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Technology Fee Advisory Committee Funding

TECHNOLOGY FEE FOCUS GROUPS [Editorial Note: The following report results from a Focus Group Study done March 5, 1998, under the direction of the Technology Fee Advisory Committee (TFAC). The TFAC was trying to determine the concerns and suggestions that students, faculty, and staff have about the NDSU Technology Fee Program. There were two Focus Groups each consisting of four to ten individuals: students and faculty & staff.]

 Results Table of Contents

Most Prevalent Themes

Faculty/Staff

Students

General Technology Discussion

Faculty/Staff

Students

Discussion on Funded Projects

Faculty/Staff

Students

Discussion on Funding Process

Faculty/Staff

Students

Discussion on Future Changes

Faculty/Staff

Students

TECHNOLOGY FEE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
FOCUS GROUP OF FACULTY/STAFF


Results Prepared by:
NDSU PRSSA

Susanne L. Williams, Ph.D.
Lance Schultz

Assisted by:

Jennifer Glidden
Victoria Knudson
Jeffrey Hauser
Becky Summers

Most Prevalent Themes in Faculty/Staff Focus Group:

  1. The group wants more notice before the technology fee funding deadlines. They suggested making the yearly calendar of deadlines available and public.
  2. The group wants to have all of the reviewer comments and rationale for funding decisions
  3. Technology fee funding decisions need to be made public and circulated campus wide.
  4. The group emphasized that the modem pool has a significant positive effect on their campus experiences and they expressed concern about the possibility that the modem pool may be cut. They emphasized that the modem connection is necessary for faculty when they may be working off-campus.

General Technology Discussion

What is technology?


The group provided examples of technology such as computers, printers, scanners, software, tools that allow active student learning, and tools that provide access to content (such as library databases). They also agreed that when defining technology, it is important to remember the "low tech" tools such as overhead projectors and wireless microphones.


They agreed that there are four important issues to consider:

  1. We need more training to make technology accessible,
  2. We need to consider ethics surrounding technology and ask "why technology?" in addition to "what technology?"
  3. There is a problem in that we may not have mastered the older technology yet -- for example, we still use overhead projectors. How to we keep older technology yet find money for the new technology? and
  4. We need to solve security issues and consider how to keep technology/equipment safe.

How does it affect your working experience?

The group agreed that technology has had a profound impact on the working environment and experience:

  1. Technology has increased our work load, increased the amount of paper that is used, increased the amount of printing. The group agreed that we have not become a "paperless" working environment. they commented that it is challenging to manage it all -- e-mail, phone, Internet -- and it takes time to learn how to use it.
  2. Technology has made communication more efficient. For example, we are able to communicate with large groups via e-mail.
  3. Technology makes our work more efficient. For example, the police now have hand-held ticket machines.
  4. Faculty and staff are encouraged to use and teach multi-media. Students and employers are looking for it.
  5. The group expressed concern regarding the distribution of technology and that the rich on campus get richer, and the poor on campus get poorer. Some departments or groups get left behind and ghettoized. For example, many faculty can't keep up with the equipment advancement and their students have better, more advanced computers and software. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, to read the files our students are creating.

What technology experiences will be necessary for students? and What technologies should be taught to students?

Discussion of necessary technology experiences centered on several issues:

  1. Students should learn word processing, data bases, spreadsheets, Windows, PowerPoint, e-mail, and the Internet.
  2. Students should learn presentation, as well as information retrieval.
  3. The group agreed that in the introductory courses, we need to develop ways to handle the wide range computer experiences of incoming students. We need to develop a way to identify students who do not need the introductory-level course. In addition, faculty expressed concern that they still have students who refuse to use the computer because there is still a fair amount of fear and computer illiteracy.
  4. The group expects students to know World Wide Web, how to use library search tools.
  5. Several expressed concern that students don't know how to process information. They need to develop ability to judge information. Another expressed concern that students use the web as the main source of information.
  6. Students need to learn and be able to rely on traditional resources. They need to go to the library.

What technologies do you use in the classroom?

One instructor explained that all of his assignments are circulated via e-mail and all homework is submitted electronically. Several participants indicated that they are turning to PowerPoint in classes because the students like it. Significant discussion then turned to the following central issues: why should instructors and professors be forced to use PowerPoint when they already have great overheads? The group agreed that we should consider the expense of presentation programs versus the relative inexpense of the "older" technology such as overheads and white boards (marker boards). The group agreed that we should not get rid of overheads and white boards simply for the sake of newer technology.

What technology experiences should the student bring to the classroom?

  1. The group agreed that determining the technology expertise of students is program dependent. For example, Communication students need to have experience with word processing programs, and ability to use PowerPoint for presentations to get employed. Some fields might require an understanding of WWW authoring. Other fields might need more of an understanding of graphics;
  2. Overall, the group agreed that an understanding of and ability to use technology is necessary for future employment.
  3. Some discussion addressed the necessity to be able to use both Macs and PCs. Faculty and students need to be more flexible in the computers they are able to use.

Discussion on funded projects

Of which funded Technology Fee projects are you aware?

The group reviewed the handout of tech fee allocation that had been circulated in the opening presentation prior to the focus groups. The group expressed concern about the lack of campus awareness of how the technology fee money is spent. They emphasized that they are not surprised that 2.5 million dollars have been spent, but the group questioned whether the students really know how much is spent, what projects are supported, and how much is needed in the future.

Discussion confirmed that they are aware of tech fee support for media carts, printers, printing, residence hall networks, and laptops. They expressed that they feel confident about the way the money has been spent.


Which project(s) affected your campus experiences and What effect did these projects have on your campus experiences?

The group all agreed that:

Printing has had a significant, positive effect on students, and the visual quality of the class papers and projects.
They also agreed that the modem pool has a significant positive effect on their campus experiences and they expressed concern about the possibility that the modem pool may be cut.
They emphasized that the modem connection is necessary for faculty when they may be working off-campus.

Which projects should be continued?

Significant discussion turned to:

The need to continue to support technology that provides access to content, such as the on-line resources in the library.
The group agreed that we should never take away laser printing;
The group emphasized that the modem pool should never be taken away. One participant emphasized that "there would be an uproar if printing and modems were not funded."
Discussion emphasized that faculty are not provided the monetary support to allow them to keep up with what the technology to which students have access. NDSU faculty computers and software lag behind.

What projects should not again be funded?

The group agreed that:

The technology fee should look at ways to get old programs off of the fee. It was suggested that the fee should be a seeding program that allows new projects to get "off the ground."
The group agreed that if a technology project is so good, and effects the campus community positively, then the university should "step up to the plate" and fund it.
The group suggested that the technology fee could develop a sunset clause, so they can get new projects funded.

Discussion on Funding Process

Was the funding process fair last year?

The group agreed that the process is fair.

Have any of you been involved in a grant or applied for a grant from the technology fee committee?

Several participants had been involved in technology fee grants.

What kind of information would you like to receive after the grant application process?

The group strongly agreed that grant applicants need to see all of the reviewer comments so they know how to improve future submissions.

If you were denied funding from the technology fee committee, were you provided with enough information to understand why you weren't funded?

The group strongly agreed that they were not provided with enough information.

  1. They need to see the reviewer comments. They also expressed frustration because they heard a lot of information through rumors. They emphasized that they need to be sent an official extensive letter which extensively details the committee funding decisions.
  2. The group also expressed frustration because there are also problems with service once a proposal is funded. They emphasized that the money should be made available immediately, so they can move forward with the projects.

Discussion on Future Changes

How would you rank the target areas for last year's fund cycle?
The group agreed that all of the funding areas are important. However, they emphasized the necessity for continued funding of the modem pool and laser printing.

Would you eliminate any target areas from this year's request for proposals?

The group did not have specific suggestions for target areas that should be eliminated. They said: "fund it all." However, they emphasized that the technology fee committee needs to consider ways to move old programs off the tech fee so that new projects can be funded.

What new target areas would you add?

The group agreed that support should benefit students and there were several suggestions for specific future funding areas:

  1. More media/technology carts. They should be available all of the time.
  2. Classroom, library resources, servers.
  3. laboratory equipment could be considered.
  4. More should be spent on pipes in the Internet. Pipes leaving campus need to be bigger.
  5. The group emphasized that the modem pool is a major problem issue. Some suggested that using the tech fee to pay for trunking is a problem, and that the lines going in and out of campus is an issue the administration needs to deal with and figure out how to support.
  6. The group is concerned about safety issues related to phone lines. When the modem pools tie-up the lines people can't call 911.
  7. We need to consider ways to build security into the system, you can't have everything standing out in the open.
  8. Build accountability into the system. This would take some reworking, because of the way the system is set up. But maybe ID cards could be used to validate and track printing use.
  9. The issue of space should be further addressed. For example every carol in the library could have a Internet connection. So students can sit with a laptop and write there papers in the Library.
  10. There should be more laptops available for student check out.

How would you change the funding process?

The group agreed that the funding process needs to improve.

  1. The group wants more notice before the technology fee funding deadlines. They suggested making the yearly calendar of deadlines available and public.
  2. The group emphasized that they need to know what the committee is looking for. The first year target areas were focused and now it has slacked. Needs sharper focus.
  3. The group emphasized that they don't want to spend the time creating proposals if the committee already knows they aren't interested. In addition, some participants suggested that the committee needs to "just fund" the areas that they know they are going to fund. They asked, "do we need to request money for printing every year? The committee knows they are going to fund it so they should just do it."
  4. The group suggested that the technology committee should accept e-mail proposals.
  5. There was significant discussion regarding the tech fee deadlines. The group agreed that the September deadline is the worst time of the year and that a deadline in August or October would be better.
  6. The group wants to know how much money is available in the pool.
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TECHNOLOGY FEE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
1998 FOCUS GROUP OF STUDENTS

RESULTS Prepared by:
NDSU PRSSA

Susanne L. Williams, Ph.D.
Lance Schultz

Assisted by:

Jennifer Glidden
Victoria Knudson
Jeffrey Hauser
Becky Summers

Most Prevalent Themes in Student Focus Group:

  1. Students need to be better educated in the basics of technology immediately -- in their first year. They need to understand e-mail, basic software packages, and how to turn the machine on. They also need to learn basic courtesy when it comes to who has priority in the computer labs. NDSU needs to assess each student's prior technology experience.
  2. All instructors should have a web site and their course syllabi on the sites.
  3. Media Carts -- Professors should use them more in class. Teach from the carts and teach from their web sites.
  4. More training is needed for students and faculty. On-going workshops should be provided.
  5. They are very happy with the projects that have been funded, but agreed that the ACM consultants are the most important.

Discussion on General Technology

What is technology?

The group discussion focused on three main areas when they defined technology:

  1. Computers and modems were cited most frequently;
  2. The group emphasized that technology allows them to do tasks more efficiently, quickly, and generally makes life easier;
  3. The group emphasized that technology involves tools used in and for job preparation.

Areas that were mentioned once included the idea that technology is not limited to just electronics, technology permits further contact with teachers, technology has worldwide capabilities, and technology assists us as we attempt to predict weather.

How does technology affect your educational experiences?

The group agreed that technology does affect their educational experiences at NDSU. Those themes discussed in the most detail included:

  1. Technology expands knowledge available to students;
  2. Students discussed the prevalence of instructor web pages. They liked the access to syllabi and notes. They also mentioned that they would like to see more instructors post grades on their web pages;
  3. The group agreed that technology prepares for the job force; and
  4. Technology makes education easier

Another area that was mentioned by one student was that technology allows access to libraries in other countries.

What technology experiences will be necessary for your career?

The group agreed that a command of technology will be necessary for their future careers. Specifically, they discussed:

  1. They feel that there should be more education on the basics like Windows and DOS (although this is an interesting suggestion since DOS is such an old program). They suggested that "the basics" could be taught in workshops during the semester, or possibly be part of new student orientation;
  2. The group agreed that E-Mail education should be part of orientation. Students need to have a better understanding of how to use their E-mail accounts;
  3. Another suggestion was that the basics of technology (Windows, DOS) should be covered in freshman or introductory level classes;
  4. Students need to be taught responsibilities for computers. Specifically, the group discussed the need for common courtesy. Students who are surfing the web should move aside for students who need to work on papers and other class assignments;
  5. Emphasis was also placed on the need to teach how to care for computers. They discussed the large numbers of students who ruin disk drives, or print excessive amounts;
  6. They emphasized that there should be more instruction on viruses and how to scan disks for viruses.

Two other areas that were mentioned only once by individual participants include:

  1. They needed to see instructors using media carts;
  2. Instructor web pages are necessary.


What technologies do you see being used by faculty in the classroom?

The technologies that students mentioned the most are:

  1. Media carts
  2. Instructor Web Pages
  3. Instructors who lecture directly off web sites

What technology experiences should the student bring to the classroom?

The group agreed that there was basic technology experiences that students should bring to the classroom:

  1. A basic understanding of computers -- students should know how to turn on the machine. The group provided several examples of NDSU students who do not have this basic knowledge.
  2. The group believes that if students do not have basic computer experience, NDSU should be aware and make them take introductory classes. There should be a way to assess whether students have the basic knowledge.
  3. Students should understand basic care for floppy discs;
  4. Students should know how to scan disks for viruses and how to stop the spread of viruses.

One student mentioned that students should know where to find campus computer help and that they should know where the help desks are located.

What technologies are necessary for supporting student learning?

The group provided in depth discussion of different technologies that are necessary for student learning. The most prevalent themes are:

  1. NDSU instructors should know how to use technology. The group expressed frustration with instructors who don't know how to use technology. They believe that instructors should have their grades, and syllabus on-line.
  2. Students and instructors need to have more information on what resources are available;
  3. Instructors should use the multi-media carts more; and
  4. Classes should include a good balance between the web material and in-class material. The group agreed that if there is too much posted on the web in the instructor web pages, then students are more inclined to cut class because the notes are available.

Other important areas that received less discussion include:

  1. Instructors should incorporate a little bit of the basics for technology in their classes; and
  2. Instructors should be required to learn how to use the media carts.

Discussion on Funded Projects

Of which funded Technology Fee Projects are you aware?

This question raised significant discussion regarding the introductory information that was presented in the orientation session (before the focus groups began). the student group expressed surprise and shock over the amount of money spent, and the allocation of money. They expressed concern that the information wasn't more widely circulated or published in the student paper or on the technology committee web page.

All of the participants in the group were aware of the following projects:

  1. Printers
  2. Tech Support
  3. Updated equipment
  4. Multi-Media carts

Some of the participants mentioned the following projects:

  1. Modem pool
  2. Cluster in Weible
  3. Access in residence halls
  4. Alumni lounge
  5. Toner
  6. Software
  7. Salary funding

What projects affected your campus experience?

The group agreed that there were major projects which had a significant impact on their campus experience. Those projects include:

  1. Laser printers
  2. Ethernet connection
  3. Multi-media carts
  4. Laptop plug-ins
  5. Clusters around campus

What effect did these projects have on your campus experiences?

The participants agreed that the projects funded by the technology fee have significantly improved their campus experiences. The following areas were addressed:

  1. Laser printing was strongly supported. The group cited the ease of access, the professional quality laser printing gave their documents.
  2. Easier to access library resources
  3. Easier access to Internet
  4. PowerPoint requirements in speech
  5. Multi-media
  6. Videos

Which projects should be continued?

After agreeing that "everything" should be continued, the group cited several areas:

  1. Laser printers and printing
  2. ACM consultants
  3. Library Web Pals
  4. Multi-media carts
  5. Weible cluster

What projects should not again be funded?

The group did not provide specific projects that should not be funded. However, they agreed on the following important areas:

  1. The technology fee should be spent on projects that will directly benefit those students who pay the fee. They want to be sure that if students pay the fee, they will be able to use the things that are supported by the fee;
  2. The technology fee money should be used for students -- not faculty.

    Other discussion focused on
  3. The need to limit the abusive and excessive printing habits of both students and faculty.
  4. In addition, they felt the fee should be used to get a new project up and running. In the future, those projects that are considered necessary should turn to new sources of funding.

Discussion of the Funding Process
Was the funding process fair last year?

The group agreed that the funding process is very fair. Discussion emphasized that

  1. It is necessary and valuable to continually evaluate the process and the ways in which the money is spent;
  2. Concern was expressed because some groups tend to over-rely on the technology fee and when other funds are available, those funds should be used to support projects instead of assuming that the tech fee will cover it. The example provided was Student Government cutting funding for particular areas and assuming that the tech fee would pick it up.

Have any of you been involved in a grant or applied for a grant from the tech fee committee?
One member of the discussion group had been involved in a grant from the technology fee committee.

What kind of information would you like to receive after the grant application process?

Even though only one member of the group had been involved in a grant request, the whole group agreed on several important areas.

  1. Funding decisions should be made public. The decisions should be published. One suggestion was to publish the information in The Spectrum.
  2. Let people know as soon as possible. The technology fee committee should decrease waiting time.
  3. Funding decisions should be explained on the ACM web page;
  4. The web page should also be used to circulate information on the grant process.

One participant suggested that there should be tech fee bulletin boards in the IACC. Information about the funding process and decisions should be posted on the bulletin boards.

 

If you were denied funding from the tech committee, were you provided with enough information to understand why you weren't funded?

This question did not generate discussion because none of the participants had been denied funding.

Discussion of Future Changes

How would you rank the target areas for last year's fund cycle?

The group cited two areas as being the most important on the funding cycle:

  1. Tech support for student consultants and trainers; and
  2. Library additions such as more journals on-line.

Would you eliminate any target areas from this year's request for proposals?

This question did not generate much discussion. Generally, the group suggested that they didn't have enough information to decide what should be eliminated, and that they felt that there was a good balance.

What new target areas would you add?

The group discussed the need for updates in the following areas:

  1. The NDSU Language Department needs to update its technology -- it lacks the basics in computers, software, and printers.
  2. Multi-media software should be provided in classes
  3. Non-computer technology should be considered. For example, it was suggested that digital scales could be funded. There was some discussion on who the tech fee should serve -- they agreed that the largest percentage of the student population should receive the benefits.
  4. Make specialized software available to the whole campus
  5. Develop a way to monitor the use of computers in the labs. The group provided several examples of computer use and printing abuse that could be stopped if it were monitored.

How would you change the funding process?

The group did not have suggestions for changing the funding process. They agreed that it seems to be handled well and they are generally, happy overall with the process.


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Last Updated: Monday, August 08, 2011 1:36:53 PM