CAMPUS NEWS, NEWS — November 22, 2011 10:42 am

IT DEPT. OUTGROWS MODEL, GET REBOOT

Vice President for Technology Ed Clark gave the President’s Cabinet a special presentation in the Memorial Library Monday afternoon to highlight some of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s newest technological advances.

While the Campus Hub has had a digital call-in service, Information Technology has enacted its version of the system earlier this semester.

The old call-in software consisted of a bank of telephones that would be answered accordingly.

“To be honest, we’ve simply outgrown that model. We don’t have the people to sit and wait for calls,” said Information and Technology Systems Manager Michael McLaughlin.

McLaughlin said that many individuals trying to reach the help desk would simply hang up. He said the new system is much easier to manage.

The system allows managers to stream calls more efficiently and ensure that students are not waiting for extended periods of time for their questions to be answered.

“So, the focus [is] to improve customer service so we don’t have students or other people calling who have to wait and wait and wait,” said President Richard Davenport.

The system keeps track of total calls as well as average waiting times and the number of individuals who either choose to hang up or send their desired message to voicemail. There is talk of making this technology useful in the admissions office.

Another new technological feature on campus is the ChimeIn system. This is used in classrooms as an interactive device, much like a traditional clicker. Clickers are specific devices students use in certain classes to provide professors with instant feedback.

Unlike clickers, however, ChimeIn can be used for any class at anytime with any device.

“When I talked to MSSA, they said, ‘Well don’t make us buy anything,’” Clark said.

The ChimeIn technology is designed for use through any device that can access the internet including laptops, smart phones and iPads. Students can also use this feature by texting their answers to a specific number.

“At the tech fair, we had students texting in and it did work. It’s really a neat feature,” Clark said.

Clark said that the IT department hopes this software will be used in classrooms, meetings and presentations to engage students and faculty in discussion.

“This could be very much an interactive device an instructor would use,” said Information and Technology Help Desk Coordinator Mitchell Wallerstedt.

Answers to questions are streamed in real-time. Faculty members believe this could be essential for students who are too shy to ask a question in front of the class.

“There are some math professors [who] said they wouldn’t notice students are doing poorly until test time when the top score would be a 40 percent and you’re saying, ‘Wow, I wish I would have known that before,’” Clark said.

Clark said that this software should allow students to use the electronic devices they already have in a way that helps them in class.

“You expect them to have these devices, and now, if you’re using this type of system in a classroom, they’re using their devices in the right way,” Clark said.

Another new technology the IT department is working on is the Citrix Reciever. This piece of technology is essentially a remote desktop students and faculty members can use to access certain software, such as  CAD or InDesign, they might not be able to access on their own.

Wallerstedt said that this technology will allow students to access specific applications from their apartment as opposed to using a specific set of computers on campus.

TelePresence is another key software the IT department hopes to use across campus. The technology will make conference calls more realistic. Instead of seeing the individual you are talking to on a small computer screen and passing the computer around the room, the individual on the other side of the conversation will be able to see the entire conference room.

Rick Straka, the Vice President of Finance and Administration, said that the TelePresence software would be useful in advising off-campus students about financial aid.

MSU will also launch its personal version of Kaltura will allow professors to share self-generated video content with their students. Clark said this software will be especially useful for online classes.

Joan Roca, the Dean of Library Services, discussed how MSU is one of the most progressive campuses in the state, especially with the creation of MSU’s newest technological classroom.

The classroom, located in the basement of the library, features 10 individual work stations that house up to five students each. These workstations are connected to larger monitors throughout the room.

Davenport said that with all of these technological innovations, MSU is becoming the campus of the future.

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