Volume 42, Number
IN THIS ISSUE
Stretching the Dollars
to Update Technology
out the Tryouts
Every family can sympathize. One person wants a new computer;
another wants a color printer and software packages. The children
yearn for HDTV, games, or surround sound.
The list of technological marvels available is always much larger
than the family budget can absorb. And the moment you buy the
latest wonder, it becomes out of date as it's surpassed by something
much better. The cry goes up again: "I would really like
the new (whatever)...."
Multiply that by the 28,000-plus people in The University of
Iowa's student "family" and you can see the difficulties
facing University budgets -- especially because technological
knowledge relates directly to student academic performance and
their chances of finding good first jobs upon graduation.
Faced with the problem of staying current without breaking
the bank, University of Iowa colleges have come up with interesting
solutions. Here are a few of the innovative ideas at work:
TODAY'S COMPUTERS FOR TOMORROW'S WORKERS
The College of Engineering, which depends on state-of-the-art
technology to teach its students, decided several years ago to
replace 25 percent of its hardware and software each year.
"This means that nothing a student uses is more than four
years old," says Doug Eltoft, director of the Iowa Computer-Aided
Engineering Network, or ICAEN. "The four-year cycle assures
that students learn on systems that are identical to those they'll
find when they go to work."
The ICAEN computing environment is integrated into classroom
instruction. In engineering students' first year they are introduced
to this environment and the professional software tools. First-year
students have access to the same resources as faculty and graduate
students and 24-hour access to educational resources such as
course syllabi, homework assignments, and on-line reference materials.
Professional support staff or trained student consultants are
available seven days a week.
The college also has a computer classroom filled with up-to-date
computing equipment given to the college by Hewlett-Packard.
LAPTOPS OR LABS FOR BUSINESS STUDENTS
The College of Business Administration has approached the challenge
of offering students up-to-date technology by offering choices.
The college struck a deal with Dell Computing Corp. this year
to allow students to buy laptop computers at considerable discounts.
Students could buy for $2,154 a laptop computer worth $2,700
Last year the college installed wireless electronic devices in
the Pappajohn Business Administration Building. Students check
a wireless network card out of the business administration library,
insert it in their computers, and access University computer
networks from anywhere in the building. This frees up computers
in the business laboratory for other students' use.
The laptop purchase program was voluntary. Some business students
have desktop computers in their rooms, while others use more
than 100 computers in the college's computer laboratory or other
labs on campus.
EDUCATION INSTALLS LAPTOP OUTLETS
Jones Commons, a room in the Lindquist Center that acts as a
meeting place, study center, and student and faculty lounge,
doesn't look particularly "high-tech" to a casual visitor,
aside from a few computer terminals. But several inconspicuous
outlets around the room enable individuals or groups to plug
laptop computers into the University network.
Lindquist Center also has a large computer laboratory for education
students. The laptop outlets expand the college's ability to
provide technology for students.
LIBERAL ARTS UPDATES COMPUTER FACILITIES
From the outside, Schaeffer Hall, where many undergraduate liberal
arts courses are held, shows that it is one of the oldest, most
historic buildings on campus. From the inside, however, it is
up to date.
Extensive renovations created new spaces for computerized classrooms
and computer labs. Combined with other labs and classrooms in
individual departments within Liberal Arts, the Schaeffer Hall
facilities give students new access to the world outside the
ONLINE AT IOWA
All the technology in the world is nothing if students don't
know it's there, or don't understand how to operate it.
A new award-winning CD-ROM course called OnLine at Iowa seeks
to introduce students to everything that is available to them
on campus. It won the 1997 Microsoft award for the best computing
program for students.
On the CD, Robert Boynton, professor of political science, uses
an animated Cambus to "tour" the various technological
facilities on campus, explaining what students can accomplish
in each one.
-By Anne Tanner
With the swift
changes in computer
technology, it's a challenge to keep
student computer laboratories
up to date.