Comprehensive Standard 3.4.12: Technology Use
The institution’s use of technology enhances student learning and is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs. Students have access to and training in the use of technology.
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USF Sarasota-Manatee) is committed to the use of advanced technologies in support of faculty instruction and student learning as evidenced by Strategic Goal 4 of the newly approved USF Sarasota-Manatee Strategic Plan, which states that the University will “explore and implement innovative technologies and pedagogical methods that increase student engagement in the learning process and improve student learning outcomes.” Along with technical support from the USF System in Tampa, the areas of Technology Services, E-Learning, and the Information Commons have primary responsibility for assuring that USF Sarasota-Manatee students have access to and training in the use of technology to enhance student learning and meet program objectives. Led by the Executive Faculty Administrator for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, these three areas have twenty (20) staff (See Technology Services Organizational Chart): one (1) Executive Faculty Administrator, three (3) E-Learning staff, four (4) Information Commons Staff, and twelve (12) Technology Services staff.
Enhancing Student Learning
In response to student demand for flexible scheduling and increased access to course work, faculty have broadened the use of technological enhancements to support engaged learning in online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses. The technology that supports distance learning is used by all USF System institutions. The tools include Canvas, the USF System’s learning management system; lecture capture (Panopto and Mediasite); and live streaming (Mediasite and Tricaster).
Technology supports both synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. Technology Services deployed new collaborative technology systems in summer 2015 to add additional live streaming, the opportunity for student group project work, and content review capability from lectures for students. This technology is consistent with the objective of meeting key national technology trends in higher education identified by EDUCAUSE’s 2015 Horizon Report, which includes increased uses of blended and hybrid learning, flipped courses, and the re-design of learning spaces which embrace more active learning and collaborative problem solving. Expanding multi-modal ways of delivering content to accommodate differing learning styles among students has driven much of the classroom technology re-designs now underway at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Panopto lecture capture, for example, allows faculty to capture human gestures, combining voice, eye contact, and body language to help bridge the connection with learners, as emphasized in the Horizon Report. USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty members provide students the option to take courses face-to-face or on-line, when available, in any combination toward earning their degrees. The Information Commons installed two collaborative technology areas for students as part of an extensive renovation project in summer 2015. This remodeling provides assistive technologies to ensure accessibility for all students. Starting in Fall Semester 2013, USF Sarasota-Manatee instituted Laptop Requirements for all students for use in their course work.
Florida Statute 1009.24(13) provides for a Student Technology Fee “of up to 5 percent of the tuition per credit hour” for enhancing instructional technology resources for students and faculty. The USF Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the technology fee at 5% of tuition, beginning Fall Semester 2009. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the fee revenue goes directly to USF System-wide initiatives; the balance is distributed among the three USF Ssytem’s separately accredited institutions and USF Health, proportional to the amount generated by each institution. To date, revenues from the technology fee have been used for a number of technology projects: expanding the wireless Internet, increasing single sign-on for USF accounts, creating the Virtual Apps Gateway, and enriching the classrooms with state-of-the-art technology. Annually, USF Sarasota-Manatee students, faculty, and staff can propose projects to improve the student technology experience.
Student Access and Support
Technology Services, E-Learning, and Information Commons staff at USF Sarasota-Manatee are responsible for the provision of technology access, support, professional development and training to faculty, students, and staff.
Technology Services supports an advanced network of data, voice, video, and wireless technologies. An extensive upgrade to the entire WiFi network in the summer of 2013 impacted over 90% of the campus; the remaining 10% was completed before fall 2015. Extensive improvements to the campus’ multi-purpose, Selby Auditorium in summer 2014 saw upgrades to its touch panel, control system, high resolution DVD display (i.e. Blu-Ray) to allow HD display from laptops. Also integrated were audio and videoconference features, allowing faculty to “bring” experts and colleagues from various subject curricula to their students via the ClearOne and Lifesize videoconference components installed. Interactive Q & A between students and field experts and graduates is now readily available in Selby.
Led by the Director of Technology Services, the departmental team consists of a Network and Server Support Specialist, an Information Tech Support Specialist, a User Application Specialist, a Media Resource Specialist, a Technology & Systems Analyst, a Lab Technician, four (4) Tier 1 Level Support Techs (including one at the North Port instructional site), and an office manager.
Technology Services manages the campus’ technology infrastructure to ensure access 24-hours-a-day, seven (7) days-a-week. The purpose of this infrastructure is to help the institution achieve the objectives of its academic programs and contains the following elements:
- High Speed Network – A gigabit switched Ethernet backbone for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s campus is routed from the USF campus in Tampa. The leased North Port instructional site features a 100 mb link. USF Sarasota-Manatee’s data network, drives, and online resources are also available to students and faculty at the science laboratories at Mote Marine Laboratory, which support the Biology program, and the Culinary Innovation Laboratory, which supports the Hospitality program.
- Wireless Network – USF Sarasota-Manatee provides guaranteed wireless coverage inside the Sarasota, North Port, Mote, and Culinary locations, all designed to support the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) paradigm for sharing content between learners as well as between faculty and students. Three levels of wireless service (USF-Gold, encrypted), USF Standard, and USF-Guest (wireless) is provided to meet student, faculty, and visitor needs. Faculty and staff have access to additional coverage throughout the campus courtyard and parking areas.
- Smart Classrooms – Internet access and network integrated audio-visual presentation technology in all classrooms provides for interactive learning and instruction. Instructor workstations are available on campus and at all off-campus teaching sites. In the summer of 2013, Technology Services designed and installed two presentation stations at the USF Sarasota-Manatee science laboratories at Mote. Technology Services also upgraded five (5) USF Sarasota-Manatee classrooms in summer 2014 with HD-capable projectors, Blu-Ray players, and lecture capture functionality. These rooms allow students to view missed lectures and review content for which they require reinforcement for improved retention. They will prove to be integral to facilitating USF Sarasota-Manatee’s support of the flipped classroom teaching paradigm. Technology Services plans enhancements to at least two (2) instructional locations within the Sarasota campus for fall 2015, as well as a complete upgrade to a third location utilized by both faculty and students. These redesigned learning spaces will focus on active learning environments, with students having greater flexibility to “present” collaboratively from their seats, facilitate group projects, and improve access to all mobile devices as part of their learning.
- In-Class, Real Time Support for Faculty – All on-campus classroom lecterns have a “Help” button to immediately notify technicians that technical assistance is required in a particular location. To improve responsiveness, Technology Services added two-way audio – for quick consultation with qualified technical staff – to each upgraded classroom in summer 2014 – as well as the science labs. Onsite tech support is available for the classrooms and open-use labs also at USF Sarasota-Manatee at North Port by a technician dedicated to the instructional site.
- Data Center – Network servers provide all integrated computing services and data storage for students and faculty.
- Training Lab – A sixteen (16)-station computer lab with lecture-capture capabilities has network-integrated, audio-visual presentation technology for training faculty on the effective use of technology and students on the utilization of available technologies.
- Free Printing – Through a partnership with Student Government and Information Technology, students are given an allotment of $2.50 per day to be used for free printing on campus.
- Equipment Loan – The Information Commons offers free equipment loan for students and faculty, including video cameras, digital cameras, voice recorders, global presenters, webcams, headsets with microphones, laptops, microphones/speakers for conferencing, universal laptop batteries, graphing calculators, and iPads.
Extensive training opportunities are available on campus and online for faculty and students throughout the academic year on hardware and software: Classroom Technology, Computer/Device, Event, Wireless Internet Access, Security & Antivirus, Audio/Video Production, Telecom (Telephones), Classroom Standard Presentation Mode, Classroom Lecture Capture Mode, and Printing on Campus. The Finding Help page on the website directs students to the Information Commons Academic Resource desk and the Technology Services Help Desk, as well as the USF Tampa Help Desk, available 24-hours a day. Technology Services schedules technical assistants during the hours of all courses. The techs respond to faculty and student technology issues through the Help Desk or the “Help” button in the classrooms that alerts the techs to problems. Faculty may request that the Developer or Technologist provide support during synchronous online class sessions. Faculty members and staff also provide instruction to students needing assistance with distance education technology in the individual classes. Technology Services provides assistance logging onto the various network resources, using charging stations, and checking out battery back-ups for their laptops. IT also offers assistance and support of the following:
- Setting up their mobile devices on the Campus Network
- Resetting student login accounts
- Troubleshooting connectivity from their personal computers to on-line courses
- Tutoring on Microsoft Office
- Troubleshooting flash drives and other media
- Assistance with printing
- Event Tech Support
- General computer help and “how to” tips
The Assistant Director of E-Learning Services supports faculty (See Faculty Resources Webpage, staff, and students(See Student Resources Webpage), one-on-one and in group instruction. Reporting to the Assistant Director are two (2) Technicians, an Instructional/Multimedia Developer, and an Instructional Technologist, who assist faculty with online course development and technology support and students with technology support. Students enrolled in distance education courses can find resources and support through the E-Learning Services. The E-Learning Services team also provide support to students with disabilities using assistive technologies.
Via live assistance and online tutorials, the Assistant Director coordinates with Student Services to deliver Canvas Training to all incoming students. A member of the E-Learning Services attends all student orientations and details resources available to all students, whether they are attending classes remotely or in-person. Students attending online orientation receive the same handouts as students who elect to participate in-person.
Students on-campus in Sarasota, North Port, or Lakewood Ranch and at-a-distance have full access to all electronic resources offered through USF Libraries, a centralized USF System service for which USF Sarasota-Manatee pays a percentage based on student enrollment. Please see Comprehensive Standard 3.8.2 (Instruction of Library Use) for more information on library training opportunities.
Students visit or call the Information Commons on the second floor of the Rotunda for basic services and then are referred to other areas (e.g., E-Learning, Library, or Technology Services) for more detailed assistance.The Information Commons hours coincide with when students are in classes.
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