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Technology Tools and Support to Enhance Teaching and Research

Colleagues,

Welcome back, faculty and staff! Like you, KU Information Technology has had a busy summer. We’ve continued to make progress on key Bold Aspirations and Changing for Excellence initiatives, as well as other projects that directly support your teaching and research efforts. I’m sharing a few key projects with you below and, as always, I invite you to reply to this email and share your ideas on how KU IT can best meet your needs.

Help When You Need It
When technology isn’t working the way it should, we understand the frustrations of waiting for help. So, we believe location is important to a successful technology support model. As part of a Changing for Excellence initiative, KU IT’s Workstation Support staff are relocating from the Computer Services Facility to locations on campus closer to you. This allows IT staff to respond more quickly when you need technical help. We recently relocated IT Workstation Support staff to Strong, Watson and Budig, and are looking at additional locations on campus.

Blackboard Training No Longer Required
Training is no longer required to put your course in Blackboard, making it easier for you to adopt this valuable tool. We will continue to offer training, however, to help you improve your knowledge and skills. 

By next summer, we’ll save you even more time by automatically creating all of your courses in Blackboard. You can find more information about Blackboard at technology.ku.edu/blackboard, including workshop and training schedules, and how to request a course. 

Wireless Expansion
Our strategic expansion of secure JAYHAWK wireless Internet access gives you more options for where you can work and collaborate with colleagues on campus, untethered from cords and cables. As we told you last spring, our goal is to eventually achieve nearly ubiquitous wireless coverage. Recently completed wireless upgrades include Fraser, Snow, Summerfield and outdoor areas along Jayhawk Boulevard and at Potter Lake. We are currently upgrading wireless service at Haworth, Malott and Strong. To follow our expansion progress, visit wireless.ku.edu.

Upgrading Building Infrastructure
In addition to the wireless upgrades in Haworth and Malott, we also are upgrading connectivity throughout those buildings to better support the academic and research missions of faculty, staff and students who work, teach and learn there. These upgrades will bring 10GB connectivity between buildings and to terminals within these buildings. We’ll be providing 1GB service to all users in Malott and Haworth by the end of September, through fiber and wireless network upgrades.

Supporting Collaborative Research
The University and KU IT are focused on providing the technology and Internet speeds to support research collaboration with your peers, whether across campus or around the world. That’s why we upgraded our bandwidth to multiple 10GB connections from campus to the outside world. 

Apple TV and Flipping the Classroom
Technology isn’t just important in research, it’s also important when it comes to the classroom. In FY2012, we upgraded 26 centrally scheduled classrooms to full media capabilities. Another 23 are planned for full upgrades this fiscal year. Overall, KU IT’s Classroom Technologies group supports 191 centrally scheduled classrooms. As part of the upgrades, we are installing direct communication links to classroom technical support and even changing the nature of classrooms themselves. 

Changing the nature of classrooms provides a unique and more interactive experience for students and faculty. We are partnering with the School of Business to “flip a classroom” in Summerfield. Instead of rows of chairs facing forward with the instructor stationed at the front, this “smart classroom” will provide new technology set ups that allow instructors to move freely throughout the class. Smart tablets and other tools will provide flexibility as instructors interact with students and as students interact with each other. Special thanks to Dean Bendapudi, Associate Dean Doug Houston and Tracy Horstman for their leadership on this project. We will keep you posted on our progress.

KU Information Technology is also partnering with the School of Education this fall on a pilot to test the feasibility of using Apple TV for wirelessly sharing presentations and videos. This pilot in four JRP classrooms will involve a small number of iPads. 

The participants will test and use the classroom’s Apple TV technical setup and then share their experiences and findings. The capability for wireless presentation and video has the potential to boost student engagement and enhance the learning environment. We are excited about this partnership and appreciate the leadership of Dean Ginsberg. We will share the results and findings with you later this fall.

Committed to Communication
These initiatives illustrate how KU IT is working with on-campus partners to support and enhance the educational and research environments for faculty, staff and students. We’re also committed to communicating news about information technology at KU and listening to your ideas, questions and concerns. 

This week, we’re launching a new effort to provide technology information to you and your colleagues. Our new “Learning Technologies” e-newsletter will share news, tips and updates on technology services and products at KU. The first edition of Learning Technologies newsletter is all about Blackboard, but future editions will focus on a mix of topics to keep you informed and using technology to its fullest potential.

Have a great semester and good luck with your teaching and research. If you need technical help or have questions throughout the semester, please call our Customer Service Center at 785-864-8080 or email at itcsc@ku.edu. If you have ideas, questions or concerns about information technology at KU, reply to this email. I welcome your insights on how we can best serve you!

Thank you,

Bob Lim
Chief Information Officer
University of Kansas


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