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 Tuesday, May 27, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Focusing information technology as a strategic investment
by Dennis Maloney, chief technology officer, Information Technology Services

During the academic year I had the privilege of interviewing all of the deans as well as dozens of campus researchers with the goal of formulating a plan for strategically focusing campus investments in information technology (IT). Ultimately, this means transforming our technology service delivery to match the needs of the campus. CU-Boulder is not alone in transforming our technology service delivery. Like our peer institutions, we are developing new models for technology delivery in an era that demands use of emerging technologies, research computing support and infrastructures and campus services that are available online, 24 hours a day. I set out to gather information to determine future IT services and to articulate those needs as campus investments to support our academy goals.

One area was very clearly reinforced during the interviews: effectively supporting teaching and learning activities is essential. Support of academic technology is an important facet of the IT suite of services. This includes technology-enhanced classrooms and labs, learning management system (CULearn), email, calendaring and personalized academic technology support (DATCs). Although technology is important for service delivery, the value of the technology is determined by the degree to which it supports the faculty with their teaching and the students in learning. To ensure that these goals are met, appropriate feedback and assessment processes are required. We are committed to promoting and enabling the uses of academic technology in which faculty and students experience the benefit.

The second major area of interest was campus support of research activities. Currently, researchers and research groups are fully responsible for providing their own computing resources, computing support staffing, computational science activities and data center management. The research community defines this broad range of activities as cyberinfrastructure. Campus investments in cyberinfrastructure are becoming a requirement of many of the funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. These agencies expect that funding requests will include a long-term plan for sustainability of the research program based on campus cyberinfrastructure investments.

The last major area discussed was supporting the IT infrastructure needs of the faculty, staff and students. This encompasses email and calendaring, Web access and services, academic technologies, identity management, desktop support, security support, software and site licensing. All of these are important to the flow of campus activities. To provide extra security to the campus there is a heightened awareness of the need to eliminate unnecessary databases of sensitive data and to develop technology solutions to protect the databases. Protecting personal data of our faculty, staff and students is essential. Supporting the use of encryption tools, especially for laptops, must be part of the campus IT service suite.

Thinking strategically about investments in IT starts with understanding the essential activities of the campus that support the campus mission. My understanding is, and will continue to be, shaped by the campus community. Providing robust and essential services today while planning for the technology service suite of the future is a challenge, but a challenge that I and my staff wholeheartedly accept. Articulating a service delivery suite that enhances the teaching, learning and academic mission of the campus is my goal, and I expect that you will see evidence of this during the upcoming academic year.

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