically implemented and supported by the entire campus community. Students and faculty use equipment, system, network, training, consulting and service resources to their full extent in the current environment. Computing labs are full, training classes are full, modems are always busy, Help Lines take hundreds of calls per week, the electronic mail system processes over 100,000 messages per day and campus Web pages are accessed over 80,000 times per day, as indicated by the following graph.

Daily SFSU Web Site "Hits"

These resources are being used to meet the ITS goals of enhanced productivity and improved quality of student experience and of teaching and learning. With the implementation of the projects described in this proposal, the campus can build upon its accomplishments to more fully integrate technology into the curriculum with more training for faculty and students, additional Web-based services and curricular resources, multimedia production facilities, appropriate classroom technology, excellent support services, adequate server resources and a reliable, high-capacity network.

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Last modified February 11, 2008 by the Web Team